At least 3-4 times throughout the book Whipple sneaks in some social commentary regarding urban environments juxtaposed against rural/country environments. Being a displaced 'farm girl', I appreciated her comments regarding the fact that humans have truly messed up their world. Lucy muses about the need for people living in cities to keep themselves "aloof" while not engaging with every person they encounter as a matter of self-preservation since they would be exhausted otherwise. Whereas, those living in the country have such peace and tranquility living in comparative isolation, that they can still enjoy and welcome interacting with others when the opportunity presents itself. Quite insightful! Though as usual Lucy is appalled by Vera's lack of tact and foresight when she claims in a loud and clear voice while riding the train into town that she never does know what "that stuff" is in the fields... These people make their living by planting, harvesting, and selling "that stuff" and Lucy imagines she can sense the "shock" such a seemingly uncaring and inconsiderate comment sends throughout the other train passengers.
Charlotte and Vera, especially Vera, treated Lucy just as they would a parent, becoming silent once she entered a room, lying to her...
"being a wife"!
three very different relationships...
Vera, the spoiled brat "beauty," ends up marrying Brian who provides quite well for himself, his wife, and children. Though we do learn that his mother contributed most of the money that allowed Vera to constantly host dinners and parties, and paid for many of the servants. However, Vera being Vera, she decides her husband is boring and seeks male companionship elsewhere. Right under poor Brian's nose! In their own/his house! She is constantly playing hostess and guests are seemingly always in the house. Neither she nor Brian spend much time with their two daughters, Meril and Sarah. Vera fully expects to be waited upon hand and foot, wherever she is!
In the wake of his mother's death, Brian ends up moving to the United States, taking Meril (and her new governess) along. Ostensibly, this move would enable him to run the United States portion of the business more closely and would be safer in the event of war. Eventually he invites Vera and Sarah to join him as he chooses to remain in the U.S. In response to Vera's insistence to remain in the U.K., he divorces her and marries the governess. Ha! Then Vera becomes enamored with Terry, a younger man who is married to another woman. Though it is his wife who actually has money and supports them. Vera does everything possible to retain her good looks, including dying her hair which was unheard of in 1943. In the end, she refuses to believe the reality of Terry's manipulation of her teenage niece, Judith, and decides to be just as victimized as was Charlotte; they are moving to South Africa to 'camp'. As Lucy's husband, William, notes, that 700 a year from Vera will likely prove handy to Terry, and her, as they embark upon this camping expedition/lifestyle. Vera. Camping. Yeah, that's a laugh! This, the woman who must have everything done for her!
Once Sarah and Judith both walk up to Vera's house, each with a packed suitcase, Lucy realizes they will remain there and just hopes that Vera will relinquish custody to her. Though she is rather concerned about William's reaction to two teenage girls living with them permanently, she needn't have been. Upon being asked, William replies,
And finally we come to the
One day at lunch, Charlotte has finally had enough of putting on appearances for the servants and children and arrives totally disheveled, rather drunk, with her "ravaged face, swollen-lipped, [and] red-eyed," even Geoffrey was "startled."
Geoffrey finally managed to totally alienate his other two children, Judith and Stephen, all over a dog someone had given to him, so he simply passed it on to his children who had wanted a dog all along. As you can imagine, that caused great hardship to Geoffrey. There was another being in the house who the children cared for much more than him! And his name was Crusoe! Attention was being diverted from him as their father (and abuser) and they were disobeying him! Unacceptable! So he made sure to humiliate and terrorize them by literally handing the dog off to the innkeeper where they sometime vacationed. Just as they were packed and leaving. However, Crusoe, wounded, exhausted, and starved, somehow traveled all the miles back to them at their home. But Geoffrey found out and managed to take him away, for good. Stephen and Judith never forgave him. He had to really work to get back into Margaret's good graces, but finally he did, especially as he would take her to the cinema and/or performances, just as he should have been accompanied by his wife and/or the whole family! What a manipulator! When Charlotte informed him she was moving her things, Geoffrey laughed: