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It can be seen as a moral fable. The tale relates the story of two sisters, daughters of an Anglican vicar, who return from overseas to a drab, lifeless vicarage in the post-war East Midlands. Their mother has run off, a scandal that is not talked about by the family. Their new home is dominated by a blind and selfish grandmother along with her mean spirited, poisonous daughter. The two girls, Yvette and Lucille, risk being suffocated by the life they now lead at the Vicarage. They try their utmost every day to bring colour and fun into their lives. Out on a trip with some friends one Sunday afternoon, Yvette encounters a Gypsy and his family and this meeting reinforces her disenchantment with the oppressive domesticity of the vicarage. It also awakens in her a sexual curiosity she has not felt before, despite having admirers. She also befriends a Jewish woman and her amour. When her father finds out about this friendship, he threatens her with "the asylum" and Yvette realises that at his heart her father, too, is mean spirited and shallow. At the end of the novel, one of the daughters is rescued during a surprise flood that washes through the home and drowns the grandmother. The rescuer who breathes life and warmth back into the virginal Yvette is the free-spirited Gypsy. The flood could be seen as a metaphor for washing away the old, oppressive life, and welcoming in the new freedom. Ironically, when we discover the Gypsy's name at the very end of the novella, he becomes mundane and ordinary and the mystique is taken away. - Wikipedia
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