Not so clear-cut
Glad you enjoyed the novel so much. Brightness is another good choice. Harriet v dark but compelling. Much of the other fiction is hard to find, outside of libraries or expensive purchases. One or two are British Library only.
It's the other way around with the tortoise and the hare, which EJ says in other places. Imogen is the hare, Blanche the tortoise. Their physical descriptions make this clear, as does the fact that Imogen is pretty and Blanche is not. Hares can be symbols of attraction, not tortoises. Mapping them to the fable, Imogen marries first (i.e. gets ahead in the "race" for Evelyn) and becomes complacent, not realising that slow Blanche (who marries late...) is going to overtake her. She is literally asleep/tired a lot during that overtaking, and only "wakes up" to the reality when it is too late. EJ got many letters from women who identified with this dilemma.
Welcome back, Sam, and thank you for this brilliant and illuminating review, as always! I haven't come across this book before, but it sounds fascinating and frustrating; very much in line with a lot I enjoy researching. I shall be seeking it out :) As an aside: I remember loving Anita Brookner's Hotel du Lac, thanks for reminding me, I think it might be time for a re-read!
This was a brilliant read, thank you. It sounds like a book I’ll thoroughly enjoy. Very much here for Archive of Elizabeths! Loved the Brookner quote and the gentle nudge to get Skylight off the bookshelf as a bought a copy after seeing the NT Live revival about ten years ago!