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The Woman in White
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Archived Group Reads - 2017 > Woman in White: Week 2 - Ch. XII-IV

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message 1: by Cindy, Moderator (last edited Oct 22, 2017 01:19PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cindy Newton | 296 comments Mod
So this week, the plot thickens! We see Walter lurking in the graveyard at the dead of night, and his sleuthing pays off when the mysterious woman in white appears at Mrs. Fairlie's grave. Her reaction to his mention of Sir Percival Glyde's name confirms all of his worst fears. After a piteous, emotional last dinner together, Walter is forced to take his leave of his beloved Laura, leaving her to her fate as the fiancee of a possibly evil baronet. If we have any lingering doubts about Sir Percival, they are laid to rest when Laura's dog, Nina, refuses to have anything to do with him.

After Walter leaves Limmeridge House, Mr. Gilmore, the family solicitor, takes up the narrative. He is obviously unaware of why the two sisters seem so depressed, and wonders at Laura's avoidance of Sir Percival. We finally meet Sir Percival and discover that he is older and less attractive than one might have hoped, for Laura's sake. Other than that, he seems to be a respectable match. We learn that his arrival in the neighborhood is the signal for Anne Catherick to depart, and Sir Percival seems most anxious to find and help the poor dear return to a place where she can be properly treated. Her mother is apparently supportive of his efforts.

We learn quite a bit about Laura's financial situation, but the key points of all of this are that she is a wealthy young woman and is completely at her self-centered, uncaring uncle's mercy--he is her legal guardian and makes all of her legal decisions. When Sir Percival's man of business makes outrageous demands vis-a-vis the marriage settlements, Mr. Fairlie is only too eager to comply simply so he will not have to hear about it anymore. Mr. Gilmore is very perturbed by this turn of events but is powerless to change anything. After reluctantly acceding to Glyde's demands, he leaves and his narrative ends.

1. What do you think of the characters so far? Has your opinion of any of them changed from last week's reading? Some interesting observations were made in last week's discussion about Collins' challenging of gender stereotypes. Do we see any continuance of that this week?

2. What are the benefits of transferring the narrative from one character to another? Obviously, it helps when the narrating character can no longer be present, but do you see any other benefits?

3. Walter instinctively trusts Anne Catherick and feels that she should not be imprisoned in an Asylum (although there are a few moments in the cemetery when he might have been rethinking that position). Her own mother, however, doesn't seem to agree with this opinion. Who to believe?

4. Do you think Sir Percival's man of business is acting on his orders or is Glyde too noble to besmirch himself with thoughts of money?

5. Mr. Gilmore tells us that Laura begs Sir Percival to postpone setting a date for their wedding until the end of the year, and her long-suffering (in Mr. Gilmore's opinion) fiance agrees. Laura, according to her sister, feels very strongly about this and is quite emotional on the subject. A week after Mr. Gilmore's departure from Limmeridge House, he receives word that the wedding date has been set for little more than a month later--exactly as Sir Percival had originally wanted. What could have caused this shift in Laura's plans?

6. Who, at this point, do you consider the most interesting character?

Please feel free to use these guiding questions to shape your comments, or completely disregard them and share your own questions or observations. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


message 2: by Xan (new) - added it

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) 1. Walter

I'm not convinced that Walter is as gentlemanly, innocent, and sacrificial as he claims. He is writing of events of apparent consequence after the fact. He may be presenting himself in his affidavit in a light that shines more brightly than in the actual events. I am a first time reader of this book. But I wonder if he is in part or whole an unreliable narrator?

Miss Fairly

I have no opinion of Miss Fairly other than at this point she seems to exist for the sole purpose of Walter goggling at her. Looks like later her character might grow.

Marion

Wonderful, as related by Walter.

Mr. Fairly

Ugh!!

Anne (Woman in White)

I feel for her plight and constitution, and I suspect my feelings will only grow as events unfold.

2. One of the benefits is changing POV. Each narrator may be intentionally or unintentionally relating facts that might not agree with another narrator's. This turns the reader into a detective, an interesting technique that will engage the reader if the reader cares about the story at all.

3. I missed the part where his own mother disagrees. I also thought that at the second meeting in the cemetery Walter was less concerned about Anne's welfare than he claimed. Again, I have unreliable narrators on my mind.

4. To Be answered later.

5. Same.

6. Marion for her strength, individuality, and high spirit.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 6 comments I love Mr. Fairlie precisely because he's ridiculous! I can't help it, he's such a stereotypical character that I can't help laughing at him.

Laura is completely boring and not worth all the attention.

Marion has spunk and personality.

Walter is boring and overly dramatic.

Anne is...odd.

As for the rest, they are the most interesting and fun at this point, as good shady characters should be, so I most enjoy hearing about them and their shadow dealings :)


message 4: by Xan (new) - added it

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) "Spunk," what a great word to describe Marion.


message 5: by Xan (new) - added it

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) When sir Percy calls Miss Fairie's dog:

"The little beast, cowardly and cross-grained, as pet dogs usually are, looked up at him sharply, shrank away from his outstretched hand, and hid itself under the sofa."

Always trust the dog.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 6 comments Exactly!


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "When sir Percy calls Miss Fairie's dog:

"The little beast, cowardly and cross-grained, as pet dogs usually are, looked up at him sharply, shrank away from his outstretched hand, and hid itself und..."


Yeah, I agree with that in principle, but found it heavy-handed here... ok, so the Sir is bad. Show me, don't tell me.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Advantages of shifting narrator - love the comment above about it making us detectives. I guess it gives a fuller picture. And it frees up the author? So they don't have to keep a character around just to be consistent. In the case of Walter, it also builds drama, we know he's coming back. When? How?


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Great job, Mod Cindy! You pulled out nice insights, great qs. Best characters: hands down Marion, interesting, strong, smart. Anne, mysterious, loyal, flawed, wronged...the others are just window dressing.


message 10: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cindy Newton | 296 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "I also thought that at the second meeting in the cemetery Walter was less concerned about Anne's welfare than he claimed. Again, I have unreliable narrators on my mind...."

Yes, I think he is trying to keep her calm but his first priority is definitely getting dirt on Sir Percival. Anne freaks out when Walter refers to the baronet obliquely, so then he turns around and mentions his name!

Always trust the dog.

Yes, I think the dog told us all we need to know about Sir Percival. :)


message 11: by Xan (last edited Oct 25, 2017 04:19AM) (new) - added it

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) Cindy wrote: "Yes, I think he is trying to keep her calm but his first priority is definitely getting dirt on Sir Percival. Anne freaks out when Walter refers to the baronet obliquely, so then he turns around and mentions his name!..."

Absolutely. And he doesn't just mention his name, Walter tells Anne Sir Percy is arriving tomorrow. He doesn't want to hear just her response; he wants to judge her reaction. He is not as innocent at frightening her as he claims.

Walter doesn't seem motivated by much other than his passion for Miss Fairly. Presented at his mother's house with an excellent offer of employment that pays well and will add to his resume, he resists. He also is quick to dismiss his sister as a complainer. But his sister seems not to like something about Walter. It could be sibling rivalry or it could be something else, including me reading more into it than is there. But I'm always a bit skeptical when someone is providing testimony about his or her own behavior.

Having said that, the solicitor does speak well of Walter.


message 12: by Xan (new) - added it

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) Kathy wrote: "Yeah, I agree with that in principle, but found it heavy-handed here... ok, so the Sir is bad...."

Heavy handed indeed. Is this common for the time period in which it was written or is it heavy handed even for then?


message 13: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cindy Newton | 296 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "Great job, Mod Cindy! You pulled out nice insights, great qs. Best characters: hands down Marion, interesting, strong, smart. Anne, mysterious, loyal, flawed, wronged...the others are just window d..."

Thank you so much! I'm glad my questions and comments are proving helpful and interesting to you.


message 14: by Renee, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
I'm not finished with this section but so far I think it is Mr. Gilmore who should be marrying Sir Percival!

Xan-
I think the heavy-handed style is common to the sensation novel. :)


Alana (alanasbooks) | 6 comments Renee wrote: "I'm not finished with this section but so far I think it is Mr. Gilmore who should be marrying Sir Percival!

Xan-
I think the heavy-handed style is common to the sensation novel. :)"


Lol, he does seem quite enamored of him, doesn't he? :)


message 16: by Renee, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
I literally stamped my feet at the insistence of describing themselves as the friends of Sir Percival rather than a he friends of Laura Fairlie.


Shelley (omegaxx) Alana wrote: "I love Mr. Fairlie precisely because he's ridiculous! I can't help it, he's such a stereotypical character that I can't help laughing at him."

I'm not sure that I can quite see Mr. Fairlie as a benign eccentric in the tradition of Mr. Woodhouse in Emma or Mr. Brookes in Middlemarch. There's a speech of his that I found positively chilling and reptilian:

"Man?" he repeated. "You provoking old Gilmore, what can you possibly mean by calling him a man? He's nothing of the sort. He might have been a man half an hour ago, before I wanted my etchings, and he may be a man half an hour hence, when I don't want them any longer. At present he is simply a portfolio stand. Why object, Gilmore, to a portfolio stand?"

I was quite surprised by Collins' very explicit and unabashed description of Laura's financial matters and how he laid out, directly, the mercenary nature of the marriage. It's almost brutally honest... and dark and sinister as well. Quite unlike any Victorian book I've read that far. I'm intrigued.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 6 comments As I understand from some of the notes on the edition I'm reading, while Collins stated that he had a friend in the legal field check over everything, including in the way of financial matters, he actually was pretty off base for the laws of the time. I'm not sure what would have been different in reality, but sounds like he bent the truth of the law a bit to make it work for his plot.


message 19: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Piyangie | 823 comments Mod
Shelley wrote: "Alana wrote: "I love Mr. Fairlie precisely because he's ridiculous! I can't help it, he's such a stereotypical character that I can't help laughing at him."

I'm not sure that I can quite see Mr. Fairlie as a benign eccentric in the tradition of Mr. Woodhouse in Emma or Mr. Brookes in Middlemarch. ..."


I agree with Shelley on Mr. Fairlie. Although Collins has made him a sort of an eccentric man and provided a little comic relief through his character, deep down he was a extremely selfish and self centered man who did not give a moments thought to another.


message 20: by Renee, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
Although, he may have exaggerated the exact terms of the laws of the time, Collins took on several elements of the ways that those laws left women penniless, nameless, or at the mercy of unscrupulous guardians or husbands. It made for good copy but also concentrated public attention.


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