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Rachel-K
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The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

In the middle chapters, we also move more deeply into the family circles of each of the Leopardis, including the marriage of Nancy and Oates, the pregnancies of Aimee and Rachel, and the strong hint of trouble for Bernard and Aimee. 

 

Compare the fathers whose stories we know in the novel so far? Nancy's only real hesitation about her marriage, she realizes, is that her father will not be there. Do Nancy's memories of him affect how you read any of the other fathers in the story?

 

Compare motherhood as we see it portrayed by various characters so far in the novel: Virginia, Deirdre, Nancy, and Gillian. (Neither Rachel or Aimee have much experience yet!)

 

Are you surprised that Bernard never figures out that Rachel's Thanksgiving dinner was an event to announce her own pregnancy? Were you surprised that Virginia didn't set him straight about that?

 

What do you think of Gillian's maternal role to Paul? 

 

Why did Gillian want Adam to see her in her family's house, with her husband? What is her reaction to Adam's partner, Kim?

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DSaff
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

[ Edited ]

The first thing I have to say is how upset I was when Bernard upstaged his daughter! He hadn't planned this gathering and should have done one for himself and Aimee. How callus it was for him to interrupt the Rachel's dinner and alienate his children once again! He should have known how they would feel and approached it with more tact. The whole thing made me see just how out of touch he is with his children. <phew!>

 

I really love the relationship Nancy and Oates have. There is unconditional love there, a relationship they have worked at. Her daughter's reaction shows how much they belong together. Nancy's memories brought a sadness, but one that could be overcome. Nancy and Oates are my favorite couple so far.

 

Gillian seems even more "snooty" at her party. She is definitely showing off her "things" and not her relationships. I think for her it is all about control and having "stuff." Her mothering of Paul is just about control, pure and simple control. She knows he knows that too.

 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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dhaupt
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

Those who are parents in this novel I don't think I see any as bad parents, some are ineffectual like Bernie and Jerry but not by design. 

 

How can I be surprised that Bernie doesn't know about Rachel's surprise, didi he tell her, hint to her. Is he a mindreader. No that was totally on Rachel and Virginia for that matter.

 

I am through trying to figure out Gillian, she just makes me mad

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Deanne75
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 

DSaff wrote:

The first thing I have to say is how upset I was when Bernard upstaged his daughter! He hadn't planned this gathering and should have done one for himself and Aimee. How callus it was for him to interrupt the Rachel's dinner and alienate his children once again! He should have known how they would feel and approached it with more tact. The whole thing made me see just how out of touch he is with his children. <phew!>

 

I really love the relationship Nancy and Oates have. There is unconditional love there, a relationship they have worked at. Her daughter's reaction shows how much they belong together. Nancy's memories brought a sadness, but one that could be overcome. Nancy and Oates are my favorite couple so far.

 

Gillian seems even more "snooty" at her party. She is definitely showing off her "things" and not her relationships. I think for her it is all about control and having "stuff." Her mothering of Paul is just about control, pure and simple control. She knows he knows that too.

 

 

 

 I felt exactly the same way about Bernard's upstaging of Rachel's accouncement.  To me it just reinforced how completely oblivious and self-centered he is.  He truely just does not get it.

 

I completely agree with you on Nancy & Oates.  I find that I like Nancy the most in her interractions with Oates, and that I tend to like her less in her interraactions with the other members of the circle.  The relationship she has with Oates seems pure, natural, and healthy.  I feel that her relationships with the members of the circle are contrived, awkward, and not so healthy for her.

 

I don't consider any part of Gillian's relationship with Paul as "motherly."  To me she merely tolerates her responsibility toward him as a stepson...and even then puts forth only a minimum amount of effort.

Deanne
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Zia01
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

Are you surprised that Bernard never figures out that Rachel's Thanksgiving dinner was an event to announce her own pregnancy? Were you surprised that Virginia didn't set him straight about that? Yes I am, I didn't realize how self centered he really was in the beginning and Virginia should have pulled him aside and tore him a new one for it.

 

What do you think of Gillian's maternal role to Paul? She has a maternal role? I don't think she cares either way really, only about appearances.

 

Why did Gillian want Adam to see her in her family's house, with her husband? What is her reaction to Adam's partner, Kim? Gillian is all about how she looks to the outside world so she needed Adam to see her in hers. She was jealous of Kim.

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maxcat
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

Chris is a good father to his 2 kids when he gets them for a day. His ex-wife is vindictive and uses the kids against making me feel sorry for him.

Bernard may have been a great father when he was with Virginia but through the years and different relationships, his children react very unkindly to him marrying Aimee. Teddy is repulsive and doesn't go along with his father's decisions. Rachel is still likable towards her father until the announcement of Aimee's pregnancy.

Virginia was always a good mother towards Rachel and Teddy.

Diedre is also a good mother to Nancy but drives her crazy the week of the wedding. Nancy needs placecards for the reception and this gives Diedre something special to do. She has a lot of energy that she has a hard time containing. She's proud that Nancy wrote a book and wants to find out what it is about since it has been sent to Nancy's agent. Nancy, knowing the book is about her father, tell diedre to wait until it's published.

Gillian could care less about kids. She has a hard time sitting next to them and she only puts up with Paul for manipulative reasons.

I am surprised by Bernard but it was a secret to be announced at dinner, so he had no inkling that Rachel was pregnant beforehand.

I'm not surprised as Bernard is Bernard and does things his way. Virginia, after knowing him so long just decided to keep quiet and let Rachel tell him.

Gillian thinks kim is a bit young for Adam and she imagines that she, Gillian, is better than Kim. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 

 

 

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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StewiesMom
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 Compare the fathers whose stories we know in the novel so far? Nancy's only real hesitation about her marriage, she realizes, is that her father will not be there. Do Nancy's memories of him affect how you read any of the other fathers in the story?

 

Chris appears to be a very dedicated father.  I see him as someone who, if circumstances allowed, would be a full time dad to his two boys.  Bernard is a little clueless, but he seems to offer what he can.  And Nancy seems to have had the best father of all.  He was far more instrumental to the development of his daughter, but whether it had to do with circumstances, I’m not sure.  He and Nancy’s mother were not divorced and as so, may not parallel Chris and Bernard equally.  

 

Compare motherhood as we see it portrayed by various characters so far in the novel: Virginia, Deirdre, Nancy, and Gillian. (Neither Rachel or Aimee have much experience yet!)

 

Virginia and Nancy seem to rival each other in their respective relationships with adult daughters.  Likewise, Deirdre and Gillian also seem alike.  It seemed funny that Nancy’s relationship with her mother didn’t feel truly connected.  They seemed like they were distant relatives, not mother and child.  Similarly, Gillian is a very self-absorbed lady (sorry for the reappearance for this description, but it fits her to a T) and from what I read about Deirdre, she too, was center stage in her own life.  However, on the other spectrum, both Nancy and Virginia seem like they are more selfless than the other two ladies.  It felt like they each respected their daughter and weren’t too overbearing. 

 

Are you surprised that Bernard never figures out that Rachel's Thanksgiving dinner was an event to announce her own pregnancy? Were you surprised that Virginia didn't set him straight about that?

 

I am not surprised that Bernard didn’t figure out that the Holiday meal was meant as an announcement setup for Rachel.  No offense to the men on the board, but really, if the women in a man’s life didn’t explain the emotional aspects, a lot of the emotions wouldn’t be noticed by the man in question.  It may be that Bernard did realize it, later, but didn’t know quite how to set things right without embarrassing himself.  I imagine there is a little hubris in a situation like this.  I am a little surprised that Virginia didn’t, at some point, speak privately with Bernard about his unintentional faux pas.  Although, it may be that Virginia didn’t feel, as a former spouse (versus a current spouse), that it was her duty to clue him in.  Or perhaps, there was a slight amount of malice in her absence of letting Bernard know about his slip up.  

 

What do you think of Gillian's maternal role to Paul? 

 

I don’t think Gillian has a real maternal role towards Paul.  She is not his mother, doesn’t want to be his (or anyone else’s) mother, and would have no idea how to be a mother.

 

Why did Gillian want Adam to see her in her family's house, with her husband? What is her reaction to Adam's partner, Kim?

 

I think Gillian wanted to show Adam what she is and what she has, materialistically.  She is jealous of Kim, because Kim embodies youth, a youth that Gillian no longer possesses. 

 

"Tact, my dear"..."is merely a ploy of the unimaginative." - Bernard in Corinne Demas' "The Writing Circle"
"My life is my own, and the opinions of others don't interest me..." — Carroll John Daly**
**This is not necessarily true, I just love the quote!**
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Vermontcozy
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 

dhaupt wrote:

Those who are parents in this novel I don't think I see any as bad parents, some are ineffectual like Bernie and Jerry but not by design. 

 

How can I be surprised that Bernie doesn't know about Rachel's surprise, didi he tell her, hint to her. Is he a mindreader. No that was totally on Rachel and Virginia for that matter.

 

I am through trying to figure out Gillian, she just makes me mad

 

Our relationships with the characters are of course from our point of view..So many agendas in this group.Blaming everyone for petty,yet important to them,situations,,I am as I have stated in a few posts,I am only Liking Adam and Nancy...And still feel sorry for Gillian...She knows about herself,but cannot control her urges,and doesn't care to...If Paul goes back to live with  his mother,then she loses control.And in her mind,her Husband will blame her and see her as less than perfect.......SusanVtc

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 

DSaff wrote:

The first thing I have to say is how upset I was when Bernard upstaged his daughter! He hadn't planned this gathering and should have done one for himself and Aimee. How callus it was for him to interrupt the Rachel's dinner and alienate his children once again! He should have known how they would feel and approached it with more tact. The whole thing made me see just how out of touch he is with his children. <phew!>

 

 

I may be in the minority here, but I was actually inclined to give Bernard a bit of a break here. Granted, he should have thought more about how his children and their mother would take the news that he was starting a new family, but I get the impulse to share good news (which Bernard sees the new baby as) at a family celebration and all at once. If he had news that weren't so upsetting to that particular audience (for example, something like "I just won X award for my book"), I don't think that it would have been inappropriate for him to share it at Rachel's dinner. I feel terribly bad for Rachel, because she did organize the dinner to share her news, but I think, because we get the story through Virginia's point of view, it's easy to get caught up in how clueless Bernard is and to forget that he had no way of knowing that Rachel planned this dinner to announce her pregnancy. 

 

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dhaupt
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

I'm a little surprised that a lot of us are railing on Bernard here. Maybe someone can enlighten me. I thought (correct me if I'm wrong) that no one but Virginia knew about Rachel's pregnancy.

That Bernard and Virginia have an amicable divorce and relationship with each other and their respective current spouses. I don't remember reading that Aimee broke up Bernard's and Virginia's marriage.

Rachel invited everyone for Thanksgiving, so I don't see how Bernard upstaged something he didn't have a clue about.

Help me out here.

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violetangel
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

I got the impression that this kind of gathering of all of them did not happen regularly if at all, and especially since Rachel and her husband are vegans definitely not at their house.  The fact that they offered not only to host a gathering of everyone but also have the traditional Thanksgiving meal should have triggered that there was something special about that meal imho.

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dhaupt
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 

violetangel wrote:

I got the impression that this kind of gathering of all of them did not happen regularly if at all, and especially since Rachel and her husband are vegans definitely not at their house.  The fact that they offered not only to host a gathering of everyone but also have the traditional Thanksgiving meal should have triggered that there was something special about that meal imho.

 

My daughter is a vegetarian and hosts holiday parties with meat all the time. So I guess I didn't see it that way. Something to think about. Thanks

 

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pen21
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 

dhaupt wrote:

I'm a little surprised that a lot of us are railing on Bernard here. Maybe someone can enlighten me. I thought (correct me if I'm wrong) that no one but Virginia knew about Rachel's pregnancy.

That Bernard and Virginia have an amicable divorce and relationship with each other and their respective current spouses. I don't remember reading that Aimee broke up Bernard's and Virginia's marriage.

Rachel invited everyone for Thanksgiving, so I don't see how Bernard upstaged something he didn't have a clue about.

Help me out here.

 

 

My impression of Bernard at this point is clueless. He knows what is going on his life. But what is going on in his son and daughters is not affecting him and what he has planned.  Wherever he announced his wife was having a baby, he should have known it would cause issues within his first family. Not easy for his other children to accept. The relationships were already strained with his son and now his daughter. Just my opinion.

pen21

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DSaff
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

I think the reason I was so upset with him is that he really didn't seem concerned about how the individuals would act. He and Aimee should have planned something to share their news, after all, he has two grown children. His relationship with his son seemed strained before the announcement, now I wonder if it can be fixed. Also, I don't think that Rachel needed to tell anyone before the dinner. But, daughters do tend to tell their mothers, and Thanksgiving was an opportunity to share thankfulness for many things.

dhaupt wrote:

I'm a little surprised that a lot of us are railing on Bernard here. Maybe someone can enlighten me. I thought (correct me if I'm wrong) that no one but Virginia knew about Rachel's pregnancy.

That Bernard and Virginia have an amicable divorce and relationship with each other and their respective current spouses. I don't remember reading that Aimee broke up Bernard's and Virginia's marriage.

Rachel invited everyone for Thanksgiving, so I don't see how Bernard upstaged something he didn't have a clue about.

Help me out here.

 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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pen21
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 

Vermontcozy wrote:

 

dhaupt wrote:

Those who are parents in this novel I don't think I see any as bad parents, some are ineffectual like Bernie and Jerry but not by design. 

 

How can I be surprised that Bernie doesn't know about Rachel's surprise, didi he tell her, hint to her. Is he a mindreader. No that was totally on Rachel and Virginia for that matter.

 

I am through trying to figure out Gillian, she just makes me mad

 

Our relationships with the characters are of course from our point of view..So many agendas in this group.Blaming everyone for petty,yet important to them,situations,,I am as I have stated in a few posts,I am only Liking Adam and Nancy...And still feel sorry for Gillian...She knows about herself,but cannot control her urges,and doesn't care to...If Paul goes back to live with  his mother,then she loses control.And in her mind,her Husband will blame her and see her as less than perfect.......SusanVtc

 

Gillian is a control freak. Manipulating where Paul lives, but still show she is in control, that seemed so ruthless to me. Paul is a just a pawn to Gillian. I think Gillian is trying to gain control over Adam by inviting him to the cottage again.

 

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maxcat
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

Debbie, I know Bernard and Virginia's marriage ended amicably and that Aimee wasn't the cause for the split as Bernard had a few relationships in-between. And we know he announced Aimee's pregnancy right before Rachel's announcement. We also know that he did not realize at that point that Rachel was pregnant. But, think about it. If you were in Rachel's place and knew you were pregnant and making a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner so she and Denny could make their announcement, would it not deflate your balloon that Bernard's wife, Rachel's stepmother, is pregnant also. I think Rachel did the right thing and kept quiet. She did eventually call Bernard and tell him the news but did not say anything about the dinner. Virginia was mad and that was known at Gillian's party as Bernard got the cold shoulder from her and even asked why she was mad.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 

dhaupt wrote:

I'm a little surprised that a lot of us are railing on Bernard here. Maybe someone can enlighten me. I thought (correct me if I'm wrong) that no one but Virginia knew about Rachel's pregnancy.

That Bernard and Virginia have an amicable divorce and relationship with each other and their respective current spouses. I don't remember reading that Aimee broke up Bernard's and Virginia's marriage.

Rachel invited everyone for Thanksgiving, so I don't see how Bernard upstaged something he didn't have a clue about.

Help me out here.

 

Its The Blame Game..Now where do we go from here.Bernard's wife leaves him,having his child..Another dynamic change for sure by Monday..Today,I am really not liking Virginia.She plays the role well though.So nice,helpful..Deep,very deep down has a lot of anger,and is controlling IMO.I believe Corinne has set us up to have all these conflicts within ourselves about the characters..Emotional turmoil..Susan Vtc

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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Sunltcloud
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

Rachel is upset. Bernard is clueless. But it is certainly not Virginia's place to inform Bernard of his inadvertent mistake. My ex-husband and my daughter tell me things which they seem to be unable (or not willing) to tell each other. Sometimes they want me to be the messenger hoping I would smooth things out. I don't. I tell them to talk directly to each other. I save my "interference" for emergencies. It's worked for 40 years.
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Bonnie_C
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 

I don't blame Bernard for the ado over Thanksgiving dinner.  Virginia was very shocked to find out that Rachel was pregnant.  As a matter of fact she was beginning to wonder if Rachel would ever have children.  So Bernard would not have a clue as to what was going on. 

 

Rachel is known as a peace maker.  By her hosting the Thanksgiving dinner, this was probably seen as an attempt to get the family together and smooth relations between Bernard and Teddy.

 

The debate might be if this was an appropriate time for Bernard to unveil his surprise.  He had really big news.  This was the kind of news that most folks would consider a happy event.

 

I thought it was a shame that Teddy acted the way he did.  Even if he wasn't on board with the announcement, at least he could have the decency to keep his mouth shut and not ruin the meal for everyone else.  He could take up his personal issues with Bernard later.

 

If that had happened, then there was nothing to keep Rachel from standing up and saying, "That's great, Dad.  And guess what?  You are also about to become a grandfather!"

 

Bernard may not win father of the year.  Heaven knows he has his faults.  But Teddy is just a brat.

 

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literature
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Re: The Writing Circle: Couples, Love, Family and Marriage

 

Hi dhaupt,

 

I agree with you here about Bernard.  Virginia was the only other person who knew about the pregnacy.  You can't count Joe knowing, after all Virginia did tell him that "Rachel has confided in me something wonderful".   There was no way that Bernard could have known, unless he detected that pregnacy glow in Rachel but Bernard isn't exactly tuned into other people's psyche.  I just thought it was in bad taste to make their announcement in Teddy's presence.  After Bernard made his announcement, would it have been so terrible for Dennis or Rachel to have made their announcement?  Two women, each having their first babies at the same time.  This is a very common thing, maybe just not between this particular stepmother and stepdaughter.  Bernard probably thought that Virginia would shower Aimee with some maternal TLC, Rachel would join in and even Teddy might have shown some tenderness for Bernard and Aimee.

Literature

 

 

dhaupt wrote:

I'm a little surprised that a lot of us are railing on Bernard here. Maybe someone can enlighten me. I thought (correct me if I'm wrong) that no one but Virginia knew about Rachel's pregnancy.

That Bernard and Virginia have an amicable divorce and relationship with each other and their respective current spouses. I don't remember reading that Aimee broke up Bernard's and Virginia's marriage.

Rachel invited everyone for Thanksgiving, so I don't see how Bernard upstaged something he didn't have a clue about.

Help me out here.