Carrie from Books and Movies, who is hosting the readalong, has posted about the unfamiliar language used in the book - words like toddy, plimsolls and syllabub and also asked us for our predictions about what is going to happen in the final parts of the book.
The point that Carrie raised about the language was very interesting to me and not because I didn't know those words because I did (all those years of reading historical romance paid off when it came to toddy and syllabub at least). I found it interesting in the context about conversations that come up on a regular basis about books that are written in British English, or Australian English for that matter, but then when the book is released in the US the books are re-edited so that they are more American English. I am glad that these kinds of words were not taken out though, because one of the fundamental themes of Natasha Solomons' books seems to be the exploration of Britishness, or the British way of life.
One of my favourite quotes in this section talks about precisely this - the preservation of a certain lifestyle in the face of many challenges that were bought on by the start of World War II. This quote comes from page 219 of The Novel in the Viola:
Despite the lack of staff, and the inordinate distance between kitchen and dining room, standards had to be maintained. The digging up of the potato patch and the disappearance of the under servants had disturbed Mrs Ellsworth, and she sought reassurance in the details of luncheon in the wainscoted dining room at one o'clock. Mr Wrexham, walking past the kitchen door with his laden tray and perfectly starched shirt, proved to her that England was mighty and indestructible. Wars might be declared, kitchen boys vanish to join the navy, blackout curtains smother the French windows, and previously reliable footman leave without notice, but lunch would be served at five minutes past one and the butler would wear white cotton gloves.
As to what is going to happen in the final section of the book. I am not sure that I am liking the direction that the book is taking. There seems to be a growing sense of intimacy between Elise and Mr Rivers. At this stage there is no question that Elise, or Alice as she is now to be known loves Kit, but I am a bit concerned that Kit may really have left the scene and that the relationship between those who are left behind may develop into something more.
From the very beginning of the book I have been convinced that Elise is not going to see her parents again, but I did think for a few pages there that I could be wrong. I thought it was great that the author was able to put that small niggle of doubt into my mind, and I am sure that there may well be a few more twists and turns before I close the book for the last time!