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Pargeters > Pargeters Group Read

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message 1: by Barbara (last edited May 21, 2020 01:59AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2130 comments Partgeters is late Norah Lofts and quite short at less than 300 pages. It is vintage Lofts though, and centres, as do so many in her canon , around a house.
Pargeters is not the grandest of mansions , but is a new, substantial merchant's house and beautifully decorated with the eponymous pargeting. Adam Woodley is the artist and the book opens with him adorning John Mercer's house with signs of the Zodiac from his own hand carved moulds. It is his pleaure to immortalise his fiancée , Anne Borley as Virgo.
His may be the first passion the house shelters , but it is by no means the last , it is a house in which many occupants will struggle , for love, for ownership, for politics, for family ....


message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert | 96 comments I really enjoyed this book, It's been quite a few years since I first read it. Classic Loft's story telling and I like all the references to familiar places and names from her other novels interwoven throughout.


message 3: by Jan (new)

Jan Andrew | 31 comments Just ordered it from Amazon. Looking forward to re-reading, and joining in the discussion.


message 4: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments It’s been many years since I read this book! I remember many familiar names when I first read it but it will be almost like a first reading because I can’t remember much else!

This book is fairly short, as Barbara said. It was Lofts last book, published by her estate in 1984 (she died in 1983).

My copy is a Double Day book club hardback with a quite beautiful picture of a house on the dust jacket. Will try to post a copy to Photos.


message 5: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2130 comments It begins, quite startlingly I think, with a tragedy , an offstage tragedy but one which reverberates through the first part.

I feel very sorry for Adam and of course poor Anne Borley, but in a way even sadder for Penelope Mercer. She is one of NL's desperate lovers , doomed to disappointment and anguish even in the possession of the desired one...


message 6: by Robert (new)

Robert | 96 comments Loved this first part of the book about Adam. He was probably my favorite character. How do we comment here with out 'spoilers' for others that have not read the book yet?


message 7: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments Robert, here are directions on spoilers, but I would like to ask the group - do we want to use spoilers or not? Has everyone read this book or would there be someone that prefer we use spoilers? Please let us know.

In order to show the spoiler method, I have inserted * below but when you do a spoiler, LEAVE OUT the *. I had to insert the * or it would have shown up as a spoiler tag.

<*spoiler>type your spoiler inside these<*/spoiler>

The first part is such a good start and Adam is a great character. Lofts' understanding of human nature really shines in this story. Adam can't help being resentful that Ann's father clings to him now, although as a potential father-in-law, he wasn't accepting of Adam at all and subjected him to hateful little comments.

One thing I remembered when I first read this book was how so many of the episodes reminded me of other books. There was a book where a woman died as Ann did and the husband's mourning was described in detail. Does anyone remember which book? Possibly one of the House books?


message 8: by Djo (new)

Djo | 128 comments Jumping into Pargeters now!
I've read it before, but it's been a long time.


message 9: by Barbara (last edited May 24, 2020 02:25AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2130 comments Peggy and I are kind of jointly coordinating this read . It should have been Tanya but she simply couldn't get the book , such a pity.

I think the descriptions of Adams grief and dreams and all his feelings for the dead Anne are very poignantly rendered … but I feel less compassion for him as time goes on . I want to say, as I wanted to say to Jon Borage ,' oh come on lad, life deals us blows , but we can't spend the rest of it in half hidden mourning'.
I think by and large NL's women tend to manage their unrequited loves better.....


message 10: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments There's a lot of familiar NL themes already in the first part, which I have finished, and in the second. The straightforward honest hard worker who never gets over his first love (Adam). The capable sister (Sarah) who considers herself plain and unmarriageable (is that a word, lol), who learns all she can about running the family business and would be much more capable than her more frivolous brother (John).

We're seeing a lot of familiar names, Fennels, Rowhedges, Hattons, Helmers and of course, Layer Wood! Remember Syb's hard work on the Layer Wood map. I encourage newer members to look for the thread about the Layer Wood map; it's so interesting and she put so much work into it. Memories of Syb are precious to me and I still miss her. She would have loved this reading of Loft's final book.

The mention of the plague certainly has more significance to me now with the times we are in.


message 11: by Jenny (last edited May 24, 2020 01:34PM) (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 394 comments I've just re-read this and as often happens (I tend to swallow books whole), I'm a bit reluctant to start commenting for fear of committing spoilers; so yes, if anybody who doesn't want spoilers could speak up now, then that would make life easier.

I have to say, though, that I'm not a great fan of this book and think it's something of a pot-boiler. Yes, a gripping story and I found I couldn't put it down (again) but while Peggy mentions a lot of familiar NL themes I can't help thinking 'the mixture as before'.

The book being called by the name of the house, and starting with the building of it, seems to promise another 'down the ages' saga like Bless this house, A Wayside Tavern or the Old Vine trilogy. But it isn't, is it? Really, it's just Sarah's story and all that stuff about the new house and the pargeting and Adam's love life is just a prologue, which is neither a complete story in itself nor of particular relevance to the rest of the story. I felt it was just filler, because the rest was so short.
I won't say any more just now, until I'm sure whether spoilers are OK or not.

Btw, I would just like to draw attention to Page 2 of the Photos, which has some pictures of the house that almost certainly inspired Pargeters - a house in Bury St Edmunds with modern (1970s) pargeting of the signs of the Zodiac.


message 12: by Djo (new)

Djo | 128 comments I've just finished part 1.
I do love the description of the Hawk in Hand! Such a familiar pub to many of us - it almost feels like a local. The character of Job Handy could tell a story or two. That could have been an interesting theme to explore if Norah Lofts had lived on. I do like his name too!


message 13: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments Djo, how could I forget to mention The Hawk in Hand!

Jenny, I agree with you that this is a good book but somewhat a pot-boiler. The time of the story, King James, the Puritans, the Royalists, isn't one of my favorites. The Tudor period and all the years leading up to it are what I really like.

No one has mentioned a preference for spoilers so I think we can proceed without them. I thought the lead-up to Adams' death was good writing--the suspense and worry, the interesting bit about how letters were handled in those days--but I felt uncomfortable about the death of Penelope; it seemed a little too contrived.


message 14: by Robert (last edited May 26, 2020 04:42AM) (new)

Robert | 96 comments Jenny wrote: "I've just re-read this and as often happens (I tend to swallow books whole), I'm a bit reluctant to start commenting for fear of committing spoilers; so yes, if anybody who doesn't want spoilers co..."

Barbara wrote: "Peggy and I are kind of jointly coordinating this read . It should have been Tanya but she simply couldn't get the book , such a pity.


I think the descriptions of Adams grief and dreams and all hi..."



message 15: by Robert (last edited May 26, 2020 04:43AM) (new)

Robert | 96 comments Sorry -- I still can't get use to this format for some reason and keep commenting in the wrong place. Let me try gain. Was this Norah Lofts last book? Perhaps she intended to write sequels to continue in the tradition of the house trilogy. The ending suggests that to me.


message 16: by Robert (last edited May 26, 2020 04:49AM) (new)

Robert | 96 comments I actually like the back story of Adam and do think it was important. I wish there had been more about him. Sarah was a less believable character for me, especially with her relationship with her daughter.


message 17: by Robert (new)

Robert | 96 comments Jenny, somehow it looks like I messed up your comment - message 14. Don't know how I did that!


message 18: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 394 comments Robert wrote: " Was this Norah Lofts last book? Perhaps she intended to write sequels to continue in the tradition of the house trilogy.."
That's a point - I hadn't thought of that.


message 19: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2130 comments I echo Peggy's comment about all the familiar names - Fennels, Helmars, Hattons - and of course, Merravey. I am not at all averse to 'the mixture as before' lol. Oh yes and the Hawk in Hand, Djo of course!
I think, though Pargeters is certainly a house motif, it is not in the same mode as Merravey or The House at Old Vine. It is beloved but not an obsession , a la Barney Hatton and Mortiboys, nor does it define its inhabitants and announce their arrival on the social scene . Mr Mercer is pretty content and proud , but that's about it.

I am pleased anew about the way in which NL intertwines the private, social and political happenings, not directly but in tandem as it were. I like too the vignette which perfectly frames the class consciousness of the time and place, ie the interchange between Mr Mercer and Adam facilitated by Sir Joseph. Sir J and Mercer speak to Adam in a manner clearly demonstrating their superior status , ie he is "Woodley " to them and they feel perfectly able to ask him quite impertinent questions , even insulting ones. That Adam is angry and able to show offence and answer back to some extent is demonstrative of his status, ie not just no one , but a a skilled artisan in his own right, and one with claims to genealogy, albeit fairly humble. He also a fairly arrogant man anyway of course.

Sarah and John are somewhere in between and lonely because of it , but the gathering political wave will lift them both , in painful and 'glorious' ways ...


message 20: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 394 comments Djo wrote: "I've just finished part 1.
I do love the description of the Hawk in Hand! Such a familiar pub to many of us - it almost feels like a local. The character of Job Handy could tell a story or two. Tha..."


It is a bit awkward, though, that in The House at Old Vine the Hawk in Hand is run by the Webster family! Remember Emma, (view spoiler)


message 21: by Djo (new)

Djo | 128 comments Jenny - I was wondering about the timeline for the Hawk in Hand in relation to this book. Thank you saving me the trouble of looking it up! I wonder if NL would have spotted her mistake if she was younger.


message 22: by Tanya (new)

Tanya Mendonsa | 439 comments I'm sure she would have spotted the mistake if she'd paid more attention.....given that she uses so many of the same names -for places, houses and families and characters in her books...
She must have had a sort of map of the area, with the houses, and a separate one for characters and their dates, don't you think?
The way Rupert is a young child prodigy on the violin in The House at Old Vine, and then turns up as an ageing, rich eccentric in "The day of the Butterfly "


message 23: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2130 comments Djo wrote: "Jenny - I was wondering about the timeline for the Hawk in Hand in relation to this book. Thank you saving me the trouble of looking it up! I wonder if NL would have spotted her mistake if she was ..."

Webster was later though, wasn't he ? Could not it have been Handy-Kentwoode- Webster in terms of ownership ? Or don't the dates fit?
Anyway , back to the story …..

I like , when you read a book for the second or subsequent times , to pick up clues or threads that you could not had known were significant the first time .Eli Smith for instance , who knew he was going to loom so hideously large later in Sarah's life ? Or even little things like the rings and trinkets Sarah gave to John when he goes off to war ?

Now enter Eddie Lacey, what do we think of him - is he not the young Lochinvar of a young woman's dreams …? He is so obviously a hero I think, where Tom Markham ( it that the right name ? the servant who struggled home with Adam's body was a hero too, against all odds, with no money and no directions, only honour and loyalty to keep him going on that dreadful journey.

Lots of fateful journeys in Pargeters , Tom's, John's, Eli's , Eddie's and of course Lady Alice's.


message 24: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 394 comments Barbara wrote: "Webster was later though, wasn't he ? Could not it have been Handy-Kentwoode- Webster in terms of ownership ? Or don't the dates fit?..."
No, the Websters were running the Hawk In Hand right back in old Henry Kentwoode's day, when Doll Webster was a 'backward-looker' and (view spoiler). And according to The House at Old Vine they were there throughout and after the Civil War. (And of course, the Kentwoodes ran the Old Vine, not the Hawk in Hand).


message 25: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments Sorry to be lagging a bit but my total ignorance about the time this book is set in is causing me to struggle in trying to keep all the storylines clear. I’m going to google the background history and hope that will help me!

But as far as the characters go, I agree with you, Barbara. Isn’t Eddy Lacy great, and Tom Markham too. I am a little stunned at how mature and knowledgeable Sarah is at taking care of all the property. As I was getting ready to go back and search for her age, I reached the statement that her next birthday will be her 18th.

This is probably a silly observation but Sarah drinking brandy surprises me. I knew women of that time drank ale and wine. She and Mrs. Kentwoode also drank brandy together.


message 26: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 308 comments Sitting on the porch following the discussion and what JUST arrived in the mail!!!! My copy of Partagers! Had to order it from EBay and cannot believe I didn't have this book -know I've read it long ago.
Will try to catch up.


message 27: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments Sallie, good to have you joining in!


message 28: by Karyl (new)

Karyl Carlson | 83 comments Somehow I have not been receiving regular updates on the discussion so am coming in a bit late . I am a craftspsrson who works in clay so I was particularly interested in the great detail about pargeting. What went into the mixture, the careful oiling of the mold, preparation of the surface--I feel ready to create a parget medallion!


message 29: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments Welcome to the discussion, Karyl. The description of pargetting is very thorough. Now you’ve made me curious and I’ll have to look up the history of it!


message 30: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2130 comments Jenny wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Webster was later though, wasn't he ? Could not it have been Handy-Kentwoode- Webster in terms of ownership ? Or don't the dates fit?..."
No, the Websters were running the Hawk In H..."


Yes right, forgetting ….


message 31: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2130 comments Karyl wrote: "Somehow I have not been receiving regular updates on the discussion so am coming in a bit late . I am a craftspsrson who works in clay so I was particularly interested in the great detail about par..."

Hi Karyl. You might need to make sure you are getting individual responses, not a digest. Look at the faint 'edit' at the bottom right of the comments, click and check


message 32: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 394 comments Barbara wrote: "Now enter Eddie Lacey, what do we think of him - is he not the young Lochinvar of a young woman's dreams …? He is so obviously a hero I think, where Tom Markham ( it that the right name ? the servant who struggled home with Adam's body was a hero too, against all odds, with no money and no directions, only honour and loyalty to keep him going on that dreadful journey..."

I'm struggling a bit with this discussion, because I feel everything I say is going to be negative! Everyone always says "If you can't say anything nice, say nothing" and I really don't want to keep carping: the book isn't bad exactly - as I said, I kept reading to find out what happened next, even though I'd read it before so I actually knew. It's just no more than 'OK', which is bad by NL standards.

So, what do I think of Eddie Lacey? "The young Lochinvar of a young woman's dreams" is fair enough: the wounded fugitive, heroic but helpless, so he can be admired but still mothered. But is he anything more? As wounded fugitives go, is he any different from Glenwhatsit in Out of This Nettle? Am I missing hidden depths, or is he really just a stock character?


message 33: by Djo (new)

Djo | 128 comments Jenny - don't worry about being negative!! All comments are fine.


message 34: by Djo (new)

Djo | 128 comments Eddie Lacey seems charming and well mannered - dangerous fodder to a naive young girl who is just ripe for a good old crush! She loved nursing him, I'm sure.
I do love the help Lady Alice gave her. I'd have loved to have her as a neighbour - a bit of a seer, practical, up for adventure, good for drinking with!


message 35: by Djo (new)

Djo | 128 comments Back tracking slightly.
I do love the way NL dispatches of the parents so quickly and neatly so she can get on with her story, but life back then was brutal.
I think they mentioned The Woolpack in London - sure that inn sounded familiar too.


message 36: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments Jenny, as Djo says, all comments are fine. There is one Lofts book that I couldn't finish, and there are a couple of others that I've read once and have no wish to read again.

This book feels rushed to me; it's like Lofts was trying to get it all down and then didn't get the chance to go back and polish it. It's a lot harder for me to follow than The Old Priory was, which she printed two years earlier.

I wonder what her situation was as she was writing--if she was ill, if she thought she'd have time to go over it and then something stopped her. Does anyone know her cause of death? I couldn't find any reference on the internet.

Djo, the dispatching of the parents was a little too abrupt for me though--the suspense built up for Adam, we find out what happened to him and before we can get over that, we lose Penelope. But as you say, it was a more brutal time and illness especially decimated so many families.


message 37: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 394 comments Peggy wrote: " the dispatching of the parents was a little too abrupt for me though--the suspense built up for Adam, we find out what happened to him and before we can get over that, we lose Penelope.."

Yes, I don't feel we ever get to know Penelope. Adam, yes, I would agree that he's a 3-dimensional character, but all we ever know of Penelope is that she gets this desperate crush on him that she will stop at nothing to fulfil (we'd call her a stalker now and lock her up!), then we just see her as Sarah's mother and then she's dead. We have all that build up to their marriage and then ... nothing. I was expecting to see how the marriage worked out after such a strange beginning, but we never see them as a couple, just as parents.

I don't even see why Adam married her, unless it was for the money. What part did her seduction of him (and if the sexes had been reversed we'd undoubtedly call it rape) play in his decision? You'd think such 'loose' behaviour would have made him more wary, and wonder how many other men she had or would take a fancy to in such a way.


message 38: by Djo (new)

Djo | 128 comments I think we saw enough of their marriage to know that Penelope reaped what she sowed - karma and all that.
Adam never loved her, and probably resented her for trapping him. She would have been naive enough to think she could win his love - but ghosts are hard rivals.
Adam was vain enough to see himself as having gentlemanly standards (not a bad thing on the whole, but he wasn't a gentleman, he was a tradesman), so after sleeping with Penelope, he would have felt honour bound to marry her.
My guess is that Penelope was a virgin, but no prude, hence Adam had the best erotic dream he ever had, partially fuelled by brandy, and mainly fuelled by the fact that he was dreaming of Anne.
That was never going to end well.


message 39: by Tanya (new)

Tanya Mendonsa | 439 comments I agree with Jenny and Peggy, from what I remember of " Pargeters ".

..I very much enjoyed " The Old Priory which, as Peggy says, NL published 2 years before this one.
I guess the fact that I really didn't even think "Pargeters " was " OK ", is why I didn't keep it....the only time this has ever happened to me with an NL book....but of course this is my personal opinion....


message 40: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments Djo, the episode you mentioned between Adam and Penelope and the dream was a bit of a shocker coming from Lofts.

I’m surprised at how little I remember from the first reading of this book but it was a long time ago and really is more complicated then most of Lofts’ books. I liked it enough to hold onto my copy.

Tanya, Here Was a Man was one book I couldn’t finish and Day Of The Butterfly was one I didn’t keep so I understand your point.

The story has smoothed out for me now though and I am enjoying it much more. At least I know who Prince Rupert is due to a google search! And if you get the chance, there’s some pretty interesting articles about pargetting on the internet.

Let’s touch base on where we are, ok? I have just finished the introduction of Cynthia and what happened after, plus the arrival of Katharine and Edman. I have some things to say but want to see where we all are.


message 41: by Karyl (new)

Karyl Carlson | 83 comments I have finished, so will only make this comment —one reason I like this book is because of the many mentions of the other great houses and locations that we know so well from N. L.’s other books


message 42: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments Thank you, Karyl, it is one of the aspects of this book that I enjoy too.


message 43: by Jenny (last edited Jun 07, 2020 01:55PM) (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 394 comments Peggy wrote: "...One thing I remembered when I first read this book was how so many of the episodes reminded me of other books. There was a book where a woman died as Ann did and the husband's mourning was described in detail. Does anyone remember which book? Possibly one of the House books?..."

It was A Wayside Tavern, and another Adam: his wife Isabel is crushed in an episode where a bull gets loose in the market place.


message 44: by Robert (new)

Robert | 96 comments Please refresh my memory. I often see references to 'beautiful Merravey. (spelling?). Is that a setting for one of her books. I can't recall.


message 45: by Cassie (new)

Cassie (cassiepetty) | 185 comments Robert wrote: "Please refresh my memory. I often see references to 'beautiful Merravey. (spelling?). Is that a setting for one of her books. I can't recall."

Someone else will know but since I remember it and it's been years since I read NL (or really any other book for that matter) I'm sure it features heavily.


message 46: by Jenny (new)

Jenny H (jenny_norwich) | 394 comments Robert wrote: "Please refresh my memory. I often see references to 'beautiful Merravey. (spelling?). Is that a setting for one of her books. I can't recall."

It's the 'House' of Bless This House


message 47: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 893 comments Thanks, Jenny, for bailing out Robert and me on our questions!


message 48: by Djo (new)

Djo | 128 comments For me, Cynthia has just arrived.


message 49: by Robert (new)

Robert | 96 comments Jenny wrote: "Robert wrote: "Please refresh my memory. I often see references to 'beautiful Merravey. (spelling?). Is that a setting for one of her books. I can't recall."

It's the 'House' of Bless This House"


Jenny wrote: "Robert wrote: "Please refresh my memory. I often see references to 'beautiful Merravey. (spelling?). Is that a setting for one of her books. I can't recall."

It's the 'House' of Bless This House"


Thank you ! It's been years since I have read Bless this House -- a wonderful book. I just forgot the name of the house.


message 50: by Cassie (new)

Cassie (cassiepetty) | 185 comments I'm going through very slowly as I mentioned before. Adam was just buried. I assume, by Penelope's comments, he was buried near his Anne. That was touching. It seemed like she really loved him in an unselfish way. Although, if she were truly unselfish she would not have insisted on marrying him. Of course no romantic love can be completely selfish so I guess I get it. I remember her comment about competing with a dead woman. it was very practical. Like she knew he would never love her but it was enough that she had him.

If anyone doesn't mind backtracking a bit, what do you make of all that?


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