Archive for August 17th, 2011

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Moth and Rust

August 17, 2011

Until recently I knew Mary Cholmondeley only as the author of Red Pottage, a bestselling turn of the century novel that I feel like I ought to read — so much so that I now sort of don’t want to read it. Then I came across a short story of hers in Pearson’s Magazine and, as I skimmed past it, read just enough to be intrigued.

That story was “The Pitfall,” and I tracked it down in Moth and Rust. I often find, with authors from this era, that what appear to be books of short stories are more often novellas bound with a few extra stories to make them book-length, and that’s the case here. “The Pitfall” is the last story in the book, and possibly the most interesting, because its protagonist is a bit of an antiheroine.  Cholmondeley lets us know right away that Lady Mary Carden is dull and conventional and possibly a bit of a hypocrite, but she also shows us how to sympathize with her,  and we do — or I did, anyway — much more than we would with a character whose author wasn’t aware that she possessed those qualities. And then Cholmondeley slowly leads Lady Mary to a cruel and indefensible act, and it’s horrible, but interesting. Read the rest of this entry ?