Monday, 16 April 2012

The Woman in White Readalong: Enter the Fosco

So many spoilers, herein.


But first, to backtrack. This section of the readalong opens with a few chapters from the Fairlies' lawyer, Mr. Gilmore. His straightforward, no nonsense writing style is a welcome break from our old friend Wax-Poetic Hartright. In Gilmore's section, I become YET MORE wary of Sir Percival (on top of the whole shutting a young lady in an asylum thing, and the fact that his name provokes the heebies [as well as the jeebies]). First and probably most telling: dogs don't like him. Never a good sign. Laura's little greyhound, Nina, shrinks out of his reach when he approaches and snaps at him later. Good call, Nina. (We see animals being referenced a lot in this section, especially with Sir Percival's friend, Count Fosco. Truthfully, I'm not sure what the make of it, as yet. Wilkie's sayin' somthin', but I'm not sure what.) Second, after much lawyering about, Sir Percy winds up with a £20,000 interest in Laura's death. TENSION! As I say.

Then, Maid Marian enters as our narrator, through excerpts of her diary. Her reaction to the change in Laura immediately after her honeymoon is interesting. Is it Laura's loss of girlishness and innocence that makes her less beautiful to her half sister? Or is it that she'll never again be just Laura, now always tied to this unsettling man? But then Laura was never just Laura. Before the wedding, Marian lamented the fact that Laura will no longer be hers. Possession has changed over, and it doesn't sit well with the sisters.

But Percy isn't the only person who came home with Laura. I love Marian best as narrator, but I'm going to have to reassign the role of favourite character to one Count Fosco. Count Fosco! What a name on that guy. If that's not the name of a master villain, I don't understand the world. He could be a Bond villain, is what I'm saying. "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to quote Dante."

The scene where Marian is hiding on the roof ledge in the rain, listening to the Count explain to the Sir the benefits of Laura's death below her is one of the best scenes I have ever read in literature. Certainly the best I read in 2011 (when I first read it. Well, 2011 was a big year. I also read for the first time that year Jane Eyre and Rebecca. Among others, of course, but those are the two that stand out in memory right now. Anyway, top five scenes I read in 2011). TENSION! Is what I'm getting at.

Anyramble, this post is getting exceptionally long and WiW is quite long enough, thank you, so I'll cut myself off. BUT! Marian descends into Fever! Her writing gets less and less legible, more and more smudgy, and then, the Count is writing and he's read Marian's journal and he confirms her suspicions and AAAAAAAAH! This is Thriller.

Read on!



    HOW excited are we about Mr Fairlie getting the next section? I've never even liked him that much and I still love it as of the first couple pages. Huzzah.

    I only got to the roof scene this morning (i.e. after I wrote my post) and YES omg the visual, it is splendid. Good job there, Wilkie. And once again, DICKENS YOU WOULD NOT DO THIS. I mean, with a dude, yeah, but not with an enterprising noble lady. "Enterprising WOMAN? No such thing."

    1. So excited, is how excited. Side note, how awesome was it when Marian SLAMMED the door in his delicate face? The man must have swooned for the rest of the day.

      Also, RIGHT?! I love the roof scene. Though, hindsight, probably should have worn some sort of Victorian anorak.

  2. Dramatic pug!

    THANK you for giving dear old Gilmore a fair shake. SOME of us *glares pointedly at Laura* have forgotten the rule about respecting our elders.

    The animals thing is DEFINITELY important. Usually when animals (or children...same thing really) dislike a character, it's a giant red flag that the character is a no-goodnick. This confused me a little with Fosco, because animals clearly adore him, but he is not such a nice man. But I like Alice's explanation, which is that he's not essentially a terrible person...he's many shades of gray. And since animals don't particularly care about money matters, what reason do they have to withhold their love?

    1. Gilmore! I just loved that he didn't take any crap from Mr. Fairlie. No tip-toeing from this guy.

      Yes, I find it hard to reconcile Fosco's dastardly side with his Animal Whisperer side. Definitely a complex villain, this fella.


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