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From London to Cairo, in the glittery world of high society before WWII, Dean taps into an exotic and distant world in her page-turning debut. After 18-year-old Virginia belle Delia marries older British aristocrat Ivor Conisborough, they decamp to London and get to work on producing an heir for the aging viscount. Delia is agog at her new friends in high places, but her idyll is trampled when she learns a painful secret about Ivor. Even so, Delia is endlessly infatuated with London, and she eventually has two girls, Petronella and Davina. The family, to Delia's chagrin, is relocated to Cairo on a long diplomatic mission, and here the novel really sings, as Hitler's campaign hits closer to home and everyone seems to have ulterior motives. Davina and Petronella, meanwhile, grow into young women who think of Cairo as home and fall in love with men they meet there. Dean beautifully captures the mood and color of the era-her descriptive passages are marvelous and complement the layered intrigue, romance and deception. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.