Covering almost 30 years in the life and loves of Mark Lennan, The Dark Flower opens in 1880 with 18-year-old undergraduate Mark studying art at Oxford, and ends 30 years later with Mark ostensibly happily married, yet torn between his wife and a beautiful teenage girl--the last and most disturbing manifestation of the "dark flower" of passion. Within a dozen pages, Galsworthy establishes his mastery of compelling narrative and sketches an irresistible plot. Much of his achievement lies in the mixture of pathos and humor that he derives from characters little able to express their feelings. There is much else to admire, from Galsworthy's impressionistic descriptions and eye for detail to the subtle symmetry he creates between his characters, emphasizing the cyclical nature of the story. Published in 1913, the story also holds the fascination of a world about to be transformed by war--one in which a love letter could still be delivered by the hand of a discreet manservant, and the residents of Piccadilly kept their horses stabled close by so that they could gallop down to Richmond for fresh air.