FLOODTIDE by Suzanne Goodwill


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After Sisters and Cousins, the author abandons relatives for a more dramatically titled tome opening, imaginatively, in the South African veld and only later slogging through the familiar tableaux of British aristocracy, the London stage, and American crassness during the early years of the 20th century. Stella Vredenberg, 16, is too silvery-blonde-pretty for the staid Boer farms outlying turn-of-the-century Cape Town. She doesn't ""fit,"" and so, when a wounded British soldier crawls from the brush, Stella feels little compunction about saving his life, despite censure from her family. Eventually she proves them right by allowing the young man, Rupert Flood Coryot, to deflower her and finally to get her pregnant. Rupert, it transpires, is from one of Britain's richest and most heavily titled families, who are appalled when he brings the crude veld girl home as his bride. They dress her in delicate finery, but it makes little difference, and Rupert's Marchioness mother hates the upstart Stella with a passion. Stella gives birth to a Flood heir, Rupert dies, Stella begins an affair with his brother, but finally she escapes the Floods and makes for the London stage, where she becomes famous and is wooed by American multimillionaire Theo Jensen, who knew her as a girl. Whether Stella will choose Theo or the wayward Flood brother isn't known till the very end, but she does bear the brother's illegitimate child before the book limps to its tacked-on climax. Reasonably engrossing, and best when dealing with the veld; after that, it's mainly downhill for this historical romance of about average pulling power.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's