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Topic: Oct BoM: A Breach of Promise Discussion pgs. 192-304

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Subject: Oct BoM: A Breach of Promise Discussion pgs. 192-304
Date Posted: 9/30/2008 1:53 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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My Observations:

We are beginning to see strong undertones of femimist theory in this section, more than just a passing reference to set the tone for the setting. The characters are beginning to examine their times' mores and automatic expections. How refreshing!

I am wondering what the search for the nieces adds to the story; I'm a little impatient with that piece of the plot.

Discussion Questions:

We see Monk at the party struggling with his own notions of what women 'should be', both in his conversation with Miss Waterston and in his internal musings. We also see Perdita's 'debut' as a new, stronger version of herself under Hester's tutelage.  Is this realistic for the time? Or is Perry putting today's ideals onto characters that would simply not have had the capacity or inclination at that time to go there?

Is Melville's death suicide or murder? Is there really any reason for Rathbone to be so bothered that it perhaps is not a suicide? It feels perfectly reasonable for that day to have been willing to kill onesself instead of live with the neon sign of homosexuality that Melville and Wolff would have faced after the evidence given at the trial.

Were you surprised by the revelation of Melville's gender? By its immediate polarizing effect on the participants in the trial? Do you think that reaction is realistic?

Is Monk's free and unwilling search for the two deformed nieces of Martha Jackson at all related to the gender theme emerging strongly in this section of the book?

 

 



Last Edited on: 10/2/08 12:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/6/2008 3:01 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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I've just made it to page 230, and Wow!, I did NOT see that plot turn coming! Interesting.

I'll be back to discuss when I've finished the chapter.

Date Posted: 10/6/2008 3:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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Valli, I didn't either! I was SO  SURE he was gay. It's a fantastic read from here on.

Date Posted: 10/9/2008 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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I finished this up last night, I totally agree - I was very shocked at the major plot twist, and then the twists kept happening. I'm not very good at forseeing mystery endings, and didn't nail this one at all.

I also agree that Perry is very much putting her thoughts and opinons about society onto these characters and isn't very historically accurate due to that. 

Date Posted: 10/10/2008 8:01 AM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
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Every single book should end by digging up a body in a graveyard at midnight.

Date Posted: 10/10/2008 11:34 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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LOL--with your handle, Diana, we expect that out of you!  I, personally, think every single book should end up with a royal comeuppance of some sort--beheading, imprisonment, banishment, etc.!

Date Posted: 10/10/2008 6:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2008
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Now that we know Melville's secret, I am still curious why (s)he did not share theis with Rathbone or even Zilla. I can understand the reason not to make this public knowledge. Unless Melville did not want to lean on the excuse of being a woman to get him out of the engagement. Shows another huge character strength for Melville.
Date Posted: 10/11/2008 9:43 AM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
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I think Melville realized that if her secret ever got out, her career would be ruined. 

It may be because Zillah was another character that Perry didn't bother to develop very well, but I can't imagine that she would understand Melville's secret grasp the importance of keeping it quiet.

Sad to say, I'm not sure that Rathbone would have grasped it either.  It was only when he heard the talk about the buildings being worthless that he truly understood what the truth would have done to her life's work and passion.  I think this was one of the best made points of the book, BTW. 

Did taking the suit all the way through court make sense to anyone though?  There were a good many improbable things in the book but I really didn't get the explanation for this one and it's the main plot.  Even if mom was nuts, surely dad would have understood that it was damaging Zillah more and stopped it.

 

P.S.  I'm not much of an "historical fiction" reader.  How do you regular readers rate this as historical fiction?  Even if no one was beheaded ;)

Date Posted: 10/11/2008 7:37 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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Yeah, I was shocked by the "suicide" and the gender revelation that followed. So sad that a woman couldn't use her talents and instead was considered sick and twisted for daring to do so. :(

I'm glad that Rathbone and Monk are sympathetic to Melville's actions. It's nice to see that not everyone was thinking that just because a woman designed those buildings that they would be worthless. IDK how realistic it is for the time, though.

And I'm still really not liking Savacherall and Mrs. Lambert. I hate how they pretty much ignore Zillah's feelings--especially her discomfort. :p

I guess I'm having a little bit of a hard time figuring out to what extent Perry is projecting modern ideals into the story, since I don't really know a whole lot about the social mores of the time. I guess I'd have to say that the main characters are a bit unusual for their time to begin with, and these fairly modern sensibilities might be an extension of that? Or the author was just trying to make the main characters more sympathetic to the reader, give the reader more to identify with on a personal level, and make a statement about such sensibilities at the same time.

I hope that makes sense. I'm feeling quite under the weather today and could possibly be talking gibberish.

Date Posted: 10/13/2008 3:04 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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wow. I was very surprised that it was Melville who died, and that she was a woman! I was sure that there was some other explanation.

I think that it's murder, only because there is so much of the book left.

I was wondering what everyone things of Monk?  I don't particularly like him. I almost wish the series were about Rathbone. I will probably read at least the first book in the series after this and I do hope that the whole series follows both Rathbone and Hester as well as Monk. But he doesn't seem like a very nice character...he's not mean or anything..but I don't particularly like his personality. But that would make sense I guess. His past life and character has not been described in a favorable light. Perhaps this is all part of him overcoming his past and growing as a character. I wonder what he's like in earlier books.

I'm also anxious to see what happens with the Zillah/Gibbons issue. I almost hope she ends up with Gibbons as it sounds like they are in love. and I love that they send secret letters to eachother :)

well i can't wait to read the last 100 pgs!

oh and when they discuss Martha's neices as being disfigured...is it a cleft palatte that they have? I don't think it says specifically but I think that's what they are describing right? If so i can see how difficult it would be to live with that...but I don't understand the mother's repugnance for her own children. That kind of saddens me. (oh and I don't see a point of this branch of the story..unless it's to cast Monk in a more favorable light for trying to help)

Date Posted: 10/14/2008 11:59 AM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
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I finally finished this section last night.  I'm in agreement with those that think this was a murder....as Hannah says, there's still alot of the book left.  Plus it just doesn't add up that Melville would have picked that point in time in the courtroom to take the poison.  My guess is that Savacherall was involved somehow.  He just seems like such a shady character, and was so sure he was going to win - perhaps he found out something that he did not want to come out, and wanted to end the trial before that happened.

I'm struggling with all of the different subplots that are going on here.  There was Hester and the wounded soldier and his wife.  Now the missing nieces.  I'm curious to see how it all comes together - as of now, it's more a distraction in my opinion.  As others have mentioned, maybe they fit in within the grander context of the series.

Date Posted: 10/14/2008 12:17 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I agree that I felt this was a murder once the details got out through Monk's investigating.  I really didn't see the gender surprise either, Valli.  I guess I have read too many Victoria Holts!! 

 

The (I don't know what technically to call it Colleen; help me here) closing arguements at the inquest were very interesting from the point of view of character revelation and maybe the author's greater purpose.  Is it normal to give statements like these at the end of an inquest?  They seemed more like the closing statements for a trial.  Is this the purpsoe they serve or was the author pursuing her greater themes here?  I have absolutely no knowledge about the British court system at all.

 

The extra subplots do seem a little distracting, though some authors use these to tie in future stories.  I have no idea if this author uses the same technique as this her first novel I have read.  I agree there is a lot more going on here than just your basic crime novel.

Date Posted: 10/15/2008 10:09 AM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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I was not surprised as Melville being a woman was one of my many conspiracy theories.  I love it when I'm right but on the other hand kind of irritated that I was right because I'm kind of let down :(  Still a good story though....

Date Posted: 10/15/2008 4:16 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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Diana- Well it qualifies as historical because of the time period its set in but I think it leans farther toward mystery than HF but I think it is a good story either way.

I agree with everyone who thinks it is murder and not suicide. 

I'm not sure what all the subplots are about or even if they will come together.  I'm trying to figure out where the Mrs. Jackson's nieces thing fits in.

Savacherall just makes me want to punch him in his face every time he talks.  He has such a head-in-butt attitude about the whole scenario with Melville and absolutely no respect for the dead.  I'm like geez man, you may not have liked that he was a she but she is dead so let her rest in peace and quit dragging her name and reputation through the mud!  I'm glad Zilla is so cold to him.  It makes me like her more.

Date Posted: 10/15/2008 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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Holly - I was equally offended by his attitude after the death of Melville. Some people have NO class!