Short Story: "A Wedding has been arranged..." by Eleanor Harvey
a short story
from WOMAN'S REALM magazine, Apr. 13, 1958, pg 25
First Sentence: "The train came to a standstill between stations."
Last Sentence: "It's so lovely having the family around me."
Author: I can find absolutely no information on this author at all. She does not bring any results on amazon.co.uk or LibraryThing. I get an Eleanor Jones Harvey but she specializes in American art so I highly doubt it is the same person. Perhaps she only ever published a few short stories, mayhap only this one?
I must say I went into this story expecting an old-fashioned woman's romance and not thinking I'd like it much. I was wrong. While the story is about an engaged couple it is not a romance, per se. Lucy is an orphan and grew up without any family in London. When she left the orphanage she took classes, moved into her own flat and got a job, living an independant life and taking care of herself. She is presented as a nice sweet woman who can take care of herself. Not what one usually finds in literature from the 1950s!
Anyway she is engaged to David, a Welshman, from a large family and the two of them are off to Wales for her to meet the family for the first time. She is very excited at the prospect of finally having family; she has her own impressions of what this means and what it will be like. They welcome her with wide open arms and treat her as one of them right from the start. At first Lucy is warmed and joyful at the experience but as David romps around visiting old friends leaving her with his sisters and mother she becomes stifled and angry at the presumptions these people are making. As they all sit around in the evenings it feels to her as if David's family is planning her wedding and her life for her and she is being left out; but the more involved the family becomes the colder she becomes.
On the ride home Lucy lets her feelings be known to David and he is quite shocked, letting her know this is just how families are, that she will get used to it. She wants to have privacy and be just David and her and since they had planned to move there after the wedding she can't imagine what it will be like having these people underfoot all the time. David and Lucy don't understand each other. David agrees that yes family can impose, walk into your room without knocking, borrow something without asking, but as soon as you need help they are the first to sacrifice their own needs to help you out. Lucy just can't tolerate the invasion of privacy and she doesn't need help; she's been self sufficient her whole life.
Things take a turn when Lucy comes down with pneumonia shortly after they arrive back home. She is out of it for a few days and when she comes to she finds David's mother hovering over her. She has been there administering to her the whole time. His younger sisters have come, as well as his father; been wanting a trip to London for ages anyway. Lucy sees this other side of family and realizes that it isn;t a matter of *needing* help but being a part of a group of people who really care about you for no other reason than that you are family. The story was very charming and well-written. The characterization was well done for Lucy the most and I could imagine reading a book about her and David's life after they settle into home life in Wales.