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A chatty first novel, set in 19th-century England and Australia, about a feisty freedombent schoolteacher and her loss and recovery of love. Thirty-year-old Elizabeth does not contemplate spinsterhood with any pleasure, but she also can't stomach marriage to a stuffy clergyman--one who's echoed the sentiment of the day in praising submissive women. Elizabeth h attracted, though, to the cleric's younger brother Edward. By a barleyfield, love and passion come to both--and pregnancy (of course) comes to Elizabeth. The man she marries, however, is newly rich, older Arthur Pengelly, a zircon-in-the-rough who's just returned from the gold mines of Australia--where eventually they both go, although the marriage is by then tottering (Arthur learns of the coming infant's parentage). Baby Agnes is born in a rude hut in the bush. But Elizabeth and Arthur will settle, start a store, and later, when Arthur storms off to the gold fields, Elizabeth will establish a school. Meanwhile, back in England...Edward, who's returned from medic duty through the horrors of the Crimean War, has set up his own london infirmary for the indigent and married lovely Marianne. Before the happy end, there'll be a sad death in England, marital warfare in Australia, another child, and the necessary demise of Arthur. With many ringing remarks about the injustice of the double standard, a competent journey(wo) man effort with nice views of the Australian bush--""raw but real.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1992
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: St. Martin's