The Magnificent Marriage (1975)

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The Magnificent Marriage is No. 15 of the Bantam books written by Barbara Cartland, published in February 1975.

Lady Letty Burne, the protagonist's sister, is a stunningly beautiful young woman from England. Her father receives a letter from Maximus Kirby, a handsome wealthy businessman who lives in Singapore and is highly revered there, that asks them to send Letty to Singapore to be married to him, as previously arranged. Lefty, who is very childlike in demeanor and intelligence, is afraid to do so. Letty had been traumatized a couple of years earlier when a young man pressed his attentions on her and kissed her. Since then, all men, except her father, frighten her. She refuses, and, as usual, they depend on her elder sister, Dorinda Burne, to coax her into it.

Dorinda, the story's protagonist, is the family "ghost" because of her disfigurement from eczema. Her parents depend heavily on her, she's highly intelligent and well-read, to run the house and help them with Letty, and she does so excellently, behind the scenes. She declined a season in London, because of her disfigurement and has accepted the fact that she will probably never marry as people have trouble even looking at her. Letty's parents are happy about the impending nuptials because they are impoverished. Letty is barely persuaded to go, and only because Dorinda tells her that her father would have to sell the house, live in disgrace and penury and would be hard pressed to look at Letty if she refused to go, as she'd promised long ago.

They set sail. On board, the first bit of the voyage is rough sailing and Letty becomes sick. Dorinda is so busy tending to her, that she becomes worn thin herself. The doctor aboard introduces her to a wonderful nun, Sister Teresa, who is a great nurse and missionary and has a special way with children and sick patients. Childlike Letty and Sister Teresa become fast companions, and Dorinda is glad of the chance to have a bit of time to herself to read. Dorinda is excited to be going on this adventure, partly because she rarely got out or travelled because of her eczema, and, partly, because she watched Kirby from a distance (they never met while he was in England at her home. She always stayed out of sight of guests), and she already had formed a deep admiration for him. On the way there, her eczema clears up, due to the warm tropical climate. She is torn between wonder and disbelief over this, and is eventually overjoyed.

They make it to Kirby's boat and the adventures start getting more exciting from there. There are pirates, Tigers, snakes, secret rooms and old acquaintances to deal with. Letty is doing well, at first, but later, after an incident with pirates on Kirby's boat, is traumatized again, and starts becoming difficult to handle again. Meanwhile, Dorinda is falling deeper in love with Kirby day-by-day...


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