Virago Modern Classic #137
Early in the twentieth century Lady Charlotte French-McGrath was chatelaine of Garonlea, her family’s Irish country home. She ruled as an absolute monarch and cast her husband, her son and her four daughters as courtiers.
You wouldn’t want to meet Lady Charlotte, but you can’t help admiring her.
When Desmond, the son of the house brought home his bride she was unwilling to join Lady Charlotte’s court. No, Cynthia set up her own court at the dower house aross the valley.
Cynthia too is a wonderful creation. She raises children, runs her house impeccably, entertains wonderfully, hunts whenever possible, always looks wonderful, and so draws her own courtiers like moths to a flame.
And so battle commences, between two different styles, two different ways of living and two formidable women who will not give way.
Eventually of course Cynthia does rule Garonlea, but her time will pass too.
This is a wonderful story, brought to life with colourful incidents and a wonderful supporting cast – most notably Lady Charlotte’s four differing daughters and Cynthia’s son and daughter.
And then of course there is Garonlea itself. The Gothic mansion is a constant presence and it is as vital a character as any of the characters who pass through.
“The Rising Tide” is a wonderful portrait of a changing world and ways of life that will soon disappear.
A joy to read!