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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 21 July 2018

"The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

A classic play set in bodice-ripping Bath.

Lydia Languish is a young girl who is addicted to romantic novels. Even though she stands to lose the vast bulk of her fortune if she marries against her aunts wishes, she is determined to pursue a romantic elopement with a poor soldier such as young Ensign Beverley. Little does she know that the Ensign is actually an officer, Captain Jack Absolute, who, knowing of Lydia's perverse predilections, has disguised himself as the poor ensign. But, in a twist, Jack's father and Lydia's aunt have decided that he is the suitable match for Lydia. He thus becomes his own rival: “My father wants to force me to marry the very girl I am plotting to run away with!

At the same time Lydia's friend Julia is engaged to Jack's friend Faulkland but they have been parted and the eternally self-doubting Faulkland, hearing reports that Julia has laughed and sang and even danced while they were apart, has decided that she does not love him after all. But his attempts to test her are clumsy and leave the pair of them cross with one another.

A comedy of crossed lovers and confused identities.

There are some wonderful characters:

  • The eternally morose Faulkland who, whatever happens, will reframe it as casting doubt on Julia's love for him.
  • Jack's dad who, hypocritically since he himself married Jack's mother for love, threatens that Jack must marry whatever woman Sir A chooses, although "she shall have a hump in each shoulder; she shall be as crooked as the Crescent; her one eye shall roll ... she shall have the skin of a mummy ... Yet I’ll make you ogle her all day and sit up all night to write sonnets on her beauty.” If Jack disobeys “don’t enter the same hemisphere as me, don’t dare to breathe the same air, or use the same light with me; but get an atmosphere and sun of your own ... I’ll disown you, I’ll disinherit you, I’ll unget you! And damn me, if I’ll ever call you Jack again!” He is wonderfully angry old man. Then, when Jack says he will do as his father asks, he is again angry: “When I ran away with your mother, I would not have touched anything old or ugly to gain an empire.
  • Bob Acres, a very rustic old man who, fancying himself a suitor for Lydia, challenges 'Ensign Beverley' to a duel but when he gets to the duelling ground becomes farcically cowardly.
  • Mrs Malaprop whose continual use of the wrong word has earned her a place in the dictionary as the progenitor of Malapropisms. My favourites included:
    • you will promise to forget this fellow! to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory.” 
    •  “few gentlemen, nowadays, know how to value the ineffectual qualities in a woman. ... he is the very pineapple of politeness.
    • "a nice derangement of epitaphs.” 
    • She’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile.

Other great lines:
  • You thought, miss! I don't know any business you have to think at all: thought does not become a young woman.
  • Our memories are independent of our wills. It is not so easy to forget.” 
  • Had I a thousand daughters, by heavens, I'd as soon have them taught the black art as their alphabet ... A circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge.” 
  • The fortune is saddled with a wife ... If you have the estate, you must take it with the livestock in it
  • Damned double-barrelled swords and cut-and-thrust pistols
  • Are you my son or not? / I am not quite clear myself but I’ll endeavour to recollect.

Wonderful characters, a brilliant plot and some fabulous word-play make this a classic comedy. 

July 2018

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