cover image Night Shall Overtake Us: 2a Novel

Night Shall Overtake Us: 2a Novel

Kate Saunders. Dutton Books, $22.95 (512pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93764-7

The usual historical romance ingredients--women's friendships, unplanned pregnancy, adultery, illness, war, political conflict, generational tension--are deftly handled in Saunders's ( The Prodigal Father ) latest offering. Set in Ireland, England and France during WW I, the plot centers on four girls who swear an oath of eternal friendship on their final night together at an Irish boarding school: Rory, a feisty Irish lass who plans never to marry; Francesca, a delicate beauty forever shamed by childhood incest; Eleanor, who will fall for an abusive lover; and Jenny, who will battle her fiance's mother for years. As the four go about their intertwined adult lives, readers experience their dramatically changing circumstances, as well as the near dissolution of friendship between two of the women, who fall for the same man. Though Saunders concentrates on Rory (her presence in a retrospective narrative in 1935 suggests that the novel is a sort of letter to her daughter and to the next generation of women), each of the heroines' characters are developed in surprising and subtle ways. With its lively dialogue and carefully researched period details, the novel reproduces a bygone era while charging it with timeless human emotion. First serial to Good Housekeeping . (May)