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Rachel-K
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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The Writing Circle: First Impressions

What do you make of the early piece of a story we are given at the opening of the novel?

 

Whose story might this be, and what does it lead you think might happen with it?

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pen21
Posts: 3,648
Registered: ‎03-23-2009

Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

A tragic moment had occurred in this couples lives. They had lost a  baby. So I thought that the story could follow the couple and their future children as a possibility. Or that it might follow their other children in their lives. The other thought was it was more about the couple and how their lives had changed and what would happen to them.

My preference is that it intrigued me to find how these first few pages would blend into the story.

pen21

 

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aanjel
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

I thought the story was intriguing and tragic.  You do want to know what happens with the parents and how their lives were affected by the loss.  But I think the story is going to focus more on the doctor who I think is Nancy's father.  Just from the short piece I find myself wondering if he left the medical profession and went on to something else. 

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violetangel
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

Frankly I found the story that opened the book far more compelling than the actual book.  I'd rather read the story than the stuff about the people, none of whom are the least bit interesting to me.  They come across as rather stock.  The story that opens the book, however, felt more real to me.

‎"No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anyone but oneself." -Virginia Woolf
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Amanda-Louise
Posts: 156
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

This book had a very late start for me.  It turned out that I could not load it onto the ereader I was using. Thanks so much to Paul for his very patient back and forth discussing how I was going to read the book.  I tried on my husband's blackberry but that was just too small and the buttons too annoying.  I tried on my desktop, but, well, it's a desktop.  The final solution was my husband's laptop.  Not ideal but better than being left out!  Here are my thoughts on the first 88 pages:

 

PREFACE & PART ONE

My goodness, could this get any more depressing??  A woman supposedly about to be hit by a car (did anyone else get this impression?) and a dead baby.  Then Nancy's section begins with a mention of testicular cancer.  All three things I would rather not read about.  Do I carry on???

 

I do.  While reading, I rather feel as though I'm back in my university writing classes reading each other's creations.  Could it be because I'm reading from the computer or because there is an intentional sussing-out quality to the writing?  I do love all these hints the author is dropping.  Rather like peeking around a corner into a fabulously interesting room but being prohibited from going in.

 

BERNARD

Interesting.  How did he meet Aimee?  What is the attraction for each of  them?

 

VIRGINIA

All the relationship in this chapter seem so awkward yet complex and promising at the same time.  Not promising in a necessarily positive way.  Promising something of interest.

 

NANCY

I'm finding the jumping around amongst the characters isn't working well for me.  I know I've read about Nancy before but I can't remember what I learned about her.  Kind of frustrating that the characters are not staying with me once I leave their respective chapters.  I do like how Demas captures feelings, particularly conflicted ones, amazingly well.  Nancy's feeling about being sussed out by the group is a good example. She doesn't want to take an offered spot (potentially) but she knows she will.

 

PAUL

Interesting to have learned about Gillian through a third party.  I would only assume this means Paul will eventually figure prominently and am curious as to how.  Or perhaps it was the best way to showcase Gillian's character rather than taking the time to let us figure her out for ourselves.  Paul certainty puts her on the left side of neutral.  She's very distant, bordering on cold.

 

GILLIAN

"The idea of a view not seen, of something known about but denied was more interesting than an open view."  I so love this quote.  Much of the artwork in my house is by a wonderful local artist and it's all about what's just beyond the path, around the corner, just beyond the door.  Despite the beauty in front of you, you are craning your neck hoping for just a glimpse more.  I'm rather feeling this is the theme of the novel as a whole? 

Gillian's obsession with the mouse was curious.  Was she more afraid of death than the mouse?  She's so condescending of people.  She's trained her husband, she tests Adam's intelligence.  Then her knight in shining armour arrives (mouse undertaker) and she becomes a sniviling child and then a slutty teenager.  The whole hair thing was really odd and made me picture her as an old lady.  Just wrong.

 

ADAM

He left the dinner dishes hoping the mess would make Gillian think of him.  I think coming back to a tidy kitchen would make me think of someone more favourably.  He comes across as a bit pathetic.

 

NANCY

What's with the dying animals?  I wont see a movie or read a book if one of the main characters is an animal who does not survive.  At least Demas doesn't attach us to the animals first!

 

CHRIS

This book gets less uplifting by the chapter!  I say that while enjoying it, mind you.  However in the previous chapter the horse dies, then a father is arrested in front of his children!  Where do we go from here??

 

 

 

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krb2g
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Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

I think it was doing its work, because my gut reaction was to want more of both of the stories that preface the main action (it was a little like reading Italo Calvino's

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, a very good book in its own right). The book started with the pick-up truck scene (which ends on an ominous cliff-hanger) and I was ready to hear more about that when it switched to the young doctor and the couple. Again, I was getting into that story and then we switched into a story that was obviously about the writers' group (and also, different in tone from the two prologues--the prologues set up scenes, images, but the main story is much more realistic [for example, characters get names]). I suppose it's a bit of a give-away that we won't be reading much more about the couple when we hear that they get to have two kids later on--an ending for them.

 

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See_Jane_Read
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Registered: ‎05-03-2010
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

As the story progressed, I definitely felt that the first section was about Nancy's father.  Are we reading her manuscript perhaps?  Nancy tells Chris that her father was a school teacher, but we already know that he used to be a doctor from where she mused about what her father would think of her writing for a medical journal while not being a doctor herself.  The doctor in the first section was contemplating leaving his profession, so it makes sense to me that this is Nancy's father. 

 

Did anyone pick up on the comment about headlights?  In the very first section, we are led to believe that a woman is about to be hit by a car that doesn't have it's headlights on, then in the second section when the doctor leaves the hospital it says "He put on his headlights, something he had neglected to do before, and pulled into the road that would take him home."  So I find myself wondering, was the couple in the preface the couple that lost the baby?  Did the doctor hit the woman because he didn't have his headlights on and cause her to lose her baby?  Are these two stories related at all?  I like that we don't know the answers to these questions because it intrigues me to continue reading.

 

One other thing that stood out to me was Gillian's little fling with Adam.  It felt a little out of character for Gillian (not that she wouldn't be immoral, she appears actually to be a manipulative and selfish person, certainly capable of an affair), but what surprised me was that she opened up her very private cottage, a place where she doesn't even want her husband to CALL her let alone stay with her.  It seems like she is obsessive about guarding her private time at the cottage, but then Adam walks in and she doesn't just open her home to him, but her legs too!  What's up with that?!

 

Anyway, those are some of my initial impressions from the book.  I agree with others who have said that they don't find themselves really caring about the characters yet, I'm sure as time goes on I will (I think I was most moved by Chris's last chapter, he certainly seems like a good father), but what keeps me reading now is wanting answers to all these questions (who is the couple in the beginning?  Are we reading Nancy's story about her father?  What's with Gillian and the mouse, there must be something behind that, right?)

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Sunltcloud
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

A preface always intrigues me; it aims to let me know that, eventually, the puzzle pieces will fall into place. When two episodes lead the way into a novel I get confused.

 

Whom am I following? Is it the man rushing toward the woman who is about to be run over by a pickup truck? Is it the young doctor who looks up to the hospital window where a baby has just died? Two tragedies looking for mercy? Two catastrophes being traced back or forward by the author? Is there a connection between the two? Is it important to remember that the couple in the hospital had two children later on? Is the young doctor the same man as the man who stood in the doorway in the preface? Or are there two stories unfolding? Which two members of the Leopardi Circle could they be? If Leopardi himself is the omen of pessimism, are the two episodes omens of tragedies to come?

 

All I am allowed to know by page 88 is that the young doctor must be Nancy’s father. I am still intrigued but almost wish I didn’t have two snippets guiding me through the pages. But then, I like for things to be organized, orderly. At this point I can only trust the author to lead me expertly through the lives before me. “Puzzle me purple,” I say.

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Kioteegirl
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Registered: ‎05-04-2010
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

As someone else mentioned, I was taken a bit more with the pre-story than the actual story.  I finished the book this morning, and until I took a glimpse at this thread, had forgotten about the car without the headlights, almost hitting someone.   Not wanting to spoil things, just keep this detail in mind.  I had forgotten it, and it plays into the ending. 

 

When I looked at the table of contents, I knew I'd be reading a story that jumps from character to character.  I didn't have a problem with this, since I've read other authors that do this.  Sometimes, when I got to a new chapter, I was very excited that the next person in play picked right up from the last character.  That is helpful when writing from this standpoint (at least to me it is) since sometimes story lines and characters get so complicated you end up getting lost.  I didn't have that problem with this novel.

 

Did I know where the early piece of story was going to go?  Pretty much.  Gillian is a ruthless, narcissistic woman.  It's pretty obvious earlier on and as the story unravels, more events foreshadow the Big Event that eventually happens.  I guess I saw it coming and wasn't surprised.  Just curious how the others would react.

 

Lynette

 

 

 

 

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DeviousVixen
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

I too, believe that the preface and the snippet of story about the doctor are related.  I believe that the doctor in the story is Nancy's father and that the story will unfold to where he is the main focus.  I also got the connection between the woman who was about to be hit by the car without the headlights and the doctor forgetting to turn his headlights on.  I believe that the doctor is driving the car that is about to hit the woman.  Nancy had described how she wouldn't write this story while her father was alive because it would be too embarrassing for both of them.  It made me feel like he has a large secret, perhaps hitting someone with a car and ruining a couple's lives.

 

Anyway, I agree with some others who had written that the preface and story opening in the beginning are far more interesting than the story that is unfolding within the Leopardi Circle.

"Everything in the Universe denies nothing; to suggest an ending is the one absurdity."--The Man in Black (The Gunslinger-Dark Tower Series by Stephen King)
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maxcat
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

I was intrigued by the preface and who the doctor was and the couple who had the baby. But it is discussed further than Chapter 8.

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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Zia01
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

What do you make of the early piece of a story we are given at the opening of the novel?

 

Whose story might this be, and what does it lead you think might happen with it?

 

Honestly I'm just not sure yet. I am very curious to figure out this story comes to play out within the book.

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Sunltcloud
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

DeviousVixen,

 

Great point about the headlights not being turned on. I missed that. That would make sense, two tragedies in the father's past.

 

DeviousVixen wrote:

I too, believe that the preface and the snippet of story about the doctor are related.  I believe that the doctor in the story is Nancy's father and that the story will unfold to where he is the main focus.  I also got the connection between the woman who was about to be hit by the car without the headlights and the doctor forgetting to turn his headlights on.  I believe that the doctor is driving the car that is about to hit the woman.  Nancy had described how she wouldn't write this story while her father was alive because it would be too embarrassing for both of them.  It made me feel like he has a large secret, perhaps hitting someone with a car and ruining a couple's lives.

 

Anyway, I agree with some others who had written that the preface and story opening in the beginning are far more interesting than the story that is unfolding within the Leopardi Circle.

 

 

Wordsmith
literature
Posts: 499
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

The Preface begins "The house is set on a hillside, with a long driveway that leads up to it and disappears around the back...you would barely make out the truck as it comes around the side of the house, as it heads down the driveway.  A figure cuts across the sloping front lawn and starts down the driveway, towards the road.  It's probably a woman (?), but she's dressed in black, and almost invisible in the dark."

 

Then we jump to page 55 / Gillian "The Dirt road that led to Gillian's house ran perilously between a steep hillside and the edge of the marsh.  It was so narrow and so tortuous and so desolate that no one who didn't know for sure would believe that there was a house at the end of it.  Gillian could have driven it blindfolded.  She knew the curves..." 

 

At this point, all we can do is speculate what the author has in mind and it won't be the obvious.  Could Paul have gone up to the house to get away from everything, been asleep in one of the rooms, Gillian gone up to the house with a friend or a friend met her there unbeknown to her that Paul was there and then Paul witnessed something?  Up to the end of the chapter on Chris, we know that Paul doesn't drive.  Or, could Jerry have planned to surprise Gillian at the house (against Gillian's wishes) and Gillian came up with or had someone meet her there and it was Jerry who raced down the driveway in the truck and her lover at the front door or vice versa?

 

 

As far as the couple that lost their baby and went on to have two sons, the only characters so far with two sons are Joe and Chris, but Chris's boys are too young.  Joe grew up in NYC and could have Joe and his first wife been in the hospital where Nancy's father was practicing?

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beckalou
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Registered: ‎05-04-2010
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

Did anyone pick up on the comment about headlights?  In the very first section, we are led to believe that a woman is about to be hit by a car that doesn't have it's headlights on, then in the second section when the doctor leaves the hospital it says "He put on his headlights, something he had neglected to do before, and pulled into the road that would take him home."  So I find myself wondering, was the couple in the preface the couple that lost the baby?  Did the doctor hit the woman because he didn't have his headlights on and cause her to lose her baby?  Are these two stories related at all?  I like that we don't know the answers to these questions because it intrigues me to continue reading.

 

I had a really hard time getting thru the first part of this book and the beginning for me was the worst part. I guess I didn't pay that much attention to this part but I think I will go back and read the preface of the book again.

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thewanderingjew
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

[ Edited ]

 

Rachel-K wrote:

What do you make of the early piece of a story we are given at the opening of the novel?

 

Nancy's book is about the secrets in her life. I believe that scene is from her past and is part of her book.

 

Whose story might this be, and what does it lead you think might happen with it?

 

I think it is about a part of her dad's life that had been hidden from her all these years. She is using the  revelations about her past to create her novel and I have this feeling that some secret in her past will be connected to someone in the writing circle.


 


 

 

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cynthiaoh
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎05-03-2010

Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

My first impression of the book is very different from where I am at now in the book.  I was pulled in at first, but now am having a bit of a hard time connecting to most of the characters.  There are only 2 I have grown to "care" about.  It is interesting to see where the book may lead (as I am trying not to read too far ahead of the discussion).

 

My hope is that we will soon uncover more to learn how all of this background on each character ties into the preface.

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darthlaurie
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎04-02-2010

Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

I think the preface was inifnitely more interesting than most of the rest of the book. I think that the different perspectives was a great idea, but I think that it would've been a stronger book if the perspectives were equally balanced. Most of the characters simply didn't become vivid or sympathetic enough for me. I really wanted to enjoy the book, but I kept feeling like I was waiting for something to happen. Now once that something DID happen, I have to admit that I thought it was brilliant...it really dives into that fear every writer has. I just felt like there was a lot of superfluous stuff in the tale that simply belonged in a different story.
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momofprecious1
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Registered: ‎01-06-2010
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Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

The opening piece about the couple losing their baby was really interesting to me because having experienced something similiar made me want to know what happened even more. It was a bit hard for me to read because it reminded me of my situation. I thought that the doctor was going to be part of the book club & that the author would continue to write about the doctor.

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RebaJane
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎05-03-2010

Re: The Writing Circle: First Impressions

The preface made me want to read more.  The Nancy chapter made me want to read more.  However, the more chapters I read of the different characters, the more disconnected I felt from the story.  The story of the young doctor and the couple who have just lost their baby snagged me immediately but I didn't stay that enthralled through the next 88 pages.