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Wednesday Reading Wreckage

What I've Just Finished Reading

"I don't care a hoot for a book where they don't get properly married. . . or hanged. . . at the last."



Mistress Pat is over. I like Hilary a little less than I did, having completely forgotten that when he shows up at the end, after Silver Bush has burned to the ground, house and trees together, he has this line, the first thing he says to Pat on returning, after her name:

" 'I've made you mine forever with that kiss,' he said triumphantly. 'You can never belong to anyone else. And I've waited long enough for it,' he added with his old laugh."

UGH. BRO, DON'T GLOAT. >:( Pat's house just burned down! I know she was unhealthily attached to her house, but IT JUST BURNED DOWN, jeez. Also, rude! Pack up your sexual presumption for at a few minutes, and consider giving your childhood dream girl a second to say something before you show your entire hand. And how suspicious is it that he shows up, right there among the ashes, JUST WHEN Pat thinks her life is over? I bet May Binnie only thinks she left that oil stove burning.

Oh, well. That's Mistress Pat. Pat's hatred of change grows until it cracks; she tries to hold back time and can't; she loses everything she loves piece by piece; finally the dam breaks and the last of her beloved world is drowned and she finds she can make her peace with time after all, now that she doesn't have a choice.

It's a happy ending, sort of, but it's so abrupt. Silver Bush is ashes and Hilary is back, and suddenly Pat, who hasn't spoken to Hilary in years and always thought of him as a brother, is unambiguously in love with him. Silver Bush is gone, and suddenly Pat, who never dreamed of living anywhere else, is willing to live anywhere with Hilary. It's for the best, or it's not; I don't know. Anyway, Mistress Pat took me by surprise, as it always has. And as always, I like the Binnie family, even if they are temperamentally incomparable with the Gardiners. (I like them a little better on the whole, to be honest. Mrs. Binnie is boisterous and sometimes chillingly practical, but she's a good, well-meaning, self-reliant soul, and the Gardiners giggling endlessly over her malapropisms and her bad taste in decor are tiresome at best).


What I'm Reading Now

Titus Groan is here! My paperback library copy has the most gorgeous-weird cover art, cruelly half-masked by black library binding tape. I'll take a picture when I get the chance. Anyway, I've read the first two chapters, and it's nothing at all like Mistress Pat or Brideshead Revisited. . . OR IS IT? There's a monstrous pile of a castle and a gallery of wooden carvings presided over by a solitary caretaker, and an as-yet mysterious Earl of Groan (!) whose new heir is a big deal for some reason having to do with a general horror of change in this crumbling quasi-medieval hyper-feudal earlery. Oh, and there are line drawings EVERYWHERE. I'm not sure where this one is going, but things look promising so far.

What I Plan to Read Next

The Golden Notebook looks terribly daunting, but it's just made an appearance at my bookstore, so I should probably give it a try at long last, don't you think? But I don't know if I'll get to it sooner or later. I have a lot of things still waiting to be read.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
osprey_archer
Jan. 5th, 2016 03:02 am (UTC)
I'm glad that I'm not the only one nursing a seed of suspicion in my soul that maybe Hilary burned down Silver Bush. It was his only rival for Pat's heart, after all.

Also I started feeling crankily fond of May not long after Sid married her. I do sympathize with Pat's predicament - it would be awful to have someone you didn't like suddenly living with you, and you have no say in the matter - but at the same time, whenever May complains about the snobby Gardiners looking down on her, she's 110% right and it's hard not to sympathize with that, too.
evelyn_b
Jan. 5th, 2016 05:17 am (UTC)
She's 1110% right! The Gardiners have been snobbishly looking down on the Binnies since ages before there was any threat of Sid marrying anyone. LMM always has a tendency to act like it's a crime to have bad taste (or to prefer new, convenient things over old, charming, cracked things) but the Gardiners are the worst about it, I think -- between Pat and Rae and Judy, and the narrator never giving the Binnies a chance. Even without a chance, I like May's mom. She's more present, as a character, than Pat's mother, even if she only ever shows up for the Gardiners to make fun of.

I'm with you. I feel for Pat, but I wish she weren't such a snob about it. There's no reason why May should care that the Gardiners think her taste is bad. There's no reason why she shouldn't put up the pictures she likes or have a nice new stove. It's like the Gardiner girls and Judy have developed their own private aesthetic catechism and they're shocked that May doesn't know or care that her opinions are wrong.

I bet Hilary made a pompous psycho-analyst friend in Europe who convinced him that burning down Pat's house was the only way to release Pat from the tentacles of neurosis or something. One day Pat is going to meet him at a dinner party and all the big rusty parts at the back of her mind will slowly click into place.
osprey_archer
Jan. 5th, 2016 02:38 pm (UTC)
They could have compromised about the picture issue, surely. I suspect that if May were given free reign she might end up replacing every picture in the house, so maybe they would have had to choose a set number of pictures or perhaps specific rooms where she can redecorate, but she deserves a wider scope than just her bedroom.

Also, I bet you're totally right about the pompous psycho-analyst. Hilary stopped off in Vienna and met a psych-analyst at the opera, and mentioned his neurotic friend back home, and the psych-analyst leaned back in his plush opera seat with his fingers steepled over his stomach and theorized absently all the way through the second act of Don Giovanni. "If the house burned down," he murmured, tapping his fingertips together.

And that little hint was all the convincing that Hilary needed to concoct his plan to set Silver Bush aflame.
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