OK, so where are we gang? How are you going with the Bromfield?
I know, you’re going to be shocked by this but—I’m really enjoying it.
Eventually, I suppose, there will be books I am not so fond of. Perhaps even already there have been ones which have not been my favorite, but which I have tried to judicially talk about in positive ways. I mean, I can’t expect you to stick around if I’m telling you I hate things, right? (For the record—I haven’t hated any yet. Though, I am sure that I might if we just give it enough time.)
So where are you in the reading? Me, I have just finished Chapter 5 (5 of 10, thought this was a good place to discuss where we were at, yes?
Are we finding it accessible? I think that is the thing that is striking me the most. I read reviews that said this could have been a Wharton novel (and we remember from yesterday that Bromfield and Wharton were ex-pat friends for a while), however I am finding it ever so much more in tune with my sensibilities than Wharton. Is this strange to say?
I feel, in some ways, like I am defecting on my gender when I say this. Why must everything be so? I mean, I love to encourage women writers. I love to celebrate women writers. But that doesn’t diminish the worth of a male writer, correct? Again—with the obvious banter, right? It’s like a reverse of that trite sentiment—women trying so hard not to be seen as sex objects that sometimes they aren’t seen at all? Except this time, working so hard to push up our artists of women kind that we forget they are also artists in general? Equality is Equality, right?
Are the snow days going to my head?
Here’s the other thing about this gender debate inside my cranium: I love Bromfield’s cast of women is already more dear to me than any so far. I would take several of his women characters over most of the other ones we have slaved words through. I feel like we have an entire spectrum of womankind here and we haven’t even gotten further than not-quite-half-the-pages. I am loving the progression of women personalities. It’s like a continuum. We have Aunt Cassie: old, old school, fussy, proper, judgmental. Then we have Olivia, whom Aunt Cassie thinks is the bees’ knees (until she has started acting out recently), though in reality Olivia is a modern woman. The modernity comes to her organically (much like Bromfield’s farms); it is not forced and unfortunately not nurtured…perhaps until now that Sabine is back. And of course, we have Sabine—my guess would be Sabine is the catalyst for basically everything. She’s modern alright, though it seems something seeded in her in a different manner. She would almost make sure you know that she is not of the old breed. She’s proud of bucking it all off of her; comes back to rub it in your face.
Our careening cast of women is flanked interestingly enough by the daughters of Olivia and Sabine (who present wonderfully imagined foils of each other) and a growing list of crazy Pentland women. This, perhaps, needs to be touched on further later.
Already, we are having quite a deal of comparisons drawn between Bromfield and our previous Pulitzers, no? There’s the Wharton. And, rightly, there’s the Ambersons. The Pentlands are like the Ambersons…but different (I have this written both in the margin of an early page and on my now-present note card). I think we will watch this unfold more. I think I will wait to comment too lain out until tomorrow, maybe Sunday if it comes to that. Also, we are dealing once again with scandal in society and marriage for those of society, much as we did not only in the Wharton, but also in our second round Tarkington. Yet, is it just me, or is the scandal much more black and white on the page?—especially than the Wharton (of course, the Wharton being set fifty, now nearing sixty years before).
Here’s another Wharton thing: Bromfield flat out says that Olivia often thought of her mother as a Wharton character. And yes, I could just see it being so (even though we only get second hand knowledge of her), however I just have a sneaking little feeling here that Olivia herself is more of a Chopin character. And I will just bet she has no idea about the matter.
As you can see, I’m going to give a rousing thumbs-up as far as interest level goes on this novel. I’m interested to see where out twisted web of romantic plots just lying themselves out gets us. Who will it be? O’Hara and Olivia? O’Hara and Sybil? Perhaps, O’Hara and Sabine—or is it the groom for her? How about that affair of the elderly. Really, Bromfield is giving us a run for our money with the gossip fodder…and we aren’t even members of the book!
I can’t speak much more about it—I need to see where we are taken.
In closing, I also want a red-paneled writing room as the Pentland house does, and did they really have “suburban real estate developers” in Bromfield’s time? After reading that, it has been floating in my head all day.
As always, you can reach me here, via email at LauraPondersthePulitzer@gmail.com, or on twitter @l_hallman. Until next time.
Happy reading, loves!