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.
diminished. The news that Mrs Brock had been called away to London made no grievous impact. Not only were lessons for the day abandoned, but they were to go over to Moribound after luncheon, where Mummie’s great friend Lord Lapsely of Derkley had a private zoo, where a mouse deer had just calved and a tiger had bitten a little boy’s head off only last week. A thrilling afternoon and a very good tea over, Richard went bouncingly up to the schoolroom, no thought of poetry in his mind, and faintly
your toothglass.’ There was something daring and men-only about that little party. Drenched in Richard’s scent and wearing my older flowered crêpe-de-chine, I felt very privileged to be there. I liked to watch the boys as they finished dressing. There was a quick, hard grace about their movements, in the way they put links quickly into the cuffs of evening shirts, such a different tempo from a girl’s considered gesture. They wore narrow red braces and their black trousers were taut round waists
people to the foot of the staircase. The crowd was as impervious to interruption as the crowd at a race-meeting, where faces known and unknown float and pass one by, occupied and avoiding recognition. So I saw, without a nod or a smile, Mr Kiely standing with some of his friends. I didn’t have to know he was there. I breasted on. Kenny Norton put a hand on my arm: ‘Come and dance,’ he said. The miracle was late. ‘I’m sorry, nothing left,’ I said. I felt his appalled stare following me as I
breakfast Rose, not Mummie, was in consultation, not with Foley but with Mr Kiely. She had the kitchen scribbling pad on the table and I could see it was written over by her in tidy lists of necessities, marked: 1, 2, 3 – very different from Mummie’s envelope. I read: 1. Near Mr Hubert. Not the vault. 2. Millinery department, Switzers, Grafton Street. Send three black felt hats on appro. 3. Wreath from the staff. ‘Good morning.’ Mr Kiely looked very brisk in his smart little overcoat. ‘I heard
before Major Massingham, Papa’s forbidden friend, who had once flogged Richard, and from his distant magnificence had paralysed and frightened Mrs Brock, came bundling towards me. I saw an elderly gentleman in a tweed coat and a soft brown hat worn at his own sacredly absurd angle. He took my hand. ‘How dear of you to meet me. You’re –? You’re –?’ ‘I’m Aroon.’ ‘Of course. What a girl, bless you, aren’t you? Ghastly day for you. End of an era for us all, actually. Let’s get my stuff into your