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Post Info TOPIC: 15. Cordelia - 1949


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Date: Jan 11 5:23 PM, 2019
RE: 15. Cordelia - 1949
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Hollyhock wrote:
Stella Poldark wrote:
Hollyhock - I have been wondering if the BBC might be persuaded to consider Cordelia for dramatisation. I would need to find a contact there. The BBC website is difficult to navigate. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. Also please let me know what you think about this idea.

 

Stella--my view is that you'd probably get a polite 'thanks, but no thanks' response from the BBC. The story is not sensational enough for today's viewers--no blood and gore and the sex is discreet. But, given the popularity of the Poldarks, a suggestion certainly can't hurt.

However, since it's all about RATINGS, they'd probably ruin an adaptation. They'd hand the project over to the likes of a DH who'd turn Cordelia into a 21st century, husband-bashing shrew who seduces Stephen, and sleeps with the foreman to seize control of the dye works. Uncle Pridey would probably get pushed down the stairs for trying to blackmail her over her affairs. The book would be unrecognizable but the adaptation a ratings winner.

 


 Hollyhock - You are probably right wink



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Date: Jan 11 5:19 PM, 2019
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Stella Poldark wrote:
Hollyhock - I have been wondering if the BBC might be persuaded to consider Cordelia for dramatisation. I would need to find a contact there. The BBC website is difficult to navigate. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. Also please let me know what you think about this idea.

 

Stella--my view is that you'd probably get a polite 'thanks, but no thanks' response from the BBC. The story is not sensational enough for today's viewers--no blood and gore and the sex is discreet. But, given the popularity of the Poldarks, a suggestion certainly can't hurt.

However, since it's all about RATINGS, they'd probably ruin an adaptation. They'd hand the project over to the likes of a DH who'd turn Cordelia into a 21st century, husband-bashing shrew who seduces Stephen, and sleeps with the foreman to seize control of the dye works. Uncle Pridey would probably get pushed down the stairs for trying to blackmail her over her affairs. The book would be unrecognizable but the adaptation a ratings winner.

 



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Date: Jan 10 10:48 PM, 2019
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Hollyhock wrote:

My pleasure Little Henry; WG's remarks add clarity. I think the 'ghostly' prologue narrator, when seeing the name carved on the mantlepiece, expresses the feelings WG had at the graveside. The prologue was certainly atmospheric and set the tone for the rest of the novel. 

I believe WG's comment about writing a novel that would never be filmed stemmed from his frustration with the tedious script approval process. So, I too think that--with the right actress and script--Cordelia would have filmed well. 

I would especially like to have seen the séance adapted to the screen. Compared with today's special effects, Clodius' gimmicks might seem tame, but back then they would have been spine-tingling. I can guess how he arranged the timing of the candles. But how he managed the tinkling bell, knocks, and piano without a confederate is a 'mystery' to me. The episode was cleverly written. That it affected Slaney-Smith so profoundly was also surprising. I bet uncle Pridey figured it all out.

 


 Hollyhock - I have been wondering if the BBC might be persuaded to consider Cordelia for dramatisation. I would need to find a contact there. The BBC website is difficult to navigate. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. Also please let me know what you think about this idea.



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Date: Jan 10 6:47 PM, 2019
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My pleasure Little Henry; WG's remarks add clarity. I think the 'ghostly' prologue narrator, when seeing the name carved on the mantlepiece, expresses the feelings WG had at the graveside. The prologue was certainly atmospheric and set the tone for the rest of the novel. 

I believe WG's comment about writing a novel that would never be filmed stemmed from his frustration with the tedious script approval process. So, I too think that--with the right actress and script--Cordelia would have filmed well. 

I would especially like to have seen the séance adapted to the screen. Compared with today's special effects, Clodius' gimmicks might seem tame, but back then they would have been spine-tingling. I can guess how he arranged the timing of the candles. But how he managed the tinkling bell, knocks, and piano without a confederate is a 'mystery' to me. The episode was cleverly written. That it affected Slaney-Smith so profoundly was also surprising. I bet uncle Pridey figured it all out.

 



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Date: Jan 10 12:35 AM, 2019
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Little Henry wrote:

Thanks for finding that, Hollyhock.  I wondered whether the book was mentioned in his Memoirs.  Funny that he found the name on a tombstone in Cornwall!  So glad that his mother was able to read and appreciate the novel before she died.  Also interesting that he wrote Cordelia with the intent of writing a novel that no one would ever film. I can very well imagine it being a film.


 Yes I too can imagine it being a film or even a television drama of 6 episodes. smile



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Date: Jan 10 12:03 AM, 2019
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Thanks for finding that, Hollyhock.  I wondered whether the book was mentioned in his Memoirs.  Funny that he found the name on a tombstone in Cornwall!  So glad that his mother was able to read and appreciate the novel before she died.  Also interesting that he wrote Cordelia with the intent of writing a novel that no one would ever film. I can very well imagine it being a film.



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Date: Jan 9 6:14 PM, 2019
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I became interested in the backstory behind Cordelia after reading about the carving on the mantlepiece. Here's a bit of what WG shares in Memoirs of a Private Man. (Bello/Macmillan ed, 2013, p. 84.)

Wandering through the local parish churchyard of Perranzabuloe a few years before, I had seen a weather-beaten tombstone, on which one could only discern the name and the date. 'Cordelia, 1869.' The name was in large letters, which stretched from one side of the stone to the other, and standing there in the misty afternoon light I began to wonder what sort of a person this woman had been, how old she was when she died, how she had come by this attractive but romantic name, what her life story was, if only she could have told it to me.

During the last years of my mother's life, I listened, as with a sense of something soon to be lost, to her reminiscences as a young girl in the Manchester of the 80s and 90s. She had a brilliant memory, and through them I can trace my own family -her family anyway-in endless ramifications back to 1800. It was not just the main stems she remembered, but all the branches. Among them was an uncle, a rich dyer, who built Acacia Hall in Burnage, and something of his life story is reflected in the life of Mr Ferguson in the novel (Cordelia) I then wrote. Some of the characters and much of the background reflected things that my mother had told me, including the character of Mr Slaney-Smith, the atheist, who was based on Jack Slaney, whom I have referred to before, and who was a great friend of my grandfather.

 



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Date: Jan 6 12:35 AM, 2019
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Little Henry wrote:

In rereading some of "Cordelia" I see Stephen as manipulative as HA.  They are both so quick to proclaim their love for C and D in flattering and convincing terms that would appeal to any woman's ego.  Both say they have never loved so strongly - "nothing small and plain and level and commonplace and mediocre" as Stephen says.  Both men trick C and D into admitting that they feel something for them even though both women do not feel they are in love and ask them to stop talking about it.  Stephen presses a note into Cordelia's hand in front of everyone and it tells of his agony because he can't have her.  This makes C feel compassion and guilt just as D felt for HA.  Cordelia thinks "It hurt to feel that one was hurting someone one liked".  Both husbands like these men who are after their wives and see them as nice fellows.  Stephen blatantly tells Brook about how he has been "crossed in love" meaning his feelings for C which shows utter disrespect to Brook just as HA disrespected Ross.  Both men appeal to the one thing missing in C and D's lives - love in the case of C and in D's case the lack of complete reassurance of Ross's love by simply telling her so. Stephen's poetic words "You can't stop me from loving you, your voice, the lights and shades of your hair, the glint in your eyes, the inmost you . . .  and I shall love you until there's no more of me."  Demelza would have loved to hear something like that from Ross but knew that was not his character and showed his love by actions rather than words.  So yes, I now feel completely that Cordelia did well to leave Stephen and did the right thing for herself and her son.

Neither woman was seeking a love affair.  They were manipulated by men and by sets of circumstances into unfaithfulness and I have to believe in the case of Demelza that it wouldn't have happened again.  She very nearly lost all that they had and she would not have risked that again.  Every dire event of their marriage has led to a deeper love and finally contentment.


 I wonder what, if anything, this (two men, each trying to entice a married woman away from her husband) might tell us about WG. 'Cordelia' was published in 1947, way before 'The Four Swans'. Perhaps WG knew about this situation from people he knew personally. WG had no plans initially to write more than four Poldark books. 

So far, I have not found any of WG's other books as bewitching and enticing as the Poldark books. 

Little Henry - I agree that neither woman was looking for a love affair and that they were manipulated into infidelity. 



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Date: Jan 5 7:09 PM, 2019
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In rereading some of "Cordelia" I see Stephen as manipulative as HA.  They are both so quick to proclaim their love for C and D in flattering and convincing terms that would appeal to any woman's ego.  Both say they have never loved so strongly - "nothing small and plain and level and commonplace and mediocre" as Stephen says.  Both men trick C and D into admitting that they feel something for them even though both women do not feel they are in love and ask them to stop talking about it.  Stephen presses a note into Cordelia's hand in front of everyone and it tells of his agony because he can't have her.  This makes C feel compassion and guilt just as D felt for HA.  Cordelia thinks "It hurt to feel that one was hurting someone one liked".  Both husbands like these men who are after their wives and see them as nice fellows.  Stephen blatantly tells Brook about how he has been "crossed in love" meaning his feelings for C which shows utter disrespect to Brook just as HA disrespected Ross.  Both men appeal to the one thing missing in C and D's lives - love in the case of C and in D's case the lack of complete reassurance of Ross's love by simply telling her so. Stephen's poetic words "You can't stop me from loving you, your voice, the lights and shades of your hair, the glint in your eyes, the inmost you . . .  and I shall love you until there's no more of me."  Demelza would have loved to hear something like that from Ross but knew that was not his character and showed his love by actions rather than words.  So yes, I now feel completely that Cordelia did well to leave Stephen and did the right thing for herself and her son.

Neither woman was seeking a love affair.  They were manipulated by men and by sets of circumstances into unfaithfulness and I have to believe in the case of Demelza that it wouldn't have happened again.  She very nearly lost all that they had and she would not have risked that again.  Every dire event of their marriage has led to a deeper love and finally contentment.



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Date: Jan 4 7:02 PM, 2019
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Stella-the best of luck and a quick recovery!

Some of the best scenes in Cordelia are the page turners when Cordelia is locked out of the house, Stephen's efforts to get her back in, and the escape from the smoking music hall.

Couldn't help but compare Brook and Stephen. The difference between the two is that Stephen was healthy and virile. Otherwise, neither ever grew up and depended too much on their fathers. Stephen's father indulged him more than Brook's, but this enabled Stephen to remain immature, moving from woman to woman.   

At the time he proposed it, Stephen was in love with Cordelia (or thought he was) and wanted her to run away with him. Years later, Cordelia wonders if she had gone with Stephen when he first asked, if they might have made a success of it. Like Uncle Pridey, I don't think Stephen would have been a good match for her, even if he remained faithful. Cordelia would never have reached her potential with Stephen and would have come to view him as another Brook, just healthier.

Little Henry, I'm still trying to not impose Poldark plots on Cordelia, but unlike with Stephen, I don't believe anything HA says. Except that he wanted to sleep with Demelza. So, would once have been enough. No, already on the way back from their seal cove tryst, he was asking her when he could see her again. Given another 'anonymous' opportunity, would she have succumbed again. Even had he later suggested it, marriage would probably have been out of the question, given the exorbitant cost of divorce. But that might have been an even greater incentive for him to pursue D.  I think, like Stephen, HA could never settle down with one woman.

In the end, I think Cordelia was convinced she made the right decision and was successful and happy.



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Date: Jan 4 3:28 AM, 2019
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Stella, all the best to you in the next few weeks - all will be so much better in the end I'm sure. 

Hollyhock, thanks for your input.  There are similarities between D and HA and Stephen and Cordelia but Stephen seemed to sincerely want Cordelia to leave Brook and go with him to London but I don't think HA ever wanted to actually have Demela go away with him as, as you say, he was incapable or just didn't want to have a long-term relationship like in a marriage.  There is a real possibility in Cordelia that she will leave Brook because she doesn't love him with passion, but is only fond of him.  HA made it clear to Demelza that he was not interested in marriage and come to think of it that may have made it less dangerous for Demelza - she was never asked to leave Ross, only to "share" her love.



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Date: Jan 3 9:05 PM, 2019
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Meant to add my observations...

I agree with the critics--this is an engaging read with a complex heroine. The book contains all the elements of good drama--love, betrayal, suspense, timeliness, deceit, comedy, mystery, intrigue...

I too was determined to read the book without making any comparisons to the Poldark characters or plots. Couldn't do it; no matter how objective I tried to be the Poldark saga constantly intruded. 

I was especially struck by the similarities between the Demelza-HA and the Stephen-Cordelia storylines. Since Cordelia was written years before TFS, I wonder if Demelza and HA's story is an abbreviated version of Stephen and Cordelia's.  It's a version of what might have happened if Hugh had lived and gone to London. Even Demelza and Hugh's posturing mirror Stephen and Cordelia's. Like HA with Demelza, Stephen is relentless in his pursuit of Cordelia, even writing passionate, secret letters. Cordelia also quickly succumbs to pleas and sex appeal.

So, interestingly, in the first two thirds of the book, Cordelia is a prototype Demelza. Then in the latter third, she morphs into Elizabeth, with Ian.

Stephen is charming but immature and self-serving; he has no empathy for his past lovers. I don't think he would have been able to stay true to Cordelia after the novelty of their living together wore off. I believe both he and HA were incapable of sustaining long-term relationships.

Mr. Ferguson is a force to be reckoned with. He and George share similarities, especially the Manchester connection--where George made his greedy, disastrous investment in manufacturing.

Brook was clearly impotent and uncle Pridey was the best of the Fergusons.

I was also reminded of WG's comedic talent. The scenes where the mice escape are classic WG.  

 



-- Edited by Hollyhock on Thursday 3rd of January 2019 11:11:17 PM

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Date: Jan 3 8:18 PM, 2019
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Little Henry wrote:

Stella,

Every day I mean to get back to reading Cordelia but I just don't have the inclination to do so.  As much as I enjoyed the book I don't really want to read it again and am more looking forward to reading my House of Stratus Ross Poldark.  Already at a glance I have seen differences from the usual publication.  If either of us has any more thoughts about Cordelia at any time we can always return to it.  I wish you and everyone on the site a very Happy New Year full of Poldark and WG discussions.


 Little Henry

I have not had the time to read any more so it's not a problem. I would like to finish my third reading of Bella Poldark so that I can begin 'The Grove of Eagles' but I am having cataract surgery next week and again in February so my reading will be curtailed for a while.

I wish you a Happy New Year and hope to discuss more of WG's work in 2019.



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Date: Jan 3 5:58 PM, 2019
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Stella,

Every day I mean to get back to reading Cordelia but I just don't have the inclination to do so.  As much as I enjoyed the book I don't really want to read it again and am more looking forward to reading my House of Stratus Ross Poldark.  Already at a glance I have seen differences from the usual publication.  If either of us has any more thoughts about Cordelia at any time we can always return to it.  I wish you and everyone on the site a very Happy New Year full of Poldark and WG discussions.



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Date: Dec 28 12:12 AM, 2018
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Little Henry wrote:

Stella,

Am enjoying some after-Christmas relaxation and started re-reading Cordelia.  Perhaps because I was finishing "The Loving Cup" (which I had interrupted to read Cordelia) Cordelia's character brought me so much to Cuby's situation.  Not much is said about Cuby's feelings in the Poldark books at the time she was promised to Valentine and in "Cordelia" WG goes into Cordelia's feelings and her family's in a lot more detail.  Everyone in the family was counting on the marriage.  It would make everyone happy in her large family and give security and position.  She was perfect for this marriage and it was a practical decision - she was good-looking, pleasant, young, healthy, would make a suitable mother, well-mannered, understanding, much like Cuby.  What pressure that must have been, to have so many people depend on your decision.  Even Brook says "I'll hope you choose right - the way I want you to choose".  You mention this somewhat in your post of December 5 and that it is all so shallow but to a young inexperienced girl to be offered so many good things in the world - money, travel, happiness, an easy life, a house of her own to run, her children could go to fine schools, etc. etc.  I like the detail WG goes into and I felt Cordelia's excitement.  If love wasn't there she thought it would grow and come later.  I also like that it gives me a broader picture of Cuby who was a somewhat minor character to me before.

And you are right about Brook lacking character and excitement. All the descriptions of him - delicate, nervous, not lively, shy, indecisive, no fun, artistic but "turned away from life and lived in a daydream" - I see him as the anti-Ross!


Little Henry -  You make an interesting comparison between Cordelia and Cuby. Both accept their duty to marry with their family's needs in mind and do not initially question this. Inevitably Cordelia eventually wants more but gets a little diverted for a while by the responsibility given to her by Frederick in her work at the factory. They are both ultimately realistic about life but develop a desire for a relationship with love and passion in it. I think Cordelia is more level headed than Cuby. We see the real Cuby when she agrees to leave with Jeremy - passionate and capable of spur of the moment decisions. Cordelia does not have the latter; she thinks things through even when her emotions are intense. 

An excellent description of Brook as "the anti-Ross".



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Date: Dec 27 7:54 PM, 2018
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Stella,

Am enjoying some after-Christmas relaxation and started re-reading Cordelia.  Perhaps because I was finishing "The Loving Cup" (which I had interrupted to read Cordelia) Cordelia's character brought me so much to Cuby's situation.  Not much is said about Cuby's feelings in the Poldark books at the time she was promised to Valentine and in "Cordelia" WG goes into Cordelia's feelings and her family's in a lot more detail.  Everyone in the family was counting on the marriage.  It would make everyone happy in her large family and give security and position.  She was perfect for this marriage and it was a practical decision - she was good-looking, pleasant, young, healthy, would make a suitable mother, well-mannered, understanding, much like Cuby.  What pressure that must have been, to have so many people depend on your decision.  Even Brook says "I'll hope you choose right - the way I want you to choose".  You mention this somewhat in your post of December 5 and that it is all so shallow but to a young inexperienced girl to be offered so many good things in the world - money, travel, happiness, an easy life, a house of her own to run, her children could go to fine schools, etc. etc.  I like the detail WG goes into and I felt Cordelia's excitement.  If love wasn't there she thought it would grow and come later.  I also like that it gives me a broader picture of Cuby who was a somewhat minor character to me before.

And you are right about Brook lacking character and excitement. All the descriptions of him - delicate, nervous, not lively, shy, indecisive, no fun, artistic but "turned away from life and lived in a daydream" - I see him as the anti-Ross!



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Date: Dec 12 10:31 AM, 2018
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Little Henry wrote:

I'll let you know how my re-read goes. Feel free to post any thoughts as they come which is what I tend to do.  I think we've covered the overall feel and personalities of the characters and I'll look for little details that I overlooked that are interesting.


 Yes this is the best idea and given that the Christmas season is approaching we can post as and when. If there is a time gap it won't matter. 



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Date: Dec 12 5:01 AM, 2018
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I'll let you know how my re-read goes. Feel free to post any thoughts as they come which is what I tend to do.  I think we've covered the overall feel and personalities of the characters and I'll look for little details that I overlooked that are interesting.



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Date: Dec 12 12:52 AM, 2018
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Little Henry wrote:

Stella, I admire your re-reading Cordelia a third time, is it?  I wasn't sure I wanted to read it again but will start and see what happens.  The only books I have ever re-read are the Poldark books and I have learned from them that each reading reveals something new that was missed.  I will be slow though so after Christmas would be best.  Thank you for the good wishes and I send the same to you.


 Little Henry - only a second time smile Not sure I would want to read it a third time. I shall continue with my re-read but if you prefer not that's fine. We have a much more demanding read ahead, do we not? wink



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Date: Dec 11 11:31 PM, 2018
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Stella, I admire your re-reading Cordelia a third time, is it?  I wasn't sure I wanted to read it again but will start and see what happens.  The only books I have ever re-read are the Poldark books and I have learned from them that each reading reveals something new that was missed.  I will be slow though so after Christmas would be best.  Thank you for the good wishes and I send the same to you.



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Date: Dec 11 5:21 PM, 2018
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Little Henry - Can we clarify please where we are with the discussion of Cordelia? I am re-reading now so if you are too perhaps we could finish our discussion after Christmas? Meanwhile I wish you an enjoyable and restful Christmas.



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Little Henry wrote:

Cordelia had "affection" and "deep regard" and was "fond of" Brook and that could make a good marriage if a deeper love doesn't come along.  I think she wanted to love Brook but it just wasn't there.  Funny that he was a poet but because of his lack of romantic love for her, was not the kind that could sway a girl.  Only in his last poem did he put passion into it, almost too much venom though.  WG writes about so many different kinds and levels of love.  I did like Stephen because of the strength of his love for Cordelia and even in the end he seemed ready to go off with her despite his apparent involvement with another woman.  Mind you, I don't like these men who pursue married women relentlessly but it seems necessary for the plot.  I like your comment that you didn't warm to her but she creates an interest, which is I think the result of good writing and why I liked the book as a whole.  I feel I would benefit from re-reading the book too but Christmas is taking over my life right now and life gets busy up to the end of December.  I did re-read the very short prologue and wonder what the significance of carving her initials was.  The house is now old and dusty after ending the book with such a positive outlook and the interest in her son's inheritance.  I hadn't thought this book could have a sequel but I find myself wondering what happened.


 Yes I agree that WG writes about many different kinds and levels of love. I shall have to re-read it all in one go as there is much I have forgotten. At first I liked Stephen but I thought he put a little too much pressure on Cordelia. However, she didn't manage to keep her resolve not to see him. I clearly remember that I couldn't put the book down as I wanted to know what was coming next. WG is a master of this smile 

I, too wanted to know what happened next and I felt a bit cheated about the ending but I think those two got together, don't you? wink  Cordelia is a fascinating and very strong character and seemed very real to me. Of course there are strong characters in the Poldark books too. 

Like you, I am getting busy with Christmas preparations and after that I am having cataract surgery so will be out of circulation from 8th January until second week of February with, hopefully, a gap in-between, assuming nothing goes wrong. Meanwhile I may post again but will understand if you do not reply for a while.



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Cordelia had "affection" and "deep regard" and was "fond of" Brook and that could make a good marriage if a deeper love doesn't come along.  I think she wanted to love Brook but it just wasn't there.  Funny that he was a poet but because of his lack of romantic love for her, was not the kind that could sway a girl.  Only in his last poem did he put passion into it, almost too much venom though.  WG writes about so many different kinds and levels of love.  I did like Stephen because of the strength of his love for Cordelia and even in the end he seemed ready to go off with her despite his apparent involvement with another woman.  Mind you, I don't like these men who pursue married women relentlessly but it seems necessary for the plot.  I like your comment that you didn't warm to her but she creates an interest, which is I think the result of good writing and why I liked the book as a whole.  I feel I would benefit from re-reading the book too but Christmas is taking over my life right now and life gets busy up to the end of December.  I did re-read the very short prologue and wonder what the significance of carving her initials was.  The house is now old and dusty after ending the book with such a positive outlook and the interest in her son's inheritance.  I hadn't thought this book could have a sequel but I find myself wondering what happened.



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Date: Dec 5 1:21 AM, 2018
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Little Henry - I have now refreshed my memory of Cordelia at the start of the book. She shows no interest in emotional aspects of a relationship, but rather the comforts it will bring her if she marries Brook. She wants to be without worry of having little money, to travel, to go to dances and hear music and give parties in her own home. All this seems a bit shallow. Brook, by contrast, seems a rather flat character, lacking personality and excitement.

Despite all this, it very soon becomes obvious that Frederick chose well when he identified Cordelia as a good choice of wife for Brook although she turns out to be useful to him. Cordelia is very sure of what she wants and love doesn't feature in the early part of the story. At this stage I did not warm to her although she creates an interest from the start. 

We can assume, I think that Brook was unable to produce a child. There are hints that he was unable to give Margaret a child.



-- Edited by Stella Poldark on Wednesday 5th of December 2018 01:23:11 AM

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Little Henry wrote:

It is almost unfair to say I don't love these characters as it is just compared to the characters in Poldark.  Nobody in Cordelia is unlikeable (not even Mr. Ferguson), they are all well drawn but the story is the driving force.  Nothing much is said about the sex life of Cordelia and Brook and I don't think it was anything to write home about, being passionless.  The death of Margaret is intriguing but the mystery seems to end when the pills were found, having been hidden by Margaret herself, so there was no suicide or wrongdoing concerning the pills.  So I can't remember her actual cause of death, just illness and stress I think.  A second reading would be beneficial. 

When I think of it, most of the non-Poldark books I've read this year do not have characters that I "love".  How fortunate to have 12 WG books that are so loved and worth studying.  I'm pretty sure if I had read Cordelia without knowing of the Poldark books, I would want to read more of his books though.

Grove Hall takes on a life of its own at the end and becomes a character almost as strong as Nampara and Trenwith.  She feels its familiar sights and sounds and smells with dread at first but when she is welcomed home by the two men I feel her melt and relax as if she belongs there.  After all, her name is carved on the upper mantelpiece.

 


 I agree with you that nobody in Cordelia is unlikeable although I didn't much care for Stephen even before I knew he was married. He seemed to lack depth yet stood out from all the others but perhaps not in a good way.

It seems clear that the marriage of Brook and Margaret did not include love. Cordelia does some detective work of her own going through papers in the loft but I cannot remember if she actually found anything concrete. 

I hadn't thought about Grove Hall but yes you are right about it being a character of its own like Nampara and Trenwith. I also think perhaps the factory was also somewhat in this category. Cordelia was somehow different when she was at the factory. 

Yes we are fortunate to have the 12 Poldark books but I was at the stage where I needed to read something else and decided I wanted to read other books by Winston. I began 'The Forgotten Story' but didn't finish it although I intend to go back to it. It was so very slow in getting into the story and did not grab me. So I was delighted to find Cordelia. 

Of course Cordelia didn't love Brook and the marriage appeared to be arranged but Cordelia made the best of it  and even turned it to her advantage.

I think it is a pity that other non Poldark books by WG are not discussed here, especially as this is a forum for all his books, not only the Poldark books. 

I shall continue with my re-reading and hopefully our conversation about Cordelia.



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It is almost unfair to say I don't love these characters as it is just compared to the characters in Poldark.  Nobody in Cordelia is unlikeable (not even Mr. Ferguson), they are all well drawn but the story is the driving force.  Nothing much is said about the sex life of Cordelia and Brook and I don't think it was anything to write home about, being passionless.  The death of Margaret is intriguing but the mystery seems to end when the pills were found, having been hidden by Margaret herself, so there was no suicide or wrongdoing concerning the pills.  So I can't remember her actual cause of death, just illness and stress I think.  A second reading would be beneficial. 

When I think of it, most of the non-Poldark books I've read this year do not have characters that I "love".  How fortunate to have 12 WG books that are so loved and worth studying.  I'm pretty sure if I had read Cordelia without knowing of the Poldark books, I would want to read more of his books though.

Grove Hall takes on a life of its own at the end and becomes a character almost as strong as Nampara and Trenwith.  She feels its familiar sights and sounds and smells with dread at first but when she is welcomed home by the two men I feel her melt and relax as if she belongs there.  After all, her name is carved on the upper mantelpiece.

 



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Little Henry wrote:

Yes, she is more like Elizabeth when I think about it but strangely I never thought about Elizabeth when reading the book.  All of these 3 female characters keep a secret about their infidelity and they are never found out by the main characters who matter, ie their husbands.  I often wonder what WG is saying about infidelity.  Because it would be so hard to tell their secrets and to suffer the consequences which could be dire I think Cordelia shouldn't have been so hard on Stephen about not telling her about his wife.  His being married was also a surprise for me.  Also, that Cordelia got pregnant was a surprise to me.  And her mother keeps on having children - I think 17 which is excessive to me. 

I can go either way with the ending because in the end I am not in love with these characters.  The romantic in me wanted her to live happily ever after with Stephen.  Their love was strong I believe but there were hints that he was spoilt and always wanted to get what he wanted.  But he really did want her to leave Brook and go with him to London.  He was really very likeable.  For the heroine of a story to choose money, status and security over romanticism  is interesting especially as it was written in 1949.  And I'm sure she takes over as "foreman" of the mill.  I think the Dr. was brought in to give hope for love in Cordelia's future.  Her going back was much like Elizabeth marrying George for security but ultimately being quite happy.  Cordelia had heart but ultimately she was ruled by her head.


 Yes Cordelia was mostly ruled by her head but, as you say surprisingly got pregnant. So Stephen must have tugged strongly at her emotions. But so did her son and she put his interests first.

I don't recall that we are told anything about the sex life of Cordelia and Brook Ferguson. I did wonder if there was any, or if so why she didn't get pregnant. As in the Poldark books, there is quite a lot of important details we are not given. As I recall, we are not told much about Brook's first wife or even the circumstances of her death. We are only told about Cordelia's attempts to find out about her.

I suppose that I too am not in love with these characters but at each stage of the story I wanted the best for Cordelia because she tried to do the 'right' thing especially in relation to Ferguson senior and the factory. Like Demelza, she was a woman ahead of her time. 

Once I have re-read this book I know i shall have a lot more to say. Meanwhile let us carry on with your reactions and thoughts until I have caught up a bit.



-- Edited by Stella Poldark on Saturday 1st of December 2018 09:04:38 PM

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Yes, she is more like Elizabeth when I think about it but strangely I never thought about Elizabeth when reading the book.  All of these 3 female characters keep a secret about their infidelity and they are never found out by the main characters who matter, ie their husbands.  I often wonder what WG is saying about infidelity.  Because it would be so hard to tell their secrets and to suffer the consequences which could be dire I think Cordelia shouldn't have been so hard on Stephen about not telling her about his wife.  His being married was also a surprise for me.  Also, that Cordelia got pregnant was a surprise to me.  And her mother keeps on having children - I think 17 which is excessive to me. 

I can go either way with the ending because in the end I am not in love with these characters.  The romantic in me wanted her to live happily ever after with Stephen.  Their love was strong I believe but there were hints that he was spoilt and always wanted to get what he wanted.  But he really did want her to leave Brook and go with him to London.  He was really very likeable.  For the heroine of a story to choose money, status and security over romanticism  is interesting especially as it was written in 1949.  And I'm sure she takes over as "foreman" of the mill.  I think the Dr. was brought in to give hope for love in Cordelia's future.  Her going back was much like Elizabeth marrying George for security but ultimately being quite happy.  Cordelia had heart but ultimately she was ruled by her head.



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Little Henry wrote:

The story takes place about 80 years later than the Poldarks and there is a completely different feel about the time and place.  It feels quite "modern".  Manchester does not have the drama of Cornwall but the weather still plays a big part.  I even got quite intrigued by the descriptions of the dyeing mill workings even if I didn't understand it all.  This book was written after only 2 of the Poldark books were written and I felt there were pieces of the future Demelza in Cordelia - especially with the infidelity and the pulling of loyalties.  A huge difference though in that Cordelia didn't love her husband.  But neither of them had any remorse about infidelity, just anxiety and worry that someone would find out and I have a bit of trouble with that.  I came across the fact that Cordelia was the name of King Lear's daughter and looked up her character as I wondered if WG had named her that for a reason.  She was praised mostly for her honesty in not flattering her father just to inherit land and there are some parallels in the stories.  Cordelia tells Stephen near the end that if he had told the truth about his wife she would never have deserted him but she is, on her part, so dishonest in not telling him that Brook had died and not telling him that he was the father of Ian, I can't think of her as an honest person.  Much like honest, true and loyal Demelza who had a few secrets.

I was surprised by a few things and one of them was the doctor suddenly seeming to be in love with Cordelia.  I too was going to look for earlier clues to that.  I don't think it was obvious.  I will think about the other surprises I had including the ending but will close now.


 Little Henry - I agree with most of what you say about Cordelia's character but not all. She knew that, once she had told Stephen about the child, she would never be free of him and the decision about her future life could no longer be hers. The scandal of what she had done would affect her child and his security. Although her decisions after finding out about Stephen's wife, came as a surprise to me, on reflection I saw that she had a very wise head. Cordelia is a very interesting character. She has a good sense of right and wrong but is able to see the wider picture. Although she does look after her own interests, she does consider others as well. I agree she is not the loveable character of Demelza but they have one thing in common; they both care about their child. I think I admire Cordelia, rather than love her as I do Demelza. In some ways Cordelia is a bit like Elizabeth.

Like you, I found the industrial Manchester very interesting. Also, I was intrigued by the way her relationship with her father-in-law developed.

More anon.



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The story takes place about 80 years later than the Poldarks and there is a completely different feel about the time and place.  It feels quite "modern".  Manchester does not have the drama of Cornwall but the weather still plays a big part.  I even got quite intrigued by the descriptions of the dyeing mill workings even if I didn't understand it all.  This book was written after only 2 of the Poldark books were written and I felt there were pieces of the future Demelza in Cordelia - especially with the infidelity and the pulling of loyalties.  A huge difference though in that Cordelia didn't love her husband.  But neither of them had any remorse about infidelity, just anxiety and worry that someone would find out and I have a bit of trouble with that.  I came across the fact that Cordelia was the name of King Lear's daughter and looked up her character as I wondered if WG had named her that for a reason.  She was praised mostly for her honesty in not flattering her father just to inherit land and there are some parallels in the stories.  Cordelia tells Stephen near the end that if he had told the truth about his wife she would never have deserted him but she is, on her part, so dishonest in not telling him that Brook had died and not telling him that he was the father of Ian, I can't think of her as an honest person.  Much like honest, true and loyal Demelza who had a few secrets.

I was surprised by a few things and one of them was the doctor suddenly seeming to be in love with Cordelia.  I too was going to look for earlier clues to that.  I don't think it was obvious.  I will think about the other surprises I had including the ending but will close now.



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Little Henry wrote:

I have finished reading "Cordelia" and enjoyed it very much.  Have you finished your second reading?  At first I thought I would read it without thinking about the Poldark books but when I started counting the number of times he used the word "fumbling" I knew it was hopeless.  We have looked at his writing in such detail on the site!  I loved the intrigue and suspense and surprises, never knowing what would happen next.  I love re-reading the Poldark books and get something different from them every time but of course the suspense isn't there.  All the elements of WG's writing that are discussed in the topics are there - dance, humour, loyalty, honesty, love, forgiveness, etc. etc. and especially wonderful characters that seem real.  I'm just briefly starting the discussion very generally.  How do we discuss the ending - I suppose with a "spoiler alert".


 Little Henry - It's good to hear from you as I've been thinking about Cordelia but haven't yet re-read it. I will start that tomorrow. I completely missed the significance of the doctor. How could I miss that! I, too, loved the intrigue and surprises and never knowing what would happen next. It is a very different story to the Poldarks but I enjoyed it. Of course there were far fewer characters in this book than the Poldarks which made it easier to read and to focus more on all the characters. I found myself wanting her to make certain decisions but she certainly had a mind of her own. Also, she managed people so well and was prepared to look at things from others' perspectives. Did you get many surprises as you read it?

I will post again as soon as I have re-read a few chapters. As no one else has shown any interest in this I'm not sure there is a need for spoiler alerts.

 



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I have finished reading "Cordelia" and enjoyed it very much.  Have you finished your second reading?  At first I thought I would read it without thinking about the Poldark books but when I started counting the number of times he used the word "fumbling" I knew it was hopeless.  We have looked at his writing in such detail on the site!  I loved the intrigue and suspense and surprises, never knowing what would happen next.  I love re-reading the Poldark books and get something different from them every time but of course the suspense isn't there.  All the elements of WG's writing that are discussed in the topics are there - dance, humour, loyalty, honesty, love, forgiveness, etc. etc. and especially wonderful characters that seem real.  I'm just briefly starting the discussion very generally.  How do we discuss the ending - I suppose with a "spoiler alert".



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Little Henry wrote:

Stella, just to let you know I haven't received "Cordelia" yet.  Our Canada Post is having rotating strikes and everything is delayed.  More than delayed I think as I am waiting for 4 book orders, one of them being "A Dictionary of Historical Slang" which I ordered on June 29 and still haven't received.  I've told the booksellers I will be patient and hope eventually to get my orders.


 Little Henry - thank you so much for letting me know. It's OK as I have been so busy recently and I need to re-read it as I have forgotten a lot. I will start the re-read very soon so please let me know when you are ready to discuss it.



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Stella, just to let you know I haven't received "Cordelia" yet.  Our Canada Post is having rotating strikes and everything is delayed.  More than delayed I think as I am waiting for 4 book orders, one of them being "A Dictionary of Historical Slang" which I ordered on June 29 and still haven't received.  I've told the booksellers I will be patient and hope eventually to get my orders.



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Hollyhock wrote:

Stella, I have a copy and will delve in as soon as I can tear myself away from my zillionth read of the Amelia Peabody Series.

 

 


 Thanks Hollyhock. No need to rush as I would like to re-read this book; it's a while since I read it and when I got to the end I realised there were important details I had missed. 

I look forward to discussing it.



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Stella, I have a copy and will delve in as soon as I can tear myself away from my zillionth read of the Amelia Peabody Series.

 

 



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The following are reviews I came across which might entice some folk here to read 'Cordelia'. 

 

Mr. Graham really cares about his characters and although his major ones may come from stock he can be brilliant with the minor ones. (The Times Literary Supplement, 15 February 1963)

As always, Winston Graham tells a powerful story in masterly style. (Books and Bookmen, June 1963)

The drily desperate conclusion is splendidly managed. (Michael Ratcliffe, The Sunday Times, 3 March 1963)

This novel has shrewd humour and some excellent characterisation (Margaret Willy, The Birmingham Post, 26 February 1963)

Strange and moving A book just right to lose oneself in during these winter evenings. (The Yorkshire Evening News, 16 February 1963)

Enthralling from start to finish. (Marion Lochhead, The Scotsman, 16 February 1963)

Mr Graham is a most careful artist, both in the construction and the writing of his stories This period piece will add to the consideration that now begins to be given to (his) work. (Richard Church, Country Life, 14 March 1963)

a thoughtful, rather slow-moving study of a woman finding her way painfully through a tangle of loves and jealousies. The dialogue is overmodern, but the poverty and prosperity of newly-developing industrial life, the intellectual fireworks of Darwinism, spiritualism [and] free will set the period well. (Celia Dale, Homes and Gardens, June 1963)



-- Edited by Stella Poldark on Monday 15th of October 2018 03:16:37 PM

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Little Henry and any others who may consider reading this book

I have now finished reading this book and shall re-read it sometime soon but only after pausing and thinking it through. It is a story that is full of twists and turns; the reader may think they know what is going on and what will happen but they may be wrong. It demonstrated to me how wide was Winston's talent for story telling. Unfortunately I cannot say more at this stage for fear of spoiling it for anyone else wanting to read it. I hope that others will make it possible to have a discussion about this book. 



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I am about halfway through reading 'Cordelia' and I am really enjoying it. It drew me in from the start unlike 'The Forgotten Story' which takes too long to get going and which I have abandoned for now at least. 'Cordelia' will require a second reading I think but it is not all consuming as the Poldark books are. There are only a few characters to get to know. I cannot say more now in case I spoil it for others who may want to read it. Second hand copies are cheap on Ebay or Abebooks.



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Little Henry wrote:

Stella, I ordered "Cordelia" today from Abe Books.  Got a very good copy for $1.71 so can't quibble over that price.  Also ordered "The Grove of Eagles" as it appeals to me also.  Won't get it untill the end of October though.  I wonder if anyone else has read it?


Little Henry - Thank you for letting me know. That's great and a very good price! I too have 'The Grove of Eagles'  but have never started it. 

Now that your copy of 'Cordelia' is on its way to you, I must continue with my reading of it as I am a slow reader. Already though I can see I shall need to read it at least twice as there is a lot to take in and think about, as always with WG's books. 

I am looking forward to discussing these books with you in due course.



-- Edited by Stella Poldark on Friday 28th of September 2018 09:19:07 AM

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Stella, I ordered "Cordelia" today from Abe Books.  Got a very good copy for $1.71 so can't quibble over that price.  Also ordered "The Grove of Eagles" as it appeals to me also.  Won't get it untill the end of October though.  I wonder if anyone else has read it?



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I'll try that.



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Little Henry wrote:

I'm in London right now so thought I would have a look in some book stores but not sure if I'll be able to fit it in.  Fly home to Canada in 5 days so will check out those sights. I use Abe Books a lot.


 What a pity. Can you not buy the edition on Ebay - the one I sent the link to - and have them send it to your address in Canada? It's very cheap.



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I'm in London right now so thought I would have a look in some book stores but not sure if I'll be able to fit it in.  Fly home to Canada in 5 days so will check out those sights. I use Abe Books a lot.



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Little Henry - I have now got further with 'Cordelia' and am enjoying it a great deal. It will re-pay re-reading. It drew me in from the start so I can thoroughly recommend it. I'm not sure where you live but Ebay or Abebooks will have copies and they are not at all expensive.

Here is a link to one on Ebay UK https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Cordelia-Winston-Graham-1969-Book-67246/132770576307?hash=item1ee9be37b3:g:KGMAAOSwj4dbkGEY to a very low priced copy 

I hope you will be able to get a copy as I would love to be able to discuss this book with you.



-- Edited by Stella Poldark on Wednesday 19th of September 2018 12:29:39 PM

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Little Henry wrote:

Thank you.  I have always wondered which "other" WG book to read and it sounds like Cordelia will be it.  I shall try to get a copy.


 Oh that sounds good. A friend lent me a Fontana copy but the print was too small so I got my Ward Lock from Ebay UK for about £7. I am looking forward to having some interesting conversations.



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Thank you.  I have always wondered which "other" WG book to read and it sounds like Cordelia will be it.  I shall try to get a copy.



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I have now read the first seven chapters of this book. It drew me in from the start which contrasts starkly with 'The Forgotten Story" which I finally gave up on but which I may return to. Already I am enjoying it - a book you cannot put down.

Cordelia (first published by Ward Lock n 1949) is, I think, definitely worth reading and I hope others will read it so that I have someone to discuss it with.



-- Edited by Stella Poldark on Monday 3rd of September 2018 01:45:05 PM

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Ross Poldark wrote:

"Cordelia has all the excellent Victorian ingredients - guilty love, surrender, pathos and comedy. It is enthralling from start to finish. - Scotsman.

"Cordelia lives in an England full of musty tradition and priggishess....but fights to live her life the way she wants it." Books and Bookmen.

"Cordelia is the daughter of a clockmaker who marries the son of a self-made magnate and falls in love with Stephen who runs a music hall. The family prayers, the flare of the gas, the solemn, elaborate meals....this is the real world". - Times Literary Supplement.

*    *    *    *

"Here is a novel in the great storytelling tradition. It has wit, suspense, fine and true characterisations, and a strange and moving love story of a girl with beauty and independence of mind whose rich capacity for love and gaiety was not always in harmony with the traditions of Victorian England.

In October, 1866, Cordelia Blake married Brook Ferguson of Grove Hall. There were three reasons for the marriage, and these were Cordelia's youth, her health, and her good manners - in short Frederick Ferguson's requirements for his son's second wife...."


 I am about to start reading this book. In addition to the reviews above, it comes highly recommended from a friend. I hope others might decide to read this so there can be some discussion on the forum.



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"Cordelia has all the excellent Victorian ingredients - guilty love, surrender, pathos and comedy. It is enthralling from start to finish. - Scotsman.

"Cordelia lives in an England full of musty tradition and priggishess....but fights to live her life the way she wants it." Books and Bookmen.

"Cordelia is the daughter of a clockmaker who marries the son of a self-made magnate and falls in love with Stephen who runs a music hall. The family prayers, the flare of the gas, the solemn, elaborate meals....this is the real world". - Times Literary Supplement.

*    *    *    *

"Here is a novel in the great storytelling tradition. It has wit, suspense, fine and true characterisations, and a strange and moving love story of a girl with beauty and independence of mind whose rich capacity for love and gaiety was not always in harmony with the traditions of Victorian England.

In October, 1866, Cordelia Blake married Brook Ferguson of Grove Hall. There were three reasons for the marriage, and these were Cordelia's youth, her health, and her good manners - in short Frederick Ferguson's requirements for his son's second wife...."



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