WITH NIGHT WE BANISH SORROW by Dorothy James Roberts


Email this review


This departs from the historical recreations we have come to expect from Miss Roberts, and comes closer to Marshwood (1949) than even the more recent Missy (1957), both of which had relatively contemporary, West Virginia settings, and family patterns in dislocation as the catalyst. The location shifts this time to Virginia, a small town on the outer fringe of progress, and to the seven Shelley sisters and their extraordinary mother whose immense vitality and unflagging sense of dramatics exerted an overwhelming influence over all of her daughters. This is the story- as told by the youngest, Cato, - of the efforts each of the girls made to break out of the mold and form their own lives. But this is not the whole of it, though she manages to make the stories lively, interesting and pertinent to the central theme of a different kind of domination. What comes through -- a factor all too seldom found in novels of today -- is that the standards of childhood, unconsciously absorbed and accepted need not be ethical principles or intellectual goals driven home by reiteration, but are more likely to be the intimate mores of the home of childhood, the assumptions that are not discussed, the challenges posed by example, by the give and take of family association. In the case of the Shelleys, the social mores were often exposed- as years went on- as shallow, impeding growth, but something remained- a sort of noblesse oblige which yielded nothing to shattered family fortunes and which- when rejected- left a lasting wound. The scene shifts away as the girls scatter, but the family home remains the lodestone, and the mother, even in accepting the girls' various breaks with tradition, continues to be the central force of their lives.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1960
Publisher: Little, Brown