F&H and Austen

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Fri Jan 10 04:34:02 EST 2003

> >And I'm still planning
> >>>to inflict a F&H/Middlemarch comparison on the
> >list some day, as the
> >>>idea just won't go away, no matter how much I
> >ignore it.

I'd love to hear about that! And it reminds me...

I year or two ago I foisted F&H on a friend I thought would enjoy it, but he
came back to me with worries about the 'dodgy' relationship between Tom and
Polly - was he some kind of paedophile? (Even Granny seemed to worry about
that possibility, he pointed out.) In the book's defence, I was forced to
make comparisons with Austen. A man in his twenties becomes friends with a
young girl; he takes on the role of elder brother-cum-surrogate parent (her
own parents being absent or self-absorbed); he advises her, forms her taste,
administers the occasional salutary rebuke. As the years pass and she grows
up his friendship turns gradually to romantic love, which is reciprocated.
In short, if Tom Lynn is dodgy, then so is Mr Knightley.

Is this a useful way of talking about books? I should add that my friend was
totally unconvinced.


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