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message 1: by Janhavi (new)

Janhavi (janhavi88) | 165 comments I recently read this review of Bath Tangle
http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/07/rewa.... In brief, Mari Ness (the blog author), thinks that Bath Tangle rewards emotional abuse, that Ivo, Marquis of Rotherham, treats Fanny, Serena, and most especially Emily terribly. That his treatment of Emily is verbal and emotional abuse, that he terrorizes her to get her to break off the engagement, and so on. She has other thoughts as well, but this was what interested me.

Now, I have always quite liked Bath Tangle, so I re-read it, and these criticisms seem unfair. He does treat her terribly, but Rotherham is quite clear that he wouldn't have treated Emily so badly if she cared a fig for him, but all she wants is his wealth and position. Plus, he apologizes to her, promises to invite her to stay with him, etc at the end. And besides, better she endure this now than a lifetime in a bad marriage! I guess I also found Emily incredibly irritating so didn't sympathize all that much with her.

Undoubtedly, Serena and Rotherham both have many flaws, and are not necessarily all that likable. But they are very good as a couple, I think. They are clearly well-suited in terms of background, shared interests of social life and horses and sport and politics and etc. And a shared sense of humor, a shared understanding of each other. Plus, Serena seems the only person who has influence over Rotherham and vice versa.

Also, most of Heyer's couples don't particularly share much physical attraction, at least it is not revealed on the page.
In contrast, this couple actually does seem to have passion in their relationship: "Not only was she roughly jerked into Rotherham’s arms, but her mouth was crushed under his. For a moment or two, she strained every muscle to break free, and then, quite suddenly, the fight went out of her, and she seemed to melt into his embrace. It tightened ruthlessly, and only relaxed sufficiently to allow her to get her breath when Rotherham at last raised his head, and looked down into her eyes."


message 2: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments I agree with you. I don't see Rotherham as she does. It is really Emily's mother who is responsible for her unhappiness, both for teaching her to consider marriage to be all about material gain, and for encouraging and agreeing to the engagement to Rotherham who is obviously wrong for her.

I love the cross-country ride by Serena and Mrs Flood's protegee to prevent the elopement! And I agree, it makes a pleasant change to have two mature adults who are seen to be obviously physically attracted to each other.


message 3: by Janhavi (new)

Janhavi (janhavi88) | 165 comments As for physical attraction or passion, I see Charles/Sophy, Nell/John Staple, Vidal/Mary as couples that do exhibit it. Maybe a few more.

In contrast, the embraces/kisses between Phoebe/Sylvester, Kitty/Freddy, Ancilla/Waldo, and many others are romantic, and sweet, but not particularly passionate.


message 4: by MaryC (last edited Aug 21, 2013 03:16PM) (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 479 comments I have to say that I agree with Mari Ness's view of Rotherham! He somehow is drawn to propose to Emily, comes to want out, and because "a gentleman never cries off," tries to badger and bully her (in a blue-blooded way, of course) until SHE breaks it off.

As for passion, GH certainly has a great deal more than the REAL mistress of Georgian and Regency romance, JA, whose heroines are seldom even touched! The only kiss I can recall in Jane's work occurs near the end of Pride and Prejudice, when Wickham kisses Elizabeth's hand--and Wickham is clearly what GH's characters would call "bad ton."


message 5: by Tasha (new)

Tasha Turner (tashaturner) | 30 comments Bath Tangle was never one of my favorites. I'm not sure if I'd call it emotional abuse. But the way things were during that time period limited what a person could do.


message 6: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Well, in that time period emotional abuse (or even physical, although I'm not sure that Ivo's grasping Serena's wrists constitutes real abuse) was rarely dealt with by The Law. But, women did have recourse to using their brothers and fathers, kinsmen and kinswomen to help. But pity the poor woman who had none! She had to have great strength of character, self-confidence, and, yes, an income in order to get out of a bad relationship. Is that different from today? Hmmmmm...


message 7: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Edgerton (teresaedgerton) | 151 comments Rotherham is an arrogant jerk ... but I think he is right for Serena, and she is the only wife who could possibly keep in line.

The book is not one of my favorites, because I'm not terribly fond of any of the characters.


message 8: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments It's one of my least favorites, too, for the same reason! I have to like the characters or I get too annoyed for words.


message 9: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments What about the other couple in the book, Fanny and Hector? I think Fanny is very sweet (even if I can understand how she drove Serena mad) and Hector's just right for her.

I'm also rather fond of Mrs Floore!


message 10: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Oh, you're so right, Hj! Fanny and Hector do redeem the book, don't they? I love how Hector is just so perplexed at finding that he doesn't love Serena.


message 11: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments And Serena is never nicer than when she says:

"Oh, foolish Fanny, why didn't you tell me to take my claws out of Hector weeks ago?"


message 12: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments True. that made me smile!


message 13: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 479 comments Yes, Mrs. Floore! Perhaps a sister of Mrs. Jennings in Sense and Sensibilty?


message 14: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I bet we could do an amazing family tree, Mary!


message 15: by Peregrina651 (new)

Peregrina651 (peregrina651peregrinations) | 37 comments Good grief, Ms. Ness!! It is just a frickin' ROMANCE novel!! It is romantic fantasy, not anywhere close to real life, so stop expecting real life! These aren't people, they are caricatures, they are puppets in the hands of a storyteller--and they are hardly realistic. So stop treating them as if they were. These stories aren't about coping with all the bad things life has to offer (as are so many of the novels I avoid reading) but about escaping our everyday cares and woes. There's no interior dialogue here. There's no parsing of emotions and motivations. There's no self exploration. There is just a rollicking fun story with a happy-ending. I'm here for the good time and not for borrowing someone else's troubles.

Moving this rant in a different direction... When does 'manipulation' become 'emotional abuse'? Or is 'manipulation' 'emotional abuse'--and if so, better lock yourself in a room and never interact with people because humans are manipulative to one degree or another.

While I am at it. Stop being so liberal with the 'abuse' label. You aren't helping those who are truly suffering. Over-use and mis-use will eventually water-down the power of the label and in the end, only hurt those who are already hurting.

Okay, I think I'm done.


message 16: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments I'm restraining myself from even hinting that the last post is abuse... as Ms Ness understands it...


message 17: by Peregrina651 (last edited Aug 31, 2013 07:09AM) (new)

Peregrina651 (peregrina651peregrinations) | 37 comments Quoting Janhavi: Also, most of Heyer's couples don't particularly share much physical attraction, at least it is not revealed on the page.

Janhavi, what I like most about GH is that she does leave some things up to the imagination of the reader. She pushes us in a direction and leaves the rest to us. We can imagine what we will.

I think that is one of the reasons we all like GH. She allows us to imagine, to create, to dream, to ponder--and to discuss with friends.


message 18: by Peregrina651 (last edited Aug 31, 2013 09:59AM) (new)

Peregrina651 (peregrina651peregrinations) | 37 comments Hj wrote: "I'm restraining myself from even hinting that the last post is abuse... as Ms Ness understands it..."

If it were ad hominem, perhaps I would jump on your band-wagon but there was no name calling and only the ideas expressed were disputed (somewhat hotly, I admit).

However, you are right and it was not clear when I moved from you singular to you plural in the second paragraph. I should have used 'ourselves' and 'we' since I was thinking about a general trend and not a specific case. I also admit to a certain amount of pot-stirring.


message 19: by Vibhasheth (new)

Vibhasheth | 10 comments I agree . I read books to b entertained .period


message 20: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Well, if they're not entertaining, there's no way anything is going to be learned, either...


message 21: by Janhavi (new)

Janhavi (janhavi88) | 165 comments @Peregrina51- oh, I am not complaining! Just including it as a reason that Serena and Ivo are a suitable couple.

Fanny and Hector are very sweet, still, I quite like this book even without them.

I do agree that Ms. Ness sometimes applies 21st century filters when she discusses abuse. In her most recent review of Sylvester, she discusses the whippings Phoebe receives as physical abuse. Yes, but at the time corporal punishment was quite common, and it is quite clear that Phoebe gets whipped as punishment, not arbitrarily. Phoebe is very clear that her stepmother is always just. Not that I am claiming that the days of corporal punishment were a good thing, but at the time it would not be seen as physical abuse.

Indeed, judging by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl's memoirs and so on, corporal punishment was quite common in England even in the early 20th century.


message 22: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments You make a very good point, Janhavi; what is acceptable to a society changes constantly. And we see without clarity at times past when we try to apply our standards to theirs.


message 23: by Barbara (last edited Sep 03, 2013 12:13AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 423 comments Yes, I do agree with all the thinking on being careful not to interpret past practices by today's standards ( I was caned at school and slapped at home and I'm not THAT old) It was not hidden or considered abusive in any way. Not that I think it was necessarily good practice, just par for the course really...
Still, I must say I did cringe a bit at Rotherham's bullying of silly little Emily. And I hated it when Sherry hit Hero in Friday's Child.


message 24: by MaryC (last edited Sep 03, 2013 08:17AM) (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 479 comments Barbara wrote, "I hated it when Sherry hit Hero in Friday's Child." Yes, although "domestic violence" was legal for a LONG time, it was also considered very ill-bred in some circles! In the scene in Othello, written nearly 200 years before Friday's Child takes place, when Othello slaps Desdemona, Lodovico says, "My lord, this would not be believ'd in Venice, though I should swear I saw't." As many of GH's heroes would say, deuced bad form!


message 25: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Yes, what might have been (or is) legal was not necessarily socially acceptable. Deuced bad form indeed!

The Law has changed over the years and become much more specific, much more far-reaching. I wonder if the "taking the law into one's own hands" and even vigilanti-ism were behaviors that rose simply because the Law had no power over certain behaviors?


message 26: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Barbara wrote: "Yes, I do agree with all the thinking on being careful not to interpret past practices by today's standards ( I was caned at school and slapped at home and I'm not THAT old) It was not hidden or ..."

I think "par for the course" does make a difference. I think we feel victimized when we feel alone and helpless and specifically sought out in order to be terrorized or abused. I'm not saying that as long as everybody is whacked periodically, then it's hunky-dory, but it is a silly truth that "misery loves company". And, although being mean (as Ivo is) is certainly to be looked down upon (and with that dislike comes our responsibility to defend the weak), it's not on the same par as literal sexual and physical abuse.


message 27: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 457 comments I think I tend to take the books as are, yes there are things back then that I don't approve of but they were a part of the time. Women had to suffer far worse things than anything mentioned in GH's books, they really had no rights outside what the male members of the household allowed them.

It has been a very long time since I read Friday's Child because it isn't one of my favourites, so feel free to tell me I have the wrong story. Clearly Sherry wasn't taught not to hit girls but I had the impression this his boxing her ears was something he'd always done? Because they were children growing up together and he had not really begun to think of her as his wife... I'm not making an excuse but I don't remember any of the other 'heros' acting that way towards the woman they loved, they all seem to reform after they meet her, so I'm wondering if it was a deliberate way of showing that he didn't think of her like that?


message 28: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 518 comments Louise, I agree with you about Sherry's attitude toward Kitten. It's almost as if she's "one of the guys", until he's brought up short by her leaving him. He treats her more like his kid brother than his wife.


message 29: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments That's exactly it, Margaret; anyone who's had sons knows how hard it is sometimes to keep them from killing each other. And yet, they tend to love each other dearly and will defend each other to the death! Sherry's boxing Kitten's ears really does remind me of brotherly love!


message 30: by Janhavi (new)

Janhavi (janhavi88) | 165 comments Louise, its really true that women had to suffer much worse. Mind you, some of that does come across in the books, in particular, the women's fortunes are constantly passing from the father's/guardian's control to the husband's control.

As for Sherry, yes, I think the point of that scene was to show that he doesn't think of her as a wife. In fact, he goes in planning to be all formal and courteous (how he would be to his wife), and she looks so absurdly young, as she used to when they were children, that he reverts to his old habits and boxes her ears.


message 31: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments I agree with those who say it was all about their childhood relationship, and that Sherry wasn't thinking of Hero as his wife but as that annoying brat who always followed him around - to the extent that when I read Barbara's post (message 23) I thought: I don't remember Sherry hitting Hero!


message 32: by Barbara (last edited Sep 08, 2013 10:50PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 423 comments Hj wrote: "I agree with those who say it was all about their childhood relationship, and that Sherry wasn't thinking of Hero as his wife but as that annoying brat who always followed him around - to the exten..."

I'm grateful actually, for all these posts on Hero and Sherry's relationship. I don't think I had fully taken into account the childhood relationship habits and can see that him 'boxing her ears' or slapping her face ( horrible things to do though they are ) is more a hangover from that behaviour than real abuse. So thank you all, esp hj.

No excuse for Rotherham tho.


message 33: by Helen (new)

Helen (helenma) | 29 comments Its been a while since I read Bath Tangle so I cannot say too much about it but this plot device seems to have been one of GH's favorites. There are several of the Regencies that feature this device of the rough, take charge, not one to suffer fools gladly man and the woman who loves him and can match him and tame his more anti-social tendencies. Think of Sophy and Charles and Demerel and Venetia. Even Beaumaris and the Marquis in Frederica are more polished versions of the same charcter. I am not saying all of these characters are exactly similar because they are obviously not and of course the reasons for their behaviors was not the same and their circumstances very different but the mindset seems to be similar and so I think GH took that similar temperament into different romantic plots. She also seems to take a similar temperament for several of the victims in her mysteries. I think GH was good at delineating characters and relationships.
I enjoyed reading about Sherry and Kitten in these last couple of posts. I always liked Friday's Child. Sherry was very immature at the beginning but the whole point of the book seems to be his growing maturity and care and eventual love for Kitten. There was a scene early on which I loved where Sherry is deciding how to rescue Kitten from one of her disasters and it describes how he worked all night to free his dog from a trap as a child and that he could no more leave her in the disaster than that dog. Of course, at this moment he is still thinking of her as his childhood friend but it shows his, at the bottom, decent character.


message 34: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Helen wrote: "Its been a while since I read Bath Tangle so I cannot say too much about it but this plot device seems to have been one of GH's favorites. There are several of the Regencies that feature this devi..."
Most people, I think, grow up gradually, but some, like Sherry, find adulthood by being hit over the head with it! I think you're right, Helen, that he was a fundamentally decent guy!


message 35: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Karlyne wrote: "Most people, I think, grow up gradually, but some, like Sherry, find adulthood by being hit over the head with it! I think you're right, Helen, that he was a fundamentally decent guy! ..."

Unlike his friend Montague!


message 36: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Ewwww. Can you imagine what a horrid little boy Montague must have been?!?


message 37: by Janhavi (new)

Janhavi (janhavi88) | 165 comments Helen, you are right, that scene with Sherry is very sweet. Of course he is a fundamentally decent guy :D!


message 38: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1248 comments I think we have to take the time periods Georgette Heyer was writing in and writing about into consideration. I think Heyer's alpha heroes were the convention at the time she was writing. I'm not certain but when I saw Gone With the Wind for the first time recently, I realized Rhett is the archetype of Heyer's Regency heroes. I finally understood what kissing ruthlessly meant! I don't like alpha heroes paired with innocent young women. I don't think Ivo was abusive towards Emily but maybe bullying is the right term. I think he was indifferent to other peoples' feelings. He and Serena make a great pair. Emily seemed like she could hold her own though. She had her Grandmama to protect her in the end. I don't like the copycat authors who try alpha heroes and they come across as major jerks though. They have to have some redeeming qualities to appeal to me and the heroine has to be able to stand up to him.


message 39: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments Qnpoohbear wrote: "I don't like the copycat authors who try alpha heroes and they come across as major jerks though. They have to have some redeeming qualities to appeal to me and the heroine has to be able to stand up to him. ..."

I think you're absolutely right. Authors like that haven't really read Heyer carefully. If they did, they'd see that her alpha heroes always end up redeeming themselves as the softer side of their natures comes through in response to their experiences, and their toughness is seen to be resilience but not obduracy. Some have to have lessons hammered into them (Sylvester and the Devil's Cub come to mind) but generally it is only the baddies who don't grow and change over the course of the book. Others were misunderstood and not as tough as they first seemed!


message 40: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 457 comments Nicely put Hj


message 41: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Hj wrote: "Qnpoohbear wrote: "I don't like the copycat authors who try alpha heroes and they come across as major jerks though. They have to have some redeeming qualities to appeal to me and the heroine has t..."

I agree - very nicely put, Hj!


message 42: by HJ (new)

HJ | 948 comments Thank you both!


message 43: by yingju (new)

yingju casey (yingjucasey) | 19 comments After reading Mari Ness's review of Bath Tangle, I'm becoming more and more certain that she doesn't actually like Georgette Heyer books very much. (Fighting words?!)

I do agree that Rotherham is unforgivably awful towards Emily. Being a man in his 30s (at least) he should've known better. I don't agree that he and Serena will have a bad marriage though; it will be tempestuous and full of snark, but they get each other so well.


message 44: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I think you may be right, Ying-Ju! Sometimes it's easier to critique books and authors that we don't really care for.

I remember thinking that Rotherham felt that he was doing Emily a favor by asking her to marry him. Could there by any worse reason for marrying? That kind of cold patronage and condescension is really awful.

But, having escaped the consequences of his pride - and knowing that he has - he and Serena will do just fine. They'll enjoy their battles with a right good will!


message 45: by HJ (last edited Dec 18, 2013 01:43AM) (new)

HJ | 948 comments I agree with you, Ying-Ju, about Mari Ness. I have a tendency to feel defensive about authors and books which I love, but...

One has to remember that Rotherham confesses that he offered for Emily when he heard that Serena was about to become engaged to Hector and he realised he'd truly lost the only woman he ever loved.

And he didn't go and drag Emily out of a schoolroom somewhere - she had been put on the marriage mart by her parents and did think, along with her fellow debutants, that she would be greatly honoured to be asked to marry him. And by the standards of the world that was true. But that wasn't his *reason* for marrying or for marrying her.

I just went to check that my recollection was correct. Apologies for the lengthy quotes (the emphasis is mine):

He says: "I offered for Emily because you had become engaged to Kirkby!" Serena expostulates, including

"To use a child very nearly young enough to be your daughter as a weapon of revenge on me—I wonder that you dare to stand there and tell me of such an iniquity!” Serena said hotly.

“It wasn’t as bad as that!” he said, flushing. “I meant then to marry her! If that curst Adonis of yours had won you, what did it signify whom I married? I must marry someone, and Emily was as good as another—better! I knew I could mould her into whatever shape I pleased; I knew she would be happy enough with what I could give her; I knew the Laleham harpy would jump at my offer. And I knew you would hate it, Serena! Oh, yes, infamous, wasn’t it? I did it because I was mad with anger—but I never meant to play the child false!”

And then he actually sees Hector and Serena together and, as he says: "But the instant I saw the pair of you I knew that I had rolled myself up to no purpose at all! I don’t know what madness seized you, but I do know that you don’t love Kirkby, and never did, or will!”

She wrenched herself away. “Did you? Did you, indeed? Perhaps you thought I loved you!”

No—but I knew that I still loved you! I could see you would break with Kirkby—Lord, Serena, if I hadn’t been in such a damned tangle myself I should have laughed myself into stitches!"

and then later:

“You deliberately tried to make that girl cry off!”

“Well, how the devil else was I to get out of a marriage that was going to wreck the pair of us—and Emily, too, for that matter?

“You made your bed—”

“—and we could all of us lie on it, I suppose?” he interjected witheringly.

She drew a breath. “Good God, had you no compunction? You had offered her a great position, a—”

“Yes, I had! And if you fancy that her mother forced her to accept my offer, you’re out, my girl! I never tampered with her affections: don’t think it! Had I thought she cared one jot for me it would have been a different story, but she didn’t! She wanted nothing from me but rank and fortune, and she made that abundantly plain!”

And I do think that we should remember what it must have felt like for Rotherham to know that he was being pursued by everyone, and accepted by Emily, for those reasons and not for himself.


message 46: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Those quotes, Hj, really do show that Rotherham had a heart. And I just thought, too, that Heyer in a strange sort of way is saying to us that Emily, for all of her youth, most certainly had a say in the affair! She had options, and several of Heyer's other heroines availed themselves of those options. Let's see, Ancilla becomes a governess, Cousin Kate goes to visit her relatives, Pen drops out of a window dressed like a boy... I think her point is that we don't have to be spiritless!


message 47: by Janhavi (new)

Janhavi (janhavi88) | 165 comments Well, Emily was spiritless, that is certainly evident. Those types usually annoy me. I much prefer Serena even if some find her a bit unlikeable


message 48: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 479 comments Emily vs. Serena? I have to say that my favorite female character in that story is Fanny!


message 49: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Hmmm... Well, I guess if we rule out Emily's mother, Mary... (teehee)


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1136 comments I enjoyed Serena's short-tempered nature and her fights with Rotherham.


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