This wonderful book may at first seem a little too full of detail, but these accumulates in a way that is both gripping, necessary and terrifying, perhaps particularly to those of us who are older and who expected that the only successful way for a woman to live was to marry and support her husband and children; not to develop her own interests, but to subsume them to others'. This denying of one's own nature and perception may start early and may take a lifetime to first, become aware of, and then, to modify - or is this even possible? And of course, this may happen to anyone, trying to fit their individuality to a society's expectation: it is not confined to women of a certain age. At the same time, in this novel, the heroine's fatal adaptability is contrasted with what can happen to and around an individual who takes far too little account of others'; he can innocently cause misery and death.
This is one of the finest novels to be read at several levels: at one, a fascinating life story, a historical view of the first half of the 20th century in North America, at the same time, deeply exploring our need to know ourselves and our place within the world. Can both ever be reconciled?