Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

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Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by dsimpson on Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:16 pm

Getting the spot ready for discussion! Smile

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by Stefanie on Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:18 pm

I really enjoyed the book, but I have two puzzles.

One. Did Denham really get pregnant from an affair with a fisherman or was that just something Evelyn Gresham made up for her book?

Two. The ending. Does Denham give in and have a miserable (for her) conventional life or does her wanderlust take over again? I can imagine her staying until she has the baby and then either leaving the baby with Arnold or taking the baby with her as she wanders the world. I certainly hope she doesn't give in and conform!

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by Rohan on Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:33 pm

Stefanie, I was quite sure she was pregnant and that was why she settled for going "home" again -- but it's possible I took something for granted that wasn't definitively stated! On a related topic, though, what did you all think of the whole diversion of Evelyn's book? It seemed such an odd metafictional angle to bring in at the last minute -- and then it seemed to suggest that her fiction starts to become the truth, or that perhaps through fiction she gets at a truth nobody else has been able to discern.

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by Stefanie on Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:56 am

Denham is definitely pregnant but I don't know that it is by the fisherman. I thought she came home because Noel visited her and told her that Arnold was willing to compromise on a place to live. I figured she became pregnant after she got back, but it isn't really clear. If it is the fisherman's baby Arnold seems remarkably ok with the whole thing which seems odd to me. Maybe we are supposed to be left wondering?

As for Aunt Evelyn's fiction, it was odd, wasn't it? I read it as Evelyn not being able to keep her mouth shut, as Evelyn continuing to misunderstand who Denham was as a person, and Eveyln also trying to get Arnold and Aubrey together in a rather devious way.

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by dsimpson on Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:08 pm

I took it all pretty literally that she did have the fisherman's baby, but now you've made me wonder a little, too. I was almost surprised that she so meekly went back and decided to live by more conventional standards, but I assumed she decided she loved Arnold enough to put up with it as much as she hated London society. Of course they moved out to the 'country' didn't they (not that she could even escape it there). Evelyn's book was sort of odd--Macaulay needed something to steer the story in the direction she wanted, and I could totally see Evelyn doing something like that--you think she's on your side, but then she can't help herself from gossiping about it all and letting out all the secrets.

Don't you just wonder what sort of mother Denham would make? This story so totally fits in with other writers/stories that I've read from this era--it's interesting to me to her another perspective.

I know that the story is flawed in some ways, but strangely the more I hear other's thoughts on the book, the more I like it.

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by Stefanie on Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:01 pm

Denham would definitely not be a helicopter parent that's for sure! She'd make the least effort possible. Though when the child got older she might like it, someone to play with who could appreciate things like caves and stuff.

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by Litlove on Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:14 pm

I really enjoyed reading it. There's something about writing from the first half of the 20th century that really appeals to me. It seems so much more elegant and witty and sharp than other kinds of writing and always crystal clear.

As for the baby, I thought it was Arnold's because of this bit:

'Because she loved Arnold, she would go and live again as he lived, surrounded by people, civilisation and fuss, she would bear his child, tend it and rear it, become a wife and a mother instead of a free person...'

The fact the others still fear it is the fisherman's was because of naughty Evelyn and her insistence that she understands others and sees more than they see, when it's all a fiction she's created and she's actually a poor judge of character. The book serves to ruin the friendship between Arnold and Audrey, not bring them together as she hoped. So my sense was that she was very misguided. But then I clearly had a thing against Evelyn! So my reading isn't to be trusted!

I did think though that this was very intriguing as a representation of a 'new' sort of woman. I so wish I knew how this book was received by the critics when it was first published! I would have thought Denham would have struck them as a real challenge to orthodox femininity.

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by dsimpson on Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:34 pm

I'll have to do a little research in the library tomorrow as to reviews of the book when it was published--it seems the intro to my book touched upon it and I think she offended a few people, which doesn't surprise me. Plus there was the whole Catholic angle as well.

As to whether it was Arnold's child--I do hope it was--I vague remember that line, Litlove, and that makes sense that he would be the father. So much more acceptable, too. Evelyn really was misguided, wasn't she? It makes you wonder how much she really liked Denham--well, she must have, but Audrey was her child and they seemed so well suited even though Arnold didn't seem all that interested. I wasn't quite sure what I made of Evelyn other than being a terrible busybody--and she didn't seem at all contrite for having gotten involved and messing things up for others.

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by Litlove on Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:26 pm

Danielle, I hadn't thought of the Catholic angle! The more I think about it, the more subversive this novel becomes!

When I was reading it, I thought the character of Evelyn was clever because she WAS this dreadful busybody and not at all contrite as you say. Yet she does come across as simply unable to help herself because she romanticises everything, as a novelist of that kind might, and sees these stories everywhere. Once I put the book down I found myself condemning her! But when I was reading it, I felt she was perhaps the most intriguingly difficult character.

Oh and Stefanie, I meant to say before and forgot - I would bet money on Denham bolting again before long. Just the way that last chapter is written, with her mother-in-law closing the prison door of busy-ness on her made me almost feel Denham's itchy feet!

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by Rohan on Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:08 pm

Is anyone tempted to make The Towers of Trebizond our next read? We all seemed to enjoy Macaulay's approach and several of us, I know, are planning to look it up anyway. Just a thought! But we always end up with such interesting options from the voting system, that's great too, of course.

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by Stefanie on Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:00 pm

Thanks for clearing up the father question Litlove!

Rohan, I suspected Denham would be bolting before long at the end but I wanted to make sure I wasn't reading what I wanted to happen into it! Danielle asked if I would put together the next list for voting. How about I put Towers of Trebizond on it?

There are a couple of one-liners in this book that I keep thinking about and giggling over during my day so I thought I had to share them and share the giggles.

"Families are like midges, invented to annoy one."

"Telephone. The sort of thing people would invent, so that even being in different houses shouldn't stop them talking to each other."

"You must allow mamma her triangles. She'd be as lost without them as Euclid would."

Anyone else have some favorites?

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Re: Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay

Post by Stefanie on Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:20 am

A new list of books is up at the Slaves blog. I included Towers of Trebizond for you Rohan Smile Take a look and cast your vote!

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