The characterization of Aurora Greenway is strong enough to make every other character in the novel seem like a mere foil. With the possible exception of the strong-willed Rosie, everyone who comes into even momentary contact with Aurora is dominated by her, and she has kept many of the novel’s characters in tow for decades. At least three of her suitors (a term she insists upon with characteristic Victorian propriety) have been kept waiting for thirty years. Aurora Greenway is a woman who, despite her strong need for love and attention, keeps other people at a distance. Her perfectionism and her lack of self-criticism prevent her from becoming too close to anyone—including, sadly, her only child.
In many ways, Aurora is an anachronistic character, out of place in post-World War II America. A stickler for gracious manners and seemly behavior, Aurora values form over content. She is fanatically concerned with physical appearance, her own and that of her suitors: She will forgive a man much if he is well dressed. Aurora Greenway is in many ways reminiscent of the coquettes of nineteenth century British fiction. She is a self-absorbed romantic who has never questioned her right to everything and everyone she desires. A sensualist who loves to feel the wet grass beneath her bare feet and who delights above all else in good food and drink, she is also capable of surprising coldness and insensitivity. Her relationships with her suitors are for the most part old-fashionedly chaste and formal. Physical love is both a weapon for and a threat to Aurora, and it is not surprising that her comfortable but passionless marriage to the attractive Rudyard Greenway produced only one child.
Unfortunately, Aurora is the only fully developed major character in the novel. The other characters seem too obviously calculated...
(The entire section is 747 words.)