An Ancient Hope

Caroline Strickland, Author, Caroline Stickland, Author
Caroline Strickland, Author, Caroline Stickland, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (252p) ISBN 978-0-312-10929-5
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Accomplished storyteller Stickland presents a skillful retelling of the Prodigal Son tale set in mid-19th century Dorset, England. Orphaned Theodosia Farnaby, raised by her Aunt Louisa, is a typically spirited and intelligent Stickland heroine. She loves her kind, steady beau, Ralph Carnow, who saved his family's mill from ruin in the absence of his wastrel older brother Charles, but she is not sure she wants to marry. When Charles returns, desperately in need of money and hoping to reacquire his status as family heir, he has an electrifying effect on Theo, who impulsively rejects Ralph. Charles's dark nature and shady past touch nearly everyone, bringing a good deal of drama to the family, but his doting father cannot see his flaws. After numerous misunderstandings and crises, love and justice prevail. Stickland ( The Darkness of Corn ) has a good sense of the period, as when she depicts an exhibition of industrial works in London. Theo, for the most part, is a fine, strong heroine, and Ralph, unlike many romance heroes, is capable of change and humility. (May)
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