In her sixteenth book, Ann Bridge takes us to Portugal: not only the well-known world of Estoril and the Embassies, but behind the scenes, into the life lived on country estates by the Portuguese themselves.
When Julia Probyn came to sun-lit Portugal to cover a royal wedding for her paper, the last thing she expected was to find herself involved in the escape of an important Hungarian priest, ruthless Communists who pursued him, and the affairs of a young Hungarian countess just released from behind the Iron Curtain.
The lvely countess, Hetta Paloczy, a convent school girl for two-thirds of her life and a cook to a rustic priest in Hungary for the rest, is suddenly plunged into an international society where social tact is just as important as the right clothes. Hetta had lived with poverty, hardship and danger for her daily bread and here, she vivdly relates her horrifying experiences in Soviet-dominated Hungary. Her adjustment to her new life in Portugal is complicated by the two men who are irresistibly drawn to her. One is a well brought-up American in the high Bostonian sense of the phrase; the other is outwardly much the conventional Englishman, but one who secretly adores recklessness.
Readers who enjoyed the engaging Julia in The Lighthearted Quest will be glad to meet her again here, playing her accustomed role of outsmarting the professionals at their own game. And readers will be equally delighted with the spontaneous Hetta--indeed, with the full keyboard of characters Miss bridge vivdly portrays in her engrossing novel.
Though equally gay and lively, The Portuguese Escape also penetrates deeply into the life of another country and gives a revealing account of the impact of western life and behavior on a highly intelligent observer from "the other side."