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nfam
Posts: 231
Registered: ‎01-08-2007
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Re: Today



Oldesq wrote:
I think that Ginny is the cannibal caterpillar - the bulbous interloper who not satisfied with a vegetarian diet, helped herself to the ants' own neglected larvae and after gorging herself to immobility needed to move to the next victim's nest and simply directed the ants, like little robots to pick [her] up and carry [her]. (p. 191). And now they wait, according to her methodology and answer her little bell.
As an aside, I do think it is most unfair for Ms. Adams to make Michael the character who supposedly reveals all- like a mystery story that in the final reveal turns on a detail not included in the text. I also include Eileen in that complaint.





I have to agree completely with this post. I have felt for several chapters that Ginny is the cannibal caterpillar. I believe she destroyed her family. Clive and Vivi tried to escape her, but she got them in the end. Personally, I'm not so sure Maud was wrong in her desire to kill Ginny. I think she knew how malignant the girl was.

I also agree that Michael and Eileen are characters whose whole function is to give an ending to the story. This is usually frowned on and I find it disconcerting that a book that is being touted so highly stooped to this mechanical ending.
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renhair
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎01-31-2008
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Re: Tuesday and Today

Interesting....I didn't catch that.  I may have to rethink my position....

Carmenere_lady wrote:
I think PC Bolt makes it pretty clear to us when he states on page 261 "Are you Miss Virginia Stone?"  I nod.  "Right, I didn't realize you were the sister," he says.  Supposedly the sister that was a little different.

Everyman wrote:
Okay, now that we're done the book, a little poll.

Which one was "The Sister?" Or was there only one, and Ginny and Vivi were in some way the same person?





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renhair
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Re: Tuesday and Today

Something you said here just cleared things up for me.....this is why we don't get all the answers.  Ginny doesn't have them and she's the one telling us the story.  It would be extremely odd for another narrator to come in now with a "What Ginny didn't tell you" chapter.....
 
Perfectly clear to me now, and in fact, I think it makes me like the book more....

pa1822 wrote:
I don't necessarily agree that Ginny is an unsatisfactory narrator.  Maybe instead we are only meant to witness events as filtered through the mind of someone with some kind of mental deficiency.  We aren't told what the deficiency is, or other facts we would like to know, because Ginny herself doesn't know, or ackowledge them. 
To me, it is interesting trying to figure it out, she doesn't feel normal emotion, but isn't a sociopath.  She thinks she knows right from wrong, but what she's really feeling is a need for structure and order.  Structure and order is right to her and anything else is wrong.  When her sister started to tell the truth about Ginny's "peculiarities" and how they affected the family, that disrupted what Ginny knew about the structure and order of her whole life.  I think it was intolerable to her, and that was the catalyst for her deciding to kill Vivien.  



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Merryworld
Posts: 23
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Tuesday and Today

I agree that Ginny can't tell us the answers because she doesn't know them, but I feel Ms. Adams still failed me as a reader. This is what I call a "Bad Lover" book. It leads you along, posing all kinds of questions, getting you interested in piecing the story together, putting in the time, but ultimately the reader is left unsatisfied.

A narrator can be flawed but the reader can still ultimately end up with a satisfactory and elegantly told conclusion. One example is "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" by Mark Haddon, where the narrator is an autistic boy.
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Jaelin
Posts: 144
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: Tuesday and Today

Chapter 23

 

Michael appears to have been the unofficial caretaker of Ginny.  Was this something that Clive had put in motion years ago when he said to sell the greenhouses to Michael.  Did he try to keep her “placid” with the Cannabis tea?  Did he get her groceries and other items and do the normal chores that involved other people because he was trying to keep others safe or her?  So many interesting thoughts and Ideas can form out of these two pages. 

 

I have wondered if Poppy has wanted to make us all wake up and see not only the world from Ginny’s point of view or if she wished us to make the leap by taking our points of views to judge Ginny and then to wake up to the fact that we are all so different that no one person will be absolutely correct in what she wanted us to see from this book. 

 

Today

 

Ginny no longer has to worry about a drafty house or furniture or what people think of her.  She can now “lead” a life that she wants and doesn’t have to worry about anything and she can still have a modicum of control over her environment.  Ginny has to instruct the nurse on how to make her tea….this has struck me as odd since can’t she make it herself….do they feel that she is so much a risk to herself that she is not even allowed to make her own tea? 

 

The fact that she ends the book with this quote is quite interesting:  “I find they have a very reliable routine and, I’ll tell you the best thing of all:  if I want to check that my beside clock is correct, I only have to ring this little bell and someone comes day or night, whatever the time.”  In the end I get the impression that everyone in Ginny’s family was doing there best to protect her from herself and in the end failed miserably.  They revolved around Ginny so much that she was satisfied to boss the nurse around without finding anything out about her and that she could get them to do her bidding at anytime day or night. 

 

There are so many unanswered questions about what went on that I feel we can make almost any theory we want to fit the information we were given.  In this regard Poppy has got a winner.  Though I will say at times it was a bit boring with all the moth information that was informative though seemed to have nothing to do with the story.

 

My two cents worth…….

Jessee
That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~
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bookhunter
Posts: 322
Registered: ‎06-09-2007
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Re: Tuesday and Today



Jaelin wrote:
<snipped>
Today

Ginny no longer has to worry about a drafty house or furniture or what people think of her.  She can now “lead” a life that she wants and doesn’t have to worry about anything and she can still have a modicum of control over her environment.  Ginny has to instruct the nurse on how to make her tea….this has struck me as odd since can’t she make it herself….do they feel that she is so much a risk to herself that she is not even allowed to make her own tea? 

The fact that she ends the book with this quote is quite interesting:  “I find they have a very reliable routine and, I’ll tell you the best thing of all:  if I want to check that my beside clock is correct, I only have to ring this little bell and someone comes day or night, whatever the time.”  In the end I get the impression that everyone in Ginny’s family was doing there best to protect her from herself and in the end failed miserably.  They revolved around Ginny so much that she was satisfied to boss the nurse around without finding anything out about her and that she could get them to do her bidding at anytime day or night.  ...


This is an interesting idea to me--by protecting and sheltering Ginny, her family actually "created" this monster in their midst! 
 
If Ginny had learned to deal with and adapt to her shortcomings maybe she would not have become the cannibal caterpillar.
I'm thinking of how Clive manipulated aspects of the moths' environments to see what the outcome would be.   A different environment would have resulted in a different Ginny.
 
Ann, bookhunter
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bookhunter
Posts: 322
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Re: Tuesday and Today



renhair wrote:
Something you said here just cleared things up for me.....this is why we don't get all the answers.  Ginny doesn't have them and she's the one telling us the story.  It would be extremely odd for another narrator to come in now with a "What Ginny didn't tell you" chapter.....
 
Perfectly clear to me now, and in fact, I think it makes me like the book more....

pa1822 wrote:
I don't necessarily agree that Ginny is an unsatisfactory narrator.  Maybe instead we are only meant to witness events as filtered through the mind of someone with some kind of mental deficiency.  We aren't told what the deficiency is, or other facts we would like to know, because Ginny herself doesn't know, or ackowledge them. 
<snipped>

Tasses wrote:
 
Herein lies another issue with the story. Perhaps nothing Ginny told us was correct. Perhaps there was no arrangement between the sisters to surrogate a baby. Perhaps Ginny had an affair with Vivi's husband or perhaps she had an incestuous relationship with her father. Perhaps there never was a baby.... See where this is headed?

If we are to believe Ginny capable of distorting the truth to the degree we see from the final chapters, then we must also assume that everything else she told us is unreliable.

Then ... we must assume the whole tale a convoluted mess of nothing. It's one thing for an author to take on an unreliable narrator, but there's usually a voice of reason somehow located within the telling to balance what's really happening. At the end of The Sister, we're left not knowing anything at all. And that makes a reader's investment in the story worthless.


Before this book discussion I had never heard of the term "unreliable narrator," so I do not know exactly what it means in literary terminology other that the obvious--you can't trust what the narrator is telling you for some reason.
 
But I am guessing that there needs to be some logic involved in the narrator's perspective.  I think in this book the unreliability falls in Ginny's emotional shortcomings, and her lack of "intuition" or ability to interpret people's emotions and actions.  She can act as the scientist and report what she sees, but can't interpret it.
 
But I don't see any evidence that we can't trust what she describes to us as seeing or experiencing--we just can't trust her interpretation of it. 
 
When Maud dies, I think we can trust that Clive's calls Ginny, tells her Maud fell down the stairs, and that he is out of breath hanging on the the banister.  We can trust that Ginny sees Maud splayed out "like a child play acting at death" and that she smells the alcohol and blood. 
 
We just come to a different conclusion about what happened because we have "intuition" that she doesn't have.
 
So I think we can trust that the incidents with the baby happened just as Ginny "reports" them happening.  We just don't get to ask Vivi how she feels really about it.  Or Arthur.
 
Ann, bookhunter
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BethD
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: Tuesday and Today

I'd posted earlier that I was disappointed in the book, and I still am, but I have to say, what a smart, insightful group of posters!  Reading the posts has been terrific - I love hearing other people's interpretations of the books.
 
I was especially interested in the comparison of Ginny to the bulbous caterpillar, Ginny as cannibal who destroyed the rest of her family.  I can see the parallels, but I didn't think of Ginny as particularly destructive until she killed Vivi.  Odd, yes.  Incapable of emotion and intuition, of course.  But not purposely harming others.  But maybe that's the point - the bulbous caterpillar is just existing, not recognizing the destruction it causes, and neither does Ginny - she is just being herself.  Her family did seem to be protecting her, given the difference in treatment of Vivi and Ginny by their parents, and Vivi's comments later in the book.  However, I would have liked a little more about why Maud felt Ginny ruined her life, as she would accuse during her drunken rages. 
 
Maybe Michael was an ant, supplying Ginny-the-caterpillar's basic food and shelter needs.
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Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Tuesday and Today

Excellent post, krb2g.

You nicely articulated several concerns that I hadn't been able to put into words.

You are definitely exempted from the world of fuddy-duddy-dum. :smileyhappy:

krb2g wrote:
I am not an old fuddy-duddy, but a graduate student who until about two months ago was determined to write my dissertation on American modernism (I'm shifting back to work from about 1850 onwards now, but that's a different story), and I generally really enjoy reading books with the kind of narrative disruption that Ms. Adams is using.

I don't need narrators to be particularly reliable or even pleasant to enjoy being inside their heads. Stephen Dedalus enters Ulysses "displeased and sleepy," in The Sound and the Fury Quentin Compson has adopted his father's nihilistic perspective and would rather commit incest with his sister, and ultimately kill himself than deal with the fact that she's no longer a virgin, and his brother, Benjy, is even more mentally limited than Ginny--he only moans, and has no sense time unfolding chronologically at all (so when he hears golfers calling "Caddie!" he thinks of his long-gone sister Caddy), and in Pale Fire Charles Kinbote is a psychopath and a sociopath who hijacks his neighbor's last poem through obsessive footnotes about his fictional homeland of Zembla.

The disappointment in this book, for me, was not that Ms. Adams leaves ambiguities (often the most fun part of the text, whether they happen on the level of the single word (the pun) or in response to questions of fact or even theme), was certainly not that she used an unreliable narrator who narrated the story in a chronologically displaced way (I thought Ms. Adams did a relatively good job handling that aspect of it, and for the story she was trying to tell, it worked), and was not even that she overwrote the moth trope (though I think it ended up being a bit heavy-handed, and a high percentage of the text when she was done), but rather, when all the aspects of the book came together, despite the formal successes I enjoyed, I just didn't care about the characters or what happened to them. I'm not entirely sure why I felt this way--as we've been discussing things on the boards, it's been great to get into specific moments.

I think Ginny is uneven, and I think my problem is the basic premise of the text. To me, at least, the narrative premise reads that Ginny, our first-person narrator is conscious of the act of story-telling (in the organization of the story into days, in the ending at "Today," in her multiple acts of using the second person to address and ally herself with her readers) and that she is specifically writing a book (there's no sense that this text is a found one, whether collected through letters, or in a journal or something like that) and I just find it very hard to believe that a woman who can barely look strangers in the eye would want to share so many personal facts about herself or even justify the murder of her sister to strangers.



Everyman wrote:
Maybe the problem is that we old fuddy-duddies were brogut up to believe that a story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and that it should make sense.

In a way, this book seems sort of half way to Ulysses, a book that you aren't supposed to understand, but just to experience. Except that I know Ulysses, and sorry, Ms. Baron, but this book is no Ulysses.


jakeyc wrote:
I definitely agree with you Beth. I was also very disappointed in the book because there were too many ambiguities. The characters and the story just did not flow smoothly and were very confusing at times. Halfway through the book I was ready to put it down, but I wanted to see how it ended. I would definitely not recommend this book to anyone.








_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Tuesday and Today



bookhunter wrote:

(snip)
Before this book discussion I had never heard of the term "unreliable narrator," so I do not know exactly what it means in literary terminology other that the obvious--you can't trust what the narrator is telling you for some reason.
 
But I am guessing that there needs to be some logic involved in the narrator's perspective.  I think in this book the unreliability falls in Ginny's emotional shortcomings, and her lack of "intuition" or ability to interpret people's emotions and actions.  She can act as the scientist and report what she sees, but can't interpret it.
 
But I don't see any evidence that we can't trust what she describes to us as seeing or experiencing--we just can't trust her interpretation of it. 
 
When Maud dies, I think we can trust that Clive's calls Ginny, tells her Maud fell down the stairs, and that he is out of breath hanging on the the banister.  We can trust that Ginny sees Maud splayed out "like a child play acting at death" and that she smells the alcohol and blood. 
 
We just come to a different conclusion about what happened because we have "intuition" that she doesn't have.
 
So I think we can trust that the incidents with the baby happened just as Ginny "reports" them happening.  We just don't get to ask Vivi how she feels really about it.  Or Arthur.
 
Ann, bookhunter


 
I agree with you, however, it is possible that Ginny pushed Maud down the stairs or even hit her over the head and then pushed her down the stairs, walked away, and came back when Clive called her. 

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kmensing
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Re: Tuesday and Today



Everyman wrote:
Okay, now that we're done the book, a little poll.

Which one was "The Sister?" Or was there only one, and Ginny and Vivi were in some way the same person?

Good Question---I have so many unanswered questions, I don't know who to vote for, but I lean towards Ginny.  I just assumed the author meant Ginny to be the sister because of the quote on page 261--"Right, I didn't realize you were the sister".
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mwinasu
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Re: Tuesday and Today

This book reminded more of Shirley Jackson or Shirley Ann Grau.  It reads like something out of the early 1960's.   I really liked it but I think that it is too smart for the average reader.  We have become so used to dumbed down writing that we resent having to think about what we read.  As a people we have lost the ability to reason through difficult material and blame the writer for missing the audience's level of understanding. This limits what is marketed to us.  And that is why I have started to read world literature in stead of English Literature.  I am tired of cookie cutter books.  I want different and more literate reads.  That is why I like this book. 
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bookhunter
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Re: Tuesday and Today






bookhunter wrote:

(snip)
...When Maud dies, I think we can trust that Clive's calls Ginny, tells her Maud fell down the stairs, and that he is out of breath hanging on the the banister.  We can trust that Ginny sees Maud splayed out "like a child play acting at death" and that she smells the alcohol and blood. 
 
We just come to a different conclusion about what happened because we have "intuition" that she doesn't have.
 
So I think we can trust that the incidents with the baby happened just as Ginny "reports" them happening.  We just don't get to ask Vivi how she feels really about it.  Or Arthur.
 
Ann, bookhunter


Tarri wrote:
I agree with you, however, it is possible that Ginny pushed Maud down the stairs or even hit her over the head and then pushed her down the stairs, walked away, and came back when Clive called her. 



Tarrie, you are right.  I guess another part of Ginny being an unreliable narrator is that she may have "blackouts" where she does not remember what happened--so those actions would be outside her "reporting."  She goes to a safe place in her mind..when Bernard puts his hand on her, when Vivi is telling her "the truth"...(And maybe this is why she is so obsessed with keeping track of time?) 
 
If she pushed Maud, I think it was during a time of her blacking out so she couldn't tell us about it.  But she does describe seeing Vivi fall off the tower, and I really can't read into it anything other than it being an accident.  And killing Vivi obviously happened during times she can recall and relate.  But I thought maybe the clocks being all out of whack might have been caused by her fiddling with them during a blackout.
 
But I don't think Ginny can lie.  She considers herself a "scientist" and must be factual.  She tries to give the police the "right" answer rather than the "real" answer.
 
So if she did kill Maud, I think she doesn't remember it.  I like to think that Clive killed her, because it is the revelation of that truth that throws her all out of whack and leads to her killing Vivi.
 
Ann, bookhunter
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bookhunter
Posts: 322
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Re: Tuesday and Today



BethD wrote:
I'd posted earlier that I was disappointed in the book, and I still am, but I have to say, what a smart, insightful group of posters!  Reading the posts has been terrific - I love hearing other people's interpretations of the books.
 
I was especially interested in the comparison of Ginny to the bulbous caterpillar, Ginny as cannibal who destroyed the rest of her family.  I can see the parallels, but I didn't think of Ginny as particularly destructive until she killed Vivi.  Odd, yes.  Incapable of emotion and intuition, of course.  But not purposely harming others.  But maybe that's the point - the bulbous caterpillar is just existing, not recognizing the destruction it causes, and neither does Ginny - she is just being herself.  Her family did seem to be protecting her, given the difference in treatment of Vivi and Ginny by their parents, and Vivi's comments later in the book.  However, I would have liked a little more about why Maud felt Ginny ruined her life, as she would accuse during her drunken rages. 
 
Maybe Michael was an ant, supplying Ginny-the-caterpillar's basic food and shelter needs.


That is an interesting point in the comparison!  She certianly doesn't THINK she has done any thing destructive or wrong.  In fact, she thinks Vivi was the destructive one--ruining her version of truth.
 
Ann, bookhunter
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Carmenere_lady
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Registered: ‎11-05-2006
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Re: Tuesday and Today

Here's something that that I just realized.  Although Vivien has been away for 40some years doesn't mean that she did not keep in touch with people in the neighborhood, say Eileen.  As Eileen related stories to her regarding the shape of the house and furniture being carried off Vivien could have thought that it was time to come back and check things out herself.  What do you think?
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Tuesday and Today



Carmenere_lady wrote:
Here's something that that I just realized.  Although Vivien has been away for 40some years doesn't mean that she did not keep in touch with people in the neighborhood, say Eileen.  As Eileen related stories to her regarding the shape of the house and furniture being carried off Vivien could have thought that it was time to come back and check things out herself.  What do you think?


I think that is very possible, but wasn't anything that caused her to react in time. The house is in dire straits and the furniture is mostly gone. If she did get any information, something kept her from returning and confronting her sister.

 
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
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carriele
Posts: 52
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Tuesday and Today



Thayer wrote:
Am I the only one who felt that the relationship between Ginny and Michael wasn't quite developed enough throughout the book for it to be "the saddest day" of Ginny's life when she had to "leave Michael and the house?" The house, I understand, but I felt there wasn't enough basis for this strong of an emotion for Michael here.   Am anxious to hear your thoughts.  Dawn


Perhaps this is just another instance where we are to see the situation through Ginny's eyes.  We didn't get much detail about Michael through the book.  (Ironically, I thought he was taking advantage of Ginny.)  Maybe the fact that it is "the saddest day of her life" is just another example of something about Ginny which is off balance.
 
Carrie E.   
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carriele
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Re: Tuesday and Today



Everyman wrote:
Okay, now that we're done the book, a little poll.

Which one was "The Sister?" Or was there only one, and Ginny and Vivi were in some way the same person?

I took it to be that Ginny was "The Sister" after the bit in the book where the policeman says you're the sister referring to Ginny.  To be truthful though, I think I would like the book better if we were to go on the assumption that there was indeed only one sister!  It would explain many of the unanswered questions at the end.
 
Carrie E. 
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Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Tuesday and Today



Everyman wrote:
Okay, now that we're done the book, a little poll.

Which one was "The Sister?" Or was there only one, and Ginny and Vivi were in some way the same person?

 
Interesting question.   It could be either as both are the sister, but I think Vivi is "The Sister" because Ginny is telling the story. 

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readerbynight
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎09-07-2007
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Re: Tuesday and Today



LeisaPS wrote:
As I was reading this rather dreary book, ....almost made me want to put it down, I was picturing the story in my head as an old black and white movie -- then I started touching it up with vivid colours,.... finally fading to the pale yellow walls of Ginny's "new" prison.
It could be doable as a suspense movie a la Bette Davis complete with dark lurking shadows (Ginny creeping around her mansion spying on her sister) and flashbacks.....





I think this is a great way to describe this book! It never even occurred to me until I read your message how fitting your description is. I had noted the greyness in the background, the black & white of Ginny's mind, and the colourful touches (in butterfly colours) throughout the book. You're absolutely right, it would suit a Bette Davis-type script beautifully. And so much of the colour in the story is butterfly colour. And here is where we have the reason for so much of the book dwelling on moths, and perhaps how the innate cruelty of studying and experimenting with these moths may have been the reason Ginny does not really develop emotionally to some degree. The colour/grey/black & white shading insinuates itself throughout the whole book so ingeniously it's only when you step back that it comes through clearly.
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