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January 16, 2017


Marcia Talley

Eeeeew! Cringe-worthy indeed.

Elaine Viets

Horrifying! Even worse, as you point out Allingham herself was nothing like that. Was she pandering to the times? I have problems reading a lot of "golden age" mysteries because of the authors' portrayal of women as either servants or mindless creatures who give up their identity to become possessions.

Charlaine Harris

Thank goodness you agree. I had to read it twice to believe it, even in the context of the times.

hank Phillippi Ryan

Oh, I think it's fascinating--and shows how far our consciounesses (?) have been raised. Wouldn't you love to ask her about that?


Was it said 'tongue in cheek'? And what is that about 'my mate as in plumber'? What? I laughed out loud as I read this. It's so ridiculous. I think about my grandmothers, both farm women and not educated, but certainly opinionated. They would both raise their eyebrows and snort at this. They were tough broads. LOL

Charlaine Harris

I would, because she made a career and life for herself that lasted quite a while and many books. I just can't reconcile her reality with that speech. And the man, who is presented as admirable, was dead serious about what he was asking her.

Dean (Miranda) James

Readers often forget that there is a character in the book who is the direct opposite of Val, and that's Amanda Fitton. Amanda works as an engineer in an aeronautics firm, in itself an unusual feat, and she keeps on working there even after marriage. I think Allingham intended Val to be a comment on the path that so many women chose in those days, when they certainly had other options. Val, despite her brilliance as a designer and a businesswoman, ultimately chooses to shroud herself in her husband's life and give up her own. I don't think Allingham presents Val as particularly admirable, and Alan Dell doesn't come off all that well either, being foolishly blind over Georgia Wells. In the end, I think Val is rather a sad character who lacks the courage to continue to follow her own path, unlike Amanda, who after all is the true heroine in the series.

Dean (Miranda) James

By the way, Charlaine, I am currently re-reading the book myself. :-) But the above comment expresses my thoughts both from this re-reading and from when I originally read the book thirty years ago.


I hated it at the end of Evil under the sun, by Agatha Christie, when another manly man asked another strong woman the same question. You got the feeling the only reason she had a career at all is that he hadn't asked her to marry him sooner.

Most of Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy night was dedicated to the question of whether or not intelligent women should marry. Harriet Vane certainly never gave up her career, even after marriage and children.

Donna M Williams More

I just read it for the first time recently. It was jarring, a sour note, because of the specific character. She'd defied her family, she'd built a business, she knew he was an idiot, and yet still she said yes. I decided Allingham had written it that way to show just how stupid it did seem, to make a point that way.

Charlaine Harris

Dean, I didn't forget about Amanda. She's such a lively character, and the fact that she's an engineer is marvelous. I just found the proposal scene overwhelmingly off-putting. I had to revise my opinion of both characters.

Claudia, Gaudy Night is certainly a study in whether intelligent women should marry. Harriet is such a singular character, and all her academic friends really made the book fascinating.

Donna, I hope so. Since Val was Campion's sister, I guess I expected her to be just as admirable. And I did admire her achievements, a lot. But in the end, she disappointed me so much.

Jane Hotchkiss

Yes, it bothered me a lot when I read it 40 years ago. But I also remembered that Val had been raised as the daughter of aristocracy with family expectation of marrying "well."

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