. . . takes place in the 1920's when Tamara and her hard-working widowed mother have a chance for a seaside vacation at a wealthy resort. Tamara at first keeps a secret from her cousins--that there is a real princess next door. Mariana, looking the way a princess is supposed to look--tall and proud with long blonde hair--moves into their lives with bossy, marvellous plans about what to do, and also with chilling tales about how she is being kept prisoner next door by an ugly uncle. Then the bright summer days are suddenly darkened for Tamara when a cousin tells her that her father was a ne'er-do-well gambler rather than the gentle musician Mother had described, and Mariana saves Tamara from drowning when her grief seems too much to bear. At the close Tamara learns the truth about her father's death and also about Mariana--and gains new understanding of those who need to be ""two persons at once."" The story begins slow and prissy, and the ethnic (Greek) detail is appliqued rather than interwoven. However, Mariana is convincing and keeps Tamara's summer revelations all of a piece.