Who could resist?
Margery had an appreciative eye for an efficient bathroom, and obviously loved a good soak in the tub. With that assumption, it’s no surprise that Cluny Brown (of Cluny Brown) had a passion for plumbing, and Martha (of Martha in Paris) fell in love–not with Eric, but with his bathtub:
‘Not only the full-length bath gleamed vitreous and pale green, but the walls as well; and the entire floor was covered with cork. A pair of beautiful big English towels hung rough and rich from a heated towelrail (Martha put her hand on it). The soap, two beautiful big tablets, one for the bath, one for the wash-basin, was Wright’s Coal Tar.
“It’s the best bathroom I’ve ever seen,” stated Martha formally’.
This was high praise coming from the taciturn Martha. She had reason for being susceptible to the seductive charm of Eric’s bathroom–she hadn’t had a good soak in weeks. As Sharp puts it (obviously from disgruntled experience)
“The bathroom was the least satisfactory: flakes of enamel from its antique tub adhered to Martha’s behind, also the water was never quite hot–“
Again–we find passion and bathrooms linked in Cluny Brown. Cluny is almost seduced by the rotund Mr. Ames when she is captivated by his newly remodeled bathroom. Mr. Ames recognizes an opportunity:
‘All his aplomb returned as he led her to the bathroom. It was the very place to arouse, as he now urgently desired to do, her wonder and admiration; he had confidence in his bathroom, and he was not disappointed. Before the enormous amber-coloured bath, the amber-tinted mirrors–the oiled silk curtains and innumerable shiny gadgets–Cluny in turn was bereft of speech. She gazed and gazed, till her eyes were like pools of ink.
“Nice?” prompted the owner.
“Heaven!” breathed Cluny.’
Add to that the famous opening line of The Nutmeg Tree:
‘Julia, by marriage Mrs. Packett, by courtesy Mrs. Macdermot, lay in her bath singing the Marseillaise…’
This turns out to be a convenient way to hold back the creditors, and keep them waiting she does:
‘She could stay in a bath almost indefinitely, and had often, during her periodic attempts at slimming, lain parboiled for two or three hours.’
If you’re familiar with the story of The Nutmeg Tree, you know that Julia goes hastily to France to answer a distress call from her daughter. Once arrived, she is greeted, not by her long lost daughter, but by a French maid, who asks the burning question of the day:
“Madame will take the bath?”