Tom Brangwen, a substantial English farmer. He is a lonely man leading a bachelor’s life, driven by his desires to sordid meetings with passing women and to frequent bouts with the brandy bottle, until his marriage to Lydia Lensky, a Polish widow whom he woos in an abrupt but successful courtship that rises above his own usual uncommunicativeness and a language barrier. Tom loves his wife, and he loves Anna, her small daughter. As the years pass, Tom becomes a kind of rural patriarch, watching his two sons, Tom and Fred, and Anna, his stepdaughter, grow to maturity and face their own problems of life and love. His good if unremarkable life ends abruptly when he drowns in a sudden flood.
Lydia Lensky, a Polish widow from an aristocratic landowning family. She is a nurse and quite an emancipated woman for her time. Lonely for a man’s love and reduced to being a housekeeper in a vicarage, she readily accepts Tom Brangwen as a husband. She becomes a passionate and devoted wife to him and bears him two sons. Although she is happily married, she sometimes misses her old life and keeps up a friendship with Baron Skrebensky, a fellow exile and an Anglican clergyman. Because her first husband, a Polish doctor, was a man driven by his enthusiasm for various causes all of his life, she appreciates all the more the phlegmatic temper of Tom Brangwen and her quiet life with him at Marsh Farm. In their early married state, she is more advanced and leads Tom in their love.
Tilly, the Brangwens’ cross-eyed housekeeper, a woman with a strong affection for Tom Brangwen. Having been in the household since he was a boy, she had served his father and mother before he took over the farm.
Anna Lensky, Lydia Lensky’s daughter by her first husband, a bright young child of four at the time of her mother’s second marriage. Forming a deep attachment for her stepfather, she goes with him everywhere and looks on him as a real parent. Anna falls in love with her stepfather’s nephew, William Brangwen, and marries him. Until her children are born, she is a fond wife and eager for love. Later, her children...
(The entire section is 913 words.)