THE LADIES OF HANOVER SQUARE by Rona Randall

THE LADIES OF HANOVER SQUARE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

With rather less bounce (but no less plot) than Randall's previous romances, this is an even-handed air performed on the double standard of London's Edwardian era. The heroine is young orphan Deborah Yorke, but far more appealing is Deborah's naughty Aunt Dulcima: a London beauty and gaming-house manager who springs Deborah from her gloomy guardians in 1901. Unfortunately, however, Dulcima will soon die--while bearing a love-child by Lord Justin Ashleigh, a secretly perverse, pale-eyed, animal-tormenting maniac; and, even more unfortunately, Dulcima's baby Charles also has the pale eyes that signal the Ashleigh family madness. Deborah, grieving for Aunt D., tries to keep the gaming-house going (it's wee Charles' only legacy), but she lacks the sporting know-how: eventually she'll close the business--in spite of pressure from a sinister butler and threats from Justin (who goes on a rape/murder rampage and will eventually drown). So then, with support from nice Simon Davidson (unhappy husband of Justin's nutty, world-traveling sister Caroline), Deborah converts the Hanover Square house into a pleasant boarding-house: evil visits from returning Caroline are thwarted, Deborah and Simon marry, Simon's daughter Delia becomes an actress and a WW I nurse. . . and pale-eyed baby Charles grows up as feared (strangling kittens and undergoing a strenuous sexual initiation), though he may be on the road to finding salvation via religion. Competently plotted and mildly diverting (with agreeable Edwardian socio-political notations), but lacking the pizazz of Randall at her bustle-shaking best.

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 1981
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan