White Fawn and Lisa Vale
Fabia goes off script when she falls in love with a young man from the wrong side of the tracks.
L isa has married into the Vale family, and brings human qualities and egalitarian attitudes to her new world of wealth and possibility. Lisa Vale, human and sympathetic, opposes the snobbery enforced by Grandmother Vale, who strives to maintain the family's social position and status. At the same time Lisa gently teaches her children to "play the game" in order to stay connected to upper-class society. With this for a setting, the author spools out three story threads in the first two novels, White Fawn continuing into Lisa Vale, in which the characters of Lisa Vale and her family take shape.
Lisa Vale’s Love Story
Lisa's husband Rupert, with all the social position, is revealed as an insufferable stuffed shirt—a kindred spirit to Grandmother Vale. Lisa meets a member of Rupert's investment firm, the more poetic Barry Firth, and they fall in love. Lisa keeps this affair secret and chaste. She does not want her children affected. So she stays tied to reality even as the balloon of her romance keeps her aloft.
Lisa takes decisive action to save her oldest son from disgrace. His nickname, Windy, tells us that the boy is a breath of strong fresh air compared to his father, Rupert. A young woman has accused Windy of getting her pregnant. Lisa Vale believes Windy's denial, while blue-blooded Rupert does not.
In the face of a blackmailing threat, Lisa must first make certain of Windy's innocence, and then show two blackmailers that she can prove his innocence. She uncovers the details of the blackmail scheme and their earlier schemes. Lisa does these things while facing a deadline set by her husband—they must leave for New York City on the 5:00pm train.
Windy sees his character vindicated and his spirits revived by the clearing of his name. Then he shows his honorable nature by refraining from implicating his cousin, who had contributed to the suspicious situation. Next year Windy will be accepted at Harvard and will again play the lion among his social set.
Counterpoint–Dan and Fabia
At the start of White Fawn, we catch a view of the coming-out party of Fabia Vale. We feel the grandeur of debutant balls that played at that time and place in our social history. Abruptly during the party, Fabia, with her strong independent streak, goes off script.
This story runs in counterpoint to Lisa Vale's love story. Lisa's daughter Fabia, a serious and intelligent teenager, has fallen in love with Dan Regan, a striking young doctor from an Irish family of lower status. Lisa keeps a light hand on the tiller, (It seems that Prouty firmly believes in this approach to raising children and to dealing with people generally) and knows better than to interfere with Fabia's attraction to Dan. Fabia feels caught between her attraction to Dan and Dan's tormenting treatment of her: he neglects all the signals and symbols important to Fabia like sending telegrams and flowers. Dan attends to his patients, fails to keep dates with Fabia, and proudly sticks to a blue-collar way of acting and speaking, even as he works for a position as instructor at the Harvard Medical School—a triumph of ability over the snobbery of the Boston elite.
Grandmother Vale's objections to Dan come to life with extreme threats against Lisa and Fabia. When Lisa stands up to these to defend Fabia and Dan, she fights for a more progressive and tolerant stance on life.
To escape from the affair and from her Boston world, Fabia takes work as a nurse in New York, exploring a path different from the girls in her country-club set. In this way the beautiful Fabia differed from the herd she ran with. Hence the title, The White Fawn.
Through the five Vale novels, Lisa and her younger daughter June witness the lovebirds Dan and Fabia struggle to resolve their differences. Prouty spins this story out through the five novels.
The Family Tree
These generations appear in White Fawn and the other novels: