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Wordsmith
maude40
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph

I forgot to quote this line on page 184 about grandchildren, it says it all. " a grandchild is different. Gone are the bonds of
guilt and responsibility that burden the maternal relationship. The way to love is free."
Yvonne
Wordsmith
maude40
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph

On page 182 Grace comments on being,"....unable to put the events of Riverton behind me, in war I'd found my thread of purpose." Whatever the horrible events she veiwed or was part of before she left Riverton evidently scared her enough to have to get away in order to get on with her life. Feeling this way she might have been no use to her daughter so leaving her in capable hands was the right thing to do.
Yvonne
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Wrighty
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph

Finally! Some answers. Although we were also given even more questions we learned so much in this chapter all at once. It has peaked my interest again.

I didn't feel that Grace abandoned her daughter. I couldn't imagine leaving my children, ever, but it sounds like Grace did what was best given the situation. Some good comments were already mentioned here about the way she grew up, not having a very good role model, not feeling maternal, the war, being an unwed mother, etc. She was in a tough situation but she made sure Ruth was well cared for and she came back after she was done working for a worthy cause. There were no easy answers but this chapter doesn't make me care less for Grace.
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KxBurns
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph


Wrighty wrote:
Finally! Some answers. Although we were also given even more questions we learned so much in this chapter all at once. It has peaked my interest again.

I didn't feel that Grace abandoned her daughter. I couldn't imagine leaving my children, ever, but it sounds like Grace did what was best given the situation. Some good comments were already mentioned here about the way she grew up, not having a very good role model, not feeling maternal, the war, being an unwed mother, etc. She was in a tough situation but she made sure Ruth was well cared for and she came back after she was done working for a worthy cause. There were no easy answers but this chapter doesn't make me care less for Grace.



I, like you, am holding off on judging Grace.

One thing I really like about this book is the way Morton presents us with characters who make difficult, sometimes morally ambiguous choices in the midst of the chaos of personal and social instability.
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kmliska
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph

This chapter answered so many questions but now I have new ones. I had forgotten that Hannah wanted to be an archaeologist,. It makes me wonder why Grace chose to become an archaeologist. I really want to know more about Grace's mother's secret. I get the feeling it may be important later in the book.
I was surprised that Grace sent Ruth off during the war. This chapter explained why they don't seem to be that close. There seems to be a lack of mother child bonds in this book.
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LeftBrainer
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Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph

From the posts I read, some of you are surprised Grace left Ruth for four years. As I remember history children were evacuated from the cities in Britain during WWI to protect them. I suspect many were separated from their children for extended periods.
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Wrighty
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph


LeftBrainer wrote:
From the posts I read, some of you are surprised Grace left Ruth for four years. As I remember history children were evacuated from the cities in Britain during WWI to protect them. I suspect many were separated from their children for extended periods.


That's a good point. This was a different time and place and their whole way of life can't compare to what we (or me anyway!)know today.
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vivico1
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph


Wrighty wrote:

LeftBrainer wrote:
From the posts I read, some of you are surprised Grace left Ruth for four years. As I remember history children were evacuated from the cities in Britain during WWI to protect them. I suspect many were separated from their children for extended periods.


That's a good point. This was a different time and place and their whole way of life can't compare to what we (or me anyway!)know today.


Many children were removed to the country during the war, to keep them safe. I dont think this applies to Grace and Ruth tho because that would have been the easy thing for her to say and she didnt. She just flat said, she didnt want to raise a child and she knew she wouldn't do well at it, that she just didnt want to do it! She wanted to pursue some of her own desires I don't think Ruth would have been so disappointed with her mother either if that had been the case. She knows Grace left her and Grace knows she did too. It was such a common thing to do that Grace, talking about it, could have said so easily that she did just that, but to us, in her own thoughts, she tells the truth of what she did and why.
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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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph



Wrighty wrote:

LeftBrainer wrote:
From the posts I read, some of you are surprised Grace left Ruth for four years. As I remember history children were evacuated from the cities in Britain during WWI to protect them. I suspect many were separated from their children for extended periods.


That's a good point. This was a different time and place and their whole way of life can't compare to what we (or me anyway!)know today.




Even today, when so many females are in the services, they have to leave their children when assigned overseas. I think its really wrong, but hey, its always been done. In other words, I wouldnt do it. I think a child needs their mother the first few years or all the way through until adulthood if possible.
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Wrighty
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph


vivico1 wrote:
Many children were removed to the country during the war, to keep them safe. I dont think this applies to Grace and Ruth tho because that would have been the easy thing for her to say and she didnt. She just flat said, she didnt want to raise a child and she knew she wouldn't do well at it, that she just didnt want to do it! She wanted to pursue some of her own desires I don't think Ruth would have been so disappointed with her mother either if that had been the case. She knows Grace left her and Grace knows she did too. It was such a common thing to do that Grace, talking about it, could have said so easily that she did just that, but to us, in her own thoughts, she tells the truth of what she did and why.



She did admit on pages 181-182 that mothering didn't come naturally and that she was "underprepared for the emotional demands of parenthood." The people at Riverton, especially Hannah, had devastated her and she had closed herself off because of it and preferred casual aquaintances. I couldn't imagine leaving a child but she wasn't off having a good time either and she didn't abandon her. She and her husband both went off to war and she worked in a field hospital. She visited Ruth on leave and received regular letters. After that she raised her on her own and got her education. John moved to America and remarried before his death. (Notice how he didn't stick around to raise his child at all?)

"...far from regretting my decision to send Ruth away, I'd relished the escape. That after a decade of drifting through tedious jobs and hollow relationships, unable to put the events of Riverton behind me, in war I'd found my thread of purpose."
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katknit
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph



maude40 wrote:
I forgot to quote this line on page 184 about grandchildren, it says it all. " a grandchild is different. Gone are the bonds of
guilt and responsibility that burden the maternal relationship. The way to love is free."
Yvonne




Yes, that quote struck me too; as my first grandchild was born last year, I felt that this little section captured my own reactions perfectly! I was so surprised, as I had no particular feelings one way or the other about ever becoming a grandmother.
No two persons ever read the same book. [Edmund Wilson]
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Jodi
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph

Mr. Hamilton announcement about Alfred that he's in a secret war mission and he can't speak of it. Mr. Fredrick in September 1916 had inherited his fathers estate. Grace was cleaning the Riverton drawing room and she came upon a photograph in a drawer. It was a photograpg of 1899. Graces mother was in this picture with a smile like someone with a secret. Ursula came and visited Grace who was the film maker. She was describing a scene of courtship. She was describing Robbie Hunter the poet of how she thinks he was. Grace tells Ursula about Alfred that they were never married. She tells her that she was married to John, Ruth's father. She say's they shouldn't have been married. Grace tells Ursula about the war, and John remarrying and then being killed shortly after. Grace tells Ursula that she tries to finish Marcus's books, but can't due to, to much bloody description. Grace tells Ursula about the tapes she's making for Marcus. Grace talks in the recorder about the war consuming the fields of Flanders, the major and Lord Asbury's deaths. Grace talks about back at Riverton, January 1919, that the war is over, and that Hannah and Emmeline are home now. Hannah is eighteen and Emmeline is fourteen now. Grace says the Game is over now since David's dead. Grace tells about Hannah and the Chinese box from the attic that she follows her to the lake. She says she see's her step three steps before stopping towards the lake. She then repeats it three times. She digs a hole. But first she takes out one of the books and puts it in her locket then she buries the box. Grace says that she goes back to the house and Mr.Hamilton says that there is going to be important guests over that they are important for the family's Future.
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KxBurns
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph


Wrighty wrote:
She did admit on pages 181-182 that mothering didn't come naturally and that she was "underprepared for the emotional demands of parenthood." The people at Riverton, especially Hannah, had devastated her and she had closed herself off because of it and preferred casual aquaintances. I couldn't imagine leaving a child but she wasn't off having a good time either and she didn't abandon her. She and her husband both went off to war and she worked in a field hospital. She visited Ruth on leave and received regular letters. After that she raised her on her own and got her education. John moved to America and remarried before his death. (Notice how he didn't stick around to raise his child at all?)

"...far from regretting my decision to send Ruth away, I'd relished the escape. That after a decade of drifting through tedious jobs and hollow relationships, unable to put the events of Riverton behind me, in war I'd found my thread of purpose."



Great choice of quote! It illustrates what I think is the more shocking thing -- not that Grace sent Ruth away but that the separation was a relief to her. As you insightfully picked up on, this was in large part the result of her time at Riverton.

My question is whether we can find any parallels between Grace's exiling of Ruth and Frederick's refusal to forgive David for his defiance -- and the subsequent exiling of David, as represented by Frederick's refusal to read his son's letter? Maybe Frederick was as emotionally ill-equipped to deal with his children as Grace was. Any thoughts?
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dhaupt
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph

KxBurns wrote:
My question is whether we can find any parallels between Grace's exiling of Ruth and Frederick's refusal to forgive David for his defiance -- and the subsequent exiling of David, as represented by Frederick's refusal to read his son's letter? Maybe Frederick was as emotionally ill-equipped to deal with his children as Grace was. Any thoughts?
_________________________________________________________________________________

I think Fredericks notions toward parenting stem from his position and children being less part of the elites lives also he was a dad and I think that the role the dad played was much less than that of a mother. Plus he was just ill equipped to deal with the everyday lives of all of his children.
Grace however is a product of her environment I think she treats Ruth the way she was treated as an afterthought.
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Wrighty
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph


dhaupt wrote:
KxBurns wrote:
My question is whether we can find any parallels between Grace's exiling of Ruth and Frederick's refusal to forgive David for his defiance -- and the subsequent exiling of David, as represented by Frederick's refusal to read his son's letter? Maybe Frederick was as emotionally ill-equipped to deal with his children as Grace was. Any thoughts?
_________________________________________________________________________________

I think Fredericks notions toward parenting stem from his position and children being less part of the elites lives also he was a dad and I think that the role the dad played was much less than that of a mother. Plus he was just ill equipped to deal with the everyday lives of all of his children.
Grace however is a product of her environment I think she treats Ruth the way she was treated as an afterthought.


Grace does treat her daughter that way but I think at least part of the reason is because she's afraid to really love her in case she loses her. She's protecting her own heart because she has been deeply hurt before. It seems like Grace's mother may have done the same thing before her.
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bmbrennan
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Registered: ‎02-28-2007
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph



wendyroba wrote:


KxBurns wrote:


The chapter raises additional questions: What secret is Grace's mother keeping in the photograph (I think we can all guess, but maybe we're wrong...)?

What do you think?

Karen




Lots of great questions here - and I guess I'll reveal my suspicions now since you asked the question. I am up to page 188 in the book...but have been thinking all along about Grace's mother and why she never returned to Riverton after the birth of Grace...and why she keeps warning Grace to keep the lines drawn between the family and servants. Also there was a place in the book where Frederick sees Grace for the first time and goes white as a ghost as if he is surprised and shocked to see her there (and of course, we know Grace looks just like her mother when her mother was young). I believe Frederick is Grace's bio dad...this may also be why Grace's mother treats her as if she is royalty/visitor when she comes home for a visit.

What do you all think? Am I way off the mark...is it too obvious?




I see the mother as being ambivalent where Grace in concerned, yes Grace is the product of the love of her(the mother's) life but she also views Grace as being the reason she has had to struggle all these years. Her life would have been so much different had she not gotten pregnant. This is how I see this mother and daughter relationship.
bmbrennan
When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber. Churchill
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KxBurns
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph



bmbrennan wrote:
I see the mother as being ambivalent where Grace in concerned, yes Grace is the product of the love of her(the mother's) life but she also views Grace as being the reason she has had to struggle all these years. Her life would have been so much different had she not gotten pregnant. This is how I see this mother and daughter relationship.



You're right - I would totally describe Grace's mother as ambivalent toward her. In a way, Grace acts as a surrogate for her father because he's really the appropriate target for her mother's resentment, isn't he?
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penny70
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph



KxBurns wrote:


bmbrennan wrote:
I see the mother as being ambivalent where Grace in concerned, yes Grace is the product of the love of her(the mother's) life but she also views Grace as being the reason she has had to struggle all these years. Her life would have been so much different had she not gotten pregnant. This is how I see this mother and daughter relationship.



You're right - I would totally describe Grace's mother as ambivalent toward her. In a way, Grace acts as a surrogate for her father because he's really the appropriate target for her mother's resentment, isn't he?




Not only is she ambivalent towards Grace but I think Grace is a substitute for her own life. This relationship seems to be an acute case of living through our daughter. Grace's mother's life as a servant, and life as it was to be known and foretold was cut short due to her becoming pregnant and being forced from her life in service to the household. I think Grace becoming Hannah's ladies maid was just proof to her mother that I could have done that too. After all if my "bastard" daughter can rise to the level of ladies maid what could I have done myself?

Penny
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m3girl
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Registered: ‎03-02-2007
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph

Several comments on the chapter:

1. Page 179 - in a section directed to Marcus - There were none that came back unchanged. The reality of war - and how this family and Grace and the other servants learned this reality and the pain and suffering of war.

2. I was surprised when she said she was an archaeologist - I think earlier she had been called Dr and I assumed medical doctor and not PhD doctor. I also didn't remember that to be Hannah's wish when she was young - interesting how Grace may have gone on to live the adventurous life - even with a husband and family - that Hannah would not be able to do due to her family situation and priviledge.

3. Page 181 -- And you fell in love? I fell pregnant. Another great line....and something she had in common with her mother.

4. I'm interested in the money she came upon unexpectedly - from Frederick's estate? So as the money freed her to go do what she wanted - it almost did the opposite for Hannah.

5. The preparations for the dinner party begin and the last sentence of the chapter is a great hook - page 188 - And they were. Just how important, we could never have imagined.

Made me stay up later than I should to read about the Bankers!
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KxBurns
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Re: PART TWO: The Photograph


penny70 wrote:
]Grace's mother's life as a servant, and life as it was to be known and foretold was cut short due to her becoming pregnant and being forced from her life in service to the household. I think Grace becoming Hannah's ladies maid was just proof to her mother that I could have done that too. After all if my "bastard" daughter can rise to the level of ladies maid what could I have done myself?

Penny



I read this encounter with her mother differently. While I do think Grace's mother intended for Grace to follow in her own footsteps down the path of a servant's life, I got the impression she was apprehensive about Grace's aspiration to be a lady's maid. She seems to warn Grace about getting too involved in the lives of her employers. Which would make sense if our theory about Grace's father's identity is true...
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