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debbaker
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Registered: ‎12-02-2006
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room" - Grace's/Ruth's age

Absolutely. I have to prepare for my students and grade papers and read two novels for proposal to our curriculum. I keep coming back with multiple pages to read just to catch up.
Deb
booknook516.blogspot.com

simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought
william hazlitt
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wendyroba
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Registered: ‎02-21-2007
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

Hello all!

I am now well into part II and just getting around to reading all the posts on this section.

Librarian: I read Water for Elephants, and I agree there are some parallels here (the narrator is elderly and there are secrets). I also feel there are similarities in tone and voice to that of Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale...which I loved!

I wish I had read Rebecca as so many of you think this resonates with that novel...

Someone mentioned the blurring of the lines between servant and family in this early going - and I agree. I have begun to have some suspicion's regarding Grace's mother...but I will keep them to myself for now as it may be construed as a spoiler.

I love how Morton immediately sets the stage for a mystery and secrets to be revealed. On page 6:

'While moths have torn holes in my recent memories, I find the distant past is sharp and clear. They come often lately, those ghosts form the past, and I am surprised to find I don't much mind them.'

And on page 49:

'It was just a children's game. And not the only one they played. Eventually they outgrew it, forgot it, left it behind. Or thought they did. By the time I met them it was already on its last legs. History was about to intervene: real adventure, real escape and adulthood were lurking, laughing, round the corner. Just a children's game adn eyt...What happened in the end would surely not have come about without it?'

Wonderful stuff!!
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KxBurns
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Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"


gl wrote:
This is my first book club and this book seems like a wonderful way to begin. I agree with the observation that the style, mood and topic somehow evokes Rebecca and Manderly and its grandeur, mystery, and heaviness. But Grace seems like a much more spirited and sympathetic character than Rebecca, particularly when she describes her relationship with Sylvia who is "one of the few people able to look beyond the lines on my face to see the twenty-year-old who lives inside". I like Grace and can't wait to hear more of her story.


Good point gl -- I think Morton's use of the flashback technique creates a very sympathetic main character because we, as the readers, connect with both elderly Grace and young Grace. I wonder if this is because the character is going to require our sympathies down the line?...

Karen
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HannibalCat
Posts: 238
Registered: ‎10-25-2006
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"



KxBurns wrote:

gl wrote:
But Grace seems like a much more spirited and sympathetic character than Rebecca, particularly when she describes her relationship with Sylvia who is "one of the few people able to look beyond the lines on my face to see the twenty-year-old who lives inside". I like Grace and can't wait to hear more of her story.


Good point gl -- I think Morton's use of the flashback technique creates a very sympathetic main character because we, as the readers, connect with both elderly Grace and young Grace. I wonder if this is because the character is going to require our sympathies down the line?...

Karen




I recently lost my mother at age 89. Her memories were astounding with their clarity and poignency. The greatest thrill she got was when people did not treat her like a "little ole lady" and treated her as just another person. I was quite taken with Morton's use of language in that sentence and could see my mum's face when she was listened to as a real person. Sylvia treated Grace like a real person. Go Sylvia!

I think you will really enjoy this book.
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bentley
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"


KxBurns wrote:
Hi gang. I know some of you just can't wait, so I'm posting our first discussion thread a day early.

For those of you who were with us for Monsters, I should point out that these discussion threads will be posted a little more quickly, since the author will be joining us on the 14th. But everyone should absolutely feel free to participate at their own pace. I'll be here to discuss the book as long as you are :smileyhappy:

And, finally, a note about spoilers. The threads will be broken into groupings of two to three chapters, named at the top. Please be mindful of other readers and DO NOT refer to events or revelations that occur in chapters later than the chapters under discussion in a given thread. If you're uncertain, add the words SPOILER to the "Message Subject" of your post.

Okay, let's get on with it. Happy reading!




One passage which I loved was the following:

I have surprised myself. While moths have torn holes in my recent memories, I find the distant past is sharp and clear. They come often lately; those ghosts from the past, and I am surprised to find I don't mind them. Not nearly so much as I had supposed I would. Indeed, the spectres I have spent my life escaping have become almost a comfort; something I welcome, anticipate, like one of those serials Sylvia is always talking about, hurrying her rounds so that she can watch them down at the main hall. I had forgotten, I suppose, that there were bright memories in amongst the dark.

Many of the readers have commented on whether Grace was really able to remember the distant past so sharply. I know that I have seen many elderly relatives who have been sharp as a tack even though their bodies might be losing their stamina, stability and even good health. Also, I have known older folks who can't remember a relative's daily visit or even recognize old and close friends visually, yet can remember every detail of their children's birthdays or growing up in their parents home or their interactions with their long deceased grand-parents or even other childhood memories. They can remember every nuance, every name, every event in great detail. My mother who recently passed away could tell detailed stories about all of the relatives and family history yet couldn't remember after her strokes who had last visited her or where she was. I love the line where Kate refers to these lapses in current memory as being caused by moths who have torn holes and have erased forever these powers yet the past is still left remarkably clear and alive. For me, Grace is already a very believable character and right from the beginning I have faith that her memory of these past events will be remarkably accurate and valid.
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bentley
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

I just completed "The Drawing Room" and was struck by the details presented in this chapter.

First, Grace may in fact be Doctor Bradley so we have a hint that she advanced herself far beyond what Mr. Hamilton said was her destiny.

Secondly, we learn that Grace is not altogether honest even with her children or when things make her uncomfortable and/or it is easier not to confront the truth, unpleasantness or both. She has let her children believe what they want to believe about her relationship with their father who frankly she is not losing any sleep over. I am not sure she divorced him; it seems like something unforeseen happened to him or their marriage; but right now it is just too early to tell.

Third, it is odd to me how the elderly are often treated as if they are invisible or like they can neither hear, see or even think without the help of others. Ruth to me is a little overbearing and overly protective but Grace genuinely loves her and is obviously guilty about something in relationship to her and their past.

Fourth, it is remarkable that Grace did not share with Ursula some of her thoughts for the set and what she obviously noticed right away was wrong with it. It seemed to me that she was reluctant to talk about the former inhabitants of the Riverton house and though being in the set brought back the parts of Grace that had never left the house or the parts of the house that wouldn't leave her...she could not adjust to these flashbacks.

And oddly we all know now that Grace can never close out Riverton like she did before because she has already been brought back in time to that place and it is too late to put the genie back into the bottle.
TRJ
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TRJ
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Registered: ‎10-18-2007
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

[ Edited ]
"Wow, so much to talk about in these first two chapters. Here are some things that caught my eye - I look forward to hearing your thoughts and impressions!"

First thoughts...

I have to admit that my reading preferences tend to lean more towards non-fiction than fiction but I also have to admit that I love a good mystery. The keyword here being GOOD. I often have a difficult time finding books that are so well written that they hold my interest. That was one of the main reasons I was interested in joining the First Look club. I think we have a winner with The House at Riverton! :-)

I was hoping that this book would be a page turner but it hasn't turned out that way at all. This is the kind of book that you savor. I'm a very fast reader and often finish a book easily in one night. Not so with this book even though I've hardly put it down. Kate does a brilliant job of immersing you in the scene and the characters easily come to life. I was transported to Grace's time and could almost hear the ghosts themselves speak. I enjoyed the first two chapters so much that I couldn't put the book down. In doing so I kind of got ahead of myself and lost the flow of the discussion threads. I had to put the brakes on at part two so that I could actually catch up with the conversation. :-)

Now to the story...

"In the chapter Ghosts Stir, what struck me right away was how the first two lines evoke the famous first sentence of Rebecca by du Maurier ("Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again" )."

Though I found similarities with the setting and atmosphere, I found little else to resemble Rebecca. I would say the most glaring similarity is that both of these books are great mysteries.

"I found it interesting that for a good portion of the chapter, it's not entirely clear that the narrator's relationship to the people and place she describes from her dream is that of servant. I think this blurring of the lines between "upstairs" and "downstairs" is going to be an important theme."

Though I've heard the term "Upstairs, Downstairs" it never really clicked as to what it meant. DUH! :-) I get it now. Though it seems the lines being drawn here are mainly to help us envision the caste rules of the day I think something of more importance may reveal itself as the story goes along.


"I also liked that in addition to the mystery of Grace's dream and the memories it stirs, this chapter sets up another mystery -- that of Grace's grandson Marcus."

One of the things I really like about this book is the way that the author drops little hints and sets the stage for the next mystery. These little enticing tidbits blend well with the story line and make you wonder what's around the corner.


"In The Drawing Room, we learn of Grace's strained relationship with her daughter Ruth, her ambivalence toward her former husband (what did you all make of the locket?...), and that Grace is Dr. Bradley. I'm intrigued!"

My first guess about Grace's Dr. title would be a veterinarian. This reasoning comes from her reaction to the impaled deer picture, the black eyed stare of the rocking horse and the injury to Raverley.

The locket also caught my attention. A crest that matches Grace's locket?? Hmmm...


"Finally, these chapters reveal that Grace is a keen observer of all that happens around her. This is probably a skill she acquired as a servant but from what we've learned of her life so far, I can't wait to find out more! "

Grace seems like the kind of person who has always been outside looking in. She has never really felt like she belonged anywhere or to anyone. This has left her with a sense of not being grounded all of her life. Sometimes this makes it easier to be a keen observer because much of the emotion stimulated by the situation is left out.

Message Edited by TRJ on 01-10-2008 01:11 AM
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bentley
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"


TRJ wrote: "

Grace seems like the kind of person who has always been outside looking in. She has never really felt like she belonged anywhere or to anyone. This has left her with a sense of not being grounded all of her life. Sometimes this makes it easier to be a keen observer because much of the emotion stimulated by the situation is left out.





TRJ: the above is a remarkable observation about Grace from my viewpoint since I am also just beginning the novel. It seems to me that you have stumbled across an insight into the character of an individual who seems to be able to remain silent about untruths and secrets of the past by just almost separating themselves from their emotional core and proceeding through life as the observer rather than as the true connected self.

She however does love her children but feels guilty and that in of itself may help to thaw that icy exterior once confronted in her elderly years with the past that she would like to have forgotten. She does have emotional ties but they seem to all have boundaries around them.
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ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"


TRJ wrote:
She has never really felt like she belonged anywhere or to anyone. This has left her with a sense of not being grounded all of her life.



Very astute observation. To that I would add that Grace retained a servant's chameleon-like practice of blending into an environment, not showing any emotions or reactions that would give her away.

"She (Ursula) wanted me... to remember things and places from long ago. As if I hadn't spent a lifetime pretending to forget."
Correspondent
m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

Hi there!

Once again I am playing catch up -- but think that I may be able to make some good progress in the next few days - it sucks when work takes over your life!

Anyway - this is a lovely start to a first person narrative. I am intrigued from the first sentence. To leverage that old cliche - show don't tell - this is a very good example of revealing the setting through the story rather than just telling the reader that the setting is in the UK - perhaps near London and that the narrator is in a nursing home.

I am very interested to learn more about this story she wants to but can't forget. What happened at the house at Riverton? And what is her relationship to these sisters? And why is she feeling guilty? I want to know! So, in that first chapter "Ghosts Stir" I think that there is an effective hook and introduction to the main character.

"The Drawing Room"
I liked the line: I am wary of looking like an undertaker's mannequin. I've never thought about it that way (rather more like looking like a hooker) - but believe that is just exactly what a 98 year old woman may think. I feel for her as she relates to her daughter - and seeing her daughter aging. I do not have children - and therefore don't have that aging of your children in my face on a daily basis -- my friends with children act and feel much older than I do these days....
On page 13 she uses an interesting dialogue marker -- "This was Ursula" rather than Ursula said......I like that!
So by the end of the chapter I am beginning to understand part of the story of what happened at Riverton...and that the narrator was a servant in the home - not a member of the family....very well revealed in the dialogue and narrative. This is going to be an interesting read.

I like it! You have chosen another winner!

Susan
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Chomp
Posts: 1,241
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

"I like Sylvia. She's one of the few people able to look beyond the lines on my face to see the twenty-year-old who lives inside."


When I first read this line, it really hit home, as my daughter-in-law had just told me that her mother said that regardless of one's actual age, our minds think we are twenty. I guess that the feeling remains forever.

Carol
So many books, so little time...
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ezraSid
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Registered: ‎12-16-2007
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

I loved that part too. Sometimes people forget that just because there is an aged body on the outside that there is still quite possibly a very young spirit inside. Having worked in a geriatric ward in the past I could really relate to this. I am far from old at 40, but still inside I sometimes feel 80, other times I feel 20. I think it is all about perspective. Sometimes the more distance we have, the clearer we see things. (not always, but sometimes)
~Grace~
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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

[ Edited ]

TRJ wrote:
Grace seems like the kind of person who has always been outside looking in. She has never really felt like she belonged anywhere or to anyone. This has left her with a sense of not being grounded all of her life. Sometimes this makes it easier to be a keen observer because much of the emotion stimulated by the situation is left out.

Message Edited by TRJ on 01-10-2008 01:11 AM




Great observation, TRJ. Until you mentioned this I hadn't noticed it, but there is indeed a lack of emotion in Grace, probably instilled by her years as a servant. Maybe this is why she is caught so off-guard by the emotions stirred up by her memories, brought on very suddenly by smell of the tea and other details of the drawing room.

Message Edited by KxBurns on 01-10-2008 05:56 PM
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bookluver1965
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

I just received the book in the mail and have read the first two chapters. I like that we get right into the book right away! I am so intrigued by what I have read so far that I am worried that I will be up all night reading!
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meadowlark
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Registered: ‎12-26-2007
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

This is my first book club also. I didn't quite read all of the posts - was surprised to see so many! But one thing no one seemed to mention was the delightful interplay of the main character's two points of view - from old age and then from the age of 14. I am also intrigued by the early mention that she became "Dr. Bradley" and yet she began her life as a serving girl. Something obviously happened to turn this submissive 14 year old into a dynamic adult woman.
I also enjoy the narrative perspective Grace as a servant who is able to be a behind-the-scenes eye-witness of a time in history - somewhat like the Queen's Fool by Phillipa Gregory in which the main character witnessed many intimate exchanges because her position made her invisible.
I'm thoroughly enjoying the book and can hardly wait to pass it on to my reading friends.
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Jo6353
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"



meadowlark wrote:
I also enjoy the narrative perspective Grace as a servant who is able to be a behind-the-scenes eye-witness of a time in history - somewhat like the Queen's Fool by Phillipa Gregory in which the main character witnessed many intimate exchanges because her position made her invisible.
I'm thoroughly enjoying the book and can hardly wait to pass it on to my reading friends.


I never made that correlation but you're right there are a lot of similarities between the main character in the Queen's Fool and Grace. And I think we'll find that they both have important secrets to keep. Jo
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RaevenDarcluv
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Registered: ‎10-24-2007
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

Hi all,
I'm a slow reader and trying my hardest to catch up with you all. I just have to say, the first pages of the book really didn't capture my attention, but now that I'm really getting into it I'm starting to connect with the characters. I'm sensing a lot of foreshadowing in both "Ghosts Stir" and the "Drawing Room"

Hopefully and can get caught up to you all before this is over.
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Jo6353
Posts: 683
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"



HannibalCat wrote:


KxBurns wrote:

gl wrote:
B I recently lost my mother at age 89. Her memories were astounding with their clarity and poignency. The greatest thrill she got was when people did not treat her like a "little ole lady" and treated her as just another person. I was quite taken with Morton's use of language in that sentence and could see my mum's face when she was listened to as a real person. Sylvia treated Grace like a real person. Go Sylvia!

I think you will really enjoy this book.


My mom died a few years ago at 86. Her big fear was that people would perceive her as an old lady. In fact, she had a walker that she refused to use because they were for old ladies! Jo
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Wrighty
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"

[ Edited ]

Jo6353 wrote:

HannibalCat wrote:
B I recently lost my mother at age 89...


My mom died a few years ago at 86... Jo



I'm so sorry for your losses. 89 and 86 are amazing ages and I hope they led happy and full lives. Since Grace was 98 did you find any more similarities between Grace's life and your mothers'? Did they share much of their stories with you from their younger years? My grandmother is 87 and it's amazing to compare my childhood to hers. My son did that for a class project and compared everyday items like, minimum wage, price of gas, first cars, electronic equipment in the home (that was a huge difference!), popular music, etc... it was fun to do and she enjoyed reminiscing too.

Message Edited by Wrighty on 01-13-2008 03:50 PM
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HannibalCat
Posts: 238
Registered: ‎10-25-2006
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Re: PART ONE: "Ghosts Stir" and "The Drawing Room"



Wrighty wrote:

Jo6353 wrote:

HannibalCat wrote:
B I recently lost my mother at age 89...


My mom died a few years ago at 86... Jo



I'm so sorry for your losses. 89 and 86 are amazing ages and I hope they led happy and full lives. Since Grace was 98 did you find any more similarities between Grace's life and your mothers'? Did they share much of their stories with you from their younger years? My grandmother is 87 and it's amazing to compare my childhood to hers. My son did that for a class project and compared everyday items like, minimum wage, price of gas, first cars, electronic equipment in the home (that was a huge difference!), popular music, etc... it was fun to do and she enjoyed reminiscing too.

Message Edited by Wrighty on 01-13-2008 03:50 PM




My mother did indeed share stories of her growing up and how the depression affected her family, and WWII. Her fondest memories were of her childhood, growing up with her mother and two aunts sharing a three decker home. I, too, grew up, for a while, in that same area. My parents had a home 1/2 block from my grandmother. I could totally understand her connection to her family, although I could not share her experiences during the depression and war years. My siblings and I have many wonderful memories of her life before us, as well as during us - and we are putting it all down in a journal for each other. She was really quite a lady! and is sorely missed. Thanks for your sympathies.
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