This is quoted by so many people as one of their favourites that I have been wondering why. It is one of mine, I should add, but what is it that charms us most? is it The sour hero transformed, The fairy tale princess taking second place with her almost Dickensian named swain, the nearest I can find to Dickens naming, in Fawnhope, The humour, often about Sophy's pistol ( useful feminist discussion point here), in the cost with Charles and the turnup with the turnip, Goldhanger, ( with a bit of anti semitism that I don't enjoy) The pantomime villainess of Eugenia Wraxton The touching scene of childhood illness The much better rescuing of a credible young man,Hubert is so much more realistic than Nicky or Bertram, Wanting to be Sophy in so many ways
Or, and I think it is this overall for me, the consummate artistry of the last chapter. Not since the scene between Avon and Leonie has the suspense been plotted so well and this time with humour
This is a short intro because I am willing to bet we all know it well enough to quote from, and because I am on a phone.
So why do we love it so much?
Or is there anyone who doesn't, who finds Sophy tedious and egotistical, and sympathies with Miss Wraxton?
It's better than I remember its being (I think I can appreciate some of what she's trying to do better than I could twenty years ago when I last read it), but I don't think I have enough to say to write an introductory post.
I think we should be discussing TQG now, if someone starts a thread (which is the problem with scouring charity shops or seeing if the library will order it in (also the library and I have a delicate situation at the moment with some overdue books )).
I think I'd read almost all of them by the time I was an adult (barring a couple that I still haven't read). My mother had many of them and the school library had more. Then I read the detective ones in my early 20s.
AS Byatt is a GH fan so I feel no shame about it at all. Though I feel a bit about illegal filesharing sites... of course GH has been dead for 40 years and her son is dead too now, but copyright law exists for a reason.
I started on them at eight, I think, with Devil's Cub. Much of it went straight over my head (including the rape threats, fortunately) but I understood enough to be hooked and have never looked back. My family are all GH fans and every so often my father and I are passing some obscure village (say, Crimplesham) and one of us will say - 'Ah - the valet in The Unknown Ajax, I think?'
Ishall (also a TP fan) - I caught my most intelligent friend ever (a government expert in recidivism) with a GH poking out of her bag. She was most reluctant and embarrassed to own up to what it was, but being the nosy, persistent, compulsive reader that I am I made her own up.
I can see where the embarrassment comes from, but despite being a bit clunky, there's a lighthearted wit about them that's very appealing in an age where people feel the need to be serious about their emotions all the time.
Sophy was my first GH when I was 11 or so, so has a favourite place in my heart. I do recall feeling very "naughty" reading it though, and hugely jealous of my older friend who didn't have anyone checking her reading material (I was forced to spend days and days skulking in the library reading the stuff they wouldn't let me actually borrow ).
When I was 11 I wanted so much to be Sophy, but not have to marry Charles as he seemed a really boring grown up. Vincent was much more fun.
My 11 yo thoughts aren't really adding much to this discussion are they . How old was everyone when they first read GH? And whose copy was it? Mine belonged to an older fried whose mum had died when she was young, and her elderly aunts did a lot of her bringing up, so I suspect her copy came from them.
I suspect Sophy knows exactly what she's like. I haven't read it for a while, but I'm sure she refers to herself in some disparaging 'capable' terms - good for men, bad for women. I like that she gets on and does what she's capable of anyway.
Harry never had children, IIRC. There could be a number of reasons for that, and I don't know if they lost some at early stages.
I have a suspicion he came from quite a god fearing family, or may have been so himself, although that may have been looking back in old age in a different era. his father being a Dr might have encouraged him to be cautious.
I love the way these threads come alive when the subject of sex comes up
Can't remember any explicit references to VD in GH (though perhaps a few uses of 'pox'?) but syphilis certainly appears in the Poldark novels, set a little earlier. I remember a mention of someone losing his nose thanks to the French disease