Thursday 8 May 2014

"She... was wearied out by the exertion of fascinating half the county."

I think I see what Braddon is doing now.
No no, I really do, so hear me out, readalongers. Once upon a time, Mary Elizabeth Braddon lived near a girl who was so beautiful and so perfect that it made her SICK, and so, to make herself feel better, she started making up stories about said Perfect Girl that involved her being all rich and loved but SECRETLY very very evil. I'm pretty sure that's where we're heading with this, anyway.

SO. As we rejoin the glorious Robert and ok George, they go down to Southampton (HEY I USED TO LIVE THERE) to see 'Helen's grave and, you know, maybe check in on that child that George fathered and abandoned. I'm being quite flippant about this, when actually I was very persuaded into feeling sorry for the poor widower, mainly because of bits like this:
"The quiet form which his grief had taken after its first brief violence made him as submissive as a child to the will of his friend; ready to go anywhere or do anything; never enjoying himself or originating any enjoyment, but joining in the pleasure of others with a hopeless, quiet, uncomplaining, unobtrusive resignation peculiar to his simple nature."
 BUT STILL: he did abandon his wife and child, so.

On said visit, 'Helen's Papa seems quite cagey and eager to get rid of George (and the incomparable Robert) and isn't necessarily the most grief stricken of fathers. At this point, since I'm convinced that Helen has now become Lucy and is, in fact, pure evil, I can't be sure that she didn't make some poor little servant dress up as her and then kill her so that she could have a second chance at life. WE ALREADY KNOW SHE LIKES HER SERVANTS TO LOOK LIKE HER. What if she kills again?!

I might be getting a little bit ahead of myself. But the Lady, she is so shady. I like how all the townspeople see of her is her astounding beauty, when actually she's perfectly capable of manipulating situations to her own advantage, of keeping what we can can only assume is her estranged husband far away from her (and in such COLD ways) and in generally having Sir Michael wrapped around her little finger. I think we can take from the portrait that apparently shows her INNER EVIL and the fact that the dog won't go near her that there's clearly something wrong with her, even if Robert thinks she's a pretty foxy lady.
Speaking of Robert... Early on in this section, I had a bit of a 'oh GOD, Robert's going to marry his cousin, isn't he?' when, you know, we've had quite enough of that. And even though the cousin marriage thing is sort of going on (Alicia wants to jump his bones so badly. SO badly) it's actually also more interesting than that because Robert is the kind of man of leisure who sort of can't feel things properly:
"Poor Alicia had had many skirmishes with her cousin upon that peculiar temperament of his, which, while it enabled him to go through life with perfect content and tacit enjoyment, entirely precluded his feeling one spark of enthusiasm upon any subject whatever."
So, basically Robert's kind of a rake? Only with less sex, it seems. Unless he's been keeping George company in more ways than one... (YES I SAID IT. That's what I really want to happen. Readalongs: keeping everything gay since 2011). But I will settle for his marriage to Alicia, because that lady reaaaaally needs some loving.


  1. I'm the MOST naive person in this readalong, because last week I was all "Oh no, Helen's dead!" and this week I"m like "Lucy's a good person!" and everyone's all "BUT NO ACTUALLY." I was seriously thinking 'Well, she probably just doesn't want to put them both through the pain of this bigamy thing and SHE didn't know George was still alive, so now she's just going to let him think she's dead and they'll all move on with their lives.'

    That was my thought.

    So many gay dudes in Victorian lit. And our beloved gay ladies. (MARIAAAAAAAAN!)

    1. I mean... We really don't know anything yet, so maybe Lucy IS as innocent (vom) as she seems. But then why does the dog hate her, Alice? Whyyyy?

      Ohhhhhhh, Marian. I think that readalong, we were all gay for Marian. She's a hellueva woman.

    2. The dogs know.

      The dogs ALWAYS know.

  2. Anytime I started to feel bad for George I remembered the whole "abandoning the family" bit and decided yeaaaaaaaaah. The pity-well has dried up.

    Megs has convinced me that Lucy is TOTALLY going to murder Phoebe and start a new new life.

    1. SO MUCH CONFLICT on how I feel about George. Even when I was reading, I was going between 'UGH, you bastard' to 'awwww, but you're so sad :(' so I don't even know where I end up on that issue. We'll have to see how much of a psycho Lucy turns out to be, I think.

      I am definitely down with the Megs theory of things. There has to be SOME reason she's all like 'hey, you look like me, only uglier.' And not just, like, a lack of natural charm.

  3. Oh, I didn't consider Lucy and Dad murdering a girl. Maybe they did it with poison. I thought maybe they picked up some random sick urchin and paid off her mother or her orphans or something to let them take her and pretend to be dying Lucy. Your theory is much eviler.

    I'm imagining Robert as Bertie from the Jeeves and Wooster series.

    1. My theory is fuelled by having read the pages really early this morning AND being sleep deprived when writing about it. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong! If Lucy doesn't turn out to be evil now, I don't know what I'm going to do with myself!

  4. I'd be psyched if there were a shocking twist in which actually Phoebe was the evil sociopath and she Single White Femaled Lady Audley and pushed George down a well. (The only outcome I truly care about is ensuring that George gets pushed down a well. God I hate that guy.)

  5. I like Robert, even if he DOES tend to explain every emotion and EVERY OTHER THING using the 'I must have eaten something dodgy' line of thinking. I also like George, because he is heartbroken and YES he is mostly to blame for this but that doesn't mean I want him to suffer forever when he's evidently a good egg underneath the mistakes. Lady Audley is horrible. Caesar is clearly a smart dog. Alicia gets more cool with every chapter. Sir Michael deserves better even if he's clearly blinded by the creepy fatherly need to pet his wife instead of treating her like an adult woman. LET US READ ON!

  6. Apparently all Lucy needs to do is She's All That Phoebe and they can just be lady-lovers together, to which I'm sure Sir Michael would be more than obliged because he just doesn't, you know, give shits when it comes to the INESTIMABLE (and gross) Lady Audley.

    WHO IS CLEARLY EVIL BECAUSE DOGS HATE HER. And no one's hair is that perfect. Ever. Watch a teen movie - shiny straight hair ALWAYS equals mean girl, amirite!?

    There are many mysteries to be had, the main one being where George put his balls because yeah your wife died but you abandoned her and weren't all weepy then, so...

  7. OK...I wasn't seeing an obvious way to make Rob and George gay for each other last week, but when I hit Chapter 11ish and Rob didn't even CARE how pretty Lucy is because he is distracted by his worry for George, a little voice in my head yelled, "TADA!"