Monday, May 26, 2014

CWE: "Fortunes of War" (1987) - Parts 3 & 4

Where we left off: Harriet married Guy and followed him to his home in Bucharest shortly before World War II begins. Once there, Harriet quickly learns that, although Guy thinks she's extraordinary, he actually thinks that everyone is extraordinary, and that she'll end up spending a lot of time waiting for him to show up and watching him being unable to say "no" to most things.

Part 3:
  • We begin with Yaki getting his beloved Hispano-Suiza back! And almost immediately driving through an Iron Guard parade.
  • Meanwhile, Sasha is living on the roof of Harriet and Guy's apartment building. Oh, and Yakimov is somehow still living with them.
  • And Sophie immediately sits seductively on Guy's desk. She really can't stop.
  • Hee. Harriet has taken over the family finances so now he can't lend Sophie (or anyone else) money.
  • Ah, Toby Lush has arrived. Misquoting Tennyson. Or, rather, quoting Byron and saying it's Tennyson. And looking for a job as an English teacher...
  • Guy is convinced that Russia is awesome and will save everyone.
  • Silly Romanians. "They lack any sense of their place in history."
  • And Yaki steals Commander Sheffy's "most secret" plans...
  • Lawson is no longer interested in Harriet. He's made "other plans."
  • Harriet baptizing Guy with cold tea is a really lovely scene.
  • First suggestion that Toby and Dubedat are hanging out.
  • Dobson visits to advise that the school should close. But Professor Lord Pinkrose is due to visit!
  • We learn that Sophie is Lawson's "other arrangement."
  • Hee! I love Harriet, who uses her hatpin to get people to move out of her way so the English can leave the bar at the hotel and get through the phalanx of fascists blocking the way. One of my favorite scenes.
  • Harriet lies to Sasha in the nicest way. Your dad is fine! He's not being stoned and screamed at by people in the street, not at all!
  • Oh, Yaki, don't go to Cluj.
  • Lush and Dubedat skipped town, according to Yaki.
  • Yaki should not be in Cluj. It's under martial law and full of Nazis. So out come Sheffy's plans. And Yaki gives up Guy's name to the Nazi commandant. Sigh.
  • Up goes the Nazi flag over the palace. And off goes Yaki.
  • "Excuse me professor, but what could be more pressing than your imminent assassination?" "Professor Lord Pinkrose is arriving to give the Cantacuzino Lecture!"
  • Poor Inchcape, beaten with a portrait of Churchill.
  • Guy wants Harriet to leave without him. He needs to stay for his students! And because he refuses to believe that things are really as bad as they are (see: privileged white British male).
  • "Running away?" "You bet!"
  • Actually, it's very interesting. Inchcape asks Guy to reassure him that he's not running away by leaving. The journalist Galpin eagerly confesses to running away and says that all intelligent people are when Pinkrose teases him. And Lawson more or less sheepishly admits that he's running away with Sophie.
  • Harriet is awesome. That is all.
  • "I cannot accept responsibility for history!"
  • Sasha is arrested after the Pringles' flat is trashed, and Harriet flies off to Athens, alone.
Part 4:
  • October 1940
  • We start where we left off, with Harriet's plane landing in Athens, where she knows no one. But being Harriet, she gets to a hotel and takes herself off to have tea.
  • Yaki! She'd know those mis-matched shoes anywhere.
  • Yakimov has a job and is being helpful. It's definitely a new world.
  • "Yaki, I never thought ..." "You never thought that you'd be pleased to see me."
  • Yay, Guy got out of Bucharest. And immediately wants to go back to work. Lush and Dubedat beat him to it...
  • Hee! Dubedat is cleaned up and in a suit. And basically have taken over the English department in Athens. They aren't interested in having Guy working there.
  • Professor Gracey has hurt his back. "Oh, it's his back this time, is it?"
  • Ha! Professor Lord Pinkrose has also made it there ahead of the Pringles. Not good for them.
  • Sigh. Toby Lush is such an obsequious sycophant.
  • Harriet gets a job at the British Information Bureau. Guy is not happy. He claims that he wants her to do what she wants, but he's stuck with very middle class values, whatever he says. He wants her at home, taking care of him. She is not so easily swayed.
  • "Is there a telephone? I need to complain."
  • Oh dear, Charles Warden. Unlike Lawson, he's much more of a threat to the always slightly unstable Pringle marriage.
  • "I have a job, you know." "You have a job. I have work." Sigh.
  • Charles actually wants to spend time with Harriet, doing some of the touristy stuff that she wants to do, like visit the Parthenon. And he's very cute. Not a good combination.
  • "You married a stranger and ever since, you've lived among strangers." "One always lives among strangers."
  • Guy, of course, is putting on another play. Harriet, of course, just wants to spend time with her husband and live her life. It feels sad but inevitable to see them in such different places.
  • So, intellectually, I understand Harriet's urge to have an affair with Charles. I don't really see much chemistry between them, however.
  • Harriet and Guy calmly discuss whether or not Harriet will have an affair with Charles. Then she and Charles try to figure out what they are to each other. "Friend. A particular friend." She's attracted to him, yes, but I think what she tells Guy is very much the truth: she's lonely, both in general and for her husband in particular. But Guy isn't willing to change, to give her more of the attention that she needs, even if it means she seeks companionship elsewhere. Guy always puts everyone and everything else ahead of his relationship with Harriet. In an earlier part, he referred to her as part of himself, and he still treats her this way -- like an appendage, not a person with independent needs.
  • Harriet hasn't slept with Charles yet, but everyone assumes that she has.
  • In the end, the affair is prevented by Harriet spotting Sasha, giving herself an excuse to not go into Charles's room. And Charles leaves the next day, hurt that she backed out, and suddenly behaving not particularly nicely. Did he really care about her, or was he just trying to seduce her? Last words: "It's too late, Harriet."
  • Another calm conversation between Guy and Harriet:
H: "Charles is gone."
G: "I'm sorry."
H: "Why should you be sorry?"
G: "Because it makes you unhappy."
H: "I didn't mean to desert you."
G: "No."
H: "You see, Charles loved me."
G: "I love you."
H: "You love everyone."
G: "That doesn't mean I love you less."
H: "I think it does."
  • Harriet and Yaki get fired for daring to argue with Professor Lord Pinkrose. But that's OK, because they're all running away.
  • Poor Yaki. "Oh, dear boy, do I look like a military objective?" Shot by a soldier for refusing to put out his cigarette during an air raid. Such a great character. Endless stories, endless mooching, and completely beloved by the time they get to Greece. Buried in his beloved coat, given to his father by the czar.
  • Unlike in Bucharest, the escape from Athens is much more perilous, riding in the back of a fish lorry through the besieged city, scrambling on the docks with everyone else, trying to get a boat out.
  • Dobson, of the legation, is also awesome. As a British diplomat, he's willing an eager to put Dubedat and Lush in their place.
  • We close on Harriet, at sea, fleeing yet another country, this time with her husband. Who's reading John Donne ("Death Be Not Proud"). And flowers for Yaki.

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