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Themes in NL > Murders and wrongful deaths generally

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Last night after reading Pesticides in Hauntings Is There Anybody There? I realized she wrote about another teenager who does murder.


In this case it is Jennie who does in the sadistic husband of an old family friend that she goes to stay with. Jennie Bridges goes to stay with Effie and her husband who is nasty right from the start. She feels terrible for her friend Effie.
I was reminded slightly of Hatton in his story. The one who was born to play the violin. His mother suffered sadistic treatment also but I think is his case he did murder to protect the violin or was it to get revenge? This reminds me of a book I am reading right now The Time Traveler's Wife as several of them were born gifted and 2 to play the violin!!!!
Can you think of any others who do murder?

message 2: by Werner (new)

Werner | 638 comments Jon Borage in Bless This House was, I think, in his late teens when he murdered his foster father, Francis Shepley, by shoving a ladder he was standing on. (The two had issues, but I didn't view Shepley as actually abusive, as I think Alice did.) And David Armstrong in The House at Sunset was still a teen, or not much older, when he murdered the wife and infant child of an ex-friend of his in order to frame the man for it. Jon was a deeply disturbed youth who couldn't handle his anger; David was out-and-out evil.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks Werner for these reminders which I forgot. Yes, I did see Jon as abused because he didn't get to continue at school for which he had an aptitude but was forced into being an apprentice due to the carelessness of his father's will.
I finished Hauntings: Is There Anybody There? last night for the second time. Its a library copy and someone went thru it and marked in pencil all sorts of missing commas which bothered me more than if it had been left alone. The last story is best IMO. It deals with a couple searching for the perfect house. Maybe I should say SPOILER! (at this point)
Of course the house is haunted but the man who is ultra sensitive actually has a long conversation with the ghost who wants him to buy the house. He believes the person is actually a real person and present!!! I have never read another story before about someone who believes the ghost is actually a live person. Its a different outlook. I keep trying to frame a question for this in my mind but so far not coming up with the right thing.

message 4: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1905 comments Werner wrote: "Jon Borage in Bless This House was, I think, in his late teens when he murdered his foster father, Francis Shepley, by shoving a ladder he was standing on.."
I don't know that it was quite clear that he shoved the ladder on purpopse, he was found in a fit at the foot of it, was he not? I do agree that Francis Shepley was not actually abusive in the sense we know it, rather a patriarch of the old school convinced he was doing The Right Thing. Not, I hasten to add, that I condone that!
I don't even think Jon was disturbed, just greatly disabled by epilepsy.
Now David Armstrong, I agree,was a young psychopath. As was, I think another David, also the son of god-fearin' folk, in The Road to Revelation aka Winter Harvest

message 5: by Barbara (last edited Feb 09, 2009 10:30PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1905 comments Isn't there one where a man calls in to a isolated inn, is waited on and treated as an honoured guest overnight , only to find none of it, inn, waiter, everything , doesn't exist and hasn't done for years and years. I just can't recall the story's name to mind...

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, I just read that story again Barbara in Hauntings: Is There Anybody There? The title of the story is: Avoiding Dunstable. Mr Fairweather was the man involved. He took a short cut he was advised about and ended up at an inn which was not there at all. It was The Grange. Residential Hotel. Open to Non-residents. (Page 151)
next page says "It was not prepossessing. Victorian Gothic, built at a time when money was plentiful, taste at its lowest ebb. (!!!!!!)
(taste at its lowest ebb?)
"Mr Fairweather himself owned a very elegant small Georgian town house and withheld admiration from anything built after 1830."
He tried to hire away the man who waited on him with such grace and the food was so excellent but the man was of course unable to even consider it. The last lines gave me goose bumps:
"He saw the wronged dominant entity taking an endless vengeance and the one who had done the wrong.....impatient, weary, perhaps hungry, doomed to serve phantom meals, pour phantom wine for phantom gentlemen, through all eternity. Not a life sentence, not a death sentence. For ever. And for ever.
He knew that for him life would never be quite the same again; but that was neither here nor there. Every man must bear his own burden of consciousness, make his own compromise.
"I think, constable," Mr Fairweather said, "The less said about it the better."
"So I think, sir. There's enough to cope with that you can understand, more or less, and try to deal with. To be honest, I never paid much attention to the tales. But this, coming from a gentleman like yourself, sir...."
Echo responded to echo, and for one dreadful moment Mr Fairweather saw before him not the youthful face and trim uniform but the sad, jowled face and the seedy black - uniform too, in its way, in its time. Which was real? Am I real?
Consider Time divorced from clocks and calendars, and Space as something unconfined by walls, and one might well ask oneself, what is real?"

(makes me think of a Bible verse that I cannot quote correctly)

Wish I had your memory Barbara. The House at Sunset was the first NL I ever read while living in Suffolk but I can only remember a few small things about the old house. But when I was in lupus support they said the great thing is "We can watch movies over and over and read books over and over as we forget it all" LOL!
I only read about 4 or 5 books the year I lived in Suffolk as I was too busy.

message 7: by Barbara (last edited Feb 13, 2009 04:28PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1905 comments Gabi wrote: "In one of the House stories, I cant remember if it was the Trilogy or the single book about Merravy. .."
Yes Merravey , in Bless This House. A very good section of fthe book. I usually like the contemporary parts much less well than the old, but that was an compelling segment. The distraught young wife is a bit a like the young wife in the House at Sunset, wanting the buy the house at the very end, whose shell-shocked alcoholic husband is so very hard to manage

message 8: by Barbara (last edited Feb 21, 2009 05:25PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1905 comments I've just re-read Lovers All Untrue ( I Know NL often uses quotes as titles, as Barbara Pym always does, but sometimes they are a bit wince-worthy , aren't they!)

Anyway LAU has another teenage murderer who I'd forgotten. Marion attempts to kill her awful father with arsenic in the wine and only succeeds in making two servants very ill. But she does succceed in killing the ex-lover de Brissac, with the rest of the arsenic , supplied by himself in fact. Of course he is a swine and a blackmailer , and the father was a terrible, controlling , arrogant jailer of a man, but still.......

message 9: by John (new)

John (indyjohn) | 14 comments Regarding whether Jon Borage deliberately murdered Francis Shepley in Bless This House, he was certainly thinking about it when he was taken by a seizure. But NL doesn't make it clear, to me at least, that he did move the ladder intentionally, leaving it open that technically the seizure was the cause. This makes more sense to me in that Jon is the deeply sympathetic foundational character on whose sad story then permeates Merravay through time. He was otherwise a highly moral person although obviously at the end of his rope when this occurred.
The other unintentional murder I don't believe has been mentioned is in BTH when Luke Fulger hitting Roger Whymark in anger and causing his death.

message 10: by Barbara (last edited Jul 25, 2015 07:44PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1905 comments John wrote: "Regarding whether Jon Borage deliberately murdered Francis Shepley in Bless This House, he was certainly thinking about it when he was taken by a seizure. But NL doesn't make it clear, to me at le..."

I do agree, and in way I prefer it a little ambiguous , don't you ? (BTW I think we have a whole thread on this , I'll check in a minute)
yes, here

I think you are right, we hadn't mentioned Luke Fulger/Roger Whymark.

message 11: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1905 comments Re reading The Town House, our current Group Read , I realise just how many murders NL books contain. Often written in a very undramatic fashion and often in such a way that you find yourself almost condoning them , or hardly registering them as murder!

So far, the egregious Pert Tom has murdered Martin's first wife Kate and their two little boys - not in a fully premeditated way and of course the fire itself was an accident - but his decision to let them burn so as not to reveal his attempted rape is utterly dreadful.

Then Agnes, by an act of omission, deliberately allows Magda to die, mostly for Martin's sake, but partly it must be said, her own.

And Anne, very much for her own sake , though perhaps also for Richard and Martin's, cold bloodedly murders Denys.

Quite a body tally isn't it! And as Robin pointed out in the group read thread, occasions some ethical considerations by the reader.

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