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Archived Group Reads 2011 > The Portrait of a Lady: Ch 20-27

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message 1: by Silver (new)

Silver For the discussion of chapters 20-27 which are also the last chapters of Volume 1. Be aware if you have not completed these chapters there may be spoilers here.


message 2: by Silver (last edited Mar 13, 2011 09:27PM) (new)

Silver We have been introduced to a new character, and trough the schemes of Madame Merle has been presented as another possible suitor for Isabel.

What do you think of Mr. Osmond? He seems to have a rather curious relationship with Madame Merle. Do you think they were former lovers? I even considered the possibility that she is in fact Pansy's mother, but that idea was later dispelled.

And what of Osmond's insistence and interest in Isabel's wealth as a condition of meeting her? Is he just a fortune seeker?


message 3: by Silver (new)

Silver I have to say that scene of Madame Merle and the Countress sitting there and dicsusing the posible future of Osmond and Isabel really put the image in my head of God and Satan sitting together debating over the fate of mankind.

I just had this picture of these two powerful matriarchs wanting to pull the stings on the lives of others, making threats to get in the way of each others plans, betting against their lives acting as the tempters or protectors, to try to prove which one of them is the more powerful.


message 4: by Bill (last edited Mar 14, 2011 05:24PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 47 comments Silver wrote: "What do you think of Mr. Osmond? He seems to have a rather curious relationship with Madame Merle. Do you think they were former lovers? ..."

I just finished chapter 27

I was thinking siblings at first. Not really sure why though. But it seems it would be rather contrived effort for the narrator to be hiding that from us, so I think they may be old lovers now friends. Or current lovers now devious con artists. Now we do know that Madame Merle is, on occasion, a liar and a manipulator. I'm not sure how much of that one can be and still be trustworthy.

The whole family is sort of weird. Although I found the Countess rather sympathetic as she seemed to feel sorry for and object to Isabel being manipulated by her brother and Madam Merle.

I sense this story is working into the seduction of Isabel by those who don't love her, and how the very personality which makes her charming to all these men, also makes her easily seduced by a master at it. That would be a person who is able to discern that it is the strange and the unfathomable which excites her most and who is able and accomplished at being just that.


message 5: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Mar 15, 2011 04:39AM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) For as much as Isabel wants her independence, there seems to be a plot afoot to manipulate her into its loss. I do not know what to make of all the goings on or why it is the Isabel is the focus of so many men's desire to marry. What is it within her that attracts men like bees to honey? I am not sure that James has been quite adept at pointing this out? Is it her naïveté, her aloofness, her striving for independence, or something as basic as her money, although that was lacking with both Ralph and Lord Warburton?

I can't help but feel that those around her seem like scavengers picking off her innocence
with a type of avaice. I do think the only two who have her interest at heart are Ralph and
Lord Wasburton (and perhaps Goodwood.) The situation is certainly bizarre and one can't
help but wonder why it is that Madame Merle has concocted this plan to have Osborne
pursue and marry Isabel. Of course, his concern for if she is a monied woman is telling.
Has Madame Merle procured other females for Osborne? Was she herself once his
paramour? Very strange indeed that they all seem to "know" what is happening and
watching this whole situation as one would watch the acts of a play unfold.


message 6: by Silver (new)

Silver Marialyce wrote: "For as much as Isabel wants her independence, there seems to be a plot afoot to manipulate her into its loss. I do not know what to make of all the goings on or why it is the Isabel is the focus of..."

It is rather vague why men seem to flock to her like flies, I do not think James really spells it out for the reader, but I think that it is supposed to be inferred that there is something about Isabel that is unique or exceptional in some way. I think it may be a combination of many things. Her independence or her striving for independence, her originality, as well as perhaps her innocence. It may also be the way in which though in many ways she is of her own mind, she has her own ideas, she is not forceful. She is not afraid of expressing herself and yet at the same time she does not give the appearance of being too "opinionated" such as with Harriet.

Isabel is not really what one would say to be docile, or passive, but she is not overly assertive, or give the appearance of being too aggressive either.

I do think it is interesting how there are so many people who do want to manipulate her future in some way or another and how she is stuck among all these different plots and deigns upon her, while some may be better natured than others, she is surrounded by people who want to direct, or guide her life.

The Madame Merle and Osmond connection is an interesting one, and I cannot make out if indeed there is some sort of alliance between Osmond and Merle, in which she herself would stand to profit some finical gain should a marriage be made between them. Or if in fact Madame Merle simply finds them both to be two charming people and she wishes to see them together for her own amusement because she deems Isabel to be a worthy match for Osmond. Or if she has decided that Osmond is the sort of many whom Isabel ought to marry.

Madams Merle's relationship to his daughter seemed kind of strange to me too, which is why I thought she may have been the girls mother. I do not know why, but I got the feeling that Pansy did not really care for Madame Merle that much.


message 7: by Bill (last edited Mar 15, 2011 01:03PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 47 comments Her personality is complex, and James really puts a lot of effort into making it so. If he fails to give a good sense of what it is about Isabel, it certainly isn't for lack of effort on his part. But he does do it in a way thats not straightforward.

@Marialyce. I don't think she is 'aloof' at all. She strikes me as very easy to approach and welcoming to new acquaintances, and its part of her attraction. She likes people and meeting new people.

At the same time-she is not an attention seeker, thats not her reason for being accessible. She has great self possession and self esteem.

She is an extra-ordinary conversationalist, in that she not only displays an intelligent playfulness, but appreciates it in others. She has great wit and yet one would be shocked if it were ever turned on someone in a personal or carelessly hurtful way.

She seems incapable of malice. Even in returning it. (This is something men like Ralph, Warburton, and Goodwood, really appreciate in a woman)

She is so independent and self possessed that she feels no need or inclination to assert herself as such, except in explanation to help those who are pressing her and misunderstand her.

She is excited about life, new experiences, new adventures. She'd be great fun to be around.

She says exactly what she's thinking. While she may not know what she really wants--she does know what she thinks. And the person she's relating to doesn't have to wonder.

And all of the above, as unusual as it may seem, is accompanied with a very real innocence and naivete. Yes.

I think these things are what are drawing men like bees to honey. (an analogy I like better then Silvers' flies to....whatever it is flies are drawn to. :) )


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I guess you like her, Bill? :) I do believe however, that her aloofness is part and parcel of the society she is a part of though.


message 9: by Bill (last edited Mar 15, 2011 01:25PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 47 comments Marialyce wrote: "I guess you like her, Bill? :) I do believe however, that her aloofness is part and parcel of the society she is a part of though."

Well she's not perfect. Shall I list her faults? :)

I do like her. I thinks she's great. I don't understand your 'aloofness' impression at all. Well--I do understand women were expected to be more demure in those days.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Maybe that is a better term, Bill.


message 11: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments I've been busy with other stuff, so am behind in my reading. But, I have been following your comments and my reaction is that you are all touching on why James calls this "The Portrait of a Lady."


message 12: by Scott (new)

Scott (Karlstadt) | 123 comments Bill wrote: "Silver wrote: "What do you think of Mr. Osmond? He seems to have a rather curious relationship with Madame Merle. Do you think they were former lovers? ..."

I just finished chapter 27

I was think..."



message 13: by Scott (new)

Scott (Karlstadt) | 123 comments Osmond does resemble Isabelle's out-of-control carriage careening through the dark night without direction or purpose.


message 14: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Still what to think of Isabel? James is certainly challenging our thought on her. I also relate to Marialyce's term of aloofness -- maybe not exactly right, but I see the impression. Also what Bill said about her conversation skills -- so much of the dialog reminds me of Katherine Hepburn's lines in her films. Clever and cool. Hepburn certainly and I would have to use that as my word for Isabel I think. So yes, very close to aloof. And she maintains that as the story keeps going.

Dear cousin Ralph found her back in Ch 15, found her growing more charming on their London trip " full of premises, conclusions, emotions,...launched brave theories. As Silver said, she never strikes us as docile or passive.

And the men are drawn so quickly to her, but then she so firmly snaps back with refusals.


message 15: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Mar 18, 2011 06:59AM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) She is definitely a woman in charge of her destiny so it seems. Unlike Bill, I don't exactly like her. Perhaps it is a bit of female jealousy, but she seems to have it all tucked up very nicely in a very neat little package. I can't help wondering if the money she now has, has made a great difference in that packaging? The phrase "Too good to be true" comes to mind.

I find that Harriet and Ralph are my most favorite characters. One because of her "what you see is what you get" attitude, while the other seems like such a gentle soul, very much in peace within in his body.


message 16: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments The beginning of Ch 20 really set me thinking about Serena Merle. We are just at the point of discussing the distributions after Mr. Touchette has died. Merle is sitting in such a state, really feeling it that SHE is inheriting no property at the moment. There are almost tints of the sociopathic -- she has no claims at all on Mr. Touchette, but still the inheritance "just now pressed upon her senses and irritated her with a sense of exclusion." She was in "perverse yearning."

Then upon arriving in Paris, Isabel meets the crowd, made up of those who are admired for their "great talent for ordering dinner."

So should Henrietta's next warnings in the same chapter be so unwelcome -- "whatever life you lead you must put your soul in it", etc.?


message 17: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Scott wrote: "Osmond does resemble Isabelle's out-of-control carriage careening through the dark night without direction or purpose."

Yes, Osmond does have the mystery and uncertainty about him. And not much identity. It may be in the later section only, but I am recalling his reference as "Mrs. Merle's friend." He seems to be the ultimate "alienated America" that Henrietta joked about earlier in the story.


message 18: by SarahC (last edited Mar 18, 2011 07:20AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments @ message 15, Marialyce, I am falling in your court as well. I am contrasting Ralph and Hen as true in their affections, especially as I am now doubting Merle. Ralph has an attraction too, certainly not associated with his main "thing"--his illness -- he seems to attract loyalty and be able to give it as well.


message 19: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Marialyce wrote: "...while the other seems like such a gentle soul, very much in peace within in his body."

Very interesting to read those words, because my own reaction to Ralph was that he was very much NOT at peace within his fragile and ill physical body, although remarkably able to create peace in the relationships in which he chooses to participate.


message 20: by Silver (new)

Silver Lily wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "...while the other seems like such a gentle soul, very much in peace within in his body."

Very interesting to read those words, because my own reaction to Ralph was that he was v..."


Yes I agree I myself did not get the impression that Ralph is at peace with himself and his body and current situation. But rather I had more of the feeling that he has simply resigned himself to it. He has given up on any sort of pursuits within his life, as well he does not think he should even make an attempt to marry because of the state of his health. I think his dry wit and sardonic humor can also be seen as a sort of defense mechanism. Because he is convinced of his own oncoming death he keeps himself at distance a certain measure from the rest of the world.


message 21: by Bill (last edited Mar 18, 2011 04:56PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 47 comments Maybe Isabel's refusal of romantic overtures from two top notch guys, as well as her reluctance to engage in a prolonged conversation over a disagreement is being interpreted as 'aloof'. :)

A person could argue with Henrietta all day long; she's ready for that. So she certainly isn't 'aloof' in that regard. I'd imagine she'd find no reason to turn down a marriage proposal from a rich quality guy either. I like Henrietta as much as I do Isabel, maybe more. But I do think Isabel is as approachable as Henrietta is, providing the romance is kept out of it, and the conversation remains congenial. So far anyway. I think things may be about to change with Osmond.


message 22: by Julie (new)

Julie (juliemoncton) | 30 comments Bill wrote: "Maybe Isabel's refusal of romantic overtures from two top notch guys, as well as her reluctance to engage in a prolonged conversation over a disagreement is being interpreted as 'aloof'. :)

A pe..."


I agree with Marialyce that Isabel is aloof or at least insensitive. Although she showed great compassion and affection with Mr. Touchett, she seems passionate about life and experiences, but not about people. Although she thinks Lord Warburton is a good person, she is not very kind or careful in how she breaks his heart.


message 23: by Silver (last edited Mar 20, 2011 04:01PM) (new)

Silver Julie at All Ears wrote: "Bill wrote: Although she thinks Lord Warburton is a good person, she is not very kind or careful in how she breaks his heart.
..."


I have to say that I thought Isabel handled Lord Warburton quite well. I do not think there is really an agreeable way to tell someone who loves you that you do not love them, and that they have no hope to be with you. She was frank and honest, but I do not think she was cruel to him or unkind. It would have been far meaner for her to allow him to think he had a hope which he did not have rather than telling him up front that it would do no good to pursue her.

And I have to say I loved the way in which she was perplexed about how he could even be in love with her when they barely even knew each other, because in so many books, and in this day and age movies, that is one thing that always frustrates me. When two people after talking to each other for 5 seconds will decide they are madly in love with each other. So I enjoyed actually seeing Isabel acknowledge the impracticality of this.


message 24: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bern51) Silver wrote: "Julie at All Ears wrote: "Bill wrote: Although she thinks Lord Warburton is a good person, she is not very kind or careful in how she breaks his heart.
..."

I have to say that I thought Isabe..."


I find Isabel courageous in the way that she has refused these men, it would have been so much easier for her, in that time period, to accept Lord Warburton's offer due to his status and money. Silver, I also appreciate that she did not "fall in love" in minutes as often happens in literary romances. I always chuckle when I read a character call someone a "lover" after they have looked at each other twice.


message 25: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bern51) Marialyce wrote: "Maybe that is a better term, Bill."

I was thinking "guarded"


message 26: by Bill (last edited Mar 20, 2011 03:59PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 47 comments Bernadette wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "Maybe that is a better term, Bill."

I was thinking "guarded""


Thats the word! But she's only guarded against romantic approaches. I don't see how this makes her aloof, or insensitive, or unkind. She is very open and approachable to any man who would be her friend--like Ralph for example. She just isn't ready, at this point, for marriage. She doesn't like to have to repeatedly explain or justify why this is the case. I don't think she should have to or that this should be held against her.

I understand that Henrietta would be happy to explain herself to anyone as long as it takes to get it through their head. She likes that sort of thing. So she is certainly the opposite of 'guarded'. I like her better for it. As much as I like Isabel--Henrietta is more my kind of girl. But I really don't see Isabel's difference in this regard as any negative reflection at all on her.

I think I'm going to continue past chapter 27 with this book tonight.


message 27: by Julie (new)

Julie (juliemoncton) | 30 comments Silver wrote:I have to say that I thought Isabe..."
Good point, Silver. By her actions, Isabel seems to be doing all the right things, but for some reason I just don't warm to her. Her personality seems flat to me. The other women in the book - Mrs. Touchett, Henrietta, even Mrs. Merle - come across as more geniune or rich - even if there are aspects of their personality that I don't like. But for some reason I don't find Isabel appealing. Her actions seem forced or not quite authentic. Does anyone else get that feeling about her?


message 28: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Mar 20, 2011 05:56PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I do Julie. I do not much care for her. I agree as to your description of seeing her as somewhat "flat." I realize the foolishness of all the "falling in love in minutes." I am still held back by the concept that all men who have crossed Isabel's path have fallen in love with her. What are we up to now...three or four men? I can't quite figure out what the allure is. She seems pretty emotionless and one can't really figure her or her motives out, whereas we can see fairly clearly what the makeup of the other women are.

Perhaps, it is the mystery around Isabel's behavior that makes her seem uninvolved and
looking at things from the periphery.of life.


message 29: by Bill (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 47 comments Julie at All Ears wrote: " Mrs. Merle - come across as more geniune or rich - even if there are aspects of their personality that I don't like. But for some reason I don't find Isabel appealing. Her actions seem forced or not quite authentic. Does anyone else get that feeling about her?
.."


I do think she isn't sure what she wants. I don't think that makes a person phony though (or not genuine or authentic). I think it took an incredible amount of authenticity to turn down the two guys she did. I didn't sense dishonesty in her stated motives--did you?

However, I can see how this lack of decision on what she wants, for you and others, would make her personality 'flat' or not as 'rich' as others. I don't take this view--but I understand why others would.

However, I don't think Henry James would be happy to hear his protagonist described like this since he takes such great pains to describe all the complex motivations and sensibilities of Isabel--much more then anyone else in the book.


message 30: by Julie (new)

Julie (juliemoncton) | 30 comments Bill wrote: "I do think she isn't sure what she wants. ... I didn't sense dishonesty in her stated motives--did you?

Bill - thanks for the comment about maybe it's just that Isabel is being indecisive. No, I don't think Isabel is dishonest. But I find it easier to understand the motivations and personalities of the other characters. For example, Mrs. Merle I see as being manipulative and motivated by her own personal gain. Henrietta is idealistic, brash and speaks before thinking things through. But Isabel? Maybe because I can't 'categorize' her makes me not like her? She is definitely not a typical heroine. In any case, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to her and trying to gain a better understanding of her. Thanks for your insight!


message 31: by Silver (last edited Mar 20, 2011 06:52PM) (new)

Silver Though I do rather like Isabel, I can understand the way in which she might come across as being "aloof" or "flat" though I do not know if I would say I find her to be so I can see why she may to some appear that way.

There is a certain vagueness in her which stems from the fact I think, that she herself is so uncertain about her future, and what she wants and what she intends to do with her life. She does not often understood her own motives for some of her actions at times. And she is "directionless." I would imagine that it must indeed be difficult to create a character who is so undefined.

Because of the fact that Isabel herself does not really have a firm hold upon her own life, and does not know what she wants for herself, this in contrast would make her seem less "vivid" than such personalities as Mrs. Touchett, Madame Merle, and Henrietta who are already firmly formed in what they want in life, who they are, and where they are going.

I think that it was an intention of the part of Henry James, not to make the attraction to Isabel to be so easily perceived. Perhaps part of the reason for this is the fact that while Isabel is described as being beautiful and charming, at the same time he did not want to create the stereotypical heroine who has suitors falling at her feet just becasue of thier beauty and charm. So he wanted to give Isabel this unquantified aspect, this something indefinable, that is at the root of her attraction.


message 32: by Julie (new)

Julie (juliemoncton) | 30 comments Silver wrote: "...I think that it was an intention of the part of Henry James, not to make the attraction to Isabel to be so easily perceived. ... So he wanted to give Isabel this unquantified aspect, this something indefinable, that is at the root of her attraction. "

Silver - great analysis. Maybe this answers Marialyce's question of why every guy who crosses Isabel's path falls in love with her.

Another thought I had about my ambivalence toward Isabel is that I have been both reading and listening to the audiobook to catch up with everyone else. The audiobook is narrated by Laural Merlington who does these great character voices for the strongly opinionated Henrietta and Mrs. Touchett, but seems a bit vague and vapid for Isabel. Maybe her interpretation is affecting my opinion!


message 33: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bern51) Marialyce wrote: "I do Julie. I do not much care for her. I agree as to your description of seeing her as somewhat "flat." I realize the foolishness of all the "falling in love in minutes." I am still held back by t..."

Marialyce, maybe it's that she is perceived as "playing hard to get." I think that's what Goodwood might think she is doing


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I think you may be right, Bernadette. I realized that James is building (painting) a portrait of what he believed a lady to be. I am hoping that as the book continues that I will be able to see her nature better than I do now.


message 35: by Bill (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 47 comments Marialyce wrote: "Marialyce, maybe it's that she is perceived as "playing hard to get." I think that's what Goodwood might think she is doing .."

I don't think this would be the case. A person 'playing hard to get' is doing it so as to be more appealing--in order to 'be got'. I think Goodwood knows this isn't what Isabel is doing.

I think he views her as a strong woman who isn't ready to be married yet and when she is ready she'll pick a guy and marry. He thinks there is no reason she wouldn't pick him if he's in the right place at the right time. He knows there will be competition and being a natural competitor himself, he doesn't underestimate the competition. This is why he has pressed her so much and thereby alienated himself from her.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I like that we are all seeing somewhat different things in Isabel and her interactions with people in her life, particularly the men. Perhaps this is exactly what James wanted us to do.


message 37: by Lily (last edited Mar 21, 2011 09:39PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Bill wrote: "I think he [Goodwood] views her as a strong woman who isn't ready to be married yet and when she is ready she'll pick a guy and marry. He thinks there is no reason she wouldn't pick him if he's in the right place at the right time. He knows there will be competition and being a natural competitor himself, he doesn't underestimate the competition. This is why he has pressed her so much and thereby alienated himself from her. "

I loved this analysis and realized that, from my viewpoint as a female, I would probably have never made it.

I am loving the language and the subtle revelations of character that James is giving us. I don't know if I have read any novelist any more sophisticated in his observations. I also am enjoying the irony and humor and the contrast of American and European views, even where I do not necessarily agree or see as them applying to narrow segments of peoples.


message 38: by Naomi (last edited Mar 25, 2011 04:19PM) (new)

Naomi | 2 comments It is interesnting that most here seem to find fault with James' presentation of Isabel, and yet to me the real stumbling block to my engagement with this book was the introduction of Mr. Osmond. I just got the feeling that he had been thrown in the mix simply as a means of furthering the story and to be precepitous to Isabel's decline. For me it seemed as if there wasn't any real attempt to develop his character. What also bothered me is that an aspect that Isabel supposedly falls for is Mr.Osmond's charm and yet there is no evidence of this in the text.

Up until this point I really loved the book, and the characters, but for some reason everything about the character of Mr. Osmond annoys me and ever since I've been struggling to read it.


message 39: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments An interesting snippet in my book says that the original version had a 1,000 word passage in which Osmund reveals his character through his thoughts, a passage James deleted in the 1908 version that Osmond might reveal himself through his actions.

I think James's method may fit his purposes. For one thing, failing to show Osmond's charm may reflect or accent (show up) Isabel's naivety -- if we really got to see the nature of his charm, we would have seen for whom she was falling, even more directly than seeing him through the eyes of others. (We do get bits of it, as he follows her about. Rather nauseating.)


message 40: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bern51) Naomi wrote: "It is interesnting that most here seem to find fault with James' presentation of Isabel, and yet to me the real stumbling block to my engagement with this book was the introduction of Mr. Osmond. I..."

I've finished the book and I agree that this part dragged...Im glad I stuck with it though, it gets better :)


message 41: by Bill (last edited Mar 25, 2011 05:44PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 47 comments Lily wrote: " For one thing, failing to show Osmond's charm may reflect or accent (show up) Isabel's naivety -- if we really got to see the nature of his charm, we would have seen for whom she was falling, even more directly than seeing him through the eyes of others. (We do get bits of it, as he follows her about. Rather nauseating.) ..."

I really like this point. I would add that Isabel is naive for a reason. Its because she over estimates her own intelligence. I don't see this as an unlikeable thing by the way. A charming, caring, person is capable of it. I don't think it necessarily makes a person conceited or proud. Its an easy thing for an intelligent person to do. But the consequences can be that it can make one completely forget to ask the question how probable is it that I'm right and everyone else is wrong?.


message 42: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Bill wrote: "...But the consequences can be that it can make one completely forget to ask the question how probable is it that I'm right and everyone else is wrong?"

LOL! And, when I quit laughing, your entire post with its hypothesis on the source of Isabel's naivete and its consequences is quite fascinating.


message 43: by Scott (new)

Scott (Karlstadt) | 123 comments Bill wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "I guess you like her, Bill? :) I do believe however, that her aloofness is part and parcel of the society she is a part of though."

Well she's not perfect. Shall I list her faul..."



message 44: by Scott (new)

Scott (Karlstadt) | 123 comments Rather than 'aloof', I would say that Isabel does draw back when she feels someone, like Goodwood, has overstepped his bounds. As to flies and moths attracted to a flame, it is often the same reason that people stare at the moon. It is big a bright light that they cannot ignore because it brigtens everything around it. Also, we are often attracted to people who are different than ourselves.


message 45: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Good way to express that, Scott. I think that from the beginning, Isabel did brighten her surroundings. Not from a spiritual sense necessarily, but more an electric sense.


message 46: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Scott wrote: "Rather than 'aloof', I would say that Isabel does draw back when she feels someone, like Goodwood, has overstepped his bounds..."

What are you referring to as "overstepping", Scott? Casper's following her to Europe or...?


message 47: by Scott (new)

Scott (Karlstadt) | 123 comments Casper would be the best example. He seems unable to accept Isabel's time frame. At first, I thought that he was arrogant, like 'how could this woman refuse me?' Now, I think that he is in a situation that is not in the Victorian playbook, that is, that she is not ready to marry. I think Grandwood ends up doubting himself more than blaming Isabel.


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