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Good Behaviour
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
38 posts | 18 read | 32 to read
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.
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Leftcoastzen
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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At some point I was thinking it‘s getting a bit like Grey Gardens up in here! What a great read about the Irish gentry on decline & their big boned & not too attractive daughter who to say the least is an unreliable narrator OR does she just not…... I really enjoyed this & was sorry I didn‘t finish in time for the #NYRBBookClub discussion.I‘m going to check out the questions when I‘m not ready for bed !🤔😃😴

vivastory Grey Garden also came to mind for me. This was such a wonderful surprise & I won't be forgetting Aroon nor the discussion soon. 2mo
batsy Yes, Aroon is unforgettable! 2mo
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Bertha_Mason
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane

"A small, sedate engine made a supreme effort and set off with its train and its few serious passengers. The emptied rails and lines assumed a magnificence. Over my head the iron stays and echoing unfurnished arches of the station became part of the empty spaces within me. I stood waiting in their cold shelter, sometimes wetting my lips and sucking them in, folding them under and over. It was a relief. It was companionable."

review
quietjenn
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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A little late, finishing up this #nyrbbookclub selection, but what a stunner! My first experience with Keene, but definitely not the last. So much to ruminate on. Of to peek at today's discussion of it!

batsy I feel the same! It makes me want to seek out her other books. 2mo
LeahBergen I loved it and can‘t wait to try more of her stuff. 2mo
BkClubCare Stacked! 1mo
rubyslippersreads I wanted to like it but couldn‘t get past the first few pages because of the baby rabbit. 🥺 2w
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blurb
batsy
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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vivastory I found it to be more of a dark comedy but not one that I laughed at very often, although there were moments. Genre distinctions can shape my expectations of a novel. I don't mind satire, so if it had been more along those lines it wouldn't have bothered me. 2mo
Vansa I don't care too much for genre distinctions,unless something that's fictional is presented as nonfiction!This book was a dark comedy,though as @vivastory has said,it's comedy that you flinch at rather than laugh out loud,as with Wodehouse or Nancy Mitford. 2mo
vivastory @Vansa The Nancy Mitford comparison is a good one. Now that I think about it there is some common ground with Hons & Rebels. 2mo
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LeahBergen Hmm… it definitely feels more dark comedy than satire to me in that way of something being so horrible that it‘s amusing, if that makes sense. The tone is set with that abrupt and shocking death in chapter one. 😆 Something about this novel reminds me of O Caledonia. Have you read it? @batsy @vivastory 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen Oh, I'm looking forward to reading that one! There is a new edition being released this September. I have it on pre-order. 2mo
Vansa @LeahBergen sounds interesting, is it magical realism though? 2mo
LeahBergen @Vansa No, I wouldn‘t consider it magical realism (and I‘m not really a fan of that, in general). It‘s quirky and a bit gothic-ey and very hard to describe. 2mo
vivastory @Vansa @leahbergen I don't know if this is accurate but the comparison on the pub. site is for Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle 2mo
LeahBergen @vivastory Yes, it definitely has a Jackson vibe (but with more humour). 2mo
GatheringBooks It is interesting because I never thought of it as satire or dark comedy; I just found it incredibly sad. The emotional stunting of Aroon, the sexual dalliances of the Major, the coldness of Mummie, the inability of Richard and Hubert to openly declare their love and affection towards each other, Rose‘s unwavering loyalty, and the overall obliviousness to finances of a dying aristocracy is super illuminating & so detached from real-world-problems 2mo
Billypar After Chapter 1, I thought I was reading a dark comedy because of the absurdity of Mummie dropping dead from eating rabbit after all Aroon's efforts to defend her meal selection to Rose. But the rest of the novel seemed more satirical in how it portrayed the standards of "good behaviour." It wasn't a novel where I thought about genre too much - I was pretty immersed in the sadder aspects that @GatheringBooks describes, even with the sharp humor. 2mo
batsy @Vansa That's a great comparison to Nancy Mitford. It had that same level of sharpness & dark humour, but with a lot more depth or underlying pathos. 2mo
batsy @LeahBergen It's long been on my list, Leah! I remember I think you and Sara and Shawn as well as others doing a buddy read and since then I've wanted to read it. Sounds right up my street 😁 2mo
batsy @Billypar I agree, that first chapter made me think I was getting a certain kind of book, and maybe with a dash of Angela Carter absurdism and whimsy. But as @GatheringBooks points out, it proved to be a different kind of book. It had so much within it, but all of it roiling under the surface. 2mo
merelybookish I tend to dislike satire, so I would lean towards dark comedy. But like @GatheringBooks I'm not sure either is quite accurate. And having just read O Caledonia recently, I like @LeahBergen 's comparison. Both books have suffering heroines trying to survive in a crumbling world for which they are unsuited. 2mo
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blurb
batsy
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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LeahBergen I loved her prose and can‘t get the image of her swinging “jelly bags” out of my head. 🤣🤣 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen 😂 😂 Her prose style was great. I thought it was effective in how descriptive with sights, sounds, smells but also simple in a way. It made it really stand out. If that make sense. I loved this the scene at the end of chap. 5, “Liqueur and coffee creams, powdered truffles, crystallized rose leaves, crystallized violets, and a fresh mirror-smooth gleam on the row upon row and layer after layer that filled the big box... 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen ...each chocolate as beautiful as a chocolate could be.“ I'm hard-pressed to recall a better description of a box of chocolates, at least one that I've read recently. 2mo
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LeahBergen Yes, yes! That was stunning, wasn‘t it? 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen Incredible. The food descriptions in here were really good & that was an interesting aspect of the novel, the reoccurring role of food in the family. 2mo
GatheringBooks Love @vivastory‘s chocolate example & @batsy‘s quotes. There were indeed certain parts that made me sit up and take notice, but I confess to zipping through it towards the end to make it in time for today‘s discussion. I do recall the way Aroon would disparagingly describe herself as a huge statue, even as she only ever wanted to feel minuscule and dainty and fully enclosed in another‘s arms; the seamstress‘ description of Aroon comes to mind. 2mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks The statue descriptions were memorable for me as well 2mo
Billypar Agreed: there are memorable descriptions on every page, and there are always seemed to be a reason why something was poetically described. For example, Aroon's description of cattle at night--"their great pale bodies bruising the grass to darkness"-- seems to echo her insecurities about her own large and incongruous physical presence. 2mo
sarahbarnes Yes! I love all of these snippets. One of the scenes that I think Keane nailed with her description was Aroon‘s thoughts at the party she went to toward the end of the book. The awkwardness of her there in that social situation came through so well in those pages, I was uncomfortable reading it. 2mo
batsy @vivastory That description was incredible. Her prose is like a jewel box of delights. 2mo
batsy @GatheringBooks That was a very vivid description. It made Aroon‘s yearning to be small enough to be taken into another's arms like the girls around her so evocative. 2mo
batsy @sarahbarnes Yes! I felt the immediacy of her discomfort at that party. "I stood about smiling, compressed, submerged in politeness; aching in my isolation; longing to be alone; to be away; to be tomorrow's person..." That "to be tomorrow's person" really nails that feeling of enduring something and waiting for it to be over. 2mo
batsy @Billypar Yes, that comparison was so elegantly done without drawing attention to itself. I was taken with how the Crowhurst girls' living circumstances were described after the fathers death when Aroon & her mum visited: "Then the room was bright & dignified. It had a gleam in its eye. Today a sticky dust of cold wood-ash hovered on the tables... The dogs, on that previous day neat & sweet & dangerous, now steamed & smelt in a tousled basket." 2mo
Billypar That's another great one! I love the description of the past version of the room having a gleam in its eye and then going on to compare the dogs before and after ('streamed and smelt' 😆). 2mo
batsy @Billypar Right? Love that when the dogs are at their best they're "neat and sweet and dangerous" ? 2mo
merelybookish Yes to all of this! I listened to it on audio and it was a joy. The scenes with the dressmaker (you'll look like a garden arbour dear...) Also, the descriptions of the mother's terrible paintings. So many wonderful details! 2mo
29 likes17 comments
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batsy
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Vansa The British stiff upper lip is an attitude we all know about,and its usually laughed at and satirised- Nancy Mitford does that excellently,as does Evelyn Waugh.It wasn't just the Anglo-Irish,it was common throughout all Empire sorts.One can trace it all the way back to the veneration of the Stoics.It served people during the Blitz,and the wars, however it wasn't ideal or natural,and it clearly causes a lack of empathy from so much suppression 2mo
Vansa In Sad Little Men,Richard Beard analyses this excellently-it turns people into great manipulators, if they can deal with it, but not everyone can.Aroon just about manages, though! 2mo
LeahBergen Well said, @Vansa ! And yes, that “good behaviour” is such a relic of Victorian/Edwardian manners, isn‘t it? 2mo
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GatheringBooks I feel sad about their need to repress everything that is genuine and real about who they are as human beings - for the sake of propriety. The constant need for society‘s approval and one‘s self-censorship and hypervigilance about one‘s own or other‘s judgment can be paralyzing - it immobilizes one‘s sense of being, effectively caging the soul. 2mo
Billypar I think a quietly tragic theme of the novel is how thoroughly Aroon learns to suppress her feelings. In hearing about her youth, we come to understand the reasons for Aroon's reaction to Mummie's death: "I had time to consider how the punctual observance of the usual importances is the only way to behave at such times as these. And I do know how to behave – believe me, because I know." But her next sentence "I have always known" isn't really true. 2mo
batsy @Vansa Nicely put! And thank you for that Richard Beard rec; adding the book to the list. 2mo
batsy @GatheringBooks It's so frustrating, isn't it? I just wanted to shake them and say, "Weep at the funeral if you want! It might make you less monstrous to each other!" But it's also terribly sad & pretty scary. A whole worldview internalised & maintained by social codes that serve no purpose other than ensuring that no one is made uncomfortable by someone else's feelings & thoughts. 2mo
Liz_M I don't really have a problem with the stuff your lip mentality in public, but to persist when just amongst family seems cruel. 2mo
batsy @Liz_M This book felt like a study in cruelty. Precisely for that reason it felt like any notable acts of kindness came from people who worked for them like governesses and domestic help. 2mo
30 likes9 comments
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batsy
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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vivastory In one section of the book Aroon describes Mummie as cold, & she doesn't mean physically. I think the descriptions reflected her character well. I kept picturing a cross between Edward Gorey & the documentary Grey Gardens. 2mo
batsy @vivastory That's a great visual reference point about Gorey. I haven't watched Grey Gardens but the poster definitely conjures a certain cold Mummie vibe! 2mo
vivastory @batsy I watched it many years ago & it always stuck with me. A documentary about fading aristocracy immediately came to mid while reading Keane's book lol. I see that someone uploaded the Criterion Collection full version to YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9sCdPdoKLk
2mo
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batsy @vivastory Oh, that's fantastic! Thank you for the link. I should watch it soon in case it suddenly disappears 😬 2mo
Vansa She's a self absorbed narcissist,and persists in the delusion of the superiority of the aristocracy.Her version of good behaviour neglects basic humanity-as most people in positions of power do!She probably didn't really want children,but that would not have been an option for her.Knowing that Keane's own mother was very similar is chilling. 2mo
Vansa The aunts in Wodehouse novels are portrayed as comic relief, but in reality, this is probably what they would have been like.And as their actual prestige and wealth declined,holding on to their attitudes would become even more important. 2mo
vivastory @Vansa I found it interesting how autobiographical the novel was while reading reviews. I think my favorite snippet was her editor begging Keane to include one “nice“ character & Keane refused to do so. 2mo
vivastory @Vansa I keep meaning to read Wodehouse's novels. I've read, & greatly enjoyed, a few of his stories. 2mo
Vansa @vivastory it's incredible that she wrote the way she did,without once romanticising a declining aristocracy,and presented them in ruthlessly realistic way, pretensions, lies and all! 2mo
Vansa @vivastory if you enjoyed the stories, you'll enjoy the books!I would recommend Aunts aren't gentlemen! 2mo
vivastory @Vansa Thanks for the rec. Adding to my TBR! 2mo
LeahBergen @vivastory I hadn‘t read that snippet and LOVE IT. 😆 I actually had to sit here for a sec and try to think of any characters that were “nice”. Nope. None. 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen The closest I can think of is Rose. 😬 😂 2mo
LeahBergen @vivastory That‘s true! 🤣 2mo
GatheringBooks I had no idea that the story drew parallels from Keane‘s own life, thank you @Vansa for sharing that and @vivastory for the link above. The Gorey image of aristocratic women in their finery who aren‘t all too smart but remain haughty for whatever entitled reason does come to mind when thinking of Mummie. I think she is as oblivious as Aroon when it comes to finances, like it is distasteful for her to even bother herself with it in the first place 2mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks Mummie shoving the bills into the drawer was such a simple yet memorable characteristic. 2mo
Billypar One interesting dynamic about Mummie's character was how Aroon portrays her as anxious to have Papa to herself during mealtimes. On the one hand, this could be Aroon projecting her own desires for Papa's affections, since there is otherwise no trace of warmth in Mummie's actions towards him. On the other hand, her campaign for economy really accelerates after Papa's stroke when meals no longer held the same promise for intimacy between them. 2mo
sarahbarnes @Vansa it is really chilling to know that Keane‘s mother was similar to Mummie, because I came close to despising her character in the book. I was sympathetic to Aroon in their relationship and hated her for what seemed like sabotaging Aroon‘s life in many ways because she was ashamed of her. 2mo
batsy @Vansa I was pretty devastated to learn that Mummie was likely modelled on Keane's own mother. I know this was published when Keane was in her late 70s I think, but there is that anecdote that it sat languishing in her drawer until Peggy Ashcroft read it. It just makes me think she had to be older & a lot more mature before she could produce a book like this—it obviously drew so much from her life, but was wholly unsentimental, never maudlin. 2mo
batsy @vivastory @LeahBergen Yeah, true! Or Rose was the most human, in a sense. The rest of them were very menacing puppets pantomiming horrific "good behaviour" ?? 2mo
batsy @vivastory @GatheringBooks The shoving bills into a drawer and pretending they don't exist bit sent my anxiety into overdrive 😅 2mo
batsy @sarahbarnes I felt the same! It's what made me extremely sad for/protective of Aroon despite also fearing her, in her own way. Lol. And I really marvel at Keane being able to produce such art as a result of what must have been a miserable childhood for the most part. 2mo
batsy @Billypar There was that scene at the beginning I think when Aroon describes their palpable intimacy & how wrapped up they were in each other. It made the mother more complex, in a way, & I'm still trying to understand her. Perhaps she loved her husband more than the idea of being a mother, & once she knew he was not going to be wholly devoted to her, she retreated into her art & her cold studio. "Economy" was how she could punish everyone. 2mo
Billypar Yeah, that was the scene that stuck in my mind. She didn't seem to take any joy from mothering, so in a weird way, she, Aroon, and Hubert were all in competition for Papa's attention. And that's a good thought about her newfound stinginess being a way of channeling her anger about the loss of the one person she looked forward to spending time with. 2mo
merelybookish Oh Mummie. Very, very cruel but what a vivid character. Each of her gestures as captured so well. The way she's pinch the verbena while sitting with the Colonel or give the solicitor the tips of her fingertips to shake. Such absolute condensation. And when she spent all the money buying a piece of furniture. 2mo
batsy @merelybookish Such a fantastic and horrible character, wasn't she? That furniture moment was brutal. And despite not liking her I still felt sorry for her—despite all that stringent good taste, her death in the end was almost pathetically comedic. 2mo
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batsy
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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vivastory I think she had a lasting impact on Aroon. Mrs. Brock's lack of “good behaviour“ as it were was echoed years later by Aroon's own lack of decorum when she became drunk at the train station. I have to say that I love the line “She is as dangerous as a novel“ 2mo
batsy @vivastory That's a great line, it jumped out at me too. I think Wills is really smart in her review. And her insight into Mrs Brock "cultivating feelings in others" reminded me a little of Nelly Dean in Wuthering Heights. 2mo
vivastory @batsy That's a good comparison. I can't help but wonder how different things would have turned out for the family if Mrs. Brock hadn't died when she did. There was that interesting scene with Aroon, Hubert & Richard when they were younger & Mrs. Brock is first brought up among them. She is discussed ambiguously, like they were afraid to tell one another that they cared for her & so were flippant/dismissive about her. 2mo
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batsy @vivastory Yes! It might be simplistic but I feel that these were three unmothered people who saw in Mrs Brock something of what a nurturing maternal figure could be, but being upper class they also learned how to hide feelings with disdain? There's a great line when Aroon says, "Everything I remembered was a denial and a betrayal of the other things she was. But between us we almost called her into being." 2mo
vivastory @batsy I think that's it exactly. So well said. And that line! Good Behaviour was filled with psychologically acute gems like that. While reading reviews I'd come across similar lines. It really is a marvel of a book. 2mo
Vansa Mrs.Brock is a great character,and so real it's painful to read of her.She shows them an alternate of what motherhood,and womanhood can be,but also the dangers of actually letting yourself feel.And in a world where women continue to be preyed on by men in positions of power,it's a devastating fate she faces 2mo
vivastory @Vansa I found it interesting how on the one hand she feels like a minor character, but she is a major character in the way that she impacted their lives. 2mo
LeahBergen @vivastory She was such a major character. She was so vivid and fleshed out and interesting that I found myself disappointed when she died. I wanted more of her! 2mo
GatheringBooks I agree with @batsy that they were unloved children and only experienced true affection and compassion from Mrs Brock who awakened real feelings within them. I am reminded of Richard just sobbing uncontrollably as a child and Mrs Brock encouraging Aroon and Hubert when they were first learning how to ride their horses. She was such a warm, kind, generous-hearted, albeit deluded human being. The flippancy of Aroon et al served to put Mrs Brock ⬇️ 2mo
GatheringBooks (Cont) back in her place - because after all, appearances are paramount, not to mention the social hierarchy that puts these three emotionally impoverished young adults back to their supposedly elevated standing in the grand scheme of things. I think she showed them a life they could have, but one that is forever out of reach for them, and thus should be rejected at all costs. One makes a mockery of that which one could never have. 2mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks Very well said. It really is all about appearances in the society that Keane is writing of. 2mo
Billypar Great thoughts - I agree with everyone's perspectives on Mrs. Brock. That scene with her in Lady Grizel's bedroom is so cringey! I had the same reaction as I do with Michael Scott in The Office. But she also has some of the most emotionally heartfelt scenes in her care of the children when everyone else is so frosty. 2mo
sarahbarnes Great question and insights here! @Billypar I loved your comparison of reading the scene with Lady Griezel to watching Michael Scott - it‘s so true! I had the same feeling. 2mo
batsy @Vansa I agree. She showed them I think what it means to *live*, but being in service to the aristocratic class, it also came at a high cost. @LeahBergen I agree, I really wanted more of her! 2mo
batsy @GatheringBooks Extremely well put! Yes to how mocking what they can't have (and knowing that they're somehow spiritually impoverished because of it, but not knowing how to fix it) is a coping mechanism. 2mo
batsy @Billypar Oh yes! Lol that's so true about feeling like watching Michael Scott; the second-hand cringe was strong. 2mo
Liz_M @GatheringBooks very well said 2mo
merelybookish Wow, that's some great analysis by Wills! Her spirit hangs over the whole book! I found the scene quite poweful where R, H & A pool together their memories and surmises about her and try to reconstruct a sense of her. 2mo
batsy @merelybookish Wills' entire piece is great! So much thought and expressed with clarity. I thought that scene where they bring Mrs Brock to life really intriguing, too. It's almost a process of creation that's somewhat close to writing a character into being. 2mo
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batsy
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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vivastory My theory is that initially Aroon's lack of awareness is igenuine but that she eventually uses it to “kill with kindness“ as some reviews have stated. I think that there are certain aspects that she continues to delude herself about until the end, such as how Richard feels, but in general I think that she is more aware than she lets on & I tend to agree with Wills in this respect. (edited) 2mo
Leftcoastzen I‘m going to be late to the party 🎉 I‘m not finished, but enjoying it so far. 2mo
batsy @Leftcoastzen That's great that you're liking it! And yes, please do join in later once you're done; I'd love to hear your thoughts. 2mo
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vivastory @Leftcoastzen I'm glad that you are enjoying it. It was a great surprise for me. 2mo
Vansa Oh,Aroon most definitely knows what's going on. She doesn't want to acknowledge it, because the truth would be devastating- her love interest can't be bothered, her beloved father is quite hypocritical in his constraints over the family while being completely licentious himself,her mother is completely indifferent.Its what makes it so devastating-the lies you tell yourself 2mo
Vansa If she were completely oblivious,the tone would be a lot easier to bear 2mo
vivastory @Vansa I agree. I think that she knows more than she lets on. I do think that the ending doesn't have the same punch without her knowing what she is doing. 2mo
arubabookwoman I will say that in the opening section when Aroon feeds her mother rabbit she definitely knew what she was doing, and I began the book disliking Aroon. 2mo
arubabookwoman I have an hour and a bit to go (acc0rding to Kindle), but I'm experiencing lots of life interruptions today and may not be able to comment until tonight or tomorrow. 2mo
vivastory @arubabookwoman Please comment when you can. I always enjoy your insights! Hope you are well. 2mo
LeahBergen @vivastory I‘m of the same opinion. I think she starts out utterly naive but then ends up practicing self-delusion as a means of coping. 2mo
GatheringBooks Wills vs Mantel. Both interesting takes on Aroon. Part of me (my clinician‘s hat) wants to introduce a third perspective: what if she has a psychological issue that contributes to her obliviousness and determined-naivete; I am thinking Asperger‘s or some form of retardation that has prevented her from truly maturing as an adult; or stunted her ability to distinguish reality from wishful thinking - coupled with her ignorance/lack of education. 2mo
Billypar I think I'm with Mantel on this: she struck me as entirely oblivious, even as an older woman looking back on events. She's so focused on being accepted by others that I think the prospect of being excluded or rejected is more palpable than curiosity about Richard and her brother. That's what focuses on in the scene where she hears them giggling after leaving the bedroom. She interprets it as them rejecting her, and is sad rather than surprised. 2mo
sarahbarnes I‘m going to go with Wills on this - I think she knows what is going on and employs self-delusion as @LeahBergen said. I think the title of the book is a nod to that, too - she chooses to maintain the appearance of “good behavior” over anything else. I really liked this one @batsy ! 2mo
batsy @arubabookwoman No worries, I hope you are able to comment after finishing! I'm keen to hear your thoughts :) 2mo
batsy @GatheringBooks I was wondering if Aroon was suffering from some form of psychological duress that interfered with her emotional development, but then I think about very early in the book when she's recounting her childhood. She says, "Even then I knew how to ignore things. I knew how to behave." So it does suggest self-awareness, hence I'm with Wills. 2mo
batsy @Billypar That scene was so craftily executed by Keane, wasn't it? I was wondering how much Aroon knew and didn't want to allow herself to acknowledge. But you make a good point about how wrapped up she was in her own insecurities, that when she hears them laugh (out of relief) she connects that to feeling left out from their camaraderie. 2mo
batsy @sarahbarnes I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, it definitely feels like a book about how good behaviour turns out to be the most dangerous form of delusion. 2mo
GatheringBooks @batsy that is so true. Her self-awareness, though, is more like self-absorption - like a child who has not gone past the egocentric stage (i suppose most adults have not gone past that, to be fair). Perhaps it‘s the largely disingenuous tone in the narrative that strikes me as psychologically odd given her supposed age. 💕 2mo
GatheringBooks @batsy you are absolutely right. However, her self-awareness seems more like self-absorption, preventing her from seeing past her insecurities as @Billypar noted and her acute sense of self-consciousness. It‘s like she was stuck in the egocentric stage in the developmental stage (to be fair, a lot of adults are stuck in that), but perhaps it‘s the largely disingenuous tone that she uses that suggests to me it may be more than just cluelessness 2mo
batsy @GatheringBooks That's true; Aroon seems straightforward but she might be the hardest character to read in a sense. I was curious to hear what everyone thought about this so-called naivete that she projects; it feels like each reader will read her just a bit differently 🙂 I think of it as a compliment to Keane; that's exactly how people can be in life. 2mo
Liz_M In the opening chapter, Aroon seems almost gleeful, drunk with power. I think she is very aware that she is getting revenge, subjugating her mother in the way she imagines her mother would have ruled over her if the roles were reversed. But I also think she is ignorant of some things and deeply represses others. I truly believe she is ignorant of sexual matters, both Rose's "foot" massages and what is taking place between her brother and Richard. 2mo
Liz_M So, while I believe she is a very good reader of people (she knows her mother doesn't like Rose's relationship with her father) and consciously manipulates people, Aroon doesn't fully understand the circumstances or the potential consequences. 2mo
DrexEdit I think maybe it's both? Sort of what @Liz_M is saying. She knows her own world quite well, in a childlike way. She hasn't had anyone to show her larger parts of the world or explain how people work so I think there are just some things she's not aware of. For example, she can get money by selling her horse, but she has no idea how to run an estate. She just wants to buy food for herself without a larger sense of responsibility. 2mo
batsy @Liz_M That's very well put! I think you're on to it in terms of how much she knows or what she knows about wrt certain topics, but when it comes to something like her mother she's fully aware. Gleeful and drunk with power is an apt description. 2mo
batsy @DrexEdit That's quite true to an extent. And she's also programmed herself for rejection in a sexual sense, so I think she allows herself vague fantasies (for ex. Richard) but deliberately avoids actually knowing stuff. 2mo
merelybookish Was late finishing the book! But enjoyed it. Agree with @sarahnarnes Good behaviour is a form of delusion. It requires avoiding and leaving many things unacknowledged. It feels like some times Aroon is clueless and other times is choosing to be clueless. 2mo
batsy @merelybookish So glad to have you join us! I agree that it's a form of delusion. A very convenient one. 2mo
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quote
Bertha_Mason
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane

"Another thing those kind nuns had done was to teach him to say ‘the toilet‘ when he meant the po or the lavatory, which was a vulgarity no one seemed able to straighten out. If circumstances forced Mrs. Brock to mention it she called it the Place. ‘Have you been to the Place, dear?‘ or ‘Have you been?‘ Or else ‘Hubert, shouldn‘t you run along the passage?‘"

review
batsy
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Pickpick

Nothing gets me more than sharp, bleakly funny novels with a gothic tinge charting the psychological chaos that is an aristocratic family slowly going to (financial & psychic) ruin. What's more if it's narrated by an outsider spinster, unloved & ungainly, with minimal awareness or an almost defiant sense of cultivated ignorance. All this wrapped up in a darkly glittering bow of cool, assured prose that discreetly maps the horror of good behaviour.

batsy I had no idea that I was headed for some prime #spinsterlit with this one! I had a vague idea but the way the novel is structured feels so perfect; it's a shame that I've always had it in mind as a kind of minor novel of a family saga when it's obviously a pretty major achievement. I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on it. #NYRBBookClub @vivastory 2mo
Graywacke Great review! 2mo
EvieBee Great review and picture! 2mo
See All 24 Comments
batsy @Graywacke @EvieBee Thank you!! 2mo
BiblioLitten Such a lovely picture🖤❤️ 2mo
batsy @BiblioLitten Thank you! 😘 2mo
BiblioLitten Oh I just noticed the introduction is by Maggie O‘Farrell 😃 2mo
batsy @BiblioLitten I have yet to read her! (It's a good intro; brief but elegant & captures what makes the book good :) 2mo
LeahBergen I‘m about 75% done and loving it! 2mo
Tamra Can‘t wait! Your review has increased my anticipation. 👏🏾 2mo
BooknerdsLife Great review and I love your edition. 👏❤️📚 2mo
AvidReader25 Well that sounds amazing! 2mo
GatheringBooks Halfway through the novel. Love your take on it. Looking forward to a vibrant discussion, as always. :) 2mo
batsy @LeahBergen Yay! It's really quite something, isn't it? 2mo
batsy @Tamra Oh, goodie! I hope you like it 🙂 2mo
batsy @BooknerdsLife Thank you! I love these Virago editions too ❤️ 2mo
batsy @AvidReader25 It's gone under the radar a bit but it really depicts a decaying aristocratic class so well. 2mo
batsy @GatheringBooks Thank you! I'm keen to see what others think of it, too! 2mo
Cathythoughts Great review Suba 👍🏻♥️ we read this a few years ago for Bookclub, I need to reread. 2mo
batsy @Cathythoughts Thanks Cathy 😘 I imagine it's a book that will reward rereading! 2mo
vivastory 👏 👏 👏Fantastic review! I couldn't have said it better! This was a real surprise for me as well & I really look forward to the discussion. Lovely picture! 2mo
batsy @vivastory Thanks so much, Scott! I look forward to the discussion later! 2mo
Suet624 Wow! This sounds fantastic! Great review 😍 2mo
batsy @Suet624 Thank you! I'd love to read more of Keane now that I've read this. 2mo
95 likes8 stack adds24 comments
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LeahBergen
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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My current read for our #NYRBBookClub. I‘m three chapters in and finding it quirky and compelling.

Sorry about all the rabbits here, @batsy . 😆😆

rabbitprincess I am here for all the rabbits 🥰🐰😂 2mo
LeahBergen @rabbitprincess I never would‘ve guessed. 😆 2mo
batsy Haha 😆 I have that edition too so I'm a bit nervous; those rabbits look like they're up to something! 🐇💀 (I'm really enjoying the book so far. It's weird and unsettling.) 2mo
See All 8 Comments
vivastory I'm nearly finished & I can't wait to discuss it this weekend! There's so much going on beneath the surface. 2mo
Centique It‘s beautiful! Although those are definitely naughty rabbits 😂😂 I‘m keen to hear what this is like - sounds promising. 2mo
Cathythoughts Loving the rabbits. 😂 2mo
shawnmooney I hope it works! Oh…what‘s that? It‘s not self-help, you say? Pity…. 😜😂🕺🏼 1mo
LeahBergen @shawnmooney You‘re bad. 😆😆 1mo
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merelybookish
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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My week is jam-packed but I don't want to miss out on this month's #NYRBbookclub, so I cashed in an Audible credit.
I'm not far but I'm already completely intrigued and distrustful of our narrator.

LeahBergen I should be starting this one tomorrow! 2mo
batsy I've also just started and feel the same! The story is so enticing. 2mo
Leftcoastzen It‘s like it should be called the unreliable narrator club! We have had many!😄 2mo
See All 6 Comments
merelybookish @LeahBergen I feel like it will be your cuppa tea! 2mo
merelybookish @batsy She's a fascinating character! 2mo
merelybookish @Leftcoastzen So true! And yet all unreliable in different ways. 2mo
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review
Vansa
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub I read this book just this year,and I had never heard of the writer earlier, which is a travesty! Fascinating, compelling book and if you want to read about complicated women trying to survive, ignore the overhyped books coming out this year, and return to this classic. My full review here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4725361918

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LitsyEvents
Good Behavior | Molly Keane
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Repost
@vivastory

https://litsy.com/p/MWFNSEo0Q0pn

Please join @batsy & I next Sun (6/26) 11 PM MYT as we discuss Molly Keane's novel. As always, all are welcome to join for the penultimate #NYRBBookClub discussion.

Vansa I LOVE this book. Can I be tagged in the discussion post too? 2mo
BarbaraBB @Vansa Of course you can. I‘ll tag @vivastory 2mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB Thanks for the heads up. We will tag you into the discussion @vansa Glad you can join! 2mo
Vansa @vivastory @BarbaraBB thanks a lot!! 2mo
BarbaraBB @Vansa Good to have you 🤍 2mo
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vivastory
Good Behavior | Molly Keane
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batsy Looking forward! 🤩 2mo
LeahBergen 👍 2mo
Vansa May I be tagged too? I absolutely loved this book. 2mo
60 likes3 comments
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Vansa
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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I've subjected the kind people who follow me on Litsy to a series of rant-tweets about Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason.What do I recommend people read instead,though,about complex women trying to make sense of life?Here's a list,(scribed for me by my husband,his handwriting is much better).

In_the_stacks I have some Molly Keene on my shelf that I‘ve been meaning to read for awhile. Another author I‘ve heard lots of good things about 3mo
BarbaraBB Thanks!! 3mo
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Sapphire
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane

I know it‘s not first line Friday, but what a great one this is! Plus, it kind of feels like my life since my mom@moved in with us on May 1 (not to be too dramatic or anything): “Rose smelt the air, considering what she smelt; a miasma of unspoken criticism and disparagement fogged the distance between us.”

vivastory 😬That's a stellar first line! This is the June #NYRBBookClub selection. Please feel free to join the discussion! 3mo
Sapphire That‘s why I am reading it! I really enjoy the #nyrbbookclub selections and discussions! 3mo
Texreader Oh dear! 3mo
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vivastory
Good Behavior | Molly Keane
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vivastory As always, discussion is open for all on Litsy. 4mo
BarbaraBB Such a good choice. I recently read it and it‘s a real #NYRBookClub kind of book! @batsy @vivastory 4mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB Looking forward to it 👏 4mo
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quietjenn Looking forward to this! I've been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it. 4mo
LeahBergen Perfect! I‘ve had this one waiting on my shelves for quite a while. 👍 4mo
Liz_M Excellent! 4mo
batsy @BarbaraBB Yay! I'm really happy to hear that you and others who have read liked it! 4mo
sisilia I enjoyed this one. My IRL bookclub read it in Feb and we had a good discussion 4mo
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sisilia
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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4⭐️ Aroon St. Charles is an unattractive girl from a wealthy Irish family. She is so clueless and delusional (but maybe she‘s not?) that she‘s oblivious of what‘s going on around her. I love how Keane teases her readers‘ minds by leaving everything open for interpretation. What a treat! 🥳

BarbaraBB Such a great read! 6mo
sisilia @BarbaraBB I like her style 😻 Will find other titles by her 6mo
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review
booksforlife83
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Pickpick

This is another book with an unreliable narrator. Through the narrator, you learn to understand the mindset of a sociopath, narcissist and a person who is in constant denial. Throughout the book, she craves to be loved the most. This is a good and solid book but not the best unreliable narrator. The Tin Drum, Steppenwolf and The Interrogation are much better. Still a recommended read though.

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booksforlife83
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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I used to read in this cosy second hand bookshop in Thailand. How I miss it. The smell of the second hand books and the natural sun light that just flows through that window. Wish I could be there reading now!

Vansa Looks lovely. Hope you can visit soon! Welcome to Litsy, it's a lot of fun! Your tagged book is high up on my TBR for this year :-) 7mo
SRWCF What a gorgeous place! 7mo
Nute What a cozy cool vibe in that bookstore! 7mo
booksforlife83 @Nute Yes it is a very cozy and cool bookstore/cafe. Thanks for the welcome as well. 7mo
22 likes4 comments
review
BarbaraBB
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Pickpick

Meet Aroon St Charles, a girl too tall, too plain, too ungainly. She is the only and lonely daughter of Mummie and Papa, of Temple Alice, a once grand, now decrepit, country house.

It‘s a long and complicated story Aroon shares - without ever understanding what that story is about.

That makes this book both funny and sad, and quite brilliant. #NYRB #Booker

Megabooks Fun pedi! Enjoy your holiday! 13mo
vivastory I didn't realize that this was shortlisted for the Booker! Your review made me bump this way up my NYRB TBR 13mo
BarbaraBB @Megabooks One more week to go… 😫 13mo
BarbaraBB @vivastory You‘ll love it. It would have been perfect for the #NYRBBookClub 13mo
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vivastory
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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I'm so thoroughly pleased with my NYRB subscription. When I checked the mail over the weekend both June (pictured) & July's books were waiting. I had the Keane on my TBR, but had not heard of the July selection. It sounds amazing. I also just found out what the August selection will be & I'm very pleased.

Suet624 I‘m happy you‘re enjoying it. It‘s such a lovely surprise every month. 13mo
RaeLovesToRead I was about to ask if they deliver to the UK. Then I remembered that I'm supposed to be breaking the book buying habit! So I'll just watch out on here and see if any are particularly good! 😄 13mo
vivastory @Suet624 Have you received the July selection? 13mo
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vivastory @RaeLovesToRead They deliver internationally. I signed up when they had a big discount for their membership & I'm so pleased that I did 13mo
RaeLovesToRead @vivastory looks amazing! 😊 13mo
Suet624 Yes I have. What‘s the August selection? 13mo
LeahBergen It‘s too bad/probably a good thing that shipping to Canada makes it a bit too pricey for me. 😆 13mo
Suet624 Fantastic. 13mo
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cathysaid
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Well now...this will be interesting 🤢🐇🤢🐇

#nyrb

Trashcanman What it is home slice?? How are you?? 1y
rubyslippersreads 😳 I‘d always planned to read this book, but now I‘m not so sure … 1y
Cathythoughts I loved this one 👍🏻❤️ 1y
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cathysaid @Trashcanman Trying to keep my sanity in our currently insane world. How are you? 1y
cathysaid @Cathythoughts Oh good! Taking it on the plane with me 👌 1y
cathysaid @rubyslippersreads Other than the reference to a blended rabbit dinner, it‘s good so far 😂 1y
Trashcanman @cathysaid Well you know, same as it ever was. Just breathing and trying to be human. 1y
rubyslippersreads @cathysaid @Cathythoughts As long as there‘s nothing else along those lines, I‘d probably like it. (And now I know why the Virago edition has rabbits all over the cover. 😏) 1y
38 likes8 comments
review
Cathythoughts
Good Behavior | Molly Keane
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Pickpick

“ Although he couldn‘t dance because of his gammy leg , and never talked much, and would be silent now for always , his enchantment was imperishable “
Read for IRL bookclub, the writing 👌🏻 Ireland , early 1900‘s ... a horsey family , the St. Charles , money running short. And Aroon our MC , a character brought to life in details so perfectly describing this time , when my own parents were young ( not from a horsey family though ) loved it !

erzascarletbookgasm Sounds lovely! 💕 2y
Cathythoughts @erzascarletbookgasm it‘s very good ! I think you‘d like it 👍🏻❤️ 2y
56 likes2 comments
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Cathythoughts
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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.....blackbirds flew low to the ground, calling high & scuttling low about their love affairs. All the blackbirds in the country seemed to be courting and mating in these coverts; with piercing sweetness they screamed, morning and dull eternal hours of evening , for love.

TrishB Lovely ❤️ 2y
JennyM ♥️♥️♥️ 2y
Cathythoughts @TrishB @JennyM 👍🏻❤️❤️❤️ 2y
47 likes3 comments
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Cathythoughts
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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✨✨✨✨✨Leaving the sea at evening is a death - a parting of worlds ✨✨✨

This is a good one ! This is lovely writing & funny & sad & satirical & real & very much of its time perfect 👌🏻

TrishB How lovely ❤️ 2y
Balibee146 I have this one.. Nearly picked it up a month or two ago...now I'm tempted 👍 2y
Tamra I haven‘t even heard of it! 2y
See All 6 Comments
Cathythoughts @TrishB ❤️👍🏻 2y
Cathythoughts @Balibee146 it‘s good 👍🏻a bit of a page turner when you get going 2y
Cathythoughts @Tamra It was recommended by a woman in our IRL Bookclub... it‘s our book this month & it‘s good 2y
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Cathythoughts
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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#WeeklyForecast

Finish Bluebird
Start Heaven My Home
Start Good Behaviour ( for IRL Bookclub)

rockpools All the Attica Locke! ❤️ Interested to see your review for the Molly Keane. 2y
Cinfhen Looks like a promising week 😁 2y
LeahBergen I have Good Behaviour on my shelf, too. 👍🏻 2y
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erzascarletbookgasm Look forward to your thoughts on Good Behaviour, I have it on my shelf too. 2y
erzascarletbookgasm And, erm, try not getting any books from your tbr from now on! 😁😉 2y
Cathythoughts @RachelO ❤️👍🏻 2y
Cathythoughts @Cinfhen Thanks Cindy X 2y
Cathythoughts @LeahBergen @erzascarletbookgasm I‘m interested to read it ❤️👍🏻 2y
58 likes10 comments
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emilyhaldi
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Love the illustrations in this Folio Society beauty 😍
#forgood
#musicalnewyear

AnnieReads I have this one! 4y
vivastory Folio never disappoints! 4y
Reviewsbylola I have this one too! 4y
84 likes3 comments
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Christine11
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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1. There are loads but I do particularly love this cover of Good Behaviour.
2. My favourite artist has always been Salvador Dalí - I just think he was an unbelievably talented genius.
3. I could pick any of Dalì‘s but I also really love Degas‘ Ballerina paintings.
4. The Musée D‘Orsay - no question.
This was a really cool #ManicMonday - thank you @JoScho ! ???

JoScho Dali was a genius. 4y
Christine11 @JoScho Absolutely! 🙌🏻 4y
50 likes2 comments
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Mdargusch
Good Behavior | Molly Keane
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My #booksfromboxes from Folio Society. The boxes are lovely but they cause a dilemma since they cover up the beautiful covers. 🤔 I️ had never heard of Folio Society Books until Litsy. #blameitonlitsy #tuneintonovember

Cinfhen Such problems!?! I wish you more of those type!!! 5y
rubyslippersreads Actually, that brings up a question I've been wanting to ask all you #foliofreaks—how important is the slipcase to you when buying a used copy? Sometimes I see fabulous deals because the slipcase is missing. What do you think? @LeahBergen @elkeo @sarah83 @Moray_Reads @Kalalalatja @DeborahSmall @ScorpioBookDreams @quirkyreader @Jess_Read_This and any other #foliofreak I might have missed. 😊#folio 5y
Kalalalatja @rubyslippersreads I like the boxes, because they normally mean less damage. But I haven't tried buying a FS book used, so I don't know how the quality is. 5y
See All 18 Comments
Sarah83 Instead there are other editions without any slimcase, I would decide, if the book looks quite great and how much I want it right now. @rubyslippersreads 5y
Mdargusch Haha! @cinfhen. Me too! 5y
DeborahSmall @rubyslippersreads I think it‘s a personal choice, there are Folio editions called ‘Collectibles‘ they have no slip cover and are only (d0 I don‘t mind those but if I‘m buying second hand I‘d have to make sure it had its original slipcover ? 5y
Mdargusch @rubyslippersreads I️ would buy the book without the case if it was in good condition because they are so gorgeous. But then again I‘m a new #foliofreak so maybe I‘m not serious enough? 5y
Reviewsbylola 🤣🤣🤣🤣 @Cinfhen 5y
LeahBergen @rubyslippersreads Always the slipcase! And I buy lots of mine used. 😄 5y
LeahBergen @Mdargusch And now I'm eyeballing that Finzi-Continis ... 😆 (edited) 5y
rubyslippersreads @LeahBergen And I'm eying Good Behaviour. Although I guess there is no such thing when it comes to buying books! 😂 5y
ScorpioBookDreams @rubyslippersreads I like the slipcase because it protects the book. I love the covers but, since I can‘t see them on the shelf, they might as well be protected! It‘s personal choice though!! 💕 5y
Moray_Reads I suppose it depends whether you want the copy to have value other than being pretty or the words inside. The slipcase definitely affects the monetary value 5y
emilyhaldi Yeah I'm pretty torn on this predicament 🤔 5y
Mdargusch Go for it @LeahBergen and @rubyslippersreads 🤑🤑🤑 5y
quirkyreader All of mine have been second hand with the slip case. But if I ever find one without it and it is still in good condition with a good price I'll get it. Especially if it is The Handmaids Tale. The art in that book is amazing. @rubyslippersreads (edited) 5y
elkeOriginal @rubyslippersreads I would say slipcases are nice - but with second hand ARE the part that takes the damage. If I see one I want missing a slipcase, I would still buy it. That said, I have found nice used copies with nice cases. Personal preference and watching out for good ones is the way to go! 5y
82 likes18 comments
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Balibee146
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Love that cover! #TBRsomeday

LeahBergen Yes! ❤️ 5y
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LeahBergen
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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#BookMail ... and ain't she a beauty? I can't get enough of these Virago editions. ❤️

rubyslippersreads 😍📚😍 Want!!! 5y
Megabooks 😍😍😍😍 5y
batsy Yesssss 😍 5y
See All 7 Comments
saresmoore Mhmm! 5y
kspenmoll Lovely!!! 5y
Kalalalatja It has been so long since I bought one of these editions that I had almost forgotten about them 😍😍 5y
DivineDiana Love! 🐇 5y
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emilyhaldi
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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SOS! I have been staring at my Folio Society sale cart for a week trying to pull the trigger. Should I do it!?
#foliofreaks

elkeOriginal You realize who you are asking? The ONLY answer is YES. 5y
melbeautyandbooks @elkeo - Good point! 😂 5y
Bengali.bookworm I agree with @elkeo 😬 5y
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mjdowens You know who you are asking that question to right??? BUY THEM ALL WE SAY 5y
Kalalalatja Do you want beautiful books on your shelves? YES! Go go go 👏👏 5y
LeahBergen Do it!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 5y
janeycanuck Uhhh... there's a Folio sale? Oh, please excuse me, something urgent has just come up. 5y
Reviewsbylola Haha haha, she just wants you two to encourage her. 🤣🤣 @elkeo @Kalalalatja 5y
Reviewsbylola So did you buy them?? 5y
elkeOriginal @Reviewsbylola @Kalalalatja Happy to oblige - we are here anytime you need us 😁 5y
Kalalalatja @Reviewsbylola @elkeo Folio should really be paying us for all the new customers we bring to them 😄 5y
rubyslippersreads If you're looking for someone to talk you out of buying, this is not the group to ask. 😂 5y
emilyhaldi @elkeo @mjdowens @Kalalalatja @LeahBergen @rubyslippersreads I am obviously just looking for some reinforcement of the inevitable purchase I'm about to make 🙈 You were all there when I needed you, so thanks! 😂 5y
emilyhaldi @Kalalalatja @elkeo no joke- I had no idea what Folio was before I started seeing both of your Litsy posts!! 5y
emilyhaldi @Reviewsbylola it's only a matter of time. I will probably pull the trigger this wknd. 5y
Mdargusch Delete a few. 5y
Megabooks I still don't know what a folio is??? Help!!! 5y
emilyhaldi @Booksandcooks check out the website! And #foliofreaks posts 😉 5y
emilyhaldi @Mdargusch Lol, thanks for the advice 😂 5y
emilyhaldi @Mdargusch to be clear though, the last one is a free gift for this being my first order! 😉 5y
83 likes20 comments
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julianabrina
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Weaponxgirl
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Another #virago from my #viragomodernclassics collection. But who doesn't want to swoosh around in that stunning dress for #dressesoncovers ? The cookbooks are so damn pretty but I've never cooked from them as when I go through them nothing ever looks that good to cook at that moment. Some of the vintage fashion advice though does inspire me to do something other than read. (Doesn't happen) #readjanuary

rubyslippersreads Gorgeous books and photo! 😍😍😍❤❤❤ 6y
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Oftencantdecide
Good Behaviour | Molly Keane
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Mehso-so

I went back and forth between loving and hating this book. The protagonist was sympathetic... except when she was thoroughly unlikeable. The ending would have been satisfying...if the book began differently.

Still, I want to read more by this author.

Moray_Reads I recommend Rising Tide, it's my favourite Molly Keane so far 6y
14 likes1 comment