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Dombey and Son
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Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:15 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

No, it wasn't hinted at; it was some sort of comment that Edith had something to tell Florence, and for a moment I just wondered if it might be that she was to have a baby.  But it wasn't.  I do tend to assume that babies will be the husband's!

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My thoughts on "Dombey and Son":

First, it is a long novel.  I understand that in page length it is the second longest of Dickens' novels after "Bleak House".  It does have its longueurs but it also has passages of extraordinary emotional force which I haven't yet encountered in Dickens' works (I've been reading them in order of publication, skipping "Barnaby Rudge" and "Martin Chuzzlewit.")

There is a scene where Florence is sitting with her father and longing for him to acknowledge her.  He starts to look at her and realises that she is no longer a young girl but turning into a woman and feels that he should attempt to make more of a bond between them but as he is about to speak, Edith comes into the room.  I found it a scene of great emotional impact.  

Also, there is the dinner party to "celebrate" their wedding anniversary where Edith suddenly tells Paul Dombey how much she loathes him.  The family celebration that turns into the dinner party from Hell has become something of a cliché in TV drama but I can't think of a previous similar scene in literature.  

I agree that I would like to know more about Edith.   Why is she so opposed to her mother's plans to marry her of to a wealthy man?  By modern sensibilities this is legalised prostitution but for a lot of women then this was how they saw their fate (Compare to Charlotte's acceptance of Mr Collins in "Pride and Prejudice")  Was Edith frigid?  

I thought Caro described very well how the death of young Paul isn't sentimentalised in this novel but realistically depicted.  There is a scene when Dombey senior has faced financial ruins and among the household items the bailiffs are taking away is Paul's little bed.  It brought a lump to my throat; all the more for the fact that it was just listed among all the other objects.

However, I disagree with the qualms expressed over Walter's feelings for Florence and how these might seem inappropriate.  Before Walter goes away they are childhood friends and it is possible to have a deep and innocent friendship but entertain naïve romantic ideas that you might eventually marry.  

It is when Walter comes back from sea and  realises that Florence is now a young woman that he starts to have physical desires for her.   He feels it is inappropriate for her to be under the same roof.  

What irritated me was that I found it difficult to believe in Walter and Florence's love for each other.  I could believe in Walter's physical desire for her, I could believe in Florence's love for her father and young Paul's love for his sister but how ever much Dickens wrote about their love, somehow it failed to convince me.  I couldn't feel it in the way I could feel the other emotions.

It was an interesting and powerful book and I'm glad I read it but I wasn't sorry to come to the end and turn to something more modern and less weighty.

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