The Sparkling Cascade of diamonds was designed to adorn the women who married into one of England's most prominent families - a symbol of the wealth and privilege enjoyed by the Firths of Yorkshire. Instead the magnificent necklace would come to burden the women who wore it, becoming for them an emblem of bondage and inherited tragedy.
Pamela Haines' enthralling saga tells of three generations whose lives and destinies are linked through blood and inheritance of this priceless heirloom. There is Lily Greene, star of the London stage, who in 1898 weds the enigmatic sir Robert Firth, and for whom the diamond waterfall comes to symbolize a state of degradation and humiliation she never imagined possible. There is Lily's daughter, Sylvia, who is married for this fabulous legacy and leads a life of love and torment. And finally, there is Willow Gilmartin, who in the spring of 1945 removes the diamond waterfall from its bed of ivory satin - and at last claims a heritage that has for so long eluded others.
Sweeping from a great Yorkshire estate to the Riviera and across Europe - from the opulence of Edwardian London to the trenches of France in World War I and back to England during one of her most dramatic hours - this panoramic novel interweaves the lives of men who would fight on the battlefields of two world wars and women who would carry forward the traditions that defined them.
Pamela Haines was born in Yorkshire, like so many of the characters in her novels. Knaresborough, Leeds, and Harrogate have all played a part in her family background. She was educated at a convent in the Midlands, and then read English at Newnham College, Cambridge. As a child she wrote nonstop, but around the age of 17 life became too busy, and she did not write again until her late 30s, by which time she was married to a doctor, and had five children.
In 1971 she won the Spectator New Writing Prize with a short story, and eventually completed her first novel, Tea at Gunter's, in 1973. Critically acclaimed, it was the joint winner of the Yorkshire Arts Association Award for Young Writers. It was followed in 1976 by A Kind of War, described as 'a book to re-read and treasure' in the Daily Telegraph, and the even more successful Men on White Horses followed in 1978.
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Another cracking family saga from Pamela Haines
- E. Aristotelous