October 16th, 2008

'Odalisque' by PF Jeffery (DFL's comments on Chapter 32)

Chapter 32 – Ruby

A ruby with a soul? This is fascinating and timely for me as I recently extrapolated objects-with-ghosts, having recently read F Marion Crawford’s ‘The Doll’s Ghost’. Passages from this chapter related to this:

Disquiet occasioned by Miss Miles or my father had not brought me another restless night. The visions in the darkness had been scarlet – pain and pleasure inextricably tangled, triumph and dread indistinguishable one from the other.
Shortly before retiring the previous evening, I had glanced though my mother’s gems, and chanced to remove the Duck’s Ford ruby from its case. A drop of blood on a golden chain, the stone must have fitted between the wearer’s breasts – just as my goddess did. My mother had, beyond doubt, never worn it – and I would never wish to do so. Gazing upon the jewel, its redness had exerted a fascination upon me, and also a sense of dread.

Experiencing an almost physically painful sensation, my interpretation was that the gem resented being offered to the jewel thief. [...] “Mistress, do you believe that a jewel can have a soul of its own?”

“...Such a stone, then, may harm the soul without hurting the body. We may say that it is diametrically opposed to my cane. Margaret – how do we spell diametrically, and what does it mean?”




This is also a chapter of contrasts. The bouncy-bouncy effect exploited by idlers (gongoozlers of the gym?); schoolroom caning ... and one wonders why Tuerqui concentrates on some incidents (and not others) - and for whose taste she intends this novel sometimes to be geared? This and borderline over-sentimentality (partly shown in first passage below) not dissimilar from some romantic fiction. But all this coming together artfully with more serious and mind-provoking fiction exemplified by the 2nd piece of dialogue below:

“Speak freely, Tipsi, and please don’t keep asking permission. Or should I have said that? I don’t know – I’m trying to be your mistress, but personage feels strange, heavy on my shoulders. But say what was on your mind – please do.”
“It was just that I respect your trying to be a good slave as well, mistress. I’ve had enough hard times, mistress, since I was enslaved. I expect it was sometimes hard for you too, mistress. The mark on your forehead?”
“Yes, that was hard, Tipsi, quite a lot of it was hard. And yet… Are you happy, Tipsi?”
“Oh yes, mistress. It was all right being one of Mrs Clay’s domestic slave pool – much better than the kitchens, where I was before, mistress. But ever since – well, for a long time, mistress, I’ve wanted to be a lady’s body slave. Brushing your hair is lovely, mistress, a girly thing – you know...”

“Please, miss, that’s why our guards will defeat them. You can’t beat the gods, miss. You may seem to win for a little bit, but that’s not real, miss. Divine retribution,” she was obviously very pleased with this phrase, “falls on wicked lands as surely as your cane falls on the bottoms of naughty pupils – like when Margaret was lazy at drill – and jolly well serve them and her right too, miss.”


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Something stronger needed than a comma after ‘thief’?

There, I found Lisa-Louise in conversation with the jewel thief, Tipsi attended them whilst Barguin’s occupation remained unclear.

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Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.

The links to all Chapter comments by me are HERE