Weldon's second installment of the Love and Inheritance Trilogy is a capable, but lackluster, return to romance, intrigue, and beautiful homes. In this starchy rendering of King Edward VII's all-consuming 1902 coronation, England is still mourning Queen Victoria. Tension between Lord Robert (Earl of Dilberne) and his wife, Isobel, over extra coronation tickets results in Isobel secretly posting them to Robert's estranged brother, Edwin, along with a gift for their 16-year-old niece, Adela. Edwin is a repressed, abusive man who calls Adela stupid and plain, and deprives her of food. When tragedy strikes Adela's family, the suddenly-orphaned, lovely, blue-eyed girl with the "blonde-red Botticelli waves" is seduced into the world of trances, séances, and fake spiritualism, becoming Princess Ida. Meanwhile, Isobel is consumed with Robert's interest in the beautiful, bejeweled, and unhappily married Duchess Consuelo, a Vanderbilt. Robert and Isobel's outspoken daughter, Rosina, stung by her family's rejection, marries spontaneously and unsuitably, running off with her mate and chatty parrot to Australia. Weldon ends on a happy note: the king survives appendicitis, Robert and Isobel become grandparents, and Adela unites with family. Fans of the Victorian and Edwardian periods will appreciate the characters' noble mien and place in history. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/03/2013 Release date: 05/01/2013 Genre: Fiction
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