Hi to all who expressed interest in participating! I hope this has given everyone time to read the two books if they hadn’t already.
A few questions I’ve thought of to get it rolling…
First, from what little I was able to find on the web, it seems that McCullough denies that she (intentionally) borrowed from The Blue Castle. Does anyone think this is feasible, considering the similarity of the plot, and maybe more importantly, the details (young woman living with mother & elderly cousin, similar character descriptions, etc.)? Could it have been unintentional, that she didn’t remember the earlier book, but it was a subconscious memory that came out during the writing?
Another possibility is suggested here, where a reviewier in the NY Times suggests that Ladies is a “genteel parody” of the genre of books that the character Missy reads, which I think may reasonably include The Blue Castle. Although I think the book reads somewhat like a parody, I read another writing on the web that suggests that McCullough might have made it more obvious that it was a parody, by referencing The Blue Castle somewhere more directly (can’t find that cite right now, sorry.) I would think that the scene in which Una, poking fun of the genre, summarizes a plot of a book for Missy, would be a perfect time to recount the plot of The Blue Castle more exactly, as a way of referencing that specific book. Any thoughts on this? As I read Ladies, I got a very strong vibe that it was intended to be a feminist “answer” to the romance genre that The Blue Castle belongs to, and I can almost see an author rewriting it by taking the tack, “What would happen if Valancy weren’t such a shrinking violet, and had the opportunity to take control of her life on purpose, vs. just having the serendipitous circumstance of the letters getting mixed up? What if she could elevate her financial circumstances independently, put the controlling men in their place, AND figure out a way to marry and have a life apart from her elderly relatives?” I found it interesting that the point where Missy starts plotting all of this is the point where the stories diverge. Based on this, I could believe that Ladies is a parody, but if so, why would McCullough deny it? And is it possible to create such a parody accidentally? :dubious: Seems fishy to me!
I guess my last question is…which book did you prefer? And do you think that preference is influenced by which book you read first? I have long been a fan of Montgomery in general, and I am fond of The Blue Castle, sappy though it may be. I liked The Ladies of Missalonghi, but I don’t think that McCullough has quite the same lilting grace or knack for dialogue in her writing that Montgomery had.