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For as Bowen admits: 'This, which of all my books is nearest my heart, has a deep, unclouded spontaneous source .... It is a work of instinct, rather than knowledge' (P 96). Examining her work in retrospect, Bowen appears uneasy about Lois's indifference to 'the national struggle around her' (P 98). The response may describe her own reaction as well as that of her heroine. ' (P 99). At the time Bowen wrote the novel, she apparently felt a strong need to distance herself from her heroine and to keep Danielstown discrete from Bowen's Court.

He appears as aspects of the character Robert Kelway in the novel The Heat of the Day, which is dedicated to him. The fleeting moments of deep attachment which characterise both war and the characters of this novel became the mainstay of Bowen's relationship with Charles Ritchie. They were separated by careers and later his marriage and of course hers, but each found in the other the possibility for fulfilling the passions of being grown-up - interdependent without the primitive dependencies of childhood feelings.

She turns the event into an expression of feeling that she and Marda can share in an intimate, if somewhat cool and transient, relationship. The combination of women's mutual understanding and mistrust harks back to The Hotel, where Sydney only experiences authentic feeling with a woman who represents 'the good/bad godmother' (VG 67). Just as Lois rejects Gerald, Sydney breaks her engagement with one man and rejects another, situating her desire for intimacy in her relationship with Mrs Kerr. In all of her fiction, Bowen will explore how women's lack of self-sufficiency makes them ambivalent about relating to each other.

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