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.
‘Partridges Mrs Lennon … ’ some friend might say years after her death, and Papa’s eyes would drop and his face darken. He would not answer, only sigh. Her successors came and went; they were more expensive and none of them had a vocation. Mummie’s aimless half hints about the Major’s pleasures and displeasures carried no weight. She herself could not have told one of them in plain language how to boil an egg, and Mrs Beeton and Mrs Marshall had hardly more effect. At that time the standard of
felt complete. There was no more to ask. CHAPTER FOURTEEN Soon he must go. I would face the bright autumn without him and without Hubert. I forbade myself to count the few days left before Hubert went back to Cambridge and Richard to his regiment. I hated to lose a minute of our time together. That evening I was in a haze of melancholy which was to find its climax in one of those pains I had been taught to disregard as slight monthly discomforts, not to be over-rated; to take them
the rectory. Tommy had better drive you there. Go by the village and post this for me.’ He shuddered as he looked at the letter. ‘I shan’t open it,’ he said to Mummie. ‘I don’t know what I pay Kiely for. I suppose I must re-address the thing.’ He set off for the library, as no gentleman carried a pen about in his pocket. ‘Is everybody going to the rectory?’ Mummie asked Breda. ‘Who will bring our tea? Perhaps Rose—?’ ‘It’s Rose’s afternoon today, madam.’ Breda looked longingly at the coffee
to come,’ she said in her disparaging way, ‘and on such an appalling day.’ ‘Oh,’ said Mummie, throwing back her coat, as if it were sables, ‘business, horrible business. Otherwise we shouldn’t be here.’ ‘Do forgive me an instant.’ Nod backed away from us. ‘I’m mending china and my cement’s just setting.’ Mummie followed her into the diningroom. ‘Oh, that lovely piece,’ I heard her say, ‘I’ve always loved it. It’s perfect.’ I knew she didn’t mean the broken china. It was the Regency side-table
would you care to … ’ Halfway round the ballroom, we came to a merciful halt on two gold chairs. ‘Don’t really get the course,’ he gasped apologetically. Later I saw Kenny Norton immersed in talk with two other men. He must see me. He never looked up. Nor did Uncle Ulick appear for his next dance. I smiled, and hummed, and stood carelessly as the hall emptied into the ballroom and I waited, only for Uncle Ulick. Presently I took myself to the ladies’ cloakroom, the classic refuge of the