Gypsy, Gypsy by Rumer Godden (1940)
By Taylor Jasmine | On March 10, 2015 | Updated September 25, 2022 | Comments (0)
From the original review from The Coshocton Tribune, August, 1940: A haunting echo of something you can’t quite put your finger on pervades every page of Gypsy, Gypsy by Rumer Godden.
In tonal quality, the book is very much like Black Narcissus, Miss Godden’s previous novel. She has succeeded in weaving the same aura of mystery around the Normandy coast that she did around the Indian locale of Black Narcissus.
Aunt Barbe is hated and doesn’t care
Aunt Barbe Longeumare is hated by the peasants and townspeople surrounding her chateau as her late husband was beloved. Aunt Barbe doesn’t want to be loved and admired. All her acts are designed to intensify the hatred of the people around her and thus accentuate her own power over them.
Sensitive to this situation, her young niece, Henrietta Castle, suffers from her aunt’s malicious nature and from the conditions which have been built up around the chateau.
Henrietta, is to marry Rene Longuemare, her late Uncle Louis’ nephew. But despite her antipathy toward the aunt, Henrietta delays the wedding to remain at the chateau near Aunt Barbe because she feels her presence there may be needed.
She is particularly alarmed by her aunt’s suggestion that to cleanse one’s own soul of sin, that sin must be transferred to the pure soul of another.
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See also: Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden
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A novel built on psychological effects
The Gypsy becomes Aunt Barbe’s guinea pig. She permits him to remain in her fields with his family. She tempts him and his family with worldliness. She permits all of them a peek at a life they have never before seen or desired. Her apparent kindness is used as a tool to produce hatred.
Never once is the mood of the tale lost. It carries through that Gypsy’s trial and produces an ending that is almost inevitable. Miss Godden knows the people of whom she writes. They are as authentic as were the characters in Black Narcissus.
If you don’t like Miss Godden’s work, it will probably be because her plots lacks dramatic action. Except for the climax both Gypsy, Gypsy and Black Narcissus are built around psychological effects. Nevertheless the writing is good, the characters fascinating.