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.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Ballad and the Source

The novel gripped me to the end as I always assumed Ianthe would pitch up and I would then understand everything. Although I did find the language and format a bit trying at times, overall I enjoyed it, but felt I needed to read it again as it was so dense I had undoubtedly missed things. Anyway Ianthe's appearance was a disappointment as I felt it explained nothing. Was she really mentally ill or was the implication that she had been driven there by the abusive behaviour of the men in her life? I suppose we must assume she was, because of the doctor's comments about Cherry; OR perhaps any woman who behaved in an unconstrained manner and looked at a man more than once was branded by men as mentally ill? But Cherry was a bit young for that sort of a judgement.

The fact that the whole novel was written in an interview style rather than told in the midst of the action as it unfolded I found unsatisfactory, but perhaps that reflects the age of the book.

Language, imagery and depth of expression all quite stunning, although sometimes I needed to re-read whole passages and still did not really understand them.

Sibyl was clearly a very complex character - women's libber, well educated and urbane, very perspicacious and eloquent, but sometimes self obsessed and naive and obviously very manipulative and 'capable of anything'; despite her aspirations to educate women she was still very much a product of her class and time - money/house etc all left to boys only. I guess manipulating was the only way to get any power or get her way in a man's world. Poor old Harry - had she driven him to drink or was he already a drunk when she met him? Her life was perhaps a good example of all the reasons women needed to be liberated and have choices about whether or not to work - a woman who was not allowed ot be self-determining but was still intelligent and educated almost burning up and turning into a destroyer as she had nothing else to get her teeth into. Maisey was a beacon of hope for a different sort of future!

As to Mr Golightly, what can I say. It took me the whole book to work out who he was supposed to be - perhaps I switched off because the style annoyed me so much! References to modern technology but written as if it was a very elderly character, bizarre sexual references which seemed to have no point (perhaps they were funny but I am not good at spotting humour in books!), swopping styles in an almost arbitrary way. I did not know what she was getting at, and even when the penny dropped I was still not really sure what the point of the novel was. Grr, have to say I would not have finished it if I had not thought it was a book club choice!