Arranged Marriages: Pixar vs. Sherry Thomas

handsThere were many things I loved about Sherry Thomas’ Ravishing the Heiress, secondary characters notwithstanding.  The writing.  Fitz and Millie.  The writing.  (Can you tell I love it?)  But there’s one particular aspect that stands out, and that’s how Ms. Thomas treats an arranged marriage.

I saw Pixar’s Brave the same weekend that I finished Ravishing the Heiress, and the contrast could not have been greater.  In the first, Scottish princess Merida rebels against her mother, traditional feminine pursuits, and the whole idea of an arranged marriage.  Forget embroidery, and to hell with marrying one of the chieftain’s sons to keep the clans together – Merida will win her own hand in marriage.  I’m not giving anything away if I tell you that by the end Merida will have reached a new understanding with her mother and learned the value of compromise – but she sure ain’t married either.

Things are different in Ravishing the Heiress, besides the obvious differences in audience (it’s a romance) and form (it’s a novel – duh).  Millie loves Fitz, and Fitz loves someone else.  But does Millie refuse the marriage because she wants to marry for love, and wait until he recognizes his love for her?  Nope.  Millie’s family wants social standing and Millie has been groomed for this her entire life; and Fitz needs to restore the decrepit estate.  So Millie goes through with it.  And it takes eight years – read that, eight years – before their relationship becomes true love.

I’ve read some criticisms of RtH focusing on martyrish elements of Millie’s behaviour.  She waits too long for Fitz; she’s a doormat; she should have taken a lover to pay him back.  I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.  But here’s another perspective, and maybe it’s the latent Asian in me: Endurance and patience require greater strength than outright rebellion.

I believe in happy endings, in the happily-ever-after, and in True Love.  But I also believe in working for it.  I believe in divorce only as a last resort, if there is abuse, rank incompatibility, or other necessities.  I believe in sucking it up and making the best of it.  And I believe in learning to love your job (or person), rather than waiting to find a job (or person) you love.

In other words, there’s a time and place for rebellion and refusal.  Merida is Merida, and maybe rebelling was right for her and the clan (although I would just call it feistiness, and not in a good way).  But the fact that Millie accepts rather than fights; that she repays her parents for years of love, commitment, nourishment, and health by marrying the man they choose; that she finds happiness and over eight years crafts friendship, intimacy, and companionship with the man she loves even if it is not Love; that she runs the equivalent of a marathon rather than a 100-metre sprint – all this makes her passive and weak?  A doormat?  A martyr?  Not in my book.

Two sixteen-year-olds, two historical settings, two names beginning with M, and two arranged marriages.  Millie loves Fitz, and makes the absolute best of it.  Merida wants to pursue archery, and goes to the local witch and gets a potion to change her mother.  Now I ask you – who’s the true heroine of the two?

What’s your take on arranged marriages?  Do you think there’s a cultural element to it (e.g. Asian vs. Western, modern vs. historical)?  What do you think of arranged marriages in Ravishing the Heiress and other romance?

- Jean AAR

27 Responses to “Arranged Marriages: Pixar vs. Sherry Thomas”

  1. PatW says:

    I admire Millie a lot. AND, I like the arranged marriage

    A great many romances are written to take place over a short time span. Perhaps the readers criticising her behavior are too much used to the “instant gratification” that seems to be prevading a lot of today’s society. Don’t know if this is cultural or generational.

    That said, I think Sherry Thomas has hit on an excellent “compromise” time span. I think it helps that Millie is so young when the marriage is arranged, too.

  2. JB Hunt says:

    I agree that Millie’s patience and perseverance reveal a core of strength, but she isn’t HONEST or straightforward about what she really wants. That bothers me.

    • Jean Wan says:

      JB Hunt: I agree that Millie’s patience and perseverance reveal a core of strength, but she isn’t HONEST or straightforward about what she really wants. That bothers me.

      This didn’t really bother me, and I think it saved her from being the perfect, martyr type. After all, we all lie to ourselves.

  3. Maggie AAR says:

    I agree with you regarding who the true heroine of the two is. And also that it takes tremendous strength to work out a relationship rather than take the path of least resistance and wait to fall in love with fireworks.

    This idea of “I’d rather die than marry someone I don’t love” is really being taken to extremes. Merida is actually a very mild example. In Beth Bernobich’s Passion Play the heroine finds herself becoming the love slave of thirty caravan workers, with slave being an important term since she does the job TIED UP. When she escapes she decides that that was still better than being forced to marry. Seriously? By the way, this girl can’t stand on her own two feet – if the men around her didn’t rescue her, she’d be dead.

    For me, this kind of character has just become ridiculous. There is making your life better by standing up for yourself but this is not that. This is looking for the easy way and to hell with the consequences.

    • Jean Wan says:

      Maggie AAR: I agree with you regarding who the true heroine of the two is.And also that it takes tremendous strength to work out a relationship rather than take the path of least resistance and wait to fall in love with fireworks.
      This idea of “I’d rather die than marry someone I don’t love” is really being taken to extremes. Merida is actually a very mild example. In Beth Bernobich’s Passion Play the heroine finds herself becoming the love slave of thirty caravan workers, with slave being an important term since she does the job TIED UP. When she escapes she decides that that was still better than being forced to marry. Seriously? By the way, this girl can’t stand on her own two feet – if the men around her didn’t rescue her, she’d be dead.For me, this kind of character has just become ridiculous. There is making your life better by standing up for yourself but this is not that. This is looking for the easy way and to hell with the consequences.

      **Minor spoilers**

      Your comments remind me of two historicals with similar situations. In Mary B’s One Night for Love and Anne Gracie’s The Gallant Waif, both heroines suffered “fates worse than death” during the Napoleonic Wars. The difference (if I remember correctly, and it has admittedly been a while) between the two books is that in the Mary B, the heroine was given a choice to become the Spanish rebel’s mistress, or to die, and Lily chose to become his mistress. Whereas the way that Anne Gracie’s waif is written, she was raped when she was subconscious, or something. Basically, it took the decision out of her hands.

      I remember reacting violently to Lily, at first (I was young), and thinking that she really should have chosen to die. But then I read the Anne Gracie, and thought about it some more, and of course came to the conclusion that in many ways, choosing death is much, much easier. Enduring, and learning to get through it, and even appreciating what you have (life, relative kindness from one’s captor, in Lily’s case), is a strength that is perhaps even rarer than defiance.

  4. ell says:

    I actually like the idea of arranged marriages, at least in theory. If we start with the premise of parents who love and really know their children, the partners picked by them are bound to be good. I didn’t marry when I was 16, but God forbid I should be stuck for the rest of my life with the boy/man I would have chosen then.

    Although I am a fan of Sherry Thomas, I didn’t actually like Ravishing the Heiress. I spent most of the book wanting to beat the hero with a stick. IMO, if he really loved his childhood sweetheart so desperately, he should have run away with her. On the other hand, if he had made up his mind to do his duty, then he should have done what grieving he needed to do privately, and thrown everything he had into doing his very best to/with Millie and their marriage. Instead his behavior was childish and insulting and obnoxious. If I was Millie, I would have rolled up a newspaper and whacked him with it every time he came into the room.

    I do appreciate the fact that Ms Thomas tried something different with this, but different doesn’t always mean better.

  5. JMM says:

    Sorry. I can’t get into the “enduring, patient” heroine who waits and waits and puts up with everyone walking all over her.

    Doormats get stepped on, not “rewarded” (if Fitz was a prize) with adoration.

  6. chris booklover says:

    This is a great post that addresses several issues.

    In real life arranged marriages can work, but only if a society’s culture and institutions support the practice. Even in societies where arranged marriages are popular many of them are ultimately very successful, but others are not and survive only because there are legal or cultural restrictions on divorce or separation. In any event, this is not really an option for most modern societies outside of a few distinct sub-cultures – partly because most young people want and expect to make their own marital decisions, but also (and perhaps more importantly) because the institutions that support arranged marriages, such as matchmakers and formal courtship rituals, no longer exist.

    Marriages of convenience, of which arranged marriages are a subset, are one of my favorite tropes in romance, but only if they are depicted plausibly. It is generally much more difficult to pull off this feat in a contemporary romance than in a historical, simply because in today’s world there are few scenarios in which two people MUST marry for reasons other than love. In either genre, however, we need to believe that these two people would enter into the MOC, and the terms under which they do so must be believable. For example, I have never found particularly plausible the marriage-in-name-only version of the MOC, unless the marriage is expected to be very brief or the spouses are free to engage in extramarital affairs.

    Ravishing the Heiress is a very good example of a MOC. Some of the commentary neglects to mention that BOTH Fitz and Millie are being forced to enter into this marriage. Neither has much choice or say in this all-important decision, and much of the charm of the novel lies in seeing how they do the best they can and make lemonade from the lemons handed to them. For most of their married life, even before they confess their love for each other, Millie and Fitz are happy together. They form an effective personal and professional partnership, become good friends and are aware of this.

    I agree that Millie is a strong woman rather than a doormat or a martyr. She did the best she could in the circumstances in which she found herself. However, it is usually Merida’s Grrrrl power type of strength that tends to be celebrated, while Millie’s qualities of endurance, patience and grace under pressure tend not to be appreciated. Anne Scott MacLeod observed that although most people are not rebels or nonconformists many novels focus on such characters. Much of the time this is understandable, but there is definitely something to be said for featuring more conventional characters from time to time.

  7. Victoria S says:

    I liked Millie in RtH very, very much. Fitz not so much I liked the way the book showed arranged marriages in a very different way. (Huh, maybe THIS is what Leigh meant in her blog about diversity) In most romance novels arranged marriages are kind of formulaic:
    (1) The couple get married
    (2)They dutifully produce the heir and the spare
    (3) They are then free to make other relationships with the proviso that all children (as long as they look something like the husband) are to be claimed legitimate.
    In RtH the formula was thrown out the window. Not only was pain shown, but, Ms Thomas tried to show what a marriage could be like, between two people who don’t want to marry, but have to make the best of it. Like many of you, I too wanted to hit Frtz in the head with a rock (repeatedly). But, in 2012 USA, that’s easy to say.
    Like Jean, I too believe that divorce is a last resort and that relationships are worth the work we put into them. In my church there are two couples who have been married 67 years. 67 YEARS! And I like to believe that had my husband not died, that we too would have been numbered with them someday( as it was, we made it to 30 1/2). The Bible teaches us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. Millie lived this, and so, in his own whiny way did Fitz.
    There were parts of this book that made my heart ache, literally, for the couple trapped in the lives they led, but as long as they were alive and together, there was a chance for better. And this is what I think RtH was about, our all too human longing for a chance for better. Bravo to Sherry Thomas for portraying an arranged marriage outside the box.

  8. Maria D. says:

    Well, I haven’t watched “Brave” and I haven’t read “RtH” but I do like the “arranged marriage” trope in romance. That said, there are limits to what I’ll put up with in the “arranged marriage” trope – for instance – it’s okay if the guy doesn’t necessarily fall at the heroine’s feet and fall in love with her right away but he better not be sleeping around on her at all- that’s infidelity and I won’t tolerate that in a romance book – sorry that’s a deal breaker for me.

  9. Rosie says:

    The arranged marriage/marriage of convenience trope is one of my favorites in romance. I haven’t seen Brave, but I have read RtH, and although I liked Millie, I have to agree with what ell and a lot of the there comments say. I don’t think Fitz was worthy of her love because when they were married he was the older one and yet he put her through a lot with his immaturity and melodrama. He may have come to value her as a friend, but for the majority of the book in his view point he continues to remain pretty oblivious and pretty inconsiderate of Millie and how others might view her with his behavior. I don’t consider that respectful despite how much he was saying he respects her. Plus there was way too much filler about the sister in there that didn’t really have anything to do with their relationship, and I could care less about the sister, whose behavior is even worst. They must be the most selfish set of twins in England.

    • Jean Wan says:

      Rosie: The arranged marriage/marriage of convenience trope is one of my favorites in romance. I haven’t seen Brave, but I have read RtH, and although I liked Millie, I have to agree with what ell and a lot of the there comments say. I don’t think Fitz was worthy of her love because when they were married he was the older one and yet he put her through a lot with his immaturity and melodrama. He may have come to value her as a friend, but for the majority of the book in his view point he continues to remain pretty oblivious and pretty inconsiderate of Millie and how others might view her with his behavior. I don’t consider that respectful despite how much he was saying he respects her.

      I definitely wanted to hit him on the head several times as well, but then I remembered that he was only 19. And while he has the jerk gene (all guys do, as Mavis in the In Death series says), I also remembered that he is portrayed as an ultra-sensitive, quiet, serious guy. So I forgave him. :)

  10. Carole says:

    Jean – I just want to say that I loved the way you described Millie and her choices. Some readers prefer a different kind of heroine, but I did enjoy her journey.

    Victoria S – My heart ached too. Someone else said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that ST takes you almost to point where you can’t stand it anymore. I felt that way about Private Arrangements – I was fascinated and drawn into the story but couldn’t reread the whole book (though I do reread my favorite parts) because it was too painful for me. What amazing talent she has that readers can feel that strongly about a character!

  11. Hannah says:

    This is an interesting perspective. I have not read Ravishing the Heiress, so I can’t really comment on that. However, your assertion that “endurance and patience require greater strength than outright rebellion” got me thinking.

    I’m separated from my husband, soon to be divorced. He told me last summer that he wasn’t in love with me anymore and that he planned to start seeing another woman, BUT he still wanted to stay married to me. I decided not to take him up on that offer, and I don’t think many people would fault me for leaving him under those circumstances. He didn’t love me, he didn’t plan to be faithful to me, so his marriage vows were worthless. I could have stayed and endured, but unlike the heroine of a romance, I wasn’t guaranteed a happy ending. Unlike Millie, my patience probably wouldn’t have paid off. My “rebellion” was the only thing that saved me. And believe me, it took a lot of strength to walk out on the man I loved.

    So I guess I’m saying that strength comes in many forms, and every situation requires a different kind of strength. Sometimes patience and endurance are strengths, and sometimes they’re just excuses for passivity and fatalism. Often rebellion is just a form of selfishness, but sometimes it the only honorable option available.

    I have seen Brave, and I think one of the major themes of the movie is what it really means for a young woman to be strong. Merida’s rebelliousness isn’t ultimately rewarded. It’s not because Merida defies her parents that she doesn’t get married. The reason she is still single at the end of the movie is, as you said, because she comes to an understanding with her mother and learns how to compromise. She goes from a rebellious child to a responsible adult over the course of the movie. So yes, I think she is a true heroine.

    • JB Hunt says:

      Hannah
      Often rebellion is just a form of selfishness, but sometimes it the only honorable option available.I have seen Brave, and I think one of the major themes of the movie is what it really means for a young woman to be strong.Merida’s rebelliousness isn’t ultimately rewarded.It’s not because Merida defies her parents that she doesn’t get married.The reason she is still single at the end of the movie is, as you said, because she comes to an understanding with her mother and learns how to compromise.She goes from a rebellious child to a responsible adult over the course of the movie.So yes, I think she is a true heroine.

      Hannah, YES, just YES.

      And for what it’s worth, I think you made the right choice.

    • maggie b. says:

      She goes from a rebellious child to a responsible adult over the course of the movie.So yes, I think she is a true heroine.

      I didn’t get that impression of Merida, I’m sorry to say. She made a bad deal with a witch and has to clean up a very large mess as a result. In a crucial scene she interprets for her mother (whom she has rendered mute through the curse) and her mother saves the day. The mother is also, the person who fights the deciding battle at the end. Merida puts her family and her country at risk, it is mom who saves the day. A nice pat on the back for mothers everywhere but not so much a vindication of teen rebels.

      Merida could have been worse. She could have failed to correct her mistake, compounding the problem. But at best she showed that she has the ability to grow up, not that she had actually arrived.

      Just to add I am sorry for your situation. I think some marriages can’t be saved and I applaud your decision to divorce.

    • Jean Wan says:

      Hannah: This is an interesting perspective.I have not read Ravishing the Heiress, so I can’t really comment on that.However, your assertion that “endurance and patience require greater strength than outright rebellion” got me thinking.I’m separated from my husband, soon to be divorced.He told me last summer that he wasn’t in love with me anymore and that he planned to start seeing another woman, BUT he still wanted to stay married to me.I decided not to take him up on that offer, and I don’t think many people would fault me for leaving him under those circumstances.He didn’t love me, he didn’t plan to be faithful to me, so his marriage vows were worthless.I could have stayed and endured, but unlike the heroine of a romance, I wasn’t guaranteed a happy ending.Unlike Millie, my patience probably wouldn’t have paid off.My “rebellion” was the only thing that saved me.And believe me, it took a lot of strength to walk out on the man I loved.So I guess I’m saying that strength comes in many forms, and every situation requires a different kind of strength.Sometimes patience and endurance are strengths, and sometimes they’re just excuses for passivity and fatalism.Often rebellion is just a form of selfishness, but sometimes it the only honorable option available.I have seen Brave, and I think one of the major themes of the movie is what it really means for a young woman to be strong.Merida’s rebelliousness isn’t ultimately rewarded.It’s not because Merida defies her parents that she doesn’t get married.The reason she is still single at the end of the movie is, as you said, because she comes to an understanding with her mother and learns how to compromise.She goes from a rebellious child to a responsible adult over the course of the movie.So yes, I think she is a true heroine.

    • Jean Wan says:

      Hannah: So I guess I’m saying that strength comes in many forms, and every situation requires a different kind of strength.Sometimes patience and endurance are strengths, and sometimes they’re just excuses for passivity and fatalism.Often rebellion is just a form of selfishness, but sometimes it the only honorable option available.

      Hannah, thank you so much for sharing your personal story, and for what it’s worth, I think you did the right thing in what sounds like a crap situation. You expressed my thoughts exactly, though – so much is dependent on situation and individual personality that what is seen as a strength in one situation is an excuse in others.

      I’d say, though, that this reinforces my assessment of Merida – yes, she has grown up. But the reason for her rebellion? Her original reason for not wanting to be married? Because she doesn’t want to. And in some cultures, the fact that she has two parents who love her; food and shelter; a position of social privilege; and yes, she has freedom, all things considered – all of these are things that, arguably, give her defiance an edge of selfishness, not of strength.

  12. Cora says:

    It seems I’m the lone dissenting voice here, but I violently dislike arranged marriages and marriages of convenience. I cannot view arranged marriages (and in many cases, such marriages are not arranged but forced) as anything other than abuse. I definitely don’t find such plots romantic in any way.

    Now I have neither read “Ravishing the Heiress” nor seen “Brave”, but while “Brave” sounds like a nice and inspirational story for young girls, “Ravishing the Heiress” sounds completely offputting.

    I sometimes wonder why arranged marriage and marriage of convenience plots are so common in romance, even in contemporaries (all of those blackmail marriages in Harlequin Presents), when it’s pretty much one of the most unromantic plots I can imagine. Saving someone from an arranged marriage might be romantic, but giving in and patiently enduring and hoping for love? Nope.

    I think this trope is popular because in the US, most people have very little experience with actual arranged marriages outside certain immigrant communities. It’s not necessarily that we in Europe have more experience with arranged marriages, but there regularly are cases of young women (and sometimes men) from Turkish or Middle Eastern immigrant communities being forced into arranged marriages against their will and either successfully escaping abusive marriages or getting murdered by their husbands or their own family. Indeed, Germany actually passed a law making forced marriages illegal (though existing laws should have covered that) after a series of so-called honour killings. Of course, a lot of arranged marriages in immigrant communities are probably happy or at least don’t end in violence and abuse, only that we never hear about those. Nonetheless, when I hear the term “arranged marriage” I think of young women shot down in the streets of Berlin by their own brothers for daring to leave abusive husbands and sully the family honour. Of course, it’s also interesting that the Asian immigrant communities, which also practice arranged marriage in the West, manage to do so without violence and abuse.

    Still, as a plot for a romance novel arranged marriages are about the least suitable trope I can imagine, because I immediately associate it with violence and abuse.

    PS: Hannah, it sounds to me as if you made exactly the right decision – and I’m actually someone who believes that once you get married, you should only divorce in extreme circumstances.

    • Jean Wan says:

      Cora: It seems I’m the lone dissenting voice here, but I violently dislike arranged marriages and marriages of convenience. I cannot view arranged marriages (and in many cases, such marriages are not arranged but forced) as anything other than abuse. I definitely don’t find such plots romantic in any way.

      Still, as a plot for a romance novel arranged marriages are about the least suitable trope I can imagine, because I immediately associate it with violence and abuse.

      Cora, I understand not being able to get past certain associations. It’s unfortunate that these cases come to mind when you hear about arranged marriages because these honour killings are the extremes, perpetrated by extremists. And like you said, these are the ones we hear about because it occurs on Western soil, in Western countries, with Western values, where (female) independence and individual choice are highly valued.

      But to play devil’s advocate, independence and choice aren’t devoid of their own issues. Abuse, murder, grief, and tragedy still exist when we marry for love. My good friend is Indian, and while her parents never forbade her to date she expects that they will arrange a marriage for her. I asked her why, and one of the reasons she said they gave was that it was safer. Yes, you still run the risk of abuse, rape, and tragedy – but when you actually know the family, have asked forty gazillion acquaintances, have heard all the gossip there is about him, and have practically had him investigated by Scotland Yard, well, at least you’ve made it as safe as you can for your child.

      And I think that’s what it comes down to. For some cultures, families, and people – whether it’s modern Indian or 19th century sardine magnates – the probability of safety is worth far, far more than the chance of love or lure of freedom.

  13. Lilly says:

    Okay, Jean, Merida has to repay her parents and do her duty to society to be a heroine. Which of Merida’s three suitors would you have arranged to marry her to, sending her off to make what she can of the rest of her life with his family?

    • Hannah E. says:

      Lilly: Okay, Jean, Merida has to repay her parents and do her duty to society to be a heroine. Which of Merida’s three suitors would you have arranged to marry her to, sending her off to make what she can of the rest of her life with his family?

      I would recommend she marry the one no one could understand. Then she would have a viable excuse for ignoring him. :-)

  14. JMM says:

    “But the fact that Millie accepts rather than fights; that she repays her parents for years of love, commitment, nourishment, and health by marrying the man they choose”

    *Shakes head* Really? REALLY?

    So… a parent takes care of a child – as they are REQUIRED to do by law and simple decency; really, why do parents expect MEDALS for this – so they get the right to pimp her out for a title?

    Even the most loving, unselfish parent doesn’t have the “right” to expect a child to live the life THEY choose. Actually, the loving, unselfish parent WANTS the kid to be happy.

    Frankly, this sounds like the tired old trope that Good Women will only do what makes Other People Happy – and thus find their happiness.

    Sorry. Can’t buy that.

    And I’m tired of Romance and Women’s Fiction books preaching the message – the only way to be happy is to give others what they want, forget your own life/desires/ambition/etc.

  15. carol dollar says:

    Sherry Thomas is a favorite of mine–right up there with Meredith Duran, Loretta Chase, Judith Ivory, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I have to admit, however, that this novel required from me, as a reader, a little more “willing suspension of disbelief” than I am wont to tolerate. Only Ms. Thomas’ superior stylistic performance allowed me to maintain my toleration. Also, I cared about Millie as a character of great depth, enormous discipline, and steadfastness of spirit. She never whinged or belabored the unfairness of her circumstance. Since Merida’s character is constructed on the concept of empowerment based on the need to serve self she cannot really be fairly compared to Millie. This is not to say that I would not have taken some joy from seeing Millie take a claymore to Fitz’s craven backside. Also, I would like for Millie to have been given another name. Ms. Thomas is usually so precise in her writing, diction, sentence structure, metaphor that I am a little nonplussed as to why she would have given this character a name that seems with every use to reiterate “humility”, a rather undermining feature for such a strong, resilient individual.

  16. Anne says:

    RtH was an historical set in a time and place when arranged marriages or marriages of convenience were relatively common among both the aristocracy and the gentry. I suspend contemporary thoughts and values when reading historicals. As a personal matter of interest, I find too many historical romances written with the hero/heroine (particularly the heroine) having 21st century morals and views. Read RtH and enjoyed it.

  17. carol dollar says:

    Anne has an excellent point in noting that when we read a historical we need to be aware of and accept the mores that distinguish a nineteenth century character from a twenty first century character. Though I fall into the clump that sometimes fails in this area, I am also frustrated with critics of historicals who expect anachronistic character traits in historical novels. My prime example of this, aside from my own glitches in the area, is Madeline Hunter’s The Protector which I absolutely loved and was frustrated to find so many criticisms of in this exact vein.

  18. JuneD says:

    Finished RTH on the fence about how much I enjoyed it. Leaving aside the awful sister & Hastings subplot, the Millie & Fritz story held my interest; I wanted them to find a true HEA. I could see a closeness develop between them, but his continuous affairs bothered me, he wasn’t even discreet about them. However thoughtful and intelligent, he was not an honorable gentleman. In light of all that Millie provided and did for him personally and to repair his finances and his dilapidated home, he made little effort to know Millie or make his marriage a real success. And Millie did nothing to censure him or change their relationship, nothing but meet his every request with calmness and good humor, while denying her own feelings. At the book’s close, Fritz might have risen in my estimation if he had spoken eloquently about his love for Millie and if he appeared contrite for his neglect, but he said little of love, nothing of remorse, oh I believe he did smirk sexually at Millie. Martyr Millie was too much a doormat for me to totally enjoy this love story.

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