Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kevin et al

Firstly in response to Val. I am a little mystified that you feel so strongly about the plight of the girls in Memoirs….that that in itself would lead you to dislike the book, if that is the correct impression. Other books that we have read featuring courtesans; A Suitable Boy, A Cairo Trilogy, have included this cultural behaviour, which though not acceptable to us, was really just part of the narrative, trying to describe the behaviour of the era. Sally Heming and slavery also springs to mind. The 2D characters you mentioned were even more obvious in the film, I thought. Emily may wish to disagree.
Prostitution will always be a way out of poverty for some girls and I think Sayuri may have had a better life than she would have had if she had stayed in the fishing village or been sent to an orphanage. I certainly agree about the wartime narrative.
Homestead, with its light touch was in a different league with its own finesse.
I loved The Bone People and I am glad you did too, Kirsty. I read it twice and could read it again quite easily. Quite searing at times and the spirituality of the Maori culture gives an extra dimension.
I’ve just finished Kevin and am still feeling drained. I could not understand why L. Shriver used the irritating letter format and not a straight story telling style, but the ending is more powerful because of it, so perhaps that is why. I won’t elucidate .
Franklin did seem very forgiving, but that too gives purpose to the ending. This needs ‘Franklins Story’ as part two. One is left with many questions that can only be guessed at. Not every child who has a mother with postnatal depression will end up like Kevin, or there would be few children left in school, but the early days are very important and early diagnosis and treatment most desirable. I think I would find Eva rather hard work. Very bright and opinionated. She had a rather disturbed childhood due to her mother’s agoraphobia and was quite driven to travel as a response, even though it was a challenge. I think this also was extreme behaviour. Why was Celia so timid? Franklin did seem the most stable, but countermanding Eva in front of the children was asking for trouble. Was this a reaction to not getting his word in, in general? Was this potent mix of Kevin’s innate personality, sufficiently flawed, mixed with fairly average family dysfunction enough for such an outcome? Were the shootings just copycat or is there a real malaise in modern society sufficient to cause such outbursts? Are we poised for an increase over here? Although the characters were extremes, I thought this a very good read.