The skeleton of Irene Iddesleigh's plot is familiar, the pieces have been plucked up on the roadside like Cheval's rocks: the poor orphan woman Irene has to marry the rich aristocrat even though she really loves a humbly-situated tutor.
But the author adds a surprise that is not a plot twist or anything literary: the tutor's name is Oscar Otwell and the uncanniness of one alliteration falling in love with another alliteration is a conundrum with no answer.
The writing is never conscious of it, Ros never jokes about it, she never suggests that these two people belong together because of their vowels, the proximity is a red herring, it seems to be hinting at an answer, and a writer who did not want the reader to think about it would not have put those names together like that and yet she does not seem to want us to think about it, yet she does put them close together like that, apparently stimulated by a natural impulse that said, "Do this, do this, write an alliteration, write more alliterations," -- so she writes --
The silvery touch of fortune is too often gilt with betrayal: the meddling mouth of extravagance swallows every desire, and eats the heart of honesty with pickled pride: the impostury of position is petty, and ends, as it should commence, with stirring strife. But conversion of feminine opinions tries the touchy temper of opposition, and too seldom terminates victoriously.
She is never ironic at her own expense, she uses a grandly dramatic vocabulary, she invents aphorisms, all techniques that have worked for other people but they don't work for her, critics laugh, Tolkien laughs, I laugh, but where does that accent of instinct come from, what country, what nation, what coastline, what climate?
Not Oxford, where the Inklings were sitting, not that cluster of foreign nations with its don-atmosphere. Not any nonmysterious place. But somewhere so strange that it shortcircuited itself and vanished.