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The Woman of Property
on October 16, 2004
The Silver Spoon opens with the introduction of Frances Wilmot, the brother-in-law of Jon. He arrives at the Mont house with a letter of introduction for Fleur. Fleur herself is occupied with her son Kit and her life as a leading social figure.
It is that social life which is endangered in this book as an impoverished and slightly disreputable socialite (Marjorie Ferrar) makes a disparaging remark about Fleur as collector in a gossip column and sets off a storm. The fierce and public reaction of Soames leads to a libel suit being filed against Fleur and the issue of private morals is tried on the public stage. Fleur proves herself as stubborn as her father when a matter of principle is involved, and burns her own hands on changing public opinion.
The character of Marjorie is an interesting one. In the first Forsythe trilogy, the agents of moral change are drawn very kindly and are actually the heros and heroines of the books. By contrast, Marjorie as the typical flapper is as repellant as she is energetic. She clearly represents the new world, but the approval that the book has for her is just as clearly mixed. Her honesty speaks in her favor, but she is also visibly shallow and capable of great careless cruelty. She seems to represent the accelerating decay of standards and values and as such offers as bad an option as the inflexibility of the earlier generation of Forsythes. At one point in the book, her kindly grandfather asks, "If your idea of life is simply to have a good time, how can you promise anything?" It is a question that the book seems to be posing of itself.
The book is bound with "Passers By", an interlude in Washington in which Soames realizes that he, Fleur and Michael are in the same hotel as Irene, Jon and Anne.