Everard Bone or Julian Malory?

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Everard Bone or Julian Malory?

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Edited: Mar 25, 2010, 11:48 pm

I must say that I totally disagree with the Wikipedia description of Excellent Women--"the funniest and most successful of her comedies of manners." Although it is the best deadpan comedy since Buster Keaton's great silent films, it is very sad to think of Mildred at the end--relegated to facing some sort of life attached to either of those two duds--Everard or Julian.

Is this just my opinion? Are there any readers here--especially on the distaff side--who think either of these guys is a prize?

Mar 26, 2010, 6:12 am

I don't think it struck me like that - but it's a while since I read it and can't remember exactly how it ends. I thought it had more to do with Mildred gaining a bit of self-respect and discovering that she has the power to choose what to do with her life? Everard and Julian have been made to stop taking her for granted, but she's not necessarily going to marry either of them.

Mar 26, 2010, 8:41 am

I did not think it was 'funny' (as in ha ha) at all, rather bitter-sweet melancholic.

Mar 27, 2010, 11:19 pm

I devoutly hope that Mildred would not settle for either Everard or Julian....After all, what would she do with Everard's mother or Julian's sister? I did think it was funny as well as bitter-sweet. All in all I agree with thorold's take on Mildred's self-valuation. (I decline at the moment to write "self-a-steam" as one of my high school students had it.)

Mar 28, 2010, 6:24 am

Yes - don't forget that there's a sort of running joke in Pym that the reader and most of the characters automatically expect everyone to be paired off neatly at the end of the book, but instead we usually end up pretty much back where we started.

Mar 28, 2010, 10:45 am

>5 thorold:

It's not that I don't appreciate the joke of the plus ça change, plus c'est la même chos; it's thatan obviously "excellent" woman such as Mildred really seems to have no options in having a male partner than such obvious inferiors to her.

Mar 29, 2010, 5:13 am

I think that's the risk you have to take as a woman in Pym-world - men are feeble, helpless creatures, decorative and useful for livening up social occasions, but ultimately helpless without a strong woman to index their books and do the cooking and cleaning. If you do decide to get married, you either end up as a sort of vegetable, like the professor's wife who knits in the lecture room, or having to escape into a fantasy world of your own, like the vicars' wives in Jane and Prudence and An unsuitable attachment.

May 3, 2010, 1:34 pm

I always liked the idea of Mildred rejecting both of them but listening to the Radio 4 adaptation of An Unsuitable Attachment I hear of Everard Bone attending a dinner party whilst leaving his wife, Mildred at home with flu. Very disappointing!

Jul 18, 2010, 9:12 am

>8 Soupdragon: I've just finished reading the chapter about Everard Bone in An Unsuitable Attachment. Apparently his mother was to care for Mildred while he attended the dinner party. And it meant that the host, Rupert Stonebird, could fill the empty spot by inviting Penelope....

Aug 12, 2010, 5:20 am

I've just finished reading Jane and Prudence and it is mentioned in passing that 'that nice Miss Lathbury' has married 'someone called Bone'. Apparently she had learned to type to help him with his work. I feel a bit sorry for Mildred - all men seem to fall short in Barbara Pym novels - but she seemed to have a detachment and enough self knowledge to make the most of whatever situation she found herself in.

Aug 12, 2010, 6:52 am

Bone is also mentioned in Less than Angels!