This generational saga about a lower-class English family between 1885 and 1920 has a strong appeal. Parlormaid Sybilla Unwin dooms herself to misery when she marries handsome layabout Enoch Porrit, whose interest lies only in her inheritance of 12 pounds 10 shillings. When her brother and his wife die, she cajoles the local parish into paying her to keep their children. Driven away by Sybilla and Enoch's cruelty, the Unwin boys, Chas and Albert, run away to join the army and serve in India. Polly, their sister, is sent to train as a kitchen maid, and grows up to marry a much older man, Henry Durrant. Despite her married state, Sybilla fancies Henry, thus increasing the emnity between the Porrits and the Unwins. After returning to England, Chas flees to America to avoid a forced marriage and to make his fortune, while Albert marries the illegitimate daughter of a Welshwoman who came to London to escape being pilloried by her village. The family fortunes rise (although never very high) and fall, and eventually most of the characters find satisfaction and fulfillment. Livingston ( The Land of Our Dreams ) writes a vivid and lively historical novel about ordinary people affected by changing times. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991 Release date: 01/01/1991 Genre:
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