I tried to wrangle this post into a proper recap, but no matter how I wrestle with it, a large part of it STILL comes out as a list of reasons why I think Turnip is so great as a love interest for the Pink series. You know what? I’m not going to fight it anymore. I’m just posting it as is, and if you’re not a big fan of Turnip, you can skim and hum to yourself during the bits about him.
What a week! I’m so glad to be getting into Mistletoe at last. At this point, we’ve had a pretty thorough introduction to Arabella. When you learn her backstory, it’s easy to feel sorry for her, but it’s even easier to be impressed by her attitude. Here she is, 24 years old, thinking she is on the verge of a proposal, and suddenly she is thrust back on her family with her expectations in tatters. She could sit around and feel sorry for herself – I wouldn’t blame her. But she immediately pushes out on her own. Granted, she’s never taught before and she has no idea what she’s gotten herself into, but she is determined not to be an object of pity and another mouth to feed in her father’s house.
Arabella is independent, and she is scrappy. She talks her way into a position that she’s not really qualified for. She isn’t a doormat – when Turnip doesn’t remember her name, she reminds him that they have met several times before. She doesn’t panic or become hysterical when a thief knocks her down in the street. She holds her own with Vaughn and Mary (an impressive feat). To me, the saddest thing about Arabella is how surprised she is when people like Turnip are kind to her. That doesn’t say much for the majority of her acquaintance.
I hardly know where to start talking about Turnip. I am reading Alice Hoffman’s Museum of Extraordinary Things right now as well, and there was a quote in the chapter I read last night that struck me – one character asks another, “You know what love is? It’s what you least expect.” I think that’s why it was so easy for me to love Turnip. In the first four books, he’s ridiculous. His character exists for the point of amusement and misdirection, and he’s dense almost to the point of being unbelievable. So when Lauren gives you an opportunity to see what’s going on in Turnip’s head (because YES, there actually is something – I’m looking at you, Lady Vaughn), you are taken aback by how genuine and sincere he is. He may have ridiculous taste in clothes, be incapable of picking up on sarcasm, and display a child-like level of enthusiasm for meat pie, but he is a good man. Observe:
He doesn’t say things he doesn’t mean. When Arabella calls him out for not knowing her name after they have danced together several times, Turnip doesn’t try to flatter her or pretend he remembered after all.
He is straightforward. He seems to exist in a happy mental state where things belong in one of two boxes – one for things that are good and right, and one for things that are bad and wrong. When he realizes he should have known Arabella, he apologizes and tells her he will be a better dance partner at their next opportunity. When the thief accosts Arabella for the Christmas pudding, Turnip lands him a clean punch in the jaw.
Despite his apparent lack of common sense, he does have good intuition about people. Neither of the Vaughns even attempts to hide their disdain for him, but he doesn’t have any hard feelings towards them. He knows Penelope Deveraux isn’t interested in marrying him, so he’s okay having the occasional dalliance on the balcony with her. He understands that she’s not the type of girl who would consider a balcony tryst a proposal, and he knows Penelope has no interest in marrying him, so he doesn’t feel guilty about it. He is immediately put off by the chevalier. Granted, it’s probably because he senses a rival, but he IS right about this.
Marriage with Turnip would be a lifetime of laughing and knowing that you would be well looked after. No explanation required. If Jane Austen can see it (she called Turnip a Bingley!), it is a real thing.
My enthusiasm has run away with me. Back to the first chapters.
So far, we’ve got two levels of difficulty for Arabella. There is a LOT going on in her personal life. Her elderly aunt just married the man she thought was meant for her – and she’s going to have to see them together and call him “Uncle. Upsetting and awkward. Arabella has no idea how to teach, but she’s going to have to learn fast. Her family’s circumstances are reduced, so she needs a long-term game plan for how she will take care of herself. On top of all these issues, she’s got mysterious puddings and runaway students to deal with.
I really loved getting to see so many other characters from the Pink family in these chapters. Sally, Lizzy and Agnes are a treat. I had forgotten that Sally’s hatred of chickens is established in this book. Mary and Vaughn put in an appearance at Farley Castle – Mary seems to be adjusting to her new title (and her new rubies) quite well.
What were your favorite parts from this section of Pink V?