In Enchanter's Nightshade, Bridge presents her reader with a ‘period piece’ of Italian provincial society and distributes our sympathies over a surprising range of characters, several of whom touch on individual tragedies. The lovely ‘Enchantress’ in the late thirties; the little English governess in the early twenties, full of Oxford enthusiasms; the ardent youth, Giulio; Marietta, that delightful child, puzzling over the problems into which she is plunged by the disaster which overtakes her beloved English instructress; the old Marchesa, whose hundredth birthday looms all through the book; above all perhaps the wise, patient Swiss governess - all these in turn claim our affection or our pity.
Ann Bridge shows here an intensity of feeling and a dramatic power which may come as a surprise after the gentle restraint of her earlier books. But for all the characters who are capable of forging happiness for themselves, the doors open, at the end, on possibilities of future contentment.
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