Bitter Heritage by Margaret Pedler ~ 1928. This edition: Hodder and Stoughton, 1928. Hardcover. 316 pages.
My rating: 4/10
A hugely predictable melodrama about a young woman whose father has disgraced himself, and by association her, by a massive financial gamble with other people’s money which failed. His subsequent suicide makes things even worse.
Our heroine Herrick -“a child-woman of seventeen” – is brutally dumped by her fiancé who fears disgrace by association – “I can’t put – forgive me – the daughter of a thief, of a swindler, in the place my mother’s held. Or” – his voice dropped a little – “make her the mother of my children.”
But not to worry! Herrick is a plucky young thing (and beautiful, which is useful) and she goes out into the cruel harsh world and makes a new life for herself. We see her next a very few years later in Paris, working as a model for a famous dressmaker.
Herrick impresses all by her natural sweetness, including her money-minded employer (digression: are all Parisian dressmakers as deeply mercenary as vintage English novels make them out to be – think about that one, fellow readers – can you show me an exception?), and in particular an English client, Lady Bridget, who – quelle coïncidence! – turns out to have been the long-ago romantic flame of Herrick’s father, and the possessor of a letter written to her by him just before he pulled the fatal trigger instructing Lady Bridget to look after his darling daughter.
So now all is good. Correct? Herrick can leave her employment and enter into a mutually comforting relationship with Lady Bridget. Who just so happens to have a charming, handsome son…
No, wait. That would be too easy.
The son’s romantic feelings are engaged elsewhere, but he acts as a brother-like chum to Herrick, which comes in handy when she needs a masculine shoulder to cry on. As she does, because her life is soon complicated with not one but two impetuous would-be lovers. One being – all unknown, because Herrick and her sponsor are all being very cagey as to her familial origin – the son of a man who was ruined by Herrick’s father and who was only saved from disgracing himself by suicide by his sudden death by heart failure while written his goodbye letter, revolver on his desk.
When this comes out, hasty words are spoken, and it looks as though Herrick’s “bitter heritage” will stand in the way of her future happiness.
Another plot twist removes all obstacles. Shall I tell it? Or can you guess?
You know, I’m going to leave it unrevealed.
Just in case someone reading this with a view to reading Bitter Heritage wants a surprise.
And with that, I leave you. And this book.
Of “period piece” interest only, and forthwith shelved accordingly.
Note on the author, directly quoting from the very sparse Wikipedia entry which was all I could find about her on my web search:
Margaret Pedler (died 28 December 1948) was a British novelist, who wrote popular works of romantic fiction.
Initially Pedler studied piano and singing at the Royal Academy of Music, and published several songs for which she wrote both the music and lyrics. Over her career as a best-selling writer, from 1917 to 1947, she produced 28 novels.
- The Splendid Folly: 1917
- The House of Dreams-Come-True: 1919
- The Hermit of Far End: 1920
- The Moon out of Reach: 1921(?)
- The Lamp of Fate: 1921
- The Vision of Desire: 1922(?)
- The Barbarian Lover: 1923
- Waves of Destiny: 1924
- Red Ashes: 1925
- Tomorrow’s Tangle: 1926
- Yesterday’s Harvest: 1926
- Bitter Heritage: 1928
- The Guarded Halo: 1929
- Fire of Youth: 1930
- Kindled Flame: 1931(?)
- Desert Sand: 1932
- The Greater Courage: 1933
- Pitiless Choice: 1933
- Distant Dawn: 1934 – published in England as “Green Judgment”
- The Shining Cloud: 1935(?)
- Checkered Paths: 1935(?)
- Flame in the Wind: 1937
- No Armour Against Fate: 1938(?)
- Blind Loyalty: 1940
- Not Heaven Itself: 1941
- Then Came the Test: 1942
- No Gifts from Chance: 1944
- Unless Two Be Agreed: 1947