Demian Katz (demiankatz) wrote,
Demian Katz

Book Review: My Mother's Rival

Pathos used to get a lot more respect. In my travels through 19th-century story papers, I've seen several tales bragging to be "the most pathetic story ever told." Now that I've read My Mother's Rival, I think I may have some idea what they are aiming for. This is yet another "Charlotte M. Braeme" story that was actually written by an unknown author other than Charlotte M. Brame, and it is brimming over with pathos!

I'm just going to go ahead and spoil this one. There's really not much to spoil, and you don't need to read it yourself. Trust me. This is another first-person narrative, this time with a female protagonist, Laura Tayne, teenage daughter of Lord and Lady Tayne. Miss Tayne's character is entirely defined by her love for her mother -- she speaks of little else through the entire story, and she has no other motivation or interests. It is, in a word, pathetic. Lady Tayne is an accomplished and beautiful woman who, after a disastrous childbirth, is rendered immobile and, I'm sure you have already guessed, rather pathetic. The titular rival is a governess hired to teach Laura who instead sets her sights on Lord Tayne, who proves pathetically easy to manipulate. In the end, Lord Tayne is successfully lured away from his wife, who instantly dies of sorrow, but he eventually learns to regret his unfaithfulness, finally dying upon her grave. THE END!

Perhaps there are more pathetic stories out there, but this one puts forth a pretty good effort at beating the reader to death with gloom and despair. Too bad there's no character or plot or apparent purpose to it -- just woe and wishing for death and eventually, actual death. I suppose this was meant as a cautionary tale of some sort, but it's really hard to imagine who would enjoy reading it -- I enjoy a sad story now and then, but this isn't sad. It's just pathetic.
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