China Silk

Anne Worboys, Author
Anne Worboys, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (375p) ISBN 978-0-312-08156-0
Hardcover - 694 pages - 978-0-7505-0457-7
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Hellensp ok North and Oliver Marathon meet during a fox hunt in rural Kent, England, and instantly fall in love, but this rousing novel plants every conceivable obstacle in their path, and some all-but-inconceivable ones as well. Oliver's distinguished, titled family deems Hellen not quite socially acceptable (her family's money comes from trade) and immediately forces Oliver to take up duties under his formidable uncle, the governor of Hong Kong. Yet the two become engaged, and Hellen--after being raped by a jealous beau--follows on the next boat, where, to her horror, she finds that she is pregnant. Desperate, she asks a deceptively attentive shipboard acquaintance, George Curtain, for aid. He drugs her, violates her and forces her to marry him, all in the belief that such a union will help him socially. Hellen miscarries, and finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage with a brutish man. At least she is in Hong Kong, with Oliver constantly in her thoughts. The swiftly moving action transpires against a powerful evocation of colonial life in the 1920s, a society that Warboys ( Aurora Rose ) portrays as stratified, indolent, self- destructive and fueled by malicious gossip. This continually surprising romance has a hypnotic charm. (Dec.)
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