THE NATIVE AIR by Sarah Woodhouse


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 In A Season of Mists (1984) and The Peacock's Feather (1990), Woodhouse staked out a fictional portion of England's Norwich and surrounds for the mainly romantic adventures, circa 1800, of minor gentry. More of the same here, with most of the personae met in the earlier novels. The irascible Dr. Alex French, an army surgeon now back in the Norwich where he is respected and trusted, is still in love with young, lively widow Ann Gerard--who, here, is gamely soldiering on after a riding accident at her estate, Thorn, which is managed by the by-blow cousin she'd educated. Meanwhile, the neighboring estate, Blackow Hall, has a new and bizarre owner--elderly, red- wigged, oddly clothed Clodie M'Cool, usually seen magnificently riding huge touchy horses or trailed by packs of her dogs. She has a terrible temper--and she and Dr. Alex take to each other at once. Alex is fascinated by Clodie's restful, beautiful niece Julia, indifferent mother to eight-year-old Cassandra. In the midst of the community's bumbling preparation for the expected invasion by Napoleon, Cassandra is kidnapped--an event followed by a wild boat- chase, gunfire on a French beach, naughty Julia's flight (no surprise), and a highly contrived but jolly ending In a style at a gallop (with a few stumbles), an easy tale with likable characters, if a bit out of period in diction. But who cares?

Pub Date: June 27th, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-05901-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991


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