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Rachel-K
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Piper

I'm not sure that Piper is my favorite character in the novel, but she is my favorite subject when talking about the novel so far. When Piper had her first walk-on in the book, I found her horribly, deliciously evil and I laughed happily at being able to experience the absurdity of her chipper suburban conformity without having to be her neighbor-victim.  100 pages later, I loved her and wanted someone just like her on my side. I loved Elizabeth for choosing her as a friend, and found Piper to simply be needing someone with a good strong backbone (and elegant home-decorating taste) to help her feel at home in the world.
 
How did your feelings for her change, or did they? Is she more a rigid, anxious conformist or a strong, super-confident organizer? Does Elizabeth change your feeling for her? Do we ever stop getting the humor of her as a character?
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vivico1
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Re: Piper


rkubie wrote:
I'm not sure that Piper is my favorite character in the novel, but she is my favorite subject when talking about the novel so far. When Piper had her first walk-on in the book, I found her horribly, deliciously evil and I laughed happily at being able to experience the absurdity of her chipper suburban conformity without having to be her neighbor-victim. 100 pages later, I loved her and wanted someone just like her on my side. I loved Elizabeth for choosing her as a friend, and found Piper to simply be needing someone with a good strong backbone (and elegant home-decorating taste) to help her feel at home in the world.
How did your feelings for her change, or did they? Is she more a rigid, anxious conformist or a strong, super-confident organizer? Does Elizabeth change your feeling for her? Do we ever stop getting the humor of her as a character?



Is this kind of a later book question? Cause if Piper is evolving and not what I read in the first several chapters, then if I read about another side of her or something, thats news. The Piper in the first part of this book, heck no I wouldn't want her as a neighbor! I take it, thats going to change? hmm, well thats a bit of a spoiler, I am enjoying disliking her at the moment, the thoughts and convos are so hilarious!
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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IBIS
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Re: Piper

Piper is definitely a complex character... she is introduced to us through Cornelia's eyes... we've all met women like her... flawlessly dressed, shining and polished with the perfect blond bob, the ice-queens... the Tippi Hedren and Grace Kelly of Hitchcock's glamour girls... in sharp contrast to the dark-haired, petite Cornelia.

Like Cornelia, my first reaction was to dislike her instinctively, on the spot... its obvious that she dislikes Cornelia, and since we've gotten to love Cordelia intimately... how could we not side with her?

So if Piper dislikes Cornelia on sight, then she must be unlikeable in turn... at least that's how I reacted.

Viewing Piper through a more distancing prism allows me to see her through the eyes of other characters... through her interactions with others. Seeing her apart from Cornelia... from Elizabeth's POV, from her husband's... even from her children's.

Once we get to know her more personally, I found her sympathetic, complex and definitely a friend I would love to have... I would definitely treasure her excellent taste and suburban smarts.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Rachel-K
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Re: Piper

Hi Vivian! Hi Ibis! Good to see you both! I don't think I'm offering any real spoilers to point out that our perception of Piper deepens considerably. A book begins to become much more significant for me when the characters step out of my initial judgments and take on their own "real" lives--and Piper certainly does that--and not too far in.
 
We will have to talk later about whether we escape with any of our initial impressions perfectly intact in this novel!
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SandyS
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Re: Piper

Piper is such a complex person - so complex she doesn't even know it.  I was almost afraid for her when I read the following:
 
pg 74: "While the box was meant to hold jewelry, almost as soon as she got it, without planning it out beforehand, Piper made the box a container for anger, sorrow, and wishes.  For example, if Piper got mad at her mother, as she often did, she'd go to her room, open the box, whisper her rage into it, close her eyes, and - sliding her fingers slowly out from under it - let the lid fall.  As soon as she heard the sound, the sound that meant the box was as closed as anything ever got, as closed as a pharaoh's tomb, she could walk away, lightened and able to love her mother as a daughter should."
 
This paragraph made my heart hurt for Piper.  She seemed so unable to deal with the real world.  Then a small part of me thought, well maybe she is healthier than all of us.
 
SandyS
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vivico1
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Re: Piper


SandyS wrote:
Piper is such a complex person - so complex she doesn't even know it. I was almost afraid for her when I read the following:
pg 74: "While the box was meant to hold jewelry, almost as soon as she got it, without planning it out beforehand, Piper made the box a container for anger, sorrow, and wishes. For example, if Piper got mad at her mother, as she often did, she'd go to her room, open the box, whisper her rage into it, close her eyes, and - sliding her fingers slowly out from under it - let the lid fall. As soon as she heard the sound, the sound that meant the box was as closed as anything ever got, as closed as a pharaoh's tomb, she could walk away, lightened and able to love her mother as a daughter should."
This paragraph made my heart hurt for Piper. She seemed so unable to deal with the real world. Then a small part of me thought, well maybe she is healthier than all of us.
SandyS



Actually, I thought this was quite a creative way to deal with it when sometimes even trying to work it out with people, you know is not going to work. I wished I had one of these boxes to do just this with about my mother growing up and even now. And then to be able to walk away and be ok? That's not so bad, its not that its not coping with reality, this IS her coping mechanism. And at least it gets it out of her, its her release. I think too, my mom really needs one even more than I do. She can't let go of anything and you are never allowed to fall in her eyes or by her standards. She has gone on and on and on for years about giving people something, a gift, and them not thanking her enough, or not properly. If they call and thank her, or thank her in person thats not enough, its got to be in writing! If not, they are ungrateful and not worth giving anything to, a quote actually. I have never been able to convince her what a gift is, that even if you never hear from them at all, its a GIFT and if you can't give something without expecting some thing back, without being angry if you are not rewarded the way you want, just dont give it and you wont be upset then! I won't go into what my life has been with her, lets just say, she doesnt like me, I didn't live the life she wanted, instead I lived mine. It is really a sad situation and those of my friends who know her,just, well, anyway, we could both use one of those boxes lol.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Fozzie
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Re: Piper

SPOILER (just in case)
 
When I closed the book at the end, I mentally applauded Piper for how far she had come mentally/emotionally.  She is the character who grew the most, I think.  She went from being a totally superficial, externally oriented woman to a more balanced, caring, internally oriented woman.  Sure, she was still the same Piper, quick to judge, but now willing to stop and examine and think about things on a deeper level.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Wrighty
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Re: Piper

I agree that Piper is much more complex than she lets on. My first impression of her was that she was the perfect stereotype of the up-tight suburban housewife who would do anything to keep from showing her flaws. Appearance means everything to her. I haven't finished the book yet but I'm beginning to think that Piper hides some of her best qualities. She is a loyal and devoted friend to Elizabeth but it doesn't seem like many people know that. I'm not sure if it's because it's too private or if she views it as a flaw to show that much emotion. I'm very curious to see where her journey takes her. Especially with the comic relief that Cornelia provides. I love her humor and she is kind enough to be tolerant but confident enough to be herself and speak her mind. Her exchanges with "Pepper" (out loud and in her mind) are a riot!  :smileyvery-happy: 
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Fozzie
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Re: Piper



Wrighty wrote:
Appearance means everything to her. I haven't finished the book yet but I'm beginning to think that Piper hides some of her best qualities.
Yes!  I think she is afraid that if she shows that she is caring, loving, and heaven forbid, insecure sometimes, that she would lose her social position.  Would she or would the women of her circle become more accepting of her and themselves, benefiting everyone?
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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vivico1
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Re: Piper


Fozzie wrote:


Wrighty wrote:
Appearance means everything to her. I haven't finished the book yet but I'm beginning to think that Piper hides some of her best qualities.
Yes! I think she is afraid that if she shows that she is caring, loving, and heaven forbid, insecure sometimes, that she would lose her social position. Would she or would the women of her circle become more accepting of her and themselves, benefiting everyone?



That could really be a mixed bag of reactions. To accept that Piper could be insecure, unsure and not on top of things all the time, could actually scare some of her group, maybe even disgust some, as some things disgust her now. Mostly, in order to accept her that way, that would mean they would have to evaluate themselves and this doesnt sound like a group of women who particularly want to go beyond "skin deep" simply because thats a lot of work and very scary stuff. If you find you have weaknesses that you have hid well, from even yourself, then you have to find a new way to deal with them. People in general are put off by those things that scare them, that may be inside them, themselves, that they just don't know how to handle when they see it, so they get angry at the difference or disgusted or find a way to ignore it again because the unknown is frightening. Its like why so many women as we talked about, or men, will remarry in a blink of an eye, or stay in abusive relationships, to avoid the unknown because that seems scarier. Its also why we have racism and prejudice, not because there is any real thing to be worried about, but because we are afraid of what we dont know and make up things to fit why we hate what we do.

I think Piper's journey will not be overnight, but I think when the ball gets rolling and with the help of Elizabeth and even Cornelia, she will find things in herself that arent so bad afterall. And I doubt at the end of the road, she will have many of her same old friends, they would have to be willing to take a journey too, and I think it may be easier for most of them to fit a different Piper into one of their "catagories", than to face the fact that they may be different than what they have made themselves to be too.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Wrighty
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Re: Piper



vivico1 wrote:
 To accept that Piper could be insecure, unsure and not on top of things all the time, could actually scare some of her group, maybe even disgust some, as some things disgust her now. Mostly, in order to accept her that way, that would mean they would have to evaluate themselves and this doesnt sound like a group of women who particularly want to go beyond "skin deep" simply because thats a lot of work and very scary stuff.

 
I agree Viv. Most people are afraid of the unknown and if you've developed a persona that you present to others you may not be interested in changing it. I do think that Piper could lighten up a bit and show that she does have emotions and a heart. That doesn't mean she has to break down and cry in front of others. It seems like any crack in her armor is a defect to her. She is a leader among her friends and they would follow anything she said or did. I don't think she would lose her social position, it's not like she'd be changing her whole personality. I can't imagine she would ever let her guard down very much but I would think more people would be attracted to the softer side. It's made her extremely close to Elizabeth.    
 
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kiakar
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Re: Piper



rkubie wrote:
I'm not sure that Piper is my favorite character in the novel, but she is my favorite subject when talking about the novel so far. When Piper had her first walk-on in the book, I found her horribly, deliciously evil and I laughed happily at being able to experience the absurdity of her chipper suburban conformity without having to be her neighbor-victim.  100 pages later, I loved her and wanted someone just like her on my side. I loved Elizabeth for choosing her as a friend, and found Piper to simply be needing someone with a good strong backbone (and elegant home-decorating taste) to help her feel at home in the world.
 
How did your feelings for her change, or did they? Is she more a rigid, anxious conformist or a strong, super-confident organizer? Does Elizabeth change your feeling for her? Do we ever stop getting the humor of her as a character?


My feelings for Piper really changed after Elizabeth's story was revealed.  She literally took over for Elizabeth not like a friend or neighbor but as a close sister or mother would have done. When a person has a heart like this, you have to forget about the snobbishness she shown earlier.
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Rachel-K
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Re: Piper

 
 
Yes, you have the sense that every fiber of her being is invested in what she's doing, and that her care-taking is totally instinctive. Remember--when we are first introduced to Tom--how furious she is at him for just looking tired? She certainly has fight when it comes to the people she loves.
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vivico1
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Re: Piper ************ end of book spoiler warning*************

I have two feelings about Piper by the end of the book. Of course the overriding one is, welcome to your life Piper! And hello to the freedom to BE! I love how Piper evolves into more than I think even she thought she could be. I hate that it took the death of her best friend to bring it begrudgingly out in her, but she become so much more than another suburbia Stepford Wife. It cost her some friends too but gained her others and so much more about herself. Piper is capable of a deep love and Kyle was not worth wasting it on. She really didn't know how stifled she had let herself become. I think her relationship with Tom, after Elizabeth's death was perfectly fine. A lot of people think a dead friend's spouse is off limits for LIFE! She didn't take him from Elizabeth, but at the same time I think Elizabeth was kind of giving him to her and her to him. I think Piper and Tom both grew a lot.

It was kind of funny to hear Piper and Cornelia starting to "like" each other lol. You get the feeling even they are thinking, what the heck? But its great. Here is my other feeling about Piper by the end of the book, that was just a fun thought and not the main one, that is above, but I have to tell ya, there was just a tiny part of me that was missing the old Piper that was so easy to be mad at or laugh at, that was in the first of the book. Cornelia's thoughts about her, and their interaction, was hilarious! But actually, the later Piper was better lol, more fun to be with, more depth to her, and yet she had a sense of humor finally too.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
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Re: Piper ************ end of book spoiler warning*************



vivico1 wrote:
I have two feelings about Piper by the end of the book. Of course the overriding one is, welcome to your life Piper! And hello to the freedom to BE! I love how Piper evolves into more than I think even she thought she could be. I hate that it took the death of her best friend to bring it begrudgingly out in her, but she become so much more than another suburbia Stepford Wife. It cost her some friends too but gained her others and so much more about herself. Piper is capable of a deep love and Kyle was not worth wasting it on. She really didn't know how stifled she had let herself become. I think her relationship with Tom, after Elizabeth's death was perfectly fine. A lot of people think a dead friend's spouse is off limits for LIFE! She didn't take him from Elizabeth, but at the same time I think Elizabeth was kind of giving him to her and her to him. I think Piper and Tom both grew a lot.

It was kind of funny to hear Piper and Cornelia starting to "like" each other lol. You get the feeling even they are thinking, what the heck? But its great. Here is my other feeling about Piper by the end of the book, that was just a fun thought and not the main one, that is above, but I have to tell ya, there was just a tiny part of me that was missing the old Piper that was so easy to be mad at or laugh at, that was in the first of the book. Cornelia's thoughts about her, and their interaction, was hilarious! But actually, the later Piper was better lol, more fun to be with, more depth to her, and yet she had a sense of humor finally too.

  Vivian, I mostly felt like you did about Piper. I liked not liking her but then when she did a turn around, there was another character I started to dislike and that was Lake. So I just exchanged visions. I do not like to think that people keep parentage from their children. I do not feel there is a good enought reason for doing this. Its like its a insult to the parent who is left out and the child.
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MarisadelosSantos
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Re: Piper ************ end of book spoiler warning*************

I get the feeling that Cornelia and Piper have years ahead of them in which they'll be both completely devoted to each other and often completely exasperated with each other. Cornelia is never going to stop saying quirky things; she's never going to care much about the plants in her pots; she'll never have the haircut of Piper's dreams. Piper won't ever stop making remarks that make Cornelia cringe; there will always be a part of her that is judgmental and narrow-minded--she may not direct it toward Cornelia, but she'll find someone I'm sure! But both of their worlds have enlarged to include people they never would've imagined including. I don't think it's just Piper who has changed, but Cornelia, too.

Marisa
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