From Publishers Weekly
Moyes, a young Brit, again proves herself a worthy successor to Maeve Binchy and Rosamund Pilcher with her second novel (after Sheltering Rain), a warmhearted drama. A magnificent art deco house called Arcadia, built on a seaside cliff in the stuffy English village of Merham, stands at the center of her tale. Lottie Swift was born in London's East End but evacuated during WWII to Merham as a child; she's eventually taken in permanently by the Holden family and brought up in their bustling household just down the road from Arcadia. When Lottie is in her late teens, an exotic clan of bohemians move into Arcadia, and Lottie takes to visiting, sometimes with Celia Holden, her best friend, but more often on her own. Then Celia goes away to school in London and comes back with a fiance-a man Lottie believes is her destiny. Her love is doomed, but Arcadia provides unexpected solace. Half a century later, interior designer Daisy Parsons comes to Arcadia, hired by a successful but prickly London developer who has bought the house with plans for making it into a fashionable tourist destination. Daisy's longtime lover and design partner has just departed after their baby is born, but she conquers self-pity and determines to honor the contract by herself. She's befriended by Lottie, now an acerbic matron who scorns her village contemporaries but is charmed by the baby and volunteers to act as nanny. Moyes deftly handles her involved plot, skillfully exploring the different family dynamics; her thoughtful tone and light touch make this a delightful read.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
For more than 50 years, Arcadia, an art-deco house set precariously and imperiously atop Merham's seaside cliffs, has been simultaneously ruling and ruining Lottie's life. From the day she was first inexplicably drawn to it as a teenager, Lottie's fate and fortune have been inextricably linked with that of the compelling mansion. Once a retreat for bohemian artists and actors whose very presence threatened the rigid morality of this sleepy British village, Arcadia promises to once again become a haven for a new generation of undesirable visitors when it's transformed into a luxury hotel. Along with the Louis Vuitton travel cases, emotional baggage comes attached to the new venture, mostly in the form of its insecure interior designer, Daisy, who has been charged with returning the estate, and, she hopes, her love life to their original glory. When she discovers a neglected mural depicting scenes from Arcadia's scandalous past, Daisy unleashes a torrent of painful emotions that undermines the life Lottie has so painstakingly built. Intricately and intimately weaving the story of Lottie's tumultuous past with Daisy's tempestuous present, Moyes richly evokes a spellbinding intergenerational saga of loves lost and opportunities missed, of families in transition and friendships in turmoil. With accomplished polish and alluring perfection, Moyes' second novel is a stunning successor to her acclaimed debut, Sheltering Rain [BKL My 1 02], deservedly earning her a reputation as a first-rate storyteller in the best tradition of popular British fiction's reigning doyennes. Carol Haggas
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