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Group Reads > The Reluctant Widow Group Read May 2018 Chapters 11-20

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

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
So, how are you liking this one so far? :)


message 2: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 37 comments I really disliked this when I was a young girl. I re-read it about 6 months ago, hoping it was better. I did like it a lot more. However, I know I am in the minority for not liking Elinor much. She should have been on her knees in gratitude for her change in circumstances, but all she did was complain and find fault. I found her coy and phony. I know I wouldn't have liked her if she had been Uriah Heepish, but she never never shows any acknowledgement of how lucky she is. Always acts "put upon." I guess she's trying to be humorous and arch. I just kept wishing that Carlyon would take her up on her threats to leave for her governess post and put her on the next stage. I would have loved to read that scene!


message 3: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Although I do like Elinor & her sparring with Carlyon, I can see your POV, Rebekah. My computer is back in the shop so I'll comment more when I get it back.
I just popped in to say I have finished & the typos in this edition(Arrow)
made it such a frustrating read - nearly as bad as TOS.


message 4: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 37 comments I did like her in the scene when the dog wouldn't let her get out of her chair😂


message 5: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
I loved Bouncer! One of GH's best done dogs! :D

I like the scene where (view spoiler)


message 6: by Jackie (last edited May 01, 2018 05:27PM) (new)

Jackie | 1385 comments the older I get, the more Elinor strikes me as very brave. going out to earn her living and being a good sport about it! She jokes, but she knew working for Mrs. Whatsername would be horrible.
Macclesfield, was it?


message 7: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 37 comments Yes, a good sport about being a governess. Too bad she's not a better sport about NOT being a governess.


message 8: by Nick (new)

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 443 comments Rebekah wrote: "Yes, a good sport about being a governess. Too bad she's not a better sport about NOT being a governess."

Haha! Yes, this is very true!

I think Heyer set herself a very difficult task with this situation and so she pulled it off quite well considering. The problem is that any modestly raised female would never do what Elinor did (view spoiler) so GH has to show somehow that she's not... ahem.... a fair cyprian. The best way to do this is to allow her to be bullied into it by Ned. But.... that raise the problem of Elinor being an essentially very passive character who is used by the hero - not very romantic. So GH fixes that by making her feisty and argumental.
I wonder if Elinor would have been more likeable if she'd been a bit more pragmatic about her situation and pleased at her good fortune, however immodestly gained! Or if she'd been more submissive and obedient and just let Ned tell her what to do without dispute.


message 9: by Susan in NC (last edited May 03, 2018 07:09AM) (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Very true, it’s a tough situation...when I considered facing La Macclesfield and her dreadful boy, I thought, oh, Elinor, give that brave stiff upper lip a rest and live it up for once! You’ve been working as a domestic drudge all this time, bravely carrying on- but then the shock of marrying a wastrel on his death bed sunk in , and I thought, “wow- truly damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t!”

Another reason I read those first scenes rather quickly- I’m tickled by the word play and cleverness, but in my mind I know a Regency lady would’ve been hard-pressed to accept a ride back to the inn, let alone a widow’s portion from a stranger! Great fun, but stretches plausibility, I agree, poor Elinor! I like her and feel for her. I also like Nicky and John, and of course Carlyon - he’s got a bit on his shoulders, bless him...


message 10: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 37 comments Nick wrote: "Rebekah wrote: "Yes, a good sport about being a governess. Too bad she's not a better sport about NOT being a governess."

Haha! Yes, this is very true!

I think Heyer set herself a very difficult ..."

Very good points, Nick. I know I am overly hard on Elinor. I wish we would have been treated to a little inner dialogue with Elinor acknowledging her lucky escape from being a drudge, yet struggling with her awkward position.


message 11: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1385 comments brilliant, Nick, she's feisty in a way that makes me feel she is brave but also because she has to be passive for the plot to work, so this balances it out a bit.


message 12: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
What this plot does is let Nicky shine. He gets more book time than Carlyon I think.

I feel a little exasperated when Elinor (view spoiler)


Susan in Perthshire (susanageofaquarius) | 1201 comments I really cannot agree with the harsh judgements about Elinor. She is in an invidious position in every respect and her way of dealing with her situation is strong and energetic, humorous and uncertain and altogether fascinating. As a woman whose father has lost all their money and committed suicide - she loses her fiancé and is forced to fend for herself and so become a governess: one of the least enviable positions of the time. We saw how well GH set the scene at the start of the book and showed us Elinor’s trepidation at starting the post with Mrs Macclesfield. To accuse Elinor of being ungrateful for the opportunity offered by Carlyon in marrying his dissolute cousin (and thereby gain some independence and security) misses the morality which would inform her thinking and decision making. To marry in such a way is not something that would come easily to a woman like her. To resist (what she indeed acknowledged to herself was a temptation,) took real strength. Her ironic and witty exchanges with Carlyon are just one of the things that delights me in this book. There are several laugh out loud moments as they spark off each other almost from the very beginning. I really like Elinor.


message 14: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Susan in Perthshire wrote: "I really cannot agree with the harsh judgements about Elinor. She is in an invidious position in every respect and her way of dealing with her situation is strong and energetic, humorous and uncert..."

So do I Susan & I know I am looking at her scruples with 21st century eyes. I love the sparring between Elinor & Carlyon. (view spoiler)


message 15: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 459 comments Susan in Perthshire wrote: "I really cannot agree with the harsh judgements about Elinor. She is in an invidious position in every respect and her way of dealing with her situation is strong and energetic, humorous and uncert..."

I agree completely!

@Carol It's pride, but I agree she has earned anything that's left in hard labour!


message 16: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
I also feel very sympathetic to Elinor's situation. The story starts out with a very Gothic feel, and then the theme changes with the hilarious miscommunication during the her initial meeting with Carlyon.

She does register feelings of being happy to allow Carlyon to take care of everything, but that cannot be easy for her, when she has had no one but herself to rely on for so many years. I think her Father might not have been up to the task of taking care of a family, and so instilled in her a inability to depend on others.

On the other hand, she has endured much, and while she has toughened and relied on herself, her pride has also caused her to avoid depending on anyone else. She is still mourning everything about her Father's death.


message 17: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments "Dr. Ratcliffe's Restorative Pork Jelly" - I must lay by a store of it...


message 18: by Nick (new)

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 443 comments Can't believe it's not calves foot jelly, which is far sperior, ;)


message 19: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments But one must have variety in one's illnesses!


message 20: by Amy (new)

Amy (aggieamy) | 422 comments Sometimes when reading more modern Regency stories I have to have a serious little talk with myself when starting out. I tell myself that there's going to be some historical inaccuracies and some improbabilities and I'm just going to have to ignore them and go along for the ride.

That's how I feel with RW. The inaccuracies and improbabilities aren't so extreme that I can't read the book so I just force myself to ignore them for the sake of good characters and witty dialogue.

Carlyon is overbearing but extremely thoughtful. I think he shows his true personality when Becky arrives and he gets her soup because she must be cold and she says that there was no way she could have been cold on the trip because he saw that she was all wrapped up. He reminds me of another GH hero but I can't remember who!

I think he'll be a considerate if bossy husband. The type of man who is always trying to look after you even if you don't need it.


message 21: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 37 comments Amy wrote:Carlyon is overbearing but extremely thoughtful. I think he shows his true personality when Becky arrives and he gets her soup because she must be cold and she says that there was no way she could have been cold on the trip because he saw that she was all wrapped up. He reminds me of another GH hero but I can't remember who!

How about Robert Beaumaris? He is thoughtful and considerate of Arabella's companion/servant. Arabella is not impressed, but her companion recognizes a true gentleman beneath the haughty cool exterior.



message 22: by Amy (new)

Amy (aggieamy) | 422 comments I wish John had gotten a story of his own. I like him. He's a bit pompous and serious but you can see that he has a kind heart. He just takes himself a bit too seriously.


message 23: by Rosina (new)

Rosina (rosinarowantree) Amy wrote: "I wish John had gotten a story of his own. I like him. He's a bit pompous and serious but you can see that he has a kind heart. He just takes himself a bit too seriously."

One of my favourite scenes is when John goes out to make sure Nicky doesn't hurt himself with the kite ...


message 24: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments Amy wrote: "I wish John had gotten a story of his own. I like him. "

I like him as well. He does get a story, though--all the Napoleonic spy stuff and goings on in the British government are really John's part of the story. It's clear that Carlyon respects his brother and one of the reasons for the convoluted machinations is to protect John's reputation.

I love the little glimpses we get of John and Ned's rapscallion days with the bird shot wounds and all. The scene where sober John can't resist going kite-flying with Nicky is one of my favorites.


message 25: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments ❇Critterbee wrote: "I think her Father might not have been up to the task of taking care of a family, and so instilled in her a inability to depend on others...."

That makes so much sense. Also the social embarrassment of his debts and suicide, not to mention being jilted by her fiance, has to have made Elinor acutely sensitive to any appearance of impropriety. She has a tough outer shell but inside she must be mortified at the possibility of that mid-night marriage ceremony being generally know. Accepting money from the estate of her appalling 'husband', or from Carlyon, might even have felt somehow like prostitution. The whole situation was potentially very compromising.


message 26: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
Hana wrote: "The scene where sober John can't resist going kite-flying with Nicky is one of my favorites..."

I love this scene and I really liked John.


message 27: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1430 comments It would be fun to write a John story! The stiff, pompous fellow being slowly undone by love . . .


message 28: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments Abigail wrote: "It would be fun to write a John story! The stiff, pompous fellow being slowly undone by love . . ."

Oh! oh! That would be so much fun :)


message 29: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "It would be fun to write a John story! The stiff, pompous fellow being slowly undone by love . . ."

Please write it, Abigail!


message 30: by Elza (new)

Elza (emr1) | 296 comments Karlyne wrote: ""Dr. Ratcliffe's Restorative Pork Jelly" - I must lay by a store of it..."

Is this the stuff that Frederica uses on Felix? It sounds familiar.


message 31: by Amy (new)

Amy (aggieamy) | 422 comments I too love the kite scene. You can just see it happening just like that.

The flip side of the kite scene is what we don't see. That's Carlyon and Elinor spending time working together going through all the papers and whatnot. Probably laughing and joking and spending time without any major stresses.

What I'm noticing on this read through is that she is under an incredible amount of stress this entire time. Housebreakers. Dangerous strangers. Letters from her relatives wondering about her strange marriage. Yeah. She's wound tight and is sarcastic ... with good reason!


message 32: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Amy wrote: "I too love the kite scene. You can just see it happening just like that.

The flip side of the kite scene is what we don't see. That's Carlyon and Elinor spending time working together going throu..."


That sums it up very well - it’s quite a situation, and she’s thrown in the deep end - I think a bit of snark is excusable!


message 33: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
It is a lot for Elinor to absorb, and it happens so quickly!

Yes, that is the same Jelly in Frederica! In the US, we call Jelly Jello, but never mention that it is made from pig or cow skin, cartilage, and bones - that might be too gross to think about.

While they did eat some things that I would not like to try, I like the honest way that they referred to food (calves foot jelly, blood pudding, steak and kidney pie), instead of choosing cutesy names. You know what you're eating!


message 34: by Sheila (in LA) (new)

Sheila (in LA) (sheila_in_la) | 373 comments I have passed the halfway point and give this one two thumbs up. I think it's one I would have enjoyed when I was much younger, too. I like that the older female companion is sympathetic (not always the case in Heyer). I'll be interested to see how things unfold.

And I'm wondering if there's more to Carlyon not wanting to inherit Highnoons than simple dislike for his cousin?


message 35: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments We never find out about the inheritance issue, do we?


message 36: by Nick (new)

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 443 comments Sheila wrote: "And I'm wondering if there's more to Carlyon not wanting to inherit Highnoons than simple dislike for his cousin?"

I think there must be. It makes sense for Elinor to sell the estate and live on the the money, but since Carlyon owns the adjoining estate it seems odd to me that they would still plan to sell it after they marry. Surely enlarging the estate is a good thing? Besides not knowing who might buy it and become their neighbours!

If people are determined to think that Carlyon has been conniving to take his cousins inheritance, I don't think anyone will stop believing that's what he's done by marrying Elinor. Only now he's done it in an even more devious manner!


message 37: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Very true.


message 38: by Doris (new)

Doris (webgeekstress) | 46 comments Nick wrote: "...If people are determined to think that Carlyon has been conniving to take his cousins inheritance, I don't think anyone will stop believing that's what he's done by marrying Elinor. Only now he's done it in an even more devious manner!"

'Cept wasn't Bedlington the most vocal on that score? I should think he's going to be pretty quiet from here on out!


message 39: by Nick (new)

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 443 comments Doris wrote: "'Cept wasn't Bedlington the most vocal on that score? I should think he's going to be pretty quiet from here on out!"

Oh my, yes, you're absolutely right!


message 40: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ , Madam Mod (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Nick wrote: "
I think there must be. It makes sense for Elinor to sell the estate..."


The original premise (Carlyon not wanting to inherit Eustace's property) is the book's weakness. GH does handle it persuasively by making the property so neglected & giving Elinor a lot of scruples, but I'm still not convinced.

I mean, those poor tenants deserved a decent landlord!


message 41: by Critterbee❇ (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
Carol ꧁꧂ wrote: "I mean, those poor tenants deserved a decent landlord! "

That is a good point, and one that I believe would sway Elinor and Carlyon.


Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review) (knyttwytch) I will confess that I always thought it would have made sense to keep it but sign the rights over to John.


message 43: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments Yes! That's a good point about the poor tenants. But if the estate had really gone downhill many of the best might tenants have moved on and it would have taken a vast amount of money to get things back in shape. I could well imagine Carlyon not wanting to jeopardize his own estate's financial position by trying to repair Highnoons.


message 44: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1430 comments In this neck of the woods, probably all the tenants are engaged in the smuggling trade (much more lucrative than farming) and could care less about the land or their landlord—though they’d probably want repairs done to their cottages on a regular basis. I can feel the John-centered story coming into focus!


message 45: by Amy (new)

Amy (aggieamy) | 422 comments Hilary S wrote: "I will confess that I always thought it would have made sense to keep it but sign the rights over to John."

Yes. I'm not committed in my mind to having it work out this way. And then John finds a lovely young woman with a bit of spunk to help him loosed up. Adventures then happen.


message 46: by Hana (new)

Hana | 652 comments Abigail wrote: "In this neck of the woods, probably all the tenants are engaged in the smuggling trade (much more lucrative than farming) and could care less about the land or their landlord—though they’d probably..." Of course! I'm forgetting my British geography, not to mention the plot in another of my favorite GH's, The Unknown Ajax!


message 47: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1430 comments Well, I just finished writing a novel about smugglers in southern England, so it was on my mind. . . .


message 48: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1385 comments Hilary S wrote: "I will confess that I always thought it would have made sense to keep it but sign the rights over to John."

that is an excellent idea!

there really is no good reason Carlyon should go to such lengths to avoid inheriting Highnoons but I'm glad he did.

meanwhile, what do you think of the name Highnoons? I have always thought a name for a house instead of a street number was charming but I don't understand this one. now, Five Mile Ash seems perfectly descriptive.

did Carlyon's house have a name? I remember Nicky saying "up at The Hall"


message 49: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1409 comments I love the sparring between Elinor and Carylon. It's not serious-it's sarcastic. Elinor's sniping should be read tongue in cheek. A shared sense of humor is what GH did best with her older heroines and alpha heroes. I love Venetia and Damarel, Frederica and Alverstoke, Abby and Miles because they are able to match wits with each other. Elinor is apprehensive for her future, scared of the situation with the "housebreaker" and now Francis enters the picture. I prefer Elinor's sarcasm to Becky's effusive obsequiousness.

Nasty Francis. I didn't like him when he appeared on the scene and then he announced he doesn't like dogs! He prefers cats?! What's wrong with him?

Nicky for sure has ADD! Nicky is supposed to be looking for an incriminating document... "Oh look! A kite! Oh look our cousin's childhood kite! I always wished I could fly it. Come on let's go fly it. Whee this is fun. What meadow? What document? Oh yeah..." BOYS! :rolls eyes:

That's all my reading for the night. I'll pick up again maybe tomorrow night after work or bedtime.


message 50: by Kim (new)

Kim Kaso | 511 comments I woke up at 4 a.m. for the third night in a row and could not fall back to sleep, none of my other books appealed, so I started this one. I am now nearly 3/4 of the way through. So much fun, I know I read it years ago, but it feels fresh to me, and yet comfortably familiar.


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