Francesca (1)
Deep autumn was birthday time for Francesca, and cold rain swept against her frame house in the south Iowa countryside. She watched the rain, looked through it toward the hills along Middle River, thinking of Richard. He had died on a day like this, eight years ago, from something with a name she would rather not remember. But Francesca thought of him now and his sturdy kindness, his steady ways, and the even life he had given her.
The children had called. Neither of them could make it home again this year for her birthday, though it was her sixty-seventh. She understood, as she always did. Always had. Always would. They were both in midcareer, running hard, managing a hospital, teaching students, Michael getting into his second marriage, Carolyn struggling with her first. Secretly she was glad they never seemed to arrange a visit on her birthday; she had her own ceremonies reserved for that day.
This morning her friends from Winterset had stopped by with a birthday cake. Francesca made coffee, while the talk ran to grandchildren and the town, to Thanksgiving and what to get for Christmas for whom. The quiet laughter and the rise and fall of conversation from the living room were comforting in their familiarity and reminded Francesca of one small reason why she had stayed here after Richard’s death.


解説:

Deep autumn(深秋) was birthday time for Francesca, and cold rain swept(吹き付ける) against her frame house(木造家屋) in the south Iowa countryside(田舎).
■Francesca:「フランチェスカの鐘」という歌がありましたが、実在する修道院ではありません。歴史的にはFrancesca da Rimini というイタリアの貴族はいました。夫の弟との恋で夫に殺され、ダンテの『神曲』の「地獄篇」など文学作品に取り上げられています。

She watched the rain, looked through it toward the hills along Middle River, thinking of Richard.
■Middle River:本小説の舞台となるRoseman Bridge が懸っている川です。

He had died on a day like this, eight years ago, from something with a name she would rather not remember.
■He had died:この時点(過去)から見れば「彼=旦那はもう既に死んでいた」というニュアンスを出すために過去完了形を使っています。
■die of …:間接的な死因を表します。直接的な死因の場合には「die of …」
■she would rather not remember: 「would rather do(むしろ・・・したい)」 の否定形。
「むしろ思い出したくない(名前)」

But Francesca thought of him now and his sturdy(不屈の) kindness, his steady ways, and the even(落ち着いた) life he had given her.
The children had called.

Neither of them could make it home again this year for her birthday, though it was her sixty-seventh.
■make it home:「家に辿りつく」。

She understood, as she always did. Always had. Always would.

They were both in midcareer, running hard, managing a hospital, teaching students,
■in midcareer:midcareerはここでは名詞として使われています。in the middle of careerの意だと思います。

Michael getting into his second marriage, Carolyn struggling with her first.
■with her first:with her first marriageの略。著者が最初に渡米したのは1968年でしたが、離婚・再婚の多さに驚いたことを思い出しました。その後、日本も後を追っているようです。

Secretly she was glad they never seemed to arrange a visit on her birthday; she had her own ceremonies reserved for that day.

This morning her friends from Winterset had stopped by with a birthday cake.
■Winterset:マディソン郡の郡庁所在地。Francescaはド田舎に住んでいます。
■stopped by:「立ち寄った」。

Francesca made coffee, while the talk ran to grandchildren and the town, to Thanksgiving(感謝祭) and what to get for Christmas for whom.
■the town:Wintersetのこと。

The quiet laughter(笑い声) and the rise and fall of conversation from the living room were comforting in their familiarity(親交) and reminded Francesca of one small reason why she had stayed here after Richard’s death.
■comforting:ここでは形容詞で「慰めとなる、励みになる」の意。