Stories of imprisonment

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-3-03-45-pm

Emma Donoghue’s much awarded 2010 novel Room (Picador 2010) is a recent read for me. I saw the wonderful movie of it last year. Having read the book, I think it catches the claustrophobic yet vividly alive world of the five year old child better, because the whole narration is in the child’s voice, and we imagine and live it only through him.

That said, of course this narrative method has a strong limitation. But first, an outline of the story. Since the book is six years old, and the movie a year old, I will assume that readers are familiar with the story of a woman and her five year old son Jack, locked in a small room, 12 feet square, with the only window to the outside world a skylight, and a locked door to which only their jailer, whom they call Old Nick, has the code. This story is based on several real life cases of women who were abducted and incarcerated and bore children to their abuser.

Donoghue has chosen to free her characters from the prison after Jack’s 5th birthday. “Ma” decides he is old enough now to understand that the world he knows only as Outside, that he knows of only through television and the light through the skylight, is real, a much bigger reality than the only one he has known since birth. The room is an extension of Ma’s womb, and Jack is utterly secure in it. It is populated with objects given personalities (Rug, Bed, Wardrobe, Plant, and so on) and with the stories, songs and games they play to pass the time. There are a few books which he knows by heart, and thanks to Ma he is highly literate and numerate. She has worked very hard, we come to see, to educate and nourish him and to keep him happy and safe. Indeed, she is a hero.

The plot twists half way through the book, after Ma begins to inform Jack of the reality of Outside and the fact that Room is a prison. Jack is reluctant to accept this at first, but gradually is forced to admit that Ma is very unhappy and wants to escape. The escape plot that Ma hatches is dangerous and could have gone very badly wrong. But for my part, I accepted the imaginative logic of the story; that short of divine intervention, and given the extreme secrecy of their captor and the measures he had taken to keep their existence hidden, there is no other way. So I suspended my disbelief when the escape succeeded. The telling of it is gripping.

The limitation I mentioned above of the narrative method is much more evident in the second half of the story. In the first half their world is enclosed, with only glimpses of Old Nick told by Jack as he listens and sometimes watches from his safe place in the wardrobe. The claustrophobia is perfectly conveyed by Jack’s voice, who does not see it for what it is, so we have that dual perception, that irony, that is used in masterly ways in other fictions of childhood like The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Prince, and others. What we are not told, what Jack does not see or understand, what lies between the lines, we imagine.

The dual perception is much harder to sustain once they are in the outside world. The world they inhabited is gone, and Jack must learn and get used to the myriad diverse and complex places, rituals, people, objects and events that  they are confronted with. He must also accept there is not just me-and-Ma now, that his Ma’s reality is much bigger than him. There is another story here, of course, that of Ma’s painful re-entrance, adjustment to freedom, to her parents, to dealing with past trauma and health challenges, to facing the future as a ‘free’ agent. This is where I am most aware of the limitation, because we can only glimpse her unfolding and adaptation through Jack’s eyes and snatches of overheard conversation. So we must accept this is and remains Jack’s story. But for me, her story shadows it and begs to be told.

That said, his voice is superbly created and sustained, much of it in dialogue with Ma, interspersed with Jack’s descriptions of his thoughts and actions, of Ma, and later, of Outside and other people. And sometimes of his rationalisation of the strange ways of the world, so that, with Swiftian irony, his child’s eye view critiques the way we live:

In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. Even Grandma often says that, and she and Steppa [her second husband] don’t have jobs, so I don’t know how persons with jobs do the jobs and all the living as well. In Room me and Ma had time for everything. I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter over all the world, so there’s only a little smear of time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on to the next bit.

Also everywhere I’m looking at kids, adults mostly don’t seem to like them, not even the parents do. They call the kids gorgeous and so cute, they make the kids do the same thing all over again so they can take a photo, but they don’t want to actually play with them, they’d rather drink coffee talking to other adults. Sometimes there’s even a small kid crying and the Ma of it doesn’t even hear.

And a personal note by the author on her webpage:

Room was inspired by… having kids; the locked room is a metaphor for the claustrophobic, tender bond of parenthood. I borrowed observations, jokes, kid grammar and whole dialogues from our son Finn, who was five while I was writing it. Room was also inspired by… ancient folk motifs of walled-up virgins who give birth (e.g. Rapunzel), often to heroes (e.g. Danaë and Perseus).  Room was also inspired by… the Fritzl family’s escape from their dungeon in Austria – though I doubt I’ll ever use contemporary headlines as a launching point again, since I didn’t like being even occasionally accused of ‘exploitation’ or tagged ‘Fritzl writer’.

3 Comments

Filed under stories of imprisonment

The Hunger Games trilogy

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins, has been an acclaimed best seller and made into a film.screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-8-37-44-pm

This YA story is not for the fainthearted. I started to read it because I wanted to know if it is suitable to read to my 11 year old grandson. A few pages in, I knew it is not. Maybe when he’s 17! That was the age my two older grandsons were when they told me the story of it, and it’s taken me ten years to get round to reading it.

It is a confronting, thrilling, dark fantasy of an apocalyptic time when a tyrannical clique of ruthless oligarchs and technocrats rule over the known world, which is divided into 12 districts. As in the Roman Empire and the gladiator games, and in ancient Greek times in the myth of Theseus and the minotaur, the rulers in the Capitol, for their sadistic amusement, select two young people from each district to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. The heroine Katniss selects herself by taking the place of her young sister Prim, who she knows would not survive. Her opponent from her district is Peeta, who fell in love with her when she was about 10 years old, unknown to her, and remains devoted to her, despite a time later on when he is captured, tortured and brainwashed by the Capitol, and believes her to be a morphling, a synthetic being who assumes the body and appearance of a real person with demonic, destructive intent. But I’m jumping ahead. That’s the stuff of books 2 and 3. Once I’d read book 1, I was hooked, and within the space of about 3 weeks had read all three books.

Katniss is a complex young heroine, skilled as an archer and a hunter, through her long friendship with another boy from her district, Gale, who, we learn as the story unfolds, is also in love with her. She and Gale, in pre-Hunger Game days, had spent many happy hours hunting in the wilds behind their settlement, as their district 12 was more permissively policed than some of the other districts. She is feisty, outspoken, moody and uncompromising; a typical teenager, in fact. She also has a big heart and a fierce loyalty to those she loves, and more courage than even she knows.

The first twist to the plot is that although the two opponents of each district are enemies to each other as well as to the other district fighters, the hidden puppeteers, the Capitol mob, decide to allow Katniss and Peeta, who manage to kill all the other fighters, to be joint victors, and they are promenaded and feted as lovers destined to marry. Katniss is ambivalent about this, unsure how she feels about Peta (or Gale for that matter), but plays along with the game for the sake of the survival of herself and her district. This is a reality game on a mega scale, and is a dark satire on the whole genre of reality TV. What happens when the known world is ruled and manipulated by a sadistic coterie of rulers who force the characters, like puppets in a theatre, to fight, to work, to mate, to hurt, to kill, to starve, to suffer, using the tropes of the warrior and the lover to manipulate the audience and keep them from dwelling on the real slavery of their lives? What happens when the puppets use their intelligence, courage and charisma to subvert power and bring the masses to rebellion with the dream of returning to a more humane, democratic way of life?

Katniss, who becomes known as the Mockingjay, is regarded as a potential saviour of the districts from their slavery and suffering. She struggles with this role, and with her divided love and loyalty for Gale and for Peeta, and she and people she loves pay a terrible price for rebelling.

Unlike The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, which I read a few years ago, and found monotonous in its intensity and narrow cast of characters, The Hunger Games is gripping, shattering, moving, and with it all, the kind of book that you put down at the end with sighs of relief and admiration. Its power is not in the poetics of the hero story, but in the thrilling, ever-changing plot and the large caste of colourful characters, some of whom are realised in depth, and a packed toolbox of special effects which don’t dominate the story but do work seamlessly with the plot to keep you turning the pages. It is also memorable for its theme, which is about humanity refusing degradation and slavery and the cost of doing so.

Here’s an excerpt which reflects the profound humanity and compassion underlying the violence and darkness of this world. In book 3, Mockingjay, Katniss visits the wounded in the epic struggle of the revolution against the Capitol. She moves amongst the wounded rebels, who call out her name.

“I hear my name rippling through the hot air, spreading out into the hospital. ‘Katniss! Katniss Everdeen!’ The sounds of pain and grief begin to recede, to be replaced by words of anticipation. From all sides, voices beckon me. I begin to move, clasping the hands extnded to me, touching the sound parts of those unable to move their limbs, saying hello, how are you, good to meet you. Nothing of importance, no amazing words of inspiration. But it doesn’t matter.… It’s the sight of me, alive, that is the inspiration.”

There is inspiration, there is hope, there is love, there is loyalty, there is courage, lighting up this dark, apocalyptic world. When all seems lost, humanity triumphs. This is a powerful theme, and is worked to the maximum in a brilliant, original and gripping thriller.

9 Comments

Filed under apocalyptic novels

long novels

I”ve read a few long novels lately, starting with The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (reviewed last month), and have just finished her first book, The Secret History, published after eight years under the pen in 1992.

images-1

First off, I like The Goldfinch better, and I’m glad I read it first. Tartt made a huge splash with her first book, and it has been much reviewed and discussed. So I won’t attempt a deep review here. Just a few impressions.

The story of the intelligent, awkward, reserved young man from a blue collar family in California who happens to land in a classy New England college, and almost by chance finds himself in a small, select group of students studying classical Greek with a brilliant professor who hand picks his students, is unusual, bringing together many strands: young adult angst and identity fragility, class consciousness and snobbery, elitism, Greek mythology and philosophy, the power of Dionysian ritual brought to life, a messy accidental death and a nasty, premeditated murder, incest, the corrosive effects of guilt and fear of being found out, unrequited love… and more. The story begins in the voice of the narrator, Ricard Papen, with these haunting words:

I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.

And tell it he does, at length, opening with the the murder of Bunny, the squeaky wheel in the small group of friends, then reflecting on his own fatal flaw: “A morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.” This is a story in which myth comes alive in unlikely modern dress. The irony of the narrative is that for much of the story, Richard sees through a glass darkly. He is excluded from the secret history, as are we, despite the opening confession. It takes 3/4 of the 629 pages before we understand the events that lead up to Bunny’s murder, and more before we discover the nature of the relationship of the beautiful twins, Charles and Camilla, Camilla’s secret love for another member of the group, and the true nature of the remote but charming and charismatic figure of the professor who is the adored and admired mentor and centre of the group and secretly, revered as a father figure by Richard, who feels only shame, dislike and contempt for his natural parents.

Such stories cannot end with redemption. Instead, we have another death, this one self-administered, and each of the remaining friends, Richard tells us, declines into a sad, unglamorous, messy sort of life; love is unrequited, and all that promise, those glittering young lives, are wasted. The last few pages let the story down, I felt, giving us a summary of the rest of the lives of the minor characters, who were mere shadowy puppets on the wings of the main action. Only the last page or so revives the dark, sinister shadows that haunt the main story, when Richard sees Henry in a dream. Henry was the central figure in the Dionysian ritual that went so wrong, and the messy murder of Bunny. He was always enigmatic, secretive, a little sinister, and he died young. In Richard’s dream, he tells Richard … well, I won’t say, in case you haven’t read it. He then excuses himself, saying he is late for an appointment. So we are left wondering if this is a ghost, if he has some power beyond the grave still to affect those who loved him.

Why do I like The Goldfinch better? Starting with negatives, I find the characters in The Secret History remain shadowy and two-dimensional. Even the narrator, and I wonder if this is a deliberate narrative strategy. If it is Richard’s reserve, his shame about his background, his secrecy about his feelings, his lack of confidence, that keeps him an outsider to the group, seeing them only in part, too reticent to dig deeper and find out what’s really going on. So they are seen through his eyes, and we see them like figures in a sketch, with a lot of shading but not much definition. Similarly, what I find to be skippable prose at times may be because he gets preoccupied with superficial things, thoughts and pursuits, such as drunken partying with other college mates, and denies his own intellectual and moral virtues, selling them short, hiding them, going along with the crowd or the group until it is too late to make a stand, to separate himself, and he gets dragged into their dark, secret lives despite himself.

As I write about it, I see more in it, though I still found the actual reading of it less engaging and fulfilling than I did of The Goldfinch; there, I entered much more into the narrator’s life and the worlds he inhabited.

I have reserved her second book, My Little Friend, at the library.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Lincoln and the end of slavery

Returning to this review, prompted by Facebook, I want to see Lincoln again!

Writing Lives

I don’t often write about movies here, but this one has caught my spirit in such a way that I must write about it.

My son  was called after Abraham Lincoln; my husband and I went to see “Mister Lincoln” a one man stage show, played by the great British actor, Roy Dotrice, when I was very pregnant. (It was a brilliant piece of theatre). We hadn’t decided on a name then. But I turned to my boy’s father during the performance, and said “Abraham’s a good name”, and he agreed.

If you haven’t seen Lincoln, it’s well worth it. It is a challenging film to watch, as it’s very dense with dialogue, and much of the politics and history is unfamiliar to one who is not American and has not studied American history. It focuses on Lincoln’s push to get the 13th amendment to the constitution passed. stating:

View original post 351 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My book of the year

Yes, I’m three years behind in my reading (at least). I’ve just read Donna Tartt’s 3rd novel, The Goldfinch, published by Little, Brown in 2013, and awarded the Pulitzer prize in 2014.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 3.04.54 pm

The cover features a glimpse of the famous, priceless painting by Carl Fabritius (1654), which is the metaphorical subject of the novel, and the key to its plot and central character. The fact that the painting is only glimpsed through a tear in the cover page is a clever symbol for the part the painting plays in the life of Theo Deker, aged 13 when the story starts, and about 27 when it finishes. The image of it inside the cover of the actual book is dull and unremarkable. Here is another reproduction which shows something of its understated, imprisoned beauty more clearly.

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 3.12.23 pm

Theo and his mother visit the Museum of Modern Art to escape a rain storm and to fill in time while waiting to have an interview at Theo’s school about his suspension for smoking. Theo’s mother is beautiful, and loves him unconditionally. When he escapes from the Museum, shattered by a bomb blast, some hours later, he has lost her, and carries with him The Goldfinch. He doesn’t believe she is dead at first, because he couldn’t find her body as he stumbled and crawled around the room she had been in before the blast.

This loss, and the almost accidental acquisition of the painting, shape his life henceforth, her death the dividing mark between Before and After. I’m not going to summarise the plot; suffice to say that he drifts from being an awkward guest of a wealthy family whose son is his friend, to several years in Las Vegas with his father, a would-be reformed alcoholic who is addicted to pills and to gambling, then back to New York, where he finds refuge, comfort and some sort of purpose in living with Hobie, the elderly, eccentric, gentle and gifted furniture restorer. Hobie  was the business partner of an old man Theo tried to help as he lay dying in the Museum, who had given him Hobie’s address, and in another window of lucidity in his delirium, urged him to rescue The Goldfinch which lay, ripped from its frame, nearby.

So the book falls into three parts, each dense with detail and characters both high- and lowlife, in a plot that has many surprising twists and turns. The dramatic events which start Theo’s journey through life as an orphan, the reversals and cul de sacs that follow, and his character as an orphan who grows up, not without a strong moral sense, compassion, and capacity for love and devotion, but lost, despairing underneath, and finding solace in drugs, fraud and crime (including the theft of the priceless painting, which is a talisman for his mother), have inspired many reviewers to call the novel Dickensian. I can see the parallels but find it intensely modern, first of all in its setting, in the capitalist centres of New York, uptown and downtown, in Las Vegas and in the old world yet cosmopolitan European, unfriendly back streets and hotels of Amsterdam. Also in the rich, contradictory, tormented consciousness of Theo, the narrator-protagonist. Dickens’ characters are always seen from outside, even in the first person, whereas I feel, with Theo, that I am there with him, even in the most unlikely and desperate situations. At the same time, the characters he meets and is involved with are portrayed with deft strokes, vivid detail, and dialogue that is cadenced and convincing. One of the most three-dimensional characters is Boris, his streetwise friend from Las Vegas, who shares the unfortunate biography of a mother lost when he was young and a violent alcoholic father. Boris is Russian-Polish, and learnt to speak English in Australia, so he speaks a slightly stilted but colourful dialect. He is tougher than Theo, harder, and ultimately more optimistic, though he has his own suicidal trajectory. When Theo asks him, on their dark, dangerous adventure involving The Goldfinch in Amsterdam, why he shoots up (which Theo draws the line at), Boris replies that he is a ‘chipper’, who does it only on special occasions:

That said, Boris added somberly—blue movie light glinting off the teaspoon—I am alcoholic. Damage is done, there. I’m a drunk till I die. If anything kills me—nodding at the Russian Standard bottle on the coffee table—that’ll be it.

Why do I love this book? It had me gripped, in a world so unfamiliar, so rich and strange and often uncomfortable and dark, yet shot with intense shafts of light, a vision of life that I do not share yet can empathise with through Tartt’s magical storytelling. One such moment of intense light is early in the story, when Theo meets again with Pippa, a girl his own age who had been with the old man who died in the Museum. She  sustained a bad head injury in the blast, and is still recovering at Hobie’s when Theo sees her again, in bed in a darkened room, listening to classical music on her iPod. She gives Theo an earbud and they listen together to Palestrina. Theo had fallen in love with her when he had glimpsed her in the Museum before the blast; indeed, he had left his mother looking at paintings to make his way to the section where she was standing with the old man, which is how it happened that his mother was killed by the blast and he was not. Hobie appears at the door to tell Pippa it is time to go with her aunt to live.

The hem of a sheer curtain brushed a windowsill. Faintly, I heard traffic singing in the street. Sitting there on the edge of her bed, it felt like the waking-up moment between dream and daylight where everything merged and mingled just as it was about to change, all in the same, fluid, euphoric slide: rainy light, Pippa sitting up with Hobie in the doorway, and her kiss (with the peculiar flavor of what I now believe to have been a morphine lollipop) still sticky on my lips. Yet I’m not sure that even morphine would account for how light-headed I felt at that moment, how smilingly wrapped-up in happiness and beauty.

Loss is a strong theme in this book; Theo’s loss of his mother, of his father, of Pippa, who grows up to be with someone else, of The Goldfinch, of the double identity he has built up for himself in his life and work with Hobie. Outwardly, he is a successful businessman, who rescues Hobie’s world from bankruptcy. In reality, he jeopardises that world by selling fake antique furniture. The loss of The Goldfinch in Amsterdam (read the book to find out how) is his Damascus experience. Thereafter he returns to New York, to Hobie, and sets about making good the frauds he has committed by buying back the fake pieces. But there is no redemption for his soul, no romantic ending. He continues to believe that “life ends badly for all of us, even the happiest of us, and that we all lose everything that matters in the end”. But there is a twist: “as cruelly as the game is stacked, … it’s possible to play it with a kind of joy”. The joy comes from the moving qualities he finds in the impermanence of hotels, the moments of beauty, the spaces between the notes of music. Art survives death, and Theo’s love for that impossible golden bird has helped it, like other beautiful things, to ‘sing out brilliantly from the wreck of time to the next generation of lovers, and the next.’

Of course, this begs the question of whether his long possession of the painting did really protect it, whether its survival was not a matter of chance and Boris’s underworld dealings as much as of Theo’s love for it. In some ways, the final message for me is itself as flawed as is Theo the character. But that doesn’t lessen my joy in it.

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Great modern novels, Uncategorized

War stories

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a Pulitzer prize winner and has been on the best selling list in Australia for some time.

images-1

Yet I have put off reviewing it, just as I put off reading it. I bought it at the airport on my way to Perth at Christmas time, and read some of it on the plane. As soon as I found other books to read, I put it aside, and kept doing this until I had nothing left to read, then I finished it. I’m not sure why I was and am so lukewarm. This book has been critically acclaimed, and many reviewers on Goodreads give it 5 stars. I would give it 3 and a half. 3 for moral worthiness and invention and metaphorical intensity, and half for characterisation and narrative construction. It is an unusual war story, taking two children from opposite sides of the war, Nazi Germany and occupied France, and winding their semi-captive lives on separate spools until finally they weave together briefly, only to separate again. Perhaps this is part of my resistance. I feel their lives have been engineered by the author from the start, as if he’d said ‘how can I show how it was to be a child with few choices on each side of the war, and how, when they are brought together, they can both transcend the war and yet remain captured by it?’

This conscious construction is evident for me in the structuring of the story, which is told in brief, alternating episodes, counterpointed with episodes in another voice, that of an ageing, terminally ill Nazi officer hunting for a priceless treasure that the French girl is unknowingly keeper of. I found the toing and froing of the narrative very distracting, especially as the time frame keeps changing between remote and recent past and present, in no particular order (that I could see). Dates are put at the front of each section, but I had to keep referring back to them to keep track.

As for the characters, each of them is unusual, verging on deformed or damaged, in different ways. Marie-Laure, the French girl, is blind from the age of six, and so perforce lives in a world she cannot see yet imagines vividly through other senses. This become particularly intense in the climactic scenes when she is being hunted by the Nazi officer. He is bizarre in his insane obsession with the treasure and disregard of the bigger picture of which he is part. Werner, the German boy, is gifted, a self-taught genius in electronics, which wins him survival in a Hitler Youth school and a job hunting Resistance fighters. An orphan, his emotions are constricted, his main object of affection (in absentia for most of the story) being his sister, until he meets Marie-Laure, only to have to separate from her to save her life. Each character, in their own way, could unfold as a unique  and tragic /grotesque study in loss, obsession and survival. Intersecting their lives should intensify their strange beauty/grotesquerie. Clearly, many readers feel it does. It didn’t work for me. Marie-Laure seems more real than the others, but she is so rarefied and un-childlike, she remains an idea for me.

This book reminded me of The Book Thief. I was a dissenter from the admiration it received too. I find them both over-constructed, and for different reasons, disengaging.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, War stories

Memoir of late love

Elopement: a Memoir by Maureen Helen  is an engrossing read, which held my attention from start to finish. This although I had already read the story a couple of times, having edited an earlier draft and a later one. Maureen is a friend of mine, and I knew her during the years when she was living the life described here, and then writing the story of it.

943952_779399388861669_5488618912939803018_n

It seems an unlikely story — two septuagenarians, Maureen and John, life-long friends, falling in love a couple of years after the death of John’s first wife, and deciding to elope rather than have a family wedding. An interesting and risky choice, as was brought home to them when their friends and family found out. But not one they regretted, as they enjoyed their honeymoon in Paris and the south of France. The falling in love happens slowly, from its tiny beginnings on a holiday together in South Australia, to its unfolding while they work together to paint and restore John’s beloved old yacht, Amigo Diablo, and Maureen tentatively explores the pleasures and risks of sailing. Falling in love and getting married is the easy part. The hard part is living together for the first four years in the house John and his first wife had shared, and where she died painfully of cancer, nursed by John. Not only does Maureen feel out of place in a house saturated in the past and furnished in a style and in a suburb she does not like; she has given up her own pretty house and garden, her car, her independence, won over many years as a single parent, graduate/postgraduate student and career woman in allied health. She has a large and close family, who all accept and quickly grow to love John. But John’s smaller family are still grieving for their mother, and resent Maureen’s new place in their father’s life.

The most engaging quality of this book is the writer’s honesty. She is very frank about her turmoil of feelings, her resentment, regret, anger, and despair, which are not unrelieved, but increasingly affect her health and their relationship. She becomes ill, and there is a crisis, which brings about a fresh start and the fundamental changes on both sides needed for their relationship to recover, for their ‘earlier, unexpected old-age-love’ to re-emerge.

There are several risks Maureen takes in writing and publishing this memoir. First, to write a story of their love and shared life together while in the midst of it, so to speak; and to do this at an early stage of their marriage. This is a story that couldn’t wait to be told, since Maureen needed to write, which kept her spirit alive, and ‘time and tide wait for no (wo)man’. To write such a memoir which gives a frank picture of a marriage and its trials and discontents, and of the tensions and discords with family members, is a courageous act. To do it with the knowledge and blessing of the partner speaks volumes for the strength of their relationship and commitment to each other.

The theme which emerges most strongly for me is that celibacy and independence, Maureen’s lifestyle choice before she fell in love, can be a happy, fulfilling pathway; she gave up  more than she realised when she made the choice to marry. But Maureen is able to do things with John, like sailing, travelling in Australia and overseas, caravanning, that she would not have done alone at that stage of her life. The regret for what is lost that afflicts her through much of the years described is resolved, and a mutually satisfying balance is found.

The tension and empathic unease I felt through many pages dissolved, and I closed the book feeling happy, not only that my friend has found a new, fulfilling life, but that she has written a story of it which will engage, move and inspire readers.

 

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized