I enjoyed the poetic writing style much more than the actual narrative. I did not find it so very odd that Ralph was her willing accomplice in his poisoning, as we get a sense of his deep self-loathing from the opening paragraphs of the novel. He is desperate enough to order a bride, unseen, through the mail in the dim hope of luring his profligate, illegitimate son to come home; his other dramatic actions should not seem so very out of character after that. I tend to agree with you about the abrupt change in Catherine regarding Antonio, yet it is the quiet, patient love of a good man which eventually satisfies her--the complete opposite of the self-centered, selfish, substance-induced relationship she had with Antonio. I was not particularly surprised by the way either Emilia or Alice died, but I did find them apt to the story as a whole and their individual stories, as well. The novel was a perfect example for me of the word "disquietude." I found it rather unsettling and disconcerting from beginning to end.