The Flower of May

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Harper, 1953 - Europe - 342 pages
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There was the day of her sister's wedding when Fanny Morrow, dressed in misty bridesmaid blue, stood at the door enchanted with everthing: the novel taste of champagne, the enigmatic remarks of Father Fogarty concerning marriage, the conversation of her cousin Bill who was drunk and outrageous as always, the arrival of Andre de Mellin from Belgium in his dashing Mercedes to convert Ireland to the combustion engine. There was another day at the end of summer when Fanny, returned to Dublin from an idyllic holiday, kissed Andre and then was told that her mother was dying. In the interval between these two extraordinary days Fanny Morrow became an adult. In this story of a young girl's final step into maturity Kate O'Brien has caught with wit and delicate understanding the portraits of two families -- the Irsih Morrows, the Belgian de Mellins -- and opened a window upon a delightful world which existed the first decade of the centruy. Fanny, fresh from convent school on the Continent and toying vageuly with the diea of becoming a nun, dared to rebel when her parent -- whom she dearly loved -- would have thrust upon her the role of daughter-of-the-house. As there was no money for further education, a compromise was struck and she went off to Italy as the guest of her dearest friend Lucille, And in the course of that Summer, traveling with the fabulous de Mellins -- Lucille, Andre, Patrice, and their silly charming mother -- Fanny grew in understanding of many things besides art. She learned that gaiety as well as affection could bind a family together; that Catholicism was not the same thing to all people; that a Continental point of view imposed its own obligations; that it was possible to fall in love with a place, such as Venice, and still never doubt the place where one belonged. It was with these several knowledges, and a heart faintly touched by Andre's importunities, that Fanny went back to Dublin -- to face sorrry and near scandal and the responsibilities that attend living in a grown-up world. Here is an Ireland not often seen in fiction, a gracious culture deeply rooted in religious faith. Here also is a Europe gone forever -- a worldly Europe in which a different kind of Catholic aristocracy accepted without question its rights and privileges. Kate O'Brien knows both the intimately and writes of them with affectionate delight. A distinguished novel, and a most unusal one.

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Lilians Wedding
n Glasalla
in Villa des Glycines

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