Part the Twelfth: Membrum Virile

Chapter Seventy-One

The single blessing Elizabeth could find of her husband’s absence was that Jane would not worry relentlessly that their unborn child would see its father’s… membrum virile.

That’s digging a little deep to find the silver lining. Also, how many euphemisms for penis do you really need? Also, why, exactly, does Elizabeth even care about this?

Elizabeth angsts for awhile and thinks about how it’s all her fault that everything bad is happening. Then Lady Catherine arrives. She’s wearing a hat with a huge ostrich plume sticking up out of it. This is one of the very few times when a clothing description is actually important. Lady Catherine stalks into the library and stands in the middle of the room. Elizabeth takes up her spot next to Darcy’s desk. Lady Catherine says that she has had word that Darcy is dead, and that Elizabeth now has to leave Pemberley. Elizabeth is slightly confused. She’s decided that no one will say that Darcy is dead until she stands over his cold dead body. She tells Lady Catherine so. Lady Catherine says that since there is no heir, Pemberley will be entailed to her and she’ll be booting Elizabeth out as soon as she gets the chance. She then begins to wail about how Darcy is dead and if he’d married *her* daughter none of this would have happened. So Elizabeth reaches into the desk, pulls out the pistol that Darcy taught her how to use, cocks it, and aims it at Lady Catherine’s nose.

No, seriously. She pulls a gun on her husband’s aunt. An annoying aunt, certainly, worthy of disdain and possibly even hatred. Not particularly worthy of threatening and endangering her life. I mean, I feel nothing but hatred for her, but there is a very large gap between saying the most mean, cruel, vindictive things you can think of, and actually employing violence. One, generally speaking, is a crime. Lady Catherine is just being a douchebag. Elizabeth is being a criminal.

Lady Catherine’s look of terror doesn’t assuage her, so Elizabeth aims higher and pulls the trigger. The bang is loud enough to make her drop the gun – further assurance that Elizabeth doesn’t know what she’s doing and might have killed Lady Catherine. The shot cuts the ostrich plume on Lady Catherine’s hat in half. And the combination of the two makes Lady Catherine piss herself. A moment later, the door bursts open and Mrs. Reynolds and two burly footmen barge in.

It was at that moment Elizabeth knew Darcy had laid instructions for them upon bechancing a visit by his aunt.

…what instructions, actually? To charge in if Elizabeth tried to kill her? Why not give them instructions to not let Lady Catherine enter the house? Or not let them be alone? And how, exactly, does their entry after an extremely loud gunshot let her know that Darcy has left instructions? Even if he hadn’t, I’m sure gunshots sounding inside a room that has Elizabeth and Lady Catherine in it would be enough motivation for the servants to charge in.

Lady Catherine leaves. Elizabeth hides the gun and says it was just an accident and everything’s fine.

Chapter Seventy-Two

Fitzwilliam’s regiment fights the French.

Chapter Seventy-Three

Darcy encounters someone who mentions a nurse who always seemed very ladylike. He finds the hospital that he thinks this person is at, hearing that Fitzwilliam’s cavalry regiment was decimated. That might have been exciting to read about, instead of two pages of the English standing around nervously until Fitzwilliam yelled “Charge” and the chapter ended. Then again, that would have required some knowledge of military tactics. Instead, most of the descriptions of battles sound like Wikipedia summaries, except Wikipedia is better-written.

Darcy pretends to be a surgeon, gains entrance to the hospital, and walks around until he spots Georgiana. Yeah. That’s it. Darcy walks around a war zone, off-screen, until a chance encounter tells him the exact place that Georgiana’s working. That was pretty easy.

Georgiana asks him if he’s come for her or Fitzwilliam. She points down at the man she’s tending, who’s really nothing more than a giant swath of bandages. It’s Fitzwilliam. Darcy says that the hospital is filthy (which it is) and they need to get Fitzwilliam out of there. They consult a surgeon, who says that if they move him, he’ll probably die.

Darcy tries to convince Georgiana to return home, and he’ll stay and look after Fitzwilliam. Georgiana refuses. Darcy thinks things over. He figures out that his cousin Roux lives only a short distance away. He can borrow a wagon, take Fitzwilliam and Georgiana there, wait for Fitzwilliam to get a bit better, and then head back to England.

Chapter Seventy-Four

We now go back and learn about what Georgiana’s been up to. Nothing really interesting. She’s very good at stitching up wounds. After she sees the first naked man, she doesn’t think anything of it. Not really a big deal. The entirety of her time in the war is summarized down to a few pages. Less time than Berdoll has taken to describe a sex scene.

One day she finds Fitzwilliam. He’s refusing to have his leg amputated. Georgiana talks to him and decides that she’ll honor his wishes. She introduces herself to the surgeon as Georgiana Darcy, and tells him to move Fitzwilliam over to a bed by the far wall. The surgeon complies. Well. That was easy. Just like everything else in this book. We don’t spend time on any kind of hardship. Darcy looking for Georgiana in a war zone is summarized down to around one page. There isn’t a lot of actual tension, because I don’t even remotely think there’s any chance that Darcy won’t find Georgiana – alive, healthy, and virginal – but you could at least make the finding difficult. Make your main character go through some hardships, use his own ingenuity and cunning to get past various obstacles and show us just how determined he is to rescue his sister. Darcy has done nothing harder than tossing some money and his family name around.

Chapter Seventy-Five

Darcy arrives at Roux’s house. Roux is still there. He’s invited inside and given a room and told he has to spend the night. It’s too late to make it back to the hospital anyway, so he agrees. That night at dinner, there are several women making eyes at Darcy. One of them is Juliette Clisson. Yeah. The high-class whore. Here. In France. At the exact place that Darcy happens to be stopping by.

He figures that she’ll be returning to her home in London soon. So after dinner he asks her if he can send a letter back to England with her to his wife. She agrees.

Chapter Seventy-Six

We now skip back in time to Fitzwilliam’s battle with the French.

I’m really starting to think that this book’s chapters were just picked out of a hat at random and put into that order, because they really do not make any sense. I have no problem with telling a story out of chronological order. In fact, if done properly, I’m quite fond of it. There are a number of reasons to do this. The first, and most obvious, is to heighten tension: the author doesn’t tell us something for awhile so we wonder whether a character is going to survive, or something along those lines. Another reason would be pacing: you don’t want to interrupt an exciting scene with boring yet essential backstory, so you wait a bit and put it in later. Done effectively, it’s an excellent narration tool and can make a story far better and more exciting than if it was told in strict chronological order. Berdoll’s method weakens the story at every turn. She’s already killed off Collins. The reader might have genuine fear for Col. Fitzwilliam’s life. So instead of ending this chapter on the cliffhanger of Col. Fitzwilliam sinking into bloody unconsciousness on the battlefield, she puts it in after we know that he’s sitting safe and sound inside a hospital with Georgiana taking care of him – robbing the chapter of any excitement that it might have had.

Which is not to say that the chapter would be exciting if it had been ordered differently. Most of it involves Fitzwilliam sitting on his horse’s back thinking about what a good team he and his horse make.


  One Response to “Part the Twelfth: Membrum Virile”

  1. Roux. Like the sauce. Wow, great naming skills there, Berdoll.