Daisy, the black sheep of the familyI have as soft spot for our Daisy, even though she is absent from most of the Saga. She is born in April 1801 as the second of Martha’s four natural children. She has a difficult childhood, and Martha never fully realizes the extent to which the little girl is affected by David’s death when she is still only three years old. She is effectively starved of affection whilst her mother becomes obsessed with baby Brynach, the foundling who arrives one night on the front doorstep of the Plas, and then with the mysterious Nightwalker who makes frequent appearances on the mountain.
In the year following David’s death Daisy disappears, and Martha finds her in the cave, having had a premonition that that is where she would be. During that episode it becomes apparent to the reader that Daisy is a strange child who lives in a fantasy world and who is likely to create problems for her mother in the years to come. Indeed she does create major problems, and Martha loses her emotionally and has a series of disputes with her in the difficult years of blossoming womanhood. Everything comes to head when Daisy goes off to London, swearing that she will never see her mother again and that she will have no further contact with her home or her family.
After that, as one story follows another, we are occasionally made aware by Martha that she has news of Daisy; but in truth she has rumours rather than accurate information, and all her letters to her errant daughter go unanswered. Just as Martha loses her son Dewi and her youngest daughter Sara she loses Daisy, and the pain of that loss is made more severe by the knowledge that she is still alive but quite disinterested in acknowledging either her roots or a mother’s love.
Then, out of the blue, a fat lady in exotic clothes arrives without warning at the Plas. Daisy has returned, and Martha is overwhelmed. Her first instinct, as in the Biblical story, is to kill the fatted calf and to celebrate. The reunion between mother and daughter is told in quite sparse terms in the final pages of Rebecca and the Angels, but there can be no doubting the depth of a mother’s joy. It turns out that Daisy has led an extremely disreputable and colourful life while she has been away in London, and in the most unexpected way she proves to know some of the most influential people in the capital city, within whose power it is to steer through Parliament an Act which will reform the hated turnpike trusts. She has cavorted with princes and bishops, among others. She has four children by different fathers, but she is still unmarried; and later on, in the pages of Flying with Angels, she finds true love for the first time in her life and marries Dr. George Havard, thereby becoming respectable.
Whatever the excesses of her life in London might have been, in the last book of the Saga Daisy is a reformed character and a loving and supportive daughter. When Martha commits her great indiscretion in Tycanol Wood with Amos Jones everybody else is appalled, but Daisy is thoroughly amused since this is a minor matter indeed when compared with some of the things she has seen and done in London. So things come full circle. The daughter with whom Martha fought so continuously and could not control in her teenage years now becomes the daughter who best understands her mother’s eccentricities and her willful behaviour. That creates a mutual respect and a strong and loving relationship, and Daisy then plays a very important role in protecting Martha and advising her as she plays out the final act in her dramatic life.