A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove
Here in Uppercross Village, the only “clubbing” to be had is “book clubbing.” Or as Mrs. Brock calls it, The Uppercross Ladies’ Literary Guild.
She has the Guild part right. Guilds were medieval workhouses, were they not? And let me tell you, our Literary Guild is work.
For one thing, we never get enough copies of the book. So we either have to share, or we must listen as someone reads aloud that week’s selection. Let me tell you, this puts the duh in dull.
So there we sit, knitting lace or doing needlework or whatever, while the most boring reader drones on. I am then taken to task — usually by Mrs. Poole — for not bringing my work bag. As if I even own a work bag!
One can never speak reasonably to a person like Mrs. Poole. “I prefer lace made in Paris,” I told her once, as nicely as I could. And then, for her benefit, I added, “That’s a city in France.” Mrs. Poole refused to speak to me for the remainder of the meeting.
When I do own the book, I must pretend to have read it. I mean, seriously. Who has time for reading?
Bless me, the titles these ladies choose! Who would want to slog through all of The Castle of Entranto? I was told it was wonderfully exciting and tragically romantic. Well. To borrow one of your modern expressions, NOT. That first chapter was what the soldiers call heavy going. On his wedding day, a sickly young prince is crushed to death by a falling helmet. As if this would ever happen!
It is the same old story, and I am weary of it. Those of us who are ill–as I very often am — are ignored or pushed aside. We are left to to die, like poor Prince Conrad, forsaken by uncaring friends and family.
But when I shared my disgust — for are not book clubs about honest opinions? — one of the members burst into tears and ran from the room. Apparently The Castle of Entranto is her favorite book. Can I help it if I did not like the first chapter?
And I ask you, weeping over something as paltry as a book? Tears ought to be reserved for financial crises — such as being unable to purchase a darling pink parasol or a much-needed pair of dancing slippers.
I trust that your book club meetings are more tolerable than mine.