This novel, first published in 1946, is one of May Sarton's earliest and, some critics think, one of her best. It takes place during the years between the world wars and explores the life of a Belgian family, the Duchesnes, and their mutual devotion which intensifies under the shadow of impending disaster.
M‚lanie Duchesne, mother of three, is an active businesswoman, whose courage, energy, and optimism bind the family and its farm together. Paul, her husband, is a philosopher, detached, moody, continually embroiled in the spiritual conflicts of a crumbling Europe.
The last years before the second war are tense ones, a time for stock-taking, for a quickening of the pace of life. But it is M‚lanie who encourages her family to proceed with their plans, to continue with their way of life. And it is M‚lanie who decides their future as the Germans launch their invasion of Belgium.
Four seasons, four periods of time, for the leisurely, long-spanning story of Belgium between wars, and one family, the Ducheanes, - Paul, who is by nature a philosopher, withdrawn, inactive, - Melanie, who for all her serenity and understanding, is the source of accomplishment. Here is the pattern of their lives, from 1918 when Paul writes a book about the war which fails, and which leads to his abandonment of literature for business and the needs of an increased family. The 30's the prescience of another war, the awareness of fascism through a friend in Germany, all combine with Paul's sense of defeat in himself which he finally resolves in the writing of another book, and his identification this time, rather than retreat, with the physical struggle of society. The conflict of the inner life as against the immediate, in the terms of one family, gently rendered. (Kirkus Reviews)
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 1st July 1985
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 18.0 x 10.7
Weight (kg): 0.24