"The phrase that the old Japanese used to describe the love of parents for their children was a darkness of the heart." The last parts of this book made me want to weep. A very sad novel. But magnificent nonetheless, like "The Dollmaker" by Harriet Arnow. Every bit as compelling as "Time of Hope", the first in chronological order in the "Strangers and Brothers" series. But it seems to me there might be one flaw; if Ann loved Charles as Eliot thought she did, how could she let herself be the cause of this chasm between Charles and his father? She left the choice to her husband, but why didn't she simply act on her own? Eliot seems to imply that her nature was to subjugate herself to Charles, but she had the power to save her husband so much pain. The implication being, that she loved the "Note" more than Charles, and Lewis is wrong.
On rereading this book six years later, I find I have not changed my opinion, but this time, reading it right after "The Affair", which takes place so much later in time, I was struck by how much both novels, at their core, are about reputation and honor and conscience. The Fellows at Cambridge wanting to see Howard's reputation and honor reinstated, even though he is so very unlikable, and by doing so to clear their consciences, and to make sure of Cambridge's, or at least their college's, honor and reputation. This book is about the conscience of Leonard March and his son Charles, the former a great character in literature. I see the conscience of Charles as rather skewed, all the to-do could have been so easily resolved. To cut off your favorite child because his wife was responsible, as was Charles, is one thing, responsible for Phillips' sack from the government, but Phillip was 73 - why couldn't he just offer his resignation? He had done no wrong. While Mr. March took perhaps too much the high road, I view Charles' actions as rather reprehensible, choosing his wife and her political beliefs over his own father and family. The owner of the Note had already snubbed Ann, yet she stays more loyal to it than to the family she married into. Too much pride all around.