The Treachery of Time

Anna Gilbert, Author
Anna Gilbert, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-14055-7
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Hardcover - 535 pages - 978-0-7838-1663-0
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Winner of Britain's Cookson Award, Gilbert's (The Wedding Guest) seamlessly written gothic romance offers perceptively drawn characters and intelligent ruminations on their personal struggles. On the verge of WWI in a quaint English town, two young teenagers--Esther Aumery, born to a wealthy family, and her sweetheart, Daniel Godwain, whose father is employed by the Aumerys--discover an abandoned girl wrapped in a blanket in a field. The girl inspires more fear and disgust than pity from the villagers--until she abruptly disappears. The story then skips to a year after Armistice. The Aumerys have lost their fortune, and Esther and Daniel are deeply in love. Esther learns that the long absence of the mysterious Gervese Lincoln, the newly returned owner of nearby Barbarrow Hall, was precipitated by a tragic event, the disappearance of his young daughter, Lilla, and her nurse; his wife died of grief, and he has been alone ever since. Meanwhile, Clairy, a maid, seduces Daniel and claims to be pregnant; though Daniel loves Esther, he agrees to marry Clairy. Through a series of coincidences, Gervase ends up marrying Esther. Once situated at Barbarrow Hall, Esther learns Clairy's role in two mysteries, and the motivation for her vengeful acts. Gilbert portrays Clairy as truly evil, but she also deftly examines whether nature or nurture made her so--resulting in an unusually thoughtful, as well as entertaining, example of the genre. (Apr.)
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