Endicott Mythic Fiction discussion

The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque
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The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque > The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque: A Novel - Discussion

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message 1: by Mary (new)

Mary Well, I'm finished. Anyone else? Is it okay to mention spoilers in the discussion?

message 2: by Mary (new)

Mary I was really enjoying this, interesting time/place, wonderful details, page-turning plot, until the moment it became clear that the woman-as-muse was the source of all evil in the story. I just didn't appreciate the way the archetypes shut down the fluidity of the story. If it had been one painter and one woman, a personal connection between them, I might not have read it as almost a moral but the fact that she had done this many times elevated it, in my opinion. Did anyone else feel this shift?

Additionally, I didn't understand why Samantha came back to him at the end. It made for a nice tidy ending but her motivation was what? Does anyone else understand that?

Claire | 24 comments I don't know why she came back either. I was with this up until near the end. It just felt lazy to me to take all that marvelous backstory and imagery and tie it up like that. I started suspecting the existence of just one person near the end, but was hoping I was wrong. I wanted something more clever and marvelous.

I did love the story telling in the beginning - the lockpick's hand, the man who foretold the future via stool, the descriptions of the paintings. That was all so wonderful and I can't believ it was finished off by that lazy ending.

Jennifer (jennrann) I agree entirely with Claire and Mary. There was so much potential for the different elements to lead the story in various directions. Mrs. Charbuque expressed an understanding of her own delusions and yet the evidence pointed to the reality of the fantastical stories. I wanted the story to play with that line between the fantastic and the logical more and thought the ending would have dealt with that!

Roby (robyotter) My favorite parts were the back story of the house up on the mountain, and the weird pseudoscience of snow.

Mrs. Charbuque as Mr. Charbuque was an interesting twist, but I think the realization of it fell flat and could have been better played out.

S. Kay (cobwebs) | 56 comments Just finished this one up yesterday.

I was ho-hum about it when I started, then couldn't stop reading somewhere towards the middle, but it did feel like the ending was very rushed. Very let down that there wasn't something deeper going on.

I actually didn't think about how it was an archetypical muse portrayal until now, which is shocking because it stood out for me so much in books like Mortal Love and the like. Now that I look back though, you're very right about it, Mary. It makes me eager to find a book about inspiration that doesn't cast the female in that light.

message 7: by Mary (new)

Mary Kay, it would be great if you could post with any books you do find which don't cast women in that light but do have them as inspiration. I'd really love to read something like that. Thanks for articulating it that way.

S. Kay (cobwebs) | 56 comments Mary, I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open. Might ask around as well and let everyone know if I discover any gems.

message 9: by S. Kay (last edited Aug 04, 2009 06:17AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

S. Kay (cobwebs) | 56 comments This happened to be the topic of discussion today on one of my favorite artist's journals: http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/200...

He was discussing the prevalence of watery deaths in victorian paintings, but also discussed the characteristics that were placed on females by men at that time:


"Women were fictionalized and mythologized much as were monsters in Victorian England. They too were made into "others" -- weaker vessels or demons, angels in the house or fallen angels"

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