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From The CriticsIn her hundredth book, bestselling author Cookson returns to turn-of-the-century England, bringing back one of her most popular and beloved characters, the tenacious Kate Hannigan. The novel follows the life of Annie (Kate's illegitimate daughter with the kindly doctor Rodney Prince) as she struggles to cope with her parents' unconventional relationship. Not unlike her mother, Annie finds herself caught between love and society's expectations when she falls for Terence, her poor but Oxford-educated neighbor. Annie's nemesis, Cathleen Davidson, further complicates matters when she vows to destroy the relationship, which she considers inappropriate. The author, who died in 1998, was honored in 1993 with the title Dame Cookson by the British Empire for her literary achievements. In her last book, she chooses to gloss over issues of class and gender in historic England, focusing instead on Annie's struggle to balance love and familial pressures. The prose is sentimental and the characters are often predictable, but the story is entertaining; Cookson's fans will enjoy the author's lush language, especially in her descriptions of the lovely Northumberland countryside.
—Bret Anthony Johnston