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Distinguished Wordsmith
Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
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Re: Audrey and Joel

Great point, IBIS.  I occasionally see this in the real world.  I find it is impossible to talk, to reason with this kind of person because in their world there is no other possible perception.
IBIS wrote:
She will process any catastrophe, any different viewpoint, and assimilate it to fit her worldview. A good example is how she perceives her son, Lenny... everyone recognizes him for the slacker he is, but Audrey processes everything about him within the context of her priori conviction she has of him as the "good son".
In other words, she thinks that she has no illusions about her worldview. But we find later in the story that it requires great energy to maintain that fiction. The challenge of living without illusions and not  becoming disillusioned will test Audrey sorely through the rest of the "The Believers".
IBIS 

 

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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mshukers
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎01-01-2008
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Re: Audrey and Joel

I had a hard time with this book. I didn't like any of the characters. I felt sorry for Audrey because I felt she was abused in the sense of his affairs and Joel came off as controlling of them all. But she lost my sympathy when she turned around and treated her daughters in the same way. A very disfunctional family and I'm not sure that they really believed in anything.
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theboltchick
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎09-16-2008
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Audrey and Joel

I have to agree with several posters.  Ultimately this book wasn't what I thought it would be.  It was billed as a "rich and comic chronicle of one family's struggles....".  I found it neither rich nor comical.  I felt the characters were off-putting for the most part.  The fact that the author put so many characters into so few pages didn't allow for much character development.

Audrey was the least likable character of them all.  She was self centered and abusive, yet as readers we don't really get to delve deeply into why. 

As I am sure many of us have felt throughout the years, books tend to be more rich and detailed than movies.  This is the exception.  This book read like a movie...  quick and superficial.  Even if I wasn't going to particularly like the characters, I would have liked to get to know them better.

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scouturier
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎10-01-2008
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Re: Audrey and Joel

As I get further into the book, I am liking Audrey less and less.  She doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities.  In the beginning I was expecting her to have some part of her revealed that explained her harshness to the kids.  Instead you find out she never felt maternal about her natural kids.

 

As for Audrey and Joel as a couple, it's really hard to see them as a couple.  They lived together for 40 years, but there certainly doesn't seem to be love.  I think Audrey loved being attached to this man that some looked up to, it gave her a sense of value.

 

Has anyone read notes on a scandal?  the narrater in that book reminds me of Audrey.  They both have that need to be connected to someone that gives them a sense of importance.

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mwinasu
Posts: 149
Registered: ‎02-02-2008
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Re: Audrey and Joel

KxBurns can you explain what you meant. I am interested in understanding your point.

KxBurns wrote:

mwinasu wrote:

[edited]  ...They both love to stir up trouble but they do not do it for the same reasons.  Joel does it to try to protect the weak and make the world a better place while Audrey does it for her own amusement. I have found that it is best to avoid people like her.


I agree with the gist of what you're saying but at the same time I feel like Audrey's motives go deeper than just amusement.

 

And while I do agree that Joel seems to have often acted on the behalf of others, he also stirs up trouble out of selfishness. Maybe he got so accustomed to flouting convention and defying rules that he began to live his personal life that way, or maybe this was always his general approach to life and it made him well-suited to be a rebel and a dissident? Anyone have any thoughts on this?...


 

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mommydragonz
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎09-19-2008
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Re: Audrey and Joel

I have to say that I am having trouble liking all of them together as individuals they are somewhat likable as they are human each with their own faults.  I am not sure if Joel and Audrey did love each other or what it would have been nice to read about the years between them meeting and his having a stroke.  What happened to make them the way they are in the rest of the book and their kids to make them almost hate each other. It seems to me the only thing holding them together is the fact that they are family.  They also made a deal out of the fact both where Jewish then they don't say anything about except when Rosa was looking into her heritage, then it is to say how they don't believe and are not happy with their own daughter.

Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Audrey and Joel

hi booklover,
In the 60's life was really very different, although the times were beginning to change and they did change rather rapidly. One of my friends eloped after 18 days. I think we believed in love at first sight then. I married my husband in less than a year and we are still happily married after almost 44 years. We dated only a few times before we got engaged. We knew what we wanted out of life and didn't have to find ourselves. I am not sure why that is so, but it is. Even if a marriage appears rocky, as Audrey and Joel's does, it doesn't mean they don't like or love each other. They just communicate differently than you expect.
Couples who married in those days, came to the marriage knowing they would have to work hard at it, they expected to have to work at it. For some reason, many children of those marriages appear to be not as committed to each other in their own marriages. Perhaps the strain of watching the parents work through their issues, weakened them instead of strengthening them.
When moral rules relaxed, the shame of divorce diminished. The definition of commitment changed. Sometimes today, I feel as if some couples change partners as easily as they change their underwear.
Also, Joel would have ruled the roost in those days because women really were not equal to men at all in the workplace or the home. He worked, she volunteered. Usually she was dependent upon her husband for her security and well being. I am not saying this is right, this is just the way it was. You have to put all that in perspective when you read this book.
twj

nhbooklover wrote:

I find it a little strange that when Audrey and Joel met it happened so suddenly. I mean in what reality do two people meet at a party one night, and the next day he goes and meets her parents and then he asks her to go back to the States with him. When do things like that happen? Even in the 60's?

   I didn't really like Audrey. So was a little to brass for me. Too forward, and a little rude. I couldn't get over the way she talked to Karla and was always putting her down.

      Joel, on the other hand, seems like a more real person. In the first chapter it is evident that he has come to like things the way he likes them, and that's how things should be. He doesn't like the fact that Audrey's relatives are visiting and are in the kitchen when he wakes up in the morning. They are disrupting his normal morning routine and he doesn't like it at all.  


 

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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Audrey and Joel

[ Edited ]

I too have a couple of Audrey's in my family... people I cannot reason with... who just don't listen... who, as she told Rosa, if she met Truth, she would NOT accept it.   I call it insurmountable stupidity...

 

What intrigued me was how Joel regarded her with something like indulgence...

 

On p.23 , Joel muses to himself while watching Audrey sleeping. Over the years Audrey has taken much harder political lines than he. She chastised him for his plan to defend his latest client Hassani... she wanted him to take a different approach on grounds of legitimate Arab rage.

 

"...he rather enjoyed the irony of being chastised for his insufficent radicalism by the woman to whom he had once had to explain..."  basic Marxist concepts.

 

When he  conplained that she had become an ultra-leftist in her age, "... he complained in the indulgent tones that another man might have teased his wife for her excessive spending at the mall. It was a feminine prerogative to hold unreasonable political views."

 

"... he liked having some old-fashioned extremism in the house; it made him feel young."

 

Many of the men I know would have left Audrey and her brutal and cruel barbs long ago.

 

IBIS 


Carmenere_lady wrote:
Great point, IBIS.  I occasionally see this in the real world.  I find it is impossible to talk, to reason with this kind of person because in their world there is no other possible perception.

 

 

Message Edited by IBIS on 10-23-2008 10:16 PM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Audrey and Joel

I want to give a few comments before I read everyone elses -

Joel - I don't think he deserves to be put on a pedestal, but I do think he lived up to his reputation.  He moved against society, and having the affair and child certainly does that.  He had numerous affairs, and Audrey knew about them, but didn't act against them.  He did many good things which were brought out at the memorial service.  All the under dogs that he championed.  I would guess that you can't walk with the scrunge and not be a little like them. 

Audrey - Knowing about Joel's affairs and doing nothing.  This is the age.  Divorce was frowned on until after the '80's, so she would have to have a way of supporting herself before challenging Joel on this.  Wives of that age often "coped".  They (she) had a mission as a socialist.  A socialist who happened to make the money of a capitalist I might add. 

In the end when Audrey set up the foundation, I thought that was a novel way to make sure that Berenece could not come back and sue for everything she had.  Everyone would find out about the child anyway, so take the wind out and acknowledge the situation, what could Berenece do now that she was part of the "tribe".  This kept Audrey in control.  After the initial shock, I thought is was fitting that Audrey would handle the situation in a socialist way.  

MG

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mgorbatjuk
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎04-12-2008
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Re: Audrey and Joel

I really enjoyed the book. I did not like Audrey or Joel though. I think Audrey came to the United States to escape her life in England and after arriving here became a martyr to Joel's philandering ways. I think that is what she knew and it played well to be married to a lawyer that spent his career defending martyrs. I'm debating on how they loved each other. I think they would have said the words but I don't think they would have meant them the same way most of us think about love.
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darma51
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎01-29-2007
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Re: Audrey and Joel

I agree that Audrey jumped at the chance to marry Joel to escape England.  However I don't yet see her as a martyr.  The years this is taking place was before it was common to divorce so one tended to stay married even though it was intolerable.  I think deep down she cares for Joel.  I'm not so sure she cares for her children though. 

 

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Jodi
Posts: 65
Registered: ‎07-16-2007
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Re: Audrey and Joel

I think Audrey is very rude to Karla.  I don't like how she talks to her.  I thought it was very strange how Audrey and Joel marry so quickly, and meet the parents.
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quinncx
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎07-21-2008
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Re: Audrey and Joel

[ Edited ]

I had a really hard time with this book, mostly because I didn't like any of the characters.  Audrey and Joel especially did not resonate with me.  Audrey's constant negativity, her cruelty to her children, and her willful blindness to the realities of her family life were extremely off-putting.  Joel is not really a character in the book- he exists only in other people's views of him, and none of those seemed particularly warm.

 

I don't know.  I really enjoyed Notes on a Scandal, but I just didn't connect with The Believers.

Message Edited by quinncx on 10-26-2008 12:02 AM
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deannafrances
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎07-19-2008
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Re: Audrey and Joel

So far i have not found any of the characters to be very sympathic.  I do not have any empathy toward anyone.

I wonder why they have to be so vulgar--I realize people use that language --f***--but in a book to see it so often--makes the people look extremely vulgar.  As readers, we get this small glimpse of the characters lives and it is wasted with their crude language.  Also I didn't care to know about a 72 year old's penis--who cares except him and perhaps his wife?  Added nothing to the book.
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EbonyAngel
Posts: 276
Registered: ‎12-22-2006
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Re: Audrey and Joel


mgorbatjuk wrote:
I really enjoyed the book. I did not like Audrey or Joel though. I think Audrey came to the United States to escape her life in England and after arriving here became a martyr to Joel's philandering ways. I think that is what she knew and it played well to be married to a lawyer that spent his career defending martyrs. I'm debating on how they loved each other. I think they would have said the words but I don't think they would have meant them the same way most of us think about love.

 

I didn't like Audrey or Joel either.  I think in the beginning, Audrey married Joel to escape England and what she saw as her fate if she had stayed.  I don't think she was a martyr in any way.  However, I do think that Joel's philandering may have helped shaped what she became.  As far as love, I'm not sure of that.  I think it was more a situation of co-dependence.  Over time, they needed each other to be exactly what they each became. 
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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Audrey and Joel


IBIS wrote:

The quote in the front of the book...  "The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned" is the stage from which I saw Audrey and Joel as studies in contrasts...

Audrey is 19 when she meets Joel, who already is a respected activist lawyer at 32.  
Audrey is unconcerned about how others at the party perceive her;  she stands aloof from the other guests. She brings a total stranger to her parents' dreary home, knowing that her parents keep an over-heated squalid household. She doesn't worry about consequent negative perceptions that Joel may have.
In another scene, her friend Jean observes that Audrey has the "gift for conviction"... Audrey carries a huge and burdensome collection of a priori convictions... and she feels bound to protect these convictions throughout the rest of the story...
She will process any catastrophe, any different viewpoint, and assimilate it to fit her worldview. A good example is how she perceives her son, Lenny... everyone recognizes him for the slacker he is, but Audrey processes everything about him within the context of her priori conviction she has of him as the "good son".
In other words, she thinks that she has no illusions about her worldview. But we find later in the story that it requires great energy to maintain that fiction. The challenge of living without illusions and not  becoming disillusioned will test Audrey sorely through the rest of the "The Believers".
Joel on the other hand is very concerned about what people think of him. He wants to be liked. He tells his listeners an ingratiating anecdote of Paul Robeson. When her father misperceives his career, he does not correct him because he fears contradicting any story Audrey may have told her parents. And although he found the visit to her parents' home awful, he tells her gallantly, "I'm having a great time."  He genuinely wanted her to like him.
Joel has a more forgiving humanistic understanding of the world than Audrey does. He tells Rosa on p. 59, "Only ideas are perfect. People never are." And also, "When you've lived a bit longer, you'll be more forgiving."
In other words, Joel does not have illusions of how the world works. In defending social pariahs, he has learned to expect hostile attention. When he dies after his debilitating stroke, he was in the process of defending Hasani against charges of terrorism. He urged his client not make a deal, and he planned his defense without compromise.
IBIS 

Wonderful post, IBIS! I think what you've hit upon -- as has Bookwoman in the terrific post right after yours -- is the fact that Audrey's brash demeanor and defiant insistence on not giving a hoot about the feelings of others masks a deeper insecurity, which manifests itself in the great lengths to which she goes to protect her world view. The evolution of her relationship with Berenice is a marvelous illustration of how Audrey first rejects then incorporates information that threatens her carefully constructed reality in a way that still preserves her illusions.

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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Audrey and Joel


mwinasu wrote:
KxBurns can you explain what you meant. I am interested in understanding your point.

KxBurns wrote:

mwinasu wrote:

[edited]  ...They both love to stir up trouble but they do not do it for the same reasons.  Joel does it to try to protect the weak and make the world a better place while Audrey does it for her own amusement. I have found that it is best to avoid people like her.


I agree with the gist of what you're saying but at the same time I feel like Audrey's motives go deeper than just amusement.

 

And while I do agree that Joel seems to have often acted on the behalf of others, he also stirs up trouble out of selfishness. Maybe he got so accustomed to flouting convention and defying rules that he began to live his personal life that way, or maybe this was always his general approach to life and it made him well-suited to be a rebel and a dissident? Anyone have any thoughts on this?...


 


 

Sure! I don't think Audrey really gains any satisfaction or amusement from her hypercritical relationship with her daughters; I think she's actually transferring onto them her hypercritical feelings about herself. And when she indulges Lenny, I think she is really indulging her own more slothful or lazy attributes. Her seemingly opposite relationships with her daughters and her son are flip sides of the same coin -- she uses both to act out her feelings about herself. She punishes her own weakness as she sees it reflected in her daughters, while she absolves it as she sees it reflected in Lenny. In this view (which, of course, is just my own personal psychoanalytical two cents...), her antagonism toward others is a coping device rather than something she does for entertainment.  

 

What I meant about Joel is that in his professional life, to accomplish his altruistic goals of social change he often has to defy convention and be a rebel. But he carries this flouting of the rules over into how he behaves toward his family when he has affairs that violate the "rules" of marriage. In these actions he is motivated less by altruism than by selfishness. So I'm just wondering if he is by nature a nonconformist who cannot live within the rules prescribed by convention, or whether he developed a habit of disregarding convention through his work and over time began to apply it in his personal life as well. Sort of a "chicken-or-egg" debate I'm having about him in my own mind...  :smileyhappy:

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CarriesClassics
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎04-20-2008
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Re: Audrey and Joel

I think what attracted Audrey and Joel to each other in the first place was that they recognized themselves in each other – especially an anti-Semitic Jew.  Personally, I think that when Audrey accepted Joel’s invitation to go to America, he felt trapped into a situation he didn’t want to be in in the first place.  I think that the two of them saw in each other someone who they could live with for 40 years, not necessarily someone they could love for 40 years.  Both were looking for a stability that wasn’t in their lives at the time, especially as they continued to go to protests, and fight for what they believed (both literally and figuratively).

 

Audrey’s harshness could come from the fact that she is bitter with herself for giving up love.  Action makes Audrey tick. Action for the things she believes in and taking action against the things she doesn’t.  She doesn’t like to sit still; she prefers to be doing anything rather than take a moment for herself. 

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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Audrey and Joel

Berenice introduces the reader -- and the rest of the Litvinoff family -- to a considerably different Joel than the one we have previously encountered. How does Joel differ in his relationships with these very different women? Or does he?...

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fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Audrey and Joel


KxBurns wrote:

Berenice introduces the reader -- and the rest of the Litvinoff family -- to a considerably different Joel than the one we have previously encountered. How does Joel differ in his relationships with these very different women? Or does he?...


Joel gets a lot from his relationship with Berenice.  She is a secure personality, in the arts, totally different from Audrey.  She doesn't demand marrage, and Joel gets the love and friendship he desires without any strings attached.  They both (Joel & Berenice) agree to not be attached.   It would change what they give to each other.  Joel chooses to stay married to Audrey becuase society sort of requires it.  Joel gives the apprearance of a Hippy, Yippy type person, but actually stays in conventional society, his only outlet is in the type of clientel he cultivates.  Audrey being insecure, puts up her defences at every turn, and Joel just lets her at it.  He doesn't seem to care enough.  Maybe he never wrote poetry to Audrey because he didn't think she would want or understand the romantic feelings.  I don't think Joel and Audrey ever had a romantic relationship.

MG