Awww we’ve (at long last) reached the thrilling conclusion of All That Glitters. This is actually sort of bittersweet, since this is the last Landry novel to have Ruby as its narrator and protagonist. I’d be excited, if that didn’t mean Pearl and Gabrielle were in our futures. Okay, okay, Gabrielle’s not that bad. But we must carry on somehow and with that plucky attitude in mind, we now return to All That Glitters: Trial by Jury.
The action (?) picks up in Beau and Ruby’s lawyer’s office. The lawyer, Monsieur Polk, is a man of Wellesian-proportions* in a fancy suit who is understandably bemused by the story that they’re telling him. Can you imagine?
“Okay, see, I was dating Ruby’s sister Gisselle, but then I left her for Ruby, so then Ruby got pregnant and I got sent to France and engaged to someone else, and then Ruby married her childhood friend Paul and they told everyone Pearl, that’s our daughter, Pearl, anyway they told everyone that Pearl was THEIR daughter but then I broke up with my French fiancee and came back to the States but Ruby was married so I got back together with Gisselle and married her and then Gisselle was in a coma so Ruby switched places with her and Gisselle died then Paul went crazy and died and so everyone thinks Ruby died and now Paul’s family wants Pearl even though THIS Gisselle is really Ruby and Pearl is our baby so we’d really like her back.”
GOOD GOD I DID THAT FROM MEMORY.
Polk tells Beau and Ruby that the first thing they need to do is establish, legally, that Ruby is indeed Ruby and then Beau can testify that he is in fact Pearl’s father. Polk is discouraged to hear how absolutely identical Ruby and Gisselle were (give or take a few pounds, Beau helpfully adds, and you just know Gisselle was the one with those pounds, not precious Ruby), but he has some hope that Gisselle’s hospital records from her car accident. She and Ruby might even have different blood types! He muses that a friend told him that in a few years there might be “DNA testing” that would solve this whole thing no problem, but that’s years and years away. Was DNA really a casual topic of conversation in the 1960s/’70s? He’s discouraged again when he learns that Gisselle’s injury involved no broken bones, only nerve damage that later healed. Given her recovery, there might not be a way to distinguish her x-rays from any Ruby might get. Beau thinks that the fact that Ruby’s had a baby and Gisselle never did might help, but Polk points out that Gisselle might have been pregnant in the past and had an abortion, so exhuming the body might just prove that both twins had been pregnant. Polk rightfully calls the whole situation bizarre. Beau made an arrangement with the doctor who initially treated Gisselle (as Gisselle) for her encephalitis, so he’s out as a witness, as are the ranch servants since one couple don’t speak English very well, one saw nothing, and one is too “timid” to swear to anything. Is that really an excuse for getting out of being a witness in a trial? “I’m sorry, your honor, but my client is too shy.”
What else, what else? Dental records! Nope, both twins have absolutely perfect teeth, even born in the SWAMPS Ruby. Handwriting? (Ruby’s is better!) Maaaybe, but they’ll just get their own experts who will discredit it. Louis? Um, no, Polk’s not putting a formerly blind man on the stand. Polk plays devil’s advocate (I see what you did there, Neiderman) and suggests that Paul’s land (what with the oil and the money that Pearl will inherit) might be seen as the Andreas’ motivation. They are naturally appalled, but he points out that those are valid thoughts for the Tates to have. He’s also not going to put poor Pearl on the stand, which Beau actually suggests. Damn it, Beau. Ruby is upset that this appears to be a lengthy process, and Polk brings up the idea that they maybe just try talking to Gladys Tate and seeing what it is that she really wants. He suggests that they might offer to sign over the oil rights if maybe the money is her motivation. Because Ruby is a moron who’s forgotten that Gladys threatened her very happiness not a few weeks before, she thinks that this might pan out!
SPOILER: It doesn’t.
They drive immediately to Houma and Gladys agrees to speak with them. Beau does all the talking at first and tries to remind her that Paul loved Ruby and Pearl and wanted to make a home for them, regardless of the truth of his and Ruby’s marriage. Gladys ain’t hearing this, though, and she finally spits out some of the reason that she hates Ruby so much. See, Paul and his mother used to be really close (NOT Louis and his mom close) and then Ruby “charmed him away”. Ruby protests that she tried to convince Paul that they couldn’t be together, but that just makes Gladys angrier, since, obviously, Ruby discouraged Paul’s affection by telling him the truth about being Gabrielle’s son. That further drove Paul and Gladys apart and now he’s dead and she’s going to make sure that Pearl grows up there, with his family. Beau brings up the inheritance, but that’s the last straw for Gladys and she throws them out.
An unspecified amount of time passes before their court date. Gladys leaks some info to the press, so the papers are full of headlines about twins claiming to be other twins and fun stuff like that. I gotta say, that would be a great news story, huh? Can you imagine? The court date arrives and Beau and Ruby head in. Ruby is immediately on edge when it becomes clear that the judge has no patience for “rich New Orleans people” and is already unhappy with the number of onlookers and reporters. The judge is annoyed when Polk isn’t entering any medical records as evidence, just handwriting samples and the like. So the trial begins with Beau’s testimony and naturally everything about their story sounds cockamamie and ridiculous because it IS. Gladys groans dramatically at appropriate points. When it’s time for Ruby to take the stand, she describes Pearl’s birth for the judge and is about to draw something to prove that SHE’S the artistic twin, but Gladys’ lawyers shut that right down, arguing that while it is a fact that Ruby is artistically talented, there is no evidence that Gisselle wasn’t too. When she’s cross-examined, Tate Lawyer (they have two, but they’re pretty interchangeable) asks her why she married Paul if she was in love with Beau. She starts to describe her love for Paul as sisterly, but doesn’t to spare the Tates. And also because she probably remembered that time that they banged. She is forced to admit that she saw Beau “romantically” whilst still married to Paul. Shock! Horror! Gasps! The lawyer points out the improbability of a man knowing this about his wife and not only accepting it but then agreeing to help her go and live with said other man, and when Ruby leaves the stand shaking, the court goes into recess.
During the recess Beau and Ruby go and hide out in a little side room, where Ruby lies down and Monsieur Polk goes to make a phone call. He doesn’t seem too happy, but then, why should he? Ruby frets that everything is going to hell and Beau tries to assure her that it’s not. Yes, it is. Their pity party is interrupted by Jeanne, who, it seems, has started to believe their story despite her mother telling her that it’s all lies. Jeanne doesn’t understand how, if Ruby IS Ruby, she could have done Paul that way.
No, not THAT way.
Ruby tells her that she did love Paul, just not the way that she loves Beau, and she reminds Jeanne of the talk that they had after Jeanne married James. Jeanne is still dubious, but this seems to get to her. She leaves after telling Ruby that she feels sorry for her. Polk comes back in to tell them that he has bad news: the Tates’ lawyers have a surprise witness, one whom Polk has been told can sew everything up for them. Beau and Ruby assure him that they’ve told him everything and don’t know who it could be. They go back to the courtroom where Polk presents the papers they’ve drawn up wherein Beau and Ruby give up any rights to Paul’s estate. The Tate lawyers point out that even if Beau and Ruby give up their rights, they’d still have access to the money as Pearl’s guardians. Polk counters this by noting that, since their claim is that Beau, not Paul, is Pearl’s father, she’d have no right to the estate either. The judge is like, yeah, cool, let’s get on with this nuttery. The Tates’ lawyers then call up their surprise witness aaaaand…
Beau and Ruby immediately tell Polk that Bruce will say anything, even under oath, and that he’s a drunk and will do anything to get back at them. Polk is like, maybe you could have TOLD ME THIS. They’re even terrible legal clients! Bruce tells the court that he was the twins’ stepfather and that he knew them “intimately” GROSS, and that after Daphne’s death they threw him out of his house and business illegally. He points to Ruby as the twin who recently had him bodily thrown out of the house when he just wanted to talk to her, which, (as he has described Ruby as a shy innocent and Gisselle as a heartless bitch) seems to point pretty strongly towards the woman in the courtroom being Gisselle. Ruby gets suspicious when the other lawyers seem to be giving some credence to the idea that she’s Ruby, but that’s just so they can let Bruce drop the bomb that he would know Gisselle because he’d slept with her. Shock! Horror! Gasps! Bruce points out that since the woman he fought with (Ruby) knew about his affair with Gisselle, she must therefore BE Gisselle. Oh come on, Bruce. We know you know the truth, but even so, that’s lame. Do you really think Gisselle wouldn’t have told everyone?
During all of this, Beau has been hastily writing down questions for Polk to ask Bruce. The questions are mainly about Bruce and Daphne’s shady financial dealings and while they definitely rile Bruce up, the Tates’ lawyers get the judge to sustain their objection to…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
What…What! Oh, hey sorry. Um, it’s just that legal drama in the penultimate moments of a book when we all KNOW what the outcome is gonna be…anyway.
Bruce leaves the stand (but never our hearts) and Gladys is called. She plays her role to the hilt, weeping into a handkerchief, talking about how close she and Paul were, how much she tried to make Ruby a part of their family, how much Pearl looks like Paul…and she (naturally) totally denies knowing anything about the twin-switching plan. She throws in a few barbs, like why would a religious man who loved his wife willingly allow her to go and live in sin with another man? And why would Paul marry a woman who was having someone else’s child? that get seem to get the audience on her side. She notes how messed up Paul got after “Ruby’s” coma and denies that he could have been that upset if it was really Gisselle. Her lawyers also bring up Beau and Ruby’s recent visit (when they offered her the land and whatnot) and frames it as them coming to make her a deal: 50% of Paul’s estate if Gladys would call off the court date and give Pearl to them. Naturally Beau (which I just spelled as Bear and then Beat) and Ruby are flabbergasted and Polk at no point notes that it was, y’know, HIS IDEA that they go to see Gladys in the first place. Humph. Well, the judge is clearly about done with this nonsense and when the Tates’ lawyers close their case, Ruby decides to go for broke and tells Polk to call Octavious to the stand. She writes down a bunch of questions and Polk is decidedly shocked by the route this is taking, but Ruby assures him that it’s all true.
Octavious takes the stand and Monsieur Polk asks him about the time he came to Ruby’s shack and asked her not to marry Paul. Octavious lamely says that he just thought that they were too young and should wait, since Paul had just really started his business and built his home, and when Polk points out that that seems like a good time to get married (oh the past), he pushes Octavious to admit that there was another reason. Octavious admits finally that Paul never exactly told him that Pearl was Paul’s child, he just said that he wanted to provide for Ruby and Pearl. He’s clearly suffering up there and when Ruby calls to him to do the right thing, he finally breaks down, telling Gladys that he’s tired of hiding behind his lies and he can’t take Pearl from Ruby. He admits to the court that years ago he was unfaithful to his wife and that Paul was born as a result, making him and Ruby half-siblings.
SHOCK! HORROR! GASPS!
Polk asks the judge that they continue in his chambers since the courtroom is in a ruckus and Gladys just fainted and Octavious is crying…
and no one points out that the fact that Paul and Ruby were half-siblings does not necessarily mean that Pearl can’t be their kid, but WHATEVER THESE AREN’T FOXWORTHS, so let’s move on.
The judge wants to see Ruby alone, so she heads in to his chambers, stopping to forgive Octavious on the way (blargh), and though the judge takes the MOST roundabout way of telling her, he’s decided for her and Beau. She has to become Ruby again immediately and invite the judge to her and Beau’s wedding, but whatever to your fraud and weirdness, it’s clear you love each other and your baby so here’s Pearl!
Ruby runs back out and tells Beau and they’re so happy and they even get a blessing from one of Grandmere’s old friends. Are none of these people (saving the Tates) at ALL pissed off that they thought that Ruby was sick and died?? On the way back to New Orleans, Ruby has Beau stop so that she can have a moment at Grandmere Catherine’s grave and promise to Paul’s spirit that she’ll be back some day.
Sadly you are correct, my friend.
Ruby and Beau have a quiet wedding and totally redo the New Orleans house. She puts everything of Daphne’s in the attic, but gives Gisselle’s things away to thrift shops and charities, which doesn’t make total sense to me (why not give ALL of it away?), and she keeps Jean’s room as the shrine that Pierre had made it. Healthy? She starts painting again in earnest and one of her first pictures is a woman with a baby, who Beau claims looks just like Ruby (the woman, not the baby) and a few weeks later Ruby realizes that she’s pregnant, so it was totally a psychic painting.
Beau (and this is important for the next book) swears that he thinks that this means that Ruby’s inherited some of Grandmere’s powers, and he even thinks the same of Pearl, saying that she sometimes seems years old than four (Pearl is FOUR??), which, I dunno, Beau, might have something to do with ALL OF THE NONSENSE SHE’S EXPERIENCED. Don’t worry, it won’t make her interesting. Beau tracks down Nina Jackson and brings her to visit Ruby, where she too agrees that Pearl is special (nah) and assures Ruby that the curse she set on Gisselle has blown out of her (Ruby’s) heart, which is all that matters. Wait, what? I don’t…you know what? NEVER MIND. Ruby goes into labor shortly thereafter and gives birth to twin boys (nuts to your psychic painting!), whom she and Beau name Pierre and Jean. Oh good, name-doubling. This won’t get weird for recapping. Oh well, at least the other Pierre and Jean are dead, so that will help…
DAMN IT. But that’s for later. Beau jokes to Ruby (immediately after she gives birth) that they’re not giving either of the twins away. WTF! How is that possibly appropriate?? NO BEAU, NO. Ruby promises to herself that her twins will always love each other. Pearl is a little overwhelmed by all this (and as the four-years-older sister of twin brothers, I totally understand, but I still don’t like her) but aww they’re such a happy family blah dee blee. One day, Ruby gets a letter from Jeanne, telling her that Gladys had wanted the house purged of all Ruby-related items, but that Jeanne hadn’t had the heart to throw the enclosed away and thought Paul would want Ruby to have it. It’s a photo of Paul and Ruby, taken at that long-ago fais dodo when they just thought that they were normal teenagers on a date that got interrupted when someone called her a bastard and her date got into a fight with him. Who doesn’t have that memory? And All That Glitters ends with Ruby loking up at the sky, seeing a pirogue-shaped cloud, and thinking that she can hear Grandmere whispering in the wind, giving her hope.
Yeah, don’t bank on those voices too much, Ruby.
So that’s All That Glitters, ladies and gentlemen and Swamp Thing! Thank you so much for bearing with me with all of my starts and jumps and nonsense! I know I have a terrible track record with timely posting, but I really really appreciate every single one of you who’ve stuck with me and leave me all of these awesome comments, both here and on Facebook and Twitter. It really does mean a lot to me, and I’m glad you like my shenanigans.
Coming up in this space: Pearl Andreas does some stuff, Gabrielle Landry has a baby in an attic (heeeey), and as a very special jump ahead, I will be reviewing a certain movie version of a certain VCA work.
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*OMG I love you Orson Welles, I’m sorry but I had to.