WHAT THE HEART KEEPS by Rosalind Laker


Email this review


Laker's hard-working, cool-headed heroines deftly survive early hardship and prosper in a variety of stimulating period environments--from high fashion (Banners of Silk, 1981) to the gem trade (Jewelled Path, 1983). Here, valiant Lisa Shaw makes her love-troubled way from a Liverpool orphanage in 1903 through a trauma-filled odyssey to Canada's west-coast lumber camps, then back to England, sharing the excitement of running the early movie houses. Teen-age Lisa, despite the doubts of stern but decent manager Mrs. Bradshaw, is sent with other Liverpool orphans to a ""Home"" in Toronto--where the younger children will supposedly be placed in foster homes, the older ones in jobs. En route, Lisa meets a wonderfully kind young Norwegian, Peter Hagen; some time later they'll find love in Toronto. But when Lisa tells Peter of a long-ago rape, his jealous anger--which he'll regret too late--parts them, apparently forever. Meanwhile, Mrs. B.'s suspicions about the Toronto Home turn out to be justified: young children are shipped out to work on hard-scrabble farms, girls are brutalized by lonely homesteaders, Lisa, sent west on the railroad, is able to rescue little Minnie, a victim of one of the Home's placements. And their escape will take them through freight-hopping, a murder, and a Calgary brothel--until one of the Home guard catches up, dispatching Lisa to a housekeeper's job on an island off Vancouver. Her boss? Lumber-camp engineer Alan Fernley, whose wife is young, ill Harriet; he's oddly distant and even disagreeable. But Lisa will discover his true feeling for her months after Harriet's death: they marry, move south of Seattle, where Alan works at his secret passion--the nickelodeon biz. Minnie's blooming in normal adolescence, all is serene. Until. . . along comes Peter! Dilemma. Should Lisa ask Alan for a divorce? But Lisa cannot leave baby Harry. So the years roll on; Lisa gives birth to a daughter; Peter marries another in Norway; Minnie, married to her doomed, beloved Risto, is a Hollywood star. And the Great War brings crises to a head: Can Minnie recover from the loss of Risto? Will Lisa ever reconcile her two loves? Will Lisa and Peter meet again? Some bittersweet solutions--in a reliable, companionable romance.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday