COUSINS by Suzanne Goodwin

COUSINS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

By the author of the diverting Sisters (1985), some worrisome affairs of the heart removed far from the terror of Sisters' WW II setting (the Battle of Britain) to the fragrant gardens and comfortable world of English gentry in Devonshire, 1932-37. Cousins Elizabeth and Peter grew up together at Merriscourt, a crumbling estate now in the pale hands of gentle Uncle Garnett, Peter's widower father. Elizabeth's mother, Dolly, essentially kind, a bit of a snob, is the widow of Garnett's brother. Now into this family of four comes the mysterious cousin from Calcutta, 40-ish George Westlock. He accompanies his ""goddaughter"" Sylvia, who's a knockout. Duenna-ed by Dolly, Sylvia has a coming-out in London, with the obligatory Presentation at Court--but she is seen quietly weeping when it becomes obvious that beauty alone, without lucre, won't land a titled or suitably wealthy husband. Even George, who seems to hover over Sylvia's life, can't seem to bring that about. Then Sylvia casts her eye on Peter, whom Elizabeth knows she herself loves with a very grown-up passion. But adorable (and more than a teensy selfish) Sylvia weds Peter. Elizabeth soldiers on, until after Uncle Garnett's death, when Peter, the heir to Merriscourt, obviously under marching orders from Sylvia, announces that the cottage Elizabeth and Dolly had counted on must go to George. Fury--and marriage to solid Ted Anstey (son of a garage-business nouveau riche)--ensues. For Elizabeth, marriage to Ted is peaceful enough (sex ""is a short word and a short subject""); but then Peter and Elizabeth meet in a London hotel. . . Two babies are born; garage-man Ted strays to naughty Sylvia; and poor Peter dies. Should, Elizabeth cling to a dead marriage while Ted goes ""slumping about"" Sylvia? And what about George, who has some tales to tell? Also, Elizabeth has some smoldering feelings to account for. An attractive English country-house romance with decorative am-biance, wounded lovers, beddings, and some smashing clothes.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's