The Passions of Emma

Penelope Williamson, Author Warner Books $20 (432p) ISBN 978-0-446-52153-6
Set in Bristol, R.I., in 1890, Williamson's latest historical romance (after The Outsider) portrays a society so hidebound by tradition that even the mildest impropriety is treated like a capital offense. At the center of this claustrophobic world is spirited 22-year-old Emma Tremayne, a beautiful daughter of the moneyed ""Great Folk,"" who is expected to marry mill owner Geoffrey Alcott. One day after a fox hunt, however, Emma watches as a poor woman displays the mangled body of her small son, killed in an accident at the mill. Emma is shaken by the callousness of her fiance and his family. Her suspicion that there is more to life than the smug insularity of balls and teas is confirmed when she strikes up a friendship with Bria McKenna, a consumptive resident of the local Irish shantytown. Bria, intelligent and defiant despite her dying body, invites Emma to take up with her attractively primal activist husband, Shay, once Bria is gone. Unfortunately, Emma is a stock figure, the blueblood-with-a-social-conscience familiar to readers of this genre, and the price she pays for her passion and rebellion is unlikely to stir an emotional response from readers. Williamson's repetitive exposition of what counts for good manners among the elite is numbing; and even the gothic touches--a silent child with precognitive powers; a benevolent ghost; family secrets and curses; a primitively cruel insane asylum--fail to rescue this novel from the doldrums. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild alternate selection and Doubleday featured alternate. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Show other formats
Hardcover - 555 pages - 978-1-56895-526-1
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-446-60597-7
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 978-0-7595-9109-7
Open Ebook - 978-0-7595-6098-7
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-7595-4101-6
Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-7595-2193-3
Hardcover - 259 pages - 978-0-446-58754-9
Ebook - 978-0-7595-7152-5
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.