Thursday, May 16, 2013

Kept in the Dark (1882)

Kept in the Dark. Anthony Trollope. 1882. 512 pages.

I love, love, love Anthony Trollope. Kept in the Dark is a novel about relationships. Cecilia Holt, our heroine, when we first meet her is engaged to be married to Sir Francis Geraldine. While she was madly in love with him for a few brief weeks, she soon begins to see that he is not the one for her. There is something not quite right about him, something that worries her. So. She tells him that she's changed her mind. She will not be marrying him. His vanity is wounded, so he goes and boasts that he changed HIS mind. She doesn't care that much at the time; after all, the important thing is that the engagement is over. Even Cecilia's three closest friends don't know what to believe in the matter. Cecilia chooses not to gossip, not to add to the rumors. A few months later Cecilia and her mother are traveling around in Europe. She meets a man just a few years younger than Sir Francis. (Sir Francis was quite a bit older than Cecilia). He tells her after a brief acquaintance that he's suffering from a broken heart. A young woman, a beautiful woman, (a SILLY woman) has broken their engagement; she's fallen in love with a younger man, a Captain Geraldine. Cecilia's only known George Western a week! He's opened up his life to her, sharing his thoughts and cares, but how should she respond? She's certainly not brokenhearted herself, and except for the fact that there was not another man, her case superficially resembles his. She did "jilt" an older man. So she remains silent. As time goes by and they meet again and again in their travels, the two fall in love. Cecilia has an idea that she should tell him about her former engagement, but, the time doesn't seem right. To interrupt during the proposal would be awkward at best. She at first plans to tell him before the wedding, but, then her determination weakens. In a matter of months, the two are wed and her husband is still being "kept in the dark."

Most of the novel focuses on her husband's reaction to the news. For those that have read He Knew He Was Right, George Western does not do a Louis Trevelyan. Not quite. He leaves her quite suddenly, and he does insist on a permanent separation. But he offers her the country house, his home, and all the money she wants. She refuses these "kindnesses" which seem so cruel. She returns to her mother's house...but that is not the end of the story!

Unlike previous Trollope novels, readers only meet a few characters. The other two characters we spend time with are Sir Francis Geraldine and Francesca Altifiorla. Miss Altiforla was a "dear friend" to Cecilia Holt at the start of the novel; but she is VICIOUS. We also get a quick glimpse or two of Lady Grant, George's sister. I really loved this minor character!

I enjoyed this one. I really did. 

People are taken and must be taken in the position they frame for themselves. (6)
"Do you measure the one thing by the other," said Lady Grant; "a man's desires by a woman's, a man's sense of honour by what a woman is supposed to feel? Though a man keep such secrets deep in his bosom through long years of married life, the woman is not supposed to be injured. She may know, or may not know, and may hear the tale at any period of her married life, and no harm will follow. But a man expects to see every thought in the breast of the woman to whose love he trusts, as though it were all written there for him in the clear light, but written in letters which no one else shall read." (55)
"Lies are a sort of thing which are very commonly told, and are ordinarily ascribed to the world at large. The world never quarrels with the accusation. The world has told most infernal lies to this man about his wife. (124)

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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