1. How do you feel about the way this novel wrapped up? Too clean and tidy? Just right? How about Fosco’s tell-all confession? I loved the confession. I knew this novel would wrap up tidily because that is usually the nature of Victorian sensation novels and penny dreadfuls. Fosco’s confession was perfect because I love his flowery, evil, bombastic voice. I love to hate him!
2. Did you feel the characters got what they deserved in the end? Namely, Sir Percival. But also Marian? Fosco? I think the characters got what they deserved. Except Marian. I would love for Marian to find her own future and happiness outside of her sister. Marian is bright, but yet she will be stuck playing spinster aunt to Laura and Walter’s children and caring for “poor Laura.”
3. What do you think of Wilkie’s treatment of the ladies? Heather, Amanda, and I all sort of wondered if he was screwing with us at times. The sticks to convention but it also seemed a little tongue-in-cheek at times. Or maybe those are just our contemporary female sensibilities…and wishing. I think Wilkie did okay with how he treated the ladies based on the standard of his time even though Marian acted “manly” and she survived. Most Victorian heroines who are unconventional die — especially if they are smart, determined, and passionate. I don’t like how Laura was written. I know that for this novel to work she had to be a sweet, stupid baby, but I wish she was a bit brighter. Actually, by the end of the novel Laura seems to be written as extremely childlike. No doubt she is somewhat traumatized. But Marian and Walter end up acting like Mom and Dad (don’t upset Laura! Don’t let her know anything!) and that makes Walter’s marriage to Laura creepy. If she is that traumatized she probably doesn’t need to be married and sleeping with Walter. The paternalistic nature of Walter’s love is icky. Real icky.
4. Wild card! What other issues did you take note of in this epoch? I love LOVE love the multiple narrators. I wish Laura had more backbone and could voice some of the action. I think Marian and Fosco’s sections were the best and I love how Marian was Sherlock to Fosco’s Moriarty. Yeah, Walter did the investigating, but Fosco was beaten by his respect for the wit and wonder of Marian.