Isabel Moore, a product of a sheltered Catholic upbringing. She nursed her widowed father in his long final illness. Thirty years old at the time of her father’s death, Isabel finds herself with unaccustomed freedom from his constant needs. She must come to terms both with her lost faith and her lost youth. She takes a job with a social services agency surveying the living arrangements of people who care for the elderly in their homes, a position that makes her look into a variety of homes, both loveless and loving. Simultaneously eager to experience life and made uncertain by her inexperience, Isabel takes two married lovers and then, in revulsion, leaves them both to care for Margaret Casey, the Moores’ former housekeeper. When she realizes that she will never be able to meet the old woman’s demands, Isabel frees herself once more to return to life and her lover Hugh Slade.
Margaret Casey, the Moores’ elderly former housekeeper, now retired. Margaret had once hoped to marry Joseph Moore, until thirteen-year-old Isabel, frightened at that prospect, fired her. Now she tyrannizes the adult Isabel, attempting to cause guilt about the firing so that Isabel will support her financially or even take her in. Tyranny comes easily to Margaret, as she is a selfish and unhappy old woman who is incapable of being pleased by Isabel’s efforts to care for her.
Eleanor, Isabel’s closest friend since elementary school days. Fashionable and sensitive, Eleanor is a now a career woman who,...
(The entire section is 655 words.)