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This book is a nightmare for a slow reader… Just sayin’.
There may be spoilers below.
1. Was the second epoch more successful for you than the first? I ain’t gonna lie, Wilkie drags for me sometimes. I really can’t say that he’s overly wordy, or that there are details that are unnecessary, but it was hard powering through some of the more domestic sections of the text. There’s a lot of “something dramatic is about to happen…but tomorrow, after I send this letter.”
2. What do you think of ole Fosco? There were DEVELOPMENTS in this section that gave oodles more insight into his character, and things aren’t pretty. I’ve been suspicious of Fosco from the start and am immune to his charms. At first, it was mostly because of the way the Countess acted, as though utterly cowed by him. How can you like a guy who has seemingly broken a reputed spirited woman? But obviously the Countess isn’t what she seems either and I wonder just how much she’s behind his scheming. A couple of asps, those two.
3. What do you think of the relationship between Sir Percival and Fosco? Percival is the weak link in all this. It feels like Fosco has some hold over him that’s beyond debt, and apparently beyond Sir P’s Secret too. Fosco keeps Percival on a short leash because otherwise Percival would get drunk and blurt out every super-secret plan ever.
4. We touched on the literary ladies in the first Epoch. How do you feel about the developments in Marian’s and Laura’s character? Marian, action hero! But of course, after such daring-do, she has to come down with a debilitating fever. Marian, though female, is pretty much the least sentimental main character. I have the feeling during Epoch Two that Walter could have never pulled off half the things Marian did because he would have been too overcome by feelings. Up until the last few paragraphs of Epoch Two, I was not surprised at Laura’s general hand-ringing. Pretty much the only time she was strong was when some other female character was there to back her up. But! Assuming that it is truly Laura at the graveside (and not Anne), she’s obviously had to carry out some manner of plan. I haven’t read on, so I’m taking Wilkie at his word.
5. Go nuts! It’s a free-for-all! Tell us what’s on your mind.
Such drama! Skulking heroics by Marian! Deceptions! Poisonings! Death and reversals!
Interesting how Marian’s arrival at Blackwater mimics Walter’s at Limmeridge. No one is home and she gets the chance to poke around.
Funny that Percival thought that Hartright might be behind some sort of scheme to dissuade Laura from his affections. No, Percival, you’re doing a fine job of alienating your wife all on your own.
I was a little annoyed by the convenient summary of information on a couple of occasions. Fosco, for example, wanting to restate what Sir Precival’s financial problems were. It’s a clumsy technique. I’m not saying I’ve never used it, but with the lengths that Wilkie goes through sometimes to convey narrative, it’s surprising.
Debt and money are big issues in this story, and much of Dickens’ work as well. Considering what a huge factor debt is for many people today, do we have any this kind of fiction being written currently?