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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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First Impressions

You may not be far enough into the novel to be able to talk about the story as a whole, but what are your first impressions, your early sympathies and suspicions? How do you size up the Bartons? Do you have a clear picture of each of them yet?
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LeftBrainer
Posts: 55
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Re: First Impressions

My first impression. Thank God I was born in the later half of the 20th century. Nancy
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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

I'm with you, Nancy. No good old days for me, either.
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Raabe
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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First Impressions

I could instantly visualize the Bartons and their home. There's room for sympathy for each of the characters but I could identify most with Mrs. Barton - even though she carries things just a little too far.
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Since1864
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎06-20-2007
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Re: First Impressions

I've actually finished the book, but my first impression was that it was much heavier reading than the Christopher Moore book I just finished. haha
I read Mr. Phillips' introductory statement and I think that the reason the book is so intriguing is because of the idea that perhaps the ghost didn't create the fear, but the fear created the ghost.
Any thoughts on that? Which section was your favorite?
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Trillian
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎11-16-2006
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Re: First Impressions

After two chapters -- equal parts growing tendrils of horror and real affection for the mother and daughter! Angelica's seriousness about the window and the tower seems to me to be just right for a four-year-old.

So far I feel sympathetic to Constance's anxieties (though I can't tell yet why she's so fearful of going to bed with her husband) and of course Joseph comes across as a petty tyrant. But I get the feeling those impressions are going to be shown to be only one part of the story...
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.-- Oscar Wilde
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caterina3
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎07-05-2007
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Re: First Impressions

Phillips' elegant prose brings the 21st century reader back to the Victorian era when women were submissive and expected to be non-sexual. For Constance to want to sleep with her husband would have been more odd than not. I've only just finished Part One and have found Constances' desires weaved into the story. Will the remaining parts bring questions about Barton's typical Victorian male control of women? I'm looking forward to reading on.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

Historical fiction is my favorite genre, so I am relishing that part of the book. I find the appearances of the ghost to be intriguing. I can't figure what's going on! Also, I am dying to know what the smell was/is!
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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x-tempo
Posts: 102
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

My first impression is that Angelica is an English novel, but I don't know if that's correct. For instance, I was surprised to hear Zadie Smith describe On Beauty - a novel set at a university in Cambridge, Mass. -- as an occasion to teach herself to write an English novel, or at least a certain kind of English novel. I think what she means is that her inspiration was Howards End by E.M. Forster, a novel which explores social class in Britain during the Edwardian era. I haven't read The Turn of the Screw, but is there a similar relationship between Angelica and the Henry James story? Reading Angelica I'm very conscious of British social class issues.

Zadie discusses the Englishness of On Beauty at the very beginning of this interview:

http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/bw/bw061109zadie_smith
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Trillian
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎11-16-2006
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Re: First Impressions

Interesting comparison. I got the sense that The Turn of the Screw is a kind of a red herring here ; I mean that it definitely is a book that reminds you (and maybe is supposed to remind you?) of The Turn of the Screw (I haven't read a lot of Henry James, but that *is* one I'm familiar with!) but in this book you have the multiple perspectives, the re-telling of the story from different points of view. That wound up giving it a very different "feel" to me.

I also only late into reading it realized that it reminded me of The Prestige by Christopher Priest. I'd be curious to know, Arthur, if you have read that book and what you thought?



x-tempo wrote:
My first impression is that Angelica is an English novel, but I don't know if that's correct. For instance, I was surprised to hear Zadie Smith describe On Beauty - a novel set at a university in Cambridge, Mass. -- as an occasion to teach herself to write an English novel, or at least a certain kind of English novel. I think what she means is that her inspiration was Howards End by E.M. Forster, a novel which explores social class in Britain during the Edwardian era. I haven't read The Turn of the Screw, but is there a similar relationship between Angelica and the Henry James story? Reading Angelica I'm very conscious of British social class issues.

Zadie discusses the Englishness of On Beauty at the very beginning of this interview:

http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/bw/bw061109zadie_smith


We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.-- Oscar Wilde
Author
ArthurPhillips
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎07-03-2007
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Re: First Impressions

I have read The Turn of the Screw several times, but have only seen the film of The Prestige, last year. The James novel was very much an inspiration - and to that extent the comparison to Smith and On Beauty is a fair one. I did set out to write an English novel of that period (although I don't know if Turn of the Screw was before or after James got his British citizenship). And, I did want to make social class a conscious part of the book, not to make any particular point about it, only because it is necessary to give the story a certain feel.


Learn more about Angelica.
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x-tempo
Posts: 102
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

The societal attitudes toward Constance's marriage seem very cruel. For example, the woman who sees her coming out of the house makes a big show of what seems like insincere sympathy for her having to make deliveries for her employer. I think his house is even described as an Italian bordello. I even wondered if counter-jumping might have some connotations for religious conversion (with the counter as a church altar) since Joseph is a "papist."

I was thinking of The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles, a Victorian romance whose narrator in the 1960s comments on Victorian England of the 1860s as well as events in the 20th century. The main character Charles Smithson is an amateur scientist with an interest in Darwinism who has a Victorian sense of duty and an unquestioned belief in the societal norms. Sarah Woodruff is an outcast who becomes the subject of Dr. Grogan's pseudo-scientific diagnosis of hysteria, ostensibly because of her melancholy for a former lover, but really because of her nonconformity to the role of women as wife and mother. So in that sense, it describes the Victorian era as one of social change. I wondered if something like that might apply here.
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x-tempo
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

I thought of the French Lieutentan's Woman because Joseph tells Angelica that the cloud they're watching is the shape of a fossil at the Dorset cliffs.
Author
ArthurPhillips
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎07-03-2007
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Re: First Impressions

It's funny - I read The French Lieutenant's Woman in 11th grade, and have since forgotten it entirely. The Dorset cliffs comes from my son's endless fascination with paleontology: a little girl really did find the first Ichtyhosaurus there!


Learn more about Angelica.
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