Heaven: April Book Group - Precious Bane

MaramaMarama Shipmate
edited January 16 in Limbo
This month's book is Precious Bane by Mary Webb. Very popular in Britain in its day (I remember it on my grandfather's bookcase), it was written in the 1920s but set in the years just after the Napoleonic wars. It is a first person account by Prudence Sarn (her ‘precious bane’ is her hair lip) of her brother Gideon’s attempt to rise in the world, and her own search for love in a tiny village in rural Shropshire.

A review, written when the book was reprinted recently by Virago Press, can be found here. Apart from the Virago editions (hard copy and ebook) it seems that you can get a free download of the book on this Canadian site .

Mary Webb's books have been seen as a 'minor' variant of the Thomas Hardy rural 'loam and lovechild' genre, so succinctly satirised by Stella Gibbon's Cold Comfort Farm. Well, yes, there are elements of that, but I enjoyed Precious Bane more than most of Hardy; it's a rather remarkable novel.

If you want to read both Gibbons and Webb, I think I'd recommend reading Webb first.

I'll be posting questions around the 20th April

Comments

  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Shipmate
    edited April 2018
    Started in on Chapter I this morning. That Canadian site is interesting, a few favourites I might download over the coming winter.

    Mary Webb's language reminds me of a little-known but remarkable South African writer named Pauline Smith, the daughter of a Scottish country doctor, who wrote about the lonely rural communities of the Little Karoo (Klein Karoo) before the Anglo-Boer war.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I've just downloaded this to my kindle. I've never read it but I remember it being a staple on the shelves of the libraries I worked in in the 1970s along with Mazo de la Roche.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    I'd not expected to join this particular discussion, but after a glance at the book I think I might change my mind!
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    You are most welcome, Andras
  • SparrowSparrow Shipmate
    Wasn't it serialised on the BBC many years ago?
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Wikipedia says:
    In 1957 the book was made into a six-part BBC television drama series starring Patrick Troughton and Daphne Slater. Under its French title 'Sarn', it was produced as a television play by French Television ORTF in 1968, with Dominique Labourier as Prue, Josep Maria Flotats as Gedeon and Pierre Vaneck as Kester; the director was Claude Santelli. In 1989 it was again adapted for British television by the BBC, directed by Christopher Menaul and starring Clive Owen and Janet McTeer.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Oh. I'm in.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    If anyone else is thinking of downloading the book to an electronic device, check the edition. I got a 'cheap' edition that had so many typos that even I, who usually doesn't spot the things noticed. I ened up having to get another more expensive edition. Boo.
  • SparrowSparrow Shipmate
    The version with Janet McTeer was the one I remember seeing on the TV.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Just finished it and am looking forward to the discussion. I have a horrible feeling I'm going to be going round talking in Staffordshire (?) dialect for a while though.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Shropshire dialect actually, with a healthy leven of Welsh; Staffs sounds quite different.

    |Are the primmyroses blooming nicely in your gardens, folks?
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    Andras wrote: »
    |Are the primmyroses blooming nicely in your gardens, folks?
    Ah, they be. Fresh and sweet.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I thought I wasn't quite right with Staffordshire. Some of the words such as clemmed I'd come across before in Mrs Gaskell's work, but I was a bit stumped by tuthree for a while.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Prue's use of By gum surprised me a little - I'd always assumed it was a purely Lancashire expression, but it seems I was wrong.
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    I'm enjoying rereading this, I'm noticing a lot of things I had missed before, or forgotten.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Shipmate
    edited April 2018
    I wish I was more familiar with Shropshire accents because I'd love to hear them in my head as I read.

    On YouTube I found this contemporary version of the song Green Gravel sung by Jancis, an old English round.

    The lyrics are different -- lyrics given elsewhere are scloser to those quoted in the novel, but there are many versions of this song.
  • Wondering if anyone is ready to start discussing this yet?
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    Wondering if anyone is ready to start discussing this yet?

    Yes, I think so; I finished reading it a week or so ago, and it's had enough time to bubble away in my brain by now!
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I'm sure Marama will be along in a minute to post some questions.
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    OK let's go. I found it an interesting read, and have tried to leave the questions fairly open. Anyone is welcome to add ideas and further questions.

    1. Perhaps the best-developed relationship in this novel is that between Prue and her brother Gideon. How far is she in agreement with his aims, and how and when does this change? How would you characterise their relationship?

    2. ‘The strength of the book … lies in the fusion of the elements of nature and man.’ So writes Stanley Baldwin in his introduction (in my edition anyway). How do you respond to this?

    3. Prue, as narrator, uses Shropshire regional dialect, as we have already noticed. Does this make the novel sound a) twee or b) authentic or c) anything else – and would the answer have been the same when it was published?

    4. Religion, folk-lore and witchcraft have a strange inter-relationship in the novel. How did you feel about this?

    5. ‘Loam and lovechild’ books (and this is deemed to be one of them) are supposed to be melodramatic. How far is this an important element of the novel? Were there any points where you felt that the story was veering ‘over the top’? Did it matter?

    6. Which brings us to the ‘anti- Precious Bane’, Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm. If you have read Cold Comfort Farm, how far did you think Gibbons really was writing a parody of Webb?
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    edited April 2018
    I've not much time this morning, so I'll come back to the other questions later, but I did find the regional dialect a bit over the top. It made me very aware that this was a book that was consciously trying to evoke a much earlier time. I'm sure that a real life Prue would have spoken in a similar way, but would she have written like that I'm not sure.
  • Thought-provoking questions, @Marama , and I'll get back to them in a moment, but what struck me so as I read, a theme that seemed utterly contemporary, was the awareness of disability or disfigurement. Prue does not experience her slight disability as a hindrance or limitation because the harelip doesn't prevent her from eating or act as a speech impediment, it is not painful or indicative of a chronic health condition. But she is made to feel that it is a burden and an obstacle to any man ever feeling desire for her.

    We could call this an invisible disability in that it (remarkably) has not affected Prue's gentle receptive nature and kindness, her trust in others, her creative writing powers, her capacity for love. But she sees that others recoil from her, taunt her, fear her and see her as dangerous or Other. Her own emotionally troubled mother blames herself for the disfigurement, saying she looked at a hare crossing her path and her unborn child was therefore born disfigured. People at the market or in the town treat Prue with suspicion, will later gather together as a superstitious mob and hunt her down as a witch. And Prue herself becomes self-conscious, she avoids the man she is drawn to, hides from him, won't let him look at her. Yet the weaver knows what Prue herself knows deep down, that the slight deformity is insignificant, means nothing, is no barrier to intimacy.

    What I found interesting too is that Mary Webb was writing this from an autobiographical perspective: as a young woman she fell ill with Graves' Disease, hyperthyroidism and concealed the swollen goitres on her throat with high-necked tops. Her bulging eyes made her self-conscious so that she became more and more reclusive. Webb would have moved in more sophisticated circles with better medical knowledge, but she knew the old country superstitions and prejudices well enough to set Prue down in a time and place where to be different was to be excluded or persecuted.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    I'm also horribly busy at the moment - though the questions are excellent - so I'll throw out just one thought for now: Beauty and the Beast, but with the sexes swapped around.

    But there's a lot more to it than that!
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    Very good questions and I'll be back with more thoughts.

    Initially I'd like to say I read Cold Comfort Farm years ago, was not particularly impressed and had no desire to reread it. Call me thick but it never occurred to me that it might be a parody of Webb's work and so the inclination to reread it, now that I've heard that suggestion, is even less. I think it would spoil my feelings about a book I've always loved.

    I'd forgotten how unremittingly grim Precious Bane is in places, particularly towards the end, and I can see how some people might think it "over the top" but I don't find it so. Times was hard back in them days. We know from the outset that Prue ends up with Kester, and that helps to lighten things. The descriptions of course are beautiful and I'd forgotten, too, how insightful Prue is about situations and how her quiet times in the attic help her with that and with her acceptance of how things are.

    A very interesting post, MaryLouise, I didn't know that about Mary Webb.

    I though it was here but I can't find the post so it must have been somewhere else online, someone was saying she was reading the book and being strongly tempted to exclaim "The maister be come!" every time her husband walked through the door. I don't think Mr Nen would appreciate that much...
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    IIRC, that quote came from the review I posted (from the Guardian), Nenya.

    I hadn't realised either that Mary Webb had the protruding eyes of Grave's disease, a disfigurement like Prue's. It does add a depth to the story.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate

    1. Perhaps the best-developed relationship in this novel is that between Prue and her brother Gideon. How far is she in agreement with his aims, and how and when does this change? How would you characterise their relationship?

    Gideon has set out his goal in life and is prepared to risk everything - including his sister's happiness - to attain it. She, being easily dominated by his ambition, in effect chooses to live through him, and can only reassert her own personality when he is absent. She can certainly take command when the opportunity comes, as at the bull-baiting, but otherwise is willing to put her own life on hold, for several years if need be. It's a very toxic relationship in modern parlance, with him as the abuser and her as the victim. I'm not even sure she loves him at the end.

    2. ‘The strength of the book … lies in the fusion of the elements of nature and man.’ So writes Stanley Baldwin in his introduction (in my edition anyway). How do you respond to this?

    The 'pathetic fallacy?' I've read some other books by Mary Webb, and in fact this seems to be a common trait in them.

    3. Prue, as narrator, uses Shropshire regional dialect, as we have already noticed. Does this make the novel sound a) twee or b) authentic or c) anything else – and would the answer have been the same when it was published?

    She writes as she speaks, and why not? Tuthree for 'an indefinite small number' is still common in parts of the Marches. Prue is in fact unusual among her class in being able to read and write at all, and she seems to have enjoyed the vicar's Paradise Lost, from which the phrase 'Precious Bane' is taken. Twee? Not a bit of it!

    4. Religion, folk-lore and witchcraft have a strange inter-relationship in the novel. How did you feel about this?

    Is it strange? My very pious mother avoided moving house while the moon was waning as only bad luck could come from that, and believed a great number of everyday events to be variously lucky or unlucky: a green car was unlucky, while seeing a rainbow was a sign of good fortune. And I know of a local dyn hysbys - 'Cunning Man' would best capture it in English, though Prue and the others use 'Wizard' - who is exactly as depicted in the book, right down to his very effective cursing of other peoples' entries in horse and cattle shows.

    5. ‘Loam and lovechild’ books (and this is deemed to be one of them) are supposed to be melodramatic. How far is this an important element of the novel? Were there any points where you felt that the story was veering ‘over the top’? Did it matter?

    Certainly melodramatic at the end, and all the weaker for it. Would people in even the most rural parts of Shropshire have expected to drown a witch in the early 1800s? I rather doubt it. And the last minute rescue? No, it lets the book down.

    6. Which brings us to the ‘anti- Precious Bane’, Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm. If you have read Cold Comfort Farm, how far did you think Gibbons really was writing a parody of Webb?

    Good question; I'd always heard that 'CCF' was intended to be such a parody, but in fact I'm not at all sure that it is, regardless of what the estimable Stella thought it was.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate


    1. Perhaps the best-developed relationship in this novel is that between Prue and her brother Gideon. How far is she in agreement with his aims, and how and when does this change? How would you characterise their relationship?
    Prue has very little choice than to go along with Gideon's plans. She doesn't think she'll find a husband, and I assume she also thinks that she wouldn't get a place as a dairy maid or similar as her disfigurment would make others assume she'd curdle the milk. I think she wants to have an easier life and to be made beautiful (were there any procedures for sorting out cleft lips in those day?) so is happy to accept Gideon's plan. She does seem to be very passive at some points, the foxglove tea incident rather jarred, and amazingly active and foresighted at others, as when she saves Kester's life.

    2. ‘The strength of the book … lies in the fusion of the elements of nature and man.’ So writes Stanley Baldwin in his introduction (in my edition anyway). How do you respond to this?
    I'm not really one for great discriptive passages in books, but I enjoyed the ones in this book and the imagining of life in England before the railways. The whole attic scene where Prue derives comfort from nature and from her own strength of character was very moving.


    4. Religion, folk-lore and witchcraft have a strange inter-relationship in the novel. How did you feel about this?
    I found it interesting and pretty believable. I assume Beguildy to be an educated, but not particularly intelligent man fallen into different circumstances to those he expected who was using his education to make money in as easy a way as possible, so taking advantage of the credibility and or boredom of others. I'd imagien the squire's son didn't really think Venus was going to appear, but fancied a bit of a peep at a naked woman.

    5. ‘Loam and lovechild’ books (and this is deemed to be one of them) are supposed to be melodramatic. How far is this an important element of the novel? Were there any points where you felt that the story was veering ‘over the top’? Did it matter?
    As Andras said the end was a bit over the top, and you knew that Kester would come riding to the rescue so I was thinking 'oh just get on with it' and get them together. Up until then Webb had kept it fairly reigned in, though the destroying of the whole crop, something I could see coming was rather unfortunate.

    6. Which brings us to the ‘anti- Precious Bane’, Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm. If you have read Cold Comfort Farm, how far did you think Gibbons really was writing a parody of Webb?
    I read this as a teenager, but not having read any other 'loam and lovechild' books at the timeI didn't 'get' it. I've wondered about re-visiting it, but there are so many books and such little time.

    I thought the three main male characters, Gideon, Beguildy and Kester were well drawn and Gideon's ambitions blinding him to the very things that would have made him a rounded human being made him believable and tragic. Belguildy was very similar, just trying to get his fortune in as easy way as possible, prostituing his daughter if it would help him financially for instance. Kester reminded me of the archetypal virtuous Quaker in his beaver hat and his refusal to countance bull baiting.

    BTW I assume Prue's disfigurment was fairly superficial, if she had a cleft palate as well as lip she probably wouldn't have got to the age she had.
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    edited April 2018
    Andras wrote: »

    4. Religion, folk-lore and witchcraft have a strange inter-relationship in the novel. How did you feel about this?

    Is it strange? My very pious mother avoided moving house while the moon was waning as only bad luck could come from that, and believed a great number of everyday events to be variously lucky or unlucky: a green car was unlucky, while seeing a rainbow was a sign of good fortune. And I know of a local dyn hysbys - 'Cunning Man' would best capture it in English, though Prue and the others use 'Wizard' - who is exactly as depicted in the book, right down to his very effective cursing of other peoples' entries in horse and cattle shows ...
    Would people in even the most rural parts of Shropshire have expected to drown a witch in the early 1800s? I rather doubt it. And the last minute rescue? No, it lets the book down.

    Yes, I thought the attempt to drown a witch in c 1815 was a bit unlikely, even in rural Shropshire; it seems to fit England a couple of hundred years earlier, but 1815 is a bit late. I don't know where you are, Andras (Wales?) but I too have lived in places in the Pacific where 'wise men' and 'wise women' were believed to have power - and sometimes seemed indeed to have it. Their relationship with Christianity seemed to depend on the denomination of those around them (mainstream, long established groups seemed to accommodate them, new fundamentalist groups were much more condemning). But the mainstream Methodists in Fiji, according to friend of mine, undertake cleansing rituals to rid the land of pre-Christian heather influences, including such 'wise men/women'. Or at least sometimes they do. Other times they don't. I'm still mulling over how that relates to Precious Bane., and I guess that's why I asked the question.

    But the last minute rescue - melodramatic is it is - is I suppose a neat plot devise to end the book. But very obvious!
  • @Marama, yes, I read the ending as a heightening of drama and a sop to the rescue tropes of romantic fiction. Not successful and unrealistic in the same way as the 'nude with covered head scene' is implausible. Like a masque from some Jaobean or medieval masque (thinking here of the Duchess of Malfi).

    But Precious Bane doesn't strike me as a 'realist' historical fiction, more as a piece of Romantic Gothic and an attempt to recreate a much-loved place and childhood. I think Mary Webb had heard many old stories from older country people around her and was herself deeply ambivalent about the folklore, legends and pantheist rural identification with nature she recalled. The archaic language tires at moments but has real power in certain places, a prophetic denunciatory language of poetry and flame that goes well with a pessimistic moral fable. Gideon is doomed from his father's death onward. All the loveliness, the singing and the adoration of Jancis foreshadows loss and darkness. In this way,the setting felt almost medieval and the witch hunt belongs with that atmosphere.

    Prue is the centre of the book with her hopefulness and attentiveness to what happens around her. I'm not sure that her relationship with Gideon is the strongest even if it is the most intense and desperate: it is unsatisfactory in so many respects and a source of oppression to Prue. The pity she feels for the twitchy anxious mother (Mary Webb's own mother had a nervous breakdown of some kind) is on point, and the growth from envy to compassion for Jancis (who is a real Thomas Hardy heroine, another doomed and helpless woman with child). The more I think about the novel though, the more I feel that the connection with nature is what this novel is really about, a vital and enduring sense of place. The Mere is always in the background, the waters, the danger and refuge.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Marama wrote: »

    Yes, I thought the attempt to drown a witch in c 1815 was a bit unlikely, even in rural Shropshire; it seems to fit England a couple of hundred years earlier, but 1815 is a bit late. I don't know where you are, Andras (Wales?) but I too have lived in places in the Pacific where 'wise men' and 'wise women' were believed to have power - and sometimes seemed indeed to have it. Their relationship with Christianity seemed to depend on the denomination of those around them (mainstream, long established groups seemed to accommodate them, new fundamentalist groups were much more condemning). But the mainstream Methodists in Fiji, according to friend of mine, undertake cleansing rituals to rid the land of pre-Christian heather influences, including such 'wise men/women'. Or at least sometimes they do. Other times they don't. I'm still mulling over how that relates to Precious Bane., and I guess that's why I asked the question.

    But the last minute rescue - melodramatic is it is - is I suppose a neat plot devise to end the book. But very obvious!

    Yes, I live in what's probably called Mid Wales these days.

    Folk memories do linger. In my own lifetime farmers (and others) tipped their caps to Merlin's Oak in Carmarthen in the days before it got removed to the Museum, and greeting the New Moon with a little bow and a Welcome, Lady! or Croeso, Ddynes! is quite current in some circles - and I don't mean New Age here.

    A few years ago here was news of an investigation into one of the pilgrim routes to Abaty Ystrad y Fflur (Strata Florida Abbey) which noted that it passed by what had clearly once been regarded as a Holy Well. No pilgrims can have walked that way since the days of Henry VIII, but there was still a little posy of fresh flowers placed by the well, a relic of something far older than Christianity.
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    MaryLouise wrote: »

    But Precious Bane doesn't strike me as a 'realist' historical fiction, more as a piece of Romantic Gothic and an attempt to recreate a much-loved place and childhood. I think Mary Webb had heard many old stories from older country people around her and was herself deeply ambivalent about the folklore, legends and pantheist rural identification with nature she recalled. The archaic language tires at moments but has real power in certain places, a prophetic denunciatory language of poetry and flame that goes well with a pessimistic moral fable. Gideon is doomed from his father's death onward. All the loveliness, the singing and the adoration of Jancis foreshadows loss and darkness. In this way,the setting felt almost medieval and the witch hunt belongs with that atmosphere.

    Prue is the centre of the book with her hopefulness and attentiveness to what happens around her. I'm not sure that her relationship with Gideon is the strongest even if it is the most intense and desperate: it is unsatisfactory in so many respects and a source of oppression to Prue. The pity she feels for the twitchy anxious mother (Mary Webb's own mother had a nervous breakdown of some kind) is on point, and the growth from envy to compassion for Jancis (who is a real Thomas Hardy heroine, another doomed and helpless woman with child). The more I think about the novel though, the more I feel that the connection with nature is what this novel is really about, a vital and enduring sense of place. The Mere is always in the background, the waters, the danger and refuge.

    Thank you for that sensitive response. I think I'd agree with just about all of it. A sense of place as the key to the novel - yes, I'd go along with that.

    And Jancis really is a Thomas Hardy doomed character, with very little agency, whereas Gideon, Prue and Kester are hardworking, competent, attempting to improve their lot. Feckless they are not. Which is why I don't really see Cold Comfort Farm (which I did find funny) as having much connection to Precious Bane
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    If anything I think Jancis has even less agency than one of Hardy's poor doomed women; if Hardy's women had just kept their mouths shut then they'd never have got into so much trouble - think of poor Tess as an example. But poor Jancis is almost entirely acted on rather than being an actor in her own right.

    Mary Webb's Shropshire really was important to her; the same love of place shows up in, for example, Gone to Earth, which is also worth reading. (Hey ho, more doomed women!)

    Webb's Shropshire is certainly more real to me than, for example, Egdon Heath, though both places perhaps stand for the whole wide world.
  • Looking again at @Marama's questions:

    The strength of the book … lies in the fusion of the elements of nature and man.’ So writes Stanley Baldwin in his introduction (in my edition anyway). How do you respond to this?

    Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was also the person to publicise a memoir by his niece (if I recall accurately) Monica Baldwin's I Leap Over the Wall on her leaving a convent after 28 years. A random fact that makes me think fondly of him as someone who shared the books he liked with everyone he met.

    I do feel Nature is idealised in Precious Bane, and the violence and cruelty of society is found nowhere in the beauty of the Mere, the turning of seasons, the mysterious loveliness of the twilit gloaming and spring mornings. This may be why Stella Gibbons decided to parody this kind of novel, the contrast between the hardship and misery of the characters' lives and the Romantic picturesque all around them. At the same time there's something of Gilbert White and other nature writers in the details shown to us, a passion for plants and wildlife that I found so appealing. Similar to Robert Macfarlane and Kathleen Jamie's new Romantic nature writing, the blend of the uncanny and haunted alongside closely observed wild places.

    The one scene I find utterly improbable, both as historical fiction and as an supposedly realistic event in a 1920s novel is the scene where Prue strips (while keeping her head covered) to show off her body to a man who has paid Jancis' father to view Jancis naked. It is not just absurdly sacrificial but unlikely. While nature is reverenced in Precious Bane, the body is not: this was a rural community of extreme prudishness and morally policed (no children born out of wedlock, sexual sins ascribed to the mother). The plot is Hardyesque melodrama in many ways: poisoning, sin-eating, witch hunts, a conflagration, suicides -- though much of this fits with the heightened language and dreamlike quality of the fiction. A step too far though, IMHO.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Actually I suspect that the community in pre-Victorian days would have been much less prudish than one might think, though I agree that the 'Venus' scene is rather OTT. Parish registers in the 18th and 19th Centuries show how short the gap often was between the wedding and the baptism of the first child - a matter of days, sometimes - and 'barley weddings' with a 'ring' of plaited straw weren't unusual.
  • Andras, I agree with you, although the verbal disapproval would have been voiced in God-fearing communities, especially evangelical, from the 18th century on. Some English communities would have been more influenced by Puritanism than others. Most communities disapproved of unmarried pregnant women while acknowledging these things were likely to happen: much depended on whether the marriage took place promptly (even a shotgun wedding) and these sins were understood to be unfortunate but 'natural'. For a young woman to be pimped by her father to exhibit her naked body would not have been tolerated.

    In the same way, a certain 'cross-over' between pagan and Christian influences was tacitly accepted, with ambivalence, and I think that ambivalence is captured in Precious Bane.
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    I find everything believeable while I'm reading it - the writing and the dialect and the sense that they're isolated in their little world make it all seem plausible. The Venus scene serves to show Prue that her body is beautiful - she might not otherwise have realised. It's quite a moment of self discovery for her.

    On reflection, Kester seems almost supernatural in some of the things he knows, a bit like the Maister that Prue regards him as. He refers to her tidy figure after the Venus scene, and then again at the hiring fair, and I presume we're meant to understand he knows that she was Venus and wants her to know that he knows. And of course at the end he turns up at the right moment to save her. She completely idolises and idealises him, and I'd love to know how she feels after some years together when he's still leaving the top off the toothpaste and the toilet seat up.
  • Well, that's the trouble with the Maister types, isn't it? You marry a father figure, rescuer, mystic, soulmate; and four years later you have someone who won't help change nappies.

    But you're right that when I am reading Precious Bane I suspend belief, it is one of those works that demands you enter its reality and leave your own behind.
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    edited April 2018
    Yes I think the complete world you enter in reading Precious Bane, the need to suspend belief, is why I feel that We may wonder if it's a bit late in 1815 to try drowning a witch, or think that the Venus episode is OTT, but it doesn't really matter.

    Cold Comfort Farm is really not a parody of this - even if it thinks it is. However I was amused to find this transcript of a program on CCF which suggests that The Vicar of Dibley is its modern version. Yes, I can relate to that!
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    Oh dear - run out of time to correct this.

    'I feel that the world of rural Shropshire has to be taken as a whole, melodrama and all.'
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Like others when I was reading it, I was totally swept up in it. I knew there was going to be distaster for Gideon, but I thought he came across as a totally believable character, if a slightly crudely drawn one. I kept on hoping things would pan out for him, even if he was rather utilitarian in his outlook. Mum's a burden, we'd all be better off without her, therefore foxglove tea.
    DId Webb have a Kester equivenlent in her life? Her depiction of him seems pretty much like she had fallen in love with him too.
Sign In or Register to comment.