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 Post subject: Re: Romance in EBD vs. EJO
PostPosted: 09 Dec 2016, 18:23 
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The one where Jen's mother dies, and where Andrew dies.

The body count over the space of a few books almost resembles the last scene of Hamlet. Both Jen's parents, Mrs Shirley, old Lady Marchwood, Andrew Marchwood, both Rosamund's parents... have I forgotten anyone? EJO was evidently having a clearout of surplus characters.

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Teasing about Ken might just about have been acceptable for someone who had known Jen continuously for 7 years, though it would still have been seen as a bit vulgar; but for someone who had known her for a few months 7 years earlier and has just turned up again, it was not good manners at all. Things were very different then...

Even nowadays, it's not very nice to be teased about a potential new boyfriend by people you hardly know. Della and Dick weren't bothered about Jen's feelings, they just wanted some juicy gossip.

The situation was complicated by the fact that Ken was by a long way the most eligible bachelor in the local community. If Della and Dick had continued to gossip and a garbled version had got back to the Marchwoods, it could have been hideously embarrassing for Jen.

I don't recall the dress incident; maybe I had an abridged version of the book in question. But there's a Dress Incident in Antonia Forest, when well-off Miranda gives Nicola an expensive dress, and Nicola isn't at all sure that her mother would approve of her accepting it. And Mrs Marlow is far more relaxed than Mary Dorothy.

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 Post subject: Re: Romance in EBD vs. EJO
PostPosted: 09 Dec 2016, 18:31 
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abbeybufo wrote:
Biddy's dress incident is in AG Again - and yes, borrowing someone else's dress would not be the done thing - especially in Mary & Biddy's situation, where they couldn't afford another. From pride alone, Mary would not have agreed, let alone from the practical POV. It is meant to show Biddy's immaturity.


I had a feeling I was wrong with the book title, but I couldn't think of the right one.

I can understand Mary's concerns re the cost (and she is proven right, poor old Biddy. Just like how midnighters in the CS are never allowed to get away with it). And I know 'borrowing' was not the done thing back then. I just don't understand why?

I remember the Marlow dress scene - although I think it's a bit different since Miranda is actually giving Nicola the dress. That's more like Emerence giving Margot the expensive clock. I think if one of my friends at school had given me an expensive designer garment (that was their own garment but not theirs to give), my mum might have had issues with that too.

The thing I really don't get about the Ken/Jen thing is that Rosamund teases her about it too - and yes Rosamund is a good friend but at that point she's 'younger' and also it's in public. I'd have thought the embarrassment factor would be higher there, since another girl could easily have overheard and spread the story.

Considering EJO's killing spree it's surprising Ann Watson survived - or was that only so that people could endlessly compare her to Joy and think about how great it was that Ann didn't bring Maidlin up?


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 Post subject: Re: Romance in EBD vs. EJO
PostPosted: 09 Dec 2016, 22:29 
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I think it's partly about pride, as Abbeybufo said - being lent a dress by someone much richer and grander than you might have felt like accepting charity, which would have been a no-no for a "respectable" person (either middle-class or working-class) at the time - and also partly the idea that you shouldn't have something which isn't yours. If Biddy wanted a posh dress, she should have saved up for one - which she wouldn't have been able to afford to do, so she couldn't have one.

I think that in the CS books it was more of a practical thing - girls would have been more careful with their own possessions if they'd known they couldn't use other people's, and it also avoided problems with, say, someone's prized fountain pen that had been a present from their great-aunt being mislaid by a friend they'd lent it to.

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 Post subject: Re: Romance in EBD vs. EJO
PostPosted: 09 Dec 2016, 23:10 
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I think the dress Biddy borrowed may have been unsuitable for a 15-year-old - she has her hair up and lots of make-up on and she does rather boast to Mary that she doesn't look only 15. Perhaps it was a bit too low-cut, or otherwise too grown-up so that's partly why Mary didn't approve, not just the fact of borrowing. It sounds as though the party was also unsuitable for an innocent naive 15-year-old too (90 years ago a 15 year old was a lot "younger" than now! )


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 Post subject: Re: Romance in EBD vs. EJO
PostPosted: 09 Dec 2016, 23:49 
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Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.


I can quite understand why lending and borrowing was banned at the CS. Imagine how much staff time would have been taken up with disputes among the Juniors and Junior Middles about who had borrowed what from whom, or taken without asking, and whether they had returned it or lost it or broken it.

I'm not sure that Biddy was that innocent and naive - not compared with, say, Janie Temple, who is also fifteen when we first meet her. But yes, a fifteen year old looking eighteen or older could find herself in a situation she wasn't prepared for and couldn't cope with.

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 Post subject: Re: Romance in EBD vs. EJO
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 16:26 
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I don't know where, but I received the impression that Biddy wasn't quite in the "right" set, and was thus dressing inappropriately. However, Mary's distress is that it is borrowed and not the done thing. In Little Women, when Sally and Belle dress up Meg, is it the immodest/over the top nature of the clothes that is the issue or the fact that it is borrowed?

Along with poor Mary Devine, I'm getting sorrier and sorrier for Rosamund: poor Ros, not feeling that she is needed/should stay at home and that her sense she doesn't really belong.

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 Post subject: Re: Romance in EBD vs. EJO
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 17:02 
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mrs helston wrote:
I don't know where, but I received the impression that Biddy wasn't quite in the "right" set, and was thus dressing inappropriately. However, Mary's distress is that it is borrowed and not the done thing. In Little Women, when Sally and Belle dress up Meg, is it the immodest/over the top nature of the clothes that is the issue or the fact that it is borrowed?
Both, I would think, but whereas immodesty has generally become much less of an issue, borrowing is still frowned on by some: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" and all that. I can see why it's a bad idea - it can lead to all sorts of trouble if the lent item is damaged, or never returned, and it can mean that you're either in debt financially, and/ or feel under pressure to return the favour.

A close (6-month-pregnant) friend borrowed a smock-frock from me so that she could attend an in-laws' wedding in something other than the maternity pinafore dress she'd been wearing day in, day out (with tops and jumpers) - and her husband was deeply offended, to my surprise. We did manage to persuade him, but of course he was offended because I'd implied that they hadn't enough money (and they hadn't) to waste on buying something she'd likely never wear again. True, but nobody likes to have it pointed out, even when it was the only sensible course of action. She looked as pretty as a picture in it, and they enjoyed the wedding, fortunately.

Mary would probably have felt that her care of Biddy was being criticised...


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 Post subject: Re: Romance in EBD vs. EJO
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 17:22 
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I always feel sorry for Meg, because it seems to me that it's the other people at the party who are at fault, rather than her. As soon as she's all tarted up, men want to dance with her, girls want to be her friend, and older women want to know her background, whereas none of them had taken much notice of her before. They're the ones who are shallow, but Meg's the one who's made to feel guilty.

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 Post subject: Re: Romance in EBD vs. EJO
PostPosted: 21 Dec 2016, 22:27 
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I don't know where, but I received the impression that Biddy wasn't quite in the "right" set

Yes, I had that impression, too. Isn't there something about Biddy saying these are the kind of girls she'll be mixing with when she goes to work, so she can't be standoffish about it.

Quite apart from Mary's own feelings about the Abbey crowd, I think she was pleased to encourage the friendship between Biddy and Ros and Maidie, because it gave Biddy something else to think about.

With Meg March, isn't the objection to the dressing up partly because she's pretending to be something, or someone, she isn't?


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