Lady Anne’s position as the wife of Charles Guthrie gives her a unique (but limited) perspective on the relationship between her husband’s stepbrother Cecil and the attractive but dominating Lady Guthrie. As she narrates this, Elizabeth Eliot’s brilliant final novel, Anne creates a portrait of a ghoulish woman who ruins her son’s life as thoroughly as if she set out to do so intentionally. Yet there are no easy answers here, and Anne’s speculations and judgments sometimes shed as much light on her own relationships and experiences as they do on Cecil and his mother. In Eliot’s skilled hands, the apparently simple tale of a dysfunctional family becomes an elegant and witty meditation on our inability to ever know the complete truth about those around us.
Dean Street Press, 9781912574650