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The Brittle Glass > The Brittle Glass 2014 Discussion

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message 1: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 875 comments This is to start a folder for our discussion.

message 2: by Barbara (last edited Oct 31, 2014 06:50PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments Thanks Peggy. I wonder, though it may be a long shot really, if NL had in mind Swinburne's poem "Hymn To Proserpine" when she used Brittle Glass for a title

" ..I know I shall die as my fathers died, and sleep as they sleep; even so.
For the glass of the years is brittle wherein we gaze for a span;
A little soul for a little bears up this corpse which is man.
So long I endure, no longer; and laugh not again, neither weep.
110. For there is no God found stronger than death; and death is a sleep."

It's from this

message 3: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Thank you for getting us started, Peggy! Part 1 is the shortest of 4 parts.


There are many affectionate relationships from the very beginning: the affection of Josiah for his cousin, Louisa; the unrequited love of Louisa for Josiah; the deep affection between Josiah's wife Chlorinda and Louisa; and others as children are born into the Kingaby family. The proverbial glass loses some of its clarity as death strikes the family.

Barbara, maybe we will run into your passage somewhere in the book to indicate NL's use of "brittle glass" in her title. I found another possible quote she might have used from Shakespeare's play, Richard III, Act IV, Scene ii, in which Richard speaks: "I must be married to my brother's daughter or else my kingdom stands on brittle glass."

By considering these quotes and possibly others we may find, and by keeping the various conditions of the glass in her sub-titles in mind, we will be able to draw closer to NL's great mind at work. My lists indicate that TBG was NL's 10th published book, and she would have been 38 years old. It was first published by Michael Joseph Ltd in London in the throes of WWII.

message 4: by Barbara (last edited Nov 01, 2014 12:29AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments Interesting re title isn't it ? I was unaware of the Shakespeare one ( I'm very bad at remembering all but the most famous lines) .

Yes indeed the loves Sylvia cites are 'the clear glass of affection' - but early on clouded by patriarch Josiah's terrible attitudes to the birth of daughters . I know it was the standard attitude of the day , but NL's writing really bring home the real effects of such a stance . The inferior wine is one thing , but the chilling phrase ,"what's a wench more or less.. it's only the first trip after all" is something else again. The paragraphs after this in which Louisa gently muses on the total illogic of sexism are among the best anywhere in literature to my mind.

message 5: by Sylvia (last edited Nov 01, 2014 11:50AM) (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments I'm even bad at remembering the famous lines, Barbara! NL was well known for her knowledge of history and her research skills. I wonder if the subject of psychology had been incorporated into her college studies? I doubt it, since she was schooled in the 20s, but she seemed to have extraordinary instincts about why people behaved as they did.

Josiah was described as entertaining and charming in his youth, and Louisa recounts that even though he was expected to settle down and marry, he did not marry until he was nearly 50, though he was known to keep company with many women, suitable and otherwise. I think Louisa hints at one of his traits much later when she says that "Josiah liked naughty little girls." I take this as a very sexist attitude, and one that is still seen in society today. "Naughty little girls" are looked upon as a source of amusement, not to be taken seriously. Could this have been one of many reasons for Josiah's off-the-charts sexist attitudes? NL gave him a very complex psyche and extreme behaviors! (...which I suppose may be said about many of her memorable characters.)

message 6: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments I haven't begun the book yet, but your initial posts sent me on a Google search re: "brittle glass." The most interesting thing (to me) was the proported use of this phrase in a 2nd poem by Shakespeare:

Beauty is but a vain and doubtful good;
A shining gloss that fadeth suddenly;
A flower that dies when first it ’gins to bud;
A brittle glass that’s broken presently;
A doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower,
Lost, faded, broken, dead within an hour.
The Passionate Pilgrim. Stanza 13.

"The Passionate Pilgrim (1599) is an anthology of 20 poems collected and published by William Jaggard that were attributed to "W. Shakespeare" on the title page, only five of which are considered authentically Shakespearean. These are two sonnets, later to be published in the 1609 collection of Shakespeare's sonnets, and three poems extracted from the play Love's Labour's Lost. Internal and external evidence contradicts the title-page attribution to Shakespeare. Five were attributed to other poets during his lifetime, and two were published in other collections anonymously. While most critics disqualify the rest as not Shakespearean on stylistic grounds, stylometric analysis by Ward Elliott and Robert Valenza put two blocks of the poems (4, 6, 7 and 9, and 10, 12, 13 and 15) within Shakespeare's stylistic boundaries."

So now, unto actually reading the book.

message 7: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Donna, the quote you provided seems to be describing how quickly beauty fades; the quote by Swinburne, I think, is describing the fragility of life itself, and Richard III fears the loss of his kingdom. Do any of you have an idea about NL's choice of title? I think I could almost wrestle any of these aspects of brittle glass into the gist of TBG.

Would all members who plan to contribute to this discussion please tell us where you are in your reading and whether you've read TBG previously? Shall we focus on Josiah's first marriage and family to begin?

message 8: by Barbara (last edited Nov 01, 2014 11:21PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments Swinburne's quote is from the Ode to Proserpine which is a lament at the loss of the pre-Christian Old Gods , really so I'm not now sure of it's relevance.

Sylvia, I have read TBG before so don't mind where we get in discussions. I think, as you suggest, Part 1, The Clear Glass , is a good size for discussion .

Donna I do take your point re Josiah and his liking for 'naughty little girls" but I see it as an integral part of his patriarchalist mindset rather than a cause of it . His wife was definitely NOT one of these was she? She was the Pure Lily 'type, one of those you do marry!

I like how NL manages Louisa's changing attitude to Josiah too, Lou is one of NL's famously well drawn secondary characters to my mind .

message 9: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Barbara, I think you were referring to my point about Josiah liking naughty little girls, but my point was also that in his mind, no importance was attached to the female except for his pleasures and needs. Although Josiah may have liked naughty little girls, such as his own first daughter, who discovered that the only way to get Josiah's attention was by being naughty, we were given no information for his first choice of a wife. He simply brought Chlorinda and her sick father home aboard his ship and then married her. There seemed to be no criteria there at all except that she looked presentable and was handy.

I admired the way Louisa accepted her spinsterhood without complaint. She was highly efficient, knowledgeable, loving, and still loyal to Josiah until she finally acknowledged his cruelty to his daughters and especially to Sorrel. When all three girls were sent away to school, it was Louisa who managed their clothing, their treats and allowances, and their little escapes. Could anyone blame Sorrel for refusing to accept an extra penny from the father who refused to acknowledge them?

message 10: by Sylvia (last edited Nov 03, 2014 01:17PM) (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments To comment on first daughter's name "Sorrel," I love that name! I think mother Chlorinda (whose name reminds me of bleach!) remarked to Josiah that the name reminded her of horses, and I agree, but even so, how many of you like the name?

I looked up the name on a history-of-names site, and it said that "Sorrel" has never once been in a list of 1000 favorite names in the USA. It is also considered more of a masculine name here and listed Sorrell Booke, who played Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard TV series. It is also an herbal plant, and a reddish color.

message 11: by Peggy (last edited Nov 03, 2014 06:35PM) (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 875 comments I had heard of the "sorrel" plant but never heard it used as a name for a person. It's certainly unusual. I have read the book before but it's been a while.

message 12: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments Sylvia wrote: "Barbara, I think you were referring to my point about Josiah liking naughty little girls, but my point was also that in his mind, no importance was attached to the female except for his pleasures a..."

I misunderstood the 'naughty little girls', sorry Sylvia I was thinking naughty as in 'girls you don't marry' rather than children .

Yes, I love the part where Louisa says something like "I could love a man who drank too much, who was self centred and arrogant , but I could never love the man who pushed past that child on the stairs "

message 13: by Peggy (last edited Nov 04, 2014 05:23AM) (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 875 comments It's odd that Josiah married a young woman in such poor health. We're told that her parents travelled around, trying to improve her health. It doesn't sound like he was passionately in love with her. And marrying her three weeks after her father died, when she had to be emotionally vulnerable.

If he felt it was time to settle down to have "legitimate" children, you would have thought he could find someone easily in his social circles. Was this building a case to us his friends and neighbors had a sense of his true personality (I could use some strong language here) and he had to find someone like Chlorinda or he may not have gotten married at all?

message 14: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Pegs, I went back and found the passage about Josiah marrying Chlorinda because I didn't remember a mention of her mother at all. I only found an account of her being "pretty, pale, and delicate," not necessarily in poor health, because it was her father who was in poor health and dragging her all over the continent so that he could find cures and "take waters." Louisa said Josiah brought them home because he was "open-handed, one of his better qualities" and the father wanted to die in England. My take on it is that Chlorinda was simply handy for Josiah to take as a wife. It is interesting that Chlorinda cried for 3 weeks after marrying Josiah, which prompted him to bodily go after and bring back Louisa to his house. NL doesn't make clear whether C. was simply mourning her father, or was in shock over her marriage, or was lost as the new mistress of a big house.

I loved the quote about pushing away the child on the stairs, too, Barbara, and also that Louisa recognized it as the moment when both she and Sorrel were set free - Sorrel of her "fascination with her father" and she from "the allegiance of a lifetime."

message 15: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments I should have made mention of NL's forwarding remarks at the beginning of our discussion (SORRY!). We are given a time, "the late 1700's" and a description of Josiah Kingaby's business. He was a "Norfolk trader whose lines of pack-horses carried silks and spices over the damp fens and marshes."

The description of him as a "Norfolk" merchant surprises me because he lives and works out of coastal Bywater, which NL tells us is in the county of Essex. Since almost every line of business in all of NL's books usually begins in Suffolk and ends up at Bywater, I think we can assume that NL placed Bywater very close to the border between Essex and Suffolk, but to call Josiah a merchant of Norfolk is, I think, a pretty good distance for those days. What do those of you who live there, or have been there, think? Maybe later in the book we read about the routes the pack horses took.

Louisa tells us that her hometown is Bury St.Edmunds in Suffolk. She says, "I loved Bywater, which was small and old-fashioned and homely; it was more congenial to me than my home town where the county families had their big town houses, and where to be poor, old-fashioned and elderly was to be lonely and out of things."

She also describes the Kingaby home, East House, as not improved upon, but "warm, and solid, and comfortable."

message 16: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 306 comments Hi Everyone! I appreciate the references to the brittle glass in lit. My interpretation (of all 4 sections) was that the glass/mirror was a reflection of the character's relationships to each other. Part 1 - Clear Glass of Affection - Affection -appears to the children to be clearly defined by parental acceptance. Sorrell, the favorite, is the receipient until the much wanted son arrives. The other 2 girls are relegated to the nursery upstairs, clearly disappointments to Josiah. Old maid Lou clearly cares for and loves the children, especially Sorrell. Josiah, selfish and self absorbed, does not even marry until he's in his 50's - he clearly cares only for himself, his wants and needs but must have a son to carry on his legacy. Slovenly Lucia and her daughter are clearly resented by all. All family and staff places in the pecking order are clearly defined. As time passes and the characters grow to adulthood or old age things that seemed clear become muddled and confused. The strong Sorrell clearly chooses her life's path when Jos dies. NL, champion of women of this era, gives us another against-all-odds, determined female.

message 17: by Barbara (last edited Nov 04, 2014 07:22PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments What good stuff already from this discussion isn't it! I can see Josiah, bluff and hearty ( but actually heartless ) and salt-of the earth Lou as if they were real
NL's Louisa is a wonderful case against the wrongness of only the beautiful/well favoured being courted and married. What a mother and wife she would have made given the chance . Far better then poor Chlorinda ( I think of bleach too!) whose response to Josiah's undoubtedly utterly self-centred approach to sex was , I bet, part of the three weeks of tears. Lou would have thought , 'oh well, men are like that' and gone on to have three sons . I am not excusing Josiah one iota here, mind!

Sallie percipiently says above that NL gives us another 'against all odds' female and one who shoulders responsibilities and remains beloved or at least respected by all her family pretty much . Such a manifestly good person could be made a less than likeable character in the hands of a lesser author . Yet Sorrell is for all her virtues ,is, I think, completely likable and admirable.

message 18: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments When Josiah was buried, and the will read, Sorrel's first act, impulsive but perfectly understandable, was to provide a celebratory feast for her ill-fed family, even including the second wife, who obviously had expected to inherit all. It is to her credit and character that Sorrel did not give Lucia and her little girl their moving orders. Her act of handing over Josiah's high quality personal belongings to Lucia showed one trait that she shared with her father - generosity.

message 19: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Part Two - CLOUDY MIRROR OF MISUNDERSTANDING

Sorrel indulged in two immediate acts upon becoming head of the household - to clear out Josiah's bedroom and take possession that very first night, and to visit the warehouse. She tells Louisa, "I just want to smell it again." Louisa thought, "What a perverse taste in smells, tea and coffee and molasses and whale oil."

But Louisa indulged in an impulsive (and rebellious?) act as well. Fetching a candlestick and her embroidery scissors, she cut a half dozen of Josiah's prized, rare, not-be-be-touched orchids and put them in Sorrel's newly chosen bedroom. Then she realized that everything that once belonged to Josiah "now appertained to Sorrel", and she remembered their mutual shift in allegiance right outside that very bedroom door seven years earlier.

message 20: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments Great perceptive comments Sylvia, I think you have given us a snapshot of the exact moments of change and movement , in character development and in the story itself, particularly the lovely Louisa-and-orchids moment

I just love the feast ( and the joy of the little girls at not going back to school) and Sorrell's taking of his bedroom !

message 21: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 875 comments Barbara, your comment about the "cause for the three weeks of tears" from Chlorinda made me laugh out loud!

Louisa was the glue that held everybody together and provided stability for those poor little girls--really a wonderful character.

message 22: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 306 comments Sorrell understood immediately that she was threading the smallest of needle's eye when deciding to assume the role of boss in the business. Smooch up to Swine Cobbitt because she needed his business accumen. NL often defined her character's personalities by zinger names! (My other favorite is Crummy Gathercole.) Sylvia indeed defined a critical turning point in time. Sorrell acted immediately to assert her authority & to announce her new station in the business. "Don't, for God's sake keep talking about my dear father. You know just how dear we were to one another. And I am not concerned at all with what he would have wished. He pleased himself and I shall please myself."

message 23: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments Sorrel is intent on swimming against the tide of 18th century gender expectations, including those of her beloved Louise. We are all in the debt of actual gender pioneers who broke the rules. Sorrel does so with graceful forthrightness and a generous spirit. I admire her determination to master mathematics/arithmetic upon assuming responsibility for the business. How crippled girls were by the namby-pamby curriculum they were offered for generations. How ironic now that girls tend to be math-phobic and multiple strategies are developed to address that issue.

I felt a bit sorry for Cobbitt when he failed at his one chance to boost his career. I'm not sure why other than feeling some emphathy for the difficult lives most people of that era were forced to live.

message 24: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Many of us have commented on our affection and admiration of Louisa throughout Part 1. Have any of you noticed a slight change in the impressions given of Louisa in Part 2. I felt as if I were seeing her as first a young woman, then a middle-aged cousin, and finally a woman moving energetically into old age, always vital to the people in her immediate circle.

Then suddenly, in Part 2, we see Louisa from the vantage point of a young man struggling to support himself and his mother, and hold on to his very insecure position, trying to comprehend the company adjustments to young Sorrel as the boss and old Aunt Louisa as her chaperone. Louisa's age did not increase from part 1 into Part 2, but NL gives us a completely different view of this beloved character, now seeming to be feeble and maybe more fussy about social conventions. I wonder if we are already looking through a more clouded glass?

Great insights, All! I especially loved the grand feast, too. We were all there in spirit, handing around those sticky sugared fruits!

message 25: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments I didn't notice the change in perspective on Louise's age. Such a change may have had more to do with context than chronology. In Part I, the focus was solely domestic. In Part II, the world--and mirror-- broadens to include the warehouse and business. In those settings, Louise may have appeared old-fashioned, ill-at-ease, and, thus, somewhat infirm. Given the "glass shattering" role that Sorrel was assuming, Louise would've appeared as somewhat fusty. The rules of decorum must be followed from Lou's perspective as the rules of gender are broken by Sorrel. NL is showing us the incongruity and disorientation of worldviews colliding.

When I arrived at the book's ending, I realized that Sorrel's trail-blazing may have begun at the end of the 18th century, but spanned much of the 19th.

I continue to ruminate on the book and chapter titles. Glass is such a strong, impermeable substance while also being easily shattered if dropped or hit. Its quality, color, chemical make-up all influence its transparency, opaqueness, and reflection. I'll continue reflecting on the chapter titles and add whatever insights and suppositions that may occur to me.

message 26: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 306 comments Every member of Sorrell's household is, after Josiah's death, is now dependent on her. They are all torn - if I am critical of her new role, running the business, assuming a "man's role" I might find myself out in the street. Conflict with "what will people say which, even today, can influence & dictate some people's behavior. (I had a grandmother who actually said "My dear, it simply isn't done!) Can you imagine? their "glass" half empty or half full?

message 27: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Very well put, Donna. I love your phrase, incongruity and disorientation of worldviews colliding."

Sallie, I think I may have met your grandmother. I have always been more comfortable on the conservative side, so I would have agonized over Sorrel's choices, too. I would say that the little girls' glasses were almost full anyway.

message 28: by Barbara (last edited Nov 07, 2014 04:52PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments People's insights above into Sorrel's truly heroic struggle and success at becoming a self sufficient person, indeed a person responsible for big household AND a business are very illuminating ( I could even say like a light shining through glass if was a bit poetic , but I'm not so I won't) . Whilst there are many and profound differences , I am reminded of Scarlett O' Hara and her taking charge of a big, dependant and disparate household household and also that lumber business. I think Mitchell says something like, of the business aspect "hardly ever at a any time in history was it harder for a woman to be independent in such a way'
I think Sorrel and Scarlett could have ben contemporaries time-wise couldn't they?

message 29: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments The prisms through which each narrator sees the world collectively offer us a robust view of Sorrel and, unintentionally, the flaws and limitations of each story teller. For instance, Cousin Lou's "clear glass of affection" reflects Sorrel's need for attention and love which seems to heighten Lou's sense of life purpose to be her chaperone/caretaker, assuaging her own need for love and attention. Lou sees herself as capable and needed whereas Jamie, through his perspective of "cloudy mirror of misunderstanding," sees her as fussily intrusive and old-fashioned; and Wick via his "bright glass of love" grows fond of the old lady he describes as ugly. Hateful Marian's "green mirror of envy" produced an image of Louise as venomous and sour."

NL seemed to understand deeply how impossible it is for any human to fully know another. It is only when individual impressions of a single individual are assembled that a somewhat comprehensive depiction emerges. She has cleverly exhibited this through her choice of narrators and her metaphorical chapter titles.

The glass and mirrors that capture images of Sorrel are easily shattered. What remains is the strong, willful woman who would not break.

message 30: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Donna, I believe your last sentence could be said of Scarlett O'Hara as well. I think Jamie had some strong intuitions about people. Even though he despised "Swine" Cobbitt, he felt some sympathy for him when he overheard Sorrell crushing his dream of a partnership. Jamie realized that Sorrel was falling in love with him before she realized it. He was very caring of his mother in a responsible way, and yet his own future plans were not to be inconvenienced by her.

I don't want to go beyond Part 2 yet, and I don't remember the conclusion, but I've noticed that there are some hints to make us wonder if Jamie is an illegitimate son of Josiah and perhaps that is his reason for his instinctual abhorrence of touching Sorrel in an intimate way. Have any other readers suspected it so far?

message 31: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments A few pages into my reading last night I received enlightenment. The glass remains clouded until the end of this part. Since I am usually the one who is reading way behind the rest of you, I will ask - Has everyone who is participating in this discussion finished with Part 2? Any further comments?

message 32: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 875 comments Jamie and Sorrel being half-siblings is classic NL but I didn't see it coming. I started out feeling a bit of admiration for Jamie and his efforts to keep his mother comfortable but it ended in revulsion at his willingness to continually exploit Sorrel. I did get a little chuckle out of the statement regarding Jamie's thought that Corbitt felt his (Jamie's) "unworthy behind" didn't deserve to sit in the office chair. Will have to remember that one.

I have finished with Part 2.

message 33: by Sylvia (last edited Nov 12, 2014 11:08AM) (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments I suspected Josiah of being Jamie's father when his mother's monthly stipends ended at the time of Josiah's death. Also, his mother's hatred of Sorrel became apparent, seemingly without reason, when Sorrel took over the Kingaby business..

Pegs, you found a good chuckler! Would you be willing to repeat the line in the new thread, "Humor in NL"? (I think the British spelling is "humour", isn't it?)

I forgot to comment on Barbara's mention of the "light through the glass, which sounds poetic, but she isn't so she won't..." (but she did, tee hee!) Donna, I think you attributed the "Bright Glass of Love" title to Wick's growing feelings for Sorrel, but I wonder if they may have centered on Sorrel, who was so attracted to Dan? Wick greatly admired and appreciated Sorrel's attributes. He said, "Although she interested me and attracted me more than any woman I have ever met, I should still not like to commit myself upon the question whether it was love, or not, which she felt for him (Dan)."

message 34: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments Peggy wrote: "Jamie and Sorrel being half-siblings is classic NL but I didn't see it coming. I started out feeling a bit of admiration for Jamie and his efforts to keep his mother comfortable but it ended in re..."

I don't think I saw it coming either the first time I read it.It's as you say Sylvia, classic NL and we discussed it at length in the "names and themes" thread if others are interested

Badly though Jamie's mother was treated, I still found her unforgivably awful to Sorrel, who was utterly innocent in all of this and had suffered at Josiah 's hand too.

message 35: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments RE: Jamie and Sorrel's relationship: I couldn't understand Jamie's revulsion at any physical contact with Sorrel, which it turned out was caused by his intuiting at some level their genetic relationship. I agree that the potential of incest appears in many of NL's works.

RE: Sylvia's question re: to whom does "Bright Glass of Love" refer. My impression is that each title refers to the narrator of that chapter, so I think it does refer to Wick's growing love for Sorrel. I'll try to find the passage that conveyed that impression to me.

message 36: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments Yes poor Wick. His unrequited love for Sorrel put me in mind of young Dr Humphrey Shadbolt's love for Letty whilst she was actually secretly and hopelessly in love with Plant ( who loved Cathy ...) Or even the love merry-go-round in The Lute Player . Sorry, I'm digressing ...

message 37: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Barbara, it was Peggy who mentioned the half siblings' relationships as "classic NL".

For some reason I don't see Wick's relationship with Sorrel as a romantic one. I think he worked on the possibility, and they became very close, more like best friends in my mind, but I do think he would have been a good marriage partner for her if he could have extricated himself from the smuggling business. Losing Dan's best-friendship seemed to have broken his spirit. I felt he should have tried harder to get away for Sorrel's sake.

But I also see the perfect logic of your conclusions about the chapter titles, Donna.

Peggy said she was done with Part 2 and nobody else responded so I feel pretty certain that most of us are probably finished with Part 3 (or the whole book). We've already alluded to Part 3 so let's center on it now and comment on its important points.


message 38: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 875 comments hope it's OK to insert this here; I just ran across this interesting recent review of The Brittle Glass and thought the group would enjoy it:

message 39: by Judy (new)

Judy | 23 comments That was fun, Peggy! Really enjoyed the review and the comments.

message 40: by Peggy (last edited Nov 16, 2014 03:39PM) (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 875 comments Glad you enjoyed it, Judy!

Re Part 3 Bright Glass of Love, isn't Wick an odd character, so cool and observant and strangely passionless. This was a somewhat complicated part of the book, I had to pay attention to the twists and turns.

message 41: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments Peggy, what a great find your was. I enjoyed it thouroughly.

message 42: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Pegs, this was a real thrill, especially since the review was written just this year (if I remember correctly). I liked the way the reviewer (Scott?) mentioned the form this first edition took with the thin paper, the skinny print, and the small margins - no paper wasted during the war years. I had wondered about this publication in 1942. He even gave us prints of some original covers.

I tried to send this great NL fan some info about our forum, but I don't think I was successful. He said it is hard to get through to him. He is a wonderful advocate for NL's enjoyable, never outdated work.

message 43: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments I located the Part 3 passage in which Wick finally realizes that he is in love with Sorrel: "That I myself, a man neither conspiculously strong nor unusually weak, had fallen in love with her meant nothing, since we were so far separated from one another that even my love must have an academic flavour, and I must, and did, comfort myself with the thought that it was my mind which was engaged with her, rather as it might be with a character in a book or a play. And that, I suppose is the most foolish idea that can afflict a sane man; dangerous conceit that can be entertained by any sound, whole male creature."

I think that it is his "bright glass of love" that also allows him to see cousin Lou so favorably, although he acknowledges her physical unattractiveness. He also loved Dan while seeing his fatal attraction to the ladies, including Sorrel. Wick seems to see the people he loves quite clearly, the bright glass revealing their complexities. He is analytical and romantic, not driven to act on his own behalf it seems.

message 44: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments In a sense then, Wick loved with his head and not his heart.

message 45: by Donna (last edited Nov 18, 2014 08:07PM) (new)

Donna | 143 comments "In a sense then, Wick loved with his head and not his heart."

Sylvia, I think that Wick needed his head to help him realize what was in his heart. Because he seems so analytical, he may have been "estranged" in a way from his own feelings. He didn't act on his feelings. NL creates such complex, multi-faceted characters. It's one of her signature traits as an author. Sorrel and Wick seem to be among her most complex.

message 46: by Barbara (last edited Nov 18, 2014 11:05PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2101 comments I tend to agree re Wick's distance from his own feelings . I think he loved to the best of his capacity -and was , unlike others, notably Dan, able to see beyond mere physical beauty.

Loving with his head as way to his heart yes, but one of those who never would count the world well lost for love . Neither would Sorrel of course, she knew how to learn from experience. Wick had not the capacity for it, and Sorrel , though she might have had at one time, is now too controlled a person for this , I think.

message 47: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments I believe we have a consensus regarding the eyes which see through "the bright glass of love" (Part 3), which is Wick, the facilitator of the Bywater smuggling ring.

Let's turn now to Part 4, the "Green Mirror of Envy" which surprises and satisfies in several instances.

message 48: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 875 comments Part 4 also infuriates but like you said, definitely satisfies.

message 49: by Donna (new)

Donna | 143 comments I appreciate how Marian's jealous manipulation ends up steeling Sorrel to make an unthinkable decision for that era. That was very satisfying to me.

message 50: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Yes, that was a great surprise and relief, and Marion truly deserved her fate. But Sorrel didn't deserve to have such an ungrateful son. This is another of Lofts' books that make you wish there had been a Book 2.

Can we assume that, since Wick made no attempt to get away, that he would have been tried and hanged? I feel like he had many talents and could have been a great success. Does anyone feel like he simply gave up because he had lost Dan and knew he could not stay near Sorrel or he would implicate her? Of course Wick had already spoken to Dan about leaving the gang, and admitted that he had already mentally deserted him while on the path to the Evening Star, I believe while contemplating Dan's lack of a neck! But Wick also felt loyalty for the times Dan had saved him; literally carried him to safety. I think loving the same woman bothered Wick more than Dan, even though he had fathered her child.

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