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Rachel-K
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The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

Please use this thread to discuss the middle chapters, through (what would be) chapter 17, which ends during Nancy's wedding. Remember that you are very welcome to post your own thoughts and questions outside of these, so long as this thread is kept free of spoilers from later in the novel! Enjoy!

 

 

we've seen the homes of our characters: How to they reflect the characters themselves, their lifestyles, their personalities, their desires?
Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about?
Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do judge his actions?

 

We've seen the homes of most of our characters: How to they reflect the characters themselves, their lifestyles, their personalities, their desires?


Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about? Who did you have pegged from first introduction?

 

Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do you judge his actions?

 

 

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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

Paul surprised me. I thought after reading that he chose to live with his dad that he was independent and mature but he is confused and insecure. He wants to be accepted so badly that he compromises himself and seems to be on a path to self destruct. He is consumed with unhappiness. A look from his stepmom raises him up and doing something unethical to gain a friend seems to him a worthy effort. He has no substantive, healthy relationships.

 

Unfortunately, his stepmother and dad are the worst possible choices for hiim to be with since they are totally self-absorbed and don't seem to be concerned, in the least, about his well being, just about how his behavior reflects upon them. They are selfish and do not hear what he is trying to tell them. They do not listen. They are not open to helping him, just containing him and using him for their own purposes. They are all about image.

He is shut out at home and in school. He seems to be easily manipulated and seems like someone who could possible explode and go off the deep end, at some time. He has no idea how to appropriately handle his feelings an he has no role model, except perhaps, for Rachel. I have not read beyond the assignment, so I have no idea if she will play a greater role in his life, but perhaps she will save him from himself and the awful environment in which he lives.

 

Rachel-K wrote:
   
we've seen the homes of our characters: How to they reflect the characters themselves, their lifestyles, their personalities, their desires?
Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about?
Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do judge his actions?

 

We've seen the homes of most of our characters: How to they reflect the characters themselves, their lifestyles, their personalities, their desires?


Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about? Who did you have pegged from first introduction?

 

Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do you judge his actions?

 

 

 

 

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Amanda-Louise
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy") - my thoughts

NANCY

 

Reading how Nancy developed the idea for her story made me wonder what on earth is the point of the book?  Is there a story?  This chapter did nothing for me.  It just showed that something is going on with Gillian & Adam (aside from the liaison when they last met).

 

RACHEL

 

There are way too many disjointed characters in here for me!  I can appreciate the '6 degrees' thing, but it's a bit too contrived for me.

 

PAUL

 

I'm really having trouble finding the thread in the novel.  I suppose perhaps it's the Leopardi Circle, but there seems that there are so many frayed bits of the thread hanging around.

 

VIRGINIA

 

Having trouble (again) caring about this Thanksgiving dinner.  However, I did find the announcement rather humorous.  Coming from a large family with a bunch of various permutations of siblings, these sorts of things happen around our dinner table all the time. 

 

ADAM

 

I see that the characters are interacting on a personal level through the discussion of their work.  However, is there a way to reveal the same information without having to read somewhat enticing tidbits of books we'll never have the satisfaction of reading?

 

GILLIAN

 

She's a bit odd and sneaky, splitting Adam and Kim apart at the start of the party.  She called Adam self-absorbed in the last chapter, but I certainly find her to be.  Wanting Adam at the party so he would see her lavish house. 

 

BERNARD

 

The drama seems a bit unrealistic.  Aimee has been labeled as jealous, but she seems too level-headed to explode like that.  To just decide to leave him for things he's done in his past (and to leave while she's pregnant).  Just doesn't seem overly likely for her.   It also seemed a bit of an odd place to stop the first part.

 

 

NANCY

 

This seemed a long chapter just to tell us that Nancy's father didn't like her first husband, Aimee really did leave Bernard and to foreshadow a 'possible treachery'.

 

-----

 

As much as this section didn't do much for me, I do like the book.  I should say I'm enjoying the book.  It's relatively short so it's not too much of a time investment to see where this all goes.  I just wish there were less words to say things, and that there would be more fleshing out of characters so that I could get more emotionally involved with them. I just find that I come back to them and I can't really remember what I thought about them the last time I encountered them.

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thewanderingjew
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

[ Edited ]

 

I have disliked Gillian from the first and my feeliings have only intensified. She is a cruel manipulator of people. She is arrogant and rude. I can only imagine that her past was awful for what else could have made her such a monster? So many of the characters are shallow and self interested. Few are giving, genuinely caring individuals, on their surface.

Rachel, on the other hand, seems kind and empathtic. She seems genuinely interested in Paul.

Nancy seems to be less confident and less sophisticated than the others but that could be because she is new to the group and relatively unknown as an author. She is concerned with how she looks to them, whether she is dressed appropriately, whether they will appreciate her writing. These seem like shallow problems. She needs to like herself. l wonder if her marriage to Oates will last. She seems to need him for his stability. She keeps asking him if he will still love her.

Bernard seems very impulsive. His relationships fail because he seems to have no real idea about what is necessary to maintain them. He seems to be all surface and doesn't have much depth to his thought patterns. He couldn't even figure out why his family wasn't ecstatic when he announced his soon to be ex-wife's pregnancy.

Aimee is a spoiled child having a child and that made very sad. How could Bernard have chosen her over Virginia?

Virginia seems to have a head on her shoulders. She seems to have a more mature attitude and loves her life. She is not competing with everyone but seems happy with herself.

Adam is lost and Gillian is taking advantage of his weakness. I hope she does not destroy him. She seems to like to destroy people.

I am not sure who Chris is. The author's description of him through the other characters does not seem to fit with his behavior. He seems a bit nicer than I thought he would be, originally.

 

 

Rachel-K wrote:

Please use this thread to discuss the middle chapters, through (what would be) chapter 17, which ends during Nancy's wedding. Remember that you are very welcome to post your own thoughts and questions outside of these, so long as this thread is kept free of spoilers from later in the novel! Enjoy!

 

 

we've seen the homes of our characters: How to they reflect the characters themselves, their lifestyles, their personalities, their desires?
Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about?
Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do judge his actions?

 

We've seen the homes of most of our characters: How to they reflect the characters themselves, their lifestyles, their personalities, their desires?


Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about? Who did you have pegged from first introduction?

 

Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do you judge his actions?

 

 

 

 

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thewanderingjew
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

When, on p. 155,  Aimee runs away from Bernard and guns down that same gravel driveway that has come up before, I wondered again if it would have more significance in the book than it does right now. Maybe it will be the tie that binds all of the main characters together. It feels like it will  have more significance than just being a mere driveway. It plays too much of a part in the several character's lives.

 

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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

 

Right now, off the top of my head, I think the coldness or warmth of the character's personality appears reflected in their homes. The ones who are caring and open have color filled, less orderly homes. The ones who are more calculating have starker, simpler homes with a place for everything and everything in its place, that don't reflect too much of their personality. They hide their true feelings or perhaps are just more private.

 

 

Rachel-K wrote:

Please use this thread to discuss the middle chapters, through (what would be) chapter 17, which ends during Nancy's wedding. Remember that you are very welcome to post your own thoughts and questions outside of these, so long as this thread is kept free of spoilers from later in the novel! Enjoy!

 

 

we've seen the homes of our characters: How to they reflect the characters themselves, their lifestyles, their personalities, their desires?
Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about?
Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do judge his actions?

 

We've seen the homes of most of our characters: How to they reflect the characters themselves, their lifestyles, their personalities, their desires?


Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about? Who did you have pegged from first introduction?

 

Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do you judge his actions?

 

 

 

 

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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

Paul makes me feel so sad. I don't judge him at all. I just keep hoping that he finds himself before it is too late. He is such a lost soul. No one likes him probably because he doesn't like himself.

Paul is at the age of teenage cruelty. He has acne, he is in a new school with no friends, he lives with his new stepmom. He has no way into the society of his new environment. He has no way to make friends, no common ground to find with them. His "parents" don't have a common background either, which often brings children of friend's children together. He is simply an outsider and oddly enough, he chose to be when he chose to live with his dad. Maybe he thought he could avoid the humiliation he felt at his parent's divorce if he moved away. Maybe his mom was too solicitous.

I had the feeling that he went back to his old house to find a safer time, a time when he felt loved and accepted. His parents were together and he was secure. He had secret little places in which he felt he was in control and he was happy. He was retreating to his memories.

It puzzles me that he decided to live with his dad. His dad seems so distant from him and so involved with his stepmother, above all else. His dad seems downright selfish.

Paul is crying out for attention with his outrageous behavior. He is making poor judgments and Gillian knows this. She manipulates both Jerry and Paul and takes advantage of their weaknesses. Paul seems ill equpped to understand what she is doing even as she uses him to play each of the guests at her party off each other. She is cruel and she knows it.

How can Paul survive and grow healthier in that environment? I am really wondering what will happen to him as the story progresses. Will he be an accident waiting to happen?

 

 

 

Rachel-K wrote:
 

Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do you judge his actions?

 

 

 

 

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dhaupt
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

I think some of the homes reflect who the characters really are and some reflect what the character wants us to see.

 

I think that Nancy, Virginia, and Bernie are "real" people, they seem to be honest even if some of them are clueless ie Bernie. Bernie reminds me of my husband who is older than Bernie but they think alike, you know old fashioned, sexist etc.

 

I don't think I'm surprised by any of the characters they are pretty much living up to what I expected.

 

Paul is a confused young man caught between child and adult and makes some wrong decisions like all of us have in our past. I don't judge him, he made wrong choices and got caught. 

 

 

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chris227
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

I think I was most surprised with the circumstances surrounding Bernard's family.  We meet Rachel who is kind and sweet (much more similar to Virginia than Bernard).  I am happy for her when we find out she is expecting and wants to make her announcement with he entire family present even though her brother and Bernard do not speak.  I was crushed for her when Bernard announced that Aimee was pregnant.  Bernard did not even seem to consider that his announcement may have upset Rachel when he speaks with Virginia about Rachel telling him she is pregnant.  It just proves he is an arrogant fool!  And I still do not like Aimee.  Why is she so insecure?  Does the idea that Bernard had relationships with women prior to her really upset her so much or is it that she does not trust him and thinks perhaps there is still something between him and Gillian since they remain friends? 

 

Did anyone else think that perhaps it was AImee driving the car that was mentioned in the beginning of the novel.  I thought for sure that we were coming to that portion of the novel when Aimee stormed off after Gillian's party.  Especially because, as someone had mentioned previously, Gillian's drive is so much like the one described.  But then we went right into Nancy's wedding without another mention of Aimee except for the fact that she moved out of the house. 

 

These people are truly dysfunctional!

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Zia01
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

 


Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about? Who did you have pegged from first introduction? Nancy seems more real as a character to me. The rest haven't changed all that much in my opinion. Bernard's wife drives me crazy and even though Gillian intrigues me, she drives me crazy too.

 

Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do you judge his actions? I think Paul walked to a place where he remembers being the most happy. He's all torn and confused now so he wanted to go to a place that comforted him. I don't think he really fits in at all and he did something to try to.

 

 

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chris227
Posts: 111
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

I too fear for Paul's survival.  He is becoming self destrictive because he no longer cares about school and appears to be seeking attention anyway he can.  He has no friends.  He doesnt think he is good at anything.  He is alone and depressed.  I feel Rachel may be able to play a big part in his life and I hope she can reach him before it is too late.

 

Again this entire novel to me has an undercurrent of loneliness for almost every character.

thewanderingjew wrote:

Paul makes me feel so sad.... How can Paul survive and grow healthier in that environment? I am really wondering what will happen to him as the story progresses. Will he be an accident waiting to happen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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chris227
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

Gillian continues with her manipulative ways in this section.  I dislike her but at the same time find her entertaining.  She is obviously jealous of Kim when Adam arrives with her to Gillian's party.  She thinks several times of how young Kim appears.  I did enjoy that she had Paul show Kim around the house to prove just how yound Kim looks because everyone who saw them commented about Paul's new girlfriend.  Adam though appears to not recognize her manipulation and I am afraid he will be greatly hurt by her.

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aanjel
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

We've seen the homes of most of our characters: How to they reflect the characters themselves, their lifestyles, their personalities, their desires?

 

 


Who has most surprised you in these chapters? Are there characters you were entirely wrong about? Who did you have pegged from first introduction?

 

I think Adam, who I considered to be a wall flower has grown in these chapters and is developing a deep introspective side.  He sees something he would like to have, Gillian, and yet is not jumping in with both feet.  Waiting for her to call him again and I don't think she will as she is all about herself and what she can gain.  With Adam she has nothing to gain.  I don't think she wants to make Jerry jealous, just wants some secrets all for herself. 

 

I like Chris, he has shown to be a caring parent and I think his wife is mean and vindictive. I don't like parents you use the children as weapons and I think she is doing that. 

 

I still like Nancy and consider  her to be a main character.  I can't wait to see what unfolds for her next.  I like it that she and Oates are getting married and seem to be very happy and content. 

 

 

 

Why does Paul walk all the way to his old house after talking with Rachel at The Academy? How does Paul fit in at school? How do you judge his actions?

 

I think that Paul walked to his old house to find a connection with his past as a child and maybe some happier times.  I don't think he happy to be leaving with his dad and Gillian, but I don't think he wants to go home to his mother either.  I think he has more freedom with dad but is now sure that is what he really wants.  He is just a teenager and left to fend for himself.  Except when he can be put on parade. 

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maxcat
Posts: 4,011
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

For, Nancy and Oates, there's happiness there in their little lovenest. He asked her to marry him and she accepts only on the basis that he would not leave her. She thinks a lot about her father when he was teaching and how he was very patient with each student. She feels that everything she does must be right. As an art student and then teacher, she learned to draw with shape and line, whereas her father cared about how things worked and why. We learn in this chapter that Nancy's father did go to medical school and premed and became a doctor. We learn about the dead baby  and that it was life-changing for him. He was powerless to revive the baby and thought something powerful was preventing him from saving the baby. This would definitely clear up anything about the preface in the fact that Nancy was writing about her father.

Virginia and Joe have a nice house and she is happy with Joe. I think she wished that she never married Bernard and should have married Joe.  She holds the leopardi Circle meeting at her house. Chris, Virginia and Nancy were to read their chapters. Too much bantering going on and to me, it took up too many pages. Nancy read her preface as we all did in the beginning. Everyone loved it except Gillian thought something was missing and that was guilt. What did the doctor do that something went awry? There is more bantering and Adam leaves in a hurry.

Rachel and Denny are happy as she is expecting and were going to announce it at Thanksgiving dinner. Rachel also teaches at an Academy much like high school but private. She teaches in the English Dept. She finds out one day through her head of the dept and the schoolmaster that 2 students were involved in plagiarism. When asked who,Rachel finds out it is Paul Traub and Thayer Hemmington. She decides to talk to Paul and finds he did a paper for Thayer and purposely copied quotes off the Internet. Why? Because Thayer is a bully but his family has funded the Academy. Applause wanted to be his friend and to fit in.. Rachel believes him and lets him go as it's almost dark. Paul decides to miss the school bus and walk home. He passes his old home where he grew up when his original parents lived before they split up. Looking inside the house brought back memories. He remembers his original mother couldn't afford the house payments and sold the house and moved to Connecticut. Paul decides to walk back to the school and call his father to pick him up. He is picked up by a stranger and dropped at the school where he calls home and his father picks him up.

Homelife at Gillian's and jerry's is somewhat disjointed. I don't feel the love oozing from the house. Paul lives in a basement bedroom which is odd!! And I still think the same way about Gillian as said in the earlier chapters. She's a tease and a vixen. Jerry is nothing and puts up with her. By nothing I mean no personality at all is revealed.Paul's little caper was found out by the school calling Gillian. She and Jerry decide that Paul must rewrite the paper that night and if he is suspended or expelled, they will put him in public high school. Paul was eventually put on probation.

Rachel's Thanksgiving dinner was a fiasco as Bernard and Aimee announced that she was pregnant before Rachel could say anything. Teddy, bernard's son is shocked and wanted to leave. Aimee is embarrassed by the way his children were reacting.

Adam lives with his girl, Kim. It's a sort of crazy relationship since Adam slept with Gillian. He goes to his parents for Thanksgiving denying Kim's invitation to have dinner with her parents.

There is a lot of description of the land around his parent's place but too much wording here and not necessary to the gist of the book.

At the next Meeting of the Circle, everyone finds out about Nancy's impending wedding to Oates. It is being held at Nancy's as this is the last meeting until after Christmas. Chris and Adam read their chapters, which are critiqued and comments from Gillian about Adam's work were that Bill, the businessman in the book, seems self absorbed and Adam felt she was talking about him.

Gillian's Christmas party  was a fiasco also. She takes Adam for a tour of the house and in the bedroom, told him the when she goes to the cape again, he should come for dinner.  Also, Chris reveals that Bernard had many relationships in front of Aimee and he especially mentioned the one between him and Gillian. Bernard claims that was years ago and Aimee gets bent out of shape and leaves in the car. She eventually leaves him .

Back to Nancy where she is preparing for her wedding. It rains and they have the wedding inside by the fireplace. Nancy has some issues with her subconscience in that she is afraid once they marry, Oates will love her less and that he will leave her. But the day of the wedding, she didn't care and was happy to be Oates wife. She would be safe from any possible treachery.

Ithink what surprised me most was Aimee walking out on Bernard. I had figured he had a relationship with Gillian in the first chapters and this took me by surprise. Will we see her again? who knows!

 

 

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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maxcat
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Registered: ‎11-01-2006

Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

Twj, I don't think that is the driveway in question. The scene is only familiar as Aimee drives away down the driveway. I think the driveway in the preface was at Gillian's house in Truro.

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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deblynn
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

I definitely enjoyed the middle of this book more than the beginning.  I am actually past the middle...I have about 30 pages left.  I find there are parts when reading that I think are great, and then there are parts I skim through.  All in all, I am enjoying the book, although not sure I would feel that way if I actually paid for it!

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Bonnie_C
Posts: 168
Registered: ‎08-07-2009

Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

Homes of the characters:

 

Nancy's  house is like her;  well thought out.  Nancy is always conscience of what kind of impression she makes.  She likes to attend to the details.

 

Bernard has lost his house to Aimee.  He is a stranger in his own home.

 

Virginia's house is like a well worn shoe;  worn, but comfortable.  This reflects Virginia.  She is comfortable in her own skin.  She puts on no pretenses and tried to make everyone around her feel comfortable as well.

 

I thought Adam's house was interesting.  He apparently invested in 2 nice chairs but everything else seemed to be random, i.e. broken cups and the couch covered in a paisley spread.  This pretty much matched Adam;  mixed up.

 

Gillian's house tells a lot about her.  The Christmas tree is so perfect everyone thinks it's artificial.  She gives tours of the house as if it were the White House.  But the bedrooms for the kids smell like mold and mildew.  Just like Gillian.  Perfect on the outside but rotten further down.

 

 

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MSaff
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Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

  I found these middle chapters refreshing and in some ways disturbing.  We found that Bernard and Aimie were to have a child, and Bernard took all the festive spirits of his daughters pregnancy declaration at Thanksgiving away.  I would have wrung his neck for ruining the day.  I guess he got his come up ins in the end, his young wife Aimie left him when she found out about his affair with Gillian so long ago. 

  I was also surprised that Gillian hosted a Christmas party at her home.  It was some what of a surprise to me as she tends to be critical of everyone and it seems everything. 

   My favorite chapter in this section was the one of Nancy.  It was refreshing to read of a happy time with her wedding to Oates.  I hope that this couple can stay together and live happily ever after. 

  I do want to say however, I am enjoying this novel.  It is certainly a roller coaster ride of emotions and situations. 

Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
http://travelswithcarsandbooks.blogspot.com/
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

[ Edited ]

You are absolutely right about the location. Thanks. I think my mind was making more of a  connection between the gravel driveways and some kind of stressful situation between the characters. It seemed to be a recurring theme creating tension...someone running away at night, someone going down a gravel driveway...unless, to borrow a phrase, I am "misremembering"!  I just thought, maybe this driveway theme will connect some of them in some strange way.

maxcat wrote:

Twj, I don't think that is the driveway in question. The scene is only familiar as Aimee drives away down the driveway. I think the driveway in the preface was at Gillian's house in Truro.

 

 

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brndygrl98
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Registered: ‎05-03-2010

Re: The Writing Circle: Middle Chapters (Through "Nancy")

I'm going to fly off in my own direction here because I'm not crazy about the questions posed in this thread.

I'd like to start off by saying how much I have and continue to dislike Gillian. She is evil and manipulative. I'm also thinking that Adam is stupid for thinking he's in love with her considering he knows that she's married and she's had flings before, including with Bernard. His girlfriend seems like a really nice girl and he just dreams about Gillian. I found it interesting that instead of watching the children at the Christmas party, Gillian has Paul walk Kim around the house just to be alone with Adam.

Chris. I'm not too sure where we're going with him. I'm interested in his home life and with his kids, not so much on his writing.

Nancy seems a little too nice to be involved with a group that includes Gillian. I agree with an earlier post, what exactly is the plot of her novel if she's just basing it on her father's life verbatum? I'm sure that it has to do with character development and growth, but it seems kind of boring to me.

I like the relationship between Rachel and Paul. I think she's very motherly to him and he needs that, especially since he lives with Gillian! I do think that Bernard is an absolute jerk when it comes to his daughter and her feelings in contrast to Aimee, whom I also do not like.

I continue to like Virginia and her very motherly ways.

 

I'm interested to see how everything turns out here in the end and I hope that the novel ties up nicely and comes together well. I do think that we could have used fewer characters to keep up with, although it gets easier as the novel progresses.