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KxBurns
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PART THREE: The Choice

I love the way this chapter is written -- the back and forth between Grace's dawning consciousness of her mother's secret and Alfred's proposal. Both events took a long time but were worth it!

The choice of the chapter's title is between Alfred's proposal and offer of a different life, which Grace calls her "secret dream," and the "bond of dedication and devotion" she has with Hannah. I think what Grace has finally figured out about her mother and Frederick plays a huge part in the decision she makes.

Alfred fails to understand "the importance of maintaining the status quo" (p. 355) and would never let Grace keep the information to herself; never let her continue acting as a maid to her half-sister. That, I think, is the deciding factor. Do you agree or disagree? I wish we had some indication of what 98 year-old Grace thinks of this choice!

Finally, I think it's pretty clear that Mrs. Townsend and Mr. Hamilton know about Grace's lineage. But what about Hannah -- does she really know? Or is that wishful thinking on Grace's part, that the two share the ultimate secret, and the bond between them is as significant to Hannah as it is to Grace?

Karen
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takannie
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

Yes, given Alfred's change of thoughts after the war, I think he would never have let Grace continue as a maid to her half-sister. His change of perspective during the war has modernized his thinking and equalized the strata of society in his mind. So being a maid to her half-sister would be a terrible misjustice to Alfred's way of thinking. I hope we find out Grace's opinion of her decision long ago before the book is over. I'd like to hear her thoughts on her life after making that decision.

I don't think Hannah knows that Grace is her half-sister. I think Hannah has been too self-centered to have noticed the hints. But yet, I hope I'm wrong.
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Iulievich
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

Karen, I think that you have framed the issues in this chapter extremely well. Thank you.

As to Grace's motives for her decision about Alfred's proposal ...

While I agree that Alfred is way past accepting the status quo, I don't think that he would have pressed Grace to go public about her paternity. Why? First, because it would bring shame on Grace in the world in which Alfred has chosen to live. Not that her bastardy would have been anything but an open secret in the village, but it would raise the matter to a whole new level of scandal to demand acknowledgment of it. Alfred wants to change his position in the social order, not to overthrow the order itself. Second, without an admission by Frederick or -- at the very least -- by Grace's mother, how would her paternity be validated. I hardly think anybody in the 1920's was carrying around a DNA kit! I don't think that such a fear was part of Grace's concern. I think it took nothing more than the realization that she would be separated from Hannah.

As to Mr. Hamilton and Mrs. Townsend knowing, I could hardly imagine any servant who had been in the household at the time of Grace's birth being ignorant of its circumstances, let alone the two dominant staff members. I have the impression that Grace owed her position in the household to some sort of promise -- made most likely by Lady Violet that Grace and her mother would be "provided for" in exchange for her mother's silence. In addition to Grace's assurance of a position, which is hinted at rather than confirmed, I suspect that her mother was receiving some sort of maintenance as well. Although her circumstances are anything but comfortable they are -- by the standards of the day -- certainly not destitute, and I have a hard time imagining her supporting herself and her daughter with her stitching alone.

Does Hannah know? Again, like Grace, we simply do not know. Hannah was (correct me if I am wrong) very slightly older than Grace, so she would probably have no direct recollection. How much older was David? What might they have picked up from secretive references overheard among the servants or their grandparents or even -- in David's case -- arguments between his parents? We just don't know.

Personally, I suspect that Hannah would have heard rumors, and Grace's hair was a similar blonde to her father's and her half-siblings rather than like her mother's. Hardly conclusive, but supportive if there were already rumors in the air.

What is most intriguing to me is the way that this issue affects the structure within which Grace relates to Hannah and Emmeline. In a way, Grace represents the physical reality and the tragic consequences of Frederick and her mother having violated the rules of "place." With her mother's fate as an example of what happens, how likely is Grace to approach Hannah in any way about the question? That would constitute a "stepping out of place" in the most serious way and it could easily cost Grace everything -- even if Hannah did know.

And if Hannah did know, would not the same considerations prevent her from openly approaching Grace with the information. Consider the enormity of informing your father's bastard, who happens to be a family servant, that she is your half-sister with no hope of inheritance or recognition! Some secrets are best never openly confronted. (Shades of the lie to Ruth about the locket!)

Perhaps we will get some confirmation one way or the other before the book is over. Or maybe we will get some evidence that won't, in the end, quite be conclusive.

Their relationship seems doomed to play itself out under the tension of unconfirmed suspicions as to what the other knows, or whether the suspicions are even true.

Grace might have remained bound to Hannah purely out of duty. Her conviction that they are really sisters locks the relationship but bends and distorts it across a social boundary that cannot be removed. It makes it even less likely that she will leave Hannah for Alfred. To do so would sever her ties not only with her mistress, but with her half-sister and with Grace's only point of access into the world of her father.

And don't forget Frederick or even his parents. What kind of feelings would an English lord or lady have about having their own illegitimate granddaughter employed as a servant in their home? How would Frederick feel about seeing the daughter that he had from the one woman that he apparently loved (We are told that he was unfortunate in this regard with his wife.) serving as a maid -- with no inheritance and no social standing -- to another daughter?

This book is filled with tragedy in the classic sense.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an action but a habit." -Aristotle
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bookhunter
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

I also wonder if Hannah knew Grace was her sister.

But the bigger question to me is did Frederick know? Surely he must have known. Why did he never provide ANYthing for Grace and her mother? Would it have really been acceptable to have your illegitiment daughter working as a maid in your home but not acceptable to send some groceries across town?

Did his family know? Would they really have allowed her to come work there if they did? I would think they would if it had been an open secret. But since know one seems to know except Grace's mother and the staff, it would have been a big risk of scandal if the secret did come out. So they would have kept her far away from the House.

This goes a long way to explaining Grace's lack of parenting skills in regards to Ruth. Her mother (who doesn't even have a name!) constantly reminded her she was a mistake, her father knew of her existance but ignored it right under his nose, and she spent all emotional energy caring for the sister who doesn't know she is her sister.

But a part of this niggles away at me wondering if Frederick really IS her father. There are hints like blonde hair. Big whoop. The startles at her resemblance could have just been because she resembled her mother. Maybe Frederick loved her mother so he shows up at her funeral. Maybe he just remembers her fondly. Maybe he loved her and that was why she was excused from service, but then Grace came later.

I hope confirmation of this comes later in the book, because there is still a silly little doubt in me.

Ann, bookhunter
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psujulie
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

I was a little confused after reading this chapter. Is Grace really Frederick's daughter? It has seemed so obvious to me for the entire book, but now I wonder. I'm not sure why, but as soon as Grace figured it out, it just didn't seem right to me. It's almost as if Grace wants to be Hannah's secret sister so bad that she convinces herself of a lot of things -- like Hannah knowing that they are sisters rather than mistress/servant. I'm not sure that Hannah realizes anything about them being sisters. I'm beginning to think that Hannah is fond of Grace and shares information with her because of her proximity and because she has no real friends. I am wondering how much of their closeness is because the story is being told through Grace's eyes. I have a hard time understanding Grace's feelings of dedication and duty when she is willing to put the relationship with Hannah (as her servant) ahead of her own happiness and being her "own person."

I also think it's pretty odd that Frederick is wandering around on the grounds looking for poachers. With all of the hunting references in this book, I'm wondering if somehow the poaching is going to play out later in the book.

Did anyone catch the reference on pg. 351 when Grace says that she feels as if "I'd broken into a million tiny particles, ...falling like sand from a bucket?" It's almost the exact same words on pg. 305 when Grace in being interviewed by Anthony, "A million tiny particles falling through the funnel of time." Is it a coincidence to use the exact same phrasing when Grace is feeling uncomfortable -- is she actually falling apart?
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vivico1
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice


bookhunter wrote:
I also wonder if Hannah knew Grace was her sister.

But the bigger question to me is did Frederick know? Surely he must have known. Why did he never provide ANYthing for Grace and her mother? Would it have really been acceptable to have your illegitiment daughter working as a maid in your home but not acceptable to send some groceries across town?

Did his family know? Would they really have allowed her to come work there if they did? I would think they would if it had been an open secret. But since know one seems to know except Grace's mother and the staff, it would have been a big risk of scandal if the secret did come out. So they would have kept her far away from the House.



Ann, bookhunter


Ann,
I will say this, if in the end Frederick is not her father after all (as someone noted now), then I will have to back off some of my criticisms of this book and really give Morton some kudos for finally pulling off one big mystery on us lol. I think he knew, the staff knew and Grace's mom of course. I don't think Hannah knows at all and I think that revelation is not going to be what Grace had hoped for, something feels forboding about that one. And at this point, maybe we dont know if Frederick provided for her and her mom at all yet. Wouldnt it be just the bit of irony and a great ending if the money that we are wonder where Grace got it, in some previous chapters, turned out to be some money he gave Grace's mother or was sending her for them both and Grace's mother actually did love her enough to put it all away for her and never use it. What would that make Grace feel about her mother then? I would love for that to be true. More likely tho, if that money came from Frederick at all, it comes later, maybe after his death and to her, as an acknowledgment of his daughter and his love for her mother. That wouldn't be a bad solution to that question either, but it would be predictable.

I really dont think its what Grace is wondering, did she get the work for her mother's silence, that makes no sense. As you say here and as Karen and I thought earlier on, it would make much more sense, if the family knew, to send Grace's mother far away with her child and pay to keep them far away, not be blackmailed into giving the daughter a job as a maid?!
Vivian
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vivico1
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice


KxBurns wrote:


The choice of the chapter's title is between Alfred's proposal and offer of a different life, which Grace calls her "secret dream," and the "bond of dedication and devotion" she has with Hannah. I think what Grace has finally figured out about her mother and Frederick plays a huge part in the decision she makes.

Alfred fails to understand "the importance of maintaining the status quo" (p. 355) and would never let Grace keep the information to herself; never let her continue acting as a maid to her half-sister. That, I think, is the deciding factor. Do you agree or disagree? I wish we had some indication of what 98 year-old Grace thinks of this choice!



Karen


I think Grace made her choice too soon. She didnt have to tell Alfred yet, she could have come up with something until she found out for sure what Hannah knew. Her allegiance to Hannah is so clouded right now and always has been and she really doesnt know what Hannah knows, that this is getting dangerous. If it came out in the open, at least between her and Hannah, then they could decide what was going to be their relationship without just shutting down her options with Alfred so quickly. Poor guy, if i were him, I would flat give up trying with her lol.

As far as Alfred not understanding "the importance of maintaining the status quo", and also him expecting her to quit her job like he did and not be a maid for them anymore. I see something else happening here too. There are some things that will be different because of class distinctions and some that aren't, but in the 1920s (and beyond actually), lets face it, Alfred is a man, and he does expect Grace to do as he says once they get married, that he knows better. Isnt this a reoccurring theme with these men of the upper class? This is a man vs woman place thing, not a "new trend of the era" to not be a part of that servant class.
Vivian
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Tarri
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

I wonder what would have happened if in the preceding chapter Grace had not promised Hannah to stay with her forever. I think she would have married Alfred and lived happily ever after.
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vivico1
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice


Tarri wrote:
I wonder what would have happened if in the preceding chapter Grace had not promised Hannah to stay with her forever. I think she would have married Alfred and lived happily ever after.


I am not sure about that. I don't think she needed to promise,Grace has been obsessed with Hannah since she met her, the promise was just a good reason for her to continue with her obsession, especially with what she knew now. Besides, has anyone in this book so far had a healthy love relationship?
Vivian
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maryfrancesa
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

I agree that I'm not sure Frederick is her father. I too think that the mistress would not allow the "bastard daughter" work at the house especially if Frederick and his family will be there. I agree that the servants know who is Grace's father. There is always reference to Frederick's wife's problems. What issues/problems.
It would be hard to say especially what Alfred's take on Grace's paternity, Granted he did change since the war, he may want some compensation for Grace if Frederick is her father.
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CherylAnderson
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

I really don't think that Hannah knew about Grace's lineage. I believe that she liked someone she felt was on here wavelength with doing thinks you shouldn't. Grace was caught early on when she told a lie about the children. I think that endeared here to Hannah as well as the fact they were around the same age.

As to Alfred and how he would react to find out that Grace was Hannah's stepsister: I think that Grace felt she would lose conact with Hannah if she told Alfred. Or at leas tlose the "closeness" that they did have. I think she knew she would never be a true sister so she grasped at the next best thing which was being close to Hannah every day as her maid.
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crazyasitsounds
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice



KxBurns wrote:
I love the way this chapter is written -- the back and forth between Grace's dawning consciousness of her mother's secret and Alfred's proposal. Both events took a long time but were worth it!




It's funny; I actually hated this chapter. Figuring out the truth about her father & Alfred's proposal are both huge events in Grace's life, & I felt like both of them were cheapened by Grace's inability to concentrate on one at a time. It was certainly in character for her to reject the proposal, but she didn't have to run like that.
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Iulievich
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice


crazyasitsounds wrote:
It's funny; I actually hated this chapter. Figuring out the truth about her father & Alfred's proposal are both huge events in Grace's life, & I felt like both of them were cheapened by Grace's inability to concentrate on one at a time. It was certainly in character for her to reject the proposal, but she didn't have to run like that.


I think that if we expect any of these characters to deal with life and issues in a tidy sort of serial fashion, we are going to be very disappointed.

I believe that an important part of the author's message is that life is just not like that. It is horribly untidy with things coming at us all at once and getting all balled up together, requiring decisions that we are not fully prepared to make.

It seems natural to me for Grace literally to run away. To stay with Alfred means to her to prolong the pain of having something that she has dearly hoped for (or so, at least, she thought) prohibited by her obsessive sense of duty to Hannah, whom she perceives as a mistress, a soul-sister, an actual sister, and her strongest link to a world of which she is determined to be a part. Can you imagine Grace as the wife of an electrician in a town separated from Hannah and Riverton? Is it possible that Grace -- faced with the sudden reality of that proposition -- could not imagine it either?
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an action but a habit." -Aristotle
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hpthatbme
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

At the end of this chapter I actually felt really bad for Grace and Alfred. She really cared for Alfred by that point and made a hard choice. By Ms. Morton's phrasing it almost seems as if Grace might regret that choice now, but I might be reading too much into it. I think that Alfred would have done exactly what Grace thought about before rejecting him, and she felt more of a bond towards Hannah.

I do believe that Frederick is Grace's father and always have since he seen her. I think the family knew because of references earlier on pg. 234. Also earlier Grace mentions that she came into some money, in which I believe came from her mother(who saved the money from her sister and from Grace and possibly from Frederick or his family), and from being the sole survivor of the Hartfords.(Again this is my prediction and I haven't read beyond this chapter yet).

I don't think it took Grace too long of a time to figure out that Frederick is her father. After all she just lost her mother and has felt numb until the night before the funeral-at least that is how the time line appeared to me. She just finally had some time to think about it and put the pieces together.

I don't think Hannah knows that Grace is her half sister just because of Hannah's forward thinking she wouldn't keep Grace as her maid. I do think that Hannah treats Grace well, but she wouldn't do that, she would want Grace have a good status. I do think that Hannah finds out, and at some point gives Grace her locket which is something I have always suspected due to the first meeting between them. I think that Grace does see more of relationship than maybe Hannah does, but I don't think of it being drastically alter either. Hannah really does like Grace a lot, that is why Grace is her maid and her "secret sister." I think Grace's relationship with Hannah really helps to shape Grace into the person she has become.
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isugirl
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

I'm not sure how I feel after reading this chapter. I do feel a sense of relief that Grace thinks she knows the identity of her father. I can't help but think it is Frederick with all the foreshadowing throughout the book, but who knows. Maybe there is a huge shock in the making! I don't think Hannah knows about Grace's paternity. I think she would have felt some resentment towards Grace if she knew. I think that resentment would have caused her not to ask Grace to continue to be her maid.

I am actually happy to see that Grace chose family/friendship over Alfred. I think had he truly loved Grace he would have let her follow her own dreams. Like Grace said, I think London would be the perfect place to start his electrical business.
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ploabhawes
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

Hi all~

I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents worth......I cannot tell you how much the book has changed for me. In the beginning, it seemed like being at a cocktail party; getting to know everyone and figuring your way out around the house and the family. It felt light and mysterious. As time has gone on, it appears that anything that can go wrong will and has. The place in London has brought nothing but bleakness for all involved. (the mere presence of Deborah and Mrs. Tibbits, Emmeline disappearing, Mother dying, missing Alfred....and the list goes on) I was relieved when Grace finally visited Riverton again after her mother's funeral. Even I missed the comfort of the house but I think it's only a false comfort brought on by mere familiarity. God knows how many things have gone wrong there (and will!!) as well.

Out of everyone, what character are you drawn to? (for whatever reason; respect, sympathy, familiarity etc) For some reason, I am perplexed with Frederick. I'd love to hear his story in his words. It appears tht he doesn't share much of anything with anyone so I doubt that it will ever be told. :smileysad:

I hope to join the ranks tonight of all of you have finished.....I am so close! BUT I am almost worried to find out *what* happens...... :smileysurprised:

Lisa
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dhaupt
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice

[ Edited ]
I'm at odds in this chapter as to what would have happened if Grace hadn't figured out who her father was. I really don't know that the outcome would have been any different. The way this Grace feels about duty I think she might have refused Alfred's proposal even if she didn't know she was Hannah's sister.
I don't think Alfred would have let Grace continue to work for Hannah even if she kept her secret from him too. It's pretty clear to me that he wants to be in business for himself and if Grace wants to work she can work for him.
I don't think Hannah knew about her father and Grace's secret. She's never indicated any where in the book to this point that she knew and I think the suffragette Hannah of earlier chapters would have let us know. Also I think Hannah's relationship with Grace became closer because of the events since living in London not because they're sisters.

Message Edited by dhaupt on 01-14-2008 09:58 AM
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KxBurns
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice


Iulievich wrote:
It seems natural to me for Grace literally to run away. To stay with Alfred means to her to prolong the pain of having something that she has dearly hoped for (or so, at least, she thought) prohibited by her obsessive sense of duty to Hannah, whom she perceives as a mistress, a soul-sister, an actual sister, and her strongest link to a world of which she is determined to be a part. Can you imagine Grace as the wife of an electrician in a town separated from Hannah and Riverton? Is it possible that Grace -- faced with the sudden reality of that proposition -- could not imagine it either?



Iulievich, are you suggesting that Grace's irrational attachment to Hannah is partially tied to a desire for more than just any family, but to belong to the Hartford's milleu of wealth and privilege?

That's an intrigiung idea I hadn't considered yet. So, in effect, marrying Alfred and leaving the service would be a step down the ladder rather than up?

What does everyone else think of this possibility?
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penny70
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice



KxBurns wrote:

Iulievich wrote:
It seems natural to me for Grace literally to run away. To stay with Alfred means to her to prolong the pain of having something that she has dearly hoped for (or so, at least, she thought) prohibited by her obsessive sense of duty to Hannah, whom she perceives as a mistress, a soul-sister, an actual sister, and her strongest link to a world of which she is determined to be a part. Can you imagine Grace as the wife of an electrician in a town separated from Hannah and Riverton? Is it possible that Grace -- faced with the sudden reality of that proposition -- could not imagine it either?



Iulievich, are you suggesting that Grace's irrational attachment to Hannah is partially tied to a desire for more than just any family, but to belong to the Hartford's milleu of wealth and privilege?

That's an intrigiung idea I hadn't considered yet. So, in effect, marrying Alfred and leaving the service would be a step down the ladder rather than up?

What does everyone else think of this possibility?




I didn't take this section that Grace wanted to actually be part of the "family". I can't say in my reading of this that Grace was really all that unhappy in her role as servant/maid. I think, also, that she really cared for Alfred; however, I don't think she ever thought that he would expect her to give up her "service" position. After all they were both raised with these class separations from the time they were young, and she just couldn't see beyond that at that point and time. And if I remember right, by this time, Hannah was starting to have problems in her marriage and I don't think Grace felt right leaving her to the "clutches" of Teddy and his sister.

Penny
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bookhunter
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Re: PART THREE: The Choice



ploabhawes wrote:
Out of everyone, what character are you drawn to? (for whatever reason; respect, sympathy, familiarity etc) For some reason, I am perplexed with Frederick. I'd love to hear his story in his words. It appears tht he doesn't share much of anything with anyone so I doubt that it will ever be told. :smileysad:

I hope to join the ranks tonight of all of you have finished.....I am so close! BUT I am almost worried to find out *what* happens...... :smileysurprised:

Lisa




Lisa, that is a good question. There are SO many folks in the story, surely I could find ONE I relate to, couldn't I? :smileyhappy: It seems there are many untold stories in the book--maybe Ms. Morton will have novels with some of the other characters so we can know, for example, why Frederick is so miserable.

I think I am the most sorry for Teddy, and would like to know HIS story. He seems to be trying to make the best of his life's disappointments, and he seems to care for Hannah. He is the one Grace says goodbye to in the first chapter, so he must be around "at the end" of the story.

Ann, bookhunter
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