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KxBurns
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Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

 

What are some similarities and differences between the Audrey and Joel we meet in the Prologue and the Audrey and Joel of the first few chapters?

 

What is the initial impact of Joel's stroke on his family?

 

What conflicts within the Litvinoff family are introduced in these early chapters?

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KxBurns
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Reminder: You may not discuss anything beyond Chapter 4 on this thread.

 

Thanks for your cooperation!

 

Your moderator,

Karen

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dhaupt
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

The prologue did not prepare me for the rest of the book.

I saw Audrey as a young impressionable woman who was immature and unsure of herself and Joel was all about impressing her.

First of all I would have liked some more history into the couple we go from the 60's to today in 60 seconds or less.

In the first,chapter I saw a couple that were very comfortable with each other and I felt still loved each other even after 40 years of marriage. Even though they were definitely not your typical "older" couple first by their speech and then by their beliefs or lack of beliefs however you want to term it.

 

I was at first entertained by Audrey's language and curtness but by the time the children got to the hospital I was already tired of her attitude and wondered why her children hadn't killed her in her sleep before now. And I wondered when she became so jaded.

In the first few chapters I had already sainted Joel for putting up with Audrey all these years, and thought he was a very confident and powerful man.

It was plain to see when the children were introduced to us at or on the way to the hospital that they really weren't close and had many issues of their own which I blamed (at that time) all on Audrey.  Rosa is looking for something to believe in and Karla has weight issues and self assurance issues  and from the brief introduction we had to Lenny when Joel intercepted him on his way to get the papers and when Jean and Audrey were discussing him I thought he was pretty much a mooch and looser.

 

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thewanderingjew
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

when we first meet joel and audrey, they seem to be polar opposites. joel is very confident easily taking control and becoming the center of interest. he is worldly and she is uneducated. audrey is a loner standing outside the "circle of people", perspiring heavily, but works hard to appear defiant and composed although she is at a distinct disadvantage to those around her who are all more educated and know each other. they are different in their approach and accomplishments; he seems a radical in his thoughts and actions and she is more of a spectator at an event allowing the event to give her the thoughts and dictate her actions. they are similar in that they are both strong personalities with a determined nature. he, however is neat and well dressed and audrey is not interested much in appearance for the sake of it and it carries over into her housekeeping when we find her as a woman in her late 50's, as well.
on the bottom of p. 12, joel remarks that "a girl who could never be talked down to would be a little exhausting..." and we find them later on in life, still bantering with each other but neither seems content or very happy, neither seems to want to satisfy the other's needs, they seem to tolerate each other. joel, however, seems to have defined her purpose in life. it is almost as if she is his creation.
audrey has become more radical, even in joel's eyes, than himself. joel seems disappointed that he isn't viewed as that much of a radical anymore, especially by the press. he seems very disappointed in how his family has turned out as does audrey.
they are all disrespectful to each other. each member of the family, immediate and extended, goes about their own business, in their own way, sparring with each other in their conversations and living in their own "space" seemingly without consideration of anyone's needs but their own.
it would appear that two dysfunctional partners have raised dysfunctional children, each with their own insecurities and issues. oddly the most disappointing of the children, lenny, is the one audrey seems to protect and forgive, while she abuses her two daughters, rosa and karla.
audrey has become someone who can control a situation as joel once did and she is controlling with her associates and her family. she seems to have changed from someone who spoke up rarely to someone who would now be better off not speaking since when she isn't in control she shows her insecurity by being rude, intolerant and threatening.
joel's seems interested only in his work and disappointed with his children and how they have turned out. both seem kind of throwbacks still trapped in the sixties in their belief system and the world seems to have gone on without them.
when joel has his stroke, audrey is unaware of how serious it is and seems almost annoyed at being interrupted to have to attend to him. then she vies for attention and "place" with everyone else present and involved. she strikes out at everyone. the children all react a little selfishly, as well. in the end, they care about their own needs more than audrey's or joel's.
joel and audrey are obsessed with the fight for tolerance and against injustice but their three who seem filled with only their own  self interest. perhaps, the children are acting out in their own way, in protest to something in their backgrounds.
joel rejects his religion and the ways of his family finding religion and its followers guilty of ignorance.
twj

 KxBurns wrote

What are some similarities and differences between the Audrey and Joel we meet in the Prologue and the Audrey and Joel of the first few chapters?

 

What is the initial impact of Joel's stroke on his family?

 

What conflicts within the Litvinoff family are introduced in these early chapters?


 

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Librarian
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

[ Edited ]

 Hi----I'm wondering if Joel was just being flip when he  said in the prologue--"That's what I should do :marry you and take you to New York. What do you think of that?"  I don't think he expected her to say yes and yet the marriage has gone on for forty years. I think Audrey jumped at the chance of getting out of a bleak outlook on life.

          I feel bad for Karla out of all the characters. I don't see her as selfish. She is trying to please everyone and gets jabbed at. Her mother criticizes her weight. Her husband criticizes her lack of fertility. She seems trapped in her situation and unable to assert herself against them. I'm glad Rosa stuck up for Karla at the hospital by saying "I just don't think you need to be such a bitch to Karla, that's all." I don't see Karla and Rosa as selfish.

Librarian

Message Edited by Librarian on 10-20-2008 01:51 PM
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fordmg
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Prologue - This was a strange into to Audry and Joel.  I understand why Audry opts out of her life and family in England.  Joel seems laxical.  An activist in the '60's for civir rights, but not definitive in his personal life.  This somehow attracts Audrey.  A flip remark, and she takes him up on it.  But then 40 years later, they are still going strong.  

Joel is still in activist mode.  Audrey has joined the "campaign".  Her entire life seems to be living on the edge in extreme.  She hasn't learned to be personable, and is certainly not very maternal.  Audrey does more than think outside the box - she is outside the box.

MG

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Bonnie824
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

It seemed to be like Audrey initially thought (and Joel might have to) that she was "getting a catch" and marrying up. Then she seemed somewhere along the line to get bitter and to think she was better and smarter than the rest of the world.

 

I thought Joel was a pretty nice normal man, but I am sure we will learn more about him. Why he or anyone would put up with Audrey for 4 days forget about 40 years is beyond me.

 

His stroke seemed to make Audrey appreciate him and wish she had been nicer. I don't have a good grasp on his relationship with his kids yet.

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Guerneymember12
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

In the Prologue Audrey is standoffish, aloof.  In Chapter 1 she is outspoken and a radical.  She completely changed by marrying Joel.  She learned his ideas enough to be able to argue them to her friend jean, but does not educate herself so that she can do anything but argue joel's positions on politics.

In the Prologue Joel was established as a Civil Rights Attorney.  He is attracted to Audrey because she is the fist person who is not impressed by his bragging.  (She doesn't understand him!)  She sleps with him on the first date causing him to feel further out of control.  To try to dominate her, her tells her she will marry her.  On the day of his stroke he is still trying to dominate her.  "Buy some bialys" - she didn't.  He quotes what a paper says about him "bully for you".  The house is complete disorder; he saw the disorder of her parents house as indicative of moral failure.

 

Despite Audrey finishing her tea after hearing Joel is in the hospital, I think this is her coping and her personality and that she truly care.  when the doctor faces her with whats wrong, she does not leave the hospital at night.  Nor does she take time to eat sandwiches when she runs home for clothes (knickers)!

 

Other conflicts are being introduced.  Why did karla's husband marry her and why does he want children?  Why is Rosa rejecting politics for religion?  She is Jewish so it is natural for her to choose Judaism and to feel the connectedness.  Judaism is a religion and a culture of community.  but why orthodox?  Why do Joel and Lenny have such a problem when Audrey and Lenny get along fine?  Is it because Joel uses Lenny  parents to teach political lessons at the breakfast table. and most important of all, is here anything o these office imbroglios?......

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KxBurns
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Great observations so far, everyone. I agree with the sentiment that Joel seems to have formed Audrey as a political creature in his own image, and now he recognizes that she is far more radical in her opinions. It doesn't seem to bother him, either.

 

And Librarian, I think you're right about the seriousness (or lack thereof) of Joel's intentions when he mentions marriage to Audrey. I found it really intriguing to learn that the marriage stuck!

 

Guerneymember12, nice catch regarding the disarray of the home and Joel's aforementioned belief that cleanliness reflects moral uprightness.

 

I look forward to reading more of all your thoughts!

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scouturier
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Wow, my first impression in the prologue is that this marriage won't last.  I definately thought he mentioned it without really thinking it would be reality.  Like other posters mentioned, she seemed to accept as a way out of her current life.  So far it seems like she is so self indulgent and in her mind she is the only one that matters.

 

The character I am most interested in right now is Karla.  I think she is the forgotten child and her eating is a reflection of that.  It seems that it is how she gets attention.  Her husband seems like a bit of a jerk to her.  I am anxious to get further in the book and see more of that relationship.

 

I really don't like Rosa at this point.  Lenny so far is almost a non character.  I felt sorry for Audrey's friend, Jean.  The image in my mind is the British comedy, Keeping Up Appearances, there is Mrs. Bucket who insists it is pronounced "Bouquet" and her neighbor that just watches her and visits and seems so shell shocked by who this person is.  So far that reminds me of Audrey and Jean's friendship.  Audrey seems to think of her as a close friend, but I think Jean is just sort of bewildered by her.

 

It will be interesting to see how these characters play out.

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minyades
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

The similarities that struck me was that Audrey and Joel tend to be instantly judgmental and rather disparaging of others. Their children, friends, Audrey's sister, and Joel's associates all seem to be on the receiving ends of their prickly personalities.

 

I think differences surface in how they respond to the children. Joel sees Lenny as an "experiment" that failed, whereas Audrey  visits her friend to hustle him a job, and defends him to her husband. She's cruel and dismissive of Rosa [ her visit with Jean ], whereas I got the sense that Rosa at one time was his pride and joy.

 

Not sure where to put this, but would it be all right to suggest a correction if the novel is still in proofs. It's a minor detail, but since I live in the area, there's no way Mike and Karla  live near the Bronx Botanical Gardens. Getting off the subway at 242nd street puts you at Van Cortlandt Park. This is the the Northwest part of the Bronx, the Botanical Gardens are much farther east.

 

 

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KxBurns
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Great comments, minyades! And don't worry -- the folks at HarperCollins will have no doubt caught any discrepancies and even typos in the text so there's no need for us to keep track of them.

 

"Prickly personalities" is an apt description of these two! Joel seems the more jovial of the two, but the scene where he's pressed up against the blonde in the elevator made me cringe.

 

 

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maude40
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Audrey is so quiet and nice in the prologue. I couldn't believe she accepted Joel's marriage proposal. I, too thought it was a joke on his behalf. Then in chapter 1 Audrey comes off as mad at the world. Like Debbie said in an  earlier post, I too would have liked to know more about their life during the 40 years before the stroke. Audrey totally turns me off with her bossy, rude attitude. I think she is using her lack of manners and sensitivity as a screen to hide something she's dealing with that we don't know about  yet. Yvonne
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maude40
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

In the prologue pages 13 1nd 14 the description of Audrey's parents house and of the parents was so  depressing. You could just smell the decrepit conditions of both home and the people in it. No wonder Audrey left with Joel so easily. Yvonne
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debbook
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Well, it didn't take me very long to dislike Joel and then Audrey wasn't far behind. I didn't like his attitude toward Lenny, less of a child and more of an experiment gone awry. I like him better in a coma. Audrey is awful to her friends and children. I don't yet really have any pity for her, though I do believe she loves Joel. They are a the kind of couple that gives liberals a bad name. They care more about their beliefs than they actually do people. I like Rosa, feel sorry for Karla but am also annoyed by her, not yet sure about Lenny. He's a slacker but I wouldn't want to be adopted by Joel and Audrey. I'm not sure who Audrey will be able to lean on during this time as she pushes everyone away w/ her hurtfulness and negativity.
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debbook
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)


dhaupt wrote:

The prologue did not prepare me for the rest of the book.

I saw Audrey as a young impressionable woman who was immature and unsure of herself and Joel was all about impressing her.

First of all I would have liked some more history into the couple we go from the 60's to today in 60 seconds or less.

In the first,chapter I saw a couple that were very comfortable with each other and I felt still loved each other even after 40 years of marriage. Even though they were definitely not your typical "older" couple first by their speech and then by their beliefs or lack of beliefs however you want to term it.

 

i agree, I didn't expect the Audrey we met in chapter 1 from the Audrey in the prologue. But Joel seemed arrogant then and now.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
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nhbooklover
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I totally agree with you Librarian. I thought the exact same thing when I was reading the part about Audrey and Joel first meeting. It was like he was just being sarcastic I don't think he expected her to say "Yes, take me with you" She saw her escape from her boring life in England and saw the prospects of moving to America and she wasn't going to pass it up.

   I also felt bad for Karla. She seemed like she just wanted to please everyone, and no matter what she did her sibling always did things that put her in the shadows. She wasn't as extreem as Rose and always changing her mind on what it was that she wanted to do with her life. And, she wasn't quite the loser(for lack of a better word) as her brother was. She was about the most normal of the three kids. She was married, although unhappily, she had a steady job, and she wasn't dependant financially on her parents.

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floreader
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I found it very odd that Audrey would proposition Joel to go off with him to another continent after knowing him one day.  Maybe she was trying to escape her lower class, uneventful life.  I agree with others who posted that she felt she was getting a "catch" and was impressed by his status.  After 40 years, they still seem to be a tight-knit couple, although I found Audrey to be irritating and someone you wouldn't want to be associated with.

I felt very sorry for Karla, who is constantly critized by Audrey about her weight.  Rosa is a mixed-up woman and is searching for answers in the Orthodox faith.   In general, I think many of Karla and Rosa's issues stem from the absence of a warm, loving, nurturing mother, which Audrey doesn't seem to have been. 

 

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cloudnut220
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I guess I didn't expect Audrey to stay the meek and mild girl she was in the prologue, especially since there seemed to be an intelligent, complicated person under the surface she presented to the world.  I don't know if I expected her to be QUITE as out there as she is--but then her depiction isn't that far off from a couple of old hippies/radicals i've come across in real life

 

I think the dynamics between the three siblings and Audrey are fascinating.  There is definately some past with the girls that is generating the tension in the relationship--it's hinted at when Audrey starts making comments about Karla's weight.  I hope the book explores how these characters became who they are--i love some good character development

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saratoga99
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Audrey was rather elusive in the prologue. She attends the party with Martin, and seemingly appears  distant and uninterested in almost all of the guests.  Joel is rather impressed with himself and his work toward the disenfranchised.  His affected attitude spills over into his conversations.  Both are impulsive in their actions toward each other.   One minute, he is thinking what a slut, next he is telling her he is taking her with him to NYC.

 

I don't know if we will learn more about their pasts so we might understand their rushing into a relationship within 48 hours or so.  I don't think love has anything to do with it.  But as we progress, we do learn they have been married for 40 years!

 

The gloomy description of Audrey's parents living conditions and slovenly appearances are pitiful.  More interesting is the fact that Audrey is almost proud of being a slob in her own home.

 

Joel's stroke provides a brief semblance of familial concern.   Audrey with her coarse, abrupt, and disparaging remarks to all around her, especially her children does not evoke the image of a caring person.  Rosa, Lenny, and Karla bare the emotional scars of battered children.  With Joel unable to communicate, Audrey is in her element; becoming more antagonistic with each passing moment.