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Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim
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Vera (1921)

by Elizabeth von Arnim

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This book is compared to Rebecca, and there are certainly resonances of Daphne Du Maurier's ability to write female focused psychological thrillers that slowly grip the reader. This is a story of a relationship between the young and impressionable Lucy, and the somewhat older Wemyss, whose wife has recently died in slightly suspicious circumstances. What starts as a delightful relationship (if somewhat cloying and infantilising) turns into a story of domestic abuse. Von Armin allows us into the mind of the abuser, where everything is rational and reasonable, and there would be no problems if only his entirely reasonable expectations were met. There is no abuse, in his mind, simply consequences that would be readily avoidable by anyone sensible and not determined to be unreasonable. She shows how love can be baffled and poisoned; how an abuser can control the environment and isolate the victim; how the victim can also rationalise the abuse.
  otterley | Mar 31, 2016 |
This is book is really heartbreaking. It is so well-written and so real that I felt emotionally involved. Vera is a sad story, but I think it is very instructive as well. Everard Wemyss was apparently based on Elizabeth von Arnim's second husband, which is very sad.

Some quotes I bookmarked:

"She had never met any one so comfortable to lean on mentally...Such perfect rest, listening to his talk. No thinking needed. Things according to him were either so, or so. With her father things had never been either so, or so; and one had had to frown, and concentrate, and make efforts to follow and understand his distinctions, his infinitely numerous, delicate, difficult distinctions. Everard's plain division of everything into two categories only, snow-white and jet-black, was as reposeful as the Roman church. She hadn't got to strain or worry, she had only to surrender."

"Yes, she was extremely abject, she reflected, lying awake at night considering her behaviour during the day. Love had made her so. Love did make one abject, for it was full of fear of hurting the beloved. The assertion of the Scriptures that perfect love casteth out fear only showed, seeing that her love for Everard was certainly perfect, how little the Scriptures really knew what they were talking about."

Here is a longer excerpt:

"But she didn't tell him all about it, first because by now she knew that to tell him all about anything was asking for trouble, and second because he didn't really want to know. Everard, she was beginning to realise with much surprise, preferred not to know. He was not merely incurious as to other people's ideas and opinions, he definitely preferred to be unconscious of them.

"This was a great contrast to the restless curiosity and interest of her father and his friends, to their insatiable hunger for discussion, for argument; and it much surprised Lucy. Discussion was the very salt of life for them,—a tireless exploration of each other's ideas, a clashing of them together, and out of that clashing the creation of fresh ones. To Everard, Lucy was beginning to perceive, discussion merely meant contradiction, and he disliked contradiction, he disliked even difference of opinion. 'There's only one way of looking at a thing, and that's the right way,' as he said, 'so what's the good of such a lot of talk?'

"The right way was his way; and though he seemed by his direct, unswerving methods to succeed in living mentally in a great calm, and though after the fevers of her father's set this was to her immensely restful, was it really a good thing? Didn't it cut one off from growth? Didn't it shut one in an isolation? Wasn't it, frankly, rather like death? Besides, she had doubts as to whether it were true that there was only one way of looking at a thing, and couldn't quite believe that his way was invariably the right way." ( )
  kathleen586 | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is the third Elizabeth Von Arnim novel I have read this year, and of the three it is the saddest and darkest. Apparently Elizabeth Von Arnim based the character of Everard Wemyss in this novel on her own second husband. That fact alone is enough to give me chills. On the day that Lucy Entwhistle's father dies she meets forty five year old Everard Wemyss apparently terribly bereaved himself, and in need of some human contact and someone to talk to. Lucy is instantly drawn to him, and places herself and much of her affairs in his capable hands. Shocked by the story of his wife's Vera's terrible and sudden death Lucy feels only she can understand him. Even the arrival of her beloved maiden aunt Miss Entwhistle does nothing to lessen the hold that Wemyss is already beginning to have over Lucy. Taking pride of place at the funeral of her father, a man he never knew, only a fortnight after his own wife's death, Wemyss eases his way in to their lives. Returning to London, Wemyss sets his sights on Lucy, and works hard to lessen her aunt's influence upon her. Lucy is twenty two, but a complete innocent, and Wemyss quite often thinks of her and calls her a child. She is blinded by love, any tiny nagging doubts about Wemyss's behaviour - his sulking over thwarted plans, his apparently quick recovery from his very recent bereavement she is able o explain away to herself with simple childlike reasoning. Miss Entwhistle is not so persuaded however, and is frequently disquieted by him. When they make their engagement public, Miss Entwhistle and her brother's friends are horrified. The marriage takes place, quickly, only a few short months after Vera's death at their home The Willows. The house which Lucy has not yet visited is to become one of her homes, and is the one place that she regards with dread. Nothing has been to alter the house since Vera's death, Lucy will have Vera's sitting room, from where she fell to her death below, sleep in the bedroom she once shared with Wemyss, in the same bed, and have Vera's life sized photograph staring at her from across the dining room. Wemyss's temper is often roused by the smallest things not going his way, and the newly wedded Lucy returning from her honeymoon to the house she dreads seems doomed to say the wrong thing. “ A house,' said Wemyss, explaining its name to Lucy on the morning of their arrival, 'should always be named after whatever most insistently catches the eye.'

'Then oughtn't it to have been called The Cows?' asked Lucy; for the meadows round were strewn thickly as far as she could see with recumbent cows, and they caught her eye much more than the tossing bare willow branches.

'No,' said Wemyss, annoyed. 'It ought not have been called The Cows.”

Wemyss is a deeply controlling figure, he wants everything his own way and generally gets it. Lucy is an innocent who is unprepared for a man like him. The only person who could possibly upset his plans is Lucy's aunt little Dot Entwhistle, and he has no intention of allowing that. With obvious similarities to Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, Vera is a much darker less hopeful story than that more famous novel. The ending of Vera, was maybe not what I had hoped, but no doubt Von Arnim found more realistic. This is a story that will stay stay me I am sure. I loathed Wemyss of course, and found I wanted to shake poor Lucy, but I loved Miss Entwhistle. ( )
1 vote Heaven-Ali | Aug 15, 2012 |
Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim is perhaps a more disturbing tale than du Maurier’s Rebecca. At least at the end of Rebecca there is resolution and we find that Malcolm de Winter isn’t a monster, that it was indeed Rebecca who bloody well asked for it. Vera is the first wife of Everard Wemyss who meets her death by falling out of the window in her own home. Lucy, innocent girl who has just been devastated by the death of her father, meets Everard and they cling to one another and eventually marry. From the beginning we feel suspicious towards Everard because he is not grieving it seems, just upset by the fact that he should have to go through this period of mourning and that he was made to go through an inquest into his wife’s death (of which he was acquitted). All of this is Vera’s fault and not his. We feel for Lucy on the other hand because she is young and only has an aunt now to look after her. After her marriage, she witnesses Everard’s temper for herself and is worried, but manages to overcome all questions with her love for him. The aunt does try and intervene and gives him a piece of her mind, but not nearly enough in my opinion. I was rooting for her all the way through, but she ends up leaving Lucy to him. Which leaves us wondering how long it will take until Lucy throws herself out the window? ( )
  ms.hjelliot | Mar 15, 2010 |
The day young Lucy Entwhistle's father died, she was only able to stand, staring, feeling nothing. Along came Wemyss, a man of about forty-five, who had just lost his wife. This shared bereavement brings he and Lucy together: Wemyss makes all the plans for Mr. Entwhistle's funeral, they spend much time together comforting each other, and they soon become engaged. Lucy's aunt, Miss Entwhistle, is rather perplexed by the whole turn of affairs, but she determines to like Wemyss for Lucy's sake, even though he shows all the character of a spoiled brat.

Vera was Wemyss's former wife, who died under somewhat mysterious circumstances, yet whose memory permeates much. At first, I thought the story was going to be headed in a similar direction as Rebecca, but even though I didn't particularly like Max de Winter, he had nothing on Wemyss. Everard Wemyss has made my top five list of most hated characters in literature. His behavior made me want to slap him, shake him, finally to punch him. I loved Miss Entwhistle's standing up to him, and wished Lucy was more able to assert herself. But like many in an unhealthy relationship, she's quick to forgive and forget. Reading about them as they progressed from engagement into marriage was like watching a car crash - you know it's going to be terrible, but can't help continuing. ( )
  bell7 | Nov 30, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth von Arnimprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hardie, XandraIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Udina, DolorsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When the doctor had gone, and the two women from the village he had been waiting for were upstairs shut in with her dead father, Lucy went out into the garden and stood leaning on the gate staring at the sea.

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Book description
Lucy Entwhistle's beloved father has just died; aged twenty-two she finds herself alone in the world. Leaning against her garden gate, dazed and unhappy, she is disturbed by the sudden appearance of the perspiring Mr. Wemyss. This middle-aged man is also in mourning - for his wife Vera, who has died in mysterious circumstances. Before Lucy can collect herself, Mr. Wemyss has taken charge: of the funeral arrangements, of her kind aunt Dot, but most of all of Lucy herself - body and soul.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671883917, Paperback)

The gorgeous motion picture Enchanted April, based on Elizabeth von Arnim's witty and endearing novel, captivated audiences nationwide. "If you liked A Room with a View and Howards End, you'll fall in love with Enchanted April!" raved Jeff Craig of Sixty Second Preview, and literate moviegoers flocked to theaters. Now fans of Elizabeth von Arnim's keen insights and extraordinary storytelling powers can discover VERA, her darkly comic, haunting portrait of love, domination, and evil....The sunwashed Cornwall cottage where Lucy and her darling father had made their plans stands forlornly behind her. That morning, without warning, he passed away. Lucy has wandered alone to the garden gate, staring blankly ahead when a handsome stranger walks by, stops, and enters her life....

Unbearably alone since his wife Vera's recent and mysterious death, Everard Wemyss is irresistibly drawn to this vulnerable young woman. Taking charge of the funeral for Lucy and her spinster Aunt Dot, he begins to commandeer Lucy herself -- body and soul. Soon Lucy believes herself in love, and Wemyss is obsessed with the idea of making her his wife. Virile, well-to-do, sensual, Wemyss should be a "catch," but Aunt Dot senses disturbing qualities in him. Lucy, however infatuated, also begins to feel a twinge of suspicion. Perhaps she should wonder about her own fate when her beloved Wemyss takes her to The Willows, the isolated country home where Vera died....

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Twenty-two-year-old Lucy Entwhistle is quite alone in the world following the death of her beloved father. Dazed and unhappy, she leans against the garden gate, where she is disturbed by the perspiring Mr Wemyss. This middle-aged man is also in mourning - for his wife, Vera, who has died in mysterious circumstances. Before Lucy can collect herself, Mr Wemyss has taken charge - of the funeral arrangements, of her kind Aunt Dot - but most of all, of Lucy herself, body and soul."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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