The Edith Trilogy Read-Along calls for the second book to be read during July. This second book, Dark Palace follows Edith and the fate of the League of Nations from 1931 through the end of World War II. Although most of it is set in Geneva, Edith also visits Australia and the United States.
This novel begins roughly one year after the close of Grand Days. Edith and Robert have been married about a year, but Edith feels she has misunderstood Robert’s character. For one thing, he is not really dedicated to the success of the League, and she sometimes finds him crass. She takes the opportunity of Ambrose Westwood’s return to Geneva and Robert’s departure to cover the Spanish Civil War to rekindle her unusual affair with Ambrose.
At the League, she is considered an expert on protocol but still does not have an official title. At the beginning of the novel, she and other League officers are excitedly preparing for the conference on disarmament they are hosting.
This novel, like many middle novels in a trilogy, has a less focused plot than the first. Edith, at one point, considers moving back to Australia and visits the newly founded Canberra to fish for a job. But Canberra barely exists, and her fellow Australians don’t seem impressed by her accomplishments. The novel skips in an episodic way through several events during the war.
There are times in the novel when Edith’s didacticism is really annoying. What the novel does have, however, is a deeply affecting conclusion.
This middle story certainly lacks the joie de vivre of the first. The last novel is completely unfamiliar/unknown to me, so I’m looking forward to seeing this part of the story with fresh eyes.