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The Quiet Gentleman
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Group Reads > The Quiet Gentleman September 2018 Chapters 12-22

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Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2724 comments Mod
At the half-way mark, how are you liking the story?


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I had to go refresh my memory on the Coleridge/Southey household, which Drusilla's mother says "was rather too full of Coleridges", and, of course, Heyer's account is based on the facts, but I love the way she inserts the Morvilles so cleverly into their story. Such genius!


Jackie | 1385 comments I assumed it was based on facts, but don't know any more about it. where did you go to refresh your memory, Karlyne?


Hana | 652 comments Apparently Samuel Coleridge really was going through two quarts of tincture of laudanum a day towards the end of his life (it was prepared in brandy, which didn't help either)!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I just googled them! I started with Coleridge and followed the links to his children and Southey. Quite a group.


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments And the side effects, Hana! I can't even imagine.


message 7: by Hana (last edited Sep 04, 2018 07:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments Miss Morville's upbringing really must have been rather unconventional since her conversation with Gervase in Ch. 10 reveals that she knew at least some of the details of poor Mary Wollstonecraft's life and relationships with Gilbert Imlay and William Godwin.

I loved her comment about Imlay that "Mama has always maintained that most of the trouble arose from Miss Wollstonecraft's determination to make him an elm-tree round which she might throw her tendrils. Very few gentlemen could, I believe support for long so arduous a role."


message 8: by Karlyne (last edited Sep 04, 2018 07:57AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments That's one of my favorite lines, too. And the conversation about creating a perfect society on the banks of the Susquehanna! Part of the quote, I think it was from a letter of Southey's, I read on Wiki cracked me up; he was smart enough to know that the women involved would have to be mild-tempered. And very, very strong, as Mrs. Morville was instantly aware! It's interesting that this was the forerunner of Louisa May Alcott's family, and Mrs. Morville's intuition was proved right.


Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 443 comments When Mama was discussing Mary Wollstonecraft's love life and said that she would've much prefered Imlay to Godwin, I had the very strong feeling that we were hearing Georgette Heyer's opinion directly!

Imlay was certainly a romantic character - a dashing adventurer (possibly a pirate or smuggler!). But I think he behaved very shabbily to Wollstonecraft when he ghosted her - he didn't even have the decency to break up properly, just sailed out of her life and stopped replying to letters until she got the hint.


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Nick, I'm guessing he would have changed his phone number rather than even breaking up via text..
😀


message 11: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments Very shabby indeed, Nick! After I read the Wiki post on Wollstonecraft I failed to find a real biography of her, though there's one on her daughter (Daughter Of Earth And Water: A Biography Of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley). Do you know of one, Nick?


message 12: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments I also thought of Louisa May Alcott's parents when I read the Susquehanna line. I've been to Fruitlands in Harvard, Massachusetts and it's charming in summer but it is brutally cold in winter and very hilly. Really a terrible place to farm without animal labor and eating a strictly vegan diet. Amos Alcott must have been a total nutcase!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1430 comments Godwin wrote a memoir of Mary Wollstonecraft, and here's a modern biography (I haven't read it so I can't say whether it's a good one: Lyndall Gordon, Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. Claire Tomalin also wrote a bio, I see, and she is usually a very capable biographer.

It can be very hard to Google one's way through all the Mary Wollstonecrafts and Mary Shelleys! It helps to add a keyword, such as "Mary Wollstonecraft Vindication," when you want to zero in on the right person. I speak as a battle-scarred veteran here, having tried to find out more about the Mary Shelley who was the poet's sister, not Wollstonecraft's daughter.


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Hana | 652 comments Thank you, Abigail. I had them all confused in my mind at first!


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Hana wrote: "Miss Morville's upbringing really must have been rather unconventional since her conversation with Gervase in Ch. 10 reveals that she knew at least some of the details of poor Mary Wollstonecraft's..."

I loved GH's writing on this reading! I really underestimated this book last time I read it.


message 16: by Hana (last edited Sep 04, 2018 02:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments I often do that Carol and I find myself describing her books as "Regency Romances" when really they should be described as extraordinarily well-researched historical fiction. She never created a minor character or mention of an event when one could be drawn from the history of the period. I'm a bit compulsive about checking historical details and I have yet to find an example (though I'm sure they must exist) of a case where GH made something up or even got the details wrong. (All right...maybe the epergne never existed but still....)


message 17: by Hana (last edited Sep 04, 2018 02:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments We who can google our way to vast libraries can have no conception of the work that must have gone into her novels!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments And how well-read she was and what a memory she had!


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4484 comments Mod
Hana wrote: "We who can google our way to vast libraries can have no conception of the work that must have gone into her novels!"

From memory, she had a pretty impressive research library of her own that was broken up & sold after she died.


message 20: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments What a shame, Carol!


message 21: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments On Chapters 13 and 14 (view spoiler) Warboys is one of my favorite incidental characters. GH was a genius at creating these 'walk-on parts'--she really should have written for stage or film!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Hana wrote: "On Chapters 13 and 14 [spoilers removed] Warboys is one of my favorite incidental characters. GH was a genius at creating these 'walk-on parts'--she really should have written for stage or film!"

I like the way he always wants to consult with others to find out what the best conduct is, too! He's not an arrogant, obnoxious young man...


message 23: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments Speaking of walk-on parts one of the things that impresses me on this re-read is how GH gives each minor character a distinctive voice, like Chard dropping Spanish phrases he picked up in the Peninsular War or Martin's new valet's Cockney rhyming slang.


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Sigh. If only someone would film her novels correctly...


Rosina (rosinarowantree) Hana wrote: "Speaking of walk-on parts one of the things that impresses me on this re-read is how GH gives each minor character a distinctive voice, like Chard dropping Spanish phrases he picked up in the Penin..."

Speaking of walk-on parts, I agree that Heyer is usually spot on with a cast of dozens, all just individual enough to be recognisable, even if they only come to dinner, or bump curricles in Bath. In a couple of her books, this seems to slip - I remember a sense that most of the peripheral characters in False Colours were two-dimensional. Not the mother of Evelyn's ex, but the servants, dinner guests etc. (One problem with The Toll Gate is that she created such a brilliant set of people for the family party at the beginning!)


message 26: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments That's a good point on Warboys, Karlyne. I get the impression that both he and Martin think Martin is top dog, but given a choice between the two I'd far prefer to marry Warboys!


message 27: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments Rosina, I totally agree with you. I suspect this is why I like GH's Regency books better than her Georgian ones, though I'm no GH expert having come late to the party.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Hana wrote: "On Chapters 13 and 14 [spoilers removed] Warboys is one of my favorite incidental characters. GH was a genius at creating these 'walk-on parts'--she really should have written for stage or film!"

That’s what I love about her books, even ones that aren’t favorites! Great characters, even if they aren’t the “stars”of the book!


message 29: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments I went on a multi internet search engine hunt for the British Code of Duels. Annoyingly Google and Bing kept directing me to stuff on US dueling even though I'd specified British....sigh....

Thanks to DuckDuckGo I found this book that has a publication date of 1824. I'm guessing that somewhere in that book is a reference to an earlier version that was GH's source.
https://library.simmons.edu/search/o3...


Jackie | 1385 comments there is so much to learn here! I am so glad for this group read.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Hana wrote: "I went on a multi internet search engine hunt for the British Code of Duels. Annoyingly Google and Bing kept directing me to stuff on US dueling even though I'd specified British....sigh....

Thank..."


Thank you, Hana, for all your research! I always learn new things reading with this group.


message 32: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments Thank you Susan and Jackie! But all the credit is due to GH whose impeccable research never ceases to inspire me.


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Hana wrote: "Thank you Susan and Jackie! But all the credit is due to GH whose impeccable research never ceases to inspire me."


Well, we're grateful she inspires you, since we reap the rewards!


message 34: by Nick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 443 comments Hana wrote: "Very shabby indeed, Nick! After I read the Wiki post on Wollstonecraft I failed to find a real biography of her, though there's one on her daughter."

Sorry, late reply. I second Abigail's suggestion of Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft. I especially like this one because the final few chapters are about her legacy: her daughters, the girls that she governessed, and how her influence on them affected their lives and the women's rights movement of the Victorian era.


message 35: by Hana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hana | 652 comments Thanks for that endorsement, Nick. I was debating between Vindication and The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft by Claire Tomalin. I would appreciate those last chapters as well.


Moloch | 208 comments Finished the book today.

I liked it (3 stars), but I'm afraid I liked it for the... "wrong" reasons! :-D

Because you know, forgive me but IMO this reads so much better as Martin's story rather than St Erth's. For most of the time, Gervase is just... there, while Martin undergoes the most development. A spoilt boy, angry at the world, anxious to get everything his way, he then goes through a humbling lesson by (view spoiler): to me there's little doubt that Martin's arc is the most elaborate and satisfactory.

This is my second book in a row by Heyer (the other being "The Foundling", a previous group read) where she seems to be kind of carried away by the plot to the point of forgetting the romance. Maybe this is not that unusual for her? If so, I'm not complaining, because I like plot better than romance.
Here too the love story is quite... superfluous? And REALLY shoe-horned in. So much so that it had to be introduced quite abruptly and out of the blue in the narration at almost the end of the book ("Drusilla's heart was not untouched" etc), and the Drusilla/Miss Morville "monologue" is quite clumsy.

In short, I found this a decent mystery (the solution was not very surprising, but ok), an interesting "growing up" tale (for Martin), a funny and lively period piece (as always), but I couldn't care for the romance, that could have easily been omitted altogether as far as I'm concerned: Gervase is a nice character, but he doesn't really seem to me the hero of his own story.

(Why, even (view spoiler) is more compelling than his! A man who lived all his life in the shadow (view spoiler), with a mix of gratitude and resentment, so embittered by his fate to seek revenge! That's a story to tell)


message 37: by Rosina (last edited Sep 23, 2018 07:37AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosina (rosinarowantree) Moloch wrote: "Finished the book today.

I liked it (3 stars), but I'm afraid I liked it for the... "wrong" reasons! :-D

Because you know, forgive me but IMO this reads so much better as Martin's story rather th..."


One of the joys of GH (and the reason why this group is so interesting) is how much one's appreciation of the books grows on re-reading. I agree that Martin is the character with the best story arc, and if you like him as a character (and I do, though it seems to be a minority opinion) you follow his story through the book so that Gervase is just a minor character, there to be reacted to by Martin.

But the book is The Quiet Gentleman for a reason. One day, when you re-read it, you may find that Gervase grows in your estimation, and the brilliant way GH handles him, and sows the seeds for the romance, will be even more impressive. Her characters become deeper and much more satisfying on re-reading, and the plot itself develops shades and subtleties that I at least didn't spot when I first read it so many years ago. But I still like Martin as a growing and learning character.


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Any book worth reading is worth reading again (my life motto, anway!). Some books I've reread just because the author is so good that although I didn't understand or enjoy the book much on a first read (Mansfield Park comes to my mind), I kept at it until I got a glimpse of what the author meant. I think A Quiet Gentleman, A Civil Contract and Penhallow fall into that category for most Heyer readers - worth the reread to see what she was getting at.


Jackie | 1385 comments very good post, Moloch, even if I don't agree with parts of it (I like the romance!) but it's more interesting to see other points of view than if everyone saw it the same.
and I see nothing "wrong" in liking it for whatever reason - if it's one of the secondary characters and what happens to him, why not?


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Karlyne wrote: "Any book worth reading is worth reading again (my life motto, anway!). Some books I've reread just because the author is so good that although I didn't understand or enjoy the book much on a first ..."

Very good points about rereads - especially about Mansfield Park! Read it once or twice, seen one pretty straightforward adaptation to film, another much more modern that left me scratching my head wondering how I missed that in the book- but there are definitely books worthy of rereading, and having come to this group as a reader who had read several Heyer’s once, and reread many with the group, I always see more through our discussions. I look forward to bringing the new points to my next read! Like Moloch’s points about Martin.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Jackie wrote: "very good post, Moloch, even if I don't agree with parts of it (I like the romance!) but it's more interesting to see other points of view than if everyone saw it the same.
and I see nothing "wrong..."


Yes! Very well and concisely stated (moreso than me and my run-on sentences), thank you!


message 42: by Susan in NC (last edited Sep 23, 2018 09:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Moloch wrote: "Finished the book today.

I liked it (3 stars), but I'm afraid I liked it for the... "wrong" reasons! :-D

Because you know, forgive me but IMO this reads so much better as Martin's story rather th..."


Ok, now I need to reread it again now that you’ve given me so much to think about!

Seriously, I sympathized more with Martin this read, my son is about his age and going through the growing pains of becoming an adult, but still some of the blind passion and idealism of youth - it’s exhausting! I feel for them, but know all things change as we age and grow - but they think they’ll be young and indestructible forever. They will learn so much in the next several years!


Rosina (rosinarowantree) Emma rewards a re-read, when you can see the misdirections and the unreliable narration, and beneath them the 'clues' to what is really going on. I still can't warm to Fanny Price.


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I should have kept track of how many times I've read Mansfield. But I know it was at least the third time, probably the fourth, before I started to appreciate Fanny - I positively enjoy her now!


Carolm | 62 comments Moloch wrote: "Finished the book today.

This is my second book in a row by Heyer (the other being "The Foundling", a previous group read) where she seems to be kind of carried away by the plot to the point of forgetting the romance. Maybe this is not that unusual for her? If so, I'm not complaining, because I like plot better than romance."


For me, Heyer does not really do romance as the focus, they are always more mysteries or coming-of-age stories with the romance as secondary.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1430 comments Perhaps that's because our idea of what romantic fiction is has migrated since Heyer's day. When she was writing, the kind of focus on emotions and physical attraction that is popular now would have been found only in soft-porn literature sold underground in brown paper wrappers. Personally, I wish those stories had remained underground! For me, romance lives in the process of growing a stronger character and finding character to admire in another person.


message 47: by Nick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 443 comments Abigail wrote: "Perhaps that's because our idea of what romantic fiction is has migrated since Heyer's day. When she was writing, the kind of focus on emotions and physical attraction that is popular now would hav..."

Interesting. I think I largely agree with you - except Heyer does sometimes weigh it too heavily in favour of development and against attraction. I think I would classify it like:

1. Almost entirely character development which takes place outside of the relationship. The main couple hardly interact. The guy 'gets the girl' almost as a reward for his actions elsewhere: Heyer's The Foundling fits that category for me.

2. Perfect balance of attraction and character development, where the characters interacting with each other drives their character development. Naturally, Austen does it best. Pride and Prejudice must be the best example of this.

3. Two characters just wanna bone and are only prevented from doing so by contrived external events or silly misunderstandings. I wouldn't want to point fingers, I'm sure I've read some romance in this category!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I think you're right, Abigail; the entire word "romance" has gone through a trail of changing meanings over the years, but what it means now is pretty much synonymous with "Harlequin".


message 49: by Moloch (last edited Sep 24, 2018 11:22AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Moloch | 208 comments Abigail wrote: "Perhaps that's because our idea of what romantic fiction is has migrated since Heyer's day. When she was writing, the kind of focus on emotions and physical attraction that is popular now would hav..."

You make interesting points, Abigail.
This is similar to what I thought when I read the scene where (view spoiler). I thought that in fiction a similar situation is often depicted as wild, romantic, sexy.
But then this attitude is maybe changing right now, today, with all the discussion about unwanted attentions and the #metoo movement. So in a way that scene felt more "modern" than many others even though it was written a long time ago.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3661 comments Karlyne wrote: "I should have kept track of how many times I've read Mansfield. But I know it was at least the third time, probably the fourth, before I started to appreciate Fanny - I positively enjoy her now!"

Oh dear, I’ve only read it once, so when I reread I won’t expect to like her yet!


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