Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
While visiting one weekend at Waterbath, the country house of the Brigstock family, Mrs. Gereth meets and is immediately drawn to a young woman named Fleda Vetch. The basis of the attraction is a mutual sensitiveness to beautiful things; each guesses that the other possesses such a feeling when they meet one morning while obviously trying to escape the house and the rest of the party. Their aversion emerges not because Waterbath is exceptionally ugly, but rather because it is so very ordinary while pretending to be lovely. The house and the garden might have been quite attractive, and should have been so, but the Brigstocks, people without even a hint of feeling or taste, had had everything done over to fit the very latest fashion. It is this air of fashionable conformity to which Fleda and Mrs. Gereth object. They recognize what the estate would have been naturally, and they can only be repulsed by what it has become.
Mrs. Gereth’s horror of Waterbath is particularly acute because of the comparison she inevitably makes between it and her own home at Poynton. Everything at Poynton is exquisite. She and her late husband had gradually furnished it after years of scraping and saving so that they might have the best. Every article in the house had been carefully chosen during their travels in various parts of the world, and she rightly considers their home the most beautiful place in England. Unfortunately, the estate had been left to her son Owen, and she...
(The entire section is 1098 words.)
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