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Haunting of Gad's > Getting Started

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message 1: by Cassie (new)

Cassie (CassiePetty) | 173 comments I thought I would start a new folder for the group read. Are we all ready to get started?


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I am ready even tho still exhausted from going to Denver yesterday. I hope you are up to it? About all I am up to is sitting in front of the computer or lying in bed reading. Where is that maid, LOL!
I need some good elves to come in an clean my kitchen...sigh!


message 3: by Cassie (last edited Feb 04, 2009 09:00AM) (new)

Cassie (CassiePetty) | 173 comments So, how far is everyone already? Any initial thoughts?

I wondered if there was more to Lavinia's killing the baby than was mentioned. There was something I read that made me think maybe there was cannabalism involved. Anyone else get that impression?

Sometimes I feel like I am missing stuff that is implied. I think in our age of tv maybe I've become immune to subtlety. Who needs to imagine anything when it's all right there in front of you?


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I didn't pick up on that but will have to read it again.


message 5: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1801 comments I am aware that Lavinia in the attic was covered by a ruse about being in India ( although I wasn't at the time of posting ) I was referring, when I said about people being returned from India, to Everard' s godfather, much earlier in the book


message 6: by Barbara (last edited Feb 04, 2009 04:41PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1801 comments I know what you mean about missing subleties, I went back to re-read about Lavinia and the baby's death, because NL has Mrs Thorley say things like "thank God Deborah had not realised the full truth" .
Since Deborah had actually handled and buried the bodies,it couldn't have been anything actually visible , could it? I think she must be referring to the idea that Lavinia believed herself to be having a Satanically concieved child. I don't know why she killed it and herself? Maybe she looked and saw it was just a human baby and not the 'Dark Lord' she expected or something. Or maybe she thought she really had given birth to an incarnation of Satan and in a moment of 'sanity' killed it and herself?
Presumably there was something about the paintings that made Mrs Thorley realise all this, and she obliterated them before Deborah could see. Mind you, I'm not sure why Mrs T would have been so knowledgeable about such things.....
It was the fate that Damask nearly fell prey to in Devil in Clevely, being The Maiden for a Satanic ritual, I remember.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, it was the big white dog that saved Damask wasn't it? He was sure a good dog.
Got to read this other section over again as all I remember were the hideous paintings that had to be painted over. Weren't they red poppies with evil faces?


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Page 228 - What happened, Mamma?" Deb asked, taking charge of the tea-pot. Mama was calm enough but all of a shake.
"I can't go into details. It was all so horrible." Mrs Thorley closed her sunken eyes and shuddered. "I did my best. My dears, you must believe that. I couldn't have done more if it had been one of you. And it was a beautiful baby - a boy." She knew in her heart that the continuance of her plan, culminating in Lavinia's return with the baby, would have meant months more of secrecy and connivance and apprehension; nevertheless the loss of the child grieved her. She would have to tell Deborah something of the truth, of course, because of the state of the attic. But Deb only.
The suggestion of a leaden casket shipped home from India came up inevitably, and from Diana.
"it can be done. One of my friend Barbara's cousins - he was a solider - was brought home in that manner."
"Perhaps you know somebody who could make a leaden casket, seal it and ask no questions," Deb said. She spoke gently, almost casually, and yet with such venomous sarcasm that Diana looked at her in amazement.
"Well, no , It was just a suggestion"
"The time has come to face facts, damned unplesant ones, too. Lavinia is supposed to be on the other side of the world. But she's up there, dead, and her baby with her.
"I know. I can face a fact, Deb, as well as anyone."
Never an unpleasant one, Deb thought.
"There is only one thing to do. Bury them. In the garden." It sounded harsh; all the worse because Deborah spoke so coolly, as thought speaking of planting out wallflowers.
"And who will do that?"
"I will".
Deborah has been keeping half an eye on Mamma and saw that she was having trouble with her tea. She hadmade two attempts now to get the cup to her lips, failed both times, and there was now as much tea in her saucer as in the cup. Deborah reached over, tiped the tea from the saucer into the slop-basin, dried the saucer and the base of the cup on her sleeve, and said, as to a child, "Try again."
Mamma had made no protest against the garden burial and Caro sat silent.
"Listen, Deb said. She had already in her mind surveyed the terrain. "It ust be under the walnut tree....Nobody is likely to dig there. It's still early. I'll get hold of Willy and ask him to dig, ready for some shrubs and things which Mamma has admired in your gardens and which flourish int he shade. Bring them in tomorrow morning"
Let Deb do it. Through Mrs Thorley's exhausted mind a thought flitted - IN OLDEN TIMES PEOPLE LIKE LAVINIA WOULD HAVE BEEN BURIED AT A CROSSROADS, WITH A STAKE THROUGH THE HEART"!!!!!!!


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

"Deb, I delivered her safely. A beautiful little boy. As you know, I had always held to the belief that once delivered she would recover her senses. And it seemed so. She said she would like some chicken broth. And I had it, ready. So I came down, it hardly took me five minutes. And in just htat time, Deb, she'd smothered the poor baby, and slashed her wrists."

..........She had told Deb part of the truh, but not the whole. Not by a long way. Nobody would believe her, they'd say like mother like daughter and think her mad too.
"She was made, Mamma. Not responsible for what she did. With great delicacy of feeling Deborah refrained from saying things such as: I told you so. I knew it. I said so from the first. She BIT me.
And Mrs Thorley made no mention of the ordeal which had preceded the birth. Lavinia suddenly was garrulous. "They promised no pain. The promised to come for me. I was the Maiden."
In actual fact it had been a short labor, but Lavinia had resented every pang. She had cried out at the picture on the easel. "I kept faith! I never said a word! Help me. You promised!" She knelt, moaning and praying in the most blasphemous terms.
Mrs Thorley, not a woman given to fancies, was aware of another presence in the room; something evil. And one it seemed to her that face of the goat-human changed, the leering, sneering, expression intensifying into one of supreme mockery. The unpleasant odour increased.

.........Then Lavinia's moans and petition changed into cried of rage. She got clumsily to her feet, seized a brush, squeezed tubes of paint, one after the other and defaced, first the picture and then the wall-paintings.



message 10: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 05, 2009 09:59PM) (new)

"There's nothing more we can do now," Deborah said at last. "I'll give the place a good scrub out in the morning." And splash about iwth some whitewash, she added to herself. Mamma - and thank God for it - had seemed to miss the significance of what Lavinia had painted. Mrs Thorley thought - and Thank God for it - that Deborah has not realized the full truth.
"Share my bed, " Mrs Thorley suggested.
no other is made up." The whole business had been made just that little more difficult by the need to move softly, speak low, or not at all for fear of waking George.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

It seemed to me that more than a haunting some type of evil remained. Do you think this too? Or was it the ghost of Lavinia that caused all the bumping noises, etc later?


message 12: by Barbara (last edited Feb 04, 2009 11:12PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1801 comments I wonder.. (I haven't read the Haunting of Gads Hall, which is different book isn;t it, set in earlier times? ) Maybe earlier evil remained also .
Also, there has to have been a coven, or whatever it is called, of Satanists in the district, presumably centred around the Fremlins, who recruited Lavinia and got her to believe that she was the Chosen of Beelzebub/Maiden etc. Maybe they had been active for generations and Gad's had earlier associations.

Interesting that the Fremlins, like the Richard Shelmadines in Devil in Clevely, were returned from India and into Satanism. Is the time period the same, could they have all been in the same coven?

In response to Alice's extensive quoting about what Mrs T and Deborah separately thought about the death chamber, I think now , after reading that, that they both knew that they had seen evidence of a Satanic thing, but both believed that the other wouldn't understnd .
I find it odd that both of them would actually know anything about such things . I mean Lavinia might have explicitly told her mother, but Deborah only saw the dead bodies


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Barbara, Lavinia was an artist and she painted things on the walls and on her canvases. I believe she painted a goat with horns or actually the devil in one of her paintings which would be obvious to anyone who looked. She also painted other things representing evil.

I enjoyed you noticing all the fascinating similarities between different NL books. However, I don't feel that Damask actually dabbled in the black arts. I think something different happened to her. She thought she was going to get married but then her beau had to marry Sally or die! She went into shock and when she collapsed her consciousness was greatly altered in some way on the other side. (remember color was something you could taste) She was changed but I don't feel it was the black arts. She did reject the Methodist teachings at that point and rebelled against her cruel fanatical father who wouldn't even provide his wife with tea so he could build a chapel! (pretty bad IMO) I felt so sad for the wife. So Damask took control of her life and she did have some sort of guidance that a person might get from spirit guide that she was able to go to the old woman and take over her household and command some unusual power. I didn't see it as demonic myself.

I think Richard Shelmandine was part of the old "hell fire" club that was active in London around that time? There is some NL writing about it in another novel. Or maybe I am thinking of Devil Water in which the hero has to save his future wife from a very similar ordeal with the "hell fire" club in London. He was a running footman for a long time for a member of the hell fire club. The poor older Shelmadine certainly ended up with a very wicked son who finally met his just end.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Gad's Hall and The Haunting of Gad's Hall run into each other. My two books are actually combined. Most of what I typed above is actually from Gad's Hall not the Haunting part.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I just learned from Werner that NL had been a high school history teacher which I never knew before. She certainly knew the history of Suffolk. I wish she had added Framlingham Castle or Ortford Keep into one of her books.


message 16: by Djo (new)

Djo | 28 comments I think in the age that Lavina was born religion was very much a big part of life. For a lot of rural people, if you didn't attend church, you lost your job and often your house. You weren't encouraged to question religion in any way, just to obey and conform. It was often delivered in a hellfire and brimstone fashion to ensure obedience and to keep the masses down. It's hard to realise exactly how incredibly powerful the church was then.

If you think about the time of this story, communication was mainly by word of mouth or letter. Evening entertainment would often be storytelling. I bet that the stories of the witch burnings of Bloody Queen Mary were pretty popular even then. People love to be scared, and witchcraft was still seen as prevalent then. Swimming witchs was still pretty common, although it was usually herbalists that suffered this fate. I think people had a lot of knowledge of the occult through stories and priests' scaremongering.

I think people absorbed this knowledge without actually acknowledging it - hell, if they knew too much they may be accused of being a witch. It didn't take much to be accused of witchcraft back then.

Mrs Thorley and Deb would have a good basic knowledge although they wouldn't want to discuss it. Also they wouldn't want to admit what they know and/or suspect about Lavinia as that could make it more possible to be true. They didn't want to admit the truth to themselves let alone anyone else. Also Lavinia's 'fall from grace' would be a bigger deal then, as we are more open-minded now and regard God as a fairer judge then was reckoned then.




message 17: by Djo (new)

Djo | 28 comments Lavinia was a vulnerable child - she had no friends, which doesn't surprise me as she never came over as terribly nice. She was completely absorbed in her artwork, which was slightly twisted from the start, so the interest of a group of people was bound to influence her. They groomed her, I suppose, for their own purpose. Lavinia obviously had total trust in them as she was totally confident that she would be collected before she gave birth.

I think the main part of her anger was at being abandoned. I don't think she cared what 'nice' people or her family thought. Emotions run high during pregnancy and birth and this may have influenced her actions.

I think she killed her baby because it was for the Fremlins and that group - they let her down, therefore they don't get their reward. I wonder if she killed herself as a sacrifice. Slitting wrists and allowing the blood to drain away is an ancient sacrificial ritual. It's a pity NL doesn't state which way Lavinia slit her wrists. If Lavinia was totally serious she would have slit her vein up the arm for a definite death. Slitting the wrists at 90o to the arm is messy, but not always fatal. I wonder if she knew that. I guess she didn't have huge amounts of choice about how she died. The window was barred, you can't smother yourself, she didn't have a gun.

Lavinia would probably have survived in this day and age - she was open-minded for the time - although a good dose of counseling would probably be recommended!!


message 18: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1801 comments Yes, you're right about Damask herself not being involved in Black Arts, but I meant, when Shelmadine's awful friend ( who certainly was into them) took her down into the Mithras temple to be the virgin sacrifice or devil's bride or whatever


message 19: by Barbara (last edited Feb 10, 2009 11:16PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1801 comments Djo wrote: "I think in the age that Lavinia was born religion was very much a big part of life. For a lot of rural people, if you didn't attend church, you lost your job and often your house. .."
Very true, as is the witches stuff , though don't you think that's more true of an earlier age, maybe 1500's and before ? Lavinia et al are surely more like 1800's.
I just thought that it seemed like fairly specific material for a middle class family of girls and women , not even great church goers, to know.
Alice points out though, that the paintings were probably very graphic, devils and goats and what have you...

I can imagine Lavinia being absolutely savage with her wrists, can't you ! Crisscrossing etc. Though not, it seems, with her killing of the the baby.
I also think your explanation is good, ie that she was in depair and fury at being duped and yes, killed the baby and herself to prevent them having any part of it . There is no suggestion that the group came and tried to get the baby is there? I wonder if they knew she was pregnant ? You think they'd have wanted to keep it/use it wouldn't you.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, I do think Lavinia was savage with her wrists as Mrs Thorley was not gone that long. If I remember right she just went to get her something to eat. I have known quite a few people who slit their wrists and the way they did it would have taken them hours to bleed to death. She must have done some horrific slitting!!!
Even where my mother grew up you had better be going to church so I can't even imagine what it must have been like then. When I got divorced I was made to feel disgraced. I mean DISGRACED. Have you read that book by Jodi Picoult....Plain truth or something like that? (what a revelation that this kind of thing even goes on today) I believe her story was about the Amish.
When I was pregnant nothing bothered me and it got more and more so. I was so TIRED and kept griping to my Dr. who never listened. Later I was told there is a hormone called Relaxin that creates a false sense of security and even helps the bones to spread out. It makes you feel so serene! Afterwards I felt very hyper sensitive and very criticized by the small town people where I lived. I never conformed but did what I felt was right for me. (people especially small town people usually don't like that one bit) Everyone is supposed to be all the same. But I am different as most artistic types are.

I had sympathy for Lavinia probably more than her sisters as I am continuing to read and reminded of their unkind thoughts. Its interesting too as Deb did not fit in with her husbands strict thought, no drinking, not even wearing a hat with flowers on top to church. I was just reading again where she bought up divorce to him and he was horrified but then liked the idea. I thought it was funny when her son made fun of the man who insisted on preaching even tho he said Er, every other breath! All those girls got involved with the wrong people for them too young and too fast.

I also thought there was something very odd about them not claiming her and the baby. I would have thought they would have taken her away with them. I think she suffered from some type of mental illness from the start. Her father shot himself to escape his gambling debts. I think he had been born to some money? But he was the type they used to call a "rake". Mrs. Thorley and her two daughters nearly starved before she met George. Maybe Lavinia already had some severe problems due to her very hard life? She was a very talented artist it seems as Mr Fremlin kept selling her work for more and more.
Most mysterious and I wish NL had explained more too.


message 21: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 11, 2009 09:28PM) (new)

Back at that time blood letting was still very common. In the book Survival of the Sickest he explains why this continued to be done for so long (cause it worked!!). Lavinia may have known more about blood letting due to that.
I thought I knew lots about medicine but then learned I "load iron". This problem is the most common genetic disease in this country which I had NEVER HEARD OF. Its the most common, number one genetic disease from the Celts. Too much iron will kill a person. Read The Iron Elephant. Iron builds up and up in the body as a person ages. It causes heart attacks, etc.
Lavinia must have known far more about how to cut and bleed quickly then we could imagine to have bled to death that quick. Lavinia's last words to her mother after the birth were "Thank you, Mama" Page 236 in my book - then she said she was hungry.


message 22: by Cassie (new)

Cassie (CassiePetty) | 173 comments It seems strange to me that the Fremlins just kind of disappear... I almost feel like ther were underdeveloped characters(dare I say it??)


message 23: by Djo (new)

Djo | 28 comments I wonder whether the Fremlins actually sold Lavinia's work, or did they just say that to her to as part of their 'grooming'. It appears that they said everything Lavinia wanted to here. They had enough money to 'buy' her pictures.

I think if we knew more about the Fremlins it would diminish that part of the story perhaps. I would also liked to know more, but I think the Fremlins could be a story in itself. I guess it can be hard trying to get the right balance on how much to write about peripheral characters.

I also wondered why they never made any attempt to claim Lavinia and the baby. Perhaps something had gone wrong for them. Or perhaps they knew Lavinia well enough to know she would kill the baby and herself - was that sacrifice enough for them? I know newborn babies were sought after for black mass rituals - I am surprised they didn't try to claim this one. Perhaps they managed to get one elsewhere and therefore didn't need Lavinia any more.

Personally I had very little sympathy for Lavinia - I didn't like her character from the start. To me she seemed self-absorbed and very selfish.

Diane came over as priggish and her own worst enemy really. I don't really think she deserved to have such a hard time in the early years of her marriage. All the same, I could see her in this age as one of those curtain-twitching neighbours who spreads gossip. Her sentences would start with "I don't like to gossip, but ..." or "I don't mean to pry, but ...".

Caroline was a flirt and too forward for the times and class. Again she was her own worst enemy - she was very naive in a lot of ways, and I can't decide if she was a bit dim or weak-willed. She would have done better in these modern times, where she could have indulged in her curiosity without ruining her reputation. It does take a lot to ruin a girl's reputation nowadays :-)

Deb was my favourite, but I don't have time to write about her as my girls have just found me!!


ღ Carol jinx~☆~☔ | 11 comments Deb was my favorite too. She had great qualities and found a way to make her own living instead of staying with her creepy husband.
Lavinia said the Fremlins were coming for her and they were going to take her away. I wonder if they planned on doing this or if they just quietly got out of town because of her predicament. They could have thought that Mrs. Thorley might somehow pursue them. I think they just told Lavinia they sold her paintings to reel her into the "dark side."


message 25: by Cassie (new)

Cassie (CassiePetty) | 173 comments I'm sorry I'm not being a good moderator here. My girls are sick again. Three illnesses in a row without even a day in between. My poor babies. I haven't even been reading much. I've been sick too with bronchitis.


message 26: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 12, 2009 08:20PM) (new)

Hi Cassie, Don't worry about it! I always call Feb flu month. Many years I get the flu in this month. Twice I had to quit my job as it was such a bad flu for me. With asthma flu is very bad. A Dr. told me to push the vitamin C as much as possible. Also monolaurin can help. I am sure you are already doing the chicken soup thing. I was thinking today I would set up a poll about the sisters maybe but mild headache here. We have been fighting something low grade.
Today I got to where Everard is in India and has caught malaria. Diana seems to be so much better of without him but I guess she is my least favorite one!!!!!
Focus on taking care of yourself and your kids.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Carol wrote: "Deb was my favorite too. She had great qualities and found a way to make her own living instead of staying with her creepy husband.
Lavinia said the Fremlins were coming for her and they were goi..."


I often wonder if Deb is somewhat based on Norah Lofts. Today I was reading how she had no books so she made up stories for herself. I wonder if NL first book took off the way Deb's has.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Think we might move on to next thread on this book so will try to close this one. (if I can remember how to do it)


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