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In (Oxford University Press, 1989), Joan Givner attributes the breakdown to the intensifying guilt de la Roche felt for “her resistance of the female role expected of her and the growing intensity of her love for Caroline.” It was Clement’s care—taking long walks, holding de la Roche in her arms, and continuing to share in “The Play”—that eventually helped the young author recuperate.De la Roche, observers have speculated, could not have coped with a world without Clement, and would’ve never been able to write another word if Clement had not been by her side.
The girls were inseparable, but their friendship was not without its challenges.Luckily, for de la Roche at least, parental objections that the teenagers were too young, without means of support, and that their religions were incompatible, nixed the romance.Clement was crushed, but de la Roche was unsympathetic.Although the limited, circumstantial evidence makes definitive statements impossible, what is certain is that the pair shared a complex, caring, and deep attachment, and were devoted to each other for over seven decades.In his biography of de la Roche, Ronald Hambleton writes: “Caroline Clement was almost Mazo’s other self.These two dissimilar, but perfectly attuned persons, lived one of the most unusual and certainly most productive partnerships in the history of literature.” Born Maisie Roche in Newmarket, de la Roche’s childhood was spent bouncing around following her father’s many brief entrepreneurial initiatives and the demands of her mother’s ill-health: from Orillia to Galt, then back to Orillia, and then numerous residences in Toronto.
) A highly emotional but imaginative child, de la Roche created an elaborate fantasy world called “The Play” in her autobiography, in which she acted out imaginary scenes and characters.
A prolific writer, de la Roche had penned over 50 short stories, 23 novels, and 13 plays by her career’s end.
De la Roche was extremely reticent with a temperamental disposition, once telling an interviewer that her primary interest outside of writing was “privacy.” And, due to the ever-shifting biography she invented for herself, the author’s secrets have been kept beyond the grave.
Clement, for her part, later admitted feeling “antagonism and fear” when, in 1912, de la Roche had suitor of her own named Pierre Fritz Mansbendel.
Givner asserts that de la Roche enjoyed Mansbendel’s male camaraderie as one of the few men who compared favorably with her father, but that the relationship was never romantic in nature.
“As the train drew in it was easy to distinguish her in the crowd on the platform, slim and straight in her black and white dress, a wing of bright hair against her little black hat. In her autobiography, de la Roche states that she enjoyed attracting men but had an aversion to being touched by them, and viewed “sex as rather silly.” By her own admission, she regarded herself as rather masculine.