A read-along. Part III/Volume III
This is the third week of the read-along I am doing with Vishy and we discuss the third volume in this four volume book.
Some of the mysteries that were building up in the previous volumes have been revealed and new mysteries have been introduced. After finding out who the voice singing in the night belonged to – it was Monsieur Du Pont, an ardent admirer of Emily, who was Montoni’s prisoner – and after the death of her aunt, Emily escapes from the castle of Udolpho and manages to embark on a ship and return to France. Du Pont, and servants Annette and Ludovico go with her and the gloomy castle is left behind.
In a separate story, we get to find out more about another castle, one which Emily and her father passed by on their travels. This castle was now inhabited by the Count of Villefort and his family, after his cousin, the Marquis de Villeroi had died. There’s talk of ghosts (again) that haunt the rooms the Marchioness died in, and the old housekeeper, Dorothee, hasn’t set foot in there since the death of her mistress, many years ago.
The two stories come together when the count and his men save Emily and her companions from a terrible storm which destroyed the ship they were traveling on. There’s a monastery close to the castle and that’s where Emily goes from time to time, coming back to visit the count’s family.
It seems the mention of a ghost and strange music in the middle of the night are two recurrent ideas that seem to follow Emily to this new castle. She finds out who the woman in the miniature portrait is (the one she saw her father weep over at the beginning of the book) but she’s not aware of the connection to her own family yet.
Valancourt finally appears in this part of the story. The count mentions to Emily the rumours he has heard from Paris, that her beloved has been in prison over debts unpaid and his character has changed since she’s last seen him, all for the worst. This is made even worse by Du Pont’s insisting that Emily accept his love – something she cannot do. The separated lovers do meet, eventually, but with typical attention to “proper etiquette”, Emily is not ready to accept Valancourt’s apologies and being the good girl that she is, prefers to suffer in silence and go live in the nearby convent of St. Clair instead of trying to find out exactly what he had done so terrible during her absence. Volume III ends with plans for a new meeting between the two, there’s much anguish, indecision and dread as to the outcome. Will they be together in the end, will Emily forgive Valancourt for whatever wrong he had done?
This part of the book has lost much of that gloomy atmosphere that was so dominant in the previous volume. There is a new castle with its own set of mysteries but there is no threat here – the conflict is more emotional and more connected to Emily rather than an outside threat. The story had shifted into a new direction, focusing now on the romance between Emily and Valancourt and the obstacles dividing them, as well as on the mystery surrounding the death of the Marchioness. Volume IV, the last, will bring about closure, but that’s to be discussed next weekend, as all the mysteries come together and old secrets are finally revealed.
You can find Vishy’s review here