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clarepayton
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Discussion Topic: Mary

Did you feel sympathetic to Mary when Letty and Geoff were forced into marriage, even though Letty felt she was saving her sister from self-destruction? Do you feel that Mary deserves her own romantic adventure?


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maxcat
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mary

I think Mary really wanted to marry Geoff. She is upset with her sister because of forthcoming marriage plans for Lettie. I think she will find her own romantic adventure and maybe not get tangled up in spies.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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SaraleeE
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mary

Oh, no! No sympathy for Mary at all. I'm convinced she's an evil schemer. LOL!

In fact, I have my own private ideas about Miss Mary--how come there were all those nosy people hanging around to see Geoff kiss Letty in the first place?

I think she'll turn up again, like a bad penny. Bwaahahaha

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Re: Discussion Topic: Mary

Not at all. I think it was very obvious that she was starting to feel desperate about the fact that she was 24 and on her third London season with no marriage proposal. She needed a marriage to a wealthy and connected family to move up in society and Geoff happened along at the right time. If anything, she needs an adventure to shake her up and show that she has some sincerity. (And like another reader said, why were all those people hanging around when Geoff met the carriage with Letty in it in the middle of the night? Fishy.)



clarepayton wrote:
Did you feel sympathetic to Mary when Letty and Geoff were forced into marriage, even though Letty felt she was saving her sister from self-destruction? Do you feel that Mary deserves her own romantic adventure?


Click on "Reply" to post your thoughts about this discussion topic, or click "New Message" on the main page to start a new topic thread.


Melissa W.
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SaraleeE
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mary

I want to modify my earlier comments about Mary, now that I've visited Lauren's site and noticed that she's been thinking about giving her her own story.

I think Mary would be a great heroine for her own story, IF she were to be a kind of female Flashman (see George MacDonald Fraser's wonderful series of that name) -- a piratess; bigger than life; has huge goals; utterly honest with herself to the point of self-deprecation, and not likely to think of herself as nice or good or kind in any way, even if she is; amoral (but following her own code of honor); impatient with liars, hypocrites, and conventional people; thinks she's hard as nails but isn't quite; and powerful but still likely to get her comeuppance at the end. It would be a pretty funny thing to see society women fainting in windrows as Mary the Scarlet Woman walks by.

Some of Elizabeth Peters' heroines are a little like this. Anyway, I could see that working as a good story. But she might be a tough character to create believably.
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politikgirl
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mary

I didn't feel the least bit sorry for Mary, but I think the book didn't intend to portray Mary as a sympathetic character, with its focus on making Letty sympathetic. I can't wait to see how we react to Mary in the next book as the heroine who will, most likely, become likeable, sympathetic and someone we can all root for. The Letty-Mary dynamic reminds me very oddly of the Rachel-Darcy dynamic in Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed/Something Blue books (I highly recommend both).
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valentine
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mary

From the little we've seen of Mary, I doubt she would want sympathy from anyone. When Letty (accidentally) ruins Mary's plans for Geoff, Mary doesn't seem to sit around feeling sorry for herself--she appears to just suck it up and, as she says, "set [her] cap at a new prospect" (53). Also on that page it says, "It was impossible to tell whether Mary was speaking the bald truth and mocking herself for it, or hurt and hiding it." Again, we haven't seen much of her yet, but we can infer that Mary is a complicated, layered character, different from our previous heroines. We won't know what she's really thinking, what really motivates her until we can get inside her head. I wouldn't imagine she'll be a sympathetic character in the traditional way, but I think she'll be very interesting to read about in the next book. Also, although I'm not a writer, I would think it presents a compelling challenge to write about a potentially unsympathetic character in a way that doesn't alienate readers.
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politikgirl
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Re: Discussion Topic: Mary

I agree that it's not easy, but it's been done before. I cite again the character of Darcy Rhone from Emily Giffin's "Something Blue" (previously THE character to hate in "Something Borrowed").
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clarepayton
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Mary, unsympathetic character

I just wondered if everyone universally agreed that Mary was an unsympathetic character. Is there anything redeeming in her?

What do others think?
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clarepayton
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Re: Mary as heroine of her own book

Saralee, you've got some great ideas for making Mary the heroine of her own book. I wonder, do you see any evidence in this book for some of the attributes you describe? In other words, has the author planted any seeds for us?

Anyone can answer this!
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politikgirl
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Re: Mary, unsympathetic character

I like that Mary is the kind of girl who can pick herself up (or at least, appear to) and move on, instead of complaining and feeling sorry for herself. I get the sense that I will like Mary quite a bit in the next novel, when we see things from her perspective.
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SaraleeE
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Re: Mary as heroine of her own book

Well, we really only see Mary through Letty's eyes in this book, but I got the impression of someone who was very goal-oriented and definitely more interested in the end rather than the means. Also, her cool response to Letty's disastrous interference in her elopement plans("well, I'll just have to find someone else to come up to scratch") points towards someone who is operating from the head rather from the heart. To put it politely.

I'd like to think that what appears to be Mary's calculating approach to getting married points toward hidden depths in her character. She doesn't pretend that she was in love when she wasn't, so maybe honesty is something she values. As a result, maybe she scorns the sentimental hypocrisy of others.

(This is why I suggested a similarity with the character of Flashman--he's a rogue and he makes no bones about it, but it annoys him when other people pretend to be good when he knows they're just as bad as he is.)

And if Mary is clever, which I think she is, maybe she comes up with subtle ways to expose the hypocrisy of others while preserving her own appearance of virtuousness.

Like in the opening scene of Flashman in the Great Game, where Lord Cardigan demands that Flashy bear witness to the fact that he did indeed lead the Charge of the Light Brigade, and didn't hang back in safety while his men rushed to their doom. In response, Flashman hesitates, and then says so that all can hear, "Well, I didn't see you, Lord Cardigan, but I'm sure you must have been there." So instead of clearing up doubts, he's added to them considerably (to his own private glee, I might add).

And finally, if Mary is beautiful, what is her attitude towards her own looks? It appears to me as if she sees her lovely face and form as tools rather than a source of satisfaction. That's also rather cold, but you know, people can't see their own faces most of the time, so beautiful features don't give a lot of aesthetic satisfaction to their owners. Unless their like Narcissus and stare at themselves all day.

Those are the clues that I saw, and how I interpret them. Of course, I could be totally wrong!

Saralee
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politikgirl
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Re: Mary as heroine of her own book

I agree that Mary seems to see her looks as tools for her endgame. It will be interesting to see if this changes in the next book.
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dianeh
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Re: Mary as heroine of her own book

At first glance, Mary seems to be very self-centered and egotistical. At a deeper level, she could seem that way because she wants to make her parents proud. It seems to me that there were roles that the girls (Letty and Mary) played: Letty was the caretaker and protector by making sure the bills were paid, candles were used sparingly, etc. She was also a friend and confidante to her father; Mary was the beautiful savior who would marry a rich husband and help get their family out of their financial situation. Mary was on the right track with Geoff, even so far as to "arrange" to have their elopement witnessed in case Geoff got cold feet. Mary has a strong will, so I think it would make a good story to set her up in the role of heroine, as that is the role she was to have played anyway.
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Angie
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Re: Mary as heroine of her own book

I think Mary is sympathetic in some ways. She's very beautiful, but not married yet. That would be embarassing to be the spinster sister when everyone expected you to marry well. However, I don't feel sorry for her if she did not love Geoffrey. She will marry eventually, I'm sure, and it will be a better match for her.
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SoniaW
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Re: Mary as heroine of her own book

I did feel just a little sorry for Mary. In away, she and Geof are very much alike: planners. Geoff at least when it comes to love, does think with his heart whereas Mary does not. But can you imagine how it must have felt to see your dreams fall away when you were so honest about most other things?

I see Mary as not completely grown up yet, she does not know what it is to be selfless and have heart. I think that Pink IV is intended as a sort of coming of age for Mary. She's not going to be any less ambitious or goal oriented, but just have a little more heart.
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clarepayton
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Re: Mary as seen through Letty

Good catch, Saralee. I am thinking on this. Do we only see Mary through Letty's eyes? Or does the narrative give us a window in at certain points? Do we perhaps catch another view through Eloise?

It is always interesting to consider who is telling the story and how that affects everything we learn and know about the story and its characters.

Can we read between the lines of the narrative and see a distinction between how Letty sees Mary and how Mary truly is?

Maybe this revelation is reserved for Pink IV. Lauren, are we onto something here or are we way off? :-)
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LaurenWillig
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Re: Mary as seen through Letty

Great question! (As a side note, I can't say how fabulous it has been to have this discussion about Mary as I'm working on her book). Letty doesn't exactly misperceive Mary, but she sees only certain aspects of her-- and she sees them in relation to herself. Letty's feelings about Mary are so mixed up with her own self-perception and her anxieties about her place in the family and in society that Mary becomes, for Letty, less a unique individual, and more a distorted mirror. Whatever Letty thinks or observes about Mary relates in some way back to Letty rather than really being about Mary, if that makes any sense....
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