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KxBurns
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Chapter 1: Look-out

[ Edited ]

In this chapter, the as-yet nameless narrator awaits the arrival of her sister Vivi, who has long been absent from the family home.

What interests me about this opening chapter is that although we appear to find out more about Vivien (she is 68, has been away for 40 years, and fell off the bell tower when she was 9), we do in fact glean some insights into the character of our watchful narrator. Her assessment of herself as generally the more sensible and level-headed sister is in contrast to her obvious anxiety -- i.e. "…I can sense I’m about to be judged," -- and her constant preoccupation with the time (she comments upon Vivi's lateness three times). She comes off as uptight, perhaps eccentric, and reclusive.

Do you attribute this disconnect to the significance of the occasion, or is it an indication that the narrator's own perception of herself may not be reliable? Is her comment "I don’t often look at my reflection" (p. 3) a metaphor for something deeper?

I wonder if/how the concept of time, so prominent in this chapter, will play a role in the separation of the sisters…

I particularly like how the last paragraph sets up the story to come, especially with the sentence: "It's a sequence of events, an inexorable chain reaction, where each small link is fundamental to bring about a whole event like a snake of upended dominoes" (p. 5). And I sure can’t wait to read more about this bell tower incident!

Looking forward to reading your thoughts/observations!

Karen



Message Edited by KxBurns on 03-03-2008 01:20 PM
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DSaff
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I agree with you that our narrator describes herself as more level-headed, but I sense some anxiety in her. The fact that she is watching from a look-out spot has me thinking that she is nervous. I am also fascinated with time and wonder how it will fit into the story. She seems to have some OCD here.
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LisaMM
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I think it's telling that she knows every facet of the handmade glass in the window she is peering out of.. she has spent many hours looking out at the world rather than living in it.
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lmpmn
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

KxBurns wrote:

Do you attribute this disconnect to the significance of the occasion, or is it an indication that the narrator's own perception of herself may not be reliable? Is her comment "I don’t often look at my reflection" (p. 3) a metaphor for something deeper?

 

One of the 1st things I look at in a book is the narrator.  Oftentimes 1st person narrators can be unreliable, and the reader really has to watch what the narrator says or "take it with a grain of salt."  I'm always wary of 1st person narrators.

Very good observation on the "I don't often look at my reflection" sentence.  It is very possible that as we're seeing through her eyes, we're seeing a skewed reality.

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CylonReader
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I agree...Ginny appears nervous and obsessive - "I'm focusing on his hand, wishing he hadn't put it there, thinking I'll have to scrub it pretty hard after he's gone to get him off it."
 
She also seems quite weary - "I've forgotten how exhausting I find it to predict other people's frame of mind or to assess their general humor".
 
I love the writing style of Poppy Adams!
 
 
 
 
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Everyman
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

The very chapter heading interesting. (And even more interesting is that you chose to hyphenate it in the subject line, whereas in the book it's the single word.)

Lookout. Look-out. Look Out!

It offers me multiple meanings all of which may inform the story as it moves forward.

Lookout refers to the physical location of the lookout position, which is physically described for us with suggestions of an ancient lookout tower such as might have been used before the days of radar, radio, telephones, etc. to watch for an enemy coming across the ocean or the moors.

It refers to the act -- really the process -- of looking out for her sister.

But there seems to me also an undertone -- or perhaps an overtone -- of "Look out" as in watch out, something bad is about to happen. What one shouts when a car is bearing down, or a tree is falling, or a foul ball is sliced into the crowd. A sense of imminent danger requiring some defensive action.
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purplepaigeturner
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I also get the sense that our narrator is anxious and nevus about the arrival of her sister. Why isn't she waiting at the front door rather than "hiding" behind a window.
 
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I agree that the title chapter can be viewed in different ways.  Perhaps it is the combination of all three aspects.


Everyman wrote:

The very chapter heading interesting. (And even more interesting is that you chose to hyphenate it in the subject line, whereas in the book it's the single word.)

Lookout. Look-out. Look Out!

It offers me multiple meanings all of which may inform the story as it moves forward.

Lookout refers to the physical location of the lookout position, which is physically described for us with suggestions of an ancient lookout tower such as might have been used before the days of radar, radio, telephones, etc. to watch for an enemy coming across the ocean or the moors.

It refers to the act -- really the process -- of looking out for her sister.

But there seems to me also an undertone -- or perhaps an overtone -- of "Look out" as in watch out, something bad is about to happen. What one shouts when a car is bearing down, or a tree is falling, or a foul ball is sliced into the crowd. A sense of imminent danger requiring some defensive action.


Liz ♥ ♥


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FrankieD
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I wouldn't exactly say that I feel that 1st person narrators are "unreliable"...but I always feel that I'm getting a singular point of view. It would to know what Vivi was thinking on the drive to the house???
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I wonder how much if any contact there has been between these sisters in all those years.  From the narrator's comment that she wonders if she'd recognize her, it's obvious that they haven't seen each other; yet, she meekly accepts her sister's letter & the fact that Vivi is going to move in.  I'm interested into seeing why the narrator is so accepting.
 
The concept of time may also be of importance as we see the narrator's anxious that Vivi's late, yet she remarks how they always waited for Vivi - therefore she's always been late.  Since the narrator's something of a recluse, I'm wondering how she's going to accept and deal with this sister now living in her own closed-off little world.
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jmcauliffe
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

It is interesting to view the dynamics of this relationship within the short description we have.  The narrator describes herself as the more sensible, inferring that her sister is the wild one.   As a result of her perception of the relationship, she fears she will be judged.  This is a common reaction in relationships, especially with sisters.  I find a lot of the same dynamics exist in my own relationship with my sister.   But a lot of the dynamics depend on whose perspective and what each of us has been through.   
There is obviously a desire to impress her sister and to make sure everything is just right.   I can understand how she would be uptight, obsessed with time, and obsessed with the tiniest details.    She hasn't seen her sister for 40 years, and while she knew her sister 40 years ago so much has changed.    It is a nerve wracking experience to meet someone again and to try to rebuild a relationship when you are unsure of where it stands.    I am sure the narrator is unsure of herself in the eyes of her sister which contributes to her feelings of unease as the day begins to unfold. 
I am excited to see how this relationship unfolds and if I continue to see similarities in this relationship and my own relationship with my sister.
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Laurabairn
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I like the way the author is subtlely giving you clues about the narrators state of mind  and her character while useing the first person . The fact that she is watching for her arrival (as if she doesn't wait to be surprised) instead of making ready for her to be part of the household  or going about her usual routine speaks volumes to me. After 40 years there will be a lot of changes, both to the women and the house and you would think the narrator would like to present her best  self, but that doesn't even seem to occur to her.
 
Her thoughts...The updended dominios  and the bell tower story  in particular let me know is bright and capable of intellectual analysis, but her perceptions of the world and her conclusions make me distrust her
accuarcy. She does seem quirky and eccentric... which really makes you wonder about HER story...is she THE SISTER?
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Everyman
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

You've hit a point that bothered me a great deal also. Why haven't these sisters seen each other for so long? And why would Vivi be coming back to stay permanently without a first visit to see whether they were still in any way compatible? What person just decides to move back to a home they left fifty years ago and it seems haven't been back to since? There's no indication that she's broke and needing to move back for financial reasons, or ill and needing care she can't afford.

This aspect of the story seems unrealistic to me. I am willing to suspend disbelief when reasonably required, but I'm finding it hard to swallow this as a realistic way human beings act.


LizzieAnn wrote:
I wonder how much if any contact there has been between these sisters in all those years. From the narrator's comment that she wonders if she'd recognize her, it's obvious that they haven't seen each other; yet, she meekly accepts her sister's letter & the fact that Vivi is going to move in. I'm interested into seeing why the narrator is so accepting.
The concept of time may also be of importance as we see the narrator's anxious that Vivi's late, yet she remarks how they always waited for Vivi - therefore she's always been late. Since the narrator's something of a recluse, I'm wondering how she's going to accept and deal with this sister now living in her own closed-off little world.



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MelissaW
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I agree that our narrator is nervous and anxious while waiting for her sister to arrive.
 
I also think that she has never left the safety of her home and taken a chance, that life without her sister to lead the way, frightens her.  She's looked through the window and watched others living their lives, but she never made the break herself.
 
The point that Everyman made about the title heading is also very interesting.
 
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Peppermill
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Re: The Sister Chapter 1: Look-out

I am curious as to which sister is going to turn out to be "The Sister" of the title -- or whether that will remain ambiguous.
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Everyman
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

What do people make of the comment that their childhood was "in perfect balance"? (page 5) I don't know what this phrase might mean -- what is an unbalanced childhood? What is she implying? Why is this point made here?
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Laurel
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Time frame

"...you could easily end up living in a completely erroneous time frame." --p. 4

I'm wondering whether that is what she is already doing.
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

It makes me wonder quite a bit about the personality & life of each sister.  There must be something in their history that makes this so logical to each of them. 


Everyman wrote:

You've hit a point that bothered me a great deal also. Why haven't these sisters seen each other for so long? And why would Vivi be coming back to stay permanently without a first visit to see whether they were still in any way compatible? What person just decides to move back to a home they left fifty years ago and it seems haven't been back to since? There's no indication that she's broke and needing to move back for financial reasons, or ill and needing care she can't afford.

This aspect of the story seems unrealistic to me. I am willing to suspend disbelief when reasonably required, but I'm finding it hard to swallow this as a realistic way human beings act.




Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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MelissaW
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

I also wondered why Ginny and Vivian called their parents by first name and not Mom and Dad. 
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LizzieAnn
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Re: Chapter 1: Look-out

Perhaps that she is the "sensible" one while the other is more "daring"?  
 


Everyman wrote:

What do people make of the comment that their childhood was "in perfect balance"? (page 5) I don't know what this phrase might mean -- what is an unbalanced childhood? What is she implying? Why is this point made here?


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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