Fragile Heritage

Sara Hylton, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (459p) ISBN 978-0-312-04849-5
Ellen Adair becomes friends with Kitty McGuire in a classroom in Yorkshire, where Kitty's poor Irish family suffers from the community's bigotry and Ellen is victimized by her hypercritical father, the village sexton. After they run away to Liverpool, their rocky paths diverge but will cross sporadically in later years. Kitty scrambles to become a celebrated songstress, even resorting to prostitution to support herself. Ellen returns to Yorkshire, falls into the ambit of the reigning village aristocracy, the de Bellefort family, which numbers a young female cousin, the bride-to-be of the heir, to whom Ellen bears an unusual resemblance. (The stage is thus set for revelations that will not surprise the reader.) Ellen grasps an opportunity to take charge of her life when she escapes occupied France during WW II. In her laconic, first-person narration, repeatedly turning on coincidence and contrivance, there are entertaining moments, yet neither her romances nor her achievements are convincing. Hylton wrote My Sister Clare. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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