THOMAS AND BEAL IN THE MIDI By Christopher Tilghman
How much do you need to know about a love story to be convinced by it?
Christopher Tilghman’s new novel, “Thomas and Beal in the Midi,” prompts the question because it seems as if the extraordinary measures its title characters take to protect and preserve their frowned-upon relationship are out of all proportion to what they actually feel for each other.
The year is 1894. Thomas Bayly is the white scion of a former slave estate, Mason’s Retreat, on the eastern shores of Chesapeake Bay. Beal Terrell is the daughter of freed black people who are employees of the Bayly family. Thomas and Beal were playmates from earliest childhood, but in their teens their friendship became something more — especially on Thomas’s part.
Believing themselves to be inseparable (again, Thomas feels this more strongly than Beal), they furtively marry and start their lives anew in France, where their mixed-race marriage probably will not draw as much hostile attention as it does in rural Maryland. After an interim in Paris, where they’re both drawn into adulterous temptations, they move to southern France to forge a new life as winemakers.
The fallout from their expatriation affects them differently. “What Beal had given up — the love of a family — Thomas had never had; what Thomas had given up — family wealth — Beal couldn’t imagine.” Still, their connection feels strangely tepid. It’s as if they fled to France to try out a relationship, rather than protect an existing passion from bigotries that would like to see it destroyed. The last thing they are is wrapped up in each other — an odd state of affairs for a newlywed couple.
Something seems to be missing from this account of their romance — and the place to look for it is Tilghman’s fine 2012 novel, “The Right-Hand Shore” (his prequel to “Mason’s Retreat,” the 1996 novel that made his name). “The Right-Hand Shore” steeps us in the childhoods and adolescence of Thomas, Beal and Beal’s brilliant brother, Randall, who condemned the couple’s relationship. The new novel alludes to this conflict and other crucial elements in the pair’s background without quite making them palpable. Readers coming to “Thomas and Beal in the Midi” without taking in the earlier novel — as I did, before I realized I needed to backtrack — will find Beal an emotional blank canvas whose main attribute is her unusual beauty.
This seems deliberate on Tilghman’s part. Even Beal appears puzzled by her own personality. “Who am I?” she asks. “What have I done so far and why did I do it?”
The adroitly drawn secondary characters in “Thomas and Beal in the Midi” have a sharper, more satisfying edge. They include the nun who helps the newlyweds settle in France; a moody Jewish artist from Newark who paints Beal’s portrait in his dingy Paris studio; a spirited young Irishwoman who steers Thomas toward becoming a winemaker and is obviously smitten with him; and two insistent men who think Beal should simply forsake her marriage and run off with them. One is a proud Senegalese diplomat who would like to make Beal one of his wives; the other is a prosperous African-American retailer from Boston. As for Thomas, he’s a curious study in passive encouragement, aware of how Beal has become distracted from her marriage, but willing to wait until she drifts back to him.
The quality of Tilghman’s prose fluctuates, sometimes feeling too contemporary to evoke fin de siècle France, while at other times nailing ambiguities of character nicely. “It was either,” Thomas reflects on his love for Beal, “an act of courage or of cowardice, a supreme show of strength or a pathetic display of weakness, but it belonged only to him.”
Brief flash-forwards take the reader into the fascist era, when Thomas, now widowed, writes the story of their lives, drawing partly on a journal that Beal kept. Enjoyment of the novel may depend on how you feel about a heroine whose early years of marriage baffle even her.
“She had been nothing then,” Beal reflects, looking back on her life toward the end of the book. “She had wafted through the events like smoke.”
For some readers, that may be enough.B:
全职高手论坛体同人“【奴】【才】【劝】【将】【军】【一】【句】，【您】【还】【是】【趁】【早】【死】【心】，【奴】【才】【对】【您】【当】【真】【全】【无】【一】【丝】【爱】【意】。”【水】【柔】【仪】【娇】【笑】【着】【看】【着】【高】【哲】，【眼】【中】【却】【溢】【满】【冷】【漠】。 “【你】------”【高】【哲】【恨】【的】【咬】【牙】【切】【齿】，【棱】【角】【分】【明】【的】【脸】【上】【布】【满】【腾】【腾】【的】【杀】【气】。 【水】【柔】【仪】【忽】【地】【推】【搡】【了】【高】【哲】【一】【把】，【高】【哲】【不】【防】【备】，【纵】【身】【后】【倾】【而】【去】。 【水】【柔】【仪】【一】【时】【用】【力】【过】【猛】，【身】【子】【失】【去】【了】【平】【衡】，【立】【时】【往】【下】
【其】【他】【人】【也】【都】【是】【开】【始】【纷】【纷】【的】【把】【东】【西】【都】【给】【合】【成】【了】【出】【来】。 【其】【实】【能】【合】【成】【出】【来】【的】【东】【西】【挺】【少】【的】，【因】【为】【不】【是】【这】【里】【缺】【一】【个】【材】【料】【就】【是】【那】【里】【缺】【一】【个】【材】【料】。 【想】【要】【刚】【好】【全】【都】【有】，【可】【是】【相】【当】【难】【见】【的】。 【一】【个】【钟】【过】【后】，【几】【人】【也】【是】【停】【止】【了】【下】【来】，【那】【一】【堆】【材】【料】【减】【少】【了】【一】【半】，【剩】【下】【的】【一】【半】【那】【是】【没】【有】【办】【法】【的】【了】。 【随】【后】【他】【们】【就】【开】【始】【展】【示】【一】【下】【他】【们】【所】【合】
“【这】…” 【马】【东】【东】【刚】【想】【继】【续】【问】【问】【题】，【就】【被】【屠】【卡】【一】【把】【捂】【住】【了】【嘴】【巴】。 【大】【家】【紧】【张】【的】【在】【原】【地】【保】【持】【警】【惕】，【崔】【宇】【则】【缓】【缓】【催】【动】【契】【约】【咒】。 【小】【花】【在】【他】【去】【废】【墟】【前】【就】【被】【派】【去】【探】【路】【了】，【让】【他】【费】【解】【的】【是】，【小】【刺】【猬】【居】【然】【屁】【颠】【屁】【颠】【的】【也】【跟】【着】【去】【了】。 【不】【过】【崔】【宇】【想】【也】【好】【让】【它】【们】【做】【个】【伴】。 【小】【花】【探】【路】【有】【得】【天】【独】【厚】【的】【优】【势】，【如】【果】【遇】【到】【危】【险】，【他】【可】【以】
【正】【在】【上】【试】【水】【推】，【求】【收】【求】【票】！全职高手论坛体同人【卫】【达】【无】【论】【如】【何】【也】【不】【会】【想】【到】，【一】【个】【十】【三】【四】【岁】【的】【孩】【子】，【竟】【然】【会】【如】【此】【懂】【事】，【这】【番】【话】【从】【一】【个】【孩】【子】【的】【嘴】【里】【说】【出】【来】，【真】【的】【是】【太】【奇】【怪】【了】。 “【放】【心】【吧】，【我】【会】【把】【你】【们】【完】【全】【送】【到】【秦】【地】【的】。”【卫】【达】【摸】【了】【摸】【韩】【灵】【儿】【的】【头】，【现】【在】【说】【什】【么】【都】【是】【多】【余】【的】，【卫】【达】【唯】【一】【能】【做】【的】【就】【是】【保】【证】【他】【们】【的】【安】【全】。 “【卫】【达】【哥】【哥】，【真】【的】【很】【谢】【谢】【你】，【那】【我】【们】【回】【去】【吧】，【姐】【姐】
…… 【当】【上】【衫】【义】【隆】【和】【柏】【泽】【丸】【刚】【谈】【妥】【来】【年】【的】【生】【意】【后】，【三】【景】【启】【司】【又】【回】【到】【了】【柏】【泽】【丸】【的】【房】【间】【恭】【敬】【地】【跪】【好】。 “【启】【禀】【城】【主】【大】【人】，【您】【要】【的】【那】【个】【中】【原】【人】【已】【经】【带】【到】，【如】【今】【就】【在】【楼】【道】【口】【等】【候】……” “【把】【他】【带】【进】【来】【吧】……” “【嗨】【依】~” 【三】【景】【启】【司】【离】【开】【后】，【上】【衫】【义】【隆】【也】【起】【身】【对】【柏】【泽】【丸】【说】【道】：“【城】【主】【大】【人】，【既】【然】【您】【还】【有】【私】【事】，【那】【我】
“【之】【前】【租】【房】【给】【他】【的】【房】【东】，【还】【活】【着】【吧】？……【算】【了】，【反】【正】【是】【相】【关】【的】【信】【息】【你】【都】【给】【我】【一】【份】【吧】。【至】【于】【那】【些】【还】【活】【着】【的】，【相】【关】【的】【人】【员】，【给】【我】【一】【份】【名】【单】【就】【好】【了】。” “【拜】【托】【你】【了】。”【斯】【落】【给】【钟】【痕】【重】【重】【鞠】【了】【个】【躬】，【以】【表】【示】【自】【己】【的】【感】【谢】。 【说】【实】【话】，【他】【们】【这】【些】【兔】【子】，【数】【量】【还】【是】【太】【少】【了】，【而】【且】【出】【于】【安】【全】【考】【虑】，【警】【局】【那】【边】【的】【数】【据】【库】【并】【没】【有】【底】【层】【的】
【第】【一】【千】【一】【百】【三】【十】【二】【章】【二】【大】【总】【管】【来】【了】 【三】【角】【眼】【女】【人】【如】【果】【弃】【剑】【逃】【离】，【也】【许】【还】【有】【生】【机】，【只】【可】【惜】，【在】【最】【后】【关】【头】，【她】【还】【是】【不】【肯】【扔】【掉】【她】【的】【剑】。【这】【一】【把】【普】【通】【的】【青】【钢】【长】【剑】，【难】【道】【还】【有】【什】【么】【秘】【密】？【她】【不】【说】，【便】【不】【会】【有】【人】【知】【道】。 【浓】【烈】【的】【烟】【雾】，【已】【将】【三】【角】【眼】【女】【人】【团】【团】【裹】【住】。【烟】【雾】【里】【不】【但】【有】【雷】【鸣】【之】【声】，【还】【伴】【随】【着】【令】【人】【毛】【骨】【悚】【然】【的】【尖】【叫】【声】。