Friday, April 20, 2007



Ma chère Susan,--I do hope my missive will reach you in time. I am afraid it takes at least two or three weeks for letters to cross to Dover in these troubled times. Would you believe I have come across a recent publication which apparently is a faithful copy of your correspondence exchange with Alicia Jonhson over the period when you were staying with Charles and Catherine at Churchhill? Seemingly, Jane had learnt --probably from Catherine-- about your mildly successful endeavour, and had bargained from the family the assent to make copies of all the letters shuttled between Churchhill and Parklands at that time.

The story would not have developed any further had she not made another even more audacious move. As she was staying in London for some other business, she met with Alicia, and in circumstances that are still not clear to me but which I am inclined to believe involved some amount of dupery, she also managed to get hold of your letters to her as well as the draft versions of Alicia's replies to you.

You may or may not know that Jane fancies herself a famous writer, and your unfortunate state of affairs when you had to depart from Langford and bury yourself at Churchhill is now published as an epistolary novel under her signature! I hope I am mistaken, but I am quite certain she did not have your approval to act so. Obviously, all names are disguised, still I wager that some of our acquintances will find it easy to make the appropriate connections, and I doubt this would advance your current entreprise in any desirable way.

I must confess I read the book with great interest, not only because you have an incredibly sharp quill, but also because the letters that Jane selected and the order in which she presents them create a veritably romanesque atmosphere that had me captivated. From your first letter to Charles, I did recognize the force de caractère that makes you such a unique woman, and I gather the readers will feel some sympathy towards you, as I did when we first met; especially men, who are so often inclined to yield to loveliness, and will forgive all manner of conduct when the defence is a fair face that even women are drawn to admire.
The book does however gradually draw an ever darker portrait of you, simultaneously tarnished by Catherine's calumny and your continuous bad habit of opening your heart to Alicia in ways that you would never voice in the flesh. Your frankness of writing, which I believe reaches even beyond your true intentions, unveils elements about you that I would probably have preferred to remain ignorant of.

Yet, I could not help siding with you all along, as you seemed the only one that made things happen, for good or bad. I do not personally know Reginald and therefore am no judge as to whether he had deserved to fall victim of your manoeuvers, but even when I was convinced that you were probably pushing your draughts too far in that game -- because it was a game, ma chère, as it always is with you --, I was invariably drawn to admire you, apparently against my own reason.

I do not know if you have met Madame de Merteuil. She earned quite a réputation on this side of the Manche over the years. I am almost sure that although she would chuckle and call you an amateur in public, she would probably agree in private to take you under her wing should you issue such a request. Please be assured that you are la bienvenue here in Saint-Fargeau, in case you need to take some distances with London while the scandal of the publication subsides, or just for the palette of pleasures and adventures that France can offer.




Quillhill said...

Yes, despite Susan's conduct I was inclined to yield to her loveliness. Thanks Mandarine.

Aarti said...

Hi Imani-

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! Sadly, I haven't really left a post since And Only to Deceive as I am now in New Zealand, no longer in Chicago :-) I have depressingly only read one book in the past month- but the female character was fine! And I did start an audiobook of Garth Nix's trilogy, though I didn't get to finish it. And I agree that the female character (as far as I got, anyway) was quite a strong force. Thanks for the rec!