Fans of Norah Lofts discussion

JASSY > Mortiboys (family home)

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message 1: by Barbara (last edited Feb 15, 2009 07:07PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Alice wrote: "As you read Norah Lofts books Mortiboys will come up again and again. In Jassy it had belonged to the Hattons but the Barney's father who was known as "the most stupid and most handsome man in the"

Goodness, but NL can paint a word picture!

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, this was Barney Hatton speaking about his father. LOL! Jassy finally got Mortiboys back for him. (now was that love or what?) I mean real love.

I enjoy NL descriptions of fall but also her mentions of cuckoos. Long about April or May I heard my first cuckoo in my whole life. It was about 4 am! It was about like entering fairy land to me and I woke my ex up carrying on. Previously I had only heard cuckoo clocks. I will never forget that. I wish I could hear a nightinggale also but never heard one. Have you?

message 3: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 308 comments Thanks for jogging my memory. My friend Anne & I asked NL about the houses in her books. Many, if not most, were loosly based on real ancient homes in the area. As to Mortiboys, she said "It's just criminal what has happened to it." but wouldn't comment further. I always thought that must mean it had a McDonalds in the great hall or that it had been vandalized.

message 4: by Barbara (last edited Jun 10, 2010 05:35PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Deborah , yes inded I have read Madselin, one of my favourites in fact , with its early mention of Mortiboys and Layer Wood. We have a whole thread on Layer Wood you may like and we are still hoping to create a map

message 5: by Cassie (new)

Cassie (cassiepetty) | 185 comments I am reading Jassy now-for the first time, so I am not reading this thread (got my blinders on) I am sooo tempted but I want to get the story just as NL intended.

message 6: by Cassie (new)

Cassie (cassiepetty) | 185 comments Deborah wrote: "Has anyone here read "Madselin"? It has the first mention of Mortiboys, and explains the name. Madselin, as a Saxon, is in danger of losing her home, called Bradwald (broad wood) ; so she marries..."

(ok so I took my blinders off for a second!)I remember reading in Knights Acre that Layer wood was named for the pools of water throughout the woods.
Something about the word "lay" or "layer" meaning pools in another language.

message 7: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (sylviab) | 1361 comments Deborah wrote: "Barbara, how do I find this thread on Layer? It isn't listed - where I can see it, anyway. Should I google it?
Thanks -"

Hi Deborah. I'll answer for Barbara: At top, click on "discussions" in list on right. When "General" list comes up, to right of the word "General" click on "view all" in tiny print. All topics will come up.

message 8: by Barbara (last edited Jun 12, 2010 07:00PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Deborah, the link to Layer Wood thread is in my post 8 above..otherwise see Sylvia in post 13

"Who wants my hall must take it ......." ooh shivers in spine. And in one phrase NK transform a rather unattacive wizened Eitel into a warrier worth of anyone . So satisying .

message 9: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 308 comments When we lived in CT we had a really old (for here) house c 1721 - land grant during Queen Anne's reign.
The builder's name was Nettleton! The same family lived in it for 170 years and the many farm acres were gradually sold off.
What a good idea about the map overlay,Deborah! Asking at Herrod's for antique furniture floor - what year, Madam? The 18th cent. Oh.....then you will want the used furniture floor!!!!!!!!!!

message 10: by Barbara (last edited Jun 12, 2010 07:16PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Deborah , I always liked that the 'death in the wood' story too with the Normans giving it the name to honour the fighting spirit of the Saxons who fought literally to the death rather than give up their home.. I thought it was a group or family not a single man too. Could very well be wrong tho, I will check.

Morte de Bois - ie 'death wood' would be be right wouldn't it ? NL says it got softened down in the local dialect to Mortiboys . I have always had problems with this tho, because the locals would not have been literate so would not have made the bois/ boys connection . They would have been more likely to called it Morterbar or something I have always thought. Unless maybe a semi literate parish priest made the bois/boys thing

message 11: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 308 comments On, no prob, Deborah. I love reading all the comments - even though I go off topic ALL the time. I forget to mention that the ghost in our old house was called Effie - a child that cried. Right out of NL.

message 12: by Barbara (last edited Jun 14, 2010 12:58AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Deborah Now that is interesting re the morte de bois/bois mort thing. Death in (the) wood could be mort en bois couldn't it? and that could have suffered the mangling that NL describes. But I still dont see that the locals would have read it, only heard it.

I take your point re medieval French being different though and maybe the Norman soldiers who NL has giving the name in the first place weren;t that grammatical and literate themselves.

Sallie there is a "chitter chatter' thread for when we go off topic ( as we all do ! ) Very useful I think

message 13: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 308 comments Thanks, Barbara. I didn't know how to get to the other links (through discussions tab) until the info was passed on by Sylvia, to someone who didn't know either. I'll try to keep on the right track.

message 14: by Barbara (last edited Jun 15, 2010 07:42PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Hi Sallie
I think it is quite hard to get to another thread and also to find old ones which haven;t been added to for a while.
I always go to the Fans of Norah Lofts link at the top of the page and work back from there . There is proabably a better way but that's the the only one I've mastered.
I hope didn't sound reproving , I certainly didn't mean to!

Any more thoughts on the Mort de Bois thing?

message 15: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 308 comments I am reprove-proof, Barbara! I like to have all the info I can get as I am not too computer savvy. The Mort discussion seems pretty close to the mark to me. Perhaps it was death IN the woods & it got scrambled between languages?

message 16: by Rita (new)

Rita | 61 comments I can't remember which book it was, but I'm sure that one later book after Madselin told the story of the name of Mortebois and said the name referred to the death of the original Saxon lord. Maybe it was just pointing out that passed-down tales got tangled? Like a story in my own family: in the days of bare-knuckled fighting and before the Marquis of Queensbury, this really poor Irish ancestor of mine was handy with his fists, and a wealthy English guy sponsored him to come to America and fight, and he stayed. Great story. Only thing wrong with it is it is not true. After research I find all my folks were here before 1760. Does that make me not an immigrant to U.S.A. since there wasn't such at that time?

message 17: by Barbara (last edited Jun 18, 2010 10:16PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Mmm I had a feeling it was in one of the Suffolk Trilogy ones too, I thought I rememebered Sir Godfrey telling the tale - tho he is one who could well have got it wrong.

Rita - love your family legend tale, see Chitter Chatter for response

message 18: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Hi Cassie

I've responded to your Jassy comments in the Jassy thread ( this one is the Mortiboys one )

message 19: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Elaine,
Several of the people who contribute to this group are working on lists of characters in the books as they read them. I'm looking forward to seeing that.

message 20: by Barbara (last edited Nov 29, 2010 05:49PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Hi Elaina, welcome, how lovely to get a new NL fan here!

I'm not sure we think that Madselin was the ancestress, as you say, the details don't really add up. Plus it's not really clear that Madselin was pregnant when she married Rolf is it? Only Hild , with her Norman-hatred really thought that the baby was Eitel's or so it seemed to me.

I reckon the last stand in the woods was some other incident, and that NL used it to show a kind of cultural memory . Very realistic when you think of it, look how family and place stories from nowhere as far back as that, get kind of mixed and skewed. Deborah and others detail this well in the messages above.

In Wayside Tavern a character says, for instance that the One Bull got it's name from a Papal Bull in the time if Henry 8th ( I think) , when we "know' how it really got it's name.

Your post reminds me too, that Rolf's castle was wood, built on a stamped earth mound, so would not necessarily have lasted all that long , so another (stone) building could have been raised on the site maybe? Even the site for Mortiboys, tho this doesn’t explain why it is connected to Baildon Abbey. I;d forgotten that bit, I must go back and look. Does Barney say how it’s connected?

I think Mary is intending to do the Hattons of Mortiboys in the thread that Sherry mentions above, tho I could be wrong.
A neat list of major characters and the places they ‘belong’ to would be great wouldn’t it! I would volunteer, but I’m already way behind with my Gildersons....

message 21: by Rita (new)

Rita | 61 comments Hi, Elaina, enjoyed your comments so much. Barbara, it is true that we dont know for sure about the father of Madselin's baby. Just that she herself seemed to think that it was Eitel's because at the end of her story, she thinks that it should be the one to inherit, but she thinks that she owes Rolf a son. That is after he saved her and she came to appreciate him in ways other than in bed. I always liked to think that Madselin was an ancestress of the place. I also wondered about the house Rolf built. Wasn't Mortiboys the fanciest of all the houses NL wrote about? I had that idea, any way.

message 22: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Wasn't there a time when windows and closets were taxed? That would make a house with a lot of windows very expensive to maintain, and affordable only by the rich. Taxing closets gave rise to wardrobes.

message 23: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Well, I was more certain about the closet tax than I was about the window tax. Imagine! I knew what I was talking about, and didn't even know it!

message 24: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2134 comments Mortiboys did sound like a beautiful house didn;t it - one at least of the windows was huge and actually flapped in high wind after Barney's father had let the place go to rack and ruin. And Barney felt physical pain when someone crumbled some wood to show how worm ridden it was

message 25: by MaryC (last edited Dec 02, 2010 10:09PM) (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 704 comments Elaina wrote, "I remember how flabbergasted I was when I started realising people who featured in the House Trilogy were coming up in other books. I was like "HEY! I remember that name!" I felt like I was being let in on some secret or something."

I had a similar experience. The first four NL books I read (all while I was in high school) were Eleanor the Queen (Queen in Waiting), Silver Nutmeg, Bless This House, and The Scent of Cloves--only one Baildon/Layer Wood one. Then in college I discovered The Town House and was delighted and excited when Martin told how he and Kate decided to flee to Baildon and suddenly we were on familiar ground!

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