Continued from Part II
Less hangry now, and nursing an oversized cup of hot chocolate (I even found some marshmallows in the back of the cupboard), I set aside my courier-woes and got back to the book in which I was, by this point, thoroughly engrossed.
Chapter 8 – Monseigneur in the Country: “The village had its one poor street, with its poor brewery, poor tannery, poor tavern, poor stable-yard for relays of post-horses, poor fountain, all usual poor appointments. It had its poor people too. All its people were poor…” Ok, I can’t be certain, but I think POVERTY is happening. I suspect this might come back to bite Monsieur in the ass. Coz… y’know, French Revolution.
Chapter 9 – The Gorgon’s Head: Oooh, I genuinely didn’t see that coming: Darnay has a secret and shameful family connection to the flounciest of flouncy French aristocrats. For all his proximity to powder-wig-wearing flouncy villainous fabulousness, Darnay himself is, alas, no more interesting than before.
Darnay and Monsieur eat dinner in silence because: “So long as a servant was present, no other words passed between them.” In fact this was the phrase that made me start thinking about a post on nineteenth-century preoccupations with privacy.
Monsieur bids Darnay goodnight and silently wills a servant to “burn Monsieur my nephew in his bed, if you will.” YES PLEASE. I’m all in favour of this course of action. Being almost-burned-in-bed seemed to work wonders in making Mr Rochester an interesting and compelling Victorian love interest. It couldn’t hurt to try the same treatment on Darnay.
Holy fuckmonsters! The mob just killed Monsieur! Stabbed in his sleep. Damn. He was the craziest, campiest thing about this novel. I like to imagine him exploding in a cloud of wig-powder when punctured. This mental image is now my only consolation.
Chapter 10 – Two Promises, or ‘The Chapter With ALL THE PATRIARCHY!’ Darnay wants to marry Lucie, so he asks to spend some time with her whereupon they talk about their shared interests, their values and life goals and favourite novels, and even share a chaste-but-romantic peck on the cheek. Just kidding! Darnay goes to arrange the particulars with Dr Manette as Lucie’s lawful keeper loving father.
Darnay reassures his prospective father in law that his wedding to Lucie will never diminish her love for her father: “I know that when she is clinging to you, the hands of baby, girl, and woman, all in one, are round your neck.” … I like to imagine this is literal.
Dr Manette wonders: “Have you any reason to believe that Lucie loves you?”
Translation: “Have you dared to ‘try before you buy’ with my property?!”
Chapters 11 and 12 – A Companion Picture and The Fellow of Delicacy: Otherwise known as ‘The Chapter in Which We Make Fun of Patriarchal Matrimonial Institutions, So It’s All OK’. Y’know, like putting LOL at the end of ‘Woman, go make me a sandwich!’
Chapter 13 – The Fellow of No Delicacy: Oh no, Sydney has professed his love to Lucie. Also, he has uttered the words: “There is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!” FORESHADOWING?! What are you doing here!? Alas, I fear there’s no longer any hope for poor mopey Sydney. At this rate he may as well be ‘three days from retirement’.
Chapter 14 – The Honest Tradesman: Ooh, a funeral for a spy. And once again we get the grim, macabre spectacle of justice and death. By this point I’m feeling a genuine sense of impending dread and the lurking threat of … holy shit, is that A BEAR?!
Seriously, the bear is my favourite thing about this illustration. He seems to be the only one who is genuinely sad about Cly’s demise. I like to imagine that this is because the bear is Cly’s own personal Sydney Carton. The bear has loved him hopelessly, forlornly, and from a distance, and now can never profess his love. Weep for the bear.
(Continued in Part IV – coming soon)