The Black Opal by Victoria Holt
Carmel was the unwanted one at Commonwood House. Found under an azalea bush in the garden, it was assumed by one and all that she was left by the gypsies, who had recently been encamped in the nearby woods. At an early age she had learned that, but for the kindness of Dr Marlins, she would have been sent to an orphanage. Then Uncle Toby - Captain Sinclair - paid one of his periodic visits. He and Carmel took an instant liking to each other and he made her feel she was no longer the outsider.

When tragedy struck at Commonwood and the household was disbanded, Uncle Toby took Carmel with him on a voyage to the other side of the world, and an exciting new life began for her. In Australia she found contentment with the fascinating Uncle Toby and motherly Elsie, and in the friendship of Gertie Forman and her brother James, who dreamed of a fortune through the opals he would find at Lightning Ridge. But Carmel was constantly haunted by the mysterious happenings at Commonwood House, and years later, when circumstances brought her back to England, she felt an irresistible impulse to return there. Renewing acquaintance with a friend of her childhood, Lucian /Compton, the owner of the nearby Grange, she learned of the macabre conclusions to the events of all those years ago; but plausible as these might seem, she could not accept them.

She should have been contented, for she had many good friends, both in Australia and in England. Yet she could not rest until she found the key which would unlock the secrets of her childhood; she must discover what had really happened during those last tragic days at Commonwood House.

Hardcover 1993 edition

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The Black Opal by Victoria Holt

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