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Rachel-K
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East of the Sun: Early Chapters, 1 - 20

Please use this thread to begin posting your thoughts and questions about East of the Sun through chapter 20. The following are a few questions you might start with:

 

 

What are the early impressions you get of love relationships in the novel?

 

Do you immediately have a favorite character? If so, who is it and why?

 

What is your impression of being young in the late 1920s from the picture we get here?

 

In what ways are the people in this young group blind to what they are getting themselves into?

 

How would you describe Viva, Rose, Tor, and Guy?

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eadieburke
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Re: East of the Sun: Early Chapters, 1 - 20

 

What are the early impressions you get of love relationships in the novel?

 

It seems to me that in the 1920's a love relationship was a "hit or miss" experience. In East of the Sun, you have Rose who is traveling back to India to marry a cavalry officer she has only met a handful of times. She hardly can even remember what he looks like but she is hell bent on marrying him. It seems a lot of women in the 1920's were just afraid of never marrying and so just settled on the first guy they met and lived with the consequences of an unhappy marriage for the rest of their lives.

 

Do you immediately have a favorite character? If so, who is it and why?

 

My favorite character is Viva. All throughout the novel, she overcame a lot of difficult experiences and seemed to grow from each one right before the readers eyes. She managed to acquire the courage needed to pull through a lot of situations that looked very doomed.

 

What is your impression of being young in the late 1920s from the picture we get here?

 

Being young in the 1920's seemed a bit overwhelming to me. I really felt sorry for Rose and her fear of marrying someone she hardly knew. I could also feel for Tor because of her weight problem she seemed desperate for a relationship and seemed to settle for just anyone. Viva seemed so lonesome with her parents gone at such an early age. She needed a lot of inner strength to just make it day by day.

 

In what ways are the people in this young group blind to what they are getting themselves into?

 

The three young women in the story are really blinded by the 1920's society that never discussed sexuality in the open. Here is Rose who has no clue about how to use her birth control device and has no one to turn to because her friends are just as clueless. Tor has very low self-esteem and goes from one seedy character to the next. Poor Viva has no family to help her and doesn't have an idea about the responsibility of being in charge of other young people on this trip to India. Guy's parents continue to blame Viva for their son's bad behavior and he is never held responsible for himself.

 

 

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

1-20 Tor And Rose

You know, in a way, Rose and Tor remind me of so many girlfriend relationships growing up. One is the pretty one, everyone adores and one is the one who pretty much just has to tag along and often tries too hard but never gets a boyfriend. I remember a lot of these opposites relationships in high school and always wondered if the good looking girls picked the average or not so good looking girl as her best friend, so as to not have competition and because they were usually better listeners who didn't talk. But with Rose, I really feel she loves Tor and its genuine. I hope that remains true.

 

 

They are so different in how they see their families too, or how their families are. Tor has a mother from hell, who knows all the ways to hurt her feelings or make her feel "less than adequate", just a fat girl who can't do things and Tor really resents her for it. I don't blame her for wanting to get away. On the other hand, Rose has a loving family and home and its very hard for her to even think of leaving them. What a huge difference.

 

You know, on the back of the book, it says Tor is hellbent on losing her virginity on the trip before finding a husband. I don't see her that way on this trip. She just seems to really want to be loved by some man. This is not the same as just wanting to get laid. I really thought from the cover, that this Victoria was really going to be a real wild child looking for a good time. Well maybe she is a little wilder in some ways but I really don't see that she is out to lose her virginity as almost a quest. Good grief, there is not a female in the world who can't get laid if that's what she wants, she just has to be willing to give it to whoever wants it. I think she just wants to get away from home and stay away, I would want away from her mother too.

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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vivico1
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1-20 Viva and William

Viva is an interesting character. She seems to be hiding a lot. I wonder what or why? And why is she so secretive about how her family died? I like that she is taking her life into her own hands and going to do something for herself. It seems she may not have always been that way. She had to depend on William when she was young and got back to England and from what I am reading here, all that did was give him a way into her bed. She is really taking a chance to go as a chaperone at this age with these three not much younger, to get to India but she seems driven, considering she has her own place now, she has a job and a boss she likes and is pursuing her writing career. I have a feeling something from her past is pursuing her and pushing her to go on this trip. I don't know if William really cares or just doesn't want to lose his "ward" and mistress. He seems like a louse to me for that.

 

I am getting a feeling this book is going to have a lot to do with how women were treated in this time period in these places, and how they perceived themselves too. The men may secondary in a way to telling that story of these women/girls. Anyone else feel the same way?

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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vivico1
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Re: 1-20 Guy

Guy is something isn't he? That sounds weird to say since that is my little brother's name lol. I am not sure what to make of him yet. It is sad that when Viva picks him up, there is no one saying goodbye to him, no one who seems to worry or care. They all seem ready to dump him on her. Is he really that bad, or just bad because of home life. We know in these chapters he has been in trouble for stealing, why is he stealing, need or just because he wants to? And he fights and drinks and oh boy does he keep himself "busy" at nights lol. Oh how that cracked me up when Tor was so worried about his "moaning" at night that she tells Rose about it and says it like she hears him do it! Then they ask Viva about it? LOL, oh my these girls are too young and naive to be going to another country, especially India at this time.

 

Hey, why is Guy's parents in India? Anyone catch that yet? If so but it is past chapter 20, don't say here, it might involve a spoiler, just wondering.

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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vivico1
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Betty Davis lives!

Hey you guys, look at the top of page 59, there is a line there that when I first read it, I thought oh wow that sounds like a Bette Davis line lol. Did you notice it? Not that it is, but it made me think of her lol.

"Do you know." his mother said, her face all contorted with rage, "all my life, I've never really understood men and never really liked them. Now I do understand them and I hate them."

 

LOL that would be a great movie line hehe.

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Thayer
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Re: Betty Davis lives!

I don't think that "love" was much a priority of the time. For women then, it was about being "taken care of."

 

Tor seems to define her worth, due greatly to her mother's influence, in terms of a relationship (or lack thereof) with a man.

 

Rose is doing, through her marriage, what is expected of her.

 

Viva seems much more complex. There is much more to her character that I have yet to discover at this point in my reading.

 

I love how these women come from very different family dynamics, but form such a bond of friendship.

~~Dawn
Live the life you love ~ Love the life you live.
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Julia_Gregson
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Re: 1-20 Tor And Rose

I do think that Rose really did love Tor, and not just have her as a useful foil for her beauty.

I can't help though but feel sorry for Rose when she has to back up some of 'Tor's rather over blown accounts of her love life.

 

Julia 

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Julia_Gregson
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Re: 1-20 Viva and William

I think Viva was very unlucky at an emotionally unstable time to hook up with William who was cold and manipulative and did an effective job of undermining her very precarious self confidence. 
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Julia_Gregson
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Re: Betty Davis lives!

Thanks for picking up on that line- I loved it too.

 

Julia 

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Julia_Gregson
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Re: Betty Davis lives!

You're right I think, people tended to have a more practical approach to marriage, particularly when, for women, the alternative was  often staying at home with Mummy and Daddy.

 

Julia 

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CathyB
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Re: 1-20 Viva and William

I didn't like William - he seemed to be self-centered and didn't really care for Viva. He was kind of belittling where her opinions or wants were concerned.

 

I also agree that Rose really liked Tor. I didn't feel sorry for Rose when she had to back up Tor's stories of romance - I felt sorry for Tor that she felt the need to embellish them. Rose was a supportive friend.

 

Tor was desperate for love - she thought she needed it.

 

 

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CathyB
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Re: 1-20 Viva and William

To date, my favorite character would be VIva. Although not as mature as she would like to think she is, I fiund her to be genuine and have a brain.

 

Tor seems to be just the party girl interested in fun and finding a man.

 

Rose appears to be a scared little girl - thrust into the unknown with no one to help her.

 

My impression of being young in the 1920's is that if you have money, it is the party scene - fun, fun, fun. Nothing is taken too seriously.

 

 

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Julia_Gregson
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Re: 1-20 Viva and William

I enjoyed the irony of 'Tor actually bagging such a wonderful man.  He sort of arrived in the book unannounced, and `I would have fallen for him too.

 

Julia 

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Julia_Gregson
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Re: 1-20 Viva and William

I think the attitude of live fast die young, was partly a reaction to the catastrophe of World War One.

Julia 

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CathyB
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Re: 1-20 Viva and William


Julia_Gregson wrote:

I enjoyed the irony of 'Tor actually bagging such a wonderful man.  He sort of arrived in the book unannounced, and `I would have fallen for him too.

 

Julia 


Yes, I liked this too. Everyone kept saying she was just trying too hard and when she finally stopped, she got the best thing!

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CathyB
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Re: 1-20 Viva and William


Julia_Gregson wrote:

I think the attitude of live fast die young, was partly a reaction to the catastrophe of World War One.

Julia 


I see that as a contribution but only for the rich. 

 

I don't believe that Viva - a working woman - had the same party-go-lucky attitude. She had to struggle to earn the smallest amount just for the necessities.

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Julia_Gregson
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Re: 1-20 Viva and William

I agree with this Cathy, and there is a line in the book that separates Viva  from the girls for whom a monthly allowance, however small, is as natural as breathing.

 

Julia 

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Fozzie
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Re: East of the Sun: Early Chapters, 1 - 20

Here are some of my miscellaneous thoughts on the first 20 chapters, before reading the comments by others:

 

I found myself puzzled by the fact that Paul reacted so strongly and so negatively to Tor's kiss (pgs. 69-71).  The only explanation I have been able to come up with is that he is gay.

 

I was struck by Jack's thought that None of us is free to choose (pg. 109).  It makes me wonder how free to choose Tor, Rose, Jack, Frank, Guy, and Viva will be?  My guess is not as free to choose as they would hope.

 

I think Frank is experiencing guilt over being relieved at his brother's death, as expressed on page 139.  I am curious to see if Frank continues in the medical profession, one he seemingly chose, but did he do so out of guilt?  That brings me back to the None of us is free to choose quote.

 

I couldn't help but be reminded of Elaine from the TV show Seinfeld when I read about Rose trying to use the contraceptive sponge that the doctor gave her (pg. 152).  I hope this comment isn't lost on you, Julia.  I don't know if the TV show Seinfeld was shown in the UK.

 

I noticed another clever expression on page 169 --- doorknob secrets.  Did you make this expression up too, Julia?

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: East of the Sun: Early Chapters, 1 - 20

 

What are the early impressions you get of love relationships in the novel?

 

There doesn't seem to be one healthy love relationship in the novel, except the friendship love between Tor and Rose.

 

Do you immediately have a favorite character? If so, who is it and why?

 

I do not have a favorite character.  Certainly Tor, Rose, and Viva are at the forefront, but I couldn't pick just one.

 

What is your impression of being young in the late 1920s from the picture we get here?

 

The young people are naive and no one tells them anything.  There don't seem to be too many sources of information either.  However, it is all relative compared to today, when almost too much information is readily available via the internet.  I get information overload!

 

How would you describe Guy?

 

I think I am most worried about Guy.  We seem to know the least about him and I am worried what will become of him in India.

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.