The Seven Ages offers no character development or plot, as one might expect of a Victorian or Edwardian novel, yet the narratives from the past of those long dead are profoundly moving: There is the sense that one is hearing authentic voices. From old papers, the Narrator reads incomplete facts about Isabel, Lady Lucy’s daughter. From her own grandmother, she learns of Sophie, the Matriarch, and Dora, the granddaughter. The voices from the present, like the voices from the past, offer no internal stream of consciousness or the entire life of any one woman. The character of the Narrator emerges from her memories, her thoughts about her daughters and her conversations with them.
The reader knows very little about Kate and Sally other than their mother’s perceptions: Kate is an empiricist and a hardworking realist, as well as a dedicated doctor. Sally, a struggling and vulnerable idealist, is a young mother having a predictably difficult time financially, as her mother worries that her grandchildren will not survive in inadequate housing. The reader learns that Sally had an abortion, but no further details about her life are provided or needed: Women, individuals, must choose among their available options.
With a small amount of money, the Narrator has several options. This woman has apparently been happy in her profession and is no revolutionary. She locates her childhood in the country under the influence of her grandmother and her...
(The entire section is 416 words.)