For the February Brontë Reading Group’s meeting, I have read Trilby by George du Maurier. Our meeting will be on Monday 29th so we have not yet discussed the book. I am sure it will be a lively and interesting discussion. Here are a few of my thoughts.
Trilby was one of the most popular novels of its time. Like so many of the novels in those days it started as a serial in 1894 and was published in book form in 1895. It starts out in a bohemian quarter of Paris in the 1850s, where we meet two English and one Scottish artist, Trilby, half-Irish, working as an artist’s model and laundress and Svengali, a Jewish rogue, masterful musician and hypnotist. They are all in love with the lovely Trilby. The novel, it seems, is mainly about ’milieu’, which is a description of the social context where people are dwelling. I can agree; that is really what this novel is all about, and unfortunately a story is lacking.
Nothing much happens. We follow the artists during their time in Paris and when they are back in England. There are a lot of descriptions of the surroundings, whether it is the bohemian quarters in Paris, their flats, bars and restaurants, the English country side, or a train ride. The story, or lack of story(!) evolves around Tilby. There is a thinly veiled story, but it does not really start until the end of the book.
I am very divided in my thoughts about this book. On the one hand it is written in a lovely style, very charming. Descriptions of people, their lives and surroundings are very poetic. Easy to read, text flowing like a beautiful river through the landscape! On the other hand I ask myself; should a novel not have a story to it?
I am still glad I read the book, since I have never really read anything similar before. Although, I think a novel needs a good story, I have a feeling that this novel might grow on me, the more I think about it.
These days, popular books and films generates toys, clothes etc for fans. That is also the case for Trilby.
A Trilby hat was used in an early stage adaptation of Trilby. It is a narrow-brimmed type of hat, and was once considered to be a rich man's favoured hat.
|A Trilby hat looks good on gorgeous Sean Connery!|
The other item is a shoe, The Trilby. Trilby, in the novel, has the most beautiful feet and they are famous. Many are those artists who have drawn or painted her foot. One smart producer used 'Trilby' as the name for his elegant shoe.
|The Trilby shoe does not really look that comfortable!|