(One criticism regularly aimed at novels was that they were too exciting. It has occurred to me that this novel is deliberately unexciting.)
Now, where were we? Ah, yes...somebody had just been poisoned, although he doesn't die (meaning that he fails to join the novel's ever-growing legion of zombies). Moving on:
P. 193: Another quotation from Thomas Campbell's The Pleasures of Hope? This is like the camera lingering on Brenda Leigh's Reeses Peanut Butter Cups when you're watching The Closer.
P. 196: Wow, the author completely butchers this excerpt from Campbell.
Pp. 196-97: FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, ENOUGH WITH THOMAS CAMPBELL
P. 197: IF YOU MUST QUOTE CAMPBELL ENDLESSLY, QUOTE HIM CORRECTLY, GOSHDARNIT
The next (mis)quotation from Campbell is going to make me break out into sobs of agony. Seriously.
P. 198: *sobs of agony*
P. 202: Why is the author introducing us to someone who has already been introduced? Has he forgotten his own novel? Do I even want to know the answer to that last question?
P. 208: So, apparently, Charles and Rowland were at a party that was described at some length, although their presence was never actually mentioned. We were told that they were going, and told that they had been, but not told that they were there.
P. 208: "We were soon invited in to tea...": I wish the author would make up his mind as to whether or not the narrator is also a character.
P. 213: You know, stories about children on their deathbed who basically reject their stepmother are not actually heartwarming.
P. 214: Ghost stories as proof of Christianity, eh?
P. 224: I'm amazed by the propensity of these characters to write long essays whenever something significant happens. They'd never be able to handle Twitter.
Incidentally, where did this character get pen and paper while in the "lock-up house" for debt?
P. 228: Moral of the story: don't use credit cards. Or the 19th-c. equivalent.
P. 230: The author is beating up on the Dissenters again for being bad parents.
P. 231: However, bad parents who are Dissenters provoke their children to reject their principles and join the Church of England, which I gather is supposed to be a providential sort of thing. No word on what happens when the bad parents are Anglicans.
P. 232: They almost go to Oxford, except that they don't. Can I sue for false advertising?
Pp. 233-36: As a break from quoting poetry, the author proceeds to write his own.
I take back what I said about Campbell. Please, quote Campbell. Quote Colley Cibber. Quote anybody. Anything would be better than this! (Well, OK--poetry in The Bulwark is probably worse. But we're talking a close second, here.)
P. 236: The author has so stunned himself with his own poetic effusions that he has forgotten the name of one of his characters.
P. 236: "...and Charles had, for years, eyed her opening beauties and decorous piety at Atlin church." Charles, Charles, Charles--you naughty boy! Ogling young ladies at church!
Pp. 237-38: Charles is manfully resisting Ellen's decorous beauties and opening piety--er, her opening beauties and decorous piety.
P. 241: We're going to meet "female demoniacs." We've already had one instance of what looks like Satanic possession, so might as well multiply 'em.
P. 245: I love how Charles and Rowland just randomly wander over to Thomas Scott and ask his opinion.
P. 246: Uh-oh--those demoniacs are Dissenters. This cannot possibly end well.
P. 246: I detect snark aimed in the general direction of Edward Irving, although he's not mentioned by name.
P. 249: Wait--we're not going to resolve the question of the demoniacs?
Pp. 250-51: The author appears to be commiting verse again.
P. 253: Amazing! We've finally made it to Oxford!
And on this cliffhanger, I leave you until next time...