Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Bleak Along - Shoes are for the weak

WARNING: Rambly readalong post herein.

Not only is it time for our Bleak Along posts, but I've actually finished the reading.

First, a couple notes on last week's reading:

1) You guys were right about Esther. Her refusal of Guppy's proposal and subsequent befuddlement at her emotional response was hilarious and endearing like woah. (Though she really won me over in chapter 14 by referring to her face in the third person. Approved.)


Onward! This week we're talking about chapters 12-21. This section was a roller coaster of emotions, for me.

If "happy banana" were "BOYTHORN!" and "sad banana" were
"I'm Dickens and I'm more like those characters I write as tediously loquacious
than I'd care to admit." *squints at Mr Chadband*

Overall, though, I'm thoroughly sucked in. I'm the type to make exclamations while reading, mainly to feel like I'm including Neil in the experience (lucky man), and my most common exclamation in this section has been "Fucking Richard." At least Skimpole's self aware, albeit in a sociopathic kind of way. 

Also a result of this section: I'm completely obsessed with Lady Dedlock. What, in fact, is her deal? Questions for you regarding Lady D:

  • She's definitely Esther's aunt, right?
  • And the sister Jarndyce was closer to than he was to Lady Dedlock was Esther's mom?
  • Who was Nemo and how was he related to Lady D? Was he Esther's father?
  • Did she know who Esther was on sight? (Yes.)
  • Why is she so enamoured with her pretty maid? Just ... face? She has a really nice face?
  • In those third person chapters, who is narrating to us? Who is calling Lady D "My Lady"?

I love that this mystery is really just a question of who Esther's parents were, but somehow Dickens has managed to wind up the tension to the point where I freaked RIGHT. OUT. when Esther heard Lady D's voice behind her (when they took shelter from that storm). The glory of that scene's conclusion, by the by, and the image of Hortense tromping off barefoot through the blood of her enemies rain-soaked grass carried me through the third-person chapters that followed. 

Hortense, though, you guys. When she was first introduced, there was a note attached to her name that might have been (probably was) a major spoiler, so that's colouring my view of her slightly. She is bad as ass, though, right? Super suspicious and bad as ass.

Dickens really breaks out the horrifically tragic children in this section: Peepy, whose continued peace of mind was conditional on petting Esther's and Caddy's faces. And Charley, with her over-sized bonnet, working so hard for her younger siblings. And Jo, having to move on though he's been moving on since he was BORN AND GODDAMMIT.

This post is getting long and has no logic to it, but there's just so much. Parting thoughts:

  • Guppy got really creepy, really fast.
  • Mr. Badger is way more in love with Mrs. Badger's previous two husbands than he is with Mrs. Badger.
  • Caddy's dancing teacher is named Mr. Prince Turveydrop I mean.
  • "It was so pretty to have her clinging to me in that way, hiding her face."
    • Esther finds Prince Turveydrop appealing because he is fair and feminine.
  • Esther's also maybe interested in Mr. Woodcourt but let's not talk about that.
  • Why is Flite getting paid off?
  • Good God, the names of her birds. That is some easterly shit.
  • "Mr Quale asked Ada and me, not inaudibly, whether [Mr Gusher] was not a great creature - which he certainly was, flabbily speaking."

I just, that's it for now. Thank you, Alice, for hosting us and, most importantly, bringing Boythorn into our lives.


  1. ""I'm Dickens and I'm more like those characters I write as tediously loquacious
    than I'd care to admit." *squints at Mr Chadband*"

    Omg accurate. And I might have thought that while reading DESPITE LOVING HIM SO. *Also* where does it say Richard wanted to be a pirate, because I cannot find this at all.

    "Why is she so enamoured with her pretty maid?" I HAVE A DOCTORAL THESIS I COULD SEND YOU. Which essentially is like "Esther and Lady Dedlock have all the sexual desire in this story." NOT necessarily saying LD's gay (pretty sure she's not), but her thing for Rosa is textually at least totally based on her being really pretty, so aesthetics/desire/etc. Complicateeed. Good call on the Prince Turveydrop thing -- the only thing I thought from that line was that Prince might be gay, but LET'S MAKE IT ABOUT ESTHER I approve of this.

    I love the Bayham Badgers so hard. And oh!! I forgot about Peepy smoothing out Caddy's face and that killed me and ahhhhhhhhh Dickeeeens.

    1. Well, we get talk in a couple different places about how he loves the sea. In chapter 9 (page 138 of my edition), Richard says "So I apprehend it's pretty clear [...] that I shall have to work my own way. Never mind! Plenty of people have had to do that before now, and have done it. I only wish I had the command of a clipping privateer, to begin with, and could carry off the Chancellor and keep him on a short allowance until he gave judgement in our cause." I definitely read this as pirate-y, as him wanting to kidnap the Chancellor and hold him hostage at sea. The endnotes tell me I'm wrong, but my heart tells me I'm right.


      Everything is about Esther.

  2. Look at you, finishing the reading! High five those angels!

    Lady D has to be at LEAST related to Esther somehow, right? Those similar features. **squinty eye** And I'm pretty sure Hortense is going to kill Rosa, right? She seems jealous and a bit crazy.

    The Badgers. I love them.

    1. Hortense is definitely up to something.

      The Badgers, though! And Mrs Badger talking about the Crippler (I think. Too lazy to look it up) definitely reminded me of Katharine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story - "My, she was yar."

    2. I hope Hortense at least STABS Rosa, because I have nothing against Rosa and it's not her fault she's so pretty but MAN I LOVE A GOOD JEALOUS STABBING.

      Also, Lady D's maid was like, If only she'd had a grown daughter to something something whatever I forget because I was like, ESTHERRRRRR. So I'm calling it right now: Mom Status. That's why LD's so dreary all the time because THAT DAUGHTER SHE GAVE UP OR LOST OR THOUGHT WAS DEAD LONG AGO.

    3. Alright, yes! I'm on board with this. Lady D is Esther's mom. Is Nemo the dad? Mysterious dead guy that Lady D is awfully interested in knowing more about.

      I would sacrifice Rosa for a good jealous stabbing.

  3. Ahahaha, all of this is the best. Mr Badger is definitely in love with Mrs B's previous husbands, but HOW GREAT WERE ALL THEIR NAMES?! Note to self: Marry people for their surnames.

    Fucking Richard is so so right. I forgot to say how fucking annoying he is in my post, but he's so fucking annoying.

    1. I can vouch for marrying someone for their surname. Totally works out.


    2. I ALREADY DID THAT. Married someone for his surname, that is. *checks "Become Harry Potter character" off list*

    3. I think I may need to get remarried, because the best surname just popped up in a source for this chapter I'm editing. Somewhere out there, in the world, there's an R. Dickerhoof. And I won't rest until I am MRS. DICKERHOOF.

  4. I didn't do the readalong, but I stopped by to say hi and A+ excellent sherlock gif usage :)

  5. I'm saving that bottom pic for future use, definitely.

    I wish I was still BleakALonging! There's so much excitement happening.


Talk to me, internets.