Friday, September 15, 2006
R.I.P. # 3 Death in the Garden
Elizabeth Ironside's Death in the Garden was a pleasure to read. Danielle, didn't you read this earlier this year? I really enjoyed Ironside's prose, and the two narratives, one in 1925 and one in current time.
Interesting that there are some similarities here with Lolly Willowes. The idea of a woman's place being at home in servitude to house and home and a self-righteous, domineering male are present in both. The differences in the novels are huge, for example, Laura's brother is domineering and conventional, but not in any way violent or verbally abuse as is George Pollexfen when crossed.
George's view that his wife should not have a career provides a catalyst for Death in the Garden.The story opens with Diana Pollexfen's unexpected acquittal of her husband's murder. No one is more surprised than she.... The story then quickly moves to the days preceding George Pollexfen's death and the arrival of various friend's for Diana's birthday.
Part III introduces Helena, a London solicitor, and her life in contemporary London. When her Great-Aunt Fox dies, Helena must go to Inglethorpe where she discovers that 67 years ago, her Great-aunt had been accused of the murder of her husband. When Helena realizes that she has inherited Inglethorpe, she decides she needs to know whether or not her Great-aunt was really guilty. Reading old journals, Helen realizes that she knows very little about her Aunt's life and sets about learning more in the hopes of proving her innocent.
Helen's life has its own complications that need to be resolved, but she is committed to her project, and aided by her cousin Simon and his wife Marta, she begins unraveling relationships in the past.
She often does not know what to make of the journals: "...as she read the extracts from different decades, Helena could not decide whether she was reading an honest account meant for no eyes but the writer's, a work of fiction, or a self-deception. Did anyone keep a diary meaning no one else to read it? She doubted it. It might be written as therapy, a means of objectifying one's life for one's self, but the act of writing, however secret, implied a reader, known or unknown, one day, sooner or later" (213).
Elizabeth Ironside (Lady Catherine Manning) is an author I want to read again, although I may have to search to find copies of her earlier books.
Here is a link to an interview on American University Radio. The interviewer's voice is ... well, annoying.