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Author
Poppy_Adams
Posts: 114
Registered: ‎02-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



FrankieD wrote:
Thanks Poppy !!!  In the midst of a very busy month at school ( I teach carpentry to high school kids) it was a great treat to read your book. The relationship between the sisters was very interesting...and made me think about my sister and I as we grew up. Anyway, I'm glad that you left some loose-ends in the story because I really enjoy leaving with some of my own conclusions...that's what makes reading so exciting:smileyhappy: so thanks again and now I'll be watching for your next book.
                                                                                                Frankie D :smileyhappy: 


Dear Frankie D

Thank you for your enthusiasm, and I'm very glad you enjoyed the book.  It has been an extraordinary time for me.  A year and a half ago I had no idea anyone would publish the book, and now it is being published throughout the world, translated into many languages, and selected for radio readings and other coveted events such as this book club.  I certainly have some pressure on my next one!

I have a question for you.  It is being published in the UK under the title The Behaviour of Moths, and most of the foreign language translations are using Moth in the title.  I wondered if you think you would have still read the book, had it been called The Behaviour of Moths, rather than The Sister?  I'd love to know what you think.

By the way, I used to love carpentry at school!
Take care
Poppy


Learn more about The Sister.
Frequent Contributor
Frank_n_beans
Posts: 36
Registered: ‎02-01-2008
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Hi Poppy:

Thanks for sharing your lovely novel with us. I really enjoyed reading it...though it did leave me with many questions that I wanted answered! (however, it did encourage me to "think" which, as you mentioned, was one of your goals.) :smileyhappy:

One specific question I had was in regard to your treatment of Ginny's arthritis pain. Did you decide to give her this condition simply to illustrate the fact that she was aging OR...do you have personal experience with chronic pain? I suffer with very severe chronic pain (and I know of one other woman on here who does as well) and I could really relate with the physical pain Ginny felt...even though she's over 40 years older than I!! Regardless of why you chose to incorporate this theme, I felt that you did a nice job representing what it is like to deal with pain on a daily basis.

Thanks again for sharing your book...you are a brave soul to participate in this process!!

Frank & Beans
Distinguished Correspondent
ClaudiaLuce
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎01-31-2008
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Poppy, I thoroughly enjoyed your book and want to thank you for allowing us to read it before it goes public.
 
I was intrigued by the deteriation of the house and Ginny's mind at the same time.  Was that suppossed to be analogous?  I am the person who suggested early on that Ginny could possibly be a split personality, a theory which was only put to rest once Eileen came to tea.  I am still very intrigued by many of Ginny's "visions".  Was she already having breaks with reality as a child - or was she just extremely introverted and shy?  I like the fact that you have left this option up to me to figure out.  I can truly claim these characters as mine!!
 
Thank you for a most interesting novel!!
"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." -
-- Sir Richard Steele
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Editor



Poppy_Adams wrote:
The thing I found most interesting is that I did not get the same, immediate, response from an equally intelligent UK audience. I may be wrong, but this is what I have decided: the English love their eccentrics, they ‘willed’ her to just be eccentric and didn’t want to find anything officially wrong with her. Perhaps they are also more used to the idea of an eccentric living in a big country house because there are still so many of them here!

That is indeed interesting. Do you notice other significant differences between your English and American audiences?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Frequent Contributor
bentley
Posts: 2,509
Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams


Poppy_Adams wrote:


FrankieD wrote:
Thanks Poppy !!!  In the midst of a very busy month at school ( I teach carpentry to high school kids) it was a great treat to read your book. The relationship between the sisters was very interesting...and made me think about my sister and I as we grew up. Anyway, I'm glad that you left some loose-ends in the story because I really enjoy leaving with some of my own conclusions...that's what makes reading so exciting:smileyhappy: so thanks again and now I'll be watching for your next book.
                                                                                                Frankie D :smileyhappy: 


Dear Frankie D

Thank you for your enthusiasm, and I'm very glad you enjoyed the book.  It has been an extraordinary time for me.  A year and a half ago I had no idea anyone would publish the book, and now it is being published throughout the world, translated into many languages, and selected for radio readings and other coveted events such as this book club.  I certainly have some pressure on my next one!

I have a question for you.  It is being published in the UK under the title The Behaviour of Moths, and most of the foreign language translations are using Moth in the title.  I wondered if you think you would have still read the book, had it been called The Behaviour of Moths, rather than The Sister?  I'd love to know what you think.

By the way, I used to love carpentry at school!
Take care
Poppy





I am not Frankie D; but for me the title: The Time of Emergence resonated more than the other titles. Not being so comfortable with the "idea" of insects I would have probably not picked up the book with the word Moth in the title.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

I'm sorry, Ms. Adams, that you find my posting style unacceptable. I will withdraw from the discussion until you have completed your stay here.

Everyman
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Frequent Contributor
bookhunter
Posts: 322
Registered: ‎06-09-2007
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Ms. Adams wrote:

The thing I found most interesting is that I did not get the same, immediate, response from an equally intelligent UK audience.  I may be wrong, but this is what I have decided:  the English love their eccentrics, they ‘willed’ her to just be eccentric and didn’t want to find anything officially wrong with her.  Perhaps they are also more used to the idea of an eccentric living in a big country house because there are still so many of them here!  Do you think it’s because the English find eccentrics more endearing and American’s like their labels?   I also found it interesting that once the UK audience did realise she was a little more 'off' than eccentric (inherent or created), they suddenly found her habits less ‘endearing’.  Although she was no different, their perception of her had drastically changed. ...

 

Ms. Adams,

I loved your response here, and your discussion about the differences between the UK audience and us.  It sounds to me like you think "eccentric" is not a label!

You are right that we Americans want to "fix" things, and that seems easier when we have identified what needs fixing.  But I think these labels have become over used in our everyday life "Oh, I am sooo OCD--I have to make SURE I turned of the oven before I leave the house")   and also expanded in their actual medical definitions that we use them as a synonym for eccentric.

I love the aspect of your book that questions how much of Who We Are is determined by our biology and how much by our environment.  Your question in a previous post about free wil being an illusion made for interesting dinner discussion at our house!  The family dog wishes to argue against humans and apes being the only self aware creatures on the planet. (I won't even TELL you what the cat says!)

Is that a theme that you plan to explore further in future novels?  If so, I would challenge or request you to examine the spiritual aspect of the question as well.  There are hints of a spiritual life in The Sister:  We see Vivi going to church, and we read that Ginny (and Clive) does not believe in God.  I think self awareness may be fine and dandy, but awareness of something beyond this world is what really sets humans apart.

I am enjoying your thoughtful responses to our questions as much as I did the novel!

Ann, bookhunter

PS  I like The Time of Emergence

Inspired Contributor
Bearsstar
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎01-30-2008
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Like everyone else, I want to thank you for letting me read your book.  I had a hard time at the very beginning getting into your book, but I think it was because there was too much happening in getting to know the characters and what was going on, and I had to keep going back to see if I had read it right, or was that your intention.  As I read farther I really enjoyed the book though.  My question is did I miss what actually happened to Vivi in the bell tower?  Did Ginny push her or did she just fall by herself?  For awhile I thought that all this was in Ginny's mind.  I hope that you write another one soon.  I also loved learning more about moths and butterflies.  Have you been interested in them or was it just for the book that you did so much in depth research?  Thank you again for such a good book.
Jeanne G aka Bearsstar
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Laurel
Posts: 5,747
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
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Re: Questions for the Editor

That's a good point, Ann. My take on the book is that all the dominoes began to fall at the point in the lecture when Clive said that everything is just matter and fate. If we are just the product of mechanistic determinism, then what is the point of family, love, friendship, humanity, anything? Why not kill people? If there is no God, said one of the brothers Karamazov, then everything is permissible.



bookhunter wrote:

I would challenge or request you to examine the spiritual aspect of the question as well. There are hints of a spiritual life in The Sister: We see Vivi going to church, and we read that Ginny (and Clive) does not believe in God. I think self awareness may be fine and dandy, but awareness of something beyond this world is what really sets humans apart.

I am enjoying your thoughtful responses to our questions as much as I did the novel!

Ann, bookhunter

PS I like The Time of Emergence



"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
Distinguished Scribe
blkeyesuzi
Posts: 730
Registered: ‎01-26-2008
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Hi Ms. Adams,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to read your novel in advance. It was a thrill. You've created quite a buzz and just think...this is only the beginning. I'm really happy for your success. I look forward to watching your career and your work prosper. By the way, you mentioned that your husband encouraged you to write (good for him! Thank him for us!!)...

I have several questions about the actual writing/publishing process:
1. Once you started writing, how much time did you devote to the process each day?
2. When/how did you submit your novel?
3. Is the process everything you had expected?
4. How did you feel about the title-changes your novel has undergone?

And finally...are you working on a new book, or do you plan on another in the near future?



Thanks for taking the time to answer all our questions.
Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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FrankieD
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎12-16-2007
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Poppy...
   The Behavior of Moths...an interesting title, but not quite right for your book...although if it were in the fiction section and I saw the cover picture as well and read the back cover...well, I may still have been drawn in. By the way, working as a cabinetmaker helped pay my way through college to geta degree in biology and yet I wound up teaching the woodworking rather than the biology...and so the behavior of moths isn't too far fetched for me. How about a title like...Moths in the Attic ...ha-ha-ha !!!!!! Why not? Ginny and Vivi certainly had skeletons in the closet as well.
 
                                                                            Frankie D :smileyhappy:


Poppy_Adams wrote:


FrankieD wrote:
Thanks Poppy !!!  In the midst of a very busy month at school ( I teach carpentry to high school kids) it was a great treat to read your book. The relationship between the sisters was very interesting...and made me think about my sister and I as we grew up. Anyway, I'm glad that you left some loose-ends in the story because I really enjoy leaving with some of my own conclusions...that's what makes reading so exciting:smileyhappy: so thanks again and now I'll be watching for your next book.
                                                                                                Frankie D :smileyhappy: 


Dear Frankie D

Thank you for your enthusiasm, and I'm very glad you enjoyed the book.  It has been an extraordinary time for me.  A year and a half ago I had no idea anyone would publish the book, and now it is being published throughout the world, translated into many languages, and selected for radio readings and other coveted events such as this book club.  I certainly have some pressure on my next one!

I have a question for you.  It is being published in the UK under the title The Behaviour of Moths, and most of the foreign language translations are using Moth in the title.  I wondered if you think you would have still read the book, had it been called The Behaviour of Moths, rather than The Sister?  I'd love to know what you think.

By the way, I used to love carpentry at school!
Take care
Poppy



" The longer I live...the more beautiful life becomes."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
Author
Poppy_Adams
Posts: 114
Registered: ‎02-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



FrankieD wrote:
Poppy...
   The Behavior of Moths...an interesting title, but not quite right for your book...although if it were in the fiction section and I saw the cover picture as well and read the back cover...well, I may still have been drawn in. By the way, working as a cabinetmaker helped pay my way through college to geta degree in biology and yet I wound up teaching the woodworking rather than the biology...and so the behavior of moths isn't too far fetched for me. How about a title like...Moths in the Attic ...ha-ha-ha !!!!!! Why not? Ginny and Vivi certainly had skeletons in the closet as well.
 
                                                                            Frankie D :smileyhappy:


Frankie D
You would not believe the number of titles we went through, I'm sure Moths in the Attic was one - along with Wuthering Moths!!




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Fozzie
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Re: Questions for the Editor



Poppy_Adams wrote:


The thing I found most interesting is that I did not get the same, immediate, response from an equally intelligent UK audience.  I may be wrong, but this is what I have decided:  the English love their eccentrics, they ‘willed’ her to just be eccentric and didn’t want to find anything officially wrong with her.  Perhaps they are also more used to the idea of an eccentric living in a big country house because there are still so many of them here!  Do you think it’s because the English find eccentrics more endearing and American’s like their labels?   I also found it interesting that once the UK audience did realise she was a little more 'off' than eccentric (inherent or created), they suddenly found her habits less ‘endearing’.  Although she was no different, their perception of her had drastically changed.     

I am an American who lived in Oxford, England for 18 months during 1999-2001 while my husband worked for a British firm.  Oxford is a walking city, and I did not have a car, so I spent lots of time walking the city.  At first, I tended to notice if someone was dressed a little differently, and I noticed many people carrying what I considered to be odd things down the road.  However, I soon became used to my surroundings and found the "anything goes" attitude refreshing.  Without exception, friends and family who came to visit commented on things they witnessed on the street which they considered to be odd, things which I had become accustomed to.  Yes, I think that people in England are much more tolerant of the eccentricities of people.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Editor

I think I am the exception, but I don't choose books based on either titles or the cover art.  I order most of my books on line ad don't really even look at a book's cover until I start the book and certainly don't analyze it until I have read part of the book.  Any title or cover would be fine with me. 
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



FrankieD wrote:
Poppy...
How about a title like...Moths in the Attic ...ha-ha-ha !!!!!! Why not? Ginny and Vivi certainly had skeletons in the closet as well.


Great idea for a title, Frankie! It works on so many levels. hahahahaha
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
Author
Poppy_Adams
Posts: 114
Registered: ‎02-25-2008
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Re: Questions for the Editor



bookhunter wrote:

Ms. Adams wrote:

The thing I found most interesting is that I did not get the same, immediate, response from an equally intelligent UK audience.  I may be wrong, but this is what I have decided:  the English love their eccentrics, they ‘willed’ her to just be eccentric and didn’t want to find anything officially wrong with her.  Perhaps they are also more used to the idea of an eccentric living in a big country house because there are still so many of them here!  Do you think it’s because the English find eccentrics more endearing and American’s like their labels?   I also found it interesting that once the UK audience did realise she was a little more 'off' than eccentric (inherent or created), they suddenly found her habits less ‘endearing’.  Although she was no different, their perception of her had drastically changed. ...

 

Ms. Adams,

I loved your response here, and your discussion about the differences between the UK audience and us.  It sounds to me like you think "eccentric" is not a label!

You are right that we Americans want to "fix" things, and that seems easier when we have identified what needs fixing.  But I think these labels have become over used in our everyday life "Oh, I am sooo OCD--I have to make SURE I turned of the oven before I leave the house")   and also expanded in their actual medical definitions that we use them as a synonym for eccentric.

I love the aspect of your book that questions how much of Who We Are is determined by our biology and how much by our environment.  Your question in a previous post about free wil being an illusion made for interesting dinner discussion at our house!  The family dog wishes to argue against humans and apes being the only self aware creatures on the planet. (I won't even TELL you what the cat says!)

Is that a theme that you plan to explore further in future novels?  If so, I would challenge or request you to examine the spiritual aspect of the question as well.  There are hints of a spiritual life in The Sister:  We see Vivi going to church, and we read that Ginny (and Clive) does not believe in God.  I think self awareness may be fine and dandy, but awareness of something beyond this world is what really sets humans apart.

I am enjoying your thoughtful responses to our questions as much as I did the novel!

Ann, bookhunter

PS  I like The Time of Emergence



 

Dear Bookhunter

Thanks for your response.  I have really enjoyed reading your posts all the way through the discussions.  With frequent contributors, like yourself, I have had the rare and fascinating experience of understanding how you have viewed the book at different stages.  Thank you for that.  Some people have asked in what way this bookclub might help authors.  Well, I tried to sit down ‘new’ readers straight after they finished it and plagued them with questions like “so what exactly did you feel was going on by the end of this chapter?”, “who do you believe at this stage?”, “what do you think of Ginny’s character by then?”, but once the book is finished it’s difficult to remember your thoughts at each stage.

Of course the varied answers merely confirm that everyone (using such varied sets of biological ‘tools’ to judge it) perceives the story and the characters within (and extending that – their own lives) so differently.  Readers own experiences are so diverse that when you are writing a book that aims to ‘play’ with their perceptions, you are not able to control how different people feel or think.  That is why each person takes what they want from a book, and not necessarily always what is handed out to them by the author.

On the level of the plot, and how many clues to give people, it is impossible to cater to everyone’s tastes, but I will never treat readers as anything but sophisticated and intelligent (in the next post I will discuss clues I left to point towards whodunit!).  I, myself, hate books which spell out things that I would like to – or have already – worked out for myself.  In that same way, I have tried to ‘show’ people’s characters, rather than describe them (though of course our unreliable narrator does, but she can’t be trusted so it adds another layer).  I understand it gets complicated… life IS complicated and I like stories that reflect the depth and contradictions of life.

You’re right, by the way, that ‘eccentric’ is a label (silly me!).  I meant ‘medical label’ and I think those two types of label elicit opposing feelings within English society.

I like your point about over-using these labels and I completely agree.  Adding to that, I also think that the opposite could be true – outgoing types may claim “I’m SO OCD because…” but others may become more reticent about their quirky, perhaps debilitating, compulsions because they fear they may be viewed as medically ‘abnormal’.  Lots of people, having read the book, have off-loaded their unusual habits onto me – honestly, for those who jumped to the conclusion Ginny was a sociopath from the evidence in chapter 1, then I hate to imagine what you would have thought if I’d written about some of these ‘real’ habits!  I’ve always suspected there’s more idiosyncratic behavior out there than we realize – so I’ll put forward the question – Anyone out there have an idiosyncrasy to share? I’ll start.  If I see a bus approaching, I pick a point on the pavement and I have to get to it before the bus has passed me.  Every time! I’m also quite finicky about my duvet and sheets, but not to Ginny’s extent, honestly!  And my six year old son recently went through a stage being fixated on counting in his head – to his utter distraction “mummy, help, I can’t stop counting”.  Luckily he did, but it was like not being able to get a song out of his head.

Please tell your dog and cat that they should not listen to any of those academics who say they are living pointless unconscious lives!  And give them both a pat from me.

About my next book:  I won’t be exploring the same themes that I have in this book, but don’t worry I have others! And, although I don’t tell anyone (not even my husband) my ideas until I have finished, I will say I am very interested in that spiritual theme that you mention, particularly what makes people more spiritual than others.  And no moths, I promise!

Bookhunter, I think our heads connected on many aspects of this book.  I love the fact that you and I can do that though we live thousands of miles apart, are immersed in a different culture and most probably live very different lives!

Lovely to connect with you!

Poppy



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Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Poppy,
Thank you for answering my questions. In response I didn't take into count about the arthritis and I should have that was my fault and I guess I thought they should act like my own mother who is 73 and I have a hard time keeping up with her. And in reading your other posts have to agree that the participants from across the pond probably do have a better idea of an eccentric person living alone in the home, I am unfortunately a total suburbanite and have not much experience with such persons so thank you for letting me experience her. I will now read the book again and with a whole new outlook.
Again thank you so much for being a part of this wonderful program I again enjoyed reading your book and look forward to your next venture.
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Ms. Adams -- did you deliberately write satire in any parts of The Sister? As you may know, I read parts of it that way, especially the sequence with Bernard groping Ginny. And I, rightly or wrongly, associate satire with the British mindset, whatever that might be.

My second question -- how did you think about the issue of trust when writing this book? In particular, even as I found myself trusting Ginny less and less, I wanted to be able to trust the author. In particular, if I was going to explore so much lepidopterology, I wanted to know whether to treat what I was reading as accurate, or whether to be as suspect about that as I had become about other aspects of the narration. (In particular, I am still mystified by "pupal soup" -- a brief search has suggested it may be a valid observation, but ....)

It is always a privilege for a lay reader like myself to access a new writing before publication. You are on what must be a joyous and fascinating but sometimes tough journey! Enjoy!
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Author
Poppy_Adams
Posts: 114
Registered: ‎02-25-2008
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Tarri wrote:
I think my questions are going to be the ones that you want me to answer for myself, but I would like to hear what you think.
 
* What is wrong with Ginny? 
 
* Why is Vivi home?
 
* What happened to the clocks on the day of Vivi's death/murder?
 
* Did Ginny push Vivi off the bell tower or did she fall?
 
* Who pushed Maud, Ginny or Clive?
 
* Did Ginny stop the research when Clive left?
 
* Did Bernard fondle Ginny, or was it all in her mind?
 
Edited to add:
 
Great book, I really enjoyed the story and the discussion.  Best of luck to you. 


Message Edited by Tarri on 03-14-2008 09:40 AM

Dear Tarri

Yup, you are right about those questions, but I won’t be so mean as to leave it like that.  Here’s my pov on one of your questions:  (Again, everyone’s pov is valid, it does not matter what mine is!): Who pushed Maud, Ginny or Clive?

OK.  I believe that for those of you who want to decipher the most straight-forward plot, I left enough clues for you to believe that Clive pushed Maude down the steps sacrificing her for Ginny’s sake: first of all, lets look at Ginny’s claims to understand her father – “Clive was one-dimensional” – excuse me, who is EVER one-dimensional! “Clive didn’t get involved in anyone else’s business”, “Clive wasn’t the sort to be proud”, “Clive didn’t notice what was ever going on in the house”, “Clive wasn’t interested in the conversation at all, he was just sharpening his pencils”, “Clive was passive”, etc, etc…

Let’s look at what other people say of Clive or what we see him do (disregarding, for the moment, that we are seeing through Ginny’s eyes) -  “Clive could smell a rat in the pantry from that lab” , “Clive told Maud he was letting me go to London, and that was that”, “Clive didn’t tell me he was going to give such a dramatic demonstration”  “I had no idea Clive could be so forceful”, “I would never have guessed Clive would pick up the challenge”, “it didn’t seem like the Clive I knew at all”, “I was completely surprised when Clive… picked out that moth/ didn’t reject the present / didn’t tell me his plans /  was so strong-willed etc. etc.

Do you think Ginny understood her father at all?  Clive, we see, is non-confrontational and has many secret ‘schemes’.  Ginny calls him ‘one-dimensional’ which has to (just by the very definition of a human) be wrong!  If some readers still hadn’t worked out that Clive knew – to some extent anyway – what was going on (his wife’s addition and turn to violence) – I think all of you understood this by the time you got to Clive walking in on Maud beating Ginny – his arrival wasn’t, as Ginny thought, a coincidence, and many of you thought his test tube might not even contain any precious experimentation.

Then, in the next chapter, this man who we now know is secretive, scheming and non-confrontational in the face of problems, takes his ‘problem’ wife, who he’s been ignoring, on a special picnic (that he makes himself although he has no interest in food), to a place by the sea that used to be (when ginny was a child) their favorite picnic spot.  Final farewell?  Later that afternoon, this wife has fallen down the steps in drunkenness, behind a door that’s never normally left open.  Clive gets his daughter to be the first to check if Maud is alive (or has he already checked?) and tells her (fairly woodenly, I feel) “I left the door open by mistake and she must have mistook it…” etc.  Finally this same scheming secretive man has, within hours, sorted out the entire paperwork and financial affairs of the house, written letters to colleagues declaring his retirement AND found a home in which to move into.  Do you think this may have been pre-planned?  Could have been , but I also see many of you saying Clive is very organized about these things…

This is not to say this is the only answer to the mystery of course.  It’s one answer.  But, we can never forget the ambiguity introduced by an unreliable narrator – yes, Ginny could easily have done it and be relating it differently.  It’s all about perceptions.  In that way, yes – you could say you can’t trust anything about the whole story, so what’s the point.  It’s a pointless investment of your time, no absolute answers.  Interesting.  I say that’s a point in itself - we are, all of us, much more unreliable as narrators than we think we are – it’s unavoidable, because of our individual subjectivity.  So perhaps you also can’t trust anything about the way you think of your own lives – and “back-story” – either.  It’s all based on distorted memories, biased perceptions, misplaced nostalgia etc etc. (***this is not my belief, it’s an argument to be made!)

Leading on… Ginny recognizes (chapter 19) that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the truth of the memories of her life are, it’s her ‘perception’ of the past that counts for her now.  So, one of the reasons for her anger towards Vivien was that before Vivien came home, the memory of her life had been a happy one, “beautiful childhood, loving parents, blossoming career etc”.  To her, it doesn’t matter what the truth is, it’s what she THINKS the truth is.  Vivien came back and changed Ginny’s whole perception of her entire life (and tried to change her perception of herself also, although I’m not sure she succeeded!) 

I hope you’ve followed me, I’m having to write in a hurry!

Poppy



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Poppy_Adams
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



paula_02912 wrote:
Ms. Adams, thank you very much for giving all of us the opportunity to read your ARC...I really enjoyed reading about the dynamics of the Stone family, especially the relationship between Vivi and Ginny...I also loved reading about moths and finding parallels between them and Virginia...however, there are a couple of questions that I have...
 
1. What was the purpose of having Michael in the story?
 
2. Did Vivi come back to Bulburrow Court to tell Ginny what really happened to Maud or did she come back for other nefarious reasons?
 
3. What exactly was Vivi searching for? Was actually some type of heirloom left by Maud or alchol (sherry)? The second question just came to mind...
 
4. What was your inspiration for the character of Ginny?
 
5. Was Ginny the cannibal caterpillar who eventually turned into a moth?
 
6. What happened to Vivi and Arthur's marriage?
 
That is all for now...I really appreciate you taking the time to come and visit with us to discuss the book...
 


Dear  Paula

Thanks for your questions.  I would need an entire evening, a large glass of wine and a comfy chair to explain fully my answers to your questions.  I hope that in reading some of my other posts, some of your questions may have been explained.  I can understand how some people find it frustrating not having all the answers tied up at the end, but I’m not here now to ‘finish’ your reading experience of the book.  It’s finished!  If I wanted to give you all these answers in a definite way, then I would have written it differently.  For a start, you can not have all the answers from Ginny’s perspective and this is the kind of book / reading experience that I was trying to achieve.  Some of you have suggested that ‘all’ could be revealed in something like a ‘newspaper article’ (who’s to say we should trust that!) or a chapter from Vivi’s POV (and who’s to say we should trust that!) at the end.  For me, this idea would really go against the point (as well as sticking out as a clumsy device).

On the subject of devices, I come to your question about Michael - ‘what was the purpose of having Michael in the story?’.  Some people have asked the same about Eileen.  I don’t use characters as ‘devices’ in that way.  They are never there for one reason, but many reasons rolled into one.  For a start, Eileen, like the bobble-hat woman, offered a very telling insight into how the general public viewed ginny (differently again from her sister).  By the way for anyone interested Eileen first appeared at the end of chapter 6! And it is why Ginny says she knows who she is before they are introduced.   I did not ‘need’ Eileen to call the police – come on, I have an imagination, there are many ways to get the police up to the house (it so happens that this way enriches many other aspects of the story, such as Eileen’s ‘fear’ of Ginny (and fear for Vivien), and Ginny’s obsession with time.  Just imagine the chats Eileen and Vivien must have had between themselves – this reaction of Eileen’s in calling the police helps you to imagine that).  But, who says the story ‘needed’ to end with police?  There could have been many other endings.  No, I don’t ever use characters in such a structured way. 

Michael wasn’t ‘needed’ to end the story either.  I just liked the idea that we’d only ever heard about this character and never met him, that she feels she has this special connection with him, that he ‘looked after’ her, and then this lumbering figure wanders up at the end.  Oh, and then – this woman who can’t decipher the most blatant social cues, understands the voluminous, complex intimacies conveyed by ‘a lowering of the eyelids’.  Pah!  I agree with those of you who wondered when that character ever cared!  But, I know lots of people who have taken it as a meaningful turning point at the end and that opinion is just as valid – what is more it is exactly what Ginny herself felt in a really deep and moving way.   

Everyone is useful, but in so many ways.  If they don’t bring all these things to a story, they shouldn’t be there.  I think you are too used to it being all tied up!  I have a really interesting reaction from people who have read the book again, and discover more. 

What was Vivien searching for?  What makes you think she was?  Do you think these could be the opinions of a paranoid mind?  What would you do if you were fairly normal (despite being a ‘victim’ of growing up as the less protected sister of Ginny etc etc..), and you came home – finally – to your family home to find it empty?  Would you look in a couple of rooms and then no more?  This house is huge – 30,000 square feet.

Which moth / caterpillar / cannibal / beast does Ginny represent?  I can’t answer this.  These metaphors are subjective and depend on your perceptions.  They are different for us all.  Ginny emerges, for sure, and for me – despite Ginny being a ‘victim’ at the hands of her drunken mother – I would probably say that she is the least ‘victim’ of all of them.  One reason for that it that she doesn’t feel like a victim in any way (so does that still make you one?)  whereas everyone else in the family do consider themselves victims -  and her victims.  Ironically she considers herself to have been the one to try to help them all and keep them together.  Again, she is totally unaware of herself, ‘blissfully ignorant’!  At the end she says ‘I had to watch them all destroy themselves, I’ll never understand why I’m the only one to pull through unscathed”.

I don't even know if I've answered any of your questions!

Poppy



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