The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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2018/19 Group Reads - Archives > Female Quixote - Books 1 & 2

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message 1: by Rosemarie, Moderator (last edited Mar 31, 2018 02:17PM) (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
The title of this book, The Female Quixote, is certainly an apt choice for this book.

How does this title apply to our heroine, the unique Arabella?
How would you describe her upbringing?

Characters:

What role does Arabella assign to her maid Lucy?
Why is Mr. Glanville an important character?
Why does Charlotte Glanville want to stay at Arabella's?
What does Miss Groves think of Arabella?

Arabella's life consists of various adventures:

The Adventure of Mr Hervey
The Adventure of Edward the Gardener
The Adventure of the Books
The Olympic Games (Day at the Races)
A very Perilous Adventure

Please comment on any of the above adventures as they relate to the plot or the characters,

and one final question--Mr. Glanville uses a certain word to describe our dear Arabella.
Do you agree with his assessment of her actions?


message 2: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1868 comments Mod
Now This is an Interesting Read, with so much Capitalization and Emphasis on certain Words. Once I got used to the style, I rather enjoyed these opening books, although I am impressed by the strength of Glanville's love for his cousin to be able to overcome her excessive romanticism which by the end of the second book was reaching delusional levels, and is going to put either herself or those around her at risk (I was concerned poor Edward was going to be arrested, or that Arabella was going to run off with the complete stranger who happened to pick her up in his carriage).

What a great commentary on the perils of isolation in combination with an extensive library of novels!


message 3: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick my new word to wear out is Trope. Dare I mention that Mrs Malaprop is one of my heroes?

The trope of the isolated and therefore protected female is found all over eastern and early western writing. Rapunzel on women are assumed to be too weak or weak willed to protect themselves. Not an entirely unreasonable idea in a world of marauders, cut purses and assaulters on large and small scale, including officially sanctioned. OTOH an early symptom you are in the clutches of the seriously wrong man is the degree to which he seeks to isolate you.

Just occurred to me. When we first wed, The Wife got some negative feed back that as a married woman, she should not be in the work force. Just shy of home barefoot and preggers, but too close for either of us to do much but laugh. Besides she was making better money than me.

However even The original Don himself begins with too much time in his books and romantic notions.

Clearly Lucy is Sancho Panza. My hope, having not quite finished book one is that this will not parallel Don Q too closely. I felt that after book one it was too slapstick and needlessly violent. I tired of various people getting beaten and abused.


message 4: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
By the end of book 2, I was thoroughly fed up with Arabella. I know she had a very unusual childhood, but the reading of romances has turned her mind.
I hope we don't have to hear about Orontes, and the rest in such detail during the rest of the book. Arabella's adventures are more interesting than those she describes.


message 5: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
I’m almost done with book one. What has come to my mind is - she’s read so many books it’s rattled her mind! Lol. She frustrated me with her delusional outlook. I do have to wonder now though if Lennox is laughing at the romantic crap some women believe because she had a terrible marriage (she left her husband in a time neither common nor easily done) or is it laughing st herself or a cautionary tale wrapped in humor.


message 6: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
I think it is too early too tell, but Arabella certainly is delusional. I think it his her father's fault because he didn't provide any proper upbringing for his daughter.


message 7: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1868 comments Mod
Or is it her mother's fault for filling the library with ridiculous romances?


message 8: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
That is another possibility.


message 9: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
I had to chuckle to myself last night as I completed book 1 and started on book 2. When I said earlier that her reading had addled her brain, I was joking. Yet further along that’s what the characters are saying.


message 10: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Having gotten about 2 chapter into book 2 I have decided that Arabella is not insipid, just badly if actively mis-lead or if you prefer, misinformed.

I get that Lennox is playing out her central conceit by slowly playing through the permutations and variations of her heroine's fixation and the cases used to crack through her hard headed fixation.

The conversation I wish she would hear would end the comedy and so I do not expect it:

She is desires that her candidate lovers volunteer to experience privation, yet we have no evidence she has ever skipped a meal or at least not skipped them just to play out a romantic drama.

She believes that candidate lovers should fight and bleed and die for her who has never known much more than a pin prick, and that an accident.

She seems to think of death as no more than a romantic gesture.Perhaps only a romantic posture. One she or candidate lovers can assume and thereby be remembered as worthy of monuments.
I would like to see her spend a month consoling the wives, parents and people displaced by war, bereaved by the death of a loved one and maybe learn that it is one thing to posture about her lost father. Another to grieve and get on with the business of living.

I do notice that even the ladies of her house are getting wise to her drama.

Being a more modern reader I have devised a series of better endings for what I have so far read.

1. Lucy and Mr. Granville form a romantic alignment. Lucy moves into the role of the lady of the estate and Arabella the semi-crazy aunt.

2. Lucy and Arabella form a romantic alignment and continue to tease and turn away would be lovers. Maybe use one to make a baby and even marry him to be the beard to the real lovers.

3. We learn that Arabella's plan from the beginning is sort of a 50 Shades of Pink. Her husband must be a man's man in the world of business and management of the estates and a total sub to her in the bedroom.

back to the book:
Are we now to see the Granvilles father and son vying for the hand of this charming nit-wit?

Whatever else Lennox has in store for us, she is clearly angry about the BS the romantic authors of what where then called French romance novels.

Just think about 20 years later and the rich will be building phony ruins and posing as peasants


message 11: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
I have to admit that Arabella has had a very sheltered upbringing. But whose fault is that?
A modern comparison might be that a young person would think that life is like a tv situation comedy.
Arabella is not of limited intelligence, but of limited life experience.
But to be honest, I had to listen to her recounting those French romances all the time, I would go crazy.


message 12: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Enter Miss Groves.
Can Arabella be more creepy in the questioning of her friend's companion?

There may a discussion in who made Arabella be such a twit. Clearly A is a lady of some refinement and intelligence. When does she become responsible for refusing any suggestion that her world view is ill-informed?

I am not sure this is other than an open question as the novel seems to depend on her hewing to the fantasy. Miss Groves so far seems like a fine argument in favor of Arabella being right.


message 13: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments I haven’t read book 2 yet, I’m behind!! But I wanted to say how funny I find this book so far. Just now it is starting to bother me a little that there are no quotation marks; it must be because there is more dialogue.

I did read Don Quixote and I do see the similarities. Unfortunately, I read it years ago so I probably won’t remember anything else except for Quixote had the best sidekick, Sancho, of course. He had a partner in his delusions. Although I think Sancho was humoring him or trying to save him while Arabella’s “woman” is drinking her kool-aid!!


message 14: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
Lucy seems to be confused by Arabella's orders and instructions at times, but does her best to obey her. Lucy seems to be more "normal" than Arabella, which isn't hard.


message 15: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Lennox would have been writing as the Age of Reason, the Baroque and the Baroque rococo and the Romanic were almost in juxtaposition. The Romantic was about 20 years out and the Baroque had pretty much given way to the Rococo and the Age or Reason was well under way.

I would like to hear if anyone thinks any of these movements are visible in TFQ?

Also I wonder how much this is Lennox making the point that women should hold on to their virginity/single status until they have truly tested the would be claimants?

The the various plots thicken with the arrival Glanville’s Sister.. Hmm

Glan-ville, what do we make of the loyal opposition being more glandular that our heroine? Sorry random thought. But while I am on it: Arabella: From the latin<?> 'orabilis' meaning yielding to prayer, and taken to mean Obliging. So far I see no case for her as “Obliging”. However this is a lot about who yields to what. Intentional?

As a burlesque all at the expense of Arabella it is wearing thin. What if she is right in concept if silly in the extremes in her application?

And if you think I am over thinking:
https://blogs.baylor.edu/britlit/cate...
Typical topic under discussion:
The Values of Will and Discernment in The Female Quixote
Or:
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/413667/s...
Beware it opens with something of a spoiler
No I have not, yet DL’ed the entire .pdf

I am up to Book 4 Chapt 3. Maybe ready or still behind, for Sunday. It is becoming hard to read this for lengths of time


message 16: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
I do agree with your last statement, Phodrick. It really is hard to read this for any length of time due to Arabella's attitude and statements.

Arabella may have a skewed view of the world, but she does have some positive qualities that perhaps the typical young lady of their day was lacking.

Which would you consider the good aspects of our Heroine's character?


message 17: by Candace (last edited Apr 09, 2018 10:21AM) (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments What would I consider good aspects of Our Heroine’s character?

I know my dad (one of those usual dads who bwlieves nobody is good enough for his daughter) would have loved, loved to hear me say,

“What a horrid Violation this, of all the laws of Gallantry and Respect, which decree a Lover to suffer whole Years in silence before he declares his Flame to the divine object that causes it...”

But of course Arabella’s era is a different one and her dad wants to provide for her in case anything should happen to him (In Persuasion we learned in some cases a father may not leave anything to a female relative) and of course there is the dreaded shelf...No need to get close to the dreaded shelf when you are as beautiful and uh, such a good reader as Arabella.


message 18: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments Contd. another good aspect of Arabella’s character-

She is also mostly obedient to her father. I admit the letter she writes to her Cousin is not in the spirit in which her Father wanted it. Arabella tries to find loopholes. I find these amusing because a. I was a parent and b. They show her creative thinking in this area as well as finding a lover that is worthy of her.

Im surprised she is drawn to the Romances instead of something with a little more meat on it. I believe the book said , she enjoyed the romances as all young women do. However I can only read one every year or so. She seems intelligent and a young lady who would enjoy a variety (giving her perspective) or more meaty books ( showing her reality). I believe romances can have intelligent subject-matters and be well written (Quinn and James and many more), but I don't personally know anyone who can exist on a diet of these alone. (Im sure there are many people who do live on romance novels alone, but I dont know any and therefore do not know how it truly affects them.). I sound like it is a sickness!! That is not how I feel!


message 19: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
I think one of Arabella's problems is that the romances were the only books that she access to. In the mid-18th century there were not as many books available as there were in the 19th century.


message 20: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I think one of Arabella's problems is that the romances were the only books that she access to. In the mid-18th century there were not as many books available as there were in the 19th century."

I’m confused. Didn’t it say in the text that she had her father’s extensive library ay her disposal? The romances were her mother’s and were placed in the library after her death,

It makes sense to me that a sheltered young lady, who knew she needed to marry, would be attracted to the romances. However, I agree with Candance - I can’t understand how it could be a steady diet. She seems to have read nothing else (although we are not told that).

I’m still behind. At first I found her constant sharing of the romance stories both comical and a bit sad. Now I’m just finding them annoying. But perhaps that’s the point since those around her surely must be frustrated.


message 21: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
I had forgotten that her father had a collection of books too. I guess that shows us more about her character.


message 22: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I had forgotten that her father had a collection of books too. I guess that shows us more about her character."

I guess sometimes it’s good to be way way behind 😀


message 23: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlottecph) | 160 comments I think we are not supposed to understand the characters, but just look at them with amusement. It is one big parody and I keep on chuckling while I read about Ararbella’s “visions”. This story reminds me of a Disney-movie with funny cartoons.


message 24: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Charlotte wrote: "I think we are not supposed to understand the characters, but just look at them with amusement. It is one big parody and I keep on chuckling while I read about Ararbella’s “visions”. This story rem..."

In the beginning I was completely amused. Now Arabella just annoys me. I’m still reading though


message 25: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments Same with me. Started out thinking funny, now I’m just , “what is wrong with you?”
I’m in book 2.


message 26: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
I see your opinion is the same as mine. Arabella is a bit too much. Some of the other characters are much more normal, thank goodness.


message 27: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Candace wrote: "Same with me. Started out thinking funny, now I’m just , “what is wrong with you?”
I’m in book 2."


I’m in book 2 as well Candance


message 28: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlottecph) | 160 comments Deborah, I hope you will hang on. I am definitely continuing (still delayed, though). Heard that the last half of the book is much better than the first half.


message 29: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Charlotte wrote: "Deborah, I hope you will hang on. I am definitely continuing (still delayed, though). Heard that the last half of the book is much better than the first half."

Charlotte I’m still slogging along 😀


message 30: by Charlotte (last edited Apr 21, 2018 08:43AM) (new)

Charlotte (charlottecph) | 160 comments I am reminded that a lot of things people say and do have nothing to do with me, and that I sometimes imagine too much about these people. This book turns this situation upside down in a liberating way and makes me laugh out loud!

I had a friend when I was a child who was a bit like Arabella, so I enjoy the parody of such people immersed in their literary world.

Arabella is mad and ridiculous and I love her! When she runs away from her castle out in the dark wilderness and then again hides from Lucy I surrender. I am a fan. And Glanville is still patiently her follower!


message 31: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
Charlotte, I am so glad you feel that way about Arabella. She is fortunate in having Lucy as a maid because Lucy doesn't know how how Arabella is.


message 32: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 150 comments Rosemarie wrote: "Charlotte, I am so glad you feel that way about Arabella. She is fortunate in having Lucy as a maid because Lucy doesn't know how how Arabella is."

But you can't have a Don Quixote without a Sancho Panza, right?


message 33: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2890 comments Mod
That is so true, Christopher.


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