First published in England in 1936, this Hardyesque novel chronicles the life of a barmaid who marries into a nonconformist farm family; her subsequent straggle with the family, and with the circumstances that undo everyone. Rosie Perkins, barmaid at The Angel, a place managed by her reprobate father Turk, is a ""swan among lions,"" in the words of one pub-goer. Self-possessed, overworked, she nevertheless makes do with the refrain ""I'll try anything once."" Tom Jeffrey defends her honor one night and soon brings her home to his farm--where he lives with is aging mother, his brother Frankie, and Maudie and Ella, his two spinster sisters. Tension and melodrama quickly develop: the spinsters discover that Rosie's mother wasn't married and that Rosie herself has a child out of wedlock. Rosie brings Lilv her six-year-old daughter, to the farm, whereupon the sisters take charge of her. Meanwhile, isolated and nostalgic for the pub, Rosie stumbles into an affair with Frankie: she is an all-life force in a house of renunciation. When the pub burns down, Turk arrives at the farm, gets some work, and proceeds to have an affair with Maudie--whom he deserts once he's ""borrowed"" all her money. Frankie drowns, and Tom goes off to war. But there's no escape for Rosie: Tom comes back paralyzed, Maudie turns against her, and the story ends in a great exhalation of farm drought, money-madness, and Lawrentian struggle. Tom dies, a suicide; Maudie wastes away; Rosie sells what's left of the farm and, at the close, takes up with Charlie: ""I'll try anything once. . ."" Bates, who died in 1974, was very good with homely detail, and here paints a robust portrait of the type of woman that today we'd call a survivor.
Pub Date: Feb. 27, 1989
Page Count: -
Publisher: Severn--dist. by Mercedes (62 Imlay St., Brooklyn, NY 11231)