by Janet McNeill – 1964
If it is difficult to accept middle age, is it harder for those who are no longer beautiful and passionate or, especially harder, for those who have never known love?
Sarah Vincent is fifty and, like her group of friends she is resigned to the absurdities of middle age but over the course of a summer Sarah discovers that life can shatter the past, deeply held faiths are destroyed and she discovers that new beginnings, and new love, have always existed for her.
This one was one I had to think on after finishing. One that kinda stays with you for a while, becomes a better read as you ponder it. Sarah is a plain unattractive single woman. Of all her friends from childhood she is the smart one. She lives in her childhood home which has been divided into apartments, rented out to her childhood friends and their children. Sarah seems to be the stabilizing force in everyone’s lives. They don’t see the demons she deals with. Sarah seems to be accepting of her lot in life as the unloved, unlovely one and focus’ on her teaching, students and poetry for which she has somewhat of acclaim for. It’s a time of change, sexual mores are changing. Sarah and her friends meet once a month for tea and discuss life and the changes in the social fabric. We see the differences through one of her tenants, a young married daughter of one of her childhood friends, and one of her students.
There seems to be a balancing act going on in Sarah’s life, trying to maintain between her starvation for love and acceptance of how it is. She seems to be an important part of her friends lives and yet on the edges at the same time. But there are a couple things that happen near the end that shifts this balance and Sarah’s life changes. In the end I found I really did enjoy this read. Janet McNeill never disappoints!