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Group Reads > China Court Ch 5-8 (None, Vespers, Compline, Matins)

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message 1: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Each chapter in Rumer Godden's novel starts with an entry from a Book of Hours, along with a description of the decorative illuminations. To get a picture of what these prayer books looked like see this: https://www.sal.org.uk/library/unlock...


message 2: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Ch 5 (view spoiler)


message 3: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Vespers, Ch 6 This explains a bit: "Then, is being young wanting what you haven't?" ask old Mrs Quin. "And being old, accepting what you haven't? Oh, just for once," she cries, "I should like to make it come true for somebody young, while they are young."


message 4: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 726 comments I agree with you about chapter 5, Hana. Crazy and also unnecessary. That was the first tarnishing moment for me in what was up till then a perfect read. It feels like something out of pulp fiction.


Barb in Maryland | 502 comments Abigail wrote: "I agree with you about chapter 5, Hana. Crazy and also unnecessary. That was the first tarnishing moment for me in what was up till then a perfect read. It feels like something out of pulp fiction."

Oh, this is a fairly common trope in Romancelandia; for books set well before the mid-20th Century, that is. Kind of odd to see it show up in a non-Romance genre book with a 'modern' setting.


message 6: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Barb, it reminded me of two of Georgette Heyer 's The Reluctant Widow, and [book:Cotillion|311165, though Heyer just plays it for laughs. I just sort of went with it here as a plot device. I have a theory about why it Mrs Quin thought it was 'necessary' but I'll save that for the spoiler thread.


message 7: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Also, I think this book is a romance (or romances). I just finished it --honestly I couldn't put it down and I read far too fast. So I'll have to go back and find the key proofs that this is a romance novel. They are scattered here, there and everywhere.


Barb in Maryland | 502 comments Hana wrote: "Also, I think this book is a romance (or romances). I just finished it --honestly I couldn't put it down and I read far too fast. So I'll have to go back and find the key proofs that this is a roma..."

Hana--the standard definition for a Romance (with a cap R) is that the love story is the driving focus of the book(with a Happy Ever After ending to boot). For me, that is not true for China Court, which has a diffuse, saga-like story about all the different relationships. I would call this a 'novel with strong romantic elements'. (view spoiler)


message 9: by Hana (last edited Jul 12, 2018 09:19AM) (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
I get what you are saying, Barb. Let's save this part of the discussion for the spoiler thread. I want to go back and digest some of the chapters and characters before I get too deep into talking about the book as a whole. I just had to react to (view spoiler) as I was reading it.


message 10: by Barb in Maryland (new)

Barb in Maryland | 502 comments Hana wrote: "I get what you are saying, Barb. Let's save this part of the discussion for the spoiler thread. I want to go back and digest some of the chapters and characters before I get too deep into talking a..."

No problem! See you later over on the spoiler thread...


message 11: by Elinor (new)

Elinor | 209 comments My chapters aren't numbered, but if you are talking about the conditions of the will in None, I thought it was quite clever and charming, and just the sort of thing a strong-willed old lady would do! I had to put down the book last night as my eyes were closing, but I'm eager to find out what happens next.


message 12: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
I agree, Elinor. I think Mrs Quin really did have a deep sense of what needed to happen and wrote it into her will. She was strong-willed and also far-sighted. Enjoy the next chapters!


message 13: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments While I was waiting for St. Omer to arrive, so the will could be read, I looked up Engleheart (miniaturist, interesting subjects) and Winterhalter (sumptuous portraits of very upper class, and I say, "wow!"). I didn't read any spoilers above, but it seems obvious, and I hope I'm right, that Bella and family will have seriously bent noses about it. This portrayal of the thoroughly distasteful children of an intelligent parent seems to say something very personal, by the way.


message 14: by Karlyne (last edited Jul 24, 2018 06:42AM) (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments I just looked up "square piano", too, and found one on Ebay for $5,000. Alas, I don't have the room.


message 15: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
I missed the Engleheart and Winterhalter references. Are they in None?


message 16: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Ah! I found it, Karlyne!


message 17: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments As far as the will, or the after-letter, I think it's telling that Tracy is thinking to herself as she hears a man's footsteps, how much China Court has needed a man: "...it wouldn't have grown so shabby. The paint would not have been allowed to crack and yellow, the catches to rust, the grate not to be mended." I think Mrs. Quin, as a widow especially, knew it, too.


message 18: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Hana wrote: "Ah! I found it, Karlyne!"

Wasn't Winterhalter sumptious?!?


message 19: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Winterhalter is glorious, indeed, Karlyne. I totally agree about the telling detail of Tracy thinking how much China Court needed a man--and Mrs Quin's foresight.


message 20: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments There's, to my mind, anyway, a very profound dual, parallel story-line in Eliza's and Tracy's lives. It runs along the lines of, "What do you do with the life you have been given?"


message 21: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Hana wrote: "Vespers, Ch 6 This explains a bit: "Then, is being young wanting what you haven't?" ask old Mrs Quin. "And being old, accepting what you haven't? Oh, just for once," she cries, "I should like to ma..."

This passage is so poignant.


message 22: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Vespers: Eliza! I laughed out loud - I was so shocked!


message 23: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
So did I! I'm in finance and I had to admire how cleverly she did it.

Vespers (view spoiler)


message 24: by Hana (last edited Jul 24, 2018 02:13PM) (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
And speaking of Vespers (view spoiler) Dick, presumably one of the Three Graces' husbands, is growing on me, so is the youngest of the Graces. Maybe the family is not irredeemable.


message 25: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments We've all known Walters, both male and female, the kind of person who can clear out a room in nothing flat, but this Walter isn't just an innocent propounder of information. He's horribly arrogant, a man who will ride over anyone who lets him. When Tracy "lets" him be the head of her family, my eyebrows went up, but, on further thought, it was rather brilliant. She desperately wants a family and, although she's not going to let them talk her out of what she wants, she wants to keep them, too. Mr, Dick and the youngest Grace have my vote for most human, also, Hana!


message 26: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Mr. Dick is the third husband of the second Grace. I LOVE that description!


message 27: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 726 comments It's quite extraordinary how their personalities emerge even when their real names do not.


message 28: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Abigail wrote: "It's quite extraordinary how their personalities emerge even when their real names do not."

It is extraordinary! Has anyone seen the old Ginger Rogers Tom, Dick and Harry? I remember it as really funny.


message 29: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
I love it that Mary Stewart runs the 'Three Graces' together and yet makes them emerge from the background, Abigail!

The bit about the Tom, Dick and Harry husbands is just too funny--especially since it seems to have been carried down to the next generation. I'll have to track down that movie, Karlyne.


message 30: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Haha, Hana! It's Rumer, not Mary, on this one...


message 31: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Oh, Lord. I'm really loosing it....


message 32: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Time to check my brain out for a little sleep. Am I in a Crystal Cave or a house in Cornwall?


message 33: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments We're in heat wave/wildfire mode, so I'll take either one! Refresh your brains and sleep well.


message 34: by Hana (new)

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
You are giving me credit for one and a half brain too many, Karlyne ;) But I'll take your advice.


message 35: by Barb in Maryland (new)

Barb in Maryland | 502 comments Karlyne wrote: "We're in heat wave/wildfire mode, so I'll take either one! Refresh your brains and sleep well."

Hey Karlyne
We are drowning here in the greater Washington DC, Baltimore metroplex. Whoever invents a clever way to shuffle excess rainfall to fire/drought-ravaged areas wins all the prizes! I am hoping you and your family are safe.
I do want to remark, on topic, that I really enjoyed the whole 'Tom, Dick, Harry' conceit as well as that of the three Graces (which nomenclature was ironic to the max, imo).


message 36: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments We had a forest fire start yesterday about 40 miles north of us; we're in no danger but the smoke is brutal. However, we've had a great summer until now - although we'll gladly take all the rain you want to send, Barb!

Speaking of Graces, D.E. Stevenson wrote The Four Graces, about sisters, too. Hers were a bit more graceful than these three, though!


message 37: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Mrs. Quin was a wonderful woman and grandmother, but she dropped the ball on parenting her daughters...


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