This is a British novel from 1928 by the writer Rebecca West, most well known for The Return of the Solider, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (a 1400 page diary/journal through Eastern Europe), The Birds Fall Down, and The Fountain Overflows. I have only previously read The Return of the Soldier and recall more about the physical object of the book itself than the story (it was a first edition from 1917 that my library had in the stacks, so it was really neat, and likely valuable).
This novel is set across a series of time periods and encounters, not so different from Henry James’s “The Beast in the Jungle” or Nella Larsen’s Passing. The novel begins with Harriet Hume and Arnold Condorex in the throes of smitten-ness. Through the closeness and intimacy of this blissful state (you know the one) it becomes apparent that Harriet Hume is able to read the mind of her lover, and it turns out that regardless of his actual sentiments, he’s thinking about her status in society and trying to suss out if she’ll be an adequate upward trajectory on which to foist himself. She, for her part, is more opaque and he is unable to figure this out. She realizes that maybe this sense of him is enough to break things off. In their subsequent meetings, he ability remains, as does his ambition, and now with his sights set on the political governance of the nation at large, she steps up to thwart him.
This is a nice little revenge story told in the shroud of romance gone wrong.