All We Hold Dear

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In the spring of 1988, on a small Scottish island battered into stark beauty by the motion of the sea, Eva Crawford turns eighteen and learns a disturbing fact that shatters the comfort and stability of her life. Confused and bewildered, she leaves her safe childhood home and sets out on a journey of discovery - to unearth the truth about herself, her mother, and her family. In an austere Glasgow bedroom, Eva finds a worn, yellowed journal and a faded scrap of ribbon - the only clues to her lost heritage. As she ...
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In the spring of 1988, on a small Scottish island battered into stark beauty by the motion of the sea, Eva Crawford turns eighteen and learns a disturbing fact that shatters the comfort and stability of her life. Confused and bewildered, she leaves her safe childhood home and sets out on a journey of discovery - to unearth the truth about herself, her mother, and her family. In an austere Glasgow bedroom, Eva finds a worn, yellowed journal and a faded scrap of ribbon - the only clues to her lost heritage. As she opens the journal, she is spellbound by the story of her ancestors ... women who, beginning with Ailsa Rose one hundred years earlier, had set out on their own remarkable journeys. Ailsa Rose Sinclair found contentment as a wife and mother in Victorian London, but it was the exotic paradise of Glen Affric that nourished and sustained her soul. There, her mother, Mairi Rose, awaited her ... as did Ian Fraser, Ailsa's first love, left behind years before. As progress threatened the healing beauty of the glen, Ailsa and Ian confronted their own demons, old loyalties, and new betrayals ... and the passion they had so long denied. Alanna Sinclair, Ailsa's beloved daughter, was raised in London but, like her mother, returned always to the rushing waters, to the peace and promise of the glen. There she met David Fraser and knew from the moment her eyes met his what it was to love with perfect abandon. Yet the strongest love could not protect any of them from the pain of a devastating tragedy.... One hundred years later, Eva Crawford pieces together fragments of herself from the stories of these women, and seeks to uncover more in the lush beauty of Glen Affric. Only if she can comprehend the frailty and sorrow of Celia, the mother who abandoned her but whose memory will not give her peace, can Eva begin to forgive. Only then can she move toward a future that will give voice to the melodies and rhythms that sing in her soul. Then she may be free to love the cle

During the spring of 1988, on a small Scottish island, 18-year-old Eva Crawford leaves her childhood home to unearth the truth about herself, her mother, and her family. In a spare Glasgow bedroom, Eva finds a worn yellowed journal and a faded scrap of ribbon. She is soon spellbound by the story of her ancestors. Each had to confront their own demons, old loyalties and new betrayals, as a devastating tragedy loomed.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Readers who loved the bestselling Too Deep for Tears will also be ensnared by this ambitious sequel, once they swallow such overwritten sentences as the novel's opening line: ``The sea sang and snarled and wept in a voice that echoed the ancient cry of mermaids in their shimmering isolation.'' Davis returns to beautiful, wild Glen Affric in the Scottish highlands as the primary setting of her passionate story about a young girl's search for the truth about her ancestors. The novel, which alternates between the 20th and 19th centuries, opens in 1988 on a small Scottish island where-on her 18th birthday and at the request of her biological mother, Celia Ward, who died many years ago-Eva Crawford is told by her parents that she was adopted as a baby. In a letter to Eva, Celia invites her daughter to learn more about her past by contacting her friend, Eilidh, in Glasgow. There Eilidh gives her Celia's ebony Chinese chest, which contains a journal written by one of Eva's ancestors, Ailsa Rose, in 1882. The journal, which unfolds in sections throughout the novel, depicts the colorful inhabitants in Glen Affric, a place of extraordinary raw beauty. Davis's 19th-century characters are so richly drawn that it's difficult to leave them when she returns to the less colorful Eva. Still, the intertwining of the two times creates an affecting story. Major ad/promo; Simon & Schuster Audio. (May)
Denise Perry Donavin
Davis' young heroine, Eva Crawford, travels from her childhood home in the Hebrides to the Highlands of Scotland because of the startling revelation that the solid folk Eva always believed to be her parents had adopted her as an infant. They were deliberately selected by Eva's dying mother, Celia Ward, in the belief that their down-to-earth qualities could combat the fey nature of her own ancestors. Ironically, Eva, blessed with second sight and the ability to commune with nature, grew up wondering why she felt so different from her peers and parents. Eva's mother also left a family chest filled with journals. So the search is interspersed with stories of the loves, losses, and battles of the family in the glen. This diverting tale is neatly spun, yet the overwhelming power of the land upon the senses is played far beyond the hilt. Still, sentimental readers, especially those who enjoyed the prequel "Too Deep for Tears" 1988, will savor this historical romance.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671736033
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 501

Meet the Author

Kathryn Lynn Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including Too Deep for Tears, All We Hold Dear, and Somewhere Lies the Moon, all available from Pocket Books. She lives with her husband in Riverside, California.
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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter 1 The sea sang and snarled and wept in a voice that echoed the ancient cry of mermaids in their shimmering isolation. It echoed, as well, the confusion in Eva's aching spirit.

She saw the harsh beauty in the explosions of foam against towering pitted stone, felt it in the sodden, salty weight of her tennis shoes and blue jeans and the mist upon her skin, heard it in the endless thunder of the waves against the rugged island shore. She knew it in her soul, where a sense of betrayal flourished

Eva felt at one with the waves that battered the tall cliffs, destroying themselves, making luminescent splendor of their own destruction. Yet again and again, the fragmented drops fell back into the water, where the cerulean sea was replenished and reborn.

In much the same way, her nightmare was reborn over and over in the dark of early morning. Her other dreams shifted in pace and vivid color, transformed themselves according to her mood and imagination. But the nightmare never changed. Invariably she dreamed she was short and slight, caught at the edge of the cliff, afraid to look down, afraid of falling into water that would drag her to its cold blue heart and suffocate her.

She tried to hide in cave or crevice, but the sea was always there before her, blocking her way. She saw her reflection in a pool of tide water, her pallid skin and long white-blond hair, gray eyes and softly molded cheekbones, her lips pressed tight in fear. It was the face of a stranger, yet in the dream it was her own.

She never saw the wave coming, only cried out as she stumbled and lost her footing in the swirling foam. She fell from the steep cliff, clawing as she gasped and choked, confused and without hope. Drowning.

Earlier this very day, Eva had awakened from the nightmare to her eighteenth birthday with the darkness upon her, as it often was after dreams of the wraith who was and was not herself. She awoke depressed, disgusted with her own weakness. She did not know why the nightmare affected her this way, lingering long after the sun had risen. She only knew she felt helpless and out of control, and the feeling terrified her.

Glancing around her bright, airy room, she felt the terror fade. The walls were clean, white and familiar; one large window looked out over the sea, while the dormer window revealed the lush green woods nearby, giving the room a liberating sense of space and light. The oak bedstead was large and comfortable, draped in a pale green duvet that echoed the green leafy swirls in the thick warm rug beside the bed.

Longing for the company of her parents, Eva had dressed quickly in blue jeans and a loose wool jersey, stopping to glance into the antique mirror on the simple vanity. She saw with relief that she looked the same; her hair was short, chestnut colored, thick and curly on top, cut close to her head so the wind would not blow it into her eyes as she walked the island. Her cheekbones were high and distinct, her eyes green ringed in gray. She was always afraid, after the nightmare, that she would see that woman in the glass, that pitiful stranger struggling in despair.

Eva stretched to reassure herself that she was not short and slight but tall, and, though her bones were small, she was muscular from climbing and swimming, her skin warm and brown from the sun.

"I should look a little different today," she told the mirror in disappointment. She was eighteen, after all. Surely her age should show in her eyes. But no new knowledge or sophistication was visible on her familiar face. With a sigh, she turned away.

As she came downstairs, the smell of peat seemed to fill the spacious rooms, to rise toward the high-beamed ceiling in invisible swirls of pungent air. Eva stopped to sniff appreciatively. Though her parents were lucky and could afford to burn wood and coal to keep their stone and timbered house warm, Eva preferred the smell of peat; it reminded her vividly of the lush, dangerous earth of the island.

She had moved through the sitting room, which was dominated by a fine stone fireplace and the carved beams overhead, scuffing her feet against the worn Aubusson carpet that covered the shiny hardwood floors. Affectionately, she'd brushed the back of one of the three brocaded wingbacked chairs where she often spent the evenings with her parents. The dining room, with its formal dark wainscoting, long lace curtains, and antique rosewood table and chairs, was rarely used, though the curtains had been drawn back to let in the fitful morning light.

Finally, Eva had reached the kitchen, huge and bright with its wide sparkling windows, gleaming modern cooker, sink and worktop. Most often, the family chose to gather at the scrubbed pine table, with the blue-checked curtains open and the island spread below them.

Samuel and Agnes Crawford had been strangely silent this morning, though it was an important birthday for Eva. She had looked forward to it for months, perhaps even years. She thought becoming a woman might fill the hole inside her, ease her restlessness, and give her answers to questions she did not know.

As always, her mother had prepared Eva's favorite breakfast, tattie scones and bannocks with homemade black currant jam, porridge and kippers, as well as strong tea. There were flowers on the table and linen napkins. The fire, along with the heat from the huge old stove in the kitchen, had long since burned away the biting chill of dawn. But her parents' faces had been grim, though they tried to pretend everything was normal. Usually, on any day, let alone her birthday, they were laughing before the first bite was taken, hands wrapped securely around hot, sweetened, milky tea. Eva had watched and listened to the strained silence, the murmured but meaningless comments, until she could stand it no more. Putting down her tea, she'd asked, "What is it? You're frightening me."

Samuel had waved his hand and answered gruffly, "'Tis naught that can't wait till the sun has a chance to bum away the clouds, or the wind comes." But he did not smile.

Eva had insisted. So, in the soft light of the comfortable kitchen, which should have bound them together in its warmth and safety, they had told her. The light had splintered like ice at the edge of a shallow loch. Eva had listened numbly, cried out hoarsely, pushed back her chair and left them, passing near the always hot Aga stove to grab her anorak and toss it around her shoulders.

In shock, too stunned to think, she had gone, as she often did, to the cliffs where the sea surged in and out of caves and caverns of tortured stone. She had walked the narrow ledges, climbed and clamored upward, lunged down again to where the water thrashed at her jeans and inadequate shoes. She had been numb with disbelief, moving without awareness. She'd pushed her body until her breath rasped painfully, her legs ached and the sea spray mingled with the sweat of her skin.

The wrens dipped past, singing sweetly, while the curlews hovered and disappeared, their melancholy cry drifting on the air, a haunting echo after they had gone. Eva had walked inside that mournful song for many hours. She had let the water take her, oblivious of sodden clothes or throbbing muscles.

She'd climbed until the numbness was pierced by sharp, darting thoughts. Everything she had believed was a lie. She was a stranger from herself, her parents, everyone. She was no longer Eva Crawford. She was no one. She was more a part of the ballet of seabirds above the water, more one of the shadows dancing beneath the elegant wingspans of fulmar and gannet, than she was of the people among whom she had grown.

Once or twice she had thought of throwing herself into the sea, whose seething waves seemed friendlier than her own muddled feelings. But something always stopped her. Perhaps the thought of the bewildered grief of her family and friends. Eva was certain they had never known the darkness, that they would not understand her desire to leave it behind, to find a moment of peace and the end of turmoil.

She wanted to jump but did not really wish to die -- just to let go, to be free, to let the sea cradle her, subsume her. In some fundamental way, she sensed that her spirit belonged there.

Usually, as she walked the cliffs, the ferocity of the ocean ate away at the darkness, a wave at a time, until her thoughts stopped spinning, questioning, wondering. But today was not like other days.

Today the thunder of the sea and the exertion of scaling the dangerous cliffs had not eased her. She stared at the horizon, mesmerized by the waves that hurled themselves against the scarred black stone. In that violence there was so much beauty. The paradox intrigued her; she ached with it. There was a promise of something evanescent and enchanting in that transformation from seething blue-gray waves to fleeting white lace foam.

Today that promise was not enough. The darkness did not lift nor the morning brighten. Because today Agnes and Samuel Crawford had given the darkness a name -- Celia Ward. Eva's birth mother.

Copyright © 1995 by Kathryn Lynn Davis

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