Dangerously charming, Palliser Wentwood has run away to England, leaving behind his farm in New Zealand, his beautiful wife Salome, his daughters, and his many creditors. Palliser is in search of a fortune, enough to restore the prosperity of farm and family. In an English manor live the Lovelaces: Hubert and Blanche, brother and sister, both amazingly tall and immensely fat, shy, and conventional. Engaged as a butler, and posing as a grieving widower, Palliser turns his charms on Blanche, teasing out laughter and beauty where before there was only timidity.
But will his deception succeed? Can he bring himself to ruin her? And, back in New Zealand, will Salome succumb to the gentle siege of Philip Butterworth, solicitor and suitor?
Wise and funny and sad, Imogen de la Bere's wonderful debut combines the pleasures of an old-fashioned novel with the delights of a thoroughly contemporary heroine and writing that crackles with wit and life.
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Palliser Wentwood is no Jeeves. Unlike P.G. Wodehouse's exemplary butler, Wentwood neither shimmers silently in and out of rooms nor extricates his master from impossible scrapes. Instead, he drinks his employer's brandy, pays scant attention to his personal hygiene, and performs his duties in a lackadaisical manner--if he performs them at all. But this may be due to the fact that Palliser Wentwood is not really a butler. He is, in fact, something of a rogue--a man who has abandoned his wife and four children in New Zealand and come to England to make his fortune. His plans for doing so involve Hubert Lovelace, a wealthy Anglican priest, and his massive and homely sister, Blanche. By insinuating himself into the Lovelace household, Wentwood hopes, he can work his charms on Blanche and eventually extract enough cash from her to return to New Zealand.
In her first novel, Imogen de la Bere has crafted a wise and charming comedy of manners--and morals. As the narrative switches back and forth between Palliser in England and his wife, Salome, and children in New Zealand, de la Bere raises the stakes by introducing a potential love interest for the abandoned wife--and an inconvenient case of guilty conscience for the scheming Wentwood. This is an old-fashioned novel with old-fashioned pleasures: a slightly formal narrative, complex characters you come to care about, and a strong story that more than earns its satisfying ending. --Margaret PriorAbout the Author:
Imogen de la Bere divides her time between England and New Zealand, where she has built up a reputation as a theater critic and lay preacher. Originally a scholar of Elizabethan popular prose, she found surprisingly few openings in this area, and so resigned herself to a lifetime as a computer consultant, occasionally taking time out to bring up three tolerant children. The Last Deception of Palliser Wentwood is her first novel.
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Book Description Vintage, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0099272792