Dombey and daughter

Dear Charlie,

March may mean spring in England, but here in Calgary Mother Nature decided that what we really needed today was a winter snowstorm, so I’m curled on the couch watching the snow slowly obscure the window, cat draped around my neck like a warm and purring scarf, writing to you, having just finished “Dombey & Son.”

There were the usual basket load of weddings and babies and reconciliations to signify that we’ve come to the end of this journey together, and the Scrooge-like Dombey has seen the light and realized that daughters are people too, especially if they produce sons. Oh, and I’m sorry I gave you such a hard time about the title – it becomes more significant and appropriate at the end of the book. And holy cow did Carker ever meet a grisly end! That’s gotta be a contender for the ‘Messiest Death in Dickens’ award.

Mr. Carker’s hour of triumph. Not so triumphant, actually.

If there are two characters that really stand out for me, though, it’s Edith and Alice. Edith because she remains very much unbowed by her actions – I don’t know if you meant the reader to see her as an object lesson in the evils of female pride, but I for one was glad she was so unrepentant, even when faced with Florence’s account of her and her father’s reconciliation. Florence may be the epitome of female virtue rewarded with domestic bliss (oh, and thank you for not killing Walter, btw), but Edith is by far the stronger character, living life on her own terms, even if those terms are proscribed by both social convention and her own upbringing. And avoiding social stigma by travelling to southern Italy seems like a pretty awesome consolation prize, especially on a day like today.

On the other hand, Alice is a bit of a mystery. She clearly functions as a mirror of her cousin and an image of what befalls the proud woman who’s commoditized by her mother and who doesn’t have money or station to cushion her. But repentance doesn’t seem to earn her anything but a slightly more comfortable death. I feel like I’m missing something important about her function in the plot.

All in all, I must thank you for another highly satisfying read, my friend. It’s now on to one of your own personal favorites, “David Copperfield.” Seems like the best way to spend a snow day.



P.S. I was all set today to hover over this blog and cheer when we hit ten thousand visits. But what do I see when I log on this morning? Only that we’ve already passed 11,000! Yay us! 🙂

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