— But you will be ready to say, what was your hope in doing this? — What did you look forward to? — To any thing, every thing — to time, chance, circumstances, slow effects, sudden bursts, perserverance and weariness ... Every possibility of good was before me, and the first of blessings secured ... — from Emma, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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January 27, 2011

Knowing about the daughters

'Peter, in this vanished world of long ago, did one normally know this kind of thing about one's friends and acquaintances?' asked Harriet.
'I'm sorry to tell you, Harriet, that one knew that sort of thing about their daughters. It affected their chances on the marriage market. Somehow the financial status and prospects of every debutante got around. Enough beauty might outweigh scant riches if the groom himself were wealthy. Impoverished young men had enough inside knowledge to avoid dancing too often with impoverished girls. The whole thing was rather sick-making really. Can you wonder that I opted out of it, and lay in wait for you?'
-- from The Attenbury Emeralds, by Jill Paton Walsh

Not to mention Downton Abbey (sigh...I can't wait for the last episode, at least for now, but I don't want it to end), this seems to be my week for reading novels that center, or touch, on the society marriage market of the 19teens and 20s.  {We don't know exactly when Thank Heaven Fasting is set, but it's about this time, and in The Attenbury Emeralds, Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane are living in post-World War II London but telling and listening to the story of events taking place 30 years earlier.} Incredibly interesting, and incredibly sad.

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1 comment:

Danielle said...

I'd heard there was a mystery series featuring (or reworking?) Lord Wimsey--how interesting and serendipitous that it mentions whole marriage market thing. By the way, I loved One Fine Day, too! Her short stories are wonderful as well.

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