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Haunting of Gad's > Mrs. Thorley and Lavinia

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message 1: by Peggy (last edited Oct 17, 2010 12:02PM) (new)

Peggy (peggy908) | 936 comments I'm doing a re-read of Gad's Hall and the Haunting of Gad's Hall. I don't have any children so I'm not an expert on motherhood, but does anyone think it is peculiar that Mrs. Thorley was easily persuaded to let Lavinia visit the Fremlins, even staying overnight almost immediately. I was struck by Mrs. Fremlin saying that her son knew Lavinia had great talent just by talking to her. That sent up a red flag to me--art is so visual and unless you had seen someone's work, how could you pick up on this?

There seemed to be little interest from Lavinia's family on her artwork--the time she drops her portfolio and Mrs. Thorley sees odd pictures, Lavinia tells her they were Mrs. Fremlin's pictures and she buys that, no more questions.

Mrs. Thorley always seemed such a responsible and resourceful person once she was on her own (after her husband's suicide) and when she married George Thorley. I felt that she was not an overly intrusive mother which is a good thing, but also that she dropped the ball on Lavinia since it is repeated several times how immature and shy Lavinia was. Young people can sometimes be manipulated so easily.

I imagine in today's society that Lavinia would have fit in with what is called the Goths, although I do know that Goths don't necessarily believe in witchraft. Do you think Mrs. Fremlin was a part of the corruption of Lavinia or just acting as her son's shill to bring Lavinia into their home?

Peggy


message 2: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 315 comments Wonder if it had anything to do with the "worthlessness" of women at that time? The men ruled and girls/women were chattel, good only to make adventagous marriages, produce sons or keep the house and wait on them. Did most, if not all, of the work and got little credit for anything.


message 3: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments I hadn't thought about how Lavinia was treated at home until I read this post. Generally, I think girls were over-protected in the culture of the day. They did not live with daily reports of missing or molested children as we do now. Yes, I think Mrs Fremlin was part of the destruction of Lavinia. It does surprise me a little that L was allowed to go without a chaperone. I know a family with four daughters, and the youngest was always kind of left to the older girls' care. Could that have been similar in the Thorley family?


message 4: by Barbara (last edited Oct 17, 2010 04:56PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2232 comments I have always thought that Lavinia was kind of left to her own devices as she was the least attractive ( I mean as a person, not physically) child in the family . So everyone was quite glad she had an outside interest as it were.

As for the chaperoning thing, they were all country people, and I think chaperonage was perceived as more of a city necessity. And the fact that Mrs Fremlin was female and a bit of a 'lady' made it seem OK, perhaps?


message 5: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Very likely, Barbara. It never seemed strange to me as I read the book that Lavinia was allowed to visit unchaperoned. Unfortunately, she seemed "ripe for the picking" and I understand how easily she could be groomed and led into an evil situation. It still happens today. I knew of a man in a neighborhood that served a school where I worked. He was grooming at least half a dozen little boys who attended our school, and seduced several of them. Our community has a very high population of sexual predators.


message 6: by Barbara (last edited Oct 18, 2010 04:45AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2232 comments I must confess I never quite , totally got who/what Lavinia thought the baby was going to be - Satan's child? And did the Fremlin group think so too? Or did they just spin her a line when she got inconveniently pregnant from the black magic shenanigans ?
What was in the pictures ( sorry if we have covered this before, I think we may have , I think Alice had a theory but I have forgotten


message 7: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Did the Fremlins evolve into the Afternoon of An Autocrat family? Something just got me wondering... It seems to me I remember the paintings being described as being just a little bit "off." To me, this meant they were basically 'normal,' but if one looked closely there would be something else a little odd in them.


message 8: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 708 comments It seems to me that if the Fremlins maintained the fiction that Lavinia was going to visit MRS. Fremlin, it would have been considered acceptable.


message 9: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Oh, yes. That makes sense.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Sherry wrote: "Did the Fremlins evolve into the Afternoon of An Autocrat family? Something just got me wondering... It seems to me I remember the paintings being described as being just a little bit "off." To ..."

No, the Fremlins were not related to the Shelmadines. I really like the older Shelmadine who is the autocrat. But he looks across the room and sees a crazy woman that he falls in love with and so has a wicked son nothing like him. The one he should have married loves him all his life and Damask helps her.

One of the things that Lavinia painted was poppies with faces. Her paintings sold for quite a bit at that time in London where tastes were more sophisticated. I think her work might have been a little like Magritte. I notice that NL writes in different books quite a bit about poppies. I fell in love with the little poppies of Suffolk myself when I lived there. They were very tiny and fragile.

Lavinia suffered a terrible betrayal. Sometimes it seems like Rosemary's Baby to me.


message 11: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments I agree, Alice. The whole story of Lavinia is very "Rosemary's baby"-like. I have a lot of sympathy for her. I remember the Shelmadine name from other NL books, but not the context. Some of NL's short stories were pretty spooky and scared me pretty well.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Sherry wrote: "I agree, Alice. The whole story of Lavinia is very "Rosemary's baby"-like. I have a lot of sympathy for her. I remember the Shelmadine name from other NL books, but not the context. Some of NL'..."

No Norah Loft has ever scared me really bad. Since I got on goodreads and started reading all the vampire books so popular on here I attempted to read Dracula again. Now that scared me silly! (again) I simply cannot read it. Maybe my third attempt will be "charm". I am similar to Bella Swan in Twilight in that I suffer nightmares if I read something really scary. I am starting to realize its better for my health to avoid certain books..some of them classics. Best for me to stick with some "fluff" for the most part. I have read quite a few classics since I got on goodreadss I would NEVER have read since I am 61 and not forced to in school but I did them so I could answer quiz questions. I even bought myself a new copy of Dracula, second hand copy of The Bell Jar which I read about age 16, and quite a few others.
I sometimes wonder if the person who wrote Rosemary's Baby had read Gad's Hall and The Haunting of Gad's Hall and got some ideas from it. It can give me chills but no nightmares so far. I read it almost every October as it seems like the time to read something spooky. I read Rosemary's Baby in college and saw the movie but one I could never see was The Exorcist. I carefully avoided it altho many of my friends went to see it and one woman let her daughter go (bad mistake).
A very scary book Carol suggested to me that you may want to watch out for is Uncle Silas! I do like most vampire books. I also cannot read much Ann Rice tho.
How is your book coming along? I was thinking about you writing today and wonder if I should take another stab at it. I would like to write some not too scary horror like Twilight or Charlaine Harris books.
Give Afternoon of an Autocrat another try. The first half is fabulous. Her descriptions are heavenly for this time of year. My father was similar to Damask's father. I just loathe him in the book!


message 13: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Well, I don't read vampier stories. I tried watching that series a couple of years ago - it had a good vampire in it, whose wife had turned him on their wedding night. I thought it was silly. I am pretty careful about what I watch and/or read. I don't like being so scared I'm afraid to turn out the light. When I was a kid I had nightmares about the wicket witch in Disney's Snow White. And the vultures sitting on the tree limb. I'm a real sissy.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Sherry wrote: "Well, I don't read vampier stories. I tried watching that series a couple of years ago - it had a good vampire in it, whose wife had turned him on their wedding night. I thought it was silly. I ..."

LOL! thanks for my first laugh of the day! Also a sissy but I do like to be scared sometimes. I get a kick out of it. My sister Laurie and I were absolutely terrified of witches also. I first got interested in vampires when a young soldier loaned me his copy of Salem's Lot. Horrifying but not as bad as Ann Rice. I was more interested in werewolves until Twilight but of course there are both in that series. I am wondering what TV series you watched? Was it Moonlight? I loved that but the writers strike destroyed it. Charlaine Harris has it ALL! She even has fairies and demons. But her stuff is slightly funny! You get a laugh now and again.

Peggy, its my guess that Lavinia was OK except for the artistic temperment until she got involved with the Fremlins. I believe she was seduced and other horrible things happened to her. The other things I suspect are the things that almost happened to Damask in Afternoon of an Autocrat. The things are spelled out clearly near the end. Its very hard to believe but entertaining and can give you a slight chill. But remember I used to read Stephen King until he turned into a trash heap.
Even if you don't read all the way to the end I do recommend Afternoon of an Autocrat for NL's GREAT writing. So PERFECT. IMO absolutely perfect.


message 15: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Yes, I think the program was Moonlight. I don't watch the Twilight series, either, although it is filmed here in WA on the coast. I enjoy mysteries, but I don't read the gruesome thrillers. All people must enjoy being a little scared at times, else why would we tell ghost stories when we're camping? And why else would Hollywood keep making horror movies? Because there is an audience for them. I also don't read Harry Potter (got through the first four before I decided they were just silly), and I don't read Steven King. He is not a very good writer, in my opinion.


message 16: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 315 comments I met SK once - one of the scariest looking individuals I've ever seen. Black eyes, hair growing down far on brow, a seriously spooky dude. He looks like his books! Gives ya the greebies.


message 17: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments He often does cameos (a la Hitchcock) in the films of his stories. Yes, he is a little creepy looking.


message 18: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 315 comments I think it's the eyes - all pupil, no iris - like a sharks


message 19: by Barbara (last edited Oct 19, 2010 05:35PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2232 comments You are in for a real treat with Afternoon of an Autocrat Peggy. The original NL title was The Devil in Cleveley so look out for it under that title too. I think there may even be a third variation.


message 20: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 708 comments Re Rosemary's Baby, Lavinia, the Fremlines and Shelmadines, and Stephen King:

1. Rosemary's Baby was published several years before Gad's Hall.

2. Similarly, the Shelmadines were in Clevely before the Fremlins came to the neighborhood. Afternoon of an Autocrat takes place in the early 1800s, at the latest, and Gad's Hall is mid to late Victorian.

3. I have to keep defending Stephen King! Unlike most of his imitators, he creates characters the reader can care about and situations the reader can even identify with (the outcast girl and the high school prom, the nerdy boy who becomes cool when he gets a car), he knows what we're REALLY afraid of, and he can be uproariously funny. I remember sitting up in bed one summer night years ago reading his Danse Macabre and laughing myself silly. But what really lifts him above most writers of his genre is that he has a feeling for evil comparable to that of Hawthorne. I don't know of any other horror writer in the last 150 years whose works have been assigned in English classes!

But to the readers who simply shrink away from that kind of fiction, so does my sister. She shudders at the meniton of his name--or did until I asked her, "Have you seen the movie Shawshank Redemption?" After a second of silence, she said, "He wrote THAT?"


message 21: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 708 comments Alice wrote, "I fell in love with the little poppies of Suffolk myself when I lived there."

Me, too! Not in Suffolk, a part of England where I've never been (although my sister lived in Ipswich for a year or two, and her husband fell in love with Chertsey), but in other parts of the country. I think those are the poppies of Flanders Field (where a great-uncle of my husband's is buried). I'd love to bea able to grow them here, along with those little pink-and-white daisies that grow in the grass. The "English daisies" offered by nurseries are more like little pompoms, but the wild ones are the original "day's eyes." Chaucer wrote about them.


message 22: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments You all can defend Steven King all you want, but it isn't going to make me like his books. The one book he wrote that meant anything to me was On Writing. He offered a lot of good insight to those of us who write. He received something like 2,000 rejections before he got anything published. I give him a lot of credit for persistence. I know two writers in my group who are Steven King Wannabees. So far they are not making it. I have read two or three of his novels, so I am not bashing him with my eyes closed. I simply don't enjoy his books.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Me, too! Not in Suffolk, a part of England where I've never been (although my sister lived in Ipswich..."

Yes, they are the poppies of Flanders Fields and I wear one every year on my birthday. (fake one) I first wore one home from London on the train. I even bought my china in Corn Poppy..sorry if I have mentioned this before. I have planted them here too where I have giant Oriental poppies and wild orange poppies but they had a struggle and didn't make it. You might like Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady which has some great wild flower drawings.

We have the little pink and white daisies here in the mountains. I loved seeing the wildflowers in England but nothing beats those little poppies. No wonder she painted them.

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Mary wrote: "Re Rosemary's Baby, Lavinia, the Fremlines and Shelmadines, and Stephen King:

1. Rosemary's Baby was published several years before Gad's Hall.

2. Similarly, the Shelmadines were in Cleve..."


Oh, Gad's Hall seems so old its hard for me to realize it was published AFTER Rosemary's Baby!!

I used to love Stephen King until he went downhill. I adored The Shining and thought Salem's Lot was great. I do have to be careful which books of his I read tho. However, have you read Just After Sunset? The first story was good but there was no need for that last sick story. We also like The Stand.

I only meant the story that happened to Damask seemed similar to me to the story that happened to Lavinia. The wicked evil man was looking for a virgin sacrifice in Damask, right? (when he had her hold the stone?) Only they were going to kill her I believe. Didn't the white dog save her? There was no one there to save Lavinia.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Sherry wrote: "You all can defend Steven King all you want, but it isn't going to make me like his books. The one book he wrote that meant anything to me was On Writing. He offered a lot of good insight to thos..."

Sherry, I think I had his book on writing too. I got it from a book club about the time I got the Dark Tower or something like that...Hero (?) named Roland or the gunslinger. Just awful. (so artsy)
His early books were good but then he just lost it. Was it after he was hit by a van? per the quiz it was. Another quiz question claims he was drunk the whole time he wrote Cujo! Surely that is impossible! He remembers nothing about writing it.

I like his quote about.....fall is coming and something says to the primitive brain in Maine.
"Migrate or die". I will have to look thru the quotes here to see if I can find it. When I read that I had to laugh as living in Newfoundland makes you feel that way...migrate or die.

Mary, do you have any of his quotes on your quotes page?


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Peggy, I think the Fremlins might have been a coven...do you get that impression? I also agree with you about his comments on her art.

The old woman was so COLD she could even have been a vampire. See! I have been reading too many vampire books lately. She could have been a vampire/witch like Sookie Stackhouses cousin in New Orleans.


message 27: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2232 comments Alice, do you think The Fremlins et al were a coven? Of witches? I thought they were more like Satanists, or is that the same thing?

Fancy Rosemaary's Baby being earlier!


message 28: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments What little I think I know: witches are not automatically Satan-worshippers. The Wiccan religion honors nature and a goddess. Some satan-worshippers do meet as covens of 13. I've known one or two Wiccans, but not well enough to understand the nature of their religion. It reminds me of the Native Americans who thanked the tree they hollowed out for a canoe, or the animal they killed for food, understanding (as perhaps we all should) that the Spirit of God is in all things.

Now, I am not a religious nut. I just have evolved my own understanding of God (which Methodists are encouraged to do).


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Barbara wrote: "Alice, do you think The Fremlins et al were a coven? Of witches? I thought they were more like Satanists, or is that the same thing?

Fancy Rosemaary's Baby being earlier!"


Its very hard to say. I would guess witches. There are different kinds of witches. We learn this in The Wizard of Oz..Glinda the good witch! etc.

Yes, I was very surprised by that.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Sherry wrote: "What little I think I know: witches are not automatically Satan-worshippers. The Wiccan religion honors nature and a goddess. Some satan-worshippers do meet as covens of 13. I've known one or t..."

You are right Sherry! I learned a little about this when I moved to NM. We lived on the edge of the National Forest. One day we happened to come home in the evening on Samhain. I had no idea what Samhain was then. They were gathering in the forest and it was scary. There was a strange energy. I was so scared when I got home I called the forest ranger and told him I thought a group of the KKK were meeting in the forest. He told me it was the witches and they had a right to meet! Imagine my surprise?
They had no respect for the forest as they left trash all around.....GRRRR!

Later I learned there were Wiccans all around me there. Most of them were very nice people. One picked sage for me to burn. You are sure right they do not worship Satan.

My father was a religious fanatic. He was definitely a nut.... poor thing. Many people are demented on the subject of religion.
He created a lot of FEAR.


message 31: by MaryC (last edited Oct 21, 2010 03:21PM) (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 708 comments Alice wrote, "The wicked evil man was looking for a virgin sacrifice in Damask, right? (when he had her hold the stone?) Only they were going to kill her I believe." I thought she was only going to lose her virginity! In fact, wasn't it Linda's pheasants that were actually sacrificed? Anyway, I really liked the way NL built up to the moment before whatever sacrifice or desecration Damask was to participate in, with things going amiss--terribly so in one case--for various characters, and then Damask's moment of grace and the reversal of all the evil that was supposed to happen. So she ran away in nothing but a monk's robe and her own shoes--made by whom? Symbolism in both parts of her outfit?

All in all, I think Afternoon may be NL's masterpiece. She handles so many threads of the plot that I've never been able to recount the story to anyone. Incidentally, she DID often seem to approve of people's taking justice into their own hands, didn't she?


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, I agree with you Mary! Afternoon of an Autocrat is Norah Lofts masterpiece IMO too. Then at the end she went to be a missionary. Her mental health had been restored after that strange seizure that she went thru ...was it due to her beau marrying someone else?

I also approve of people sometimes taking justice into their own hands. The police can't do it all! My husband used to be a police man and he told me that you really cannot expect the police to get there in time but this thought applies to many other things. NL was brilliant. What do you think her IQ was?

I was just reading at Werner's Supernatural group and there was a Lady Danielle posting and I thought it was so FUN I decided to be Lady Alice for Halloween.

Lady Alice of the Lower Road.....Booooo.........do you think she did Shelmadine in?


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

hmm, I suspect that Sylvia foresaw I was going to do this about a week ago!


message 34: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Lady Alice, I picture you riding through the forest on a Colorado bear's back instead of a horse!

IMO, the Fremlins were a devil's cult, not witches. In "The Haunting of Gad's Hall", pg. 170, pb edition, mrs. Thorley's thoughts were: "Lavinia had been caught in a web of evil, had practiced black magic, and she was mad, been possessed, and if her own last words could be believed, impregnated by the Devil."

The Bible denounces witchcraft, as well as the worship of anything other than God, the Creator. Personally I believe that God keeps the powers of evil contained for his purposes, but when people turn to evil and give it attention, they do evil things themselves. In the 80s there was a lot of media attention in the Cincinnati area about devil worship and their "churches", and our children's home received teens into care who had been caught up in it. Our Director sent the staff to a workshop in Columbus, to learn how to help these kids, hearing a world expert in these cults, and it was horrible and disgusting what happens to the girls and their babies in these cults.


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