Monday, May 31, 2010
The Sylph, Letters 54-61
It's our last Salon, can you believe it! I am so sad to see it go. But enough of that, pass the sugar and let's get on with the discussion!
Louisa, who had previously written of Mr. Spencer’s friend and their own childhood acquaintance, Henry Woodley, writes again to announce Mr. Woodley has been open in declaring his love for Julia. Julia dramatically writes back to hush her sister, for she has always had feelings for this childhood sweetheart yet can’t entertain the thought of marrying again or marrying without the Sylph’s consent which she had promised. The sisters argue back and forth over Julia’s reintroduction to Mr. Woodley.
Julia goes to sulk in the garden and think about her lost loves when a letter from her Sylph drops at her feet. She asks aloud to see the Sylph and Baron Tonhausen appears. Julia is shocked and delighted but is surprised even further when this “Proteus” reveals that he is the grown up version of her childhood sweetheart, Henry Woodley. Now all of Julia’s troubles have left her and she can be with both men she had loved, both being the true Henry Woodley. She writes to Miss Finch, now Lady Brudenel to share both her and Mr. Woodley’s new love of life and “saucy assurance.” The book ends with Lady Brudenel’s final thoughts on the happy ending.
I just love happy endings, don’t you! There were actually many things I liked about these last few letters. I enjoyed when the Grenville sisters finally dropped their stoicism and had a sisterly squabble. For me, that finally made Julia relate-able. And look how quickly Julia’s promise to the Sylph came back to haunt her! Not only does another unhappy marriage frighten her but she also feels indebted to the Sylph’s generosity which now seems more of a burden than when she first made the promise to let him decide her next husband.
In the long-run, Julia held true to her promise, and married the Sylph’s choice. Was anyone surprised by the outcome? I suspected Woodley being the Sylph but must admit was surprised when Tonhausen was also the Sylph. I love being surprised! How about everyone else? Julia was the most surprised of all! Delighted, relieved, elated. But then again if my high school crush and my, oh let’s say celebrity crush turn out to be the same person who happened to be in love with me, I think I would be happy to jump into another relationship too.
Julia often refers to Henry or Harry as her Proteus for his “treple” identities. Proteus was a sea god in Greek mythology mostly known for his shape-shifting ability. I’d have to say I agree with the comparison.
I found it appropriate and satisfying that the last letter was that Maria’s. I would have to say she is my favorite character although I cannot touch on the exact reason why. Perhaps I am drawn to Maria because I cannot relate to Julia’s saintly ways. Maria seems more real and therefore more likable. Perhaps the 18th century version of one of the girls from Sex and the City? Plus an unfortunate heroine always needs a good girlfriend to help her through a scrap.
This is a time for any final thoughts. Was anyone disappointed with the ending or even the book? One might call this a Cinderella tale, would you?
On a final note, thank you to all who participated in the group read! I had a fabulous time discussing the book among such extraordinary minds!