Friday, 22 June 2012

Midsummer - May Week in June, and in pink

We have some Midsummer-themed entries to mark the days around the summer solstice

the book:

Giant's Bread by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
Published 1930    set pre- 1st World War  Book 2 chapter 1



[Vernon Deyre is enjoying the May Balls – but see note below - at Cambridge]

He raised his head a little, looked along the river bank. There was a punt tied up under some trees. Four people in it – but Vernon saw only one. A girl in a pink evening-frock with hair like spun gold standing under a tree laden with pink blossom. He looked and looked. … Inside him a riotous voice was saying ‘She’s lovely. She’s the most lovely girl in the world. I’m going to get to know her. I’ve got to know her. I’m going to marry her.’

[a day later]

He was dancing with her. Never had he imagined that he could be so happy. She was like a feather, a rose leaf in his arms. She was wearing a pink dress again – a different one. It floated out all round her. If life could only go on like this for ever – for ever.

But of course life never did.


observations: Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott again, see earlier entry, and a much more rambling book with various strange elements: the protagonist is a man, and one who could be a talented composer of experimental music. His works, and what he is trying to achieve, are described in some detail – Agatha Christie herself was very musical, and trained quite seriously before marrying and taking to writing. Not only is the music surprisingly adventurous, the Bohemian artists surrounding him are quite free-living, with a lot of unmarried sex, apparently with the author’s approval. But this lady in the pink dress is to provide the opposing force: she is pretty, and he falls madly in love, but she is also materialistic and as conventional as the emphasis on pink suggests, and he will end up taking a job in his uncle’s business and leaving behind the Bohemian life. She is about as substantial a character as you would expect from the description above.

The plot is so outrageously melodramatic as to warrant considerable admiration: there is the Bohemian sex life, there is the first world war, there is a soldier suffering from amnesia, there is a wife who has remarried because she thinks her husband dead, and there is an ending on a sinking ship which defies all belief and common sense – James Cameron should have read it before he made Titanic. So loads of rattling good fun, but what a good thing AC on the whole stuck to murder stories.

May Balls and May Week originally took place when you would expect, but the dates (though not the names) were changed in the 1880s, and so these events take place in June.

Links up with: another
Westmacott book, and an Agatha Christie story in which the victim should have been wearing a pink dress.

The picture is by Hungarian painter Janos Thorma, and can be found on
Wikimedia Commons.
 

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