Talking about 'There and Here' by Alice Brown
Writing at the turn of the 19th century, American poet, author and playwright Alice Brown’s beautiful short story ‘There and Here’ captures a romantic friendship between two women who have been friends since childhood.
Ruth and Rosamond were separated when most of Rosamond's family tragically passed away, forcing her to move to Italy to live with her remaining brother. When, one night, Rosamond suddenly appears on Ruth's doorstep, it almost seems too good to be true.
The two spend the night together in Rosamond's old house before going back to Ruth's house in a hurry. In a supernatural turn, Ruth wakes up to the news that Rosamond, far away in Italy, has died. Was it all a dream?
Illustration by Paula Salvatierra
The three of us who discussed the story were caught by different elements of it.
Rob liked the depiction of the return to a childhood friendship as adults. It made him think of the ease he feels with certain friends he knew as children, even if they haven’t spoken in years.
May and I both liked this passage:
“So much of life is a barren gleaning after the true harvest: little broken impressions, scintillae of feeling stay floating about in the memory. And happy is he who can fit them into some of patchwork when days are bare again.”
For me this quote really resonated as a description of how happiness works - precious little glimmers of it everywhere, anywhere, sometimes nowhere, that you have to look carefully for, grab onto when you can, and slot into some kind of narrative of your life.
For May it was the perfect description of how memory works, and how so much of the joy of things resides in their memory.
We struggled to really pin down an overall “meaning of the story”, which was frustrating for me, who likes to tie things up with a bow. But, as May pointed out, we can get so much from the story without tying anything up.
There’s so much more to be gleaned (😉) from this story. It’s available to listen to for free on the Audrey app, and get in touch if you’d like to hear when we’re discussing it next.