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Archived Group Reads 2014 > No Name 2014 Scenes 2 & 3; Feb 8

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message 1: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments For discussion of this section of the novel.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 89 comments well, since the section is here and i'm already starting out with the second scene, i will just post here.

I'm wondering, what plans does Captain Wragge have exactly towards Magdalen? I have the suspicion he probably wants to make her an accomplice, because she is good at acting, and he is too well known in most of the places he stays at. what do you think?

I'm really hoping she can become an actress, however. Maybe it was disreputable at the time, but being a person from the 21st century, i can't help but hope Magdalen gets to do something she enjoys.

i'm also very curious about what plans she has for her revenge on her uncle, which she clearly does.


message 3: by Irene (new)

Irene (zavrou) Once again I am going to be controversial. It is not the plans that Captain Wragge has for her that interests me it is what plans she has for him!!!


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 89 comments yeah, I read to the 3rd scene. now I'm wondering about the same thing!
I've started to like Magdalen more. as a human being she might not be nice and all, but she sure as hell is an interesting character to read about.


message 5: by Elsbeth (new)

Elsbeth (elsbethgm) Evelina wrote: "yeah, I read to the 3rd scene. now I'm wondering about the same thing!
I've started to like Magdalen more. as a human being she might not be nice and all, but she sure as hell is an interesting cha..."


Yes, and I admire her courage - taking off all by herself! Maybe not everything will be so sensible, but she sure has guts!


message 6: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1877 comments Mod
“There was no mistaking that tall, dark figure, as it rested against the parapet with a listless grace. There she stood, in her long black cloak and gown, the last dim light of evening falling tenderly on her pale, resolute young face. There she stood—not three months since the spoiled darling of her parents; the priceless treasure of the household, never left unprotected, never trusted alone—there she stood in the lovely dawn of her womanhood, a castaway in a strange city, wrecked on the world!”

I love this description of Magdalen. She is so separated from her former life.


message 7: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1877 comments Mod
"Now observe! There are many varieties of Rogue; let me tell you my variety, to begin with. I am a Swindler.”

The scene where Wragge gives his character "references" is brilliant! So funny!


message 8: by Irene (new)

Irene (zavrou) Renee wrote: The scene where Wragge gives his character "references" is brilliant! So funny!"

Actually at times you wonder if this book is a comedy,


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 89 comments oh yeah, it's definitely different from Collins's other books in this regard.


message 10: by Linda (new)

Linda (lindy-lou) | 13 comments Having read two other Collins books before "No Name", I will say that I've found "The Moonstone" and "Woman in White" entertaining and yes, even funny as well. How about Laura Farley's uncle in "Woman in White"? He's a hoot! Well, he's the kind of hoot you want to push out of an upper story window, but he's a hoot nonetheless.


message 11: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 189 comments Renee wrote: ""Now observe! There are many varieties of Rogue; let me tell you my variety, to begin with. I am a Swindler.”

The scene where Wragge gives his character "references" is brilliant! So funny!"


Mr Wragge may be a rogue and a scoundrel but he sure is funny. Speaking of Magdalen's tendency towards obstinacy: "I wonder who first picked out a mule as the type of obstinacy? How little knowledge that man may have had of women!"

Note: No doubt you are all familiar with "As obstinate as a mule."


message 12: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1877 comments Mod
For some reason Wragge reminds me of Wilkins Macawber from David Copperfield. Perhaps his love of words or the way he phrases things to his best interest.


message 13: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 189 comments Wragge has really met his match in the person of Ms. Magdalen Vanstone. I think she is playing him like a fiddle! I love that she has him in a corner in Scene Three.

I wonder how he got the information she required him to get about her uncle--the author did not divulge.


message 14: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 189 comments This is just brilliant...

..."For want of a nobler object of attack, it took the direction of the toad. The sight of the hideous little reptile sitting placid on his rock throne, with his bright eyes staring impenetrably into vacancy, irritated every nerve of her body. She looked at the creature with a shrinking intensity of hatred; she whispered at it maliciously through her set teeth. " I wonder whose blood runs coldest', she said, "yours, you littler monster, or Ms Lecount's? I wonder which is the slimiest, her or your back? You hateful wretch, do you know what your mistress is? Your mistress is the devil?

At Magdalen's entry into the home and the author's description of the aquarium filled with reptiles and other slimy creatures, I thought it a foreshadowing of a discription of Ms. Lecounts looks, I certainly did not foresee her personality / actions likened to a toads!


message 15: by Mehrdad (last edited Feb 08, 2014 05:49AM) (new)

Mehrdad Kermani I've read ahead a bit to Scene IV, but I just wanted to make a general comment or two. I'm really enjoying Magdalen and her very proto-feminist attitude. That is, taking matters into her own hands and maneuvering in Victorian society outside of the realm of what would be considered acceptable to women. Although she is restrained a bit because of her ties to Norah, not wanting to harm her.

I am intrigued by the notion of "redundant women" (unmarried women, spinsters, and widows), and I'm glad I'm reading this novel to get a better sense of what it meant to be in this strange Victorian category. There is agency in women who are not restrained by married life, and I like how Magdalen takes advantage of this.

I'm also surprised how my suspicion and dread of Wragge has turned into excitement to see what he will come up with next. And the playful duplicity between Lecounts and Wragge is also fascinating.

I'm really enjoying this novel, and I'm glad I am reading along with this group. Sorry for being a lurker to date, I'll try to engage more in the coming weeks.


message 16: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (tnorbraten) | 107 comments Governesses were very important on Victorian life, but it could be a difficult life, as we see. They were not quite staff, so off limits to the family, and not quite part of the family. In some families they were required to eat alone, not with the staff, not with the family. It is appropriate for a girl who is in a in-between status, like Norah, to have such an in-between job.


message 17: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (tnorbraten) | 107 comments More Lecount is Evil in the worst kind. She is so nice on e outside, but listen to e subtext of what she is saying. By always insisting that she Will call the girls by "Miss Vanstone's". She is digging it in again that they don't have a right to that name.


message 18: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (tnorbraten) | 107 comments I love the Between the Scenes where Noel offers a sum of money for information, and then immediately Wragge responds by reaffirming his loyalty to Magdalene. I laughed and laughed when I first read that!


message 19: by Irene (new)

Irene (zavrou) Both Wragge and Magdalen use each other to their own advantage. I just love Mrs Wragge. Magdalen uses her to her own advantage without taking advantage. She gives to get!


message 20: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Irene wrote: "Once again I am going to be controversial. It is not the plans that Captain Wragge has for her that interests me it is what plans she has for him!!!"

They both clearly have plans to use each other. And throughout these two scenes, it's clear that they both benefit from the relationship. But in the long term, I don't like, and I don't trust, Wragge. He's 100 percent rogue. He will use anything and anybody who comes his way. He will help Magdalen as long as he gets benefits from it; the moment he doesn't, he will turn on her like a lioness turning on a chunk of wildebeest tossed in front of her.


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Elsbeth wrote: "Yes, and I admire her courage - taking off all by herself! "

But does Collins make it a bit too easy for her? It doesn't seem realistic to me.


message 22: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Renee wrote: "For some reason Wragge reminds me of Wilkins Macawber from David Copperfield. Perhaps his love of words or the way he phrases things to his best interest."

Interesting comparison! But the one is so inept, and the other so ept!


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Whimsical wrote: "Wragge has really met his match in the person of Ms. Magdalen Vanstone. I think she is playing him like a fiddle! "

But he is also playing her like a fiddle. He gets her to work on the stage to support him. He clearly has plans to use her to get at Noel Vanstone's wealth. That's why he spends so much time and effort gathering all the information he does -- not for her sake, but for his. She is his meal ticket, and he has the brains to treat her well in order that his meals may be the most sumptuous possible!


message 24: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Mehrdad wrote: "
I'm also surprised how my suspicion and dread of Wragge has turned into excitement to see what he will come up with next. And the playful duplicity between Lecounts and Wragge is also fascinating. "


Those were my thoughts, too.


message 25: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 189 comments Everyman wrote: "Whimsical wrote: "Wragge has really met his match in the person of Ms. Magdalen Vanstone. I think she is playing him like a fiddle! "

But he is also playing her like a fiddle. He gets her to wo..."


On the surface, it seems that way, but Magdalen is a fast learner and she learns from Wragge and is just as good or even better than he is at this game. Because even though he is working for her, in a sense, she does not truly reveal her end game--it is my feeling that she has the upper hand, at the moment.


message 26: by Nina (new)

Nina | 17 comments I am beginning the third scene, so I haven't read any of the comments so as to avoid spoilers, but I wanted to make a few comments.

Firstly, Wragge is a magnificent invention on the part of Collins. He holds his own with Magdalen, which is hard to do. I hope Wragge remains the honorable scoundrel that he is, because I don't want to hate him! But, if he turns on my girl Magdalen, I might have to.

Secondly, I can't wait to see Magdalen and Mrs. Lecount (and possibly Wragge?) have a battle of wills. Two Victorian women, sidelined by conventional society, fighting for the fate of one invalid man. I see an epic battle-royale in the making!!!

Thirdly, I love the interaction between Magdalen and Wragge. Each one is such a powerhouse that having them together on the page is like watching fireworks going off. Wragge is so self-assured and confident in his own power that, even though he suspects what Magdalen is capable of, he still underestimates her. And, on Magdalen's side....well, I don't think it was very smart of her to try and two-time Wragge. I think he's going to become a thorn in her side sooner rather than later. I love how Wragge is coming to fear her; for such a dedicated scoundrel to say that the most "sensible action" a wealthy, powerful man like Michael Vanstone ever did was die.... Magdalen is a bad-ass and is going to rain some hell-fire down on Vauxhall Walk! The only thing I fear on this front is that Collins, in good Victorian style, is going to start moralizing on Magdalen's plans.

I had originally thought that, for the first time, Collins and his pacing were off, but the flow of Scene 2 and the Between the Scenes, rather than dragging, are keeping me on the edge of my seat. I thought Scene 1 was good, but Scene 2 was even better.

Can't wait to meet Mrs. Lecount and see what Magdalen has up her sleeve (like, why does she need Mrs. Wragge?)


message 27: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (tnorbraten) | 107 comments She needs Mrs Wragge to be respectable. As a young girl, she couldn't stay in a place by herself.


message 28: by Nina (new)

Nina | 17 comments Teresa wrote: "She needs Mrs Wragge to be respectable. As a young girl, she couldn't stay in a place by herself."

I hadn't thought of that. But, if she plans on disguising herself as Ms. Garth, why would she need a chaperone? Unless she plans to be herself as well as Ms. Garth, in which case a chaperone is necessary. And, if she's going to be herself (or at least, a young, beautiful, single woman), what does she have in store for Mr. Vanstone? She can't marry him because she still wants Frank, and I don't think being a black widow is her style (although, I could be wrong).

I wonder, though, if Mrs. Wragge serves some deeper purpose we haven't discovered yet. If so, Magdalen must see something in her that we don't; of course, she could need a hopelessly dense person, but I don't think they are very useful in matters of intrigue. Maybe the medium by which Wragge reenters the picture?

The suspense is masterfully done; I find myself really being interested in what is going to happen.


message 29: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 189 comments Teresa wrote: "She needs Mrs Wragge to be respectable. As a young girl, she couldn't stay in a place by herself."

Actully, I think Mrs. Wragge has a calming influence on Magdalen. I think Magdalen realizes Mrs. W. needs TLC and she also is somewhat protective of her. Her husband's treatment of her is deplorable, to say the least.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 89 comments Nina, you didn't get Teresa's idea.. a girl couldn't travel alone back in those days. she wouldn't have been accepted into a house alone. nor a hotel, she couldn't have gone anywhere alone. it would have been suspicious and possibly could have even attracted the attention of the authorities.


message 31: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (tnorbraten) | 107 comments Evelina wrote: "Nina, you didn't get Teresa's idea.. a girl couldn't travel alone back in those days. she wouldn't have been accepted into a house alone. nor a hotel, she couldn't have gone anywhere alone. it woul..."
Right, Nina. I think it's also the continuing theme of Magdalen's good and bad side struggle. She's going to Vauxhall Walk to do a bad thing, and I think she wants Mrs Wragge there to help her remember to be a good person.


message 32: by Nina (new)

Nina | 17 comments No, I got the idea; I'm very well-versed in Victorian culture. I just thought that it didn't make sense to me considering where I was in the story and what I knew so far of what was going on. I think you guys having read ahead had a little bit of an edge on me, because

****** possible spoilers for Scene 3*******

I thought that Magdalen was going to be in disguise the whole time, whereas, now that I've read Scene Three, I realize why she needed Mrs. Wragge. If she had been disguised as Miss Garth the whole time, she could have gotten away without a chaperone. I thought Magdalen had let Mrs. Wragge into her deception, which would explain Captain Wragge's comment about "bewar[ing] of all forms of human innocence, when it happens to be your interest to keep a secret to yourself" (195). See why I was confused? If you're going to be in disguise as an elderly spinster woman, why would you let an adult child into your confidences and bring her with you on your trip, hence my question as to why she needed Mrs. Wragge.

On another note, I personally thought that Magdalen's skill at disguise was ill-used by Collins. I'm continually being baffled at the way in which he introduces plot devices only to throw them to the wayside a few chapters later. Very bracing...keeps me on my toes!


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 89 comments ohh! i see your point. yeah, i guess as an old lady she could have travelled alone.


message 34: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Nina wrote: "for such a dedicated scoundrel to say that the most "sensible action" a wealthy, powerful man like Michael Vanstone ever did was die"

Which reminds me, I have been wondering (too weak a word, almost agonizing over) what Magdalen's plans for getting the money from Michael were. She supposedly had a plan, but we never learned it, did we? I wonder whether Collins actually had anything in mind, or didn't bother since he knew he would be killing Michael off before Magdalen had a chance to get at him.


message 35: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Nina wrote: "I wonder, though, if Mrs. Wragge serves some deeper purpose we haven't discovered yet."

I wondered that myself. Will she eventually come forth to save the day (assuming it ever needs saving)? Or is she primarily there for comic relief, and to give some insight into Wragge's character?


message 36: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 189 comments Everyman wrote: "Nina wrote: "for such a dedicated scoundrel to say that the most "sensible action" a wealthy, powerful man like Michael Vanstone ever did was die"

Which reminds me, I have been wondering (too weak..."


That so called "sensible action" of dying cheated his nieces out of their inheritance which further ostracized them for being born illegimate. I do think that his not making a will was as much his doing as well as Mrs Lecount, the evil one. It is this action as well as the deaths of her parents and Frank's leaving for China which strengthen's Magdalen resolve to get back the inheritance come what may.


message 37: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (tnorbraten) | 107 comments Good question, Everyman, keep reading. You will learn more about Magdelen's plans later.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 89 comments I think she will carry on with what she planned to do, the only difference being that it now falls on the shoulders of Noel Vanstone, instead of Michael Vanstone. Either way, I am quite oblivious about what she could do here at all. I'll just say that I thought the part about disguising herself solely for going in and saying something that obviously wasn't going to change anything was extremely stupid of Magdalen - but then again, very Collins-esque and very Victorian. oh, the drama.


message 39: by Nina (new)

Nina | 17 comments Whimsical wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Nina wrote: "for such a dedicated scoundrel to say that the most "sensible action" a wealthy, powerful man like Michael Vanstone ever did was die"

Which reminds me, I have been wo..."


I hadn't thought of that. Good character insight on your part; it is certainly in keeping with what we know/knew of Michael Vanstone. You know, I almost prefer his outright cruelty to his son's weak imitation of power and authority.


message 40: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (tnorbraten) | 107 comments Evelina, I think that Magdalen wanted to see Noel and Mrs Lecount to read their personalities - Know Thy Enemy is an old saying. There was an attitude of needing to see the person in order to get the idea of what they were like. Appearance, shape of the head, how they talk, how they dress, etc. there was a study of how the shape of your skull determined your personality! We still have a touch of at in our society. You'll hear business people say that they need to meet face to face.


message 41: by Irene (new)

Irene (zavrou) When reading this section I kept remembering Sir Walter Scott's 'Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive'.
I am intrigued by Magdalen's determination to persuade her relatives to 'share' the inheritance and just don't get how she would think that being deceitful is a means to an end. I do appreciate the face to face to 'know your enemy', but what about honesty.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 89 comments I figured she might have wanted to go and meet them herself. And yet there are so many smarter ways to do that, aren't there? For example Captain Wragge also met Mrs. Lecount without pretending to be something related to them at all.


message 43: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Teresa wrote: "Good question, Everyman, keep reading. You will learn more about Magdelen's plans later."

Oh, yes, I'm keeping reading! It's my bedside book, which I usually spend ten or fifteen minutes with; that's keeping me pretty much on track with the discussion schedule (though I see some people are already posting in the March 8th section. By the time I get there, they'll be long gone, sad for all of us, but that's the way it is.)


message 44: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (tnorbraten) | 107 comments I'll be there for you, Everyman. I'm interested in everyone's comments.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 89 comments Everyman, it isn't necessarily so - I'm somewhere in Scene 4 now, but I still post to Scene 1 too.


message 46: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments I will be in and out of the discussion for the next couple of days, but wondered if anyone would be interested in doing this:

as you complete this section of the reading, would anyone be interested in doing a one-phrase or one-sentence summarizing comment?

Mine is "growing desperation and sadness" -- my observation of the story's main character Magdalen.

I see what several of you are saying -- her life is turning into a complicated web and we certainly wonder if this is the best path. And dealing with Wragge will never be a straight forward affair it seems, since he always has his own agenda.


message 47: by Nina (new)

Nina | 17 comments Mine would probably be...."dashed hopes leading to despair and reckless resolve."

I agree with you, SarahC, that Magdalen's life is going down a treacherous path. I think

****possible spoiler for Between Scenes**************

that Frank breaking their engagment (a serious social scandal at the time) is going to drive Magdalen even further past the breaking point. I think Scene 4, which I am going to begin today, is really going to be the tipping point in her inner battle for good or evil (although Collins and his pacing have fooled me before).

While it's arguable whether she really blames Frank as much as she should, I think we can all agree that she sees her hard-hearted uncle (and, now, his equally hard-hearted son) as the source of her misery. Added to her own turmoil is the news that her sister's life is also falling into shambles. All this is going to create a whirlwind in an already manipulative, angry girl, and I think she's going to start making bad moral decisions to inact revenge.


message 48: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1877 comments Mod
I find it interesting that Magdalen seems to have had a plan for the elder Mr. Vanstone that involved investments. Perhaps a swindle where the talents of Capt. Wragge would prove useful. (Although, I agree, he does not seem to be a trustworthy partner.)

Having investigated the younger Mr. Vanstone and the devious Mrs. Lecount, she seems poised to begin plotting a fresh plan for their downfall.

I agree that she seems on shakier and shakier moral ground as she pursues her revenge, since the law leaves her no recourse. Collins seems to be divesting her of every former connection, save Norah's letters. How long before she puts herself beyond their reach?

In some ways Magdalen reminds me of Lisbeth Salander, without the tatoos or the violence. But certainly both women were attempting to work outside the laws which did not protect them to gain a righteous revenge, as well as the means by which to put themselves beyond the laws which threatened them. Both are clever beyond their years and manipulative. Both adept at subterfuge. Both trying to out-manipulate devious opponents. Both in moral and physical peril. (Prison for Magdalen would surely be a sentence beyond the term of incarceration.)


message 49: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 189 comments Renee wrote: "I find it interesting that Magdalen seems to have had a plan for the elder Mr. Vanstone that involved investments. Perhaps a swindle where the talents of Capt. Wragge would prove useful. (Although,..."

Remind us again who is Lisbeth Salander, and from which book.


message 50: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1877 comments Mod
Sorry. She's The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo.


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