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Tryst Hardcover – June 1, 1980
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Lovely 17-year old Sabrina lives in the rented country estate, Nuns Farthing, with the rest of her dysfunctional family---her bitter father, Alan, and her fusty spinster aunt, Effie. From the moment the door of the room at the top of the stairs is opened for her by sympathetic and sensitive housekeeper, Mrs Pilton, imaginative and lonely Sabrina conjurs up an entire history revolving around the room's previous inhabitant, Hilary Shenstone. The Shenstones own Nuns Farthing and the youngest son, Hilary is off in India carrying on in his father's dangerous tradition of intrepid Englishman working for the Home Office. As Sabrina thumbs through Hilary's library at home, we glimpse a bit of the adventure of Hilary's life as his plane goes down miles away from Nuns Farthing. Instantaneously, thoughts of his childhood mysteriously and irrationally capture his mind, and Hilary finds this inexplicable longing compells him to make the long journey home. After much soul-seeking and understanding, Hilary reconciles with his old life and moves towards his new one back at the home of his childhood. When he arrives, Mrs. Pilton recognizes him on sight and sends him with her blessings up to his old room where she knows Sabrina innocently awaits. And as Hilary first lays eyes on the lovely fresh-faced girl, he realizes why he was driven to make this homecoming---this is the girl he is destined for, the ONE he has been waiting for up until now to make his wife. Sabrina already half in love with him from her own imaginings, cannot help but fall for him, head over heels. Magical halycon days lie ahead for a couple star crossed in their love for one another . . .except for one slight detail . . . Hilary died in the plane in India.
Sound intriguing? It is. Written in a sweet yet unsentimental way that is perfect for all age groups, the story moves along swiftly, keeping the reader wondering 'what is to become of the two lovers?' living on different planes. The likeable characters epitomize the era between the World Wars; the politeness and sensibilities portrayed enhance Sabina's wistful frustrations and emphasize Hilary's desperate need to make this one last connection work.
This bittersweet love story is recommended to all who love spending a rainy afternoon watching romantic black&white films while fantasizing about that perfect lover.
I first read "Tryst" after reading Elswyth Thane's Williamsburg Series while in high school in the 1950s. Over the years I have collected the Williamsburg Series and reread the seven books many times. This weekend I watched The Lake House on television, and although it isn't clear that the plot is a ghost story, it reminded me so much of "Tryst". Today I ordered "Tryst" to add to my collection so that I might own a copy to reread and added a DVD of The Lake House to be able to watch the film often. I was an English and history teacher for many years, recently retired, and recommended the book to a number of my students. They loved Thane's books also; therefore, romance and belief in enduring love really haven't totally gone out of style. Thank goodness!
I loved this book enough to search it out after decades of remembering it.