10-29-2009 08:43 PM
I'm with you, Libralady, Emma seems totally helpless. Not much of interest there, I'm afraid.....
10-29-2009 10:04 PM
My feelings for the characters changed as the story progresses. Frankie turned out to be my favorite. At first she just seems to be a reporter for the sake of her own interests. She latches on to a good thing when she listens and tells the tale of ordinary people. What saves her, in my opinion, is that she begins to listen with her heart. The stories are no longer just stories. They become real people and their stories instead of stories about people. She changes and it's a good thing.
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My blog: JoyfullyRetired.com
10-31-2009 10:09 AM
How has Frankie's relationship to her job changed in these chapters? Is she as tough minded and directed as she was when we first met her in London? How does she treat the story of the Jewish refugees moving across Europe? What effect did her brief contact with Will have on her?
I believe Frankie gets less focused, and a touch disillusioned, during this period. I think her own personal losses start to weigh on her. She seems less "devil may care" (and I may be using the wrong term, here, but in early chapters she seemed more...unaffected, I guess. She didn't seem to let it get to her in the early part of the story, despite the horrors of war being around her. She took pleasure where she could get it, told the story and just got on with it, just like many people in London during the Blitz.) Somewhere in this section her resilience shifts. She says "The only way out of this is to tell it all. . . . And the only way to tell it all is to keep moving. Keep moving and keep telling." When Will asks her "Only way out of what?" she replies "Out of this mess." To me, that sounds like someone who is about to unravel, who is about to get lost in the morass of human pain and suffering, because of how much is there to tell. There is too much for one person to tell. She takes on a one-woman mission to tell a story that as far as she can tell, people don't really want to hear, and I think it becomes a burden for her. She says she doesn't have to bear it, only tell it, but I think this is the point where it does begin shift into a burden and an obligation. With Harriet's death she feels compelled to continue Harriet's work, but her initial idea of how that will go is so far off the mark that when it comes time to actually reporting the story of the Jewish refugees, she stops reporting and starts "collecting". She is so touched by their stories, their voices, the looks in their eyes, I think she starts to unravel here. And the fact that she was essentially responsible for Thomas being executed ... that weighs on her as well. This is no longer a hard-boiled, "just get on with it and tell the story" reporter. This is a woman who is starting to crack from the fear and the pressure and the personal responsibilty she feels for the refugees she meets.
As to her contact with Will, it shakes her. That this man left his wife and town to come over and get stuck in this mess, a mess that he -- to me, crazily -- asks Frankie why she'd want to get out of it in the first place, and then that he died stupidly because he looked the wrong way before crossing the street, well, it's just one more senseless death in a war full of senseless deaths, but the personal nature of having connected with him in the shelter, of knowing he has a young wife at home, makes Frankie the keeper of Will's last letter to his wife. That letter gets heavier the longer she carries it, too, perhaps becoming the heaviest burden she bears.
Will said to Frankie that his experience of London during was was that everything "adds up." What does he mean by this? Why does Will seem happy? What effect did it have on you that Will's death is a traffic accident, rather than a war death?
I have to admit - I've been trying to understand Will's happiness in his situation and I just...don't. I can't understand how a newlywed man, who obviously loves his wife very much, can just pick up and leave her for six months, THEN while he's there decide that he's going to stay there, apart from her. And while he entertains romantic thoughts of his wife, she really does start to become a distant memory the longer he's there. I get the impression he doesn't so much miss *her* as he misses the *idea* of her. I mean, the man can't even think of anything to write in his last letter to her. I'm pretty mad at Will, to be honest. I didn't respect his decision to leave in the first place, and the more I read his thoughts, the more I wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. And I was utterly furious that he died so stupidly. Stupidly! It'd be one thing if he died a casualty of war -- at least that might have made sense, but I guess what Sarah Blake does here is show us that just because your city is under siege doesn't mean the other parts of life and death stop happening. Not everyone who died in London died due to the Blitz, after all. I'm sure there were heart attacks and falls down stairs and, of course, pedestrians being hit by cars, actually a pretty common thing during the blackout, I'm sure, since car lights were not allowed to be lit and pedestrians were hard to see, but Will's death was during an early morning so there was some light (indeed, the setting describes how the dark suddenly turned to light just before the accident), so Will's death wasn't even a consequence of the blackout! I was so disappointed that he died that way. My heart immediately went out to Emma, sitting at home, abandoned and pregnant, with a dead husband who died unnecessarily stupidly. Feh. (Sorry, Ms. Blake - no criticism of your writing - I'm just saying you hit me with a whammy on that one. *g* Good job showing that the stupid deaths that occur every day in this world still happened during one of the most important historical events in 20th century history.)
11-02-2009 02:53 PM
An interesting section. The meeting between Frankie and Will seemed a little contrived to me--her instantaneous attraction to him and the direction of their conversation. I found Frankie's tour around Europe the most facinating part of this book. From the historical information to the final connection to her stories. Previously, she seemed fascinated but not connected to what she was reporting on. I enjoyed watching Frankie grow as a person during this time.
11-02-2009 07:41 PM
There is quite a lot of coincidence going on here. It works well enough, but what are the chances?
11-04-2009 07:51 AM
Sorry. Life is really hectic right now. I don't have much time for reading, nor much time for sharing my thoughts. But here are a few:
It seems in these chapters that Frankie has gotten tougher. She started out as a tough cookie, but inexperienced and perhaps lacking confidence. Now it seems she is becoming fearless. It's as if she has nothing to lose. She's learning to let the story lead her instead of leading the story. It has a life of its own, and she's just following along wherever it may lead her.
However in some ways she is much softer. She is affected by the story, no longer detached from it. She is becoming part of the story.
Iris is something of an enigma. Initially she seemed so innocent and naive. But as the story develops, I find that she seems to really be tough and not at all ignorant of life.
Emma was really the innocent one. Young and innocent, full of life, unharmed by its brutality. Now she is growing up, being buffeted by its winds. And she hasn't quite gotten her sea legs yet.
11-04-2009 07:43 PM
How has Frankie's relationship to her job changed in these chapters? Is she as tough minded and directed as she was when we first met her in London?
Frankie is definitely still as tough minded. She always wanted the truth of war to be told but, the way she goes about it changes in these chapters. The fire is fueled by events like Billy losing his mother, Will's senseless death, getting to know some of the Jewish refugees.