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Early Chapters, 1 - 8

[ Edited ]
Please use this this thread to post your ideas about the novel from the opening, through chapter eight (where Piper and Cornelia take a walk together).


Message Edited by rkubie on 05-05-2008 04:14 PM
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vivico1
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Chapter ONE ONLY

I started to write this under first impressions, thinking you could read the whole first chapter online and when I checked, I was wrong so thought I better put it here, it goes to both questions I guess.

My first impressions, and this is based solely on chapter one so should be no spoiler, are a couple of things. First, any author who can work Armand Assante into the first part of a book, and have it be with the same reaction I seem to get when I mention his name, has definitely got my attention! LOL. Granted, his looks have changes some (stupid eyelift!) but he is a star I know, and thought was hot and when I mention him, I get blank stares back at me. Then I can't even think of what he was in to find something to help them relate! LOL. I fall back on, remember the hot Frenchman in Private Benjamin that she almost married?? Some almost, nearly, are just on the edge of remembering something about some guy in that movie but...! hehehe. So that hooked me, I love what I call, the boys who were already born tan lol, so Teo is also interesting me. Then she throws in Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof too! Holy cow! I was a kid with most of Elizabeth's movies but I do remember and love them. Hope there are more things like those I can bond with,like "Law and Order" too!

The best tho, of course, is the first interactions between Cornelia and Piper. OH man this is so real its funny. We women can be like circling pit bulls, sizing each other up, sniffing whats in the breeze. Piper seems to me to have her nose up in the air far enough to do it lol. I LOVED when she said, "Cornelia. Now thats a different name!" and Cornelia thinks, "Different from what? Hephzibah?" OH that got me cracking up and loving these women for different reasons. And I loved her calling Piper, Pepper hehehe. Can I be sitting on Cornelia's side of the proverbial table at this point? The whole interaction about the yard is great! I think she should do the pink flamigo thing lol.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8

I had a hard time thinking ill of Piper ...even through her nasty comments about rhododendrons, etc., because I knew there had to be reason for her behavior. She acts like someone who has an attachment disorder - afraid to really connect with people because she's been hurt in the past. I feel bad for her.
 
"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." - Groucho Marx
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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8


FitMolly wrote:
I had a hard time thinking ill of Piper ...even through her nasty comments about rhododendrons, etc., because I knew there had to be reason for her behavior. She acts like someone who has an attachment disorder - afraid to really connect with people because she's been hurt in the past. I feel bad for her.



Ahh, we do love our labels! I fostered a girl for awhile with an Attachment Disorder and trust me, this aint it lol. Piper is just one of those women, caught up in appearances. She was probably the same in high school and college. When you are raised in a small town or in the burbs, which are like small towns of their own, its like cliches never go away. Someone is the Prom Queen and someone is the butt of the jokes. I was raised in a small town and it was like Peyton Place the way people talked about everyone! Then I lived in the city and found this not to be true so much, because I hung out with people from work more than my neighbors and both were very diverse kinds of people. Now I live in a rural area and all you have to do it go to church and you will see how "set" some things can be, all you have to do is accidently sit in some family's spot that you didnt know was "THEIRS"! I hate the idea of attaching "disorders" to people but there are some very stereotypical characters here, and in the burbs for real. The interesting part is figuring out which one you are lol. :smileywink: I think those women like Piper, who are at the top of the pecking order and can be pretty uppity about it (you almost expect the white glove treatment at your house, always with one eyebrow raised), can become a whole new creature when some event or someone, causes her position to HAVE to shift. Then is when you find they either have no layers or have some very deep wonderful ones. I am sure one of these will apply to Piper as we get further into the book. Right now, she is a hoot to me, because I know a few of these women and I do so love to "tilt their world" just a bit, it doesnt take much and thats what is so amusing to me. What is interesting is that for as much as they may act appalled at me at times, they still come around and seem to enjoy my company. Its like they are dancing near the flame and its why I can't be mad at them when they tell me you dont wear spring colors in the winter VIVIAN! lol. They are just wound a bit too tight. I guess I amuse them too cause I do see that glint in their eyes that is that bit of a stiffled giggle, that thing that says, I can't do that myself but oh I do enjoy when you do. So understand, when I say they amuse me, or I amuse them, understand I do not mean in a hateful, or better than you are, kind of way, I mean, in an enjoyment kind of way. There is some kind of affection in there, but from a distance lol.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8



FitMolly wrote:
I had a hard time thinking ill of Piper ...even through her nasty comments about rhododendrons, etc., because I knew there had to be reason for her behavior. She acts like someone who has an attachment disorder - afraid to really connect with people because she's been hurt in the past. I feel bad for her.



One of the best responses I've heard to the book is that it's caused women to reevaluate the Pipers in their lives, not necessarily to like them more, but to view them with curiosity or compassion or interest. I think we all probably have moments in which we see someone's exterior and assume we know just who they are (anyway, I know I've done this!). What interests me about Piper is both how little others really know her and, more than that, how little she knows herself. She's not particularly introspective and generally believes her own hype. I'm not even sure she'd be insulted by how Cornelia views her; she might take it as compliment! What was so amazing about writing Piper was watching her come to a truer understanding of who she is--even if she has to get dragged kicking and screaming toward this understanding!
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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8

Absolutely ... and it makes me like Cornelia more, that she does give Piper a chance - even after the insults. So many woman never get over ONE insult. They could have been enemies for life ... and would be in some books. These characters are so deep.
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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8



MarisadelosSantos wrote:

One of the best responses I've heard to the book is that it's caused women to reevaluate the Pipers in their lives, not necessarily to like them more, but to view them with curiosity or compassion or interest..... What interests me about Piper is both how little others really know her and, more than that, how little she knows herself. She's not particularly introspective and generally believes her own hype. ... What was so amazing about writing Piper was watching her come to a truer understanding of who she is--even if she has to get dragged kicking and screaming toward this understanding!

That's a marvelous insight into Piper... thank you for sharing it with us. It rings absolutely true. She is the counterpart of Cornelia, who has a deep self-awareness. Piper spent much of the book on a sort of emotional auto-pilot.
 
When the opthalmologist's memory stubbornly kept resurfacing into her consciousness, she was confused;
.... she realized that Teo was the catalyst that brought those memories back. I loved her slip-of-the-tongue comment when Elizabeth asked her about Teo, Piper referred to him as an opthalmologist.
 
Self-understanding can sometimes be a very painful process... we have to learn to forgive ourselves. Something that Piper probably isn't used to.
 
IBIS
 
 
IBIS

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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8



IBIS wrote:

Self-understanding can sometimes be a very painful process... we have to learn to forgive ourselves. Something that Piper probably isn't used to.

True.  I don't think initially Piper thought she had anything to forgive herself about.
Laura

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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8



Fozzie wrote:


IBIS wrote:

Self-understanding can sometimes be a very painful process... we have to learn to forgive ourselves. Something that Piper probably isn't used to.

True. I don't think initially Piper thought she had anything to forgive herself about.



One parallel that sort of occurred to me late in the game, as I was almost finished with the book, is between Piper and Toby. Neither takes much time for introspection, but both are do-ers, in very different ways. Toby takes tremendous joy in the physical, in play. Piper is in constant motion, as well, taking care of her own family and Elizabeth's, creating spreadsheets, checking items off her to-do lists. She might not be terribly insightful (at least not at first) or terribly nice to you, but if you have a crisis at 4AM and need someone to jump in and help, she's your woman. Neither one of these characters looks inward much, until they're pushed into really demanding situations.

Marisa
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Re: Early Chapter 2, page 19

I like the way in the first chapters, we are seeing people's initial reactions to each other and the stereotypes, not just through their eyes but I think through ours as we read what they think or say. In sticking to who we see Piper as, in just these early chapters, the Piper that makes me roll my eyes at her and see her as stereotypical, page 19 really says a lot about her as she is now. I keep saying now or early on because the book has got to be about changing people and relationships but that needs to be revealed at the times it was in the story. I am afraid to read the threads on the individual characters yet because I figure they will talk about them as seen from the end of book perspective and I don't want any of the wonderful unfolding of a story, or a character to be a spoiler.

This is a great part about Piper's feelings on appropriateness, here in dress, but really in general. She doesn't mind much being thought of as snobbish for her beliefs but does mind more being thought of as shallow. Hey, who does want to be thought of as shallow and as for snobbish, we can all find a way to blow that off as someone else's problem. This is a great line about Piper overall, " While she would never have put it quite this way, for Piper, appropriateness meant the opposite of chaos; Piper's trust in it was akin to other people's trust in God." What a wonderful line and description! How many people do we know that worry more about what is appropriate than what is really important! And I can see that she would see it as opposite of chaos. Piper likes order and no surprises and status quo. Chaos, even in its most adventurous or fun state of affairs, to Piper would be messy and she doesn't do messy! But also, what is appropriate is different in different people's eyes. Piper's version is very static and self centered. I wonder which would horrify her more, to be at a dressy party with a woman there with the exact same outfit on, or to be at a party with a woman there in worn out jeans and flipflops. And then, which would she try to fix first in some way. LOL!
Vivian
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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8

I really liked how Cornelia and Lake met and how at ease they were with each other. I know how hard it can be, being new in a town, hungry for new friendships and her first candidate, Piper didn't seem to be a candidate lol. But with Lake, their eating and talking, on page 49, how fun! " I stared at her. Spaghetti alla puttanesca, great listening ability, a sense of humor, and hair that looked nothing like a newscaster's. All this and Cukor,too?.......My cup ranneth over." LOL. I think Cornelia immediately fell in "like" with Lake! And meeting Lake's son Dev, well Dev is a post all his own I know, he is amazing, and so is his relationship with his mom. I really have loved all of Cornelia's thoughts and humor and about everything so far but at the end of chapter Seven, I was a bit disappointed with Cornelia's reaction to Lake kind of drawing in on some subjects. Good grief, this is a great friendship building but it is brand new and everyone has things that are hard to talk about at first. Cornelia was a bit unsure about a few things herself. I don't get what is happening in their convo there, what the heck happened to change it so and make them both pull back when things were going so well. Something is up, maybe both have been hurt. Women can be the best of friends, a most wonderful part of your life and unlike any other, but because we have the ability to get so close to each other, share so much with each other, women can also hurt you badly or become your worst enemy because they know you so well. This was a weird conversation towards the end and I hope not headed for the worst women can be to each other instead of the best.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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When you don't fit in the groups

There are a couple of times that you get the feeling of "who" fits in and who doesn't. Right when Piper meets Cornelia, she tells her, they were hoping for a "family" to move in, as if Cornelia and Teo don't represent a family. And she's a bit hurt because of their baby situation. Later, in chapter 8, page 116 is this, "The truth was that there was no room in Piper's world for a divorced mother." All the activities they do, involves families together and she can't even imagine being a divorced woman.

This idea, or feeling or situation is so true and so common, that I am wondering if any of you have run into this. I am a 51 single, never married woman, and I did ok clear through my 30s, or at least as long as I was in the workforce and had divorced friends to hang out with. But at this age and single, its very hard. (Also the number of single men, drops to nearly zip to date! lol) I am tight with my church and have friends there, but not really any to hang out with because they are either all married and still have kids at home and jobs and there is just no time. There is also the problem of living in a very small town and everyone is family, so when women my age go and do things, it is family type stuff or they go with a sister or family member. I have been close friends with a couple of women, a bit younger who have families and I was good friends with them and their hubbies and the kids called me Aunt Vivian and I loved them to pieces. The problem with that tho, is very often in your 30s and 40s, your friends are not exactly "settled for life" and they are moving with careers to far off places, other states, one went to another country even! I not only lost my best friend but what was like an extended family to me, their kids. I am almost afraid to get too close to someone now with kids at home. You do get invited to things, family affairs, big family oriented parties, cookouts, etc but you really are kind of stuck around the periphery.

I find this interesting being mentioned here from Piper's point of view. I don't think she is being snobbish about it so much as just knowing inside from her own observation, what it would mean for her, to be that person, that divorced, hanging around the edges person and would probably at this point rather be married in name only, just about, than be on what she sees as the "outside".

Have any of you experienced this in your life? I know your out there reading these posts, I can tell by the numbers LOL, so join in somewhere, lets get some discussions going! Its midmonth now. :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Re: When you don't fit in the groups



vivico1 wrote:
There are a couple of times that you get the feeling of "who" fits in and who doesn't. Right when Piper meets Cornelia, she tells her, they were hoping for a "family" to move in, as if Cornelia and Teo don't represent a family. And she's a bit hurt because of their baby situation. Later, in chapter 8, page 116 is this, "The truth was that there was no room in Piper's world for a divorced mother." All the activities they do, involves families together and she can't even imagine being a divorced woman.

Have any of you experienced this in your life? I know your out there reading these posts, I can tell by the numbers LOL, so join in somewhere, lets get some discussions going! Its midmonth now. :smileywink:

Hey, Vivian.  I was busy talking with Chris Bohjalian this week, but am back now.
 
My family and I are a stereotypical family; mom, dad, two kids, living in essentially suburbia.  I could imagine being divorced with kids and continuing my life here, but it would be different.  If I were single, without kids, I would not live here.  I would be in a bigger city with more adult cultural opportunities.  I have heard from several women, members of older couples in my neighborhood, either without kids or empty nesters, that they have found it hard to meet people in the neighborhood.  I could understand that completely.  It was in attending kids things that I met most people, or else out walking that I met people in my immediate neighborhood.  I would think that is a common experience, and why, as I said, I would live in a bigger city with more adult cultural and social opportunities.
Laura

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Re: When you don't fit in the groups


vivico1 wrote:
 "The truth was that there was no room in Piper's world for a divorced mother." All the activities they do, involves families together and she can't even imagine being a divorced woman.

Have any of you experienced this in your life? I know your out there reading these posts, I can tell by the numbers LOL, so join in somewhere, lets get some discussions going! Its midmonth now. :smileywink:

 
There are so many divorced people now. I can't imagine what it must feel like to be put back into the dating pool after so many years. I have friends who have divorced and remarried and I sometimes wonder how they survived it, especially when they both have kids of their own. And it gets even more complicated when they have more children together. Than it's yours mine and ours. I know it works great for some and not so great for others. It must be such hard work though to have to deal with so many new relationships at once. You wouldn't be dating just one person anymore.
 
I know that's not exactly what you were asking about Viv but it's what I seem to be seeing more and more of lately. I have a friend in her late 40's and she always worried about not having a man in her life. All of her friends were getting married around her but she was still single. She did have boyfriends often but they were never husband material. About 10 years ago she was living with a boyfriend and she got pregnant. It wasn't part of the plan but she was thrilled. They started talking about getting married but his divorce from his first wife wasn't final yet. This went on for a while, long after the baby was born. More and more things started going wrong for him. He was out of work, liked to play the lottery, liked to go out to the bars...This drove all of us crazy because it was like she was supporting two children but we kept our mouth shut. Finally she threw him out. What a relief! She will always be tied to him because of their child but she didn't marry him. She had to see it for herself though. She still hasn't married anyone but she is a happy person. Her child has given her a whole new life and more self confidence. She would like to marry someday but now she doesn't feel like she has to. She knows she is a complete person on her own.
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Re: When you don't fit in the groups


Wrighty wrote:

vivico1 wrote:
"The truth was that there was no room in Piper's world for a divorced mother." All the activities they do, involves families together and she can't even imagine being a divorced woman.

Have any of you experienced this in your life? I know your out there reading these posts, I can tell by the numbers LOL, so join in somewhere, lets get some discussions going! Its midmonth now. :smileywink:

I know that's not exactly what you were asking about Viv but it's what I seem to be seeing more and more of lately. I have a friend in her late 40's and she always worried about not having a man in her life. All of her friends were getting married around her but she was still single. She did have boyfriends often but they were never husband material. About 10 years ago she was living with a boyfriend and she got pregnant. It wasn't part of the plan but she was thrilled. They started talking about getting married but his divorce from his first wife wasn't final yet. This went on for a while, long after the baby was born. More and more things started going wrong for him. He was out of work, liked to play the lottery, liked to go out to the bars...This drove all of us crazy because it was like she was supporting two children but we kept our mouth shut. Finally she threw him out. What a relief! She will always be tied to him because of their child but she didn't marry him. She had to see it for herself though. She still hasn't married anyone but she is a happy person. Her child has given her a whole new life and more self confidence. She would like to marry someday but now she doesn't feel like she has to. She knows she is a complete person on her own.



I am glad she has found herself Wrighty, thats important. I get nuts with women, like my mother even, who feel they can't live without a husband and so they just get married to be married. She did that like 6 times now! As for me, its not about getting or being married, I have been asked 5 times in my life but when I took time to ask myself, ok is this someone you want to spend your entire life with, an always thing, the answer always seemed to be no. So if I didn't feel that level of commitment with them before hand, i wasnt going into it to find that out after. And its not that I don't want to be married. I have had health issues yes that cut into my best dating years, but I am not dead yet lol. I am not looking now tho either. If it happens, that I find that kind of love ok, if not, I am still a whole person. What does bother me tho, is what I was saying, how as a single 51 year old, I dont really "fit in" with these little groups in this little town without a husband to double date or group date with, or at least kids to do a parent and kids activity with. Its not like there aren't divorced women out here my age or singles I am sure, but I am now unable to do a lot of the activities that would allow me to meet them. So, its not about being married or not that is hard, its about not having just a few really close friends to hang out with and talk to on a daily basis or go places with and not feel invited "because she has no one". That line, and it is said out loud, makes me feel that THEY think I am not complete without a partner, when I think I can be rather fun to hang with as I am lol. But there are places and small towns more so than big cities, where people need you to fit into a "proper" group, fit the mold, be the same as everyone else, so they know what to do with you! Piper reminds me of that so much I want to kick her in the rear end! :smileywink: And I definitely relate to Cornelia's near ecstasy in her meeting Lake and liking her, looking forward to being friends with her so much and see, it wasnt about having a man in her life either, she has one, and seems like a great one to me. Its about having someone socially, or that female bonding that we all need. Or just merely, a great friendship!
Vivian
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Re: When you don't fit in the groups



vivico1 wrote:
I get nuts with women, like my mother even, who feel they can't live without a husband and so they just get married to be married. She did that like 6 times now! As for me, its not about getting or being married, I have been asked 5 times in my life but when I took time to ask myself, ok is this someone ...
If it happens, that I find that kind of love ok, if not, I am still a whole person. What does bother me tho, is what I was saying, how as a single 51 year old, I dont really "fit in" with these little groups in this little town without a husband to double date or group date with, or at least kids to do a parent and kids activity with....
But there are places and small towns more so than big cities, where people need you to fit into a "proper" group, fit the mold, be the same as everyone else, so they know what to do with you! Piper reminds me of that so much I want to kick her in the rear end! :smileywink:

Many people would rather be married than be alone no matter what their relationship is. My father said exactly that to me when he was going through his divorce from my mother. He was afraid he would be alone so he went right out and remarried. I understand that fear but he didn't even give it a chance. He may have liked it.
 
I'm sure it wasn't easy to turn down proposals Viv but it sounds like you thought it through first and didn't rush into marriage anyway. It's too bad more people don't do that. It's an important decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. If it happens, that I find that kind of love ok, if not, I am still a whole person. Good for you, you are a whole person. 
 
I've noticed that it's hard for singles to fit in around couples here too. It's being the extra wheel thing. Of course that doesn't always happen but when so many activities are centered around being a couple it makes it difficult for someone who isn't paired off. I thought that was important Viv when you mentioned how society often feels the need to put us into categories, into the "proper" groups. We are uncomfortable when someone or something  doesn't fit our expectations of normal. That is how Piper runs her own life. Everything is structured, orderly, proper, nothing can be out of place. She would never want to be in the position where her life had a drastic change. I haven't finished the book but I can't imagine she would ever go through a divorce unless it was absolutely unavoidable. She would stay in a loveless marriage forever just for appearance sake.
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Re: When you don't fit in the groups



Wrighty wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
I get nuts with women, like my mother even, who feel they can't live without a husband and so they just get married to be married. She did that like 6 times now! As for me, its not about getting or being married, I have been asked 5 times in my life but when I took time to ask myself, ok is this someone ...
If it happens, that I find that kind of love ok, if not, I am still a whole person. What does bother me tho, is what I was saying, how as a single 51 year old, I dont really "fit in" with these little groups in this little town without a husband to double date or group date with, or at least kids to do a parent and kids activity with....
But there are places and small towns more so than big cities, where people need you to fit into a "proper" group, fit the mold, be the same as everyone else, so they know what to do with you! Piper reminds me of that so much I want to kick her in the rear end! :smileywink:

Many people would rather be married than be alone no matter what their relationship is. My father said exactly that to me when he was going through his divorce from my mother. He was afraid he would be alone so he went right out and remarried. I understand that fear but he didn't even give it a chance. He may have liked it.
I'm sure it wasn't easy to turn down proposals Viv but it sounds like you thought it through first and didn't rush into marriage anyway. It's too bad more people don't do that. It's an important decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. If it happens, that I find that kind of love ok, if not, I am still a whole person. Good for you, you are a whole person.
I've noticed that it's hard for singles to fit in around couples here too. It's being the extra wheel thing. Of course that doesn't always happen but when so many activities are centered around being a couple it makes it difficult for someone who isn't paired off. I thought that was important Viv when you mentioned how society often feels the need to put us into categories, into the "proper" groups. We are uncomfortable when someone or something doesn't fit our expectations of normal. That is how Piper runs her own life. Everything is structured, orderly, proper, nothing can be out of place. She would never want to be in the position where her life had a drastic change. I haven't finished the book but I can't imagine she would ever go through a divorce unless it was absolutely unavoidable. She would stay in a loveless marriage forever just for appearance sake.



If it's hard to live a life other than that of a married woman with kids anywhere, I think it would have to be the suburbs. The city is full of people who have made all different kinds of choices and who are in that particular place for all different kinds of reasons. The biggest reason people live in suburbia--at least in my experience--is to have a relatively safe, reasonably affordable place to raise children. My husband and I moved out of Philadelphia when our kids were four and one, partly because our son was nearly school age, and in our neighborhood, school-aged kids were getting scarce. But I have to say that I like it that my kids can ride bikes and hear crickets at night and camp out in our (tiny) backyard. Where we live now (which is technically a city but feels more like a suburb), so much of social life revolves around kids and their activities or married couples doing things together with and without their children. I'm not sure it would be hard to be my age and single, but I think it would be a challenge to have been part of the world of couples and kids and then be suddenly a single mom, and I don't think I'm a person who is particularly invested in fitting in. I think that, for someone like Piper, moving from the center of that circle to, at best, the edge of it, is terrifying.

Marisa
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Re: When you don't fit in the groups



MarisadelosSantos wrote:

I'm not sure it would be hard to be my age and single, but I think it would be a challenge to have been part of the world of couples and kids and then be suddenly a single mom, and I don't think I'm a person who is particularly invested in fitting in. I think that, for someone like Piper, moving from the center of that circle to, at best, the edge of it, is terrifying.

Marisa

That's a very good point. I wonder what would cause Piper more stress - going through a divorce and being a single parent or what it could do to her reputation and her social status. In effect that has become her career and I don't think she could handle being demoted.
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8



FitMolly wrote:
Absolutely ... and it makes me like Cornelia more, that she does give Piper a chance - even after the insults. So many woman never get over ONE insult. They could have been enemies for life ... and would be in some books. These characters are so deep.


I liked Cornelia for that reason also. And I am glad she befriended Piper and we learned in depth about Piper's true soul. 
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters, 1 - 8



Fozzie wrote:


IBIS wrote:

Self-understanding can sometimes be a very painful process... we have to learn to forgive ourselves. Something that Piper probably isn't used to.

True.  I don't think initially Piper thought she had anything to forgive herself about.


This is so true. We do not always see in ourselves what others see from just a glance. It takes us much longer.
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