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!


  1. I, too, am sad to see the end of the group read. May we please have another one sometime? It has really been a lot of fun hearing your thoughts and also the wonderful comments from the other readers.

    I liked the ending of the book, and was not really surprised at how it turned out, since a happy ending with virtue rewarded was more or less the status quo for that time. I myself would have been annoyed and embarrassed by Woodley’s admission that he is also Tonhausen and the Sylph—and that he had been successfully fooling me for a long time, but of course I would eventually forgive him!

    All that’s missing is a nice lady for Mr. Grenville.

    This was an entertaining book and an excellent choice for a group read. Well done to Georgina for putting pen to paper, and thanks again, Heather.

  2. The sadness I also feel upon reaching the end of this group read is, as Julia/Eliza/Georgie would say, "exquisite". Thank you Heather and the rest of the salon-goers for making May such an entertaining month! Here's to more in the future.

    I loved this and thought the ending very apt. I must say I suspected Woodley, after his only letter, but to be Tonhausen too?! Quelle rat! Happiness to them, er, all (including Louisa and Spencer)!

    Thanks so much Georgie and Heather!

  3. I had such a fun time connecting here- Thanks so much for doing this Heather!

    I loved the ending and I love fairy tales so- totally satisfied with Tonhausen being the Sylph-especially since at one point I kinda hoped he would be. Everything ties in perfectly. Another thing, it makes me smile when I think that Georgie still has people talking about her (the interest doesn`t fade!) , not only in history, but in this wonderful legacy of a book she leaves kind of makes her immortal:)

  4. I had a feeling this was how it was going to end. I'm glad Julia got her happy ending. If only real life had been the same!

  5. P.S. Thank you, Heather, for hosting this group read!

  6. You are all most welcome! I'm glad you all seemed to enjoy the salons as much as I do. Any requests for a future group read? I am not making any promises but I will definitely take some titles to consider!

  7. I randomly found this blog from a blogroll on another, and I am enjoying going through all of the posts! I just visited Chatsworth on Monday and it was so amazing that it has really sparked my interest in the Cavendish glad I found this!

  8. I too will miss the group. While I haven't been able to join in on every discussion, I have really enjoyed them all. Thank you so much for hosting this!

    I'm writing this before reading the other comments, so please forgive any repetitions.

    I'll admit Julia really disappointed me. She spent the entire book, up until the end, relying on others to make her decisions. Very sad for me, I very much wanted her to take a stand for her own future.

    I suspected the Woodle/Baron T./sylph connection. I just keep remembering Woodley's letter saying he had a "plan" when he found out Julia was married. He would have needed a way to be In her company without arousing her suspicion. As he never went into any detail about his inheritance, I assumed it came from a relative outside the country, or the whole ton would have known about it. This foreign inheritance was just the cover he needed.

    While I'm happy things worked out for her, and she ultimately wound up with a loving husband, I can't shake the feeling she was manipulated by him. Yes, he was trying to help her, but the promise he extracted out of her as the sylph to allow him to choose her next husband, really bugs me.

    Despite my annoyance with her, I did enjoy reading Julia story.

  9. Thank you for this opportunity! It's always sad to see the story you've been enjoying end.

    Well, I thought that Woodley must be the Sylph, but I had no idea that he was the Baron too! It seems like too many masks for one person. And out of all of them I liked Woodley the best.

    And I must confess, having seen enough of the world (through Julia's eyes) I didn't trust Miss Finch at first. I was sure that she had some scheme of hers and that she was just waiting for Julia to make a wrong step. But I'm glad that I was wrong on her account.

    I was also surprised by Louisa's brisk manner in her last letters. It felt like her meeting with Spencer and her impending marriage changed her a lot.

    But all in all, I liked the story. Very fairy-tale-like by the end with the good uncle and so many good friends and the main villains either punished or repenting. *Sigh* just the kind of stories I like reading and writing:))

    Thank you for the lovely time!

  10. @Five Guineas, Thank you and welcome!

    @cymbliss, I was surprised how bitter and untrusting everyone was toward the Sylph, not that a blame everyone, but I found it interesting. But that is why you have book groups! Thank you again for being a part of it.

    @Farida, It was hard to trust anyone (outside of Wales) in the whole book! Especially since Georgiana was so black and white with her characters in the beginning. If anything you are trained as a reader to be suspicious of everyone, which is perhaps why many had such cold feelings toward the Sylph. It was a pleasure having you in the group!