"There was sadness in everything - in the room, in the ringing bird-calls from the garden, in the lit, golden lawn beyond the window, with its single miraculous cherry-tree breaking in immaculate blossom and tossing long foamy sprays against the sky. She was sad to the verge of tears, and yet the sorrow was rich, - a suffocating joy."
Fourteen pages later, about fireworks :
"Oh Roddy, if only -! They're so brief. I wish they were never quenched but went on falling and falling , so lovely, for ever. Would you be content to burst into life and be a ten second marvel and then vanish ?"
Dusty Answer reminded me a great deal of Mariana by Monica Dickens, published in 1940 but Rosamond Lehmann's works are by far superior : in his excellent introduction to the Virago edition of the book, Jonathan Coe writes ""It will consume you entirely, transforming your whole inner life for the time it takes to read". The keyword here is consume - it's a fire that brings Judith and Olivia to life, that of a burning passion we know won't last but that we enjoy eyeing greedily because we still believe in it, despite everything.