I find myself so irritated at the way the parents treated their children and each other. The fact that Phyllis turns out to be a spirited, artistic entrepreneur astounds me. She paints. She writes. She begins her own map publishing company. And yet she spent three to five weeks in Paris sleeping under a bridge because her parents couldn't be bothered to care for her. She marries a man, a mediocre artist, who is almost twenty years older than she is and who is jealous of her talent. That marriage lasts for eight years. And Phyllis - now Mrs. Pearsall - leaves her husband one morning while they are visiting Venice. Not a word of goodbye. Nothing like the many angry, tearful and dramatic goodbyes that she witnessed between her parents growing up.
Her leaving only opens her up to be ensnared by her mother's madness and incarceration in Bedlam, London's infamous mental hospital. There her mother, married to an alcholic American portrait painter, is subjected to tranquilizers, shock treatments, and solitary confinement.
Why does the abused, abandoned, and ignored Phyllis continue to return to her abusers for comfort? She is independent and was living and working on her own in France by the time she was 14. Continually deserted and then pulled back into her parents' chaos by a single telegram or plea for assistance.
I just keep thinking "If only her crazy parents would die, maybe she could get on with mapping the streets of London."