Simon Camish and Rose Vassiliou both lead barren lives before they form a friendship. Simon has been reared in genteel poverty and has made a successful career in law through rigid self-control and habitual denial of his emotions; he hates but refuses to respond to the attacks made upon him by his wife, Julie. Rose has survived a sensational life. The daughter of wealthy but uncaring parents, she was sent abroad with considerable publicity to separate her from her immigrant lover, Christopher, but married him on her return, after her twenty-first birthday. She attracted renewed attention from the press when she gave away a large inheritance and insisted on living on the edge of poverty and rearing her children in a rundown section of London. Still later, the newspapers exploited the sensational aspects of her divorce.
Simon and Rose become good friends largely because they are so different. He has struggled all of his life to attain affluence and security, while she has eagerly thrown both away. He has become unable to express his emotions, while she cannot contain hers. He lives in misery with his wife and refuses to fight with her over their children, who he recognizes are being harmed by the domestic situation; Rose has divorced her husband. She feels great guilt over separating him from their children, despite the fact that their marriage had turned out badly, and Christopher had abused her physically and verbally, even after their divorce. In his visits to Rose’s shabby house, Simon feels great comfort and is able to relax, while Rose learns to lean on him for legal advice and to admire his self-denying steadiness. While both believe that they would enjoy being married to each other, no sexual element enters their relationship.
(The entire section is 721 words.)