THE SONG OF THE SIREN by Philippa Carr


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The siren is Carlotta Main, by-blow residue of a family that Carr has been nudging along through English history. (See Saraband for Two Sisters, etc.) It is now the 17th century, and Jacobites are plotting to bring back the Stuarts during the reigns of William and Anne. Carlotta, the passionate one in this curiously passionless novel, is contrasted with her half-sister Demaris, demure and dutiful, whose narration alternates with Carlotta's. And, ultimately, Carlotta's promiscuous ways will cause the deaths of three of her men: much-older philanderer Beaumont Granville, who will mysteriously disappear forever; gentlemanly Matt Pilkington, whom Demaris considers to be her very own until she discovers him in bed with Carlotta; and Lord Hessenfield, a Jacobite activist, with whom Carlotta falls deeply in love after he kidnaps and rapes her (weli, she didn't protest that much) and then saves her life. It's Hessenfield who fathers Carlotta's child Clarissa (though the legal dad is Carlotta's gentle hubby Benjie Stevens), and he eventually brings Carlotta and Clarissa to Paris--where Matt is shot by Hessenfield, and then Hessenfield and Carlotta are murdered in a fanciful manner by one of Carlotta's passionate rivals. At the close Demaris, with a new love, rescues little Clarissa in Paris. Packed, rushed, and well-nigh strangulated by tangled family histories and the crisscrossing of old ties and troubles, this is far from Carr at her best; a costume melodrama only for contented veterans of the earlier family sagas in the series.

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 1979
Publisher: Putnam