05 February 2017

from Confusion (Elizabeth Jane Howard)

She had thought that a weight would be lifted once she had got into the train with the visit behind her, but the pall of boredom and irritation was quenched now only by guilt, as she thought of all the ways in which she might have given her mother more pleasure, been kinder, nicer, more patient.  Why was it that, in spite of all these years during which she felt that she had grown from being a spoiled and selfish girl into a thoroughly grown-up wife and mother and reponsible member of a large family, she had only to be with her mother for a few minutes to revert to her earlier, disagreeable self?  It was her behaviour, after all, that made her mother so timid and conciliatory, made her, in fact, everything that she, Zoë, found most exasperating.

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