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Stephanie
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End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View

[ Edited ]
O’Farrell creates distinct voices for the three main characters and shifts between their points of view to tell the story. Why do you think the author made this choice? What do the characteristics of these different voices reveal about Iris, Esme, and Kitty? How does this technique affect your reading experience?

This thread is suitable for those who have finished the novel. Spoilers for the ending are to be expected.

Message Edited by Stephanie on 10-28-2007 07:32 PM
Stephanie
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Cahill42
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View



Stephanie wrote:
O’Farrell creates distinct voices for the three main characters and shifts between their points of view to tell the story. Why do you think the author made this choice? What do the characteristics of these different voices reveal about Iris, Esme, and Kitty? How does this technique affect your reading experience?

This thread is suitable for those who have finished the novel. Spoilers for the ending are to be expected.

Message Edited by Stephanie on 10-28-2007 07:32 PM




I personally loved the differing POV. I thought that Kitty's was the most original and revealed the most about her character. The rambling thoughts that tumbled into each other were, I thought, brilliant, and almost more revealing than the other two. Esme's POV was haunting, especially as she was recalling the past. The way she remembered her committment, to give a cliche, gave me chills. I found Iris's a kind of connective tissue between Esme and Kitty. She brought all POVs together and made it a cohesive whole.
Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.---J.K. Rowling

I'm a leaf on the wind, watch me soar.---Wash
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IBIS
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View

What I found intriguing was the combination of not just 3 shifting point of views, but also interwoven, like three strands braided together, the different time frames within each person's point of view.

It was a dynamic of 3 people's memories, both very far in the past and the more recent past, interacting and mirroring each other within the present time.

Although Iris is the most firmly established in the present, there were shifts to her childhood when she first meets Alex. Yet, we see glimpses of her as "the little girl" in Kitty's memories, like shifting images in refracted halls of mirrors.

Esme is situated in the larger time frame... in the very distant past, in India, and the trauma of her little brother's death. Then we toggle back and forth -- her time in Edinburgh with her grandparents, her teenage years at school, the Jamie episodes, her incarceration, the birth of her Robert, and the present period when she meets Iris in the contemporary present.

Kitty is a rollercoaster ride of memory snippets ... the Alzheimer's staccato, machine-gun effect of her memories is well done. It was frustrating at times when I lost sense of the chronology, or the plot sequences, but eventually, like a clever jigsaw puzzle, the pieces fell into place.

This was a very dynamic, hyper-kinetic style of writing. Almost cinematic in its presentation. Very well done.
IBIS

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Stephanie
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View

I think I learned more about Kitty than about Esme or Iris- Kitty's "tell" is an obvious one though, which made it a simple exercise. Esme and Iris are much more complex.

What wasn't verbalized and what I can only assume Kitty thought when she caught Iris and Alex together, was that Iris was, indeed, truly Esme's. Definitely not Kitty's "type" with that sort of behavior. If Kitty had only known the truth about James, she might have been less judgemental and self-serving.
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IBIS
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View

Stephanie

I must have missed something... what was it about James that would have made Kitty less judgemental?

IBIS
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Stephanie
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View

[ Edited ]
IBIS,

I think I worded that poorly- Kitty judged Esme because she thought that Esme and James had consensual relations. They did not- and I think if Kitty knew the true circumstances of the baby's conception, her attitude toward Esme might have been quite a bit different.

Message Edited by Stephanie on 11-08-2007 07:53 PM
Stephanie
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IBIS
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View

Stephanie

Okay, I understand what you meant. But didn't everyone know that James had raped Esme?
I thought the father and mother knew that. What else would explain Esme screaming like that afterwards?

Ugh, those parents!
IBIS

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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View



IBIS wrote:
Stephanie

Okay, I understand what you meant. But didn't everyone know that James had raped Esme?
I thought the father and mother knew that. What else would explain Esme screaming like that afterwards?

Ugh, those parents!




I think that if Esme's parents didn't know, they at least highly suspected that James had raped Esme, although I doubt that they would have blamed James. In fact, they didn't. Esme beared the brunt, all, actually, of the responsibility/burden of what happened at the party. I agree though, those parents! And I'm using that in the loosest definition of the word. :smileyhappy:
Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.---J.K. Rowling

I'm a leaf on the wind, watch me soar.---Wash
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Stephanie
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View



IBIS wrote:
Stephanie

Okay, I understand what you meant. But didn't everyone know that James had raped Esme?
I thought the father and mother knew that. What else would explain Esme screaming like that afterwards?

Ugh, those parents!




Kitty didn't even know how to have sex! I don't think she had any idea that Esme had been raped- she probably didn't even know what it was. Remember she was thinking, "Why did James choose her? Why not me?" I don't think she would have wished to be raped.

As for Esme's parents... they put Esme aside because her chances for a "good marriage" were shot- and in putting her away, they made sure that Kitty still had a chance. Little did they know what a dud she'd married.

The father DID know about the baby, and gave his blessing to Kitty for that evil charade. I'm not sure what the mother knew - except I always felt she might have wished Esme, the problem child, had died instead of Hugo.
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agent_lemonade
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View

Do you think that James' mother somehow knew? She found Esme right after it happened, and gave her a ride home. James was then sent off to England and I can't think of any other explanation for sending him away.
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View



Stephanie wrote:
What wasn't verbalized and what I can only assume Kitty thought when she caught Iris and Alex together, was that Iris was, indeed, truly Esme's. Definitely not Kitty's "type" with that sort of behavior.



I hadn't read that into Kitty's thoughts upon discovering them. Makes sense now...I understand was she was so upset.
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Fozzie
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View



Stephanie wrote:
O’Farrell creates distinct voices for the three main characters and shifts between their points of view to tell the story. Why do you think the author made this choice? What do the characteristics of these different voices reveal about Iris, Esme, and Kitty? How does this technique affect your reading experience?





I loved the method used to tell this story! Using the three alternating voices added mystery and intrigue to the novel. I liked having to piece together all the bits in order to come to an understanding of what had occurred. Super writing!
Laura

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Stephanie
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View



agent_lemonade wrote:
Do you think that James' mother somehow knew? She found Esme right after it happened, and gave her a ride home. James was then sent off to England and I can't think of any other explanation for sending him away.




I was sure she knew- and wanted nothing more than to protect her darling son, I'm sure. That Esme had just been brutalized certainly didn't seem to bother her in the least. Horrible, the way women treat each other at times, isn't it?
Stephanie
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IBIS
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Re: End of Book Discussion: Shifting Point of View

I agree that James' mother knew exactly what her darling boy had been up to.

I was very gratified to learn that their beautiful home was neglected and in disrepair when Iris drives Esme by it on their way to Iris' place. It would have been insult upon injury if that family had thrived.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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