Mr. Longdon, a man in his fifties who has spent most of his life remembering the great love of his youth, Lady Julia. When he discovers that Lady Julia’s granddaughter, Nanda Brookenham, is almost a reincarnation of his beloved, he determines to befriend her. Doing so causes him to become immersed in the affairs of Nanda’s family and her social circle, which Longdon considers morally corrupt. He schemes to convince Nanda to leave her parents’ home in London and come to live with him at his country estate.
Fernanda (Nanda) Brookenham
Fernanda (Nanda) Brookenham, a nineteen-year-old woman who has developed a sense of independence and an appreciation for the ways of the world despite efforts of her mother and others to keep her ignorant of the intrigues of the adults around her. She insists on choosing her own friends and establishing her own adult relationships. Her love for Gus Vanderbank ends unhappily when she discovers that he is unwilling to settle into a conventional marriage, forgoing a lifestyle that includes an affair with her mother. Eventually, she finds in Mr. Longdon a person who seems to be above the pettiness and self-centeredness of her mother and her mother’s friends.
Mrs. Brookenham, Nanda’s mother and the daughter of the woman Mr. Longdon has loved for years. She is at the center of a social circle where old-fashioned moral values are held in contempt. Intent on preserving her relationship with the handsome young bachelor Gus Vanderbank, she conspires with the Duchess and others to arrange partnerships among members of her set that will permit each of them to satisfy personal desires while maintaining a façade of respectability. Her enigmatic relationship with her daughter Nanda, who is also in love with Vanderbank, drives her to an arrangement with Longdon to separate Nanda from the man both of them desire.
(The entire section is 818 words.)