celia harper


Third quarter – portrait of a marriage

Images 1 to 6 above

Jack knocks at the door and when Rosie opens it, she doesn't realise Phryne is with him.

Rosie: Oh it’s Jack (gasps). I thought it was father. It’s that policeman’s knock. Just – (she clasps her hand to her heart)

Jack: We’ve come to speak with Mrs Harper.

He uses “we” and Rosie realises that he is not alone. Her face changes instantly,

Rosie: And of course Miss Fisher.

Phryne: Miss Sanderson

Rosie: Please call me Rosie

Phryne: Likewise, Phryne (lengthy, embarrassed pause). Is this a good time?

Rosie: Yes, I’ve just come to help Sidney with preparations for Harry’s service this afternoon.

Rosie is taken aback with Phryne’s presence and her then use of “of course” indicates that she knows that Jack and Phryne have a partnership/relationship. She is also keen to point out that she isn't living with Sidney and thinks it’s important to make it clear that she is there for the arrangements for the afternoon. Hmm, I think she looks quite at home.

There is an interesting sequence where Celia is asked about her now dead husband Harry’s state of mind, and following her departure from the room, the shape of the Harper marriage is considered.

Rosie and Fletcher, Jack and Phryne are positioned as couples throughout the scene. Their body language and eye contact reveal more than the words spoken.

Celia Harper: I’m sure there were things that Harry didn’t share with me.

Looks are then exchanged between Jack and Rosie, Jack and Phryne. There are layers to this comment from Celia. There were things she didn’t tell her husband too, such as her affair with his vice-captain and their plans to go away on the cruise. But more poignant is that this could be about another husband not sharing things with his wife, it could be Rosie speaking about Jack.

Phryne: Were Celia and Harry happy together do you think?

Spiv: They’d only been married a couple of years.

Rosie: (defensive) I think they had a perfectly good marriage. Celia said they were planning a cruise to the continent at the end of the season.


Phryne: Sounds romantic.

Rosie: (reflective) I thought so.….

(looks exchanged: Rosie and Jack; Jack to Phryne)

Rosie: (later, referring to the service that afternoon) It would be so much easier for Celia if there were not a police presence.

Jack: Of course.

We know that Celia and Harry’s marriage was not happy, that there was infidelity that “Harry was a useless husband and didn't give a damn about Celia” according to Vincent Barlow, his vice-captain and Celia’s lover. Celia says to Phryne “Harry was too wrapped up in his own problems to have any time for me.”

Take Celia/Harry out of the conversation, and it could be the Jack/Rosie marriage being considered not the Harper’s.

When Rosie asks for no police presence at the service, is she asking for Celia, or for herself?

Phryne: I assume you never took Rosie on a continental cruise?

Jack: No but I did take her to Mrs Moller’s holiday cottages at Lawn.

Phryne: Excellent choice.

They have got to the point well beyond awkwardness. Phryne can ask Jack and he can respond jokingly about his former marriage and relationship with a woman Phryne has now met several times. Perhaps Jack is over the relationship but Rosie may not be quite in that camp.

At the service Phryne (as the police representative one assumes) and Rosie are able to speak comfortably together about Celia Harper and her possible relationship with Vincent Barlow.

Rosie: Phryne Fisher, I didn’t know you were an Abbotsford supporter.

Phryne: It’s a fledgling interest…

Rosie reveals Celia having asked for advice about a divorce.

Phryne: Intuition or observation? Sometimes one becomes the other … a gesture…a little too intimate…

This is also a reflection of each woman’s feelings about Jack’s past and present, each observing the other, intuitively gauging where they stand in relation to him, and to each other.

After the three quarter time break, the final quarter.

So Celia was pregnant and gave birth to another son, Red. Hurray. 

And now I suspect she’s all preggers again, because all of that throwing. She and Cid have been risky woohooing behind my back all the time and now they are multiplying like bunnies… Damn you risky woohoo, damn you.