Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*London. Every major shift in date within the novel is introduced by a panoramic descriptive sequence that contrasts the capital with the surrounding countryside or more distant vistas, but the lists of landmarks cited undergo an unsteady evolution. The novel’s opening, set in 1880, refers to shoppers in the city’s West End, clubs in Piccadilly, Marble Arch and Apsley House, coupled with a derisory reference to the poorer areas of Bermondsey and Hoxton. The 1891 sequence begins with the great churches of St. Paul’s and St. Martin’s and also encompasses Parliament Square and the Law Courts; however, these are situated within a much broader frame of reference taking in the southern coast, the north of England, and Devonshire. The introduction to the 1907 chapters uses much broader brush-strokes, taking in whole districts at a time—Covent Garden, Hammersmith, Shoreditch, Wapping, and Mayfair—but is more narrowly confined to London.

This series of contexts serves to frame the residences of the various members of the Pargiter clan. In the midst of all their movements, however, one London location continually recurs, seemingly unchanging and always reminding the Pargiters of happier and more innocent days: Hyde Park, especially the Serpentine, the Round Pond, and nearby Kensington Gardens. Other London landmarks that recur—the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, and the Law Courts—are merely noted in passing, but the park is a place of refuge.

Pargiter homes

Pargiter homes. The first and most important residence of the various members...

(The entire section is 667 words.)