Farewells Arm Many Novels With Dramatic Moments

Partings are often sad and poignant, and literature is full of them. I don’t mean partings as in death, but either temporary or permanent farewells between characters who remain alive.

Those goodbyes can be spelled out in dramatically dialogued scenes, or more minimally mentioned in some narrative way by an author. The leave-takings might or might not be “for the best,” and readers wonder if the characters will meet again. Readers also think about their own real-life partings, which adds their personal emotions to the emotions evoked by the author.

Two novels that are among my favorites — Jane Eyre and The Grapes of Wrath — contain wrenching separations.

In Charlotte Bronte’s book, Jane sneaks away from Thornfield Hall after a devastating revelation convinces her that she can’t stay with Edward Rochester. There is no direct goodbye — they already said plenty during an emotionally charged conversation not many hours before — but Jane’s surreptitious departure remains a powerful scene. Plus she will be alone in the world, with no particular destination.

John Steinbeck’s novel features a meeting between Ma Joad and her in-hiding son Tom just before Tom flees to escape capture after committing a morally justifiable (but of course technically illegal) murder. A very sad encounter, made even sadder by the endless cascade of troubles that had been hitting the beleaguered Joad family for months.

Another melancholy parting, which we learn about in backstory, is between the Persuasion characters of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth. In Jane Austen’s novel, Anne’s snobby family pressured her to break off her engagement to the admirable Frederick because he was a not-rich-enough “nobody” at the time.

There’s also the goodbye between Gwendolen Harleth and the title character of George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda. Gwendolen is in love with Daniel, but Daniel has just married someone else with whom he’ll be traveling far from England — perhaps for the rest of their lives. Gwendolen’s letter to Daniel in the novel’s closing pages is heartbreaking.

Another unrequited romance followed by a goodbye is part of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer, in which Judith Hutter is left despondent after Natty Bumppo declines her offer of marriage. Years later, Natty thinks he sees Judith in the distance, and her life has not turned out particularly well.

Anne Tyler’s Ladder of Years has Delia Grinstead leaving her husband and children — partly because they’ve been taking her for granted for a long time. In this case, Delia’s action itself is a farewell; she doesn’t literally say goodbye when she leaves to try to start a new life. Will she return?

Moving to another country can certainly set up sad family separations — as in Anita Shreve’s The Weight of Water, Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, etc.

Then there are the goodbyes in times of slavery, war, and other ultra-wrenching periods. What could be worse than the inhumanly brutal forced separations of parents and their children in Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and various other novels set in the Antebellum South?

During war, we have devastating separations in such novels as Erich Maria Remarque’s A Time to Love and a Time to Die, William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, and L.M. Montgomery’s Rilla of Ingleside, among many other books.

Which novels contain goodbye scenarios you’ve found particularly memorable?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’m writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

124 thoughts on “Farewells Arm Many Novels With Dramatic Moments

  1. Not a farewell in literature, but in history, though its utterer may have lived past his utterance– no doubt many of his comrades did not.

    Before commencing in earnest the Battle of Fontenoy (1745), the officer foremost in the British lines was said to have called out to his counterparts in the French lines:

    “Gentlemen of the French guard, fire first!”

    The French won, and later, Napoleon estimated that victory had extended the ancien regime for thirty additional years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Howdy, Dave!

    — Which novels contain goodbye scenarios you’ve found particularly memorable? —

    The allusion in your blog-post title to Ernest Hemingway’s World War I classic, “A Farewell to Arms,”* is very apt in this context, as many of the most memorable goodbye scenes in the novels of my acquaintance, even when both or all the characters portrayed in them are either fortunate or unfortunate enough to remain among the quick, are linked to military conflicts, with copious examples extant in Henryk Sienkiewicz’s masterly Trilogy — “With Fire and Sword,” “The Deluge” and “Fire in the Steppe” — wherein the true believers in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth battling Cossacks, Russians, Swedes, Tartars and Turks are constantly traveling hither and yon during the days of yore. In such circumstances, parting is such sweet sorrow indeed.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    *Meanwhile, I have long desired to repurpose Ernie’s title as “A Farewell to Arms: The Autobiography of Venus de Milo,” but I haven’t been able to get the proposed subject to put anything down on paper.

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    • Good morning, J.J.! Yes, military conflicts make goodbyes inevitable and (as you eloquently allude to) often particularly powerful because of the threat of death hovering over everything.

      Henryk Sienkiewicz is definitely on my spring to-read list. Currently, I’m reading an obscure author named Leo Tolstoy (a great collection of his short stories). I think he’s got a literary future…

      “A Farewell to Arms: The Autobiography of Venus de Milo” — that is HILARIOUS!!!

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      • — Henryk Sienkiewicz is definitely on my spring to-read list. —

        Nice! Meanwhile, your blog-post mention of Octavia E. Butler’s “Kindred” reminds me that, thanks to you and Ana of the Geddy Lee Fans, I recently secured a copy of that sucker, which I hope to read comparatively soon (it’s No. 5 on The List at present).

        — Currently, I’m reading an obscure author named Leo Tolstoy (a great collection of his short stories). I think he’s got a literary future… —

        It’s possible. Both “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace” show a bit of promise.

        — “A Farewell to Arms: The Autobiography of Venus de Milo” — that is HILARIOUS! —

        An oldie but a goodie. I believe the line first appeared as the title of George Peele’s initial draft of the poem eventually published as “A Farewell to Arms (To Queen Elizabeth),” which Ernest Hemingway recycled for his own work (http://bit.ly/1THXbk5). Of course, my belief is completely unsupported by anything so prosaic as evidence of any kind.

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        • Great that you’ll be reading “Kindred,” J.J.! A very intense, memorable, disturbing novel.

          Ha! “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace” might have even received a few five-star Amazon reviews from Tolstoy’s pals…

          Some oldies are indeed goodies. 🙂 And interesting info on the origins of that Hemingway novel’s title. A number of books definitely got their names from poetry or other previous written works — W. Somerset Maugham, John Steinbeck, Aldous Huxley, etc., all did that.

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    • Perhaps that story might yet come out, provided that she is agreeable to the celebrity bio formulation ‘as told to’….

      although if there are any stenographers alive who can take accurate dictation of that ancient sort of Greek I cannot say– nobody’s heard it for quite a few centuries, except as estimated by scholars.

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    • Some of those commenters don’t post during some weeks. They get busy or perhaps find some of my topics more interesting than others. A few formerly regular commenters don’t post anymore (I miss them!), while I get some new ones here and there. It varies. 🙂 But I’m happy with the number of comments — this year so far, between 65 and 210 per column.

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    • To repurpose Martin Mull:

      how can you miss me when I won’t go away?

      at least you cannot place me among the absent…. not sure if everybody thinks that’s a good thing, but…

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        • “Ha! Always did like Martin Mull’s humor.”

          Me too!

          One day in the mid-70’s, I was clerking at The Guitar Shop in Washington DC when a man came in who wanted to rent a ukulele for the week. Said he needed it to play slide. I said “Oh, you mean like Martin Mull?” Said he: “I AM Martin Mull!!”

          Mull also wrote my favorite blues verse composed by a white male:

          Woke up this afternoon, I saw both cars were gone (2x)
          I felt so lowdown deep inside, I threw my drink across the lawn

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          • Great anecdote, jhNY! Sometimes people look a little different in person, or we don’t recognize them because we’re busy or not expecting to see them outside the context we usually see them (in Martin Mull’s case, on TV).

            I’ve read that John Steinbeck was barely recognized when he drove across the country gathering material for his “Travels With Charley” book, because no one expected the author to be tooling around in a mini-camper. Not sure if Steinbeck was recognized more than he let on…

            Love that Mull verse, too!

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            • My Mull Incident happened shortly before he became a teevee show staple– so he wouldn’t have any real reason to expect to be recognizable EXCEPT that I’d already referenced his slide uke stuff, so I must have been familiar with the lp (complete with photo of the artist) on which it appeared, and thus, might have been expected to recognize the man in the flesh. Think he was kidding, really, when he momentarily acted as if he were insulted, though, if that wasn’t clear in my original comment.

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              • His kidding would be totally in keeping with his soon-after TV personality. 🙂 I remember watching Mull’s “Fernwood 2 Night” show, which, as you know, co-starred the also-deadpan-hilarious Fred Willard.

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  3. Having reread The Charterhouse of Parma recently, I thought I’d draw on it for this week’s theme, but now I realize:

    Clelia and Fabrizio, lovers despite impediments of every sort, have a son in secret who dies— but there is no farewell/deathbed scene in the book.

    Clelia dies, having sacrificed her arranged marriage and her relationship with her father, having broken her vow to God, having, at least in her own mind, risked and lost her son’s life for Fabrizio– but there is no farewell/deathbed scene in the book

    Gina, the Duchess of San Severino, has loved Fabrizio with her whole heart, if a bit more than she allows anyone to know. She arranged a career for him, arranges safe passage for him out of Parma, arranges his escape from prison, arranges to have a reservoir opened so as to flood Parma, arranges a zealot to poison the prince who imprisoned Fabrizio– but he dies soon after his son and Clelia are no more. The novel is more or less the story of the unrequited and unspoken love of Gina for Fabrizio, and to no small degree, his love for her. And yet, for all that, and much more, there is no deathbed/farewell scene.

    In fact more prose is expended on a description of the Farnese Tower than on all these sad ends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, jhNY, and food for thought about what novelists include and what they don’t include. Not having a goodbye scene — and wishing or not wishing to have such a scene — can sometimes be as interesting as an actual goodbye scene.

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      • Thinking about the book last night, I did realize there was a sort of farewell scene– two of them– involving Fabrizio and a chestnut tree.

        On the grounds of his father’s vast estate, at his birth, his mother had planted the tree for him which he visited as a young man before taking off to join Napoleon. There were new leaves on its branches, which to him meant his adventure was favored by Providence. Later, when he ventures in secret and for the last time to that vast estate, he spends precious time exposed to possible prying eyes ( he’s subject to arrest on sight) in the business of performing a bit of tree surgery and turning the earth around this symbolic tree before hightailing it, and not without difficulty, to safer parts.

        A farewell to a tree counts as a farewell of sorts, anyway, don’t you think, even if, in a sense, he was saying farewell to a symbol of himself?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Works for me as an interesting farewell example, jhNY.

          And it seems to make more sense than the protagonist in John Steinbeck’s “To a God Unknown” thinking his dead dad was in a tree.

          Come to think of it, a couple of Hobbits said goodbye to the tree Ents in “The Lord of the Rings.”

          But, all joking aside, again I like your example(s).

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          • Not the same thing at all, but for some reason I am reminded that when my sister was dying many years ago, I left a pair of boots and a pair of pants and a shirt laid out in the attic, ostensibly because I’d gotten mud all over them on a visit to the countryside, and it was too late to clean all and still have time to pack for departure.

            When I returned, and saw the items again, it was beyond obvious: I’d left a sort of scarecrow version of myself to watch over her in my absence– the shirt was draped over the pants, the pants over the tops of those muddy boots.

            Ham-handed symbolism? Yep, but unconsciously constructed. In any event, the black birds got what they were after.

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  4. “I don’t give a damn”
    The memorable line Dave in “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell novel when Rhett Butler could not handle Scarlett`s cruelty towards him any longer. Rhett eventually gave up on her after loving her for decades while the whole time Scarlet was pining for Ashley Wilkes but marring other men one after another.
    He left Scarlett when he realized he no longer cared for her although Scarlett realized Rhett in the one she really loved .

    What a story…read it so many times when in school.

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      • On another note Dave in TKAM by recently deceased Harper Lee , Boo Radly a symbol of goodness damaged for life by his cruel father. He is one of the Mockingbird who saved Jem and Scout`s life was never seen by them ever again.
        Boo Radley Was also totally absent in GSAW.

        Also today is 100th year celebration of Mr. Gregory Peck who portrayed Atticus Finch so powerfully.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Love that photo, bebe! And — wow! — Gregory Peck was indeed born 100 years ago today. Great mention!!!

          And, yes, in a way it was goodbye to/for Boo. Interesting that he didn’t appear in “Go Set a Watchman.” Do you remember if he was at least mentioned in that book, or not?

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          • I don’t believe he was…it was like a new novel with Scout in her mid 20s and there was Atticus…all,of a sudden Atticus’s brother was there as an important character ..and then we discussed Atticus’s racist personality..before.

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            • Thanks, bebe! If “Go Set a Watchman” was written before “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I wonder if Harper Lee had even “invented” Boo yet. Of course, it also depends on whether Ms. Lee revised “GSAW” after writing “TKAM.”

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              • There was every proof as I was reading GSAW that she did revised it to a certain extent and was not the first draft. Too bad all fell apart in the last chapter. Scout`s name was hardly there she became a 26 year old Jean Louise .
                It was noted that Lee’s editor, Tay Hohoff impressed with the elements of the book encouraged her to make changes which continued on for the first published novel TKAM.

                But now I am glad I read the book which will show the readers the nature of Harper Lee living in Alabama her open minded personality as if she was writing through Jean Louise.

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                • Thank you, bebe! Well put! Interesting that “GSAW” was both a before and after “TKAM” novel in a sense. And sorry the last chapter wasn’t better. I’m STILL keeping an eye on my local library’s shelves to see when “GSAW” pops up there, post-waiting list. 🙂

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                    • Great Twain image, bebe! And it will be SO great when Christie is no longer NJ’s governor. He can’t run again, and, even if he could’ve, I’d be amazed if he would get even 30% of the vote. What a jerk, bully, hypocrite…

                      Your Ohio governor is playing the fake moderate in the presidential race, but I’m not sure he’s much better than Christie in his policies. Maybe a slightly nicer guy, but that’s not saying much…

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                    • bebe, I’ve never been to Cincinnati, though I’ve visited Ohio a few times (Columbus, Dayton, etc.). I guess right-wing U.S. areas tend to be more rural or suburban than urban, so it’s kind of surprising when a fairly large American city is conservative. But even conservative cities have their liberal or centrist pockets — or at least some liberal or centrist people. 🙂

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                    • I remember the time was it last year you drove through OH with your little girl and her pet… Cincinnati is too big to find the pockets. But in Nashville there sure are plenty of liberal pockets being a much smaller town easy to find.

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                    • You have a great memory, bebe! Yes, the caterpillar trip. 🙂 From NJ, we stopped at a motel in a small Ohio town not far past the Pennsylvania border. I think its name was Hubbard. Then, on the way to Indianapolis the next day, we went through or near Columbus and Dayton. So I guess we weren’t super far from Cincinnati.

                      Nice that Nashville’s size was somewhat manageable!

                      I guess the “liberal pockets” theory can also work for states, such as Austin and Bloomington being fairly progressive cities in conservative Texas and Indiana.

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                    • Eventually, I predict they will sell like hotcakes, as country star Jerry Reed once said when asked about his record sales– “they’re going like hotcakes– about a dollar a stack!”

                      Elsewhere in the news, I saw a report about a charity book shop, I think, or some other drop-off location. Donators were enjoined to cease and desist already with sending in copies of Fifty Shades of Gray– there piles of the things already all over the place, going nowhere.

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                    • HA…there better be any movies of GSAW..with a racist Atticus, but who know. %) shades..I watched perhaps 30 mins in HBO on a dull day…and I burst into laughter. then off the remote..

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                    • But, but…a couple of staff in the library, so has my hair lady have read all three and liked them Dave 🙂
                      The books being record seller is like Republican race of today.

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                    • bebe, interesting when a movie is supposed to be “serious,” but evokes derisive laughter instead.

                      And, yes, I don’t think there’s a big demand for a “Go Set a Watchman” movie. 🙂

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                    • bebe, I guess “Fifty Shades of Grey” and its sequels have fans all over, just as some awful Republican candidates have their fans and draw a big audience (as you allude to). I don’t like making jokes about people’s appearance, but I’ll make an exception in this case and say Donald Trump’s hair is “Fifty Shades of Orange.” 🙂

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                    • bebe, glad the young people in the audience knew a ridiculous movie when they saw it! Many people in their teens and twenties are experts in deservedly mocking stuff like that.

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                • Tay Hohoff deserves wider recognition than she has gotten. She did what every publishing house hopes their editors might do– transform an earnest attempt into a best-seller beloved, like few other books, by its readers, now, for several generations running.

                  Kudos Hohoff!

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                    • Maxwell Perkins, about whom a book has been written with the title Maxwell Perkins: Editor of Genius had the task of riding herd on Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Wolfe, each at the height of fame and capability. I remember reading something years ago about Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel, which at some early point was a massive paper pile of thousands of pages, and how Perkins managed to derive the novel from the mass and retain the faith and devotion of the author.

                      I wonder if there are original pre-Perkins manuscripts from these three by which one might assess the efforts of Perkins, as well as his relations with these writers of first rank.

                      In the case of TKAM, we do have such a manuscript– in the form of GSAW, making it possible to see Hohoff’s influence and work. And happily, for believers in the power of editing, Hohoff delivered much: a book beloved by Americans for over half a century.

                      Kidos Hohoff!!!

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                    • It WOULD be fascinating to see the exact “before” of famous authors’ manuscripts that Max Perkins edited. And, yes, we do essentially have the “To Kill a Mockingbird” novel’s “before” in “Go Set a Watchman.” I haven’t read “GSAW” yet, but, from what I’ve heard, Tay Hohoff might have been very close to a magician in helping to turn it into “TKAM.”

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                  • I found out about Tay`s enormous contribution just other day. worked with Lee for the creation of the masterpiece TKAM. The book will always be read by generations to come and Tay will remain unknown for this enormous gift she helped to create to the world.

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          • To Kill A Mockingbird was on Turner Classic Movies last night PLUS an amazing retrospective with Gregory Peck in honor of his 100th birthday! It was amazing but this old lady had to go to bed before the retrospective was over 😦

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            • What a great combination of TV offerings!!!

              I know what you mean about needing sleep, lulabelle. I usually stay up later than I should to get writing done when the apartment is quiet, but often fall asleep for several-minute stretches in front of my computer. 🙂

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  5. The movie “The Lion in Winter” is based on a play by the same name, but there was no novel, as far as I know. Of course, the play is about the dysfunctional relationship (to put it mildly) between King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine who actually lived. Henry and Eleanor were superbly played in the movie by Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn. The dialogue in the movie (and I presume the play) is delicious! The most heartbreaking lines in the movie are toward the end when Eleanor tells Henry “If you’re broken it’s because you’re brittle… I’ve lost you, and I can’t ever have you back.” That line broke my heart because Henry is sitting beside her, comforting her because she HAS lost him and she can never have him back. This movie was Katherine Hepburn’s first movie after the death of Spencer Tracy, so that line is poignant and heartbreaking on so many levels 😥

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    • Thanks, lulabelle! Superb comment!

      A play is literature, so no novel necessary. 🙂 I’ve never seen “The Lion in Winter” in any form, but it does sound excellent — with that heartbreaking moment. And it’s interesting to think about how real-life suffering (as in Katharine Hepburn’s then-recent loss of Spencer Tracy) can affect a person’s acting, and the audience’s reaction to that acting.

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  6. I watched “Remains Of The Day” recently,hadn’t seen in many years. If the book’s ending is the same,its a poignant goodbye. Set at a English manor house before the second world war, Mr. Stevens is head butler for a Lord whose reputation would be tarnished for sympathizing with Nazis. Prior to the outbreak, Mr. Stevens along with many servants,staff,including Mrs. Denton the head housekeeper, were in charge of Lord Darlington ‘s expansive estate. Mrs. Denton left prior to the war to accept a marriage proposal. The family through her oversight at the manor was her only true family. Mr.Stevens, a man dedicated to service,was cold,aloof,as his father his life’s purpose was being head butler,making sure estate presentable, putting himself as not as important save his special times in his own room smoking a cigar,feeling more regal. There was unrequited love mutually,she would never have left to marry if he had expressed,at the least,care and concern for her,but he,till end,was always formal,not wanting to be close to anyone. So,Mrs. Denton marries,has a daughter,begins a new life. Two decades pass,the manor now owned by a former US Congressman who made a winning bid through an estate auction. Mr. Stevens, needing a head housekeeper for a much smaller staff after the war, breaches contact via letter with Mrs. Denton to see if she may want to meet,come back to the manor. So they meet at a hotel for tea. She tells him it took her years to love her husband,being married,but was happy,had daughter who,she just found out was expecting. The poignant goodbye,she was content with her life,was on a rainy eve,they are waiting for bus which,unusually, was on time. She thanks him for meeting her,graciously mutual, gets on bus,watches him from rear window,knows last time will see each other,last long glance, sadness but underlined strength. Both have tears,goodbye to another life,to younger years. Still so much unspoken but saying so much.

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    • “The Remains of the Day” is a GREAT novel, Michele. I read it long enough ago (1990s?) that I don’t remember that goodbye scene — but you described it SO well and poignantly. Thank you. Such a shame that Mr. Stevens NOT saying just a few words years before the final parting you just described totally changed the trajectory of his and Ms. Denton’s lives.

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  7. Hi Dave,

    A very big happy birthday to you for last week 🙂

    This week I again thought of Khaled Housseini’s “The Kite Runner”. After Amir forces Hassan to leave, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether they’d see each other again. And I was pretty shattered when I learnt that they wouldn’t. As I mentioned last week, although I did feel a tiny bit manipulated by Housseini, I cared so much about his characters and the ‘friendship’ between Amir and Hassan.

    As you may recall, I recently read “Emma” for the first time. Having loved the other Austen novels that I’ve read, I was surprised to find myself disappointed by this one. Ultimately, I just couldn’t get behind the protagonist. The self-centered, meddling, socially unaware protagonist. The writing was great, of course, but I didn’t think Emma deserved a happy ending, though I knew she’d get one (in fact I knew how pretty much everything was going to work out). Having said all of that, I’ve been kind of procrastinating starting “Persuasion”. Partly because I don’t want to rush into another Austen and have them both muddled in my head, but mostly because of the way that you and Kat Lib talk about it. I’m savouring the beginning of something that I’m pretty sure will be brilliant.

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    • Hi Susan, I think Jane Austen put it best, when she said she was going to write about a heroine that nobody other than herself would like (I’m paraphrasing here). I’ve noticed a tendency for movie or TV treatments of this book to make Emma more likeable at the ending than is perhaps warranted, so I understand what you mean about her character. However, I can assure you that the Anne Elliot of “Persuasion” is nothing like Emma. I was reading about this other day that this novel (“Persuasion”) was Austen’s last and that she didn’t have time to edit it before she died, but I think it’s just perfect the way it is.

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      • Hi KatLib, your upcoming move sounds very exciting, though it is always a big reminder of how many books we have, and how heavy they are! I would also love a puppy, but I’ve had the conversation with my cat, and she says no. Sorry to hear that you have enough on your mind to keep you awake at 3am though. If you ever need someone to chat to in the middle of the night, it’s the middle of the day here in Oz, so I would be happy for you to message me. I’m friends with Dave on Facebook, or could swap email addresses.

        In relation to “Emma”, I definitely found her unlikeable, so Jane got that right! But it was more than that. She often seemed really stupid, and often the most intelligent person in the room. She was meddling, which was almost humourous at times, but mostly it was kind of insulting to the other characters. Not that I really liked them either. Harriet was so foolish, and so accommodating, that I just had no respect for her. I thought Emma’s dad was almost interesting at times. Sadly, I can relate to some of the ‘quirks’ that he had, but again, it just became a little disrespectful. I am very much looking forward to “Persuassion” though 🙂

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        • Hi Susan, I’d be very happy to have you reach out to me in the middle of the night, or whenever.
          My email address is kathyjjohnson@verizon.net. I was mentioning to one of my best friends just yesterday that I feel that Dave and all of the commenters here, are somehow an extended family to me. not to get maudlin or anything, but I really appreciate all of you. If you read “Persuasion” there are enough characters to dislike, but there are many more that are among her best, as I think both Dave and I would agee with, i.e., Anne Elliot.

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    • Hi, Susan! Thanks for the Happy Birthday wishes for last week!

      Yes, that Amir-Hassan separation is intense, memorable, disturbing, and ultimately shattering. I can see what you’re saying about there being a bit of manipulation in “The Kite Runner”; maybe that’s partly because it’s a first novel, and often one can see authors’ “puppet strings” on their characters before they totally mature as writers.

      I totally agree that “Emma,” while excellent in its way, isn’t as appealing as several other Jane Austen novels. And Ms. Woodhouse is a big reason for that — she IS rather annoying until she becomes somewhat less annoying. Great paragraph by you about that novel.

      Hopefully, Kat Lib and I haven’t built up “Persuasion” too much. 🙂 It’s wonderful, but not as transcendent as some non-Austen novels I’ve read. One thing that impressed me about “Persuasion” is that it’s relatively short, yet it seems to contain everything a terrific novel needs.

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      • I mentally started to write a reply to your comment last week, Dave, but never got the chance to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). But my comment was going to say something like The Taliban were definitely the bad guys (whodda thunk it) and that “The Kite Runner” read like a first novel. Housseini even seemed to be apologising at times for some of the devices that he used. But it was like he just didn’t know how else to get his characters to where they needed to be. And ultimately, I really liked those characters, so I could overlook the ‘tricks’ that Housseini needed to use to be so heart wrenching.

        I don’t remember Emma becoming less annoying 🙂 But as previously mentioned, I am really looking forward to “Persuasion” which I’ll start in the next few weeks. And if it’s even half as brilliant and enjoyable as “Pride and Prejudice” then you won’t have built it up too much.

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        • Thanks, Susan! Well said — including your great/wry parenthetical quip about the vile Taliban.

          Have you read Hosseini’s subsequent two books? I haven’t. I wonder if he got a little smoother as a novelist. He WAS a physician first, so I suppose he may have had less writing “training” than many other authors.

          Emma didn’t lose all her annoying quotient, but at least she became somewhat more mature and less meddling. 🙂 And I’ll be very interested in hearing what you think of “Persuasion” this spring!

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          • I haven’t read the other novels. I liked “The Kite Runner” but not enough to put Housseini on my already long list. But I too would be curious to know what his subsequent novels were like. And of course I will let you know what I think of “”Persuasion” when I get to it, but as spring is still 5 months away for me, I’m hoping to get to it before then 😉

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  8. Dave, I think I’d rank Austen’s novels in the same way that you have. As much as I love “Pride and Prejudice,” there’s something about “Persuasion” that is in many ways more compelling than the former. Perhaps it’s because Anne Elliot is more mature, and more likeable, than any of Austen’s other main characters. The movie, starring Amanda Root and Ciarin Hinds, is also outstanding.

    As for my move, it’s coming along fairly well, although I’m still waiting to hear back from the Seller on inspection items that need to be addressed in some fashion or another. In the past few days, I’ve packed 18 boxes of DVDs, CDs and books (not including the 10 or so that I’ve put into a self-storage unit). And of course, I’ve still got more books that need to be addressed; all of which is one of the reasons I’m awake at 3:00 a.m. — so much to think about! There is some fun though in thinking about the library I’m going to have, as well as a room that will be my office. My allergies this year haven’t been any way near as bad as usual, so I can look forward to sitting on my back deck and actually get back into reading. I’ve got a fairly big yard, so I’m thinking about putting a natural garden at the very back of my property with fruit trees, as well as finding a place for a vegetable garden. And, as I keep telling my cat Jessie, we’re going to a get a puppy (more probably a rescue dog) once we fix the fencing of the back yard. 🙂

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    • Totally agree about Anne Elliot, Kat Lib. I think she’s my favorite Jane Austen character. Mature and likable, as you say. Deep, kind, smart, stoic — and she has to wait a long time for happiness, so one really sympathizes with her. Austen definitely juggles more characters and more moving parts in “Pride and Prejudice,” so it’s a more impressive novel in a way. But no character in it interests me quite like Anne Elliot.

      Great that your new house will have room for an office and library, and that you will have more time to read again once all the many moving-related tasks are done! Plus the plans for a garden and rescue dog! I hope all the inspection stuff is resolved soon, and continued good luck with the arduous packing.

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      • Thanks Dave. When I had the inspection on my new home last week, I met the neighbor next door. She was very nice and has a husband, a 7 month old baby and a dog. As I said to one of my friends, I’ll be more than happy to babysit her dog, but not her baby. All my friends know that I love animals, but I’m not so sure about babies. They are wonderful tiny human beings, but I don’t have the required skills to take care of them.

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        • Wonderful, Kat Lib, that your future next-door neighbor seems nice. SO important. When I owned a house until 2014, all the neighbors were terrific except for a couple that lived for a few years directly across the street. They were VERY unpopular on the block (long story), and they definitely had a negative impact.

          Dog-sitting is a nice thing! Having dealt with more than one (human) baby, the needed skills do arrive quickly. But you have no obligation to babysit other kids. 🙂

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    • That is a great idea Kat Lib…we have not even started looking for an agent. although we have a couple of them in mind. In our previous move from Nashville the movers lost 100`s of my CD`s mostly classical which I will never be able to replace. This time I am going to take care of my CD`s and books myself. Getting a storage place sounds like a great idea.
      Good luck with you new home with Jessie.

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  9. Hi Dave, you mentioned Jane Austen’s novel, “Persuasion,” but I think most of her novels featured somewhat similar scenarios, though they all ended up quite well, as did Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth. In “Pride & Prejudice,” Elizabeth Bennet gives the very rich Mr. Darcy a brush-off until she finally understands the reasons why he did what he thought right, even counseling his friend Mr. Bingley to not follow his heart’s desire to be with Jane Bennet. In “Sense & Sensibility,” Elinor is kept from her true love, Edward, due to a prior loveless engagement with Lucy Steele, Her sister, Marianne, is passionately attached to Willoughby, who dumps her in favor of a woman with wealth. It’s only in the very end of the book that Edward is freed from his engagement to Lucy, and then can marry Elinor. Marianne, who goes through a very serious illness, finally comes to appreciate Colonel Brandon and they get married, much to Willoughby’s chagrin.

    “Emma” Woodhouse is very rich and self-sufficient, until she finally realizes that Mr. Knightley is the man she loves and marries, after behaving badly to others in her small village. In “Mansfield Park,” Fanny Price is raised as a niece, someone who lives with the Bertrams, but is badly treated, especially by the odious Mrs. Norris. It’s not until the last few pages of the book that she and her cousin Edmund finally get together (this seems to be a feature in all of Austen’s novels). Again, in Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland is sent packing from that Abbey, because the General (Tilney) thought, mistakenly, that Catherine was an heir to a very nice estate. At the very end. of course, Henry Tilney comes to Catherine’s home and they end up very happily. If there’s a pattern here, you’re probably right, this seems to be the standard plot of Austen’s, but each book is very different from the others, from place to the characters how they are portrayed, and Austen’s sharp wit and social commentary.

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    • Hi, Kat Lib! Very true about there being many temporary “goodbyes,” each handled somewhat differently, in Jane Austen’s great novels. Thanks for all the wonderful examples, richly described! Another example I would add is Harriet saying goodbye to the man she would have done well with in “Emma” because of the not-yet-fully-mature Emma’s meddling. Of course, as is often the case in Austen’s novels, “love conquers all” — eventually. 🙂

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      • Yes, I agree that Harriet was rather an unfortunate “victim” of Emma’s meddling in her (and many other’s lives). And of course it wasn’t until Harriet expressed interest and what she thought was reciprocal feelings on Mr. Knightley’s part, that Emma realized that it was only she who could marry Knightley. I remember getting into a discussion with the brother of my best friend many years ago, who thought Emma was the best of Austen’s novels. I’m still very torn about that. I adore “Pride & Prejudice,” “Sense & Sensibility” and “Persuasion” (not necessarily in that order). But I think I’d agree that “Mansfield Park” and “Emma” were very important novels “Northanger Abbey” is the weakest of all, especially if you watch the BBC or other British productions.

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        • Yes, Emma definitely got a wake-up call there!

          Obviously, we all have our personal favorites, but I would disagree with your friend’s brother about “Emma” being Jane Austen’s best novel. My ranking would be “Persuasion,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “Mansfield Park,” “Emma,” and “Northanger Abbey.” Of course, it’s all relative — the first five are terrific and “NA” is pretty good.

          What’s the latest with your impending move?

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