Sharply realized characterizations in this Taylor novel from 1949 with a darker undercurrent than I've found in her other books.
Some of the very best passages deal with the now elderly painter and former governess Frances, at whose cottage two younger women have come for their accustomed summer holiday.
Alone, with the door locked, she felt safe to paint and to be herself. To her, work was a loosening of will, a throwing down of defences. Sitting back, utterly malleable, her personality discarded like a snake's skin, she became receptive and, so, creative.
The tension between who we really are and who we say we are, or who others expect us to be runs throughout the novel. A wonderful psychological read. There's almost the hint of an English Highsmith in the suitor who may not be quite what he seems.