Elizabeth Bowen has somehow managed to portray stasis as an art form. In a book where mere suggestion alone can result in so much soul searching and change is truly amazing. Yet her story is told beautifully and not only that, but there are some wonderfully bleak moments thrown in as well. The ending is both unexpected and eccentric; yet it’s fun...it’s on par with that perfect 10 moment with Bo Derek and Dudley Moore. I couldn’t help but giggle. ;) That said, this scene does work, since you can almost picture the past reborn.
In regards to the characters:
Antonia: At times, her relationship with Guy reminded me of Cathy and Heathcliff, i.e. after Cathy’s marriage...that selfish teasing...playing with each other’s emotions getting joy out of witnessing each other’s pain. Guy told her, you’ll never be rid of me and in some ways, she never was. However, that’s also where the similarities end. For Antonia, freedom seems to be her one true love.
Lilia: Guy essentially takes up all of her coherent thoughts...except for her desire to be a mistress of the house. In some ways, these two things are her selfish obsession, even though she knows neither of these two things can be realized. For her, everyone and everything else cancels out, especially her two daughters.
Fred: Outwardly, he has the appearance of everything that is manly—strength, stature and a rakish past. However that’s where it all ends, since he turns into mush in Lilia’s hands and through the presence of those letters. I wholeheartedly agreed with Maud perceiving him as “looking small.”
Jane: Jane inadvertently brings everything to the surface and out in the open. She’s essentially a young innocent, whose heart has been awakened, yearning for a first love.
Maud: Oh, the bells, the bells! One of her chief pleasures in her young life is listening to chimes of Big Ben on the wireless. She’s eccentric for a child, yet she’s more of an adult than anyone else in this story. She is the only one who is really trying to put things into motion and get things done. Unfortunately on the surface it seems her efforts are unappreciated.