(Lehmann indignantly denied this, and unfortunately, the character in the book who's more clearly meant to be a lesbian is unattractively portrayed.) Dusty Answer often lacks narrative drive (especially in the rather uncertain, diffuse ending), but its intense, often idyllic, and impassioned style is compelling, a foretaste of things to come.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00thwrr Description: Rosamund Lehmann's first novel Dusty Answer records the education of Judith Earle, the only child of an academic father and socialite mother. The house next door is occupied from time to time by the Fyfe family whose children - cousins Charlie, Roddy, Julian and Martin drift in and out of her life. Part Two. Judith realises the Fyfe cousins have returned to the house next door during a midnight swim in the river which joins both gardens . Part Four Judith is invited to a picnic with Julian and Martin, and Roddy takes her for a trip in a canoe.
Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul/When hot for certainties in this our life!George Meredith My father-in-law introduced me to Rosamond Lehmann. Lehmanns first novel, Dusty Answer , published in 1927, delves into a young womans life and mind in an emotional coming-of-age story. Judith is not a terribly likeable young woman at times, but Lehmann takes you into her mind and into her inexhaustible well of feelings and impressions and you cannot help but understand and empathize with her. When Judith goes to college and falls in with the magnetic Jennifer and is carried away into a friendship/affair with her, she almost escapes the mysterious, brooding Fyfes. I own the Virago edition of The Echoing Grove, but my copy of Dusty Answer was an on Harvest/Harcourt copy whose glue was so brittle the entire book cracked apart as I read it.
Little girl Judith romanticizes the four teens living with their grandmother during holidays. I lost it when Julian appears after another absence (nothing happens in this book except absences where people return more glamorous than they were before. Judith may as well have stayed the little girl day dreaming about the kids next door. Mariella can't stand Judith. Her whole appeal is that Judith knows from the mysterious psychic place that she doesn't like her. She loves Julian because he likes her the least out of her romantic pool of relatives. Martin kinda follows Judith, Mariella and Roddy around. The book jacket suggests that Roddy was gay and this was why he never returns Judith's obsession. (I waited for someone to be indifferent to Roddy so he would join the love geometry shape too.) He doesn't bother to correct Judith when she takes this shit seriously. I remember reading that she was like this in her own life. It is glossed over when her dad dies except for Judith to be said that Mariella doesn't write her a personal note. I feel like the point in wanting anything at all was completely missed and that my life is over when I keep choosing the wrong books to read. Judith should want herself more than she wants them but there's something empty in life anyway.
There is some books, stories or even characters that you put in the corner of your mind, in the corner of your heart and they follow your everywhere you go. The reunion between Judith and The Fyfe is really strong and invites all of them to remember their childhood and the feelings they share. There is a twist in the story because when she was a little girl, Judith was fascinated by the Fyfe family but now that she is a grow-up, they are fascinated by her. At the same time, everything seems so real: the scents, the presence of Roddy next to Judith, the trouble she is feeling when he is near to her. The strenght of Judith's feeling almost breaks my heart and the climax of the book is just perfect. The ties between all the characters, the tragedy of resignation and fear (the fear of opening your heart to anybody), the burden of untelling feelings and desires, the weight of death and memories, make this book one of the greatest I have ever read.
Outside, where the gentle dusk glimmered on rain-wet branches, the bird-calls were like sudden pale jets of light, coming achingly to the mind; and all at once the sun, like a bell, struck out a poignant richness, a long dark-golden evening note with tears in it, searching all the land with its fullness and dying slowly into a obscurer twilight. Judith is one of those lonely only children in love with a family, four boys and a girl. After he's killed in WWI she quite deliberately transfers her affections to the slightly odd, distant Roddy, while having the odd moment of camaraderie with prickly, pretentious Julian. Roddy occasionally visits her. Martin occasionally visits her, but she finds it hard to let him pine, even though she values him for his connection to Roddy. I did wish Judith had acknowledged that she deliberately decided to be in love with Roddy, so as to be in love.
Rosamond Nina Lehmann was born in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, as the second daughter of Rudolph Lehmann and his wife Alice Davis, a New Englander. Though none of her later novels were as successful as her first, Lehmann went on to publish six more novels, a play (No More Music, 1939), a collection of short stories (The Gypsy's Baby & Other Stories, 1946), a spiritual autobiography (The Swan in the Evening, 1967), and a photographic memoir of her friends (Rosamond Lehmann's Album, 1985), many of whom were famous Bloomsbury figures such as Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Carrington, and Lytton Strachey. Her novels include A Note in Music (1930), Invitation to the Waltz (1932), The Weather in the Streets (1936), The Ballad and the Source (1944), The Echoing Grove (1953), and A Sea-Grape Tree (1976). They had two children, a son Hugo (1929-1999) and a daughter Sarah or Sally (1934-1958), but the marriage quickly fell apart during the late Thirties with her Communist husband leaving to take part in the Spanish Civil War. During World War II she helped edit and contributed to New Writing, a periodical edited by her brother.