Aug 12, 12
Read from August 10 to 11, 2012
Good Behaviour is narrated by Aroon St. Charles, an upper-class Anglo-Irishwoman who lives on the slowly decaying family estate with her parents and brother. Aroon is an outsider from the start; educated at home by a governess, she has little contact with anyone outside her family, and even they marginalise her. Her cold, distant mother clearly does not love her; her hedonistic father shows her affection only sporadically, when he isn't busy chasing foxes and women; her brother is more interested in his best friend Richard. The family fortunes decline, although everyone but Aroon pretends it isn't happening, railing instead against rapacious tradesmen and incompetent lawyers. Aroon herself is guilty of denying the reality of what is going on around her - she sees the practical realities, but emotional realities are much more slippery ground. There is a combination of innocence and self-delusion at work here. For example, the true nature of her brother's relationship with Richard escapes her entirely, no doubt because the code of "good behaviour" prohibits any open discussion of such relationships. She is selectively aware of her father's infidelities - she acknowledges those that take place away from home, but refuses to see those that take place right in front of her. Aroon desperately wants to love and be loved in return - all within the confines of "good behaviour," that thin veneer of manners which masks some pretty despicable thoughts and actions. A dark, sharp, bitter tale, brilliantly told.