Antonia Forest, and a question of class

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Sat May 3 19:13:52 EDT 2003


On Sat, 3 May 2003 minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

> Upper-middle at the highest.  They're of farming stock, aren't they, not
> living on rents but living by their own work.

	Lower-Upper is the usual view. Definitely landed gentry. In
Falconer's Lure events leave their father as Head Of The Family & facing
paying *two* sets of death duties, and unable to refuse Trennels as it's
entailed upon him & then Giles. Therefore they can't afford to pay someone
to run it fully for them & thus he'd have to leave the Navy except that
Rowan steps in... And I can't recall precisely right now & I am too sleepy
to look it up but I seem to recall there is a very small village attached
to Trennels.

	So not wealthy, no, but definitely not middle class. (Though I
would think in an ordinary timeframe quite a few of the Marlow Children's
offspring would be middle class by now! Of course things being what they
are, they are still kids themselves) They aren't simple farmers, Trennels
is a fairly hefty estate, just reeling a bit under those death duties and
the effects of WWII when we come in, and they aren't professionals, and
they aren't merchants. And the Navy while of course not being
*necessarily* upper class has a tradition of taking in younger sons &
members of cadet branches...

	Don't for a minute think I'm condoning the class attitudes
Forest's characters expouse, but I think they are worth mentioning as they
are one of the really unique characteristics of her books, along with the
lifelike characters, the religious tensions & the high standard of writing
& the general realism. I've often wondered if those class attitudes are
there because of her commitment to realism or if they are her attitudes.
She has a tendency to get her characters, especially Patrick, to voice her
feelings about religion, and especially the consequences of Vatican II, at
every available opportunity after all... But I really don't know.

> What Forest has little time for, it seems to me, is dishonourable
> behaviour.

	Some of the time. Not always. Remember we see most things through
Nicola's eyes & Nicola's thoughts and actions aren't always honourable.
Sometimes she can be very nasty, bullying, and full of contempt for others
who she thinks are weaker than she is. She's so likeable though that these
times can be hard to spot! And one of the most honourable characters in
her books, Ann, gets an *extremely* rough ride, being derided by everyone
for being a sap... This I suspect is Forest's twisted sense of humour
coming into play. BUt maybe she really means it. who knows. But it isn't
pleasant...

	Anna

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