Good Behaviour (Virago Modern Classics)
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I do know how to behave - believe me, because I know. I have always known...'
Behind the gates of Temple Alice the aristocratic Anglo-Irish St Charles family sinks into a state of decaying grace. To Aroon St Charles, large and unlovely daughter of the house, the fierce forces of sex, money, jealousy and love seem locked out by the ritual patterns of good behaviour. But crumbling codes of conduct cannot hope to save the members of the St Charles family from their own unruly and inadmissible desires. This elegant and allusive novel established Molly Keane as the natural successor to Jean Rhys.
happiest days in Richard’s childhood. Nannie called them early to ride out their ponies. With their favourite stable lad as companion, they clowned their way happily through the next hour or so, laughing at his jokes, lazy and unmindful of their horseman-ship. There was none of that ‘Heels down, please, Master Richard,’ or ‘Sit well back, Master Sholto,’ the only piece of advice offered in those days before pony clubs. Richard came home to a second breakfast, yesterday’s pain and shame
entirely on Papa. Tea over, Papa provided us each with a cigarette from his never-empty case. ‘I knew I meant to ask you something,’ he said to Nod. ‘How’s Fred Astaire’s leg?’ ‘I’m afraid he’s finished,’ she said. ‘Oh, that’s a great pity. Best hunter in the country. Shall I go and put my hand on it?’. There was nothing he liked more than fiddling round lame horses. Now there would be an hour of suggestion and counter-suggestion. When I got up to follow them out of the room Blink spoke
little or nothing since your father’s illness except by-pass my authority. As for finding any ready money, which is what he is there for, and what he is paid to do – that’s the last thing he thinks of. And who economises, I ask you? Who cuts down on anything? Look at the size of those dogs’ dinners –’ ‘Mostly brown bread.’ ‘– and the size of the butcher’s bill. I can’t look at it. It makes me quite sick.’ ‘I expect it goes back for years. And we do have to eat.’ ‘Perhaps if you were willing
enough for me. Thin bread and butter. Perhaps you and the dogs could sometimes manage with rabbit? I’ll speak to Rose … ’ Things went on from there, fluttering attempts at economies, projects envisaged and unfulfilled; penance for all was her final object. She felt we must all suffer. ‘I sometimes wonder,’ she said when I came into the library one evening, changed into my warmest blue velvet and wishing I owned twin silver foxes, ‘where you think money comes from?’ She was sitting in her own
any nearer to that circle they made. What happened afterwards is less clear to me than that impression of their impervious intimacy. I don’t understand it. Even now, as a sophisticated, quite worldly woman. Not when I have to admit his endless strayings with all the other women who longed after him and won him easily through the years. Mummie said: ‘My dear child – what can this mean?’ ‘Only Hubert’s been sick in his bed and he has a dreadful pain. I’m frightened.’ ‘And Mrs Brock?’ she asked.