Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

An Ideal Husband

Thanks for your posts so far on Counselling for Toads. I especially like the idea of David Jason as Toad - wrong class overtones perhaps, thanks to his incarnation as Del Boy, but perfect ambience. And if Del Boy were to suddenly succeed in one of his get-rich-quick schemes, perhaps he wouldn't be so different from Toad after all? I'm always fascinated by fellow-readers getting different stuff out of books; I felt I learned more about human nature and Wind in the Willows than I did about counselling as such, but that's simply because I found it so very revelatory about the former things. My mind cannot register many impacts with equal force.

However, I do very much enjoy having new light cast on familiar texts, and Helen S has set off a wave of mini explosions in many an old favourite by her very stimulating musings on good husband material in A Suitable Boy. (Don't panic Helen D - no spoilers coming up!) As I thought about what Helen had said, I realised that in almost every novel there could be said to be a choice about what type of man one might choose, almost more than who he might happen to be. Girl with a pearl earring, although far more subtle in theme than choosing between lovers, epitomises this with Griet's pause for thought on the eight-pointed star. She's conscious that there are different things she could be trying to do with her life, and different people and options she knows are manifestations of different directions. I don't think Lata is dissimilar. For another example, The Shipping News with its astonishing and poetic images of the different archetypes of women: the only attempt at this which I've read which has made me delighted rather than furious. I've also found myself re-evaluating Brick Lane with Helen's perspective in mind. The answers the authors give vary, of course, according to genre and effect sought. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth and Lydia start by admiring the same man. While Elizabeth ends up choosing a man from a completely different type, Lydia sticks with this particular representative of the type she was always set on choosing, come what may.

Anyone else join in playing this parlour game - suggestions of old favourites which might be interesting looked at in such a light? Or, being you lot, a better version of my suggestion?!