Louisa Elliott

Ann Victoria Roberts, Author McGraw-Hill/Contemporary $19.95 (650p) ISBN 978-0-8092-4290-0
Purchased with much hoopla for a record sum, this is a savory, intricately wrought tale of a tangled romantic triangle in repressed Victorian England. Louisa and Edward Elliot are cousins bound by the shame of having been born out of wedlock. As governess to the spoiled daughters of an obnoxious tradesman with aspirations beyond his station, Louisa is able to ignore whispers about her scandalous birth. But her narrow life is transformed by Robert Duncannon, a dashing, selfish officer of the Royal Dragoons whose wife is conveniently mad. When they become lovers, lively, rebellious Louisa is crushed by the social double standard, while Robert becomes even more impatient with her ``middle-class prudery'' and jealous of Edward's pained but abiding love. Tiny, colorful details lend authenticity: a neighbor pulls away her skirts at Lousia's approach, there's a shifting balance of power between Louisa and Moira, a lower-class maid who ``marries up.'' Though the plot sometimes creaks and slows, the novel is carried by Roberts's evocative imagery, which immerses the reader in both the splendor and poverty of the gaslit, cobblestoned Victorian era, and in particular, the atmosphere of the ancient city of York. 150,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; BOMC alternate. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-380-70991-5
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