Fanny, our main character, is just a device to view the story.
The book focuses on Lady Montedore and her daughter Polly. Polly is the still-waters-run-deep type. Silent about her dreams, grumpily submitting to her mother’s plotting.
Lady M is social shark, always moving to keep alive. Reading gossip, throwing parties, name-dropping.
Polly finally rocks the boat. How?
Though Fanny is boring, her family is hilarious. Her one uncle puts names of people he wants to die in drawers, hoping to kill them telepathically. Her other uncle keeps trying oddball health cures. Her 2 cousins are realistic teenage specimens, with inside jokes galore.
William of Baskervilles is an English monk visiting a rich Italian abbey on a political mission. Adso, the narrator, plays his Dr. Watson as William is asked to investigate a murder in the abbey. The monastery’s pious veneer is peeled back to reveal the dishonest and greedy motives beneath.
Eco’s slogan: “God is in the details.” He uses long lists to describe. Instead of writing “Adelmo’s illustrations portrayed imaginary creatures such as men with tooth-filled mouths in their bellies,” he tells us exactly what was on the page, in a sentence 207 words long.
Themes: loss of ideals, hypocrisy, possessions, poverty, temporality.
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