10-16-2009 05:54 PM
My favorite character is Harry --I love the scene where he tries to give the mug to Iris and she wraps it to mail and then he tells her it is for her. Captures a sweet gentle man so nicely.
I also like the young doctor. And I love Emma. As I finished the book she is the one I will always remember.
10-18-2009 11:36 AM
Exactly Debs, desperation.I have been puzzled by folks' condemnation of the sexuality in this book. Is this because they think that books should not contain descriptions of sexual encounters or feelings? Do they want to go back to Victorian times when these things were coded and authors metaphorically covered piano legs? Why are the author's graphic descriptions of the violence of bombing, the transportation and killing of Jews not thought superfluous to the story too? This is not a Harlequin novel where sex is sanitised and romanticised, it is a novel dealing with the realities of life during a war and one of those realities was the urgency of sexual desire, perhaps due to absence from loved ones, perhaps due to heightened feelings in the face of ever present danger. We all know that menfolk came back from war reluctant to talk about the horrors of battle but they were reluctant to talk about the pleasures of sex too. Let us not delude ourselves that men (or women) were celibate for the six years of war - illegitimate births and hasty marriages all over Europe bely that, so, unfortunately, did the rise in venereal diseases. When Frankie had her hasty sexual encounter, my only thought was 'is he wearing a condom?' because there was a high incidence of syphilis from the turn of the century until the 1940s, when penicillin became generally available. This was due largely to the widespread use of prostitutes during Victorian times, as a form of birth control and as a way of avoiding the passing on of such a life threatening disease to loved ones. I have a book dated 1848 which lists the crimes of this period and one of the highest statistics is for childhood prostition of both girls and boys. The self censorship of sex in Victorian novels was partly due to a fear of its consequences in a pre-contraception and pre-penicillin age. When I was a girl a very large number of young women came from Catholic Eire (southern Ireland) to England either to have their illegitimate babies or to have abortions. In Eire books which contained the merest hint of sex were banned but the celibacy taught by their faith did not stop people from having sex, although the denial of it caused a great deal of harm to mothers and to the babies who had to be adopted. I would not like to see the return of those hypocritical times either in literature or in real life and I am always pleased to see sex dealt with frankly in good novels like this one, which is not meant to tittillate but to inform.I think I will ask Sarah what her thoughts were about the sex scenes.
I'm always surprised by how little some seem to know about what went on in the past. Somewhere along the way someone seems to have decided that those separate twin bed TV scenes were accurate. So thank you for adding something intelligent to the conversation. I must admit that I was so not shocked by the sex scene that I didn't even make note of it until reading this forum.
While I'm not a fan of Frankie, I don't think she's at all a stereotype as some have suggested. Rather, she is an accurate representation of some female journalists. (I make that statement as someone who has worked in TV news for a number of years now.)
10-19-2009 02:23 PM
"How do these characters' backgrounds shape our impressions of them and their actions in the story? Do you feel you have a deeper understanding of particular decisions they make?"
Will's actions can definitely be explained by his father's years earlier. He came back to the scene of his father's disgrace because it was as if he was compelled to prove that he was nothing like him and maybe to atone for his father's failures. After Maggie's death Will felt guilty and ashamed and it seems he began comparing himself to his father. I don't think he wanted Emma to go through the same thing he and his mother went through ("waiting out life" with his father).
10-23-2009 11:18 AM
I'am surprised that so many readers are surprised that Frankie had casual sex on the street. It was a war torn city and one didn't know if they would be alive tomorrow. Yvonne
10-28-2009 12:25 PM
My favorite character is Frankie. She is ambitious, independent and she lives life on her own terms. Frankie is a trail blazer. I like the fact that she pushes the boundaries but she also has a sense of compassion. .
11-05-2009 02:05 PM
I was very annoyed at Will for leaving Emma to go to London. He was running from his problems instead of confronting them. I think in actuallity he took the simple way out, even though it was a war.
Emma was abandoned by her parents then her new husband, I just hope she was able to have a relationship with her child. And who would like you personal things scattered all over the street. You feel violated, like when someone breaks into your house and rummage through your draws. Frankie was a tough, strong personality until she was confronted with meeting Emma and having to decide whether she would tell her she knew her husband and how he died. I think that was very hard choice for her.
11-07-2009 09:51 AM
I think that the doctor's decision to leave his new bride is unbelieveable. When I found out that he was leaving her after being married such a short time, I was really mad. I couldn't believe he would do this, but I think he was running away from his guilt (thinking that it was his fault that he killed Maggie) and he didn't have any way of dealling with it besides going to London. I would have to say that he's my least favorite character beause of this. I really don't think that I have a favorite character, but do like the charaters in different ways.
Well, it is a little different scenario, Katie, but many American men drafted in WWII married either before they shipped overseas or if they managed to get home on a furlough. It was rather like it was important to have someone at home who cared deeply, besides parents. Although I don't know personal stories here, I suspect that at least some also tried to leave behind offspring that could provide a type of immortality if they lost their lives.
(I had four uncles, three maternal and one paternal, who served overseas. Two of them have wedding pictures in their uniforms, one of whom was lost in action over Okinawa, i.e,, as a pilot.)
Although I know that did happen alot, I didn't get the impression that that was why the doctor was leaving. I too feel that he was so consumed with guilt that he was looking for a way to make sense of it all and had to get away. maybe saving lives would help to ease his pain over losing Maggie's life. However, I think he found himself in a place that made even less sense! Jo
11-15-2009 12:09 AM
I too was surprised by Will's disregard for his new wive's feelings although during that time period and with a war I imagine many women were in that situation. Emma was very proud to be the town Doctor's wife having her suitcase spill upon her first arrival to her new town couldn't have been something she was happy about at all. She's a new wife and just adored her husband. Frankie is in the war seeing it all first hand how it's affecting the everyday people there where she is reporting. I was a bit surprised by her casualness but she's living in the moment. Iris, it took awhile for me to warm up to her character but she was proper.
11-23-2009 09:33 AM
Are you just judging Frankie because she had sex outside of marriage? Times have never been different where sex was concerned, there have always been those who did not put such a high price on their virginity and that has nothing to do with being a 'whore'. If it had we would be condemning a great many people, including perhaps our own mothers. The researched facts about pre-marital sex, illegitimate children etc bely this myth of celibacy before marriage throughout the ages. They also show that birth rates rise during a war and that more illegitimate children are born then (and born seven/eight months after a 'shot-gun' marriage). Frankie was only doing what millions of ordinary, decent, warm blooded women had done before and after her. Iris was the anomaly, not Frankie. The 'difference' here was that people were facing the daily possibility of death. It was rather like, say, those facing death from cancer who decide to make the very most of the time they have left. That is why war is not all doom and gloom, why people sang and danced with abandon and made love whenever they could, because they knew their lives could be cut short and they might never experience these life-enhancing things again.
Choisya - Well said!