Felicitas Maria Taylor
Felicitas Maria Taylor, a bright and articulate but sheltered Catholic girl. In the beginning of the novel, she is an early adolescent coming to recognize her special relationship to Father Cyprian among the women who make up his “company”; he has special regard for her intellectual and spiritual potential. Felicitas’ talent at Latin and Greek lead her to a classics major at Columbia University. There, at the height of the Vietnam War protests, she meets and eventually moves in with a radical political science professor, Robert Cavendish, the man who may be the father of her child. Shocked by her unplanned pregnancy, Felicitas nevertheless rejects abortion. Instead, she returns to her mother and they, along with the other members of the company, move to the country to rear the child near Father Cyprian, whose guidance has marked all of their lives.
Charlotte Taylor, Felicitas’ widowed mother. Her husband died when Felicitas was six months old. Being the oldest of thirteen children has taught her realism, toughness, and self-reliance in a demanding world, but those qualities do not diminish her devotion to her daughter or to the other women of the company. She is powerless to help in her daughter’s painful romance, but she is quick to plan the move to the country to accommodate Felicitas and Linda. At the novel’s end, at the age of sixty-seven, she is planning a new insurance business with a neighbor.
Father Cyprian Leonard
Father Cyprian Leonard, a brilliant, acerbic, and conservative Roman Catholic priest. He organized the retreats that evolved into the company of Charlotte, Elizabeth, Mary Rose, Clare, and Muriel, the company that continues to surround him each summer for a retreat. Having struggled up from an impoverished rural background, he uses his sharp mind and tongue to try to direct Felicitas into orthodoxy and away from the sentimentality of popular Catholicism. His...
(The entire section is 822 words.)