Doctor Fox looked at Elizabeth as he chewed, and nodded and smiled. She must be nearly forty now, like Dex. Thank God they were never foolish enough to marry, though no doubt Dexter had poked her when they were students. He felt like laughing. She was quite plainly not the marrying kind. Children out of the question. He saw her wide open eyes, her nervous nostrils, her desire to impress, something fancy and successful about her, and yet he felt sure she was the kind of woman who’d throw round terms like theorthodox feminist position. He washed down the crumbs with a swig of coffee and waited for her to speak.

Does the sentence in bold refer to former sentence "her desire to impress" or is it separate and we can write it like this : He saw something fancy and successful about her and mean "He saw something attractive in her and it seems to him that she is successful in some aspects"?

Does "fancy" here is adjective and mean "attractive"? and I think the sentence in bold is separate from its former sentence.

Source: The Children's Bach by Helen Garner

1 Answer 1


This strays into interpretation, but here goes.

The bold sentence refers to Elizabeth, or at least to Doctor Fox's perception of her. Dr. Fox thinks that Elizabeth gives the impression of someone who is fancy and successful.

Fancy doesn't mean attractive. It is closer to "elaborate, sophisticated, impressive". However it is a weak modifier. So "slightly elaborate..." or "not plain and simple"

It suggests Dr Fox has quite a high opinion of Elizabeth. But not necessarily that he finds her physically attractive.

  • Agreed. Paraphrase: "she gave the impression of being a fancy and successful person"
    – nschneid
    Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 20:18
  • Lots of thanks for your answer and comment, can we say he saw her as someone who have a impressive personality or is cultured? can we say fancy person is someone who attract people to herself with her good behaviours? Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 8:22
  • He thinks she is something out of the ordinary in some way. But there isn't much more to say. It doesn't have to mean cultured or good behaviour, but special, elaborate. It doesn't mean attractive
    – James K
    Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 8:31
  • Thank you, I got it. Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 9:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .