Sunday, February 17, 2019

Another day of small achievement, I am afraid.

I did a bit of knitting while watching the Andrew Marr show this morning, and hope at least to finish the back of the Stronachlachar this evening.

Thinking about this summer’s wedding: if Becca really means to wear the veil pinned to her head and down her back, as her sister-in-law-to-be Hellie did, Hellie’s veil will be far better for the purpose than that nice little one of Jared’s. So perhaps I will put that thought aside and move on to Foldlines, for which I need to order yarn.

That's my son-in-law Ed, Rachel's husband, Hellie's father, to the left.


By “trash”, Shandy, I mean thrillers. I am looking forward to “Wych Elm”, to be published this week. Today I have been reading a late John LeCarre, “Absolute Friends”.

I have also been dipping back in to “Mansfield Park”. Fay Weldon seems to me to miss, as many do,  the blackest mark on Mary Crawford’s character. Her wicked brother Henry tells her that he means to make Fanny Price in love with him. Mary, although well aware of Fanny’s gentle, retiring character and her slightly subordinate social status, encourages her, under the name of friendship, to believe that Henry is really interested.

In fact, Fanny is not remotely tempted, and Henry falls in love with her.

But that’s not the point.

Mary’s behaviour is appalling, by all the standards of female solidarity. Austen doesn’t make much of it, allowing herself only the sentence: “Miss Crawford, complaisant as a sister, was careless as a woman and a friend.”

Reading that much tempted me on, of course, and I find that Austen uses “lay” for “lie” in ways of which I am supposed to disapprove. So I will have to shut up on that one.


  1. Hello Jean,i am frequently driven to research after one of your posts and so it was with lay and lie. I like Stan Carey's posts on these matters.
    Grammar Girl is also interesting:

  2. I recently read the Mick Herron series about intelligence agents in the slow lane - "Slow Horses". He goes in for what I believe is called "Snark" and it is very entertaining.

    I've always found Fanny Price an enigma. As the book goes on she becomes the touchstone of moral authority while all around her every variety of fallibility swirls - all the adults absent or distracted by trivia and even Edmund seduced by Mary's vivacity. But Austen does not explain how Fanny developed this sureness of purpose, transferred aged eight from a chaotic home and treated as a poor relation since then. I prefer the heroines who are themselves "partial, prejudiced, absurd" and who have things to learn the hard way as the story goes on.

    1. Anonymous4:29 PM

      You see Fanny Price as I do. Her younger sister Susan is much more interesting and believable as someone fighting to rise above her upbringing, but she's given rather cursory treatment, being introduced so late in the novel. Austen's group portrayal of the Price family, however, is incomparable - 150 years later on another continent, I grew up in a neighborhood filled with families just like them. MP is my second-to-least favorite Austen novel (Northanger Abbey being the least), but still worth repeated readings.
      -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

    2. Fiona6:41 PM

      I agree about heroines who learn the hard way. In particular, I think this is why Persuasion is so many people's favourite - Anne is dealing with the consequences of her own choice made years previously, rather than with an arbitrary situation set up for her by the author. And that choice, Lady Russell's input notwithstanding, was for sensible reasons and could have been right - Anne could easily have ended up as another Mrs Price.

    3. =Tamar8:55 PM

      It sometimes happens that a child in a chaotic home will earnestly desire something solid to cling to, and choose order and regularity. Even chaotic households in Austen have access to religious influences and I think those were where Fanny got her ideas of propriety. I notice that Fanny was beginning to be influenced by the young people around her, and was perhaps only rescued by the return of the authority figures. I also notice that her surname, Price, may indicate something, as Austen often gave her characters meaningful names.

    4. Anonymous4:26 PM

      PS to Shandy: I too love Herron's "Slow Horses" series.
      -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

  3. Anonymous1:40 PM

    hey- there. are you meaning 'trash' to mean meant for the garbage can? scary spooky like Haunting of Hull House - still scared--- Silence of the Lambs - Pet Cemetery - harrumphing through my nose.. Please give me an example of trash

  4. I’ve found I’m not reading much lately. When the evening arrives and I have some time to sit with my knitting I seem to pick listening or watching over reading. I am enjoying following the discussions going on here of the various books. I almost feel like I’m part of a virtual book group - something I’ve never belonged to so far in life.

    Anna in toronto