Nina Leeds, a young woman driven to the verge of madness by the wartime death of Gordon Shaw, the man whom she was to marry. After leaving home and going to work as a nurse, Nina gives herself promiscuously to the soldiers in the hospital. To Nina’s disturbed mind, this promiscuity is atonement for her failure to give herself to Gordon. Finally, realizing that she needs normal love objects to distract her from her morbid obsession with her own guilt, she marries Sam Evans, only to discover that there is madness in his family. Ridding herself of Sam’s unborn child by an operation, Nina takes Dr. Darrell as her lover and becomes pregnant by him. When her child is born, Nina settles down in maternal satisfaction. She is happy until it becomes obvious that her son Gordon cares less for her than for Sam. To add to Nina’s misery, Gordon hates his real father, who is still a frequent caller on Nina. When Gordon, at the age of twenty-one, plans to marry, Nina, disturbed and neurotic again, begs Darrell to help her prevent the marriage. He refuses and tells her they already have meddled in too many lives. After Sam dies, Darrell leaves Nina, saying that they are haunted by too many ghosts to be happy. Nina marries faithful Charles Marsden, who offers her peace at last in the autumn of her life.
Edmund “Ned” Darrell
Edmund “Ned” Darrell, a doctor seven years Nina’s senior. Concerned with Nina’s condition but unwilling to be distracted from his career by marriage, he persuades Nina to marry Sam Evans. Corrupted and embittered by having to share Nina and his son, he allows his career to...
(The entire section is 675 words.)