A Distant Hero

Emma Drummond, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (424p) ISBN 978-0-312-17177-3
The Boer War competes for readers' attention with the more intimate psychological battles of the Ashleigh family in Drummond's sequel to A Question of Honour. Autocratic patriarch General Sir Gilliard Ashleigh ignores or deprecates his four remaining grandchildren while canonizing his lost heir, purported to have died a hero's death at Khartoum on his way to rescue General Gordon. The next eldest, Vere, an orchid-growing warrior-aesthete, wins fame both for his bravery on the battlefield and for his painting, but Vere's romantic temperament earns only his grandfather's scorn. The other three--brave young Valentine, accused unjustly of rape; passionate Margaret, who runs off with an Italian diplomat; loving Charlotte, who overcomes social prejudice and her shame over a deformed leg to marry a common man--fail to gain the old man's approval. Well-observed family dynamics, excellent pacing and effective changes of viewpoint characterize this chronicle of England's officer caste at the turn-of-the-century. Despite bits of purple prose and a few pat outcomes, this book should charm Drummond's growing readership. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
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