It's a big family, steady as an ocean liner. There's been no divorce, no disaster; any minor difficulties or discrepancies that have arisen over the years have been carefully toned down and blended back into the picture. Sometimes, talking to my friend, it has occurred to me that even if there had been a disaster, I wouldn't necessarily know about it; that in fact her very definition of a disaster might be 'an event impossible to conceal'. This quality in her, this ability to maintain the surface, has always struck me as a form of courage; indeed, I have vaguely considered her to be the adult in our relationship, though we are more or less the same age.p. 26–27
Entering a house, I often feel that I am entering a woman's body, and that everything I do there will be felt more intimately by her than by anyone else. But in that house it is possible to forget entirely – as the passengers on the top deck of a liner can forget the blackened, bellowing engine room below – what is surely nonetheless true: that a home is powered by a woman's will and work, and that a curious form of success could be measured in her ability to suggest the opposite.p. 76