**DISCLAIMER: This post is part of a read-along, and I intend to ruin the entire plot in the most roundabout way possible.**
I have so many disorderly thoughts about this book. Let’s just start with the first sentence, which, YES, I did write down because I thought it was overdramatic and I couldn’t help but love it immediately.
“This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and of what a Man’s resolution can achieve.” (p. 1)
Already, I have so many questions. Who is this patient Woman? Who is this Man, and what is he so resolute about? And WHY are these pronouns capitalized?
This book so far? Delightful. But I'm having a tiny Norwegian Wood flashback, because Pesca . . . I ADORE him. And he disappeared after the first few pages.
Things I love that came out of Pesca's freakishly small mouth:
“My-soul-bless-my-soul! when I heard the golden Papa say those words, if I had been big enough to reach up to him, I should have put my arms round his neck, and pressed him to my bosom in a long and grateful hug! As it was, I only bounced upon my chair.” (pp. 12–13)
“Have you not been longing for what you call a smack of the country breeze? Well! there in your hand is the paper that offers you perpetual choking mouthfuls of country breeze.” (p. 16)
“Deuce-what-the-deuce! for the first time in my life I have not eyes enough in my head to look, and wonder at you!” (p. 16)
COME BACK, PESCA. And, my good dear, bring Storm Trooper with you if you please.
But let’s talk about what we all REALLY want to talk about (besides Mr. Fairlie . . . OMG MR. FAIRLIE): Marian Halcombe. She had me at the first glimpse of her swarthy complexion. Hartright basically describes her as a “butter face” (you know, everything is attractive but ’er face?). I love this about her. I imagine that many a cheeky young man has approached her from behind, surveying her corset-free lady-curves and preparing a killer pickup line, only to be shocked and appalled when confronted by her almost-mustache.
But, moving past that (if we possibly can), this first description provides a lot of insight into her character.
“To see such a face as this set on shoulders that a sculptor would have longed to model—to be charmed by the modest graces of action through which the symmetrical limbs betrayed their beauty when they moved, and then to be almost repelled by the masculine form and masculine look of the features in which the perfectly shaped figure ended—was to feel a sensation oddly akin to the helpless discomfort familiar to us all in sleep, when we recognize yet reconcile the anomalies and contradictions of a dream.” (pp. 34–35)
If I may be so bold, I believe THIS is the key to Marian: She is a walking contradiction.
She makes the most ridiculously demeaning statements about women in general: Women fight with each other when there are no men around to flirt with. Women talk too much. Women are fools. Women can’t draw, because they are too flighty. And that’s just in her first few pages of dialogue!
The thing is, once you get to know Marian even a little, you realize that she is a far cry from the silly, subservient, Victorian hat rack stereotype she speaks of so frequently. She destroys, with her actions, every stereotype she perpetuates with her words. The stark contrast of the feminine and the masculine in her physical character seems to be an exact reflection of her inner character. I don’t know quite what to make of this yet, but I’m starting to suspect that our chauvinistic friend Wilkie was secretly a feminist.
|Take THAT, Dickens!|
I grow tired of my rambling, so I’ll just summarize the rest in these handy bullet points:
- Hartright very accurately compares himself to a “harmless domestic animal.”
- How BORING would Hartright and Laura be as a couple? Yawn. If he marries, Laura AND Marian, THEN we can talk.
- This whole first section is the foreshadowingest.
- I must confess, when it was revealed that Laura and Anne Catherick (the titillating woman in white) are almost identical, I said out loud, “THEY SWITCHED PLACES!” I no longer think that’s likely . . . but I’m holding out hope.
- MR. FAIRLIE IS MY FAVORITE SELFISH BIGOT WHO ALSO HATES CHILDREN HE IS AMAZING. Everything he says is my favorite thing in this book.
- I got really excited when that little boy thought he saw a ghost. *perks up* A GHOST? No . . . no, it was just that crazy white lady again.
- Marian and Hartright’s goodbye is SO MUCH better than Laura and Hartright’s goodbye. I want them to be in love.
“She caught me with both hands—she pressed them with the strong, steady grasp of a man—her dark eyes glittered—her brown complexion flushed deep—the force and energy of her face glowed and grew beautiful with the pure inner light of her generosity and her pity.” (p. 149)
And, lest I forget, I had lofty goals for producing a dancing-cats-in-Victorian-garb GIF . . . but you're getting this instead:
|Good luck sleeping tonight.|