In the Wilderness is an antidote to salacious later twentieth century bestsellers.
But Robert Hichens’ novel is strong stuff that many readers may find hard to swallow.
In the Wilderness by Robert Hichens
1917 bestseller #7. Project Gutenberg EBook #4603] My grade: A-
Dion Leith is passionately in love with Rosamund Everard, who finds him a nice, clean-living young man. Though trained as a singer, Rosamund feels her vocation is in a religious order, not marriage.
A sermon convinces her to accept Dion’s proposal. They marry, have a son.
Rosamund’s love is all for their son. She scarcely notices when the woman in a notorious divorce case pays attention to Dion.
When the Boer War breaks out, Dion volunteers. In his absence, Rosamund moves to an English cathedral village where her music and religious interests are welcome.
When he returns from South Africa, Dion accidentally shoots his son while the two are shooting together at Rosamund’s suggestion.
Rosamund screams, “Murderer,” and locks the cottage door against Dion.
Repudiating the values that locked the door on him, Dion leaves England for non-Western, non-Christian places, for drugs, debauchery, and the Other Woman.
Hichens doesn’t deliver a tidy, happily-ever-after ending.
It’s more of a “we’re going to grow up together” ending, a glimmer of hope that two very dissimilar people can create more happiness than unhappiness for each other.
©2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni