Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Heiress of a Car

 Well, I'll be damned
Here comes your ghost again
--"Diamonds and Rust, "by Joan Baez, completely out of context.

Rachel in The Moonstone wearing the diamond.


I am an heiress.  Sort of.  There's a car.

Perhaps that isn't being a real heiress. I mean, don't I need diamonds? The heiresses in 19-century novels often wear jewels. In Trollope's The Eustace Diamonds, Lizzy insists that her late husband gave her a gorgeous diamond necklace, a family heirloom. In Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone, a young woman inherits a contraband Indian diamond. Henry James's heiresses are bejeweled but earnest and ethical:  their  jewels and money attract suitors of bad character. The mortally ill Milly Theale in The Wings of the Dove is less silly than most:  she is saintly but savvy about her friend Kate's manipulations and the ambiguity of Kate's former lover.  She loves them anyway.  

Heiresses need friends - even bad friends.  

When a relative died and named me an heir - what I like to call an heiress -  his affairs were a mess. If I told you the details, you wouldn't believe it. Or you would. It's like being plunged into a pseudo-Victorian novel written in the 21st century: a trace of Trollope, a dollop of Wilkie Collins, a smidgen of Sheridan le Fanu, and a dash of George Eliot.  


I wish I could drive away, but I don't drive.

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