In chatting about the previous volume, Renny’s Daughter (1951), I mused on the future of Adeline’s romance. Because in the volume before, Return to Jalna (1956) she had committed to remaining unmarried to spend her adult life at her father’s side.
(The volumes were written out of story-order. Mazo de la Roche was always writing back to fill in the gaps in the series, satisfying her fans’ and her personal desire for more of this family’s story.)
Here we swing back once more: “…oh, Daddy, you are so sweet to me…. There’s no one in the world like you. Never, never shall I want to leave you.”
A whole lot of drama.
Were this not the penultimate volume, one might predict another sixteen, filled with “loves him more”, “loves him less”.
And no wonder, for the romances and courtships in this saga are romantic in a Rhett-Butler-on-the-stairs way.
It’s hard to commit in the presence of this kind of ambivalence.
Adeline is devoted to her beau for years, at a distance, but when the engaged couple spends time together, things get…complicated. (Ironically, this behaviour is not what brings their engagement to an end.)
“He plunged after her into the darkness, as into a well. He caught her and drew her again to him. Again his passion repelled her. She struck him, and, disentangling herself, fled along the path. He found his way after her as best he could. They passed by the wood and the orchard without speaking. At last the house, with a light burning in the hall, was before them. They separated silently for their own rooms.”
Even the character who is said to be modelled most closely after Mazo de la Roche herself, Finch, the pianist, does not find happiness with a partner. “No other woman – no other marriage – not for him. The piano his woman,” insists Finch. But he is as changeable as young Adeline.