I was longing to write another novel, but my life was full with a different kind of learning and experiencing, and I felt it would be impossible to incorporate it all into a novel. I don’t know of any novel that has achieved it successfully. A Sea-Grape Tree was an attempt, and it was meant to be more like a poem. I went back to Mrs. Jardine because I had always longed to know what had happened to her. The creation of a novel starts with a sort of explosion: images appear and coalesce, people and landscapes come into focus, and you say, “Oh yes, it has come back, now I can begin to write.” Poets feel the same way. After eleven years of total silence, Rilke wrote the glorious Duino Elegies, as you may remember.

Rosamond Lehmann, Paris Review

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