pp. 86 – 87 SHUGGIE BAIN!!!! (Do Not Read Unless You Want to Know EXACTLY What Happens)

SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT

The way Agnes leaves:

She rouses her sleepy children, gets them dressed (in their Sunday best), flicks on the light in the bedroom where her husband is fast asleep. He wakes, mouth slack, and stares at the apparition of his wife and his two children staring at him from the foot of the bed. She’s wearing a mink, something he gave her in the hope it “would make her happy and hold her at peace from want, if just for a while.”

She: “Right. Thanks for everything, then. I’m away.”

This is really solid, over-the-top, a-hair-short-of-melodramatic writing.

A chapter or so ago, Agnes’s daddy gave her a solid thrashing. Self rather enjoyed how he did it, with a minimum of fuss. He waited until she was 39 and an outright lush, why couldn’t he have taken action sooner!

There have been other jaw-dropping scenes.

It may surprise dear blog readers to know that despite the rough scenes, highlighting the injustices of the world, self is finding this book enormously entertaining.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Agnes in SHUGGIE BAIN (Spoiler Alert)

Self hungrily read almost all the Shuggie Bain reviews because she hates to become vested in a character only to have it end with that character committing suicide.

She’s just past p. 50 and it almost seems as if Agnes is dead. She sets fire to her room when she hears her husband come home. Then she holds Shuggie in her arms and pretends like it’s a game. Shuggie, who has to be the most dysfunctional mama’s boy in the long line of literary mama’s boys, lies passively (but observantly!) in his mother’s arms as the room gets smokier and smokier.

The husband comes in when he smells the smoke, doesn’t say a word, rips the burning curtains off the rods and tosses them out the window. Self thought Agnes was dead until the very last line of the chapter.

Next chapter, point of view switch to Catherine, Shuggie’s older sister. Catherine’s almost home when she sees a pile of scorched curtains on the ground and “recognized them to be the same as her mother’s, burnt and still smoking.” Catherine being a very smart girl, she puts two and two together and thinks to herself: This is not a good sign.

Self doesn’t know what the hoo-ha is about Thatcher in the reviews. Mebbe Thatcher is responsible for this family’s dysfunction, but it’s boring to think that way. She’d rather read a book about family dysfunction without having to blame the dysfunction on politicians. Self’s enjoyment of angst depends entirely on whether she believes a family has agency in its own self-destruction.

So far, the Thatcher references have been minimal. Thank the Lord!

Angst in All the Devils Are Here

Whew! The angst in this mystery. There’s enough angst here to power a whole galaxy. Everyone in the family is a suspect to Inspector Armand Gamache, including his own son!

Did self mention the angst?

The angst also comes wrapped in a bow in the person of Jean-Guy Beauvoir, former hardscrabble kid (from East Montreal; self never having been to Montreal, or even to Quebec, she can only imagine the horrors of growing up in East Montreal), “found” and made his boss’s No. 2, thereby earning a) the love of the boss’s daughter; b) the hatred of the boss’s son; and c) the curiosity of every reader of Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache’s series (mostly female, self’s assuming)

Better than the mystery is the suspicion, the miscommunication, the times we worry for Jean-Guy Beauvoir (there’s “something wild” about him, muses a character in this book), the times he’s called stupid by a prissy female colleague (French), the times Inspector Gamache’s son Daniel looks at him with deep hatred, the times Jean-Guy looks at his boss and mentor with fierce protectiveness.

Self doesn’t know if Jean-Guy is as integral to every Inspector Armand Gamache book as he is in this one, but let’s just put it this way: if you do not like the character of Jean-Guy Beauvoir, you will probably not like All the Devils are Here.

Self, it turns out, does like the character, hence she likes this installment (#16!!!) of the Inspector Armand Gamache series, very much.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

TTWP p. 341

Savine is getting stupider and stupider, and her pregnant belly is still no larger than a pea: she is still able to go about on horseback! And ride like a champ! (Is it too much for self to wish Savine could fall off her horse?)

Meanwhile, Leo, the idiot husband, keeps patting her belly possessively (This is how we know she most definitely is pregnant, see? Leo the Young Lion loves to pat his wife’s amazingly teensy pregnant belly)

Oh, hold on! Here’s Savine feeling a tremor of remorse (which only makes self hate her more) See, she’s not all that bad! If only she’d been allowed to marry her brother! Then Leo the Young Lion would still be doing training wrestling with his right-hand man, Jurand (who seems to have vacated the premises, as any proper ex-love should).

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

A Trap! (Not a Spoiler)

The Battle of Red Hill is about to be joined.

Alas, valiant Finree is, self fears, about to be crushed while her son watches.

This is not a spoiler because it hasn’t happened yet.

But, all the pieces are in place. Leo van Brock (What names these are! Ugh, even having to type them!), The Young Lion, is told to stand back and let his mother Finree lure the army of Stour Nightfell into an ambush. Finree will do anything to keep her son safe, even if it means sacrificing herself, so it stands to reason that Finree will actually end up sacrificing herself. Of course, the Young Lion (who, despite being very brave and very handsome, is also not very smart) will follow Dearest Mum’s orders to a T, thereby ensuring that he will live to fight another day.

This is, self is sure dear blog readers will agree, Top Angst!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

BR Sentence of the Day, p. 194

I made my way through a crowd of diseased Moors to the Doctor’s room.

SPOILER

It seems Sebastian is now the companion of a disabled German, who makes him go and fetch and treats him like a servant.

And he looks terrible.

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: BR, p. 37

While the narrator and his boring chum Collins take themselves to Ravenna (which no one will be going to for the duration because COVID-19) for the summer:

  • I wrote long letters to Sebastian and called daily at the post office for his answers.

Ah, the pining!

Stay tuned.

When Her Husband Left Everything to Kent, the Servant

As if things were not just getting absolutely awful for poor Anne Glenconner (Her two eldest sons dead, the third in a coma), her husband Colin flees to the Caribbean, and becomes close to a servant named Kent.

A Night at the Opera, p. 294

It was going well until halfway through the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves in the opera’s third act when, to my absolute horror, Colin started to wail and scream beside me. “Colin, what is the matter?” I asked.

“I wish Kent was here,” he wailed.

“Honestly, I don’t think Kent would enjoy it, but I am here.”

But he continued to wail, “No, no, I want Kent!”

By this time, more and more of the audience were turning their heads in our direction. Seeing the rug over Colin’s knees, I grabbed it and threw it over his head, hoping it would shut him up. To my amazement, he didn’t tear it off and, with his wails now considerably muffled, the audience turned their attention back to the stage. Shrinking into my seat, I hoped the saga was over, but the worst embarrassment was yet to come. When the chorus finally ended, the conductor turned to the audience and announced, “Under the circumstances, I think we will have to have that again.” I was utterly mortified as the chorus began again.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Celia in THE PARASITES

Spoiler — because p. 309:

Celia piled more logs on to the fire, and threw the letter from the publisher into the blaze.

Self’s heart gave a lurch, but who is she to judge?

Stay tuned.

The Famous (or Infamous) Daphne du Maurier Jump Cut

If Daphne du Maurier were alive today, she would be an indie filmmaker. Her stories, her eye, her ear — perfect for cinema.

As is this novel self has been reading for almost a month: The Parasites.

She generally dislikes du Maurier endings, but loves her books for the absolute authority of her voice, and for her painterly eye.

If she were to cast the film adaptation, hmmm. Who would be Niall? Someone dark-haired, tall and slender.

Who would she cast as Maria? Someone blonde, tall, and slender, and also pretty.

Who would she cast as Celia? Someone not-blonde, not-tall, slightly overweight, and not-pretty,

These three siblings have self shaking her head; she sees a little of herself in all of them.

The first jump cut in The Parasites was after Lord Charles walks in on Maria disrobed in front of her (step)brother Niall. Suddenly, here we are a year later, and Maria has an infant named Caroline.

The next jump cut has just happened: Last we saw them, the sibs were in their mid-20s. Now they’re in their mid-30s. But self is so happy to see them all alive and together, no matter their age.

Niall is reminiscing about Freada (is she still around? Probably not, she was quite a bit older):

  • This was one of the many things he had learnt from Freada. ‘Carry what you can upon your back,’ she used to say. ‘It all saves time and temper. Have no real possessions. Stake no claim. This is our home, for three, for two nights only. This studio, this lodging-house, this unfamiliar room in a hotel’ . . .  Once they went a bust and took a suite in a palatial kind of palace in Auvergne . . . She got up at eight in the morning and went off to drink the waters or have the waters poured upon her, Niall never really knew which; but he used to lie in bed until she returned in the middle of the day, and he read every one of the works of Maupassant, the book in one hand and a bar of chocolate in the other.

The way Niall’s getting all nostalgic makes self worry that Freada is dead.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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