Georgette Heyer Fans discussion

35 views
Group Reads > Penhallow Group Read June 2017 Spoilers thread

Comments Showing 1-50 of 124 (124 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3

message 1: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (last edited Jun 01, 2017 02:08AM) (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4119 comments Mod
For final conclusions!

There will be open spoilers in this thread.


message 2: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments I confess to being a bit disappointed by the ending. I guess I wanted it to be more novelistic, with everyone Understanding All by the end. It may be more real the way it is, but that’s not necessarily a good thing in fiction, especially fiction with murder and suicide. I find I want even senseless acts to have meaning. Poor Ray—nobody will ever know what he really did or why? Something resembling order needs to be restored for me to be satisfied; and the death of Penhallow could have been the opportunity (I agree with Faith’s initial reasoning about that). Still, the book is challenging and asks interesting questions, and my comfort need not be the author’s principal motivation.


message 3: by Karlyne (last edited Jun 02, 2017 02:35PM) (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I just had to snort over this part, where Vivian tells Faith that she (Vivian) can't be a hypocrite over Penhallow's death and that as far as she's concerned it's the best thing that ever happened in the house:

"Faith was really shocked by this speech, for though she had been able to do what Vivian had never contemplated doing, she was incapable of ever facing an unvarnished truth..."

Oh, dear.


message 4: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Great line!


message 5: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Heyer doesn't have a lot of humor or "wit" in this book, except for a few of Aubrey's observations, but she certainly has some scathing insights!


message 6: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
OK, even though this is my second read, and I know how it is going to go, I cannot read this at night or I just cannot get to sleep.


message 7: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Critterbee wrote: "OK, even though this is my second read, and I know how it is going to go, I cannot read this at night or I just cannot get to sleep."

I completely agree!


message 8: by Louise (last edited Jun 04, 2017 05:18AM) (new)

Louise Culmer I found it all quite absurd. i didn't for a moment believe that rachel Penhallow would allow her sister's bastard to be raised as the heir to her husband's estate, lording it over her own sons, that is unbelievable. Too silly for words. And not even a proper mystery.


message 9: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer it resembles Hercule Poirot's christmas by agatha Christie, though not nearly as amusing. tyrannical old man who enjoys playing off his sons against each other, meek wife who was bullied by him, long suffering daughter in law, resentful bastard etc.


message 10: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4119 comments Mod
I thought this a better book than I had on previous reads, but it is still very bleak. Showing some bizarre Heyerland values like Aubrey being worse than his brothers because he uses scent & wears is hair long. I mean all his brothers do is try to strangle other family members or kick them down stairs!

& as Louise C said, would Rachel have really raised Ray to be the heir?

But I have to say I had forgotten the twist (that Ray wasn't legitimate) Very enthralling part of the book.

Some of you know I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer Kloester (& hear her speak) at the Heyer Conference in Sydney last year. She said the tale that GH wrote Penhallow as a contract breaker is a myth & that GH was actually very proud of this book


message 11: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I'm not sure that Aubrey was supposed to be "worse" than his brothers. He certainly had the worst - or best! - tongue of the bunch, but he knew Judo, apparently, and was a bruising rider, and wanted to be independent (as long as he didn't have to give up anything). I think he was there just to show the differences and the range of the brothers' nasty temperaments.

I seem to remember that Faith married Penhallow when the twins were five, so Ray would have been a late teen at the time. We don't know when Rachel actually died (strange that there's no mention of how and when - unless I've forgotten!), but if Ray was 15-16 or so, it might not have been a foregone conclusion that he would inherit. Rachel might have intended to tell him when he came of age, and, although it seems cruel to let him grow up and think he was the heir, the whole family wasn't exactly known for its empathy and tenderness...


message 12: by Louise (last edited Jun 05, 2017 08:36AM) (new)

Louise Culmer Ray is the oldest son, supposedly, and therefore under the terms of the entail stands to inherit. He is thirty nine in the book, and the same age as Faith. it makes no sense that rachel and adam would pass Ray off as their legitimate son and suddenly decide he isn't when he grows up. They would have to prove it, and it might cause all sorts of legal complications. it makes no sense that rachel would allow any of this. Nor that ray, on being told this by his father, just gives up without a fight. He doesn't seem the type. the whole thing is absurd.


message 13: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments I’d have said that Aubrey was considered the worst in his siblings’ eyes because of seemingly being gay, but I’m not sure the reader is supposed to feel the same.

As for Ray, perhaps Penhallow and Rachel originally didn’t intend to tell Ray he wasn’t legitimate, but when Penhallow felt himself losing his powers he got angrier and angrier, especially when Ray opposed him and tried to exert control over his extravagance. It seems like an impulsive move by a man approaching senility, and in that sense seems plausible to me. Often a person who is losing ground and feeling powerless will lash out at and reject the one who is closest, who is serving them the most devotedly.


message 14: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer Abigail wrote: "I’d have said that Aubrey was considered the worst in his siblings’ eyes because of seemingly being gay, but I’m not sure the reader is supposed to feel the same.

As for Ray, perhaps Penhallow and..."


it just doesn't make any sense that rachel would have wanted Ray to inherit rather than her own son. Or that Adam, supposedly devoted to his wife, would have wanted someone else's child to inherit rather than hers.


message 15: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Would she have wanted her own child to inherit more than she wanted her reputation intact in the neighborhood? I’m not so sure. After all, it’s Penhallow’s estate, not hers. She left her own personal money to her eldest, but there was nothing in her will to expose Ray.


message 16: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer Abigail wrote: "Would she have wanted her own child to inherit more than she wanted her reputation intact in the neighborhood? I’m not so sure. After all, it’s Penhallow’s estate, not hers. She left her own person..."

How would it affect her reputation if her husband had another bastard? they are hardly seceretive about it. The child could have been placed in an orphanage, or they could have paid someone to look after him, or delia could even have kept him but claimed he was adopted. the elaborate charade they concocted is just too weird. it seems too bizarre that a woman like rachel would not want her own son to succeed his father.


message 17: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4119 comments Mod
I will say one skillful bit of writing was that Aubrey's tongue got nastier after his father died. He was free then.

Since there was less money than they were expecting, I wonder how they would have got on? Even Eugène will have to work now!


message 18: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
I don't think that any one of those boys were worse than the other, because they were all just terrible. A family situation ruled by a nasty bully with a cruel streak who worried only about his own comfort and control could scarcely have produced pleasant sons.

Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕ wrote: "Since there was less money than they were expecting, I wonder how they would have got on? Even Eugène will have to work now! "

Well, without Ray getting a portion, perhaps they will get more than they expect.

Wow, even I am becoming grumpy by the little exposure I do have to that family!!


message 19: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer i feel a bit sorry for vivian being stuck in the dower house, when she wanted to get away, but then if she would marry a wet lettuce like Eugene, what could she expect? Bart and loveday i assume will be happy enough. Faith i can imagine though will crack up completely eventually and probably confess to the murder, Likewise i can see Delia having a breakdown and confessing to being Ray's mother. it would have been more interesting if that had happened in the book, i found the ending very tame. And with so many characters, some are not well developed. We don't see enough of Ingham for instance, or his wife. Nothing at all of their sons. Bart's twin doesn't have a lot to do either, except glower in the bsckground. Aubrey and Charmian are both quite interesting but come into the book rather late. We don't really know much about Delia who must have been quite fast at one time - sleeping with her sister's fiancee might raise a few eyebrows even today, let alone in 1900,


message 20: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl | 103 comments Louise wrote: "Abigail wrote: "Would she have wanted her own child to inherit more than she wanted her reputation intact in the neighborhood? I’m not so sure. After all, it’s Penhallow’s estate, not hers. She lef..."

It's odd, but it didn't bother me. I don't have a good feel for Rachel's character, but she does seem as strong-minded as Penhallow himself - maybe more so - and I don't think she married him to provide an heir for the estate. According to Penhallow, she didn't mind his other affairs, but the one with her own sister initially enraged her and must surely have wrecked her own marriage as well as her sister's life if it were known.

We only know Rachel through Penhallow's eyes, which is probably not an unbiased view, but does imply she was a very passionate strong-minded woman who wanted Penhallow - not necessarily the estate - and was willing to do what it took to get him. They were probably a good match.


message 21: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl | 103 comments I don't think Delia was fast at all - she was almost a Faith-type - a soft sentimental person who got swept off her feet. Penhallow says as much. I don't know if she has Faith's capacity for self-delusion. I can see Faith, once things settle down, getting her little flat in London, doting on her son (and, incidentally, keeping him a mama's boy all his life rather than encouraging him to become self-sufficient) and letting the knowledge that she is a murderer sort of slide out of her mind, replaced by a conviction that it was really a mercy for everyone the way things worked out. She'll probably even be able to come up with some conviction about poor Ray, maybe he had a fit of insanity or something, forgetting that almost everyone blames Ray for her crime. There's nothing Faith can't delude herself about! Ray's mother and uncle are the only ones who know the truth, and while his mother will grieve for him, his uncle is another pathologically selfish character who only cares that no scandal disturbs him.


message 22: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I don't think Delia was fast at all - she was almost a Faith-type - a soft sentimental person who got swept off her feet. Penhallow says as much. I don't know if she has Faith's capacity for self-d..."

Wonderfully said, Cheryl, that sounds exactly like Faith's future!


message 23: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Cheryl wrote: "I don't think Delia was fast at all - she was almost a Faith-type - a soft sentimental person who got swept off her feet. Penhallow says as much. I don't know if she has Faith's capacity for self-d..."

I'm positive that Faith will be just like you say, Cheryl! She'll manage to convince herself, without much trouble as long as she keeps her mind away from Ray, that she had nothing to do with it all, and now that she has her darling boy all to herself, her life will be just fine.

But I do wonder just how Clay would take it if she were to confess to him what she'd done. She certainly had opportunity to tell him early on, but since she didn't, I wonder if it's because he'd have been horrified and she knew it.


message 24: by Louise (last edited Jun 06, 2017 11:10AM) (new)

Louise Culmer Cheryl wrote: "Louise wrote: "Abigail wrote: "Would she have wanted her own child to inherit more than she wanted her reputation intact in the neighborhood? I’m not so sure. After all, it’s Penhallow’s estate, no..."

if she really didn't mind her sister's bastard inheriting the estate rather than her own son then i find that quite bizarre. And frankly unbelievable. i can't imagine any woman of spirit putting up with that. A wet lettuce like Delia might though. if she was the wife and rachel the mistress it would make more sense.


message 25: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Maybe she didn't like Ingram..


message 26: by Louise (last edited Jun 06, 2017 11:42AM) (new)

Louise Culmer Cheryl wrote: "I don't think Delia was fast at all - she was almost a Faith-type - a soft sentimental person who got swept off her feet. Penhallow says as much. I don't know if she has Faith's capacity for self-d..."

i think faith has more moral sense than that. She is genuinely upset by the train of events her actions have caused. i don't think she will get over it. i don't see any prospect of a cosy future for her. She's already cracking up by the end of the book. And delia is getting pretty twitchy by the end as well, i think learning of Ray's suicide will probably push her over the edge. ray's suicide is pretty far fetched as well. Suddenly this practical down to earth man succumbs to despair, i think he would have more backbone than that, i could see him keeping calm and not panicking. if worst came to the worst and he really thought he was going to be arrested for adam's murder, he could do a runner and start again - Canada say, or australia. Somewhere with wide open spaces and horses, he'd do all right there.


message 27: by Louise (last edited Jun 06, 2017 11:39AM) (new)

Louise Culmer Karlyne wrote: "Maybe she didn't like Ingram.."

but the whole thing was arranged before ingram was born. the only thing that would make it believable was if for some reason she thought she couldn't have children of her own, and later was proved wrong. that would have been a more plausible story. Suppose rachel and adam had been married a few years and no offspring, rachel became afraid she wouldn't have children. adam seduces Delia and she gets pregnant. rachel agrees to take the child and pass it off as her own. Then after the boy is born and presented to the world as their heir, rachel gets pregnant. Since they have already passed ray off as their son, they have to continue with the charade. it's still far fetched, but a bit more believable than the other scenario.


message 28: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Louise wrote: "Karlyne wrote: "Maybe she didn't like Ingram.."

but the whole thing was arranged before ingram was born. the only thing that would make it believable was if for some reason she thought she couldn'..."


I was actually kidding about Rachel not liking Ingram...


message 29: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments So, what do you think Heyer was doing when she wrote this? It's obviously not a mystery or a romance or an adventure story or a historical novel. It stands completely alone - none of her other books are like it.


message 30: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
Karlyne wrote: "So, what do you think Heyer was doing when she wrote this? It's obviously not a mystery or a romance or an adventure story or a historical novel. It stands completely alone - none of her other book..."

Trying to break her contract, apparently.


message 31: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Naw, that's just an urban myth! Jennifer Kloester (her definitive biographer) assures us she was quite proud of it.


message 32: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1272 comments Karlyne wrote, “So, what do you think Heyer was doing when she wrote this?”

I don’t think people were as bound by genre then as now. And she did write some (really execrable) “serious” fiction, of course; this feels like a hybrid between that and a mystery—maybe closer to what might today be called a psychological thriller.


message 33: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I've often wondered if there was something going on in her life, or had happened, that made her want to explore the moral side of murder, the idea of doing evil so that good can win. Or perhaps it stemmed from a chance comment that someone made about all the good that would result in so-and-so's death?


message 34: by Louise (last edited Jun 07, 2017 02:02AM) (new)

Louise Culmer Cheryl wrote: "I don't think Delia was fast at all - she was almost a Faith-type - a soft sentimental person who got swept off her feet. Penhallow says as much. I don't know if she has Faith's capacity for self-d..."

sleeping with your sister's fiancee I would call pretty fast. It apparently didn't bother Delia though. How exactly it came about though is a bit of a mystery. Young girls not normally left alone with young men in those days, but going riding or somerhiing was okay,maybe he seduced her when they were galloping around on Bodmin Moor or wherever it's supposed to be. it's an extremely unlikely scenario though. Young men did not normally seduce unmarried girls in their own social set, who generally were considered for marriage or nothing. An older married woman, or a maidservant like martha, yes, but not someone like Delia.


Susan in Perthshire (susanageofaquarius) | 1082 comments Well, I finally finished it. I can't say I enjoyed it - although there were certain parts of the book where I was able to step back and still admire GH's skill and artistry with language. Her ability to set a scene or a character with a few lines is absolutely present here, but sadly I disliked every single character, found the plot unconvincing and the ending totally unacceptable. But there were chunks of the books I found fascinating. Her summary of Faith's introduction to the family was masterly and at that moment I could see Faith and what she had become.
I agree with virtually all of Louise's comments about the flaws in the plot and the characterisation. It does seem very much of an experiment for GH and perhaps if she had created multi-dimensional characters and a more credible plot line, it might have worked better as a psychological thriller. It's my first and only reading of Penhallow and I am glad I did finally read it - to appreciate how very different a book GH wrote here!
I am certainly very pleased she stuck to her Georgian and Regency novels though.


message 36: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
FromGeorgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester, stating how Heyer thought about Penhallow:

She often puzzled over the book, uncertain of what to make of it, where it had come from, and why it obsessed her. She described it as “a very peculiar, long and unorthodox story“ and wondered “Why on earth did I have to write this disturbing book?” There was no clear answer, only the conviction that even if it was a mistake she had “got to write it.”


message 37: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Critterbee wrote: "FromGeorgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester, stating how Heyer thought about Penhallow:

She often puzzled over the book, uncertain of what to make of it, where it had come from, and w..."


I do remember reading that, because I kept thinking that she was as puzzled over it as I was. I love that she felt it was a compulsion, by the way. There's something about any kind of art that "has" to be written, or danced, or painted, that makes us sit up and take notice (for good or bad!).


message 38: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
I think that compulsion happens with artists. They HAVE to write/paint/produce it. And that intensity often produces masterpieces. Maybe all it needs is time to be seen as such. Perhaps in 100 years (or less), Penhallow will be taught in English Lit 101!

Well done or not, I just didn't enjoy it reading it. I also did not like reading War and Peace, but that surely is considered to be a masterpiece, right?


message 39: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments If I hadn't already been a confirmed Heyer fan, I doubt that I would have read Penhallow again with an absolute determination to understand and appreciate it. War and Peace more than once? Nope, nope, and nope.


message 40: by Louise (last edited Jun 09, 2017 02:14PM) (new)

Louise Culmer i don't really want to reread either of them, but if i had to reread one I'd reread War and Peace. I didn't like anyone in Penhallow, wheras i did like some of the people in War and Peace. i can't believe Penhallow will ever be considered a masterpiece.


Susan in Perthshire (susanageofaquarius) | 1082 comments Louise - I am in agreement with most of your analysis in this thread. Definitely not a masterpiece and I too would rather read War and Peace again than face Penhallow once more!


message 42: by Sheila (in LA) (new)

Sheila (in LA) (sheila_in_la) | 337 comments Did it occur to anyone else that Charmian might have overheard Faith talking to "Ray's ghost" at the very end--in other words, heard her confess? When Charmian comes into her room and they begin to talk, Faith asks if the police are sure Ray did it and Charmian replies, "Oh, yes, there's nothing for you to worry about, my dear!" Of course, that could be a generic "don't worry" but it struck me as a little odd.

Still trying to make up my mind about this book. I was absorbed by it, had no trouble finishing it. I did find some of it a little tedious. Unlike Agatha Christie, who could paint an unlikable character with a few strokes, GH really goes into painful detail in this book.

On the other hand, I thought the final scene with Raymond was beautifully written and moving.


message 43: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments Sheila wrote: "Did it occur to anyone else that Charmian might have overheard Faith talking to "Ray's ghost" at the very end--in other words, heard her confess? When Charmian comes into her room and they begin to..."

Yes, that was my thought as well. Charmian seems to have taken everyone's measure pretty shrewdly.

I was struck by how lost the Penhallows seemed without their nightly gathering in Adam's bedroom. Really a very weird family.


message 44: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments It doesn't surprise me at all that Adam Penhallow would try to seduce Delia--he was enough of an autocrat that he'd see it as his just due, droit du seigneur and all that. For a man like Penhallow sex is as much about power as it is about pleasure. Passing off 'one of his bastards' as his heir would be another perverse power-play: he could hold the knowledge over other family members, threatening them from time to time with scandal. Also Ray probably proved his worth on the estate at an very early age.

I suspect it was actually illegal under Britain's law of primogeniture for Penhallow to pass his bastard off as his heir but I haven't found anything about the penalties if the fraud had been discovered. Does anyone know?


message 45: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer droit de seigneur is a term usually applied to a man's relations with his inferiors - his servants or tenants, not his fiancee's sister. this is what is so weird. And it makes no sense that he would want a bastard to inherit rather than his legitimate son by rachel - especially as he seems to admire her so much. makes no sense that she would want it either, the whole thing is ludicrous and unbelievable. if it was found that Ray wasn't the legitimate heir he would be disinherited and the estate would pass to ingham, but whether adam actually had any proof remains doubtful. ray never found anything. The whole thing is too far fetched.


message 46: by Sheila (in LA) (new)

Sheila (in LA) (sheila_in_la) | 337 comments I had the impression Delia was infatuated with Adam, possibly even threw herself at him. Of course, we only hear his version of it (as I recall).


message 47: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
Sheila wrote: "I had the impression Delia was infatuated with Adam, possibly even threw herself at him. Of course, we only hear his version of it (as I recall)."

He WOULD think that. A little bit delusional, a lotta bit narcissistic.


message 48: by Louise (new)

Louise Culmer She may have been infatuated. adam probably had a lot of sex appeal when young. Possibly Delia even hoped he would marry her. maybe that's why she slept with him, she may have imagined he would break it off with Rachel and marry her instead.


message 49: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4119 comments Mod
Louise wrote: "She may have been infatuated. adam probably had a lot of sex appeal when young. Possibly Delia even hoped he would marry her. maybe that's why she slept with him, she may have imagined he would bre..."

Possibly. I do agree that it was unlikely that Rachel would disinherit future children. It was well written though. It's been a number of years since I have read this one & The Twist took me completely by surprise!

What does everyone think of Loveday's character development. I felt GH wimped out a bit (just a bit) by not leaving her as a fortune hunter.


message 50: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2572 comments Mod
I felt that she was a fortune hunter throughout. I think that she loved him, but wanted the property just as much. If anyone in Penhallow gets a 'happily ever after' after this book, I think it will be her.


« previous 1 3
back to top