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Monday, December 03, 2007

Another post on Kept

I have been reading Kept in small increments and alternately wishing I had time to sit down and dash through the entire book and being grateful that I'm forced to take it in smaller doses because it allows time for the passage or pages to sink in and gives me time to ruminate.

Here is another lengthy post, but I have given nothing away because I know nothing. And I'm quite content to know nothing. Certainty is not a factor in this novel. Possibilities arise and then the next passage opens a new possibility that does not necessarily exclude the previous one.

I love picking up the clues, often a chapter or two later, when a remark is made or a seemingly trivial circumstance begins developing in an unexpected way or when a previously unobtrusive detail is followed up with more information. Taylor is quite the master of this technique.

The allusions are also a pleasure, both to authors and novels and to the wryly humorous inclusion of incidents that occurred in other 19th century novels which have been transformed to fit Taylor's story. And again the cleverly funny remarks or descriptions tucked into the staid Victorian language or the oppressive Gothic atmosphere.

I want to discuss something I've read each time I pick it up, and since there is no one around, I have conversations in my head.

I'll share just one quote today.

Jemima is defending her sister's need for money to Mr. Pardew:

"It may be as you say"--Jemima's voice as she said this was studiously respectful--"but would you have me sit by and have my own flesh and blood starve?"

Mr. Pardew shrugged his shoulders and jingled his money in his pockets. This was not a question that he could decently answer, and he knew it. In fact it would not have disturbed him in the least to learn that Mrs. Robey--this was the name of Jemima's sister--had starved to death, but gentlemen are generally shy of saying such things.

This is one of several points in the novel in which Taylor appears to be using Maria Edgeworth's The Noble Art of Self-Justification (a link to the essay is the last post). Jemima has "respectfully" responded in such a way as to leave Mr. Pardew little wiggle room. Sort of "When did you stop beating your wife?" Some ladies-- with little influence or power-- learned how to get their way by round-about means. Jemima has done so in an amusing way, maintaining her obedient and respectful attitude. At the same time, the characters have revealed much about themselves.

I am quite snowed under with sewing and various projects so there isn't much time to indulge in a long reading session, but I'd love to have an audio version that I could listen to while doing other things.


  1. It continues to sound like an amazing read. I cannot wait to see what your thoughts are once you've gotten through it all and can give us your opinion on the resolution of the story.

  2. I'll bet you are very busy with Christmas projects. Are you making some exciting things for presents this year?

    You are making me want to get my hands on Kept and read it in those non-exsistent magic moments between this moment and the next. Something like what L'Engle described in A Wrinkle in Time. It would take a wrinkle to allow me to read anything more than what I have scheduled for this month. Wouldn't that be delightful to find a few of those wrinkles - a couple for reading and some for crafting. Housework would have to be limited to old fashion 'time'.

  3. Carl -- I don't want to finish it! I want to continue living in this world that Taylor has created and populated so cunningly.

    Booklogged -- Oh, yes! I've been so busy with projects for the last 6-8 weeks. And we are expecting our newest granddaughter within a week or so!

    You really need to read this one. I love that you mentioned "a wrinkle in time" because I want to stay in this wrinkle for as long as possible!

  4. Oooh, I have been eyeing this one a lot lately. I must get to it in the new year. Sounds fabulous!

  5. Goodness, that sounds like an extremely fun book. You could have just said "Dickensian language" and mentioned the time period and I would have been bouncing in my seat, though. :)

  6. Nicola -- If you enjoy Dickens and Wilkie Collins, you will enjoy this. Put the two together, shake, stir, and add a bit of contemporary sensibility and Voila! Kept!

    bookfool -- It is so much fun, and I'm close to the end, but don't want to face that fact!