Tea with Mr. Rochester by Frances Towers: Violet

Tea with Mr. Rochester

Now that I’m done reading Love Stories I figured it’s time I read another Persephone short story collection. The anthology I picked is Tea with Mr. Rochester, the only book Frances Towers ever published. Last year I came across one of her stories in The Persephone Book of Short Stories. Spade Man from Over the Water which hinted at the supernatural is usually not my cup of tea, nonetheless, it made me want to check out more of her stories.

Violet, the namesake of the collection’s first story, is a new maid at the Titmus household. Violet is described as a “dot of a thing” with “absurdly small and fluttering hands,” but she turns out to be quite capable. The household has gone through a visible transformation since Violet entered it – everything from furniture to silver now shines. However, it seems like Violet’s effect on the Titmus household might not be just physical. She has an air of mystery about her and by her own admission “Things always seem to happen when [I] come into a house,” which is true because after Violet’s arrival one of the Titmus daughters got engaged while another found love. However, giving the story an eerie feeling, Towers hints that Violet’s ‘effects’ on Titmus household members may not always be desirable.

Once again, I’m not entirely sure what to make of Towers’ story. Was Violet just a prying maid who stuck her nose where it didn’t belong and tried to take credit for coincidences, or did she use the greasy stack of cards one of the daughters found in the kitchen for cartomancy? I suppose it’s up to me as the reader to imagine that. But as much as I don’t believe in fortune telling, I think the latter gives Violet a nice touch! ūüėČ

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