Jeanette Baker spins an eloquent and intricate story that combines the lives of two extraordinary women. NELL is yet another shining example of Ms. Bakers exceptional gift for storytelling.

Modern Jillian Fitzgerald has always been devoted to her mysterious friend, Nell. As a child, Jillian accepted that she was the only person who could see and talk to this young woman. Warmhearted Jillian also befriends young Frankie Maguire, although they are separated by faith, money and class. But time and the Irish troubles come between them. Frankie is falsely accused of murdering Jillian's brother and sent to Long Kesh Prison.

As a young woman, Jillian discovers that her mysterious friend Nell is really a distant ancestor. Through a slip in time, Nell has been able to enter the modern era. Without warning, Jillian suddenly finds herself sucked back to 1537 during the rule of Henry VIII.

Now Nell needs help. Her entire family has been executed by order of the King. Only Nell and her brother have survived. Nell is handfasted to her true love Donal OFlaherty, but in order to save her brother she may have to become the Kings mistress.

In Jillian's own time, her love for Frankie remains a distant memory. He disappeared from sight years before, after escaping from prison. Fate is placing them together at a critical juncture in Irish history. Is there any way for both sets of star-crossed lovers to prevail?

(Mar., 418 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith