In Sarnia, a recently orphaned young woman is working as a clerk in a banking house and being wooed by a co-worker. She likes him well enough, but isn’t sure she wants to be married and dependent on a man. Suddenly, her aunt and cousin from the island of Guernsey appear and tell her that she isn’t an orphan after all—her father is still alive and living on Guernsey. Sarnia, our heroine, goes with her aunt and cousin to the island where she is wined and dined, introduced into local society, and visits her cranky, dying recluse of a father, whom she slowly wins over by caring for him. He is wealthy. He changes his will to leave her everything. And then Sarnia’s troubles begin, and things get pretty dark.
This book was originally published in 1974 by Sam Youd, writing as Hilary Ford, which may account for some of the things I found troubling. The heroine is naive beyond belief, and, frankly, not very bright. The characters, both good and bad, are one-dimensional. The plot was completely predictable. Less than halfway through I started making guesses as to what would happen, and wasn’t wrong once. Sarnia faces more perils than Pauline, and yet manages to escape (almost) all unscathed.
On the plus side, the writing is pretty good and the book is well edited. The reader won’t find any deep insights into the human condition here, but for a formulistic, escapist, and frankly rather dark novel, this one could well do for a day or evening with nothing better in the offing.