Happy Friday! First order of business – we have a winner of the ARC of The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James. It’s Amy Krebs! Congratulations, Amy. If you will email your address to email@example.com, I will get your prize in the mail to you. Huge thanks again to Simone for graciously agreeing to be interviewed and providing a prize. Seriously, if you haven’t read her books, pick one out and get started. I promise you’ll be entertained.
On to Mistletoe!
I feel like chapters 17-18 of Pink V could be combined into one section of the book and labeled “In Which There is a Misunderstanding.” Arabella and Turnip are finally talking at the pageant, but they are having two completely different conversations. Arabella doesn’t realize that Turnip is only using the pudding as an excuse to talk to her, and Turnip doesn’t understand why Arabella would be pushing him away. And Arabella really does go off on him about the spies. It’s understandable, if you think about it – she’s never been attacked because she was mistaken for the Pink Carnation, and she doesn’t have several school friends who work for the War Office. In Arabella’s world, spies really don’t exist, so I can forgive her for being so harsh with Turnip in the moment, even if she does turn out to be wrong.
Once Arabella has laid down the law about No More Clandestine Meetings, Turnip walks around the pageant in a bit of a funk. He doesn’t understand what in the world has gotten into Arabella until he has a chance to speak to Jane for a moment. Jane is the one who finally puts the pieces together for Turnip: Arabella’s father is a vicar (i.e. her family has no money). Arabella was temporarily sponsored in London by her aunt, but her aunt opted not to adopt her. And Arabella doesn’t teach because she feels a moral calling – she teaches to earn her keep. It’s not that Turnip was too stupid to realize these things on his own. It’s just like Arabella not understanding about the spies. Things like school fees and room and board are not regular topics or sources of concern in Turnip’s world. But now that he understands a bit more about Arabella’s situation in life, he feels like a proper idiot for not seeing her position clearly before.
Meanwhile, Arabella’s bad luck continues, and she is temporarily held hostage by a man with a sword. Fortunately, the sword turns out to be a pageant prop, and once Arabella delivers a hearty stomp to the man’s toes, he takes off. But we have learned that someone thinks Arabella has a list of some sort, and she assumes that’s why her room was vandalized.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve at Girdings House. Turnip and Arabella have no idea they’ll be spending the holiday together. I’m sure we all know from watching Downton Abbey about the great upstairs/downstairs divide that makes life so different for people in different social classes. But I thought it was interesting to see how, even as a ducal guest, Arabella doesn’t have the same status as the others in the ton. No one from the family is on hand to greet her when she arrives with her maid. She gets a drafty room off on a side wing of the house rather than a big room with an estate view. And the festivities have begun without her – she has to trudge through the snow alone to where the other guests are gathering the greenery. We get a fun peek at Charlotte and Penelope in this scene. We also get Turnip trying to chop down a tree with the blunt in of an axe.
A LOT happens during this house party at Girdings. Forgive me for rushing through it a bit, but I’ll do my best. Turnip learns from Geoff that Catherine Carruthers’ father (the same Catherine who loves to run off from Miss Climpson’s) is a high ranking government employee who has recently misplaced a list of every Royalist agent working in France. Turnip understands now that Arabella really is in danger, because someone out there believes she is in possession of this list. He also comes to her rescue when Martin Frobisher, Lord Henry, and Lieutenant Danforth play a very unkind prank on her. Once Arabella meets Letty and Geoff and hears their thoughts on why strange things have been happening to her lately, she is forced to admit that she was wrong. There really are spies and they really do think she has something they need. And she was, evidently, wrong about Turnip as well. She thought he didn’t care about her, but it’s clear from his behavior in the last few chapters that he cares VERY much about her well-being. And at the end of chapter 24, he proves to Arabella that he CAN remember things when they are important. The day he met her, he promised he would ask her to dance at the next ball, and he follows through with an enormous smile on his face.
What did you think of these chapters? What were your favorite moments? I loved watching Charlotte try to be invisible while Penelope does everything she can to misbehave. How did they ever get to be friends? I suppose we’ll get more perspective on that in Pink VI. Hooray for Geoff and Letty starting a family. Also, weren’t Aunt Osborne and Captain Musgrave absolutely horrifying? I couldn’t imagine what Arabella was thinking, falling for Musgrave, but I guess it just goes along with what we know of her past. She’s used to being ignored or treated poorly, so anyone who shows her kindness (even a patronizing, pompous kindness) is special to her.
Only a few chapters left to go! Next week, we’ll recap on Wednesday, and Lauren will return for Ask the Author V on Friday.
Have a wonderful weekend.