Thursday, October 04, 2007

P D James: ‘Women waiting for a Man to Give Status and Purpose to Their Lives’

P D James, in her novel, ‘The Skull Beneath the Skin’, writes of a group of people at Courcy island (off the Dorset coast) on tour.

As they passed along the gallery Roma said to Cordelia:

“There’s a William Dyce in my room called ‘The Shell Gatherers’. Not badly painted, rather good, in fact. A crinolined group of ladies examining their finds on a Kentish beach. But what’s the reality? A group of overfed, overclad, bored, and sexually frustrated upperclass females with nothing to do with their time but collect shells to make their useless shell boxes, paint insipid watercolors, entertain the gentlemen after dinner at the pianoforte, and wait for a man to give status and purpose to their lives.”

Source: P D James, The Skull Beneath the Skin (New York: Warner Books edit., 1982), 92-93.

Image: A William Dyce painting [I don’t think it is the one mentioned above!]