cover image The Black Candle

The Black Candle

Catherine Cookson. Summit Books, $19.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-70176-5

Veteran romancer Cookson ( The Bailey Chronicles ) provides another satisfying drama featuring class tensions and an indomitable woman in 19th- century England. Heiress Bridget Mourdant, manager of her family's factory, squelches her attraction to working man Joe Skinner but oversees his education and promotion within the ranks. When Joe suddenly marries, Bridget is mystified, but the reader already knows that Joe's wife, a factory girl, carries the child of Lionel Filmore, scapegrace scion of the local gentry, who must wed wealthily to support his profligate ways. When the Skinners and Filmores inevitably clash, the innocent Joe is blamed for a resulting death. Though this intriguing saga is rich in colorful characters, Bridget stands firmly at its center, doing her best to shape the destinies of all around her over three generations. Bringing the period vividly to life, Cookson is in top form here. Doubleday Book Club alternate. (May)