Here is the gist of the plot: A young woman returns to the town of her birth and discovers that her identity is not what she thought. Shall I spoil it for you? Turns out that this woman’s (so-called) mother, devastated by the loss of her own child in a housefire, kidnapped her former-employers’ toddler and raised that girl as her own. Thus, our impecunious heroine is really the long-lost heir of an eccentric, wealthy recluse.
The bare bones of the story could have been presented convincingly. As it is, they fall flat.
Reading it, I was surprised that such a weak tale made it into such a book. Yet I’ve noticed that a simplistic condemnation of the isolated, over-protected, “non-authentic” life of the rich (placed in opposition to a free-hearted, more ethical, more footloose life) does seem to pop up in stories from the 1990’s. During that decade it apparently felt fresh enough to be acceptable without any finesse or real development. Nowadays the writer would have had to do a bit more with such a theme.
Thinking about the story, it helps me understand a bit better why some books do, and others don’t, deserve to become classics. This story feels dated and incomplete today even though other tales from the same decade are still highly readable. Probably that is because they hinge upon the universal human condition instead of whatever social commentary was currently popular. That is something for me to remember with my own fiction writing. I need to restrain myself from trying to share too many opinions, and instead develop my observations. There is a difference.