A House of Clay

Caroline Strickland, Author, Caroline Stickland, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-575-04170-7
Set in the bewitching Dorset countryside, with plangently Hardyesque overtones, this absorbing period novel, the second from the author of well-received The Standing Hills , is set in the mid-19th century. Baronet and landowner Ashley Claydon, a tormented man, is burdened with guilt over his abandonment of three children fathered in a youthful liaison with a low-born farm woman. He is also troubled by the social unrest that he foresees will change not only his lordly lifestyle but also the face of England. Ashley's denied, but not forgotten, children are poverty-stricken farmworkers, barely subsisting. Calder, the ablest of them, turns to radicalism and is saved from hanging only by the intervention of local heiress Sophia Farren, an untypical Victorian who struggles to help dispossessed farmers and weavers. Timid about breaking class taboos by acknowledging her feelings for Calder, she marries Ashley and comes to know the horror of his guilt. Retribution, the rule of law and class and the sensuousness of the Dorset landscape are elements that ring true in this haunting novel. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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