In the years after the war, Mary and Rose Aubrey have found success as accomplished pianists. In spite of their travels and material rewards, they remain apart from society. When their cherished cousin Rosamund surprises them by marrying a man they feel is beneath her, the sisters must reconsider what love means to them and how they can find a sense of spiritual wellbeing on their own, without the guidance of their family. Filled with thoughtful observations on romantic and filial love, West’s final chronicle of the Aubreys deftly draws readers into her endearing characters’ most intimate story yet.
About the Author
Dame Rebecca West (1892–1983) is one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists, journalists, and literary critics of the twentieth century. Uniquely wide-ranging in subject matter and breathtakingly intelligent in her ability to take on the oldest and knottiest problems of human relations, West was a thoroughly entertaining public intellectual. In her eleven novels, beginning with The Return of the Soldier, she explored topics including feminism, socialism, love, betrayal, and identity. West’s prolific journalistic works include her coverage of the Nuremberg trials for the New Yorker, published as A Train of Powder, and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, her epic study of Yugoslavia. She had a son with H.G. Wells, and later married banker Henry Maxwell Andrews, continuing to write, and publish, until she died in London at age ninety.
Dame Rebecca West (1892–1983) is one of the most critically acclaimed and bestselling English novelists, journalists, and literary critics of the twentieth century. In her eleven novels, beginning with The Return of the Soldier, she delved into the psychological landscape of her characters and explored topics including feminism, socialism, love, betrayal, and identity. She was lauded for her wit and intellectual acuity, evident in her prolific journalistic works such as her coverage of the Nuremberg trials for the New Yorker, published as A Train of Powder, and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, her epic study of Yugoslavia and its people. She had a child with H.G. Wells, but married banker Henry Maxwell Andrews later in life and continued writing until she died in London at age ninety.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When Rebecca West wrote The Fountain Overflows, she indicated that it was the first part of a family saga, intended to be told in four parts. The first novel was the only one to be completed and published. She did, however, write more material, and revised a good portion of it, almost enough to fill the projected next two novels in the series. This book is the third, with roughly two thirds of the material revised and the last third still in an unfinished stage (although not sloppy, apparently West revised as she wrote, but always went through a final polishing before considering it revised). The story also stops short before its projected conclusion, but fortunately the ending, as is, feels appropriate. That is a rather complicated introduction, but the history of the books is unusual, and a review that doesn't take into consideration the nature of its composition is doing the author a disservice. The reason I was drawn to keep reading this fascinating story was that the characters are amazing and the writing is lyrical and engrossing. We start with the Aubrey family when Rose, the narrator, is just a child, and they are still going through the alternately wonderful and harrowing turbulence of life with their father. In this book, Rose is an adult, just entering middle age. She has become the famous pianist that she always knew she would be - but with that child's naive optimism which made me wonder, in the first book, if her success was as assured as she thought - and she is trying to live her adult life in cherishing those relationships she made in childhood but not forming any new ones. She feels that they are the only people she can really love. While I missed the child's perspective from the first novel, I still like Rose and her commentaries are fresh and feel real. I enjoyed reading about so many of the secondary characters that we met in the first novel and who reappear in these pages, and was saddened by the few characters who had died and were no longer present. As I wrote earlier, the characters in this series are what draw me in to the lovingly crafted world that West presents, and they are complex and fascinating, whether they people mundane spheres or more exotic ones. Our primary character, though, is still Rose, who has tried to maintain in her life a perpetual childhood, not believing that anything can compare to the magical days of her youth. In this book, two events shake her world so drastically that she is forced to move into the world of adulthood once and for all. The first is the tragic mismatch marriage of her best friend, Rosamund. This event leaves Rose and her sister in a tailspin of confusion and despair, and it isn't until she falls in love with Oscar that she is able to come to terms with the absolute mystery surrounding Rosamund's choice. Oscar, of course, is the other significant event to change her life. He is the first person she has loved since childhood, and the first person that she loves in a romantic, sexual way. The change that this causes in her life is so dramatic that she almost capsizes emotionally; however, she is able to accept her new feelings and move into a new stage of maturation. I was happy that Rose could find a new source of happiness, after the light that Rosamund brought to her life was extinguished.The writing continues to be vivid, detailed, and poetic. West crafts the historic place and time of Rose's England with grace and verisimilitude, and reading her writing is a treat. The themes of the first book continue on: good and evil vying against each other, the power of art, and also its limitations. I'm sorry that West never finished her imagined series, because I have enjoyed every bit that I've read. At least we have a synopsis of the final volume in the afterword that comes with this book. I am definitely interested in checking out other novels she has published, based on this Aubrey family saga.