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Sassy3
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Registered: ‎08-25-2008
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

wow..talk about buzzlightening in the 21st century... we go from the bedroom proposal to America...

 whew what a ride!!! Thought that was quite the twist for a starter. Audrey and Joel remind me of the

 odd couple, but for some strange reason they have surrvived. As for the children the sisters are like

 day and night... it's like you want to help them because they are somewhat disfuctional??? Lenny is

 out there in left field, and Audrey  takes pity on him  and lets him get away with alot of stuff,that

 normally should have been corrected as a child...Now let's talk about Joel...it appears he has caused

 his own problems in his life,and now it's too late to correct them.

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

The change in Audrey's personality definitely surprised me when I first read it. But after thinking it over, it makes sense to me. If they were able to make it 40 years without even knowing each other from the start, it makes sense that they would have to have connections at some point. And Audrey did seem young and impressionable in the beginning. Now she just seems somewhat bitter at her past decisions but totally attached to her persona. Joel just struck me as your typical young lawyer with his panties in a bunch. And then 40 years later, he strikes me as a typical old lawyer with his panties in a bunch...with the clout and money to back it up.

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

[ Edited ]

cloudnut220 wrote:

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

 

[edited]


 

I like this assessment of Audrey. I agree that her character is more consistent from the Prologue to Chapter 1 than it might seem at first.

 

She is standing on the sidelines at the party and is definitely enthralled by Joel and his worldliness, but she's making her characteristicly harsh judgments of others at the party and I don't see her as meek or particularly impressionable. I say that because although the Audrey of 2002 has clearly allowed Joel to shape her political attitudes, I think she was a willing student right from the start. She very deliberately seeks out someone to educate her -- it's why she was at the party with Martin in the first place ("She was keen to improve herself," p. 3).

 

I think her bitterness in the present-day chapters reflects that perhaps she feels she got the raw end of the deal. 

Message Edited by KxBurns on 10-20-2008 10:21 PM
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FrankieD
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Audrey struck me as aloof from the very beginning with her attitude at the party...and Joel was an egotistic american that wanted to be the center of attention...and their resulting marriage seemed to be a fitting result.

When we find them still together 40 years later I didn't think that love had anything to with it...it was merely their personalities that carried them this far...as well as their shared feelings toward governments and religions. Then, with a constant barrage of revoulutionary diatribes as the norm in their home as they were growing up...how can I ever expect their children to have gained any "normal" social attitudes? It's enough to have your own beliefs...but to belittle Rosa for exploring judaism was not the correct parental response.

I have this funny feeling...perhaps not really so funny...that it's Karla that has the most serious issues to deal with and her problem with her weight is just the tip of the iceberg...but that's just my thought:smileyindifferent:on her.

Okay...now it's time to move on to see where we are taken...and I hope Zoe keeps us attentive.

 

                                                                       Frank :smileyhappy:

 

" The longer I live...the more beautiful life becomes."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
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kiakar
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)


Librarian wrote:

 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

 

I do not see the girls as selfish either. Its a wonder they do not have more problems than they do having Audrey for a mom. Just the brief period we met her parents, it didnt seem they were abusive or anything , just very poor and old. So how did she get to be so bitter and mean.? Was Joel good to her? Had maybe she become bitter because of her marriage , maybe it was a burden being what she thought Joel wanted for a wife.
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LeftBrainer
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I agree Karla probably has the most problems,  I have a prediction about her husband.   I can't understand why Audrey friend has anything to do with her.  Audrey's behavior when she hears of Joe's stroke is strange.  Now Audrey is my least favorite character. 
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LucyintheOC
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

[ Edited ]

dhaupt, I agree with what you wrote: "The prologue did not prepare me for the rest of the book", either. But this is probably a good thing because the prologue bored me and if the rest of the book was like the prologue, I wouldn't have read it. And I'm glad I did because I really liked it.

 

I also agree with the rest of what you wrote in your post on page one. I won't take up a lot of space with a cut & paste, but I, also, wondered how her children could stand to be around her and why no one had done the world a favor and taken her out! (Not that I agree with violence in practice, but I reserve the right to feel this way about fictional characters in books!) And like LeftBrainer, I couldn't (still can't) understand "why she would have a friend that would want anything to do with her." I certainly wouldn't want to be around her or anyone like her. She was an ugly person.

Message Edited by LucyintheOC on 10-20-2008 08:49 PM
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VictoriousMary
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I agree with your interpretation.  I just do not understand why the two got married.  It makes no sense.  I also do not understand why the two gave up their religions and claim to be non believers when they clearly have held on to some strong beliefs on how to raise children and what makes a good adult.

 

Regarding the children, from chapters 1-4 they do not seem very grownup at all.  They are dysfunctional as you pointed out.  I suppose that anyone growing up with the constant criticism that I read about from their mother at the hospital, would have to be somewhat dysfunctional in order to survive in that type of family setting.

 

I can also see why the sisters would unite and defend each other on the side lines and yet at the same time be powerless under their mother's attacks.

 

How sad.  I am wondering how the book ever got the title "Believers"  and I am also waiting to see the humor of it all.  At this moment it seems a rather tragic book.

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dogearedcopy
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Re: 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?

 

Joel remains a misanthropic, misogynistic, condescending, egocentric, arrogant and, hypocritical character; Audrey remains a character lacking the courage of her own convictions or identity.

 

Over time, the cores of Joel and Audrey have not changed, but both characters have become more inflexible and less accommodating. Joel no longer seeks comradely approbation, instead gaining satisfaction from notoriety. Audrey has lost her passivity and, armed with her husband’s convictions, she is now aggressive and rude.

 

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

 

Joel’s stroke brings out the worst in everybody: Audrey’s crassness and jealousy, Rosa’s insensitivity and rudeness, Karla’s weaknesses and, Lenny’s sycophantism.

 

What conflicts within the Litvinoff family are introduced inthese early chapters?

 

Joel vs Lenny; Joel & Audrey vs Rosa; Joel & Audrey vs Karla; Joel vs Mike; Mike vs Karla

 


Stay Cool & Keep the Faith
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becky_quilts
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Re: 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?

Joel is the same at 30 as he is at 70, a pretentious ladies man.  His activism is, at least partially, a means of gaining personal notoriety.  He's entirely too self-impressed.  Audrey is young and impressionable at 20.  She is looking for someone to follow who is intelligent and who challenges the status quo.  The first time Audrey acts out toward Joel (after sex) he proposes marriage, not in seriousness but to exert his superiority.  But she is not that easily mastered.  Forty years later they are still together because they suit each other.  She brings him back down to earth and he gives voice to her anarchism.

 

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

Audrey makes a point of not showing her feelings, though her barking at everyone and exploding at Rosa shows what an effort it is for her.  I kind of hoped this was a concentration of the worst of Audrey due to her enormous fear.  Rosa is concerned about her father but not enough to hold her tongue(who could blame her!).  Karla is too busy being a doormat to have any thoughts or feelings for her father's condition.  Lenny is just as indifferent after the stroke as he has always been.

 

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

Joel is resentful of Lenny's disinterestedness in life in general and in Joel specifically.  It is a point of contention in his marriage.  Audrey and Rosa have some serious issues that I think stem from jealousy.  While Joel is disappointed in Rosa, Audrey is just plain hateful.  Karla is conflicted between her husband and her family.  Her quiet, compliant personality is not respected by anyone.  She has a great deal of self-loathing.

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

What great comments, I just love this forum.

I was thinking more about the characters of Joel and Audrey while reading some comments.

First being a child of the 60's although not being from a radical family more the opposite I did see a lot of what we're seeing in the book, Audrey sleeping w/Joel and running of to America did not surprise or offend me. I still stand by my earlier comment that she did it to leave her old life behind.

But now I'm wondering if Joel being the opportunist he obviously is seeing Audrey as not just his equal in his fight for righteousness or whatever but arm candy as well. I think he thought maybe she made him look better in a totally  superficial way.

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

Not liking Audrey so far.  Surprised the marriage has lasted so long!
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lamorgan
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Although I'm seeing this family as the perfect example of "disfunctional," I'm also very intrigued by the book. The author has a very smooth and interesting style of writing and she captured my attention right away.

 

Prologue:

I also wonder why on earth Audrey took Joel up on his offer so quickly. Is she that ashamed of her home and parents that she wants to escape? Perhaps she feels she can be herself if she goes somewhere else and this may be the only offer she's going to get.

And what about Joel? He's obviously has a lot going for him. He's handsome, intelligent and in a position to make a good living. What drew him to Audrey so hard and fast that he wanted to take her back to America with him?

I hope to get the answers to some of these questions as I read the book.

 

Chapter 1 & 2:

Audrey is either very self-centered or has issues with sympathy/empathy, etc. Here is her husband, whom she supposedly loves, with a raging headache and her response is basically to take some Tylenol and buck up. Yet, when he has a massive stroke, she doesn't connect the headaches to this episode?

Joel seems so very abrupt; with Lenny. I tend to wonder if that's normal or is it a symptom of the upcoming stroke? If normal, it's no wonder Lenny is such a loser.

After Joel has the stroke, Audrey comes off as very patronizing of everyone. She doesn't understand why his friends and coworkers would want to see him.

Audrey definitely doesn't seem to be the same naive girl we met in the prologue. It will be interesting to find out what changed her over the years.

 

Chapter 3:

In this chapter, we get to meet the children. What a bunch of confused people! These offspring of Audrey and Joel definitely have some serious issues.

Lenny is lazy and has no ambition. He acts like he expects the world to hand him everything on a silver platter.

Rosa doesn't know what she wants. What is she doing working with young people who need a role model who can guide them to make some good decisions when she can't make up her own mind? I can understand that she wants to learn about religion, but is she truly doing it for her own peace or to thwart her parents and their beliefs?

Karla has "coped" with her life through some sort of eating disorder. She feels inferior to everyone and is unable to take steps to improve herself because of her terribly low self-esteem. She strikes me as a very sad person. I, too, wonder about her husband and I think there is more to him than we are seeing right now.

Audrey seems very harsh with the girls, similar to how Joel comes across with Lenny. Right from the get-go, I can see why these children have so many problems!

 

Chapter 4:

 It's obvious that Julie knows more about why Audrey is so rude to people than we have been privy to. She lets all the nasty comments just roll off her. She talks to Audrey as if she's a teenager talking back to her parents.

Surprisingly, even though Audrey has nothing but negative to say to her children, they still seem concerned about what she's going through. I'm not sure if I could be so patient with her. Of course, I would have told her off years before.

It amazes me that these parents exposed their children to their harsh political views __ i.e. it's okay to sometimes kill. Wow! They definitely feel their opinions are the only right ones. Just another reason for these children to have such issues!

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

What a great analysis Guerneymember!! Thanks a lot!

 


Guerneymember12 wrote:

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

There were two quotes used in the prologue that continue to describe Audrey and Joel in Part I. Audrey wrote a quote from Socrates in her journal, "I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance." Joel quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes, "As life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time, at peril of being judged not to have lived." Audrey recognized the limitations of her life in London and saw Joel as a means of overcoming her ignorance. After 40 years with Joel, she apparently has adopted his political views which has made her cynical and caustic. She really is as ignorant as she ever was. Joel continued to live his life according to Holmes. He just updated his political point of view to coincide with current issues. His attitude made him rigid and judgmental toward his children since none of them share his beliefs.

 

I think that Joel's invitation to come to America was an offhand remark that he didn't expect to be accepted. I think that their marriage after 40 years reflects that. It appears to be a good marriage when it is really a mess. I don't understand Audrey's attitude, other than her need to keep up appearances, and really don't find her very likeable. 

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

I like and dislike Joel but am mostly still wary of him -- his chauvinism, his ego, his courtroom reputation that made people think his collapse was a stunt. I'm frustrated with Lenny and what seems like parental enabling. I'm sympathetic and rooting for Karla and Rosa.

 

And Audrey? I liked her in the prologue -- her self-imposed position on the perimeter of things, observing. Through Martin and probably in other ways, she was laying careful plans to go be/do something important. So I saw her encounter with Joel as a sort of "preparation meets opportunity."

 

But oh did her hostility and passive aggression get tiresome in Part I. The only sympathy came in relation to her interactions with Joel's colleague, Daniel. omg, what a great character he is, I dislike him so much it's almost comic! -- nosing into medical updates and such. It seemed out of character that Audrey hung back and let him take charge. There must be more to him than we know yet. The last lines of Ch 2 were chilling -- Audrey finally taking charge and Daniel responding with what felt passively threatening. Yikes.

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

I think Audrey is far too undomesticated and disordered to be compared to Mrs Bucket/Bouquet Scout.  She was the archetypal perfect housewife. It seems to be a 'hippie' household, very disordered and possibly rather dirty - more like Mrs Bucket's sister's household.  But I agree that Mrs Bucket's bewildered neighbour fits Audrey's friend.   

 


scouturier wrote:

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

I think I see Audrey in the Prologue as like a GI bride.  Anxious to get away from the austerities of England and seeing life Over the Pond as very glamorous.  And Joel behaved like a typical GI who had slept with a gel and therefore must marry her.  I wonder if a marriage like this, where one person is uprooted from her homeland and the other takes this on board, makes for a stronger marriage that will withstand the vicissitudes of life?   Does anyone here have experience of this sort of marriage?   

 


debbook wrote:

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.

 

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

LOL Deb!  The book might not have made me laugh but your post did:smileyvery-happy:.  I love that you liked Joel better in a coma!

 

The whole book gave liberals a bad name and this just before you all go into an election!  What are B&N thinking of:smileyvery-happy::smileyvery-happy: 

 


debbook wrote:
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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detailmuse
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

It's stated (p13) that Audrey's mother is "drastically fat." I wonder how that will factor into Audrey's issues about Karla's weight?