Thursday, May 26, 2011

5/26 - Ideas for Fakes

Monday gave me an idea for a fake letter that would really only be the tiniest exaggeration of something quite real.  The first letter quite irritated me.  It is one thing to find GF1 beyond redemption.  It might be a variation of the same thing to extend the sentiment to GM1.  But why the Prudecutor has to be so insulting to any possible reader who happens to be of German heritage I have no clue.

I have known one other person, reasonably well-known in his own right, of whom the Prudecutor reminded me.  He was a much more intelligent and reasonable person than the Prudecutor in other aspects, but he displayed an even more intense disdain for all things or people German, even to the point of openly hoping that somebody would stab Steffi Graf.  This made for a much more interesting subject of moral rumination.  He was culturally, if not religiously, Jewish.  This was also some time ago, when more people were living who had known Holocaust victims directly.  It's a very tocuhy subject, but it struck me that it might make quite an excellent letter, although I don't know that I'd ever advise anyone to send a real letter along such a line to the Prudecutor.  How much sentiment or even outright prejudice is reasonable; what is the limit of what a non-Jew can reasonably say about it; how does the standard diminish over time; it would certainly make for more interesting and potentially more edifying discussion than most of the fodder provided in recent times.

I also note from Monday that the Prducutor was rather kinder than one might have expected to the hospital-bound surgery patient who didn't wish to see or be helped by anybody.  Given how the Prudecutor some few weeks ago was willing to call a male friend's conduct disgraceful for not intruding on the recovery of a woman after a recent debilitating illness, one might have expected her to blast the patient with her notions of how Expected it is for people to flock to assist a recovering patient, and how evil it would be of the Patient to rob them all of their opportunity to do their duty.  Of course, I am not entirely serious, and I do have rather a lower opinion of the Prudecutor than many, but it would have been more consistent of her to take such a line.

Quick Thoughts:  L1:  Perhaps it surprises some readers that this is not my Parallel of the Week, even though there is clearly no Austenian similarity in this one.  But I am going to recuse myself from lengthy commentary here.  Given my history, I cannot in all good conscience on such flimsy evidence as has been presented endorse a course of action which results in parents being told anything about the sex lives of their adolescent children.  I shall not blame anyone for holding a contrary opinion, but I trust I shall be allowed the latitude for this stand unquestioned.

L3:  Isn't this another Technical Question to a great extent?  How and how rapidly the mentally declining become no longer able to be fully participant in the life events which had been of meaning to themselves and others is of too great significance for the case to advance either way without the summoning of an Expert Witness.  And I am always wary of calling an Expert Witness.  They have an unnerving habit of providing answers to questions that one does not know in advance.  One can say that LW3 is not sufficiently high up in the hierarchy to have standing to dictate about  what might or might not be done.  The Prudecutor suggests what seems basically an end run, and I can't care enough either way to agree or not.

L4:  How well did LW4 know DD4 before the occasion?  Are we sure this wasn't an episode of that MTV favourite, Disaster Date?  But this one is too easy.  LW4 should contact DD4 and wangle for the pair of them a free mini-break as they take the tale of their date and enjoy the company of Mrs Justice Sheindlin or one of her imitators for twenty minutes or so.

And now:  L2:  With such slim pickings this week, I shall elevate L2 to the status of the letter that gets a parallel, even though it is a borderline Technical Question.  One must always, I suppose, investigate the matters of safety and, to a lesser extent, politics, enough so so that what LW2 should actually do is largely on the Technical side of things.  But, with a husband abroad on business, from the point of view of Conjugal Felicity, we have here the excellent example of Admiral and Mrs Croft from Persuasion.

Mrs Croft is a more pivotal character than may appear.  As she and the Admiral let Kellynch Hall from the Elliots and her brother Captain Wentworth is shown to be at the current time, however things might have stood seven years previously, to be quite worthy to address the daughter of a foolish, spendthrift baronet, there is much to be done as the social revolution of the men of the Navy actually earning place among the groupings of those of inherited rank occurs.  Pure good luck, in the form of Admiral Croft possessing looks that satisfy Sir Walter Elliot, may do something to ease the transition, but more is acquired from how well Mrs Croft is able to get on with the reluctant Lady Russell, who laments the fall of the Elliots, reduced to quitting their family estate and attemtping a more economical existence in Bath, almost enough to be unwilling to accept the rise of the Crofts on their own merits.  This is passed over lightly, and omitted in the feature film with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, but it carries a bit of societal significance.

On the personal realm, however, the Crofts can serve as a model of Conjugal Felicity.  In the fifteen years of their marriage, Mrs Croft has been four times across the Atlantic, as well as once to the East Indies and back again.  All this has been in the company of her husband.  At the Musgroves' dinner party, the Crofts dispute with Captain Wentworth about his not liking to have a party of women on board a ship of his, as he claims it is impossible to give them the accommodation they deserve.  Mrs Croft claims to have been as comfortable on board ship as anywhere else she has lived, but she has been with her husband and the only woman on board.  Captain Wentworth even goes so far as to declare that a party of ladies might be said to have no right to be comfortable aboard ship, to which Mrs Croft replies that he should not speak as if women were all fine ladies instead of rational creatures.  The Admiral then plays the trump card to end the discussion, claiming that, once Wentworth is married, he will change his tune, causing the Captain to claim the impasse.

It is then that Mrs Croft relates her history of trave to Mrs Musgrove, with the charming admission that, once over a slight disorder the first twenty-hours into a voyage, she has never known illness or discomfort, and that the only time she ever had was during the winter she spent by herself at Deal, when the Admiral, then merely Captain, was in the North Seas.  One of the few additions to the Austen dialogue that has struck me favourably has been Fiona Shaw being given the line, "That I did not like," as she describes the imaginary maladies that befell her when on her own and concludes with the happy thought of never knowing ailment or inconvenience so long as they were together.

Moral:  "'We do not call Bermuda or Bahama, you know, the West Indies.'  Mrs Musgrove had not a word to say in dissent; she could not accuse herself of having ever called them anything in the whole course of her life."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

5/19 - Continued Malaise

It really does seem as if the letters are not improving in quality.   But then maybe I'm just not very well.  It isn't always easy to tell the difference.

Thinking of Monday and the little controversy over whether there are any gender-based differences in what is told to those who have a problem with a partner's weight, I can give wiggle for a little difference.  It is not entirely inappropriate for men who express a difficulty with a female partner's weight to be shamed for acting in an objectifying way as men have been doing to women for centuries.  A woman doing the reverse is at least subverting predominant gender roles, and a little of that seems, if not necessary or even a distinct good, at least more of a potential plus.  The trick is not to extend it into giving automatically greater credence to a woman's complaint and thereby playing into the myth of male weakness - that men who report lost attraction to their women were always shallow pigs who were only attracted to the women for their looks, but that women losing attraction to their men is indicative of serious problems in both the relationship and the men because we all know, as Queen Victoria once said in another context, that women don't do such things.

For this week's letters, I find that far too many people have appropriated My Best Friend's Wedding, so that I must leave L1 to find my main selection.

Quick Thoughts:

L1:  Apparently the Prudecutor intends to mock LW1's interpretation of her religion, rather than the religion itself.  In this the Prudecutor actually was on a halfway decent line until she stumbled badly at the end.  There was no need to make a snide swipe at the supposed breach of tradition involved in a groom having a female attendant.  Had this been my long reply, I might well have cross-examined the Prudecutor about her own homophobia, as she has never had a word to say about brides having male attendants, presumably because the Prudecutor always thinks such attendants are gay and therefore no threat to the marrying couple.  (I knew I could get a good one out of this.)

What noone seems to have quite appreciated yet was that this was supposedly a Goodbye Boink.  Does LW1 have unresolved issues about G1?  Probably.  Would it be fun to cross-examine her about her hostility towards B1 and the significance of two months?  Definitely.  Do I believe G1 was a virgin at the time of the hookup?  That's for me to know and for enquiring minds to find out, but can anyone tickle-torture me into talking?  But Goodbye Boinks, when properly conducted and uponfollowed through, have their own code.  Thisn one has not really been handled all that well, but then again, there was supposedly at least one virgin involved.

What I'd love to see happen would be for LW1 not to relinquish the role she had previously accepted.  Now one might think that I'd want to see this because she might then opt to Speak Now at An Opportune Moment during the ceremony.  One might very well think that, but I couldn't possibly comment.

L2:  This is another technical question.  LW2 wants to find out from S2 exactly how he found out how to text her.  It might be enjoyable to cross-examine her on why she doesn't want to get him into trouble or fired, but I like the idea of her luring him to his doom.  The key for this would be to think of Veronica enticing Kurt and Ram to what turned out to be their deaths, made to appear as if it were a gay suicide pact, in Heathers.

L3:  Well, the boards are just drowning in ridiculously treacly testimony from people who weren't planned, or whose brothers weren't planned, or whose sisters weren't planned, and everything turned out all wonderful and sparkly and there were rainbows and unicorns and oh definitely the Congress should wipe Planned Parenthood off the face of the planet because the testifier is such a special little snowflake.  Laissez-moi barf.  I actually almost like LW3, who falters only by making the completely extraneous comment that the Ps3 are "amazing people".  That is a proven point-loser, right up there with the vile parental habit of calling one's children "beautiful" when that word ought rightly to be applied to perhaps 5% of the population at most.  I give LW3 back a few points for the novelty of the family being together a few months ago.  But I would tell all the Unplanned Wonders of the World that we don't get to hear any of the testimony from the Aborted Fetuses, now, do we?  It does not make one any less special a snowflake to acknowledge that, unless one is a completely pathetic planner, planning is A Good Idea (although anyone who so chooses is welcome to select the option not to plan as a deliberate choice so long as s/he doesn't gripe about the consequences).

And now L4:  Once again we have the eventuality of the Unequal Inheirtance.  It seems quite right and proper that LW4 and H4 be recognized for their contribution to DM4's final times on the face of the planet.  Of course, anything to do with death and wills is going to bring up a comparison to dear Dame Agatha.  In this case, we have an excellent example in the form of the novel Crooked House, which LW4 can even perhaps use if the need arises.

Crooked House gives us another of those charming family murders.  The family in this case belongs to the just-deceased millionaire Aristides Leonides.  The narrator, Charles Hayward, returns to England to renew his romance with Sophia, Leonides' granddaughter.  Charles learns from Sophia that the old man has been murdered, but that she can marry him if the right person killed him.  Sophia lives in a large house with her parents, her brother and sister, her old Nanny, her siblings' tutor, her father's brother and his wife, her grandfather's first wife's sister and a stepgrandmother of about her own age.

Along the way there is much speculation about Aristides' will.  After his marriage to Brenda, he made a point of signing his new will during a family conclave.  He provided for Brenda and his sister-in-law Edith, then divided the bulk of his estate leaving a third to Roger, a third to Philip, and a ninth each to Sophia, Eustace and Josephine.  This was widely held to be a fair disposal of his property.  Unfortunately, now that Aristedes is dead, his will has never turned up.  Supposedly he posted it right away to his reputable lawyer.  But who would have purloined it along the way when everyone who could have done so was a beneficiary?  Would Brenda get a life interest in the lot if the will never materialized, and if she did, would that be more to her benefit than her outright inheritance?

Of course the truth will out, and it turns out that Aristedes indulged in the fakery-pokery himself.  He did sign a will and he did have it witnessed in the presence of his family, but the will he signed he sent to an old friend in Smyrna and it left everything to Sophia.  Aristedes was a lifelong believer in the virtue of a large family having one head.  Roger had no business sense, and Philip was inclined to withdraw from life.  Eustace was too inclined to be influenced by those with whom he came into contact.  Only in Sophia could he see a worthy successor, and the rest was to prevent harmful speculation or resentment.

When the truth is revealed, Philip is bitter but consoled that Roger was cut out as well.  Roger is relieved to be disinherited, as he plans a Spartan existence with Clemency in the Caribbean.  Sophia is a bit hurt to be set apart, and admits to Charles that her grandfather had told her about the real will two weeks before he'd died, which she realizes moves her way up the suspect list, now that her motive is as good as that of Brenda and Laurence.

There is an example of the possible folly or even danger of making one's testimentary dispositions known in a Miss Marple story "Greenshaw's Folly."  One might save on household expenses by leaving one's property to the housekeeper in lieu of a salary, but it might well get one murdered before too long.

My moral for this week will revert to L1 and be from personal experience.  Speaking as someone who followed the wedding by less than eleven months, I can testify in the matter of L1 that it is not enough simply to Do the Right Thing without having any clue as to the purpose or import of doing so.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

5/12 - Not Really a Surprise

The only surprising thing about Jerry Springer finally having a one-gender episode of Baggage is that it wasn't seen until after Wendy Williams aired such a Love Triangle.  As Baggage is rather the older programme, one would have expected Mr Springer to have led the way, although it is always possible that he has done.  I don't really follow the programme as I do the reruns of Match Game.  But surely Mr Springer's experience in LGBTsploitation should have given him the inside track.  As the gay episodes went basically just the same as straight episodes, I readily admit that a bisexual element might make an episode of either more interesting.  There was a hint of it on Baggage, as the blind dealbreaker chosen by the dater was whichever of the three aspirants admitted to being attracted to both men and women.  I'm not sure, though, whether a bisexual dater/chooser on either programme might not prove a bit incendiary; one might expect the audience, for example, to be blindly partisan along orientational lines.

Moving on to a week of questions that have nothing to do with the LW's mothers, but still are not entirely out of the top drawer (as Joan Plumleigh Bruce might say):

Quick Thoughts:

L2:  This question should be disqualified.  It's another technical question.  As someone who walked half a mile to and from school at the age of five entirely unsupervised and without ever having encountered any sort of molestor, I cannot in good conscience countenance these questions about appropriate ages.  The neighbour's children are likely to turn out interesting if they have a creepy parent who insists on watching them at ages ten and twelve, but we could call it a technical question on that side as well.  I shall content myself with suspecting that the four children all have roughly equivalent mental ages.

L3:  Another technical question.  What is a Size 10?  Anyone who pays a reasonable amount of attention ought to have happened upon Vanity Sizing by now.  It has even spread to men's clothing lines; only a couple of weeks ago, I read an article by a man who went in for a pair of 36" waist pants, found he couldn't fit into it, then went exploring and discovered that most stores' offerings labeled as 36 were about 38.5-40 in range.  But ignoring the technical aspect of the question, I am stunned that nobody has picked up on the letter's opening.  My whole life I have struggled with my weight, and LW3 is 17?  Now just who could have put the idea into her brain as soon as she could formulate the idea that she was fat?  Let's take a guess in our best Church Lady voices.  Could it be... oh, SATAN - sorry, I mean... MOMMY?  Or possibly Daddy.  I respectfully submit to the Prudecutor that even a bathing suit selected for LW3 by Staci London Herself will be of less use than getting away from a parent who has been undermining her for seventeen years.

L4:  This one is incredibly obvious.  LW4 should wear the necklace in MIL4's presence, more than once if necessary, without the earrings.  If MIL4 refuses to bite, LW4 can always bring it up via some sort of tangent herself, but MIL4 may well ask about the earrings, at which point LW4 can confide that she seldoms seems to find the right occasion to suit them, and ask if MIL4 ever found the same difficulty.  I am not sufficiently expert to declare this a distinct method, but something along the line ought to work as a way to open the topic for discussion and perhaps find out that MIL4 might actually think it high time the earrings were re-set.

And now, for L1:  LW1 might do well to refer to The Time of the Angels, set in an area of London that seems to be a vast wasteland.  The central character, Carel Fisher, is a priest who has become increasingly eccentric following his loss of belief.  In consequence, he has been re-posted to a Rectory in an area that was bombed out and never rebuilt.  Accompanying him to nowhere are his daughter Muriel (on the brink of obtaining of obtaining a secretarial post but writing poetry at the moment), his invalid niece Elizabeth (university age but mainly engaged with jigsaw puzzles) and his housekeeper/ex-mistress Pattie (of mixed racial origins and numerous internal sorrows).  Somehow Carel, whose faith expired at about the same time as his affair with Pattie (he had wanted to but could not make her his Anti-Maria), has come to the view that there is even more need for a priest in a world without God, but he does little beyond playing Swan Lake on the gramophone and serving as the focal point of the various obsessions of his household and a small circle beyond.  As we are not favoured with Carel's point of view and only occasionally see him interacting with Muriel, Pattie and (once only) his brother Marcus (not Elizabeth's father), we have little with which to make sense of Carel's thinking, save that, when he sees an icon, belonging to the Russian porter, which depicts three angels, he marvels at how tall the angels are.

The book is rather more interesting than L1.  The Rectory, with no church attached, is almost permanently surrounded by a thick fog.  Pattie's main sport is turning away visitors, mainly a parish busybody named Mrs Barlow who only once gets inside for a few minutes, occasionally Marcus Fisher and Muriel's former headmistress.  Muriel worries about Elizabeth's being too isolated and tries to avoid becoming entangled with Leo Peshkov, the porter's son.  Both Muriel and Pattie vie for the porter's attention, though he clearly is all for Pattie.  Marcus forces his way into the house via the coal cellar and has a brief, unsatisfactory meeting with Carel during a blackout.  Carel reclaims Pattie, who is divided.  Muriel, after telling Eugene of Pattie's affair with Carel, is on the brink of introducing Leo to Elizabeth, spies on her cousin and discovers that Elizabeth and Carel are having an affair.  Pattie learns of this; it is the one thing she cannot countenace.  We then get a fascinating scene towards the close of the book in which Muriel enters Carel's study shortly after Swan Lake has started, and discovered that Carel has taken pills with the intent of suicide.  Forced to choose a course of action quickly, her discovery of Pattie's letter of departure sways her into letting Carel die as Swan Lake concludes.  In the wrap-up, Marcus finally sees Elizabeth from a distance as the cousins/sisters leave the Rectory (it is revealed that Carel might have been Elizabeth's father as well as Muriel's), and Marcus discovers that Mrs Barlow is the ecstatic Anthea in whom all three brothers had been interested when they'd been young.

I'm not that inclined to blame LW1 for lying during the past two years.  His faith might have returned, or it might have made no difference.  It does not sound as if active discussion of faith is particularly rampant in the marriage; one presumes that the couple simply assume they are going in the same direction and perhaps never really or rarely discuss religion at all.  I might cross-examine him on whether he is actively lying to his wife or simply not telling what he considers to be the whole truth, or how he knows that she might not be very much on the same page, or at least something a good deal similar.  There is also the question of why his not being an active believer would put him on the outs with the church; is it really for believers only and not for seekers?  Possible, one supposes.  And along similar lines, how can LW1 be certain with accuracy of how much devastation this would cause to his relationships?  It seems that he can reasonably continue to walk along the Works portion of the path, and for a good many possible friends and loved ones that might actually be sufficient.  There may well be those who similarly have less Faith than might appear.

In the end, my main question, though, is why LW1 has been unable to discuss this, not with his wife, but with his pastor or some other spiritual advisor.  I don't know that I'd be prepared to make this a requisite for a graceful exit from faith, but it seems odd that, given his circumstances, he didn't attempt it.  If there is that much harm in the offing, he certainly ought to do so now.  It's not as if such a person isn't used to this sort of discussion, or at the least trained for it.  My only potential surmise is that LW1 fears a lack of confidentiality or that somehow he will be exiled from his community involuntarily before he is ready to make and accept that choice.  But a bit of shopping around if necessary can uncover someone suitable.

Moral:  "Angels are the thoughts of God after God is dead."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

5/5 - Quick Parallels

Remarkably, it took less than a month for the new Wendy Williams programme Love Triangle to produce an M/MM triangle.  I am not wild about the programme in the first place - at least twice one of the "rivals" has had to witness a marriage proposal, and I'd give the rejected suitor the nicer prize by way of consolation, but this is the sort of thing for which I've waited in vain for some time, going back as far as Love Connection.  There have been other programmes using same-sexers as a or the main point, but the non-specific programmes have tended to give this a wide berth.  One would certainly have expected Jerry Springer to have had some sex-sex episodes of Baggage by now.

Could any of this week's crop of (generally less than inspired) letters trace a way back to Miss Austen?  Let us look.

L1:  For an author so concerned with marriage and family, Miss Austen provides rather few grandmothers.  Usually they lie a few years beyond the endings of the novels.  Lady de Courcy seems admirable.  Mrs Ferrars might merit the criticism, but neither of her grandson's parents would provide it.  Mrs Dashwood is a stepgrandmother, whose stepgrandson's existence as a male child proves indirectly to cause her a good deal of grief.  Mrs Musgrove is not a great favourite with her daughter-in-law, nor, if we can be allowed to swap genders, is Mr Woodhouse entirely popular with his son-in-law.  But the outright winners for L1 are Lady Middleton and her mother Mrs Jennings.

Considering that Lady Middleton lives only to humour her children and display her good breeding, and her mother's manners leave a good deal to be desired (although they veer rather to the indiscreet than the profane), there cannot be serious competition on this front.  My only slight quibble is that, while Lady Middleton seems a good match for LW1 in terms of tone, she is a bit more on the doting side, wouldn't be offended by racist comments or even argue with her mother in the first place, and she seems so content with merely changing the subject when Mrs Jennings becomes a bit too inquisitive into the private lives of others that it would be hard to imagine her consulting an outside authority.  Then again, the Prudecutor would be right up the alley of a woman who calls the Miss Dashwoods satirical because they are fond of reading - not that she knows exactly what it is to be satirical, but it is censure in common use and easily given.  Mrs Jennings, while occasionally improper (and frequently offensive to the delicate and exacting sensibilities of Marianne), does not go so far as racism or an equivalent, although one might consider it close that she divulges to Elinor all her suppositions about Colonel Brandon having a natural daughter.  Sir John also is much more in sympathy with his mother-in-law than he is with his wife.

As far as LW1's problem goes, I should ask for a better definition of racist.  Racist has been stretched rather wide, and might be on the brink of becoming a term similar to Registered Sexual Offender in terms of scope.  Interesting that the Prudecutor takes a Zero Tolerance line - rarely the most effective approach.

For those who like LW1, we need only wait a few years for Mr Bingley and Jane Bennet to produce offspring, when Mrs Bennet will doubtless be all one could desire by way of a grandmother exactly as described.  Jane and Bingley would both be perfectly well-behaved themselves, likely to worry about Mrs B's influence on the children, and of the type to seek advice about it.

L2:  Now this is a tough one, in part because many of the potential estrangements lie in the future.  Lady Susan would be capable of dissumulating, but she would never go to the bother of all those handmade presents to her cooling daughter.  Mrs Thorpe probably lacks the ability or the strong sensibility.  I could see Mrs Dashwood producing some delightful reminiscings, but her daughters are devoted to her.  Mrs Price would never have the time.  Mrs Musgrove almost certainly lacks the talent, and would only be a good model if one took a liking to LW2.  Mrs Bennet might be the closest we can come to a parallel, once Jane and Elizabeth have homes of their own far away.  Mrs B is certainly clingy enough, and likely to produce efforts to get back in her daughters' good graces that would produce more embarrassment than gratitude.  Neither Jane nor Elizabeth is likely to provide the same sort of non-response, but Lydia might, though she's hardly likely to have a similar reason of distinguishment to provide any sort of excuse.

As for LW2, who might have provided interesting cause for specualtion with regard to gender had this not been posted as part of the Mother's Day Week, I cannot approve of her.  It is bad form to agree to eschew gifts and then produce sentimental handmade ones.  And, as a producer of sentimental gifts of my own labour, I am appalled that LW2's reaction is to be looking for gratitude.  The makings of these gifts are their own reward, and they should only be presented when they are welcome.

There is way too much being left out to draw many sensible conclusions about what ought to happen.  My inclination is to side with the daughter.  That could change, but it seems unlikely.

L4:  This one hardly applies to Miss Austen, as Mother's Day came after her time.  Jane and Elizabeth Bennet are closer to their aunt Mrs Gardiner than to their mother.  Edward Ferrars doubtless prefers his mother-in-law to his mother.  Fanny Price is possible in this category - she grows apart from her mother and a visit home to Portsmouth only reinforces how she has come to view Mansfield as her true home.  But there is much more of a runaway winner in Frederica Vernon, mainly because her mother, Lady Susan is quite the villainess.  They might even be in danger of going too far, as LW4 did not (one presumes) have her mother as a rival for the affections of her husband.

Has LW4 been a bit manipulated by FGF4?  Perhaps.  Does it matter much?  I don't really share the sentiment expressed by some that LW4 giving FGF4 a Mother's Day present will put a lot of pressure on poor dear Pappa to make his GF LW4's MIL.  In any event, I don't see the two of them reaching the exemplary standard presented by Emma Woodhouse and Mrs Weston, or Anne Elliot and Lady Russell.  I am more interested in taking exception to the Prudecutor devoting the considerable majority of her answer to advising LW4 on what to do if she would like to be reconciled to her mother.  There is lip service to the possibility that LW4 might be fine with the estrangement, but the Prudecutor's heart isn't in it.  She really wants to bring about the reconciliation.  Poor misguided Prudecutor - refusing to believe that some people are just better off left in the Estranged box.  Maybe LW4 should have added that her mother is an unapologetic racist, as well as a sexist.  Then the Prudecutor would have insisted that LW4 never speak to her mother again or allow any grandmotherly contact.

L3:  Miss Austen provides even fewer mothers-in-law than she does grandmothers.  Of course, we see quite a few women on their way to becoming mothers-in-law; most of the heroines have living mothers, and the novels wrap up with their weddings or a bit into the future.  But another runaway winner in this category emerges quite clearly.  Although the parties involved live quite near each other instead of the mother-in-law living far away, we get an excellent and detailed look into the domestic travails of the elder and younger Musgroves.

Almost no sooner does Anne Elliot arrive to visit her imaginary hypochondriac sister Mary than she is drawn into the heart of the eternal disputes between the great house at Uppercross and the new cottage, home of the young squire and his wife.  It's bad enough for Anne that both Charles and Mary solicit her assistance in the matter of Mary's proclaimed ill-health, Mary hoping that Anne will convince Charles she's more ill than she allows, Charles that Anne will convince Mary there's nothing wrong with her.  Mary dislikes how Mrs Musgrove spoils her grandchildren; Mrs Musgrove wishes Mary had some of Anne's method.  Neither DIL nor MIL has a good word to say about the other's servants.  Mary is annoyed that she is not given precedence at the Great House.  Mrs Musgrove doesn't give a flying fig about precedence, but Henrietta and Louisa let Anne known that Mary's jealousy of rank and continually putting herself forward to take precedence of Mrs Musgrove has been much remarked in the neighbourhood.

While it is certainly possible that LW3 is a bit more of a Mamma's Boy than he's aware, it does not seem quite correct to make this one into a coin flip of it being either All the Crazy Wife or a 50/50 split between Wifey and Mamma as they battle it out for control of a LW3 for whom the adjective poor would denote pity and contempt rather than sympathy.  I think here I like the parallel to the Musgroves.  An outside arbiter might find the odd fault on the maternal side, but in the main the wife would come in for the most stern of the findings.

Moral:  "How was Anne to set all these matters to rights?  she could do little more than listen patiently, soften every grievance, and excuse each to the other; give them all hints of the forebearance necessary between such near neighbours, and make those hints broadest which were meant for her sister's benefit."