This post was written by Abby.
Last month, both Betty and Susan wrote about friendships in Night Jasmine and I wanted to focus today on friendships in Blood Lily. One point that both Betty and Susan made was that the friendship between Penelope and Charlotte is often an unexpected one and Blood Lily continues the theme of the unlikely friendship.
Chapter Six introduced us to Alex’s friend, Tajalli Ali Khan, the son of a Hyderabadi nobleman. Alex observes that “yet they were friends, and had been friends since the first month of Alex’s appointment in Hyderabad, when they had found themselves flung together on a cheetah hunt hosted by the Resident. Alex admired his friend’s insouciant ease of manner, even while he knew he could never emulate it.” What do you think allows for the harmony (Alex’s word) between these two characters? Do you think their friendship will survive the growing English, French and Indian tensions of the early nineteenth century? And do you have any friends like this?
But the most important friendship in Blood Lily is, of course, the one that begins to emerge between Penelope and Alex during these early chapters. Jumping ahead a little to Chapter Fourteen (which we will be discussing on Friday), Penelope reflects that “she had never had a male friend before. Lovers, yes. Flirtations. But never a friend. It made an intriguing change.” I hadn’t ever thought about this before rereading Blood Lily for our discussion but if romance between the hero and heroine is a core element in all the Pink Carnation books, so is friendship. Miles and Henrietta are probably the only couple who go from a pre-existing friendship to marriage but the friendships which develop between all the Pink couples play important roles in their books. Turnip appreciates the fact that Arabella responds to his banter while Geoff and Letty come to value each other’s companionship, just to name two examples.
Returning to Penelope and Alex, why do you think Penelope has never seen men as potential sources for friendship before? And why do you think she might find the idea intriguing? By contrast, the conversation between Alex and Mah Laqa Bai in Chapter Ten (again, my apologies for looking ahead to Friday’s discussion) and his relationships with his sisters suggest that Alex is far more acquainted with the concept of having women as friends. Why do you think this is the case? And is there any other friendship in the Pink books which I have missed here?