Email this review


 Another talky, painstakingly plotted tale of love lost-and- found by the English author of The Barleyfield (1992), etc. Here, a young WW I widow is robbed of love and (almost) sanity by a hawklike patron of an arts community. In 1920, Esther is on a brief holiday from her overpossessive parents and small daughter Cassie; she is still, two years after the death of husband Christopher, mourning him, and her near- drowning may have been a suicide attempt. Esther is rescued, though, by furniture designer Joseph, one of the artists collected by the unnervingly striking Julia, a wealthy arts patron who begs Esther, a ceramist, to join the talent nesting at Dovecote. She finally succumbs, after a brief spell of trying to go it alone in the pottery biz and also of being pursued by two suitors. Then there's that attraction to Joseph, in spite of his admitted mental breakdown after the war and his night terrors. Esther's work thrives; her daughter seems happy; and love blossoms. But Julia, it seems, has other plans for Joseph. He hies to Italy (unfortunately during Mussolini's ascendancy), and Esther hopes to break away, but disasters build: Her pots are broken, doves are slaughtered, and then Julia (who also does sÇances) conjures up a vision of a man in uniform. Christopher? There will be a crisscross of misunderstandings, a parting, a marriage, and a new career before the closewhen the two parted lovers assess the future and Julia is temporarily de-clawed. Like Malcolm Macdonald's characters, Sully's people chat up a storm, but they have little that's witty or winning to say. A hard- working tale, then, though the villainess who disrupts Paradise is too silly to be believed.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-13471-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1995