Saturday, July 21, 2018

Rachel Ray (My Victorian Year #28)

Rachel Ray. Anthony Trollope. 1863. 326 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: There are women who cannot grow alone as standard trees; — for whom the support and warmth of some wall, some paling, some post, is absolutely necessary;

Premise/plot: Rachel Ray would be wooed by Luke Rowan--if only her mother and older sister would allow it. But will they?

Rachel's older sister, Dorothea, aka MRS. Prime, is a busy-body, aka "charitable church woman" whose number one business seems to be making sure that her sister says single and under her management. Is that a fair assessment? Perhaps not. It isn't Rachel she wants to control her so much as everyone within her power--notably her mother. If Rachel won't be bossed by her--dictated to by her--then she'll try applying pressure to their mother. Rachel is the type of daughter who would never, ever, ever, ever disobey her mother.

Is Mrs. Ray easy to manipulate? Yes. No. Usually. Sometimes. Mrs. Ray is equally impressed by whomever she's talking to. So for Mrs. Prime to have an influence on her, she has to stick to her constantly and not let anyone else get a word in. That proves impossible--so Mrs. Ray gains some freedom and independence from her daughter. But will it be enough?

It seems to be once Luke meets Mrs. Ray and the two begin to be friendly with one another. But that's not taking into account his family. And his family seems to be just as dysfunctional as hers.

Will these two ever come together long enough to make a match of it? Probably--it is Trollope and not Hardy. But it will literally take the whole village to sort it out.

My thoughts: I'm so glad that Trollope is Trollope and not Hardy. If Thomas Hardy had written Rachel Ray then Dorothea would have been proven right. Luke Rowan likely would have been a smooth talker who seduced a young naive girl, Rachel Ray, and left her with promises of a ring but no actual intentions. Rachel Ray would have ended up pregnant and the shame of the village--if she didn't kill herself before the town knew she was with child. Luke's rumored debts would not have been rumors but the truth. Mrs. Ray would have probably cried equal amounts in both versions because some things are just unavoidable.

Rachel Ray--the character--is not a feisty heroine. She's not a rule-breaker or a rebel. If her mother says don't write this fellow, she's not going to write him. If her mother says the engagement is off, then Rachel is going to accept it as fact even if it breaks her heart. Does she take the 'honoring her parents' thing a little too much to heart? Perhaps for the modern reader's taste. To submit to the authority of one's parents--especially in love--seems to make you weak and stupid...according to the world today. But what makes Rachel weak by today's standards make her morally good by older standards.

Rachel reminds me a bit of Jane Bennet.

Descriptions of Mrs. Prime:
Her fault was this; that she had taught herself to believe that cheerfulness was a sin, and that the more she became morose, the nearer would she be to the fruition of those hopes of future happiness on which her heart was set.
Such a one as Mrs. Prime is often necessary. But we all have our own pet temptations, and I think that Mrs. Prime’s temptation was a love of power.

Her sister was, in truth, only seven years her senior, but in all the facts and ways of life, she seemed to be the elder by at least half a century.
"Flirting" in Rachel Ray:
“I never knew anybody before called Rachel,” said he. “And I never knew anybody called Luke.” “That’s a coincidence, is it not? — a coincidence that ought to make us friends.
 “one word, and then I will let you go.” “What word?” “Say to me, ‘Dear Luke, I will be your wife.’“
“I don’t dislike you,” she whispered. “And do you love me?” She slightly bowed her head. “And you will be my wife?” Again she went through the same little piece of acting.
“Call me Luke,” he said. “Call me by my own name.”
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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