The Fighting Chance (1906) is another society romance by Robert Chambers, intentionally written in the same vein as the other "popular phrase" series, such as The Danger Mark and The Firing Line. (These were all popular phrases, honest!)
The central plot, as with these other two, is a somewhat-star-crossed romance. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy is thrown out of exclusive New York clubs and takes to drink, boy finds girl again. In the course of meeting/losing/finding, the boy and girl in question both reveal their shameful inner weaknesses and, eventually, come to the conclusion that they should marry regardless. There's not a lot of mystery in what will happen, merely in how it comes about.
In The Fighting Chance, the romantic core of the book is provided by Stephen Siward and Sylvia Landis. The two meet in the first pages of the book, fall in love in the first few chapters, and spend the rest of the 400-odd pages trying desperately to keep one another at arm's length (and ultimately failing to do so).
Siward begins the book in a state of social distress. It seems that - not long ago - he committed the Ultimate Sin - he brought a woman into his posh gentlemen's club. Not any woman, an actress. The circumstances are all a little dodgy, but when it came down to it, poor Siward was stumbling drunk, and couldn't defend himself. He has - with good cause - been evicted from the club and been shunned from polite society. As the book continues, we learn that this isn't his first alcohol-related incident - although his drunkenness has been previously ignored as it wasn't paired with any sort of disastrous incident. Nor is Stephen the first Siward to have this "curse" upon him - he comes from a long line of booze-plagued types. It is almost fortunate that he's the last of his line. Sure, it'll be a shame that this heralded New York family comes to an end, but at least he won't be passing his curse down to another generation.
Mr. Chambers' assumptions about the genetics of alcholism have been proven over the past hundred years (although generally most doctors don't suggest "ostracism" as the recommended treatment). But Siward isn't the only one with a hereditary problem - Sylvia Landis has inherited infidelity. Not just Sylvia's mother, but her grandmother too - both... cavorted. With men! Sometimes in Europe! Fortunately, Sylvia is also protected by the thick, rubbery shield of moneyed society (it also helps that she's hot). Sylvia's self-medication for her disease is an interesting one: she's gotten herself engaged. She's convinced that the best way to battle her latent instinct is to get herself off the market as swiftly as possible.
Syvlia's chosen partner is Quarrier. He's ostensibly handsome (although Sylvia can't stand his horrible "silky" beard), undeniably rich and truly awful. He's a bloodless, joyless beast who does everything by the numbers, plays nasty bridge and is generally a cold-blooded, serpentine fellow. He's theoretically devoted to Sylvia, but it is clear that she's merely a trophy to him. He's also devoted to Siward - but in a much different way. Siward's actress "friend" is really Quarrier's actress friend. Quarrier knows that Siward is innocent, but refuses to help him, as it might cast a stain on his own reputation. More than that, Quarrier is set on destroying Siward - an impulse that's doubled and re-doubled every time he catches Siward making eyes at his fiancée.
One of the key distinctions betwen The Fighting Chance and The Firing Line is the difference between Quarrier and Malcourt. If the latter was a tragic figure (and the source of the book's finer quotes), the former is utterly irredeemable. There's even a long debate between Siward and his friend Plank towards the end of the book, as the two try and discern if Quarrier has a single worthwhile characteristic (they determine that he has two: he's charitable to his family and especially kind to his detestable father). But even that is overshadowed by Quarrier's hideous sort of sensuality. Unlike Malcourt, who killed himself rather than (ahem) "press his advantage" over a wife that he knew didn't love him, Quarrier is quite keen to get into bed with Sylvia (much to her horror) and tells her as much. As well as his dodgy bit of actress on the side, Quarrier is also slinking around after another society dame as well - an equally bloodless woman named Agatha.
The Fighting Chance was so popular at booksellers that it required an additional printing prior to publication. According to one article, it sold over 200,000 copies - at the time, Mr. Chambers was a regular bestseller in both the US and UK, topped only by Mr. Churchill. The book was even banned for being "a little too warm" in one Massachusetts district and, according to one critic, was better than Edith Wharton - for, although it discussed many similar themes, The Fighting Chance "adds charity to Mrs. Wharton's ingredients". Time has been cruel and, now, this is a book with a paltry 45 downloads on Project Gutenberg.
Sadly, I'm forced to concur with the modern view of book's legacy. Mr. Chambers has written a good - not excellent - character study, and aside from also being a generic example of his craft, I don't have much else with which to recommend it. This book took the chance I gave it, but, sadly, that doesn't mean it won out in the end.
- 语种： 英语
- ISBN: 1426425155
- 条形码: 9781426425158
- 商品尺寸: 12.7 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
- 商品重量: 422 g
- ASIN: 1426425155
- 用户评分: 3 买家评级