Part 1, January 12 Summary
Ashton writes her friend Sophie that she would love to see her but has been ordered by Sophie’s brother to go on a tortuous book tour. The thought of her going to Scotland for a visit instead would certainly make Stark glower—and they both know how well he can glower. Ashton is sure that her friend would pamper her if she did come and wonders if Sophie’s husband Alexander would mind a permanent resident on his couch.
While Ashton loves nothing better than reading and talking about her book to entranced audiences, the prospect is a gloomy one for her now. In fact, she is even more melancholy now than she was during the war because everything is so “broken”: the roads, the buildings, and especially the people.
Perhaps she feels this way because of the horrible dinner party she attended the night before; the food was (not surprisingly) horrible, and the conversation seemed to focus on bombs and starvation. As if that were not bad enough, her dinner partner was an intolerably boring single man. Ashton wonders if there is something wrong with her and whether she should lower her standards for acceptable men in her life. Even worse, she cannot blame her man troubles on the war, for she has never been very good at relationships.
Surely she will not be condemned to live only on the memories of her past loves, romanticized men whom she never actually met. Ashton asks her friend if she is too particular when it comes to men. She knows she does not want to be married just for the sake of being married, for she can think of nothing lonelier than spending the rest of her life with someone she cannot talk to—or worse, someone with whom she cannot be silent.
Ashton apologizes for complaining and says she is sure her friend must be relieved that she is not coming for a visit. She sends her love to Alexander and asks Sophie to give her son Dominic a kiss for her and tell him Ashton recently saw "a rat the...
(The entire section is 653 words.)