Renny is impatient with Finch (and with his friend, and, perhaps, with the bond between the boys as well, which de la Roche hints at, but neither names nor explores).
But he’s doing some soul-searching of his own and there is this matter of “an inexplicable magnetic current” and “a volcanic disturbance”. And there’s a young woman in the community whose “mind was fervently preoccupied with the young men at Jalna. Married or single, their doings filled her thoughts.”
It’s impossible to read these passages without giggling and, indeed, a good part of the pleasure resides in that giggling. But the bookish bits are of interest too. In this volume, we hear again about how many books Alayne reads, stacks and stacks of them. Which she has time for by “not getting time for anything else”. And we have Renny reminiscing about his mother (step-mother, technically), who was nearly always reading, in his memory. She was a poetry-loving bookworm in this novel published in 1929.
But years later, when readers meet her in Mary Wakefield, a novel published twenty years later, in 1949, she is presented as an upstart governess, who smokes and wears paint on her lips and scent, when she snares the man of the house, and the only book she reads is Lady Audley’s Secret, when she is supposed to be otherwise engaged. However, young Renny was the source of some scandal himself, so maybe he draws his line more generously than many.
Although he remains impatient with Eden and his writing projects. In fact, Eden has a new idea, which he shares, enthusiastically, with Finch:
“I have it in my mind to write a narrative poem of the early history of French Canada. There’s tremendous scope in it: Jacques Cartier. The perilous voyages in sailing vessels. The French Governors, and their mistresses. Crafty Intendants. Heroic Jesuits. The first Seigneurs. Voyageurs. The Canadien chansons. Those poor devils of Indians who were captured and taken to France, and put to work in the galleys. Think of the song of homesickness I could put into their mouths!”