I was so very, very lucky to be able to get this book. I had to Interlibrary Loan it from
I was really interested to see what Kavan, since that is the name she changed to later I’ll use it here, wrote next after reading The Charmed Circle. Wow is it good. Again we are dealing with family, two sisters, who are inexplicably tied to each other. I just finished Night and Day by Virgina Woolf and I’m finding these books and the last book I reviewed very similar. The books are about what happens when you don’t actually tell people what you are thinking!
Emerald and Karen live in an apartment together. Emerald supports Karen by modelling. This is an excellent description of Karen:
“Karen could be trusted never to do anything efficiently. She had a genius for incompetence that maddened her sister. At times it really drove her almost to madness. But in spite of her resentment and perpetual sense of grievance that it aroused in her she could not resist. Emerald’s soul rebelled always with bitterness against the helplessness in Karen that forced her into every leading role, saddling her for ever with the entire responsibility of their joint lives. The responsibility was nauseous to her and yet unspeakably dear; a sweet torture. She could never forgive Karen for inflicting it. She was passionately devoted to her sister.” (10)
Karen always lives in a dream world, rarely worrying about how she is fed or what will happen from day to day. Instead she is thinking about pixies in the woods and her embroidery.
The relationship between
looked down at the hand lying on his own. In the pinkish glow of lamplight, it was wonderfully white and frail, as if refined away, with the blue veins showing their faint tracery. He frowned in bewilderment. He really did not understand his friend; and because he didn’t understand, he must always be on the defensive, a trifle suspicious of him.” (136) Edmond
The writing is well done,
“There was a certain kindliness about him that was rather touching. He seemed to watch her with an almost fatherly solicitude. It was difficult to withstand his gentle kindliness. Her heart warmed towards him. But then, all at once, she shuddered as though he had thrown a shadow upon her. Again she saw him as a heavy, indifferent man who encroached upon her with his imperceptiveness, inaccessibility, out of her secret world; to force her into contact with him. And this she could not tolerate. There could be no contact between them.” (99)
What changed her feelings towards him? Nothing that actually happens, her thoughts just flow from thinking about his kindness to his indifference.
When considering these reactions to relationship, it seems to me like they are just trying to keep people at arms length. Emerald and Karen neither want to really give in to anyone. So once they start liking someone, or see someone responding to them…they cut them off. They even do it to each other. Because of the way they act, others around them act defensively and have the same thought patterns. If the characters actually told each other about their feelings then she would have to make a definitely decision. Once someone actually tells Emerald that he loves her, she automatically runs. She can’t handle the truth any more then she can handle not knowing.
To let you know a bit more about the plot, the sisters go to
While this is going on, Emerald goes back to her life and finds it very difficult not to have Karen around. She finds her life shabby and boring compared to her selective memory of what life was like in the country. Her friend Carew takes her out and ends up confessing his love. She runs saying scathing things to him because she doesn’t know how to deal with true feelings. Morgan comes to her rescue and they make a trip to
Emerald of course is very bitter…as she was to begin with…with having to take care of Karen. She thought she could go back to the old life, but seeing what life could have been like makes it even harder for her. She finds out that Karen hasn’t been as true to her sister as Emerald has, well Emerald never explained her promise to Karen…so how was Karen to know she was causing so much grief? Karen and Morgan have started to see each other when Emerald has been out. They have found that they are very suited to each other. They are both a bit other worldly and Morgan appreciates her dreaminess and doesn’t see it as a slight to his ego. At the very end, Carew comes back to see Emerald. The book ends with him coming to visit and her unexpectedly and she excepts him into her apartment.
The book ends different then
Over all a great read, and if you can get your hands on a copy…even though I’ve given away the plot etc…you might find it interesting.