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womanryter
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower

By the end of this chapter I felt that Vivi is the "favored" child, perhaps due to the timing of the pregnancy (maybe a surprise to Maud), or perhaps there was difficulty during childbirth.  There's something there that has Maud automatically assuming Ginny is always a guilty party.
 
The description of the Doctor just sends shivers through my body.  I think he's been having 'inappropriate relations' with Ginny and that causes her unease around him and also taints her perception of childhood.  It's also why I feel she doesn't have much of a reaction to Viv's accident.  She has enough internal pain, and probably a lot of unshed tears, that she can't even comprehend the ability to come up with an emotional reaction to her sister's physical pain.
 
As for the comment about both sisters perhaps not having children, I feel the opposite.  I think Ginny has had a child (or more) and it changed her in a significant way (depending on if it was a good experience for her or a bad one).
 
It seems like I'm quite dark regarding this chapter, but that's the vibe I got when reading.  There's definitely something unethical going on in regard to the doctor.
 
The sisterly roles - Viv is the untainted one, and Ginny is the tainted one.  Ginny has learned to go along with things and Viv still has her childish innocence.  I think Ginny grasps on to that and it's the only thing keeping her from losing her mind.
 
It'll be interesting to see how the story progresses and if I'm at all right about any of this!
 
-Lisa
 
Lisa Haselton

http://lisahaselton.tripod.com
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Jaelin
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower



ilenekm wrote:
I hadnt thought about autism when I first read these chapters. However, the more I read the book, the more I tend to agree with this assumption.  It seems that Maud and Dr. Moyse were also concerned about Ginny being different. On p 19 "I know that Dr. Moyse was a good man and was always trying for the best, but sometimes it felt like he was interviewing me- what I felt about this and that and stupid things; if I ever wanted revenge. He never did it to Vivi."  To me this shows that there was always the underlying psychological concern about Ginny especially if you put this together with what we know about Ginny 50+ years later and her OCD tendencies.
 
 


I may be off base though I can see the autism traits.  I think that Ginny is one of those few people who is truly intelligent and as with most of those of really high IQ's thinks that everyone else is strange.  She sees the path that no one else can.  So when someone like Dr. Moyse "interviews" her she just doesn't answer because it is so plain to "see" that it doesn't deserve an answer.
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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Jaelin
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower & the Stain Glass window



Carmenere_lady wrote:
It is in this chapter that we learn about Samuel  Kendal, I think he would be Maud's great grandfather?, anyway he "commissioned an enourmous stained glass window as a backdrop to the hall stairs................It depicts 4 completely fabricated - Maud said - family crests.  Is there much more to this family that was completely fabricated?


Oh an interesting thought.   A lot of families wanted to be more legitimate so they had crests made so I never even thought that it could be deeper.  Thanks for coming up with that one.....kind of puts a new light onthe book......hhhhmmmm
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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Jaelin
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower



Wrighty wrote:


ELee wrote:


dewgirl wrote:
I was shocked when, on p.15, Maud says," I love you and I don't blame you. I just need to know the truth." That, to me, made it seem like Maud thought Ginny had something to do with the fall. I didn't feel that Ginny was involved at all. I wonder if this will mean something later.

Very perceptive.  If you look at this in relation to Ginny's observation that "if I hadn't been there, squatting in the bell-tower with her [Vivien], I might have thought she'd jumped."  you have to make a decision about what you are going to believe.  The two viewpoints are in so much opposition that it creates a conflict for the reader. 


Maud must trust Ginny because on page 12 she mentions that when the girls were growing up they always did everything together. If one of the girls were going out alone she would ask the other one to join her. Did she think Ginny had something to do with the fall or was she understandably terrified and trying to find out what happened? Ginny is confused about her mother's reactions and isn't talking much or crying. This upsets her mother more. Why did she say "I thought we could be a normal family"? It's confusing here but I'm wondering if all of it will be explained later.



This was an interesting paradox.  It is almost as if Maud could think that Ginny could or would do this yet Ginny has the same feeling about Vivi.  It is almost as if Maud is placing a past incident or feeling onto Ginny whereas Ginny gives the impression that Vivi is a lot more volatile then she is sharing with us.....just my musing away....
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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Jaelin
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower



jlawrence77 wrote:
 
"She was making herself comfortable while holding her toast level in her left hand.  I remember saying that I didn't think she should be there, that it looked too dangerous, and she just said "Ginny, don't be so bor-ing", a pair of martins [birds]....startled out from underneath the little ledge.  My heart leapt but Vivi must have lost her balance."  (pg. 14)
 
So, apparently some birds startled Vivi, and she lost her balance. She was holding on to her toast in one hand, so only one hand was supporting her. 
 
Jenn


I wonder if she was using her right hand to grip since it goes on to say that "I watched her trying to regain control of the toast that danced about, evading her grip like a bar of soap in the bath."  Could she really have been more concerned with her toast? the her balance? hhhmmm

 
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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Jaelin
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower



vivico1 wrote:

Thayer wrote:


kiakar wrote:


Thayer wrote:
Interesting that at this point, knowing so little about Vivi, the majority of us (myself included) consider her to be the "normal" sibling.


I hear what you are saying, Thayer, but is either one of them normal?


good point...what is "normal?"




well, I think the assumption comes from Ginny's description and that of what she remembers her parents saying about a "normal family" that she didnt understand what the problem was. We also are assuming Ginny must be off, just because she is a bit odd sounding and lives alone and is compulsive, but what if her memories are spot on and she's just reclusive after all these years? If you think about it, shes in her mid 60s and has been left alone in that house for all these years? 40? 50? who wouldnt be a bit eccentric by then. It could be that danger has entered her house in the guise of one Vivi. But then again, who knows really at this point huh. :smileywink: Like I said, sometimes 1st person narrative is not to be trusted yes, but that all depends on what the writer wants to be so. The writer can make 1st person the most accurate of all, its not the characters choice, its the writers.

I still think Ginny is off tho myself lol, but love to play devil's advocate.

It is interesting.....alone in the house for 40 or 50 years?  I think that maybe she would have slowly backed away from society not just abruptly.   
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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Jaelin
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower and virginia creepers



Carmenere_lady wrote:
I was amused by this discription of the Red House on page 7.  "the Red House, as it was often called on account of the Virgina creeper that turns south........  Is that a reference to Ginny perhaps.  Does she creep about, is she creepy? 



Oh never thought about that.  Ginny does seem a little creepy though there are a lot of peole who seem creepy to me.  It is all in our perceptions to our surroundings......hhhmmmm
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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Jaelin
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower



pigwidgeon wrote:


detailmuse wrote:
Yes, devoid of emotion ... like an observer, a scientist.
For me, it didn't hint at regret, merely curiosity.


KxBurns wrote:

One thing that stands out for me is her use of the word "Peculiarly" to preface the statement that Vivi survived. I would have used "miraculously" or "thankfully" but the word peculiarly is really devoid of emotion...








Great observation detailmuse! :smileyhappy: I think the scientific nature of Ginny, modeled after Clive, gets overlooked sometimes (by people like me).


It is also very easy for us to forget that not all of us think alike....Ginny is like Clive and so thinks more along linear lines then the rest of us.....
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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Jaelin
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower



Oldesq wrote:
Maybe falling off the edge here (or the bell tower) but some things struck me in this chapter.  For example:
  • the MAUD committee (1940- the year Vivi was born) was the British equivalent of the Manhattan project before the UK and US shared.
  • Vivi (sorry Vivico) reminds me of vivisection
  • In Finnish myth there are 9 sisters who work in a mill that basically run the world- a variant on the story has just two really large ones doing the same job (the maids that were let go were 2 of 9)(page 11)
  • has anyone decided what ANK means (other than the obvious monogram)? Reminds me of ankh- Egyptian symbol of life.
  • Several people have mentioned how at three Ginny may have been confused by the appearance of all the children- but I think both the girls are too precocious by half- they are able to plan to secret themselves in the Holm oak in case of invasion (9) and received candy from American Soldiers (13)- while both were very young during the war years- Vivi being at most 6 leading the charge.
  • lots of mention of poison, killing fluid (10), chemical bottles (5)- death abounds as well (7) slaughtering devices, family killing and pinning around the globe (10)
  • What is the deal with the toast- I like homemade jam but balancing as if my life depended on it? (14)
  • I like the description- "in the paneled hall, a large oak staircase pours majestically from the vaulted ceiling" (7)

I am enjoying this slightly off kilter read.

 

Oldesq



Wow you are right it is off kilter and that is, I now realize, how I was able to get through it.  I found some parts boring as I read them only to realize now that they actually give more than I thought.......thanks for the point of view.
 

 
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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Suetj
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower

I also found that kind of odd that she did not know she had a real sibling and could not distinguish her from the evacuees.  Was that a lack of knowing in her or a lack of telling from her parents?  In a child of that age, this type of awareness should have been there.
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jistamom
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower

By the end of this chapter I had started to wonder if Ginny was the biological child of Clive and Maud.
 
The reference to the evacuee children, Clive being engrossed in his work, the explanation to Ginny that Vivi was her sister and this was her home, the appearance of Dr. Moyse, the reaction of various parties when Vivi "fell" from the Bell Tower and Maud's comment about thinking they could be a normal family is what made me wonder this. I also wondered if Ginny wasn't a child with Reactive Attachment Disoredr (RAD) even though that was not a term used in the era of the book it would explain some of Ginny's odd behavior.
 
My thinking went something like this:
 
There is a long heritage of lepidoptery in this family and ancestors portraits line the walls. Maybe for whatever reason after Clive and Maud were married they believed that they couldn't have children and adopted Ginny who may have been orphaned during the war.
 
Maybe Maud wanted a child very badly and the reason Clive lost himself in his work was because he was not as accepting of a child that was not his own. This could also explain why Ginny called her parents by their first names and not mom and dad or some other such common reference.
 
After taking in Ginny Maud and Clive concieved Vivi but they had already adopted Ginny and committed to taking in other evacuees so the household was in emotional turmoil. The reference to Ginny being 3 years old at this time made me think of RAD since it develops in the first 3 years of life. Perhaps Ginny had been exposed to the turmoils of war during her first tender years and this had warpped her mind.
 
Even though mental illness and the term RAD were not as well known at the time the Sister is set in the fact that Clive is a scientist and knows that environmental influences can lead to change in a biological compound may have made him more willing to look for outside help such as that offered by a psychiatrist (which I think Dr. Moyse was) to determine if Ginny's early exposure to some tragedy - whatever it may have been - influenced her chracter.
 
Vivi being portrayed as the favored daughter from Ginny's point of view could be from a jeolousy that Vivi had what Ginny did not - her "real" parents. Perhaps Maud did show more attention and a different kind of attention to Vivi because she was a biological child.
 
The immediate response of Maud implying that Vivi's falling from the Bell Tower may not have been an accident and the fact that Dr. Moyse came to visit and play card games seems to suggest that Ginny had displayed some behavior that was different from what one would expect from a "normal" child and that some of that behavior may have been violent in the past.
 
Ginny's totally unemotional response to Vivi's accident and the way she reacted with some anger when Dr. Moyse tried to touch on emotion further suggested RAD to me. I think Ginny may have pushed Vivi in an attempt to get rid of someone that she saw as an obstacle Maud and Clive's full attention.
 
Hopefully some of the things I have speculated about will be proven or disproven in the chapters to come - but maybe not since this is told in the first person and people with RAD have a way of lying to themselves and others in attempt to appear normal.
 
 
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Readingrat
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower

I took a lot more from this chapter than the last. At this point we are never told outright that Ginny is Maud and Clive's daughter, but we do know that she was born in the house. If this is true then apparently Ginny's mother was someone close to Maud (because Maud took Ginny in to raise as her own) and perhaps was someone who was mentally unbalanced (because Maud automatically assumes Ginny had something to do with Vivi's fall). It could be that I'm totally off here and Ginny herself is the unbalanced individual, but right now I'm going on the premise that she is a reliable narrator (I might change my mind down the road though).

The second big thing that struck me was how creepy it would be to be a child growing up in a house with all those dead bugs! When I think of myself as a child, living in a house with a bird-eating tarantula (dead or not) would have been totally terrifying. As a matter of fact, I don't think I would let one remain in my house even now - even a dead one.
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bentley
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower

When Ginny took her first long look at Vivian in her little red woolen jumper, from that moment she said that she worshipped her. They shared their secrets and their sugar rations. This seems to be the first reference in the book to their sisterly dimension. I would say that Ginny was the big sister who thought that her little sister was about as close to God as you come. Vivian was always the leader though younger and she was the one with all of the plans. Vivian dreamed and Ginny listened.

In chapter two, it was noted that Bulburrow Court's glory days were buried well within the previous century, when the house and gardens would not have run smoothly on less than twenty staff, more if you counted the surrounding tenant farmers and farm laborers, all originally part of the estate. For me, this house represented the past (an old story that the family kept telling to feel alive and worthy).

I thought that the sentence: "Then there were the things that only Vivi and I knew about, like the holm oak that looks solid from the outside but is completely hollow in the middle," was a remarkable description of the old grandeur and stature of the estate and family which may have had a robust legacy though now had fallen on harder times and was barely existing.

I find it interesting that the family pursued such an unlikely occupation: the study of butterflies and moths (lepidopterists); can you imagine telling your parents that this is what you are going to major in while at your Ivy League college. Your parents might have had heart attacks thinking of the waste of the tuition money and where you would find gainful employment. Butterflies and moths connote insects that are so different when they come to mind. One seems alive and vibrant and beautiful; while the other seems dull and uninteresting and dead in spirit. I am sure that this symbolism will rear its head later. It sounds like a very weird house already. Why the obsession with killing and pinning insects.

When Vivian was on the stretcher; it was as if Ginny's life was ebbing away. I thought that Ginny's self identity and self worth had been wrapped up in her little sister and she had never been allowed to develop. Why blame her for her sister's accident; you could tell that they thought she knew more than she was letting on. Talk about putting guilt into a child's mind. I wonder if she was in shock over what happened and she was like the moth while Vivian was the butterfly.

I have no idea why Ginny had this impression about children; we have just been told that Vivian couldn't give birth to children; I imagine she could adopt a child if she wanted. I guess we will have to read on to find out.
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hasieb
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower

I love the suspense with which Poppy Adams has written this chapter--is Vivi good or is it Ginny? It automatically leads the reader into a dichotomy which is so rarely true with people. Because I am late doesn't mean I am careless or bad--and yet that is the way the author leads us to think through Ginny's eyes. Because I am always on time and am more sensible doesn't mean I am always virtuous. But through Ginny's eyes this distance between the sisters seems to take on that simplistic overlay. I can't wait to read the rest of the book; it feels like we are going to get to see a very complex family structure in the end. And I am still wondering why Ginny calls her parents by their first names. Are they really her parents? What is the distance?
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bentley
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower



hasieb wrote:
I love the suspense with which Poppy Adams has written this chapter--is Vivi good or is it Ginny? It automatically leads the reader into a dichotomy which is so rarely true with people. Because I am late doesn't mean I am careless or bad--and yet that is the way the author leads us to think through Ginny's eyes. Because I am always on time and am more sensible doesn't mean I am always virtuous. But through Ginny's eyes this distance between the sisters seems to take on that simplistic overlay. I can't wait to read the rest of the book; it feels like we are going to get to see a very complex family structure in the end. And I am still wondering why Ginny calls her parents by their first names. Are they really her parents? What is the distance?




Yes, always Maud and Clive.
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower



hasieb wrote:
I love the suspense with which Poppy Adams has written this chapter--is Vivi good or is it Ginny? It automatically leads the reader into a dichotomy which is so rarely true with people. Because I am late doesn't mean I am careless or bad--and yet that is the way the author leads us to think through Ginny's eyes. Because I am always on time and am more sensible doesn't mean I am always virtuous. But through Ginny's eyes this distance between the sisters seems to take on that simplistic overlay. I can't wait to read the rest of the book; it feels like we are going to get to see a very complex family structure in the end. And I am still wondering why Ginny calls her parents by their first names. Are they really her parents? What is the distance?

So true! We are eager to figure out which sister is the good one and which the bad seed. But most likely it will not be so clear-cut. 
 
Your comments remind me of a psychological theory that says we generally attribute the behavior of others to internal character traits (equating their "bad" actions with character failings) but we attribute our own bad behavior to circumstance/external forces. It might be interesting to see if this plays out in the story, since we see it from Ginny's point of view.
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Jaelin
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower

I love your description on the study of moths and butterflies.  Many people find that the boring or mundane to us should be the same for everyone else.  That this family didn't is excemptional.
Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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ezraSid
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower

I found it odd that ginny's mum would think that she had anything to do with vivi's fall from the bell tower.  How telling is it that the Dr. has these on going "talks" with Ginny?  Is she somehow unstable?  Makes one wonder.  I know I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable being "interviewed" on the occasions of his visits, any more than i would be living with a bunch of dead insects pinned to the walls.  Somewhat gruesome.
~Grace~
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KxBurns
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Re: Chapter 2: The Bell Tower



ezraSid wrote:
I found it odd that ginny's mum would think that she had anything to do with vivi's fall from the bell tower.  How telling is it that the Dr. has these on going "talks" with Ginny?  Is she somehow unstable?  Makes one wonder.  I know I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable being "interviewed" on the occasions of his visits, any more than i would be living with a bunch of dead insects pinned to the walls.  Somewhat gruesome.


It is definitely a strange environment for children! I think Ginny's response to Dr. Moyse is intriguing. She is understandably annoyed by his prying and his attention so she chooses to tell him she "didn't feel anything" just to get rid of him. I have to imagine such responses would confirm any suspicions the family has about her mental stability... 
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