MOLLY by Teresa Crane


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A competent, confident replay--from the Boer War to WW I--of all those adorable staples of rags-to-property family sagas: a spunky heroine; her early drear; a variety of amorous or convenient alliances; and a generally attractive family whose members suffer and/or celebrate. Complete with ragged shawl and smudges, then, young Molly O'Dowd decamps from the family tragedies of her native Ireland and buckets off to London. There innocent Molly is lured towards near-fatal luridness--but she escapes a murderous pimp, hikes over the decaying roofs of White-chapel, finds help at a refuge for homeless women, learns typing skills from nice Mr. Marsden, and becomes a decent working gift. Still, life is hard. And, while ill, delirious Molly plummets into the snow--whereupon she's rescued by the Bentons, the family which will become her own: widowed mother Sarah; stolid Jack; gentle Charlie; handsome Harry; sister Nancy; and mystery-child Edward (who turns out to be Nancy's illegitimate son, result of a teenage rape). So Molly, happily awash with admiration for rakehell Harry, finds herself pregnant. But when Harry is killed on his way to the Boer War, she marries worshipful landlady's-son Sam. And when Sam conveniently dies, moderate union-organizer Jake will propose. Meanwhile, however, ambitious Molly has been partnering Mr. Marsden in an employment agency--which leads her to ""disturbingly attractive"" business biggie, Adam Jefferson. Thus, an affair begins--and continues through: new business ventures; trouble with Molly's son Danny (a chip of Harry's shifty block); the shaky highs and lows of Nancy's career (spurned woman, suffragette, heroic nurse); and Jack's WW I death. Complete with a happy Armistice/nuptial fadeout, then: a highly predictable but certainly pleasant re-run of the Victorian/Edwardian soap cycle.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1982
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan