Chapter Thirty-Six – The Road to Perdition Is Paved with Feathers
That’s a great title.
Wickham is poncing around Paris. For a page or so nothing happens, and finally he bluffs his way into an upper-class party that contains a number of courtesans. Berdoll throws in a number of Latin phrases, but, being dumber than J.K. Rowling, she doesn’t construct the sentences around them to allow the reader to figure out what the words mean.
There’s a funny bit where Wickham tries to recall what the correct French is, and is not sure whether a word means a courtesan or a leg of mutton. Sadly, it passes quickly, and Berdoll moves on to spending paragraphs describing the scenery.
Eventually he moves up to meet Cesarine. There is two pages of description, painstakingly describing their exact coquettish tilt of their respective chins and the detailed backstory behind their practice in front of a mirror, perfecting their gazes, and exactly what each body angle means and the implications behind it. It’s really, really boring. Guy Gavriel Kay can pull this stuff off, Linda Berdoll can’t. But what it boils down to is they finally make eye contact and Cesarine is utterly gorgeous. Wickham is smitten.
He truly believed his breast had just been pricked by cupid’s little arrow of amour. As Wickham was new to all consuming passion, even his burgeoning erection did not persuade him that it was not his heart that was inflamed. He knew but one thing – he must have her (page 157).
Great. And now even Wickham’s story has turned to sex.
I’m a little surprised Berdoll uses such as blasé word as erection, instead of a creative phrase about his tumescent torch of love, but maybe this scene isn’t supposed to be romantic.
Bingley knows he needs to fix things up with Jane. So, after waiting a suitable time, as penitence, he prepares himself and goes to her.
Which makes me wonder just what is a suitable time? After you’ve cheated on your wife and she discovers it, how long, approximately, should you wait before you go back and try to have sex with her. Not having a wife, or having cheated on a significant other, I can’t say for certain, but considering that they are the wounded party, I would logically assume that the wait would be however long they dictated, and I would simply wait until they initiated sex.
Then again, both we and Bingley know that Jane would never actually initiate sex, so maybe he’s on to something here.
Right. So he goes and knocks on Jane’s door and goes inside and she asks him who is ill. He says only him. So he crawls into her bed and she feels his forehead and Bingley explains that he really only needs her forgiveness. Jane points out that she already forgave him. Bingley says he’s not able to forgive himself, so he’s afraid that she hasn’t really forgiven him either. And then Jane realizes that he’s come in to tap that ass, and she grimaces slightly (but it’s dark and he can’t see) so she says okay and figures fine, let’s do this. So Jane lays back flat upon her back with her hands up, slightly above her shoulders, and her eyes shut, which is how she usually spends her sexing times, because she’s afraid of accidentally touching (or worse, seeing) her husband’s ‘virile member’. This image is hilarious, but I’m not all that surprised – a lot of comfortably upper-class woman of that era probably had similar attitudes towards sex.
Anyway, Bingley takes her entire nightdress off instead of just lifting it above the waist (for the first time ever) and then he begins to stroke her body, and then they make the bedsprings squeak. And that’s about it. Berdoll, how dare you leave us with literary coitus interruptus!
Elizabeth spends several pages angsting because they can’t find a suitable nurse to raise their children. Try Mary Poppins! Okay, maybe not. I’m not really saddened by this. Berdoll talks about how other duties are going neglected, but I’m not buying it, for two reasons: First, in today’s world there are two parents and that’s about it, and they don’t have too much trouble raising their children, even if they employ babysitters and daycare. Second, Berdoll has mentioned that Elizabeth has ‘duties’ but has never shown her doing a single one of them, let alone even mentioning what they are doing. Elizabeth has essentially nothing to do but whatever she feels like. And now she has kids to take care of. I rather think she can take care of them.
Anyway, they ask Jane, and Jane recommends the sister of one of her own servants. However, her own servants are all idiots or douchebags, since both she and Bingley are far too nice to ever fire someone. Thus, Elizabeth is concerned, but agrees to meet with this person anyway. And she and Darcy have sex.
The next day, the woman yells at one of her kids to shut up and then grabs the toy and tosses it away, which horrifies Elizabeth, and so she immediately orders the woman out of the house. Later, when Darcy finds out, he wants to have her arrested, but Elizabeth talks him out of it. Then a bunch more nurses come and then all suck and eventually Hannah suggests one of her cousins and she turns out to be awesome.
Wickham and Cesarine don’t have sex.
Sally Frances is raised by her grandmother. They have a hard life.
Wickham and Cesarine fuck. They have a passionate affair. The Cesarine gets knocked up, and she tells him that it’s not his.
Fitzwilliam and Georgiana are at a party. It’s boring but then Lady Catherine de Bourgh shows up. They’re slightly shocked. Lady Catherine is absolutely delighted to see them, and kisses both of them on both cheeks, which is shocking and they don’t know how to respond.
Anyway, Lord Beecher is this chap who’s holding Lady Anne’s arm. And…that’s about all that happens this chapter.
Blah blah, Lord Beecher is both boring and not very rich, but he suits Lady Catherine’s scheme so she lets him get engaged to Lady Anne. Still have no idea what this so-called scheme is.
Sally Frances becomes friends with a whore.
Daisy Mulroney is that aforementioned whore. She’s not very interesting.
This is an inherently disgusting chapter title, since the obvious answer is to bathe, and any variation from this is usually pretty gross.
Elizabeth and Darcy are sitting inside their enormous custom-made bathtub, doing a little grinding on each other. We get a little backstory as to how they got said tub. Surprisingly, a description of the methodology of bathtub purchases is not all that interesting. Suffice to say now they’re in it, and Elizabeth’s nipples get hard. Right.
They have sex, and then the conversation turns from having sex in the bath to having sex in the ocean, and…Elizabeth decides that baby Jane has a bit of a cough and they need to travel to the sea to partake of the bracing sea air. That was a subtle transition. And then Elizabeth decides they’re going to Brighton.
Cesarine’s life starts to go downhill because she’s knocked up, and that sucks, when you’re a professional whore. More than life normally sucks when you’re a professional whore. Ba-dum-tsh. Wickham still loves her, of course. Anyway, he stays by her, and finally she births a daughter and then dies.
After pages and pages and pages of introduction and building her character up, that’s it? She fucks Wickham, pops out a kid, and then croaks? Seriously?
Wickham is distraught. One of Cesarine’s hangers-on attempts to console him:
“There, there, my little kumquat,” she cooed. “There are things that must be attended too.” (page 201)
Right. I’ll let that stand for itself, shall I?
So the hanger-on nicks all of Cesarine’s remaining jewels and that’s about it for this chapter. Wickham doesn’t want to let the baby be taken to a nunnery, but there’s no explanation of what actually happens. And then there’s some mention of Wickham still holding a valuable card, but no hinting as to what, precisely, that card is.