A slender, first edition volume of this book came wafting through the Interlibrary Loan system from Dartmouth College to San Francisco. First published in 1946, this story played the one-note chord hard, over and over, the (dis)chord of two old maid sisters whose lives are turned upside down by a girl who comes to stay from the orphanage. Gwen is a bag of trouble, luring the old aunts into her web and deceiving them mightily. Various escapades ensue, and she eventually runs off with a man and gets married, only she gets pregnant and he dies before they marry. So back to the aunts’ home, the baby is born, Phillip is taken under the aunts’ wings and Gwen sits back and is waited on hand and foot. She eventually escapes again, goes to America and tells the aunts they can have Phillip. He’s raised in the lap of luxury, nothing denied him. Twenty years later, she returns with a new husband and son in tow, demanding the money to buy up a business to run. The aunts give her £3,000 and find that once you tap into the capital, your interest payments go way down. Instead of the bookshop she claims to buy, Gwen opens a dance hall, and Phillip goes to play piano there. One treacherous night, Phillip drives his half-brother and the girl they’re fighting over home, swerves to avoid hitting a man on the road and topples the car, killing his passengers. The aunts’ brother James arrives to help sort out all the mess and becomes friendly with Philip, helping to keep him out of trouble and preparing the whole crew for a move to London where living will be cheaper.
I didn’t like the pull pull pull on the heartstrings so heavy and hard, the reader wild-eyed with warning about Gwen trying to tell the sisters to boot her from the house. Very manipulative, and what I didn’t like about her other work, Someone at a Distance.