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The Quincunx
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Archived 2015 Group Reads > 04/20 The Quincunx, Chapters 95-100

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) Slowly (in my case because I thought I had posted the head thread) but surely we are coming to an end of our literary journey.

This one was one of the most revealing but also slightly less exciting parts of the novel. Yet again and again we travel further into the past of the five families that form the mysterious quincunx.

1. The mysterious Miss Lydia is a certain deux ex machina in the novel as she reveals darker truths about Johnnie's family. Is she the one character he have been anticipating all the time? Do you believe in her good intentions?

2. Do you think Miss Lydia's death was accidental or predestined?

3. Why does Palliser avoid portraying Johnnie in either black or white colors? On one hand, he is quite insensitive, and on the other hand, he is very remorseful as he is willing to pay the Digweeds all the expenses and also trusts Joey with all the money he has at that point.

4. What about the death of Percival Mompesson? Was he death accidental/intentional/plot-opportune?

Yet, again, the author alludes to one of the sensational topics of the Victorian literature - madness, debauchery and depravity. All those nobles houses harbor deep and dark secrets.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) P.S. I actually Miss Quilliam as some of you mentioned in the previous thread, and I hope she will be given a proper atonement in the last two weeks of our discussion.

By the way, it looks like there is some romance on the horizon .... finally :-)


message 3: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 152 comments A couple thoughts... I think Miss Lydia definitely had an agenda, but I don't think it is anything nefarious, she just had a personal stake in something.

As to why Palliser fluctuates with Johnny's character, I think it has to do with the narrator, who is Johnny looking back on his life. Sometimes he is forgiving, sometimes he is stubborn, sometimes he's arrogant. If I were writing an autobiography, especially one in which I hoped to justify my actions (which I think is Johnny's goal), I'd be hard put to not sound self-righteous all the way through.

Suddenly things have come to a head, and everything is changing. Johnny is once again free to mess his life up some more (sorry, but it seems he is constantly turning left when he should be turning right).


message 4: by Mary Anne (last edited Apr 25, 2015 09:00PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Anne (dorhastings) 1.) I want to say yes. There are so many characters who, up until this point, should have given Johnnie the information he needed and didn't. (I was waiting for Johnnie's mother's diary, but I remember feeling perhaps about as disheartened as he did about it.) She filled in so many pieces for him. And I do believe in her good intentions.

2.) My opinion is that the death was predestined. I think he could have gotten so much more information from her (and from all of his sources) but perhaps the only thing that would have prevented her telling him more was death itself.

3.) I think Palliser is doing a few things in his portrayals of Johnnie. For one thing, he rather lets us make our own decisions about our main character. Secondly, Johnnie is still a very young man, still forming, and even if he wasn't, people are more likely to do a bit of both sides instead of always making the right or wrong decisions. He seems realistic that way. And (I'm not sure this is a good thing) it allows us to focus more on the story, the journey to finding out what happened in the past) instead of on Johnnie himself. As far as trusting Joey, well. He has to trust someone.

4.) Sir Percival's death, to me, was quite plot-opportune. (I mean, I don't think I'm going to say any character's death is accidental, so take that for what it is.) I've already read ahead, so I don't want to say a lot, because I can't remember where we were by the end of this section. But to me, it seemed insignificant, until it didn't.


Teanka I was really relieved and happy with how this section ended. Johnnie is finally free and has the original will of Jeoffrey Huffam! Now the major problem is how to get it to court.

Also, he talked to Henrietta again and, as Zulfiya said, there might finally be some romance on the horizon. Looks like the story is progressing towards a (hopefully) satisfactory ending.

I enjoyed a lot the heraldry in this part. It was fun thinking about the quincunx of the quincunxes and how to solve the puzzle. Also I liked how all of the families' symbols intertwined on the bigger family crest. This part more than justified the title of the book. I'm looking forward to reading the remaining part of the novel.

Oh, and I was sorry that Lydia died. I thought someone must have killed her, it doesn't seem plausible plot-wise that she just expired when she was about to divulge important information. Percival Mompessons's death was also plot-opportune in the sense that it substantially moved action forward and added excitement to Johnnie's plan as he had to react right away and steal the document when not fully prepared.


Kaycie | 294 comments Zulfiya, I agree that this was a revealing yet under-whelming section.

1,2. I, unfortunately, felt like the scenes with Lydia were another info dump. It was a great conicidnece that she knew hima nd spoke to him and just divulged huge amounts of information to Johnnie. I also think that her death was important in order for Johnnie to not learn more from her and have to seek other sources for the knowledge. I was almost glad of it, because I wanted to see him branch out from people just informing him of important facts.

3. My understanding is that this stems from Johnnie being the narrator of the story. Things are bound to be told in a way that is not 100% true to fact and that might paint him in a better light, etc.

4. Plot necessary, I think, based on things relating to marriages, etc. within the Mompesson families. He also served his purpose. Characters seem to disappear rapidly in this story once they have served their purpose.

I am really, really hoping this wraps things up, but knowing Palliser as I do now, 100 pages are plenty of time for more betrayals, horrible london characters, and dramatics! Heres to the final 100, everyone!


Mary Anne (dorhastings) I agree with you, Kaycie, about the information dump.

Haha, I like the "Characters seem to disappear rapidly in this story once they have served their purpose." I suppose it's at least an indicator that we don't need to expect more of that character in later chapters.

Enjoy the last 100!


Teanka I guess I'm a bit odd then because the info dump parts were the parts I enjoyed the most in this novel. The history of the combined Huffam/Mompesson/Clothier/Maliphant/Pamphramond family was exciting if ominous and I loved the quincunx riddle as well as learning about all of the elopements and different wills codicils etc.


Deana (ablotial) Moving right along in this novel now!

Add me to the list of people who are not fans of the info dumps. On the one hand, that is where Johnnie is getting most of his information, so they are what is moving the book forward. But I think it would have been more interesting to have him discover the information in bits and pieces somehow, instead of just running into people who give him huge amounts of information (but never quite enough). Those long multi-chapter monologues are where I always lose interest in the book for a while and end up napping.

I'm sure that both of the deaths are plot-necessary. I do hope that Miss Lydia ends up having been poisoned or something though, and not just that Palliser had her die a peaceful death coincidentally at the moment she would have been most useful to Johnnie... that seems lazy to me.

I love how things worked out in the end of this section, with the tutor also plotting against his employers but for a different reason. Smart of Johnnie to think of raising the alarm for the other burglary in order to make his getaway! Can't wait to find out what happens next, with Johnnie and Henrietta, both!


message 10: by Zulfiya (last edited May 18, 2015 09:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Deana wrote: "But I think it would have been more interesting to have him discover the information in bits and pieces somehow, instead of just running into people who give him huge amounts of information (but never quite enough). Those long multi-chapter monologues are where I always lose interest in the book for a while and end up napping."


It is very Victorian, isn't it? I mean people with their lengthy confessions and how boring they can sometimes be :-)


Deana (ablotial) Very true!


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