Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chapter 21: In Which Varney Clearly Should Have Been a Comedy

Previously in Varney the Vampire: Varney makes Flora an offer she can't refuse.

The first half of Chapter 21 (THE CONFERENCE BETWEEN THE UNCLE AND NEPHEW, AND THE ALARM.) is, without a doubt, the best scene JMR has written so far in Varney the Vampire. It consists entirely of tagless dialogue between Charles and the Admiral, and every moment of it is hilarious.

Say what you will about JMR's dramatic writing (Lord knows I do), but he has a great sense of comedic dialogue and timing. The pacing is lightning-fast and I could actually hear the conversation play out in my head, which almost never happens when I'm reading. I had trouble picking out just one part to quote, but you can read it all yourself here.

But then Charles hears Flora's scream from the end of the last chapter, and the pacing slows abruptly as we return to drama (with just a few more comedic interjections from the Admiral). Charles vows to defend her, but she begs the men to just give up the Bannerworth house so that Varney will leave them alone. Rather than listening to Flora outright, of course, they decide to hold a council to decide what must be done.

Only the last line of the chapter really jumped out at me:
George had gone to call on Mr. Chillingworth, so he was not present at the first part of this serious council of war.
Since JMR seems to gradually forget that George exists throughout the course of the story, that line just seems like a random afterthought to me. Like he needed one more sentence to meet his word count and suddenly remembered that he'd forgotten George. As a reader, I honestly don't care what happened to George. His character was never distinct enough to make an impression on me.

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