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Group Reads > Penhallow Group Read June 2017 Chapters 12-23

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message 1: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4119 comments Mod
So, how are you finding it so far?


message 2: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments The worm turns! Go, Faith! But Ray seems to be spinning into muddledness.

I am impressed with Heyer’s skill at writing Penhallow’s dialogue. Every time he finds a fresh way to take the low road, to probe and abuse the weak spots in his family members.

Will wait to write about later chapters till people have had time to get further along.


message 3: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I am finding this reading to be absolutely compelling. I, of course, remember that I found this book bordering on brilliant (as Goodreads keeps reminding me that I gave it 5 stars), but I had completely forgotten how Heyer strings us along with each character's pain and their rage at Penhallow. What a horrible bloated toad he is! Although she tries to give us some redeeming qualities to chew on, I really just plain detest him, and I refuse to excuse him for anything or give him a "Well, at least..." There is no benefit of the doubt for him.


message 4: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
When absorbing all of the character's unhappiness, this really is quite a depressing book! And they all treat each other so terribly.


message 5: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Critterbee wrote: "When absorbing all of the character's unhappiness, this really is quite a depressing book! And they all treat each other so terribly."

There's very, very little tenderness - some between Eugene and Vivian, and Bart and Loveday, and I suppose that's what Delia feels. But the rest of them are horrible to each other.


message 6: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I'm trying to think if I've ever know any families like this one. Maybe one or two who came close, but I've never known anyone with landed estates- the upper crust- so that hampers me...


message 7: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Reminds me of my family quite a bit. We’re not at all mutually supportive and avoid one another from one year to the next. We all have very sharp tongues. But we do turn up (or at least some of us do) when the situation calls for it.


message 8: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments My father-in-law definitely had his Penhallow moments - and come to think of it, so did my mother-in-law! But their sons are all genuinely nice (albeit a bit addled) men. And, they all have senses of humor, which their parents did not have. I've always thought that so odd, since humor does tend to run in families, but I think it's because the boys all banded together when they were kids, so there was a lot of scope for their humor- especially behind their parents' backs...


message 9: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
Karlyne wrote: "My father-in-law definitely had his Penhallow moments - and come to think of it, so did my mother-in-law! But their sons are all genuinely nice (albeit a bit addled) men. And, they all have senses ..."

I am surprisingly drawn to a 'nice but a bit addled' man with a great sense of humor! They often are survivors.

Sometimes children grow up to be almost mirrors of one parent or the other, and then other times they are completely different, because of how their parents were.


message 10: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I've often thought how grandparents come into the mix, too. I know there's a lot of granddaughter/grandmother continuity in my family! But, although I didn't know all of my husband's grandparents, from what I've heard not a one of them had a sense of humor! Luckily, no matter where it came from, it's been passed on to his kids (ha! from me!) and some of his nieces and nephews (ok, not me).


message 11: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer it's all so melodramatic it's rather absurd. loveday should think twice about marrying into this nutty family i think.


message 12: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl | 103 comments Karlyne wrote: "I'm trying to think if I've ever know any families like this one. Maybe one or two who came close, but I've never known anyone with landed estates- the upper crust- so that hampers me..."

Although the landed estate aspect was important to the characters, I think you can get that kind of family without it. Of course, to be like the book, it's essential that the patriarch (or matriarch!) be financially able to keep the young under control, but there are plenty of families where that's accomplished by the next generation becoming convinced that they can't earn their own living or simply by emotional control of some kind. It's well-known that the emotional ties to a parent can be so strong that not even abuse removes the desire of the child to live with the family. Adult children can be so emotionally tied to their parents that it interferes with their own marriages and families. It doesn't take a wealthy landowner father for this sort of thing to happen.

Another aspect comes down to personality, and I think Heyer describes this fairly well, although her portrayal of those who want a quiet life isn't very sympathetic in the case of Faith or Clay, although Clay is really almost as selfish as his father, in his own way, and so is an unsympathetic character of reasons other than liking a quiet life!

I've certainly known families in which some members really like an emotionally tempestuous life - a nice loud quarrel seems to release steam and tension for them. And others dislike loud disputes, which cause tension for them! The two personality types don't get on well and unless they make allowances for each other, you get exactly the situation between Clay and his brothers - with the kind of interactions taken for granted by the other brothers being seen as bullying by Clay (which is encouraged by his mother) and Clay's allowing them to see how they get to him just encourages his brothers to despise him. I don't think that's an uncommon situation. Interestingly, it's possible to reject the traditional Penhallow life - but the two who did so can also hold their own in the extremely dramatic give and take of Penhallow family life. Clay never learned to do this.


message 13: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments Wow! I just finished chapter 12. What a bombshell of a revelation. I found the first half interesting and the family dynamics very well done but from here out I suspect I won't be able to put this down.


message 14: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Yes, it really came out of left field, didn’t it?


message 15: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer I found it completelyi unbelievable - it just doesn't make any sense.


message 16: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments But life is like that! The insides of families are full of inconsistencies and unbelievable things.


message 17: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer Karlyne wrote: "But life is like that! The insides of families are full of inconsistencies and unbelievable things."

some things just don't ring true. And a woman content to see her slutty sister's bastard lording it over her own children is one of them. wives of powerful men generally fight furiously to advance their own children's interests against other women's. Look at how Catherine of Aaragon fought against Henry VIII's plan to annull their marriage, to preserve her daughter's birthright. Look at the machinations of the women in sultan's harems - alwys plotting to advance their own sons over the sons of their rivals. It's no coincidence that there so many folk tales that feature wicked stepmothers.


message 18: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Yes, but it's "generally" and "usually", not always. There are cases of step-parents actually favoring their stepchildren over their own natural children. Whether it's because of circumstance or personality or whatever, it does happen.


message 19: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 516 comments There can be all kinds of feelings between sisters. If Delia had been unrelated to Rachel, no, I wouldn't believe Rachel accepting her son into the family. But the close relationship complicates things. Rachel may have felt sorry for Delia, not wanted to ruin Delia's reputation (or the Ottery family's in general), figured that a nephew was a close enough blood relation to be worth fighting for ... any or all.


message 20: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
I think that 'slutty sister' is a bit much to throw at Delia. We do not know what happened, and hear only from Penhallow about what did happen when he was a 21 year old boy. He says that Delia was OK with just having a physical relationship, but maybe that is what he wanted to believe. He is certainly sure of his thoughts being the only correct thoughts for anyone to have.

He did not seem like he was one to accept refusal from women. Perhaps he went around forcing himself on whichever poor woman caught his attention. Look at how he treated Loveday.

And straight-out-of-school Delia, after her 'interaction' with Penhallow, was (in his words) 'spending her time shuddering at the sight of me' and 'trying to put an end to herself' Does not sound to me like a woman who should be called 'slutty.' Sounds like a girl, not strong-willed, who had little power over matters in her life, and was then was severely traumatized by what happened.

Fault her for being weak, for she does consistently exhibit weakness, but other words should be put to rest because they are too often used to shame and blame women for being human.


message 21: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Critterbee wrote: "I think that 'slutty sister' is a bit much to throw at Delia. We do not know what happened, and hear only from Penhallow about what did happen when he was a 21 year old boy. He says that Delia was ..."

True, Critterbee! We only have Penhallow's words for everything which happened before the story begins. I think Delia may have been attracted to him, but when things went too far for her liking, she just picked herself up, probably shuddering, and retreated into herself. She had kept that secret for 40 years, and it sounds as though all her life stopped right there.


message 22: by Sheila (in LA) (new)

Sheila (in LA) (sheila_in_la) | 337 comments I just finished chapter 13. About Delia and Raymond: I wonder if Rachel was motivated by pride more than anything. Maybe she thought people would suspect Ray's true parentage if Delia kept him, and that adopting him was the best way to hide him.


message 23: by Louise (last edited Jun 09, 2017 01:48PM) (new)

Louise Culmer Margaret wrote: "There can be all kinds of feelings between sisters. If Delia had been unrelated to Rachel, no, I wouldn't believe Rachel accepting her son into the family. But the close relationship complicates th..."

There would have been many much simpler ways of disposing of the nephew - having him adopted by someone else for instance. or Delia could have 'adopted' him herself. i simply don't believe that rachel would let him supplant her own children and become he husband's heir. that suggest some sort of unworldly saintlike woman who cares nothing for property or for her children's rights - not the impression i get of rachel from what Adams says about her.


message 24: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments What if Rachel really loved her dippy little sister and wanted to protect her? From what we do know of her, she was a strong personality and would have understood that Penhallow and Delia's marrying would have been a disaster, and, besides, she understood Penhallow and still wanted him in spite of it all. She would have understood that Delia being able to see her son and be assured of his welfare would have helped her to get over the whole mess. I see Rachel as a woman of considerable understanding and toughness, but, then again, all we have of her is through Penhallow's words, and his veracity is suspect.


message 25: by Louise (last edited Jun 09, 2017 02:00PM) (new)

Louise Culmer Critterbee wrote: "I think that 'slutty sister' is a bit much to throw at Delia. We do not know what happened, and hear only from Penhallow about what did happen when he was a 21 year old boy. He says that Delia was ..."

well, i think sleeping with your fiancee's sister is quite slutty. loveday's only a maid. not his fiancee's sister. there were quite clear social distinctions about that sort of thing in 1900. Agatha Christie wrote about it in her autobiography when discussing her own youth for example: "sexual attachments would have been difficult to enter into because young men had a high opinion of young girls, and adverse public opinion would have affected them as well as the girls. Men had their sexual fun with married women, usually a good deal older than themselves, or else with 'little friends' in London, about whom no one was supposed to know." Adam certainly had 'little friends' like Martha for instance, and he could no doubt have had laisons with some older married women if he had wanted to - but seducing his fiancee's sister is just too melodramatic, that's why i find the whole thing too absurd. it is pure Cold Comfort farm. i fully expected to find the Sukebind in bloom.


message 26: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments But a "slut" is someone with many casual sexual partners, or, sometimes, a slovenly, dirty woman. I don't think Delia fits either of those categories. She was naïve and rather stupid and may have thought she was acting free and grown-up, but reality descended with a vengeance. And we never hear of her having any more affairs, but, instead, lives a quiet, albeit a bit dotty, life with her brother.


message 27: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments The real scum in Penhallow. For all we know he might have raped Delia. But even if she was a willing (though probably ignorant) partner she was overwhelmed (emotionally if not physically) by a powerful man well versed in seduction. This, from Karlyne, sounds about right to me: "I think Delia may have been attracted to him, but when things went too far for her liking, she just picked herself up, probably shuddering, and retreated into herself. She had kept that secret for 40 years, and it sounds as though all her life stopped right there."


message 28: by Jackie (last edited Jun 15, 2017 04:58PM) (new)

Jackie | 1198 comments I agree totally with post #20 and, like Hana, it occurred to me that it may have been rape.


message 29: by Louise (last edited Jun 15, 2017 09:13PM) (new)

Louise Culmer Karlyne wrote: "But a "slut" is someone with many casual sexual partners, or, sometimes, a slovenly, dirty woman. I don't think Delia fits either of those categories. She was naïve and rather stupid and may have t..."

well, a woman who sleeps with her fiancee's sister seems to me to be lacking in much if any moral sense. I imagine i would have been pretty annoyed if my sister had done that, and i imagine most women would be. What rachel's feelings may have been i can't say, but the fact that her reaction is to adopt her sister's bastard seems to me somewhat unlikely. the whole thing is simply unbelievable to me. seems to me more likely that she would either have had Delia have the baby and have it adopted, or get her married off. it would no doubt have been easy enough to find some impoverished man willing to marry Delia and accept parentage of her child for financial reward. he wouldn't even have had to stick around for long - one can imagine that few men would want to spend long with Delia - just so long as he gave her child a name.


message 30: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
Jackie wrote: "I agree totally with post #20 and, like Hana, it occurred to me that it may have been rape."

If it were rape, I would understand Rachel taking in Delia's baby. 'Sorry my man forced you, now I feel guilted into taking care of your baby.' It is his fault, so he will have to make up for it.

From the description of Penhallow's character, I think that rape is a very likely possibility. And a hundred years ago, people would often say that a woman was at fault for that. Seriously, that even happens in modern times. What were you wearing? Weren't you attracted to him? Why didn't you stop it? Why didn't you move out of the area to avoid the threat? Never mind that women were raised to be meek and obliging towards men, and certainly not to be 'oppositional'.

Try being cool and polite, and keeping men at arms length, and you get called another derogatory name.


Oh, this book! Seriously makes me ><


message 31: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Chuckle! Infuriating, isn't it?!?


message 32: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
Ah, yes, it is. It showcases the worst of human behavior, and the horrible effect that cruel and bullying behavior has on people affected by it. Many just forward the negativity.


message 33: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments It's hard to break the cycle when you're not even aware that it exists.


message 34: by Louise (last edited Jun 17, 2017 10:41PM) (new)

Louise Culmer Critterbee wrote: "Jackie wrote: "I agree totally with post #20 and, like Hana, it occurred to me that it may have been rape."

If it were rape, I would understand Rachel taking in Delia's baby. 'Sorry my man forced ..."


Getting Delia married off would have been a better option. I simply can't see any woman of spirit letting her own child be supplanted by her sister's. And Rachel is a woman of spirit. As for how Adam managed to get his leg over with Delia that remains a mystery. Can only assume a country walk or going out for a ride or something. Or possibly in the conservatory during a ball or something like that. It's a bit hard to visualise though. Rachel one assumes would be around most of the time. She'd keep an eye on a slippery customer like Adam.
What would it be like, finding out that your fiancee had got your sister pregnant? Would you really say: "oh yes, we'll still go through with the wedding, and We'll adopt your bastard and raise it as your heir, and i'll see my children playing second fiddle to hers." i somehow doubt it very much.


message 35: by Carolm (new)

Carolm | 62 comments Actually, it seems very plausible to me, both that Penhallow forced Delia and that Rachel would try to hide it. At that time, it would be very embarrassing at least, to have to admit that your fiance had done your sister. Penhallow had all the power, so even a spirited woman would have very little. Penhallow would have expected every woman to be infatuated with him and would assume that they all felt it was an honour to receive attention from him. It may have made more sense to keep the embarassment within the household, rather than trying to find someone to marry Delia - they might ask uncomfortable questions .


message 36: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments What was it they used to say about Steve Jobs? That he created his own reality distortion field? I think in a small rural society so completely dominated by the Penhallows, with roots going deep into feudal society, it was pretty natural for whatever the lord wished to come to pass, and all the lesser folk would go along even if they resented it. Modern culture was problematizing that way of arranging society, but in remote places it still held sway.


message 37: by Louise (last edited Jun 23, 2017 02:33PM) (new)

Louise Culmer Carolm wrote: "Actually, it seems very plausible to me, both that Penhallow forced Delia and that Rachel would try to hide it. At that time, it would be very embarrassing at least, to have to admit that your fian..."

But if she got her sister quietly married off, or had the baby adopted, there would be no need to admit anything, Both options would certainly strike me as more desirable than having my sister's bastard lording it over my own children, which i would find infuriating. I'd get her married off to someone who lived a good distance away - as the Penhallows are in Cornwall the North of England, or possibly Scotland, would seem desirable. or just have the brat adopted abroad, since Delia was abroad with them at the time, They could have put him in an orphanage, or found some poor couple willing to adopt him, for a consideration. There were certainly better ways of dealing with illegitimate births than the one they came up with.


message 38: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer Abigail wrote: "What was it they used to say about Steve Jobs? That he created his own reality distortion field? I think in a small rural society so completely dominated by the Penhallows, with roots going deep in..."

But rachel wasn't a lesser person, and she seems to be the one who was behind the scheme to pass Raymond off as her own. This is what seems totally unlikely to me. No mother would wish to see he own children supplanted in such a way.


message 39: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments At the risk of promoting repetition, I do in fact think Rachel was a lesser person—anyone who was female would have been, just as anyone who was not the lord or (to an extent) the heir would have been, in that culture.


message 40: by Louise (last edited Jun 24, 2017 05:19AM) (new)

Louise Culmer Abigail wrote: "At the risk of promoting repetition, I do in fact think Rachel was a lesser person—anyone who was female would have been, just as anyone who was not the lord or (to an extent) the heir would have b..."

But that's not what Adam says. he says rachel ran the family. the impression i get from what is said about rachel is that she was a very strong person. adam clearly despises his second wife for her weakness and is always comparing her unfavourably to rachel.


message 41: by Carolm (new)

Carolm | 62 comments Being a strong person and being someone with power in the community are 2 different things. Faith is very weak, in many ways, but she still held out for marriage. By the references to the number of Penhallow byblows in the community, there was no one in the community that was equal to the Penhallows and Rachel was from the community.


message 42: by Louise (last edited Jun 24, 2017 11:47PM) (new)

Louise Culmer Carolm wrote: "Being a strong person and being someone with power in the community are 2 different things. Faith is very weak, in many ways, but she still held out for marriage. By the references to the number of..."

Rachel isn't from the community, she's Adam's wife, and a woman of status. She evidently had a dominant personality. Rachel appears to have been the one who decided on the whole weird passing Ray off as her son thing, at least that's what Adam implies. The impression is certainly given that rachel wasn't a compliant woman. She was the one who guided the way things should go. She had power in the family due to her strength of personality. The local girls Adam seduced were probably willing enough. i daresay he paid for the support of any bastards who resulted, like Simeon Lee in Hercule Poirot's Christmas. As for Fay, it's unlikely Adam would have tried to seduce her if he was thinking of marrying her, though if he had tried he would very likely have succeeded, assuming he could get her alone (upper class girls were often still chaperoned in the 1920s)


message 43: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Could I ask that we move on to another topic? This one seems beaten to death. I get it: some of us view the Delia/Ray situation differently than others. That’s what makes the world go ’round!


message 44: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer Abigail wrote: "Could I ask that we move on to another topic? This one seems beaten to death. I get it: some of us view the Delia/Ray situation differently than others. That’s what makes the world go ’round!"

well, start a new topic then. who's stopping you?


message 45: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1235 comments woah now we get into some serious plot. The revelations in Chap. 12 are shocking. That is completely insane and provides my suspect list with one more person.


message 46: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1235 comments Chapter 14-woah! Did not expect that. Now the story is getting good.
I like Char. She has good sense and isn't afraid of hr father.


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