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Three Weeks Part II: Needs More Tiger

You love me because I give you the stimulus of uncertainty, and so keep bright your passion, but once you were sure, I should become a duty, as all women become, and then my Paul would yawn and grow to see I was no longer young, and that the expected is always an ennui when it comes!" 
"Never, never!" said Paul, with fervour.
At least Glyn kind of knows what's up.

Now that Paul has had his first amorous dalliance (with a foreigner, no less), he is completely scornful of his fellow English citizens. Coming into a restaurant hatless, really. So like them and their kind. Not like Paul. Paul is now a sophisticated man of the world. Because, you see, he has had sex. On a tiger skin, no less. He has, as he thinks of it, a "love-secret."

This lady, however, the un-first-named (first names! so common!) Madame Zalenska, continues to dine alone and not speak to him, so you know something's UP. They decide to leave for some mountain retreat, with him in the guise of her valet. Before going, Mme Zalenska writes exactly the sort of letter calculated to further inflame the passions of a 22-year-old Englishman:

Yes, I will come, Paul—but only on one condition, that you never ask me questions as to who I am, or where I am going. You must promise me to take life as a summer holiday—an episode—and if fate gives us this great joy, you must not try to fetter me, now or at any future time, or control my movements. You must give me your word of honour for this—you will never seek to discover who or what was your loved one—you must never try to follow me. Yes, I will come for now—when I have your assurance—but I will go when I will go—in silence.


My favorite line this time around is probably Mme Zalenska talking about the moon: "and as she waxes, so will our love wax." Then she says this wine is their wedding wine, which is patently false, but fine.

Elinor Glyn really likes referring to men as lords. It's a little disconcerting. At least when she's like, oh, you choose, my lord! And Paul is like, no, you choose, she immediately gets irritated and essentially says "Yes, of course it's what I choose, but I am consciously allowing you to choose because for once I don't want to, so let's just indulge this whim of mine and act like you have the power here."

Madame Zalenska gives an impassioned monologue about how marriage is a contract and their love is pure and it's all very late 1800s/early 1900s in terms of free love (i.e. you should be able to just choose who you want to be with; it's not usually meant in the '60s 'bang everyone' sense). So Glyn seems to espouse this view.

I DID like "It is because something in my personality causes an answering glow in yours that you love me." Maybe because I like the word glow. Unclear.

Their affair proceeds apace with Paul passionately embracing her and Madame Zalenska dropping vague hints that this won't last long. They're rained in one day and she drops a long monologue about how they are in Egypt and describing the things they're passing, which I would honestly be into because I'm impressed by other people's imagination, except she keeps talking about the exotic East and the Sphinx and let's all read Edward Said's Orientalism next, or maybe something else that's less questioned by academics.

There's also a lot of reference to her moving "like a snake," and it's unclear thus far if this is supposed to be some sort of Undine reference, although she was a mermaid. But some sort of doomed because she has another fate and is not of this world story. Seems likely.

This book is ridiculous and I'm looking forward to finding out Mysterious Lady's actual background, which I assume includes a brutish husband, but let's wait and see!


  1. This is book is ridiculous and so extra with all the emotions and undulating/snake/catlike movements and whatnot followed by impassioned declarations of love. It's horribly written, and therefore absolutely entertaining to read. I'm so glad I'm doing this with you!

  2. The love-secret part cracked me up. Also, that they need TWO tiger skins. The whole thing is hysterical. Thank you for this!

  3. But seriously, why DOES she undulate so much? It's too much undulating! Dial it back by like, thirty percent, and we'll be in business.


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