Taylor Swift’s “White Horse” is Lethal White’s Perfect Playlist Selection.

I don’t know how popular Taylor Swift is in the UK, or if JKR RG is a country music fan, but if either of those is true, I’d be willing to bet Swift’s  “White Horse” is is the song the author had in mind for her official playlist, rather than Andrea Ross’s “White Horses.” See my earlier post for links to both tunes. Ross’s song, of course, gave away fewer spoilers, and therefore was the safer choice for a pre-publication interview. For the same reason, I’ll explain why after the break, for the benefit of those still reading.

Citing Taylor Swift’s song would have made it clear that the Robin-Matthew marriage buys the farm in Lethal White. But, looking through the lyrics, you can find multiple echos to the song in the text.

Say you’re sorry
That face of an angel
Comes out just when you need it to.

During the final showdown, the Flobberworm interrupts his abusive tirade (cursing, snatching Robin’s phone away, mocking her voice and job) with a brief period of seeming contrition (“‘Robin,’ he said, suddenly earnest. ‘We can get through this, if we love each other, we can.'”) before renewing his aggression (more cursing, belittling and physically trying to block her.) Thus, he puts on a good face, when he thinks it will help.

As I paced back and forth all this time
‘Cause I honestly believed in you
Holding on
The days drag on

Robin paces back and forth on the beach on the honeymoon. wondering if she should stay in her marriage. Her resolve to give the union a shot makes her drag it out for over a year, and long after she knows it is over.

Stupid girl,
I should have known, I should have known

Robin says almost this same line to herself after she discovers the earring in her bed and realizes all the clues she had been ignoring:  “I’m so stupid, so bloody stupid.”

That I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale
I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet,
Lead her up the stairwell.

Robin’s wedding setting is fairy-tale perfect, with the dress, the flowers, the church and picture-taking near a 17th century castle. Staircases come into play several times, but never with Matthew leading her up.  At the wedding reception, she drags the groom upstairs to the bridal suite, not for an early honeymoon, but to confront him over the deleted phone messages. There is the memorable “hug on the stairs” with Strike. Finally, Robin remembers several times how difficult the marital mahogany bed “her father-in-law had bought” had been to move upstairs, most notably after she discovers the earring.

This ain’t Hollywood, this is a small town,
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down
Now it’s too late for you
And your white horse, to come around

The wedding takes place in Robin’s small, rural hometown. That the Flobberworm let her down goes without saying, and, once she discovers his cheating,  it’s far too late to fix it.

Maybe I was naive,
Got lost in your eyes
And never really had a chance
My mistake I didn’t know to be in love

Robin has little experience with men, having been faithful to Matthew since they began dating at the tender age of 17. She cannot discern if her feeling for Cormoran is love, friendship or excitement about her dream job.

You had to fight to have the upper hand
I had so many dreams
About you and me
Happy endings

Matthew has certainly gained the upper hand in their relationship. as his university degree and higher paying job has made Robin financially dependent on him, despite her starting out with higher grades and more academic potential. She accuses him of actually being glad she dropped out of the university and established herself as an “underachiever” so he could feel superior.

And there you are on your knees,
Begging for forgiveness, begging for me
Just like I always wanted but I’m so sorry

The Flobberworm literally gets on his flobber-knees to beg her not to leave, as he crouches by her throne-like chair. She rejects his plea, almost regally.

‘Cause I’m not your princess, this ain’t a fairytale
I’m gonna find someone someday who might actually treat me well
This is a big world, that was a small town
There in my rear view mirror disappearing now

Robin realizes how badly she’s been treated, and that she deserves better and so makes her final decision to leave. She is not thinking of a relationship with Strike then, so the “someone, someday” is appropriate. Matthew is now her childhood love, from the small town; she is prepared to leave him behind and make her way in London on her own, with her own circle of friends. And, she makes eye contact with the cabbie in the rear view mirror as she’s leaving, and the cabbie, although a total stranger, assures her things will get easier.

And its too late for you and your white horse
Now its too late for you and your white horse, to catch me now

And thousands of Robin fans said, “Amen!”

Is all this coincidence, just common themes that appear in multiple literary and musical accounts of romantic splits? Only “Mr. Galbraith” knows for sure. It’s an awfully close fit, though. Though I did not know this song prior to googling it a few days ago, I think this just became my second favorite break-up song, next to another anthem appropriate for Ms. Ellacott:  Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.

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