Return of the Stranger

Reay Tannahill, Author
Reay Tannahill, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-14038-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7451-6697-1
Hardcover - 496 pages - 978-0-7528-0284-8
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Tannahill's gracefully written third novel (after In Still and Stormy Waters, 1994) is a grand Victorian passion play that begins when Grace Smith and her daughters, Tassie and Selina, discover that her late husband's will has left control of the family fortune in the hands of an obscure young cousin named Max McKenzie. When the smooth, confident Max arrives at the family's Scottish mansion to stake his claim, he reveals that he is actually Grace's long-lost son, the product of an illicit affair who was quickly put up for adoption. As Max rebuilds the family cotton business and his financial reputation grows beyond the British Isles, he begins a lifelong rivalry with an up-and-coming journalist named Frances Rivers, who distrusts Max's rags-to-riches story. The plot thickens when Tassie and Frances fall in love, a relationship hindered by the journalist's aloofness as well as by Max's increasingly insistent attempts to control Tassie's life. Slowly exposing the flaws in Max's story and his character, Tannahill builds the tension into a final violent confrontation between business baron and journalist. The author weaves a marvelously tangled romantic web, adding lively period details about the woman's suffrage movement and the significant inventions of the time, capturing both the pace and the uniquely insular world of the late 19th century. (Apr.)
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