Aurora Floyd Read-Along: January and February

by Janine Hatter on February 27, 2017

We are currently starting the second month of our year-long Aurora Floyd read-along, and it’s come to our attention that many of you want to participate but aren’t on Twitter. To facilitate that participation I will be posting monthly installment summaries and discussion questions / prompts to which you can respond in the comments.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s happening on Twitter but don’t have an account, you can also take a peek at TAGSExplorer where all tweets tagged with our read-along hashtag, #MEBAread, are being archived.

So, without further ado, here are January and February’s summaries and discussion questions:

January 2017: installment 1

Summary

  •  Ch. 1.  This chapter introduces us to Aurora’s family and home prior to her birth. Much emphasis is placed upon her mother’s background.
  • Ch. 2. In this chapter readers are acquainted with Aurora herself: we get glimpses of her childhood, her stormy teen years, and the vague but ominous event that has cast a pall over Aurora’s life and relationship with her father.
  • Ch. 3. In this chapter, Aurora returns from finishing school in France much altered. The chapter’s main events center on Aurora’s birthday festivities. The installment closes with Aurora making what appears to be at once a morally dubious and heartless decision.

 Discussion Questions

  • Q1: If you were casting for an Aurora Floyd film or miniseries, who would play Aurora? Archibald? Eliza? Why?
  • Q2: Pick a character from this month’s installment and assign her/him a theme song. Share a link to the song (if possible) and explain your choice.
  • Q3: Braddon emphasizes eyes in this installment. Aurora and her mother have both have “flashing black eyes.”  What do you make of this focus? [Thanks to Dr. Janine Hatter for inspiring this question.]
  • Q4: This installment contains some interesting (perhaps Darwinian) statements about child rearing and heredity. What is the role of heredity / Darwinism here? Do you think this novel is shaping up to be a nature/nurture debate?
  • Q5: Some of you will have editions in which Talbot Bulstrode has a leg injury from the Crimea; later editions edit this out. What do you make of this removal of disability? How does the change in embodiment change the character?
  • Q6: Free for all – use this question number to pose questions of your own!

February 2017: installment 2

Summary

  •  Ch. 4. This chapter jumps from Aurora to Talbot Bulstrode, providing backstory before establishing Aurora’s cousin Lucy and Aurora herself as potential love interests for the Captain.
  • Ch. 5. In this chapter, Bulstrode falls increasingly under Aurora’s spell. A rival for her affections, John Mellish, is also introduced.
  • Ch. 6. In this chapter, both Bulstrode and Mellish propose to Aurora. Both are rejected. Bulstrode tries again, just after Aurora has received a shocking message.

Discussion Questions

  • Q1: Chapter four is, in part, an extended comparison and contrast of Aurora and her fair-haired, angelic cousin, Lucy. Although this seems to reinforce ubiquitous Victorian gender / beauty stereotypes (fair hair = angel; dark hair = temptress), Braddon’s previous novel (Lady Audley’s Secret) featured a fair-haired villainess (also named Lucy) and popularized the type of the monstrous woman who appears angelic. In this light, how do you read Bulstrode’s observations of Lucy and Aurora? Is Braddon doing something more complicated than reiterating stereotypes here?
  • Q2:  This installment takes care to show Aurora’s “good” as well as her “bad” sides such that it is hard to envision her as a sensational villainess. Based on the two installments you’ve read, does Aurora Floyd read like a typical sensation novel to you? Why/why not?
  • Q3: Chapters five and six include a number of vivid descriptions of the landscape. Aside from providing a sense of place, are these descriptions doing any significant work in the story?
  • Q4: At the end of chapter five, Braddon compares both Bulstrode and John Mellish to the Prince Consort, who had passed away two years prior to the beginning of serialization. What do you make of this rhetorical move?
  • Q5: Speaking of John Mellish: the Yorkshireman is described at length in chapters five and six. Although he reads a bit more like a plot device than a character at this point, the amount of description he’s allotted seems significant. Do you have any thoughts on his role and/or significance?
  • Q6:  Free for all – use this question number to pose questions of your own!

Happy reading and discussing!

~Courtney Floyd

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