Gay abandon: Islands of Mercy, by Rose Tremain, reviewed

Rose Tremain has followed her masterly The Gustav Sonata with an altogether different novel. In 1865, Clorinda Morrissey, a 38-year-old woman from Dublin, arrives in Bath and sells a ruby necklace in order to set up Mrs Morrissey’s High Class Tea Rooms. Mrs Morrissey believes that ‘the future was going to be perfumed with raspberry jam and freshly baked scones and fragrant lemon cake’. The tea rooms also, however, once open, become the scene of Jane Adeane — a highly skilled nurse — rejecting a proposal from Dr Valentine Ross, her colleague at her father’s surgery. Jane has achieved a near-mythic status as a nurse in Bath and ‘was described