A garrulous period romance, which chops along with a certain bounce despite a wildly flapping plot and messy improbabilities. Lively, stubborn, ""plain"" Ann Matlick, 24, falls heir in 1799 to ""Thorn,"" the ruined Norwich acres of her late, unlamented, disreputable Uncle Forsie. And in no time Ann has collected a following around the very cold comforts of the muddy, ruined estate, which she is determined to restore to agricultural glory. Among Ann's admirers: eccentric Dr. French, revered by rich and poor; brilliant lawyer and former Navy man William Claverdon, a case of banked fires (""dark eyes, narrow and gleaming, gave an impression of subdued ferocity""); and Uncle Forsie's by-blow, the unemployed lad Tom, whom Ann immediately welcomes as ""cousin."" Ann wins over the tight-lipped Miss Pennyquick, Thorn's housekeeper. But what about her neighbor, Sir Harry Gerard, the charming rake who occasionally leaves the gaming life to visit his ruined estate of Blacklow? Well, while making headway in reviving Thorn, Ann fails for Sir Harry, knowing full well that he's after her modest but adequate fortune: they marry; the inevitable happens when Harry devours Ann's nest egg; yet he claims that something profitable is hatching on unknown ""Sable Island,"" a source of much mystery. In all: an also-ran in the period-romance race--with a smattering of amusing talk, spunky doings by the heroine, but an ungainly, overlong plot and insufficient period texture.