Because each of the six main characters is such a distinct individual, so sharply drawn, the interplay between them is fascinating even though the events in their lives are in themselves of relatively minor significance. Portrayed with precision and restraint, each one is revealed primarily through dialogue and inner reflection, but the author varies her method of characterization by such devices as having Liz, the youngest, say almost everything she thinks and feels, often contradicting herself—she is warmhearted, impulsive, easily disappointed, easily pleased—while Frances, on the other hand, so absorbed in her work that she rarely speaks at any length, is portrayed through reflection and meditation, so that what she leaves unspoken she expresses in her thoughts. This method of characterization is particularly effective in Frances’ case because she is both reclusive and sharply analytical, observant, and passionately dedicated to her work.
Morland Beddoes is the character Elizabeth Taylor chooses to present primarily through her own description of him: the quiet way he works and lives, the advantage that others take of his sympathetic and generous nature. Thus, his almost immediate and total involvement with the other characters is entirely credible and consistent. He is also given to introspection, and it is not long before he realizes that Camilla is unexpectedly important to him, though his devotion to Frances and her paintings is by no means...
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