Sally Beauman is the author of the bestselling REBECCA'S TALE. First published in 1990, DARK ANGEL is her second novel and already international bestseller which has been widely translated and contains overtones of Daphne Du Maurier.
Sally Beauman has had great critical and commercial success with all her novels: DESTINY, DARK ANGEL, the series LOVERS AND LIARS, DANGER ZONES and SEXTET, and REBECCA'S TALE have been translated into over twenty languages and have been bestsellers worldwide.
Beauman's eagerly awaited second novel, not so fiery and beguiling as her bestselling Destiny , seeks to deal thoughtfully with the entwined issues of social class and the kind of exploitative, even perverse sexuality that can invade and destroy a family. What weakens this ambitious, potentially gripping scheme is the author's tendency to write of decadence in repetitive and fatiguing prose. Spanning the period from 1910 to the '80s, the narrative moves between Winterscombe, the English country manor where the fashionable gather for shooting and ``leisured adultery,'' and the New York City/Hamptons scene of aging eccentric gays, aesthetes and interior decorators. In 1968 Victoria Cavendish, 38, learns from a Hindu seer that she must choose between two women--her long-dead mother, Jane, a WW I nurse in France, and Constance, her seductively dangerous godmother, who wormed her way into the family and used her marriage to powerful financier Montague Stern to undermine it. Both women had vied for the love of Victoria's father, Acland. Both were at Winterscombe when Constance's promiscuous father, Shawcross, died horribly mangled in a mantrap--an illegal device to stop poachers. In search of her family's past, Victoria reads tattered old journals that yield dark secrets--incest, fornication, betrayal, suicide, possibly murder--meanwhile coming to grips with ``deadly'' Constance. Although she herself is curiously passive and listless, Victoria's own love story gathers gradual momentum, despite Constance's opposition, when she rediscovers her childhood sweetheart. 200,000 first printing; $200,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection. (Aug.)
'A rich and engrossing read' - Evening Standard 'Unputdownable' - Company 'Compulsively racy' - Observer 'Totally compelling' - She 'A rich and engrossing read' - Evening Standard 'Unputdownable' - Company
Its length is the only drawback to this novel about an English family in the years between the appearances of Halley's Comet (1910-86). Beauman ( Destiny) has woven a convoluted web of relationships, quarrels, seduction, incest, betrayals, and possible murder. Unraveling this tangle is Victoria Cavendish, whose enigmatic godmother, Constance Shawcross, is always at the center. Constance, who may be a victim or the villain, raised Victoria in New York after her parents' death. The focus repeatedly returns to a night in April 1910 when Constance's father was killed at the Cavendish estate. The circumstances of his death and of various individuals' roles in it are part of the suspense maintained to the end. The people, places, and scenes crowding these pages are memorably and convincingly depicted. A note of warning: Some segments are graphic and involve sex with children. Beauman's second novel is sure to be requested. Highly recommended. Literary Guild main selection; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/90.-- Ellen Kaye Stoppel, Drake Univ. Law Lib., Des Moines