Catherine MacDonald, a young widow, lives with her beloved step-daughter Grace, her brother Hector, and his family in Edinburgh, Scotland. The previous year they had received word of the death of their brother, Alexander, who was reported lost during a monsoon in India. Suddenly, within a short space of time, events conspire to set Catherine upon an unexpected trip to India. First, Catherine receives a mysterious package containing a Kashmiri shawl, a container of unusual tea, and a stack of hand-written bagpipe music copied in Alexander's handwriting. Upon examining the music, Catherine discovers a copy of a tune familiar to her, since Alexander had composed it himself before leaving home. It is headed with a new and provocative title: "Not Yet Drown'd." Because of the great distance from India, and the many months required for a package to reach Scotland from there, she cannot be sure when the package was dispatched. Could her brother still be alive? Around the time she receives the package, a woman arrives from Virginia with papers stating that she is to take Grace back to Virginia to live with some distant relatives there. Catherine declines the offer, but the woman persists and has Grace kidnapped. Catherine boards Hector's steamboat bound for India in an exciting steamboat race in which a rescue is attempted.
This charming and fast-paced romance is Peg Kingman's first novel. Her use of language reflects the time period of the story, with conversations between the characters indicating a more formal mode of communication. Kingman's detailed descriptions of tea and its history, bagpipes and their music, steamboats and their various propulsion devices (paddlewheels, rotary oars, etc.) add to the complex tapestry and romance of her tale.
Reviewed by mc, 10/07. Other reviews by mc.