Back again for Week 2 of this readalong and I have a confession to make – I’ve already skipped ahead and finished the book. The part we’re discussing today (pages 137 through to 272) is where the book became really interesting for me.
Why did it become interesting? For starters, I think Kate really came into her own as a character and stopped being the vehicle for Elizabeth’s journals. I think the symbolism of Kate smashing the lock of the trunk containing the journals helped to delineate her from Elizabeth further. By smashing the lock, she’s also destroying the part of her life that Elizabeth represented – the happy stay at home mums.
Motherhood also plays a big role in this section. While Kate has previously felt that Elizabeth’s life revolved around her children and that her only role was to be a mother, we now know that to be false. Elizabeth really enjoyed her work in graphic design and was somewhat resentful at having to give it up (as well as college to care for her dying mother). Elizabeth has Kate questioning whether she wants to either have another child or to return to her work as a chef. It’s not a decision that can be made easily – not for Kate or anyone.
I really enjoyed learning about how Elizabeth and Dave met – the grieving widower we first met appears quite different to the aspiring golf champion. The juxtaposition shows just how much grief can change us, in addition to giving up something you love for someone you love.
Kate’s paranoia (consciousness?) about terror attacks and diseases also starts to become more prominent. Her insistence on the children washing and showering after touching the rabbits is overkill, and even Chris, her husband notices. Is it just the jumpiness of a post 9/11 world where everyone was looking at backpacks suspiciously or is there something more personal going on? 9/11 was probably the first event in Kate’s life where she would have felt directly threatened by events beyond her control. As a mother, she naturally feels protective towards her children, but where do you draw the line? What is worth worrying about and what isn’t? I think Kate’s recurrent thoughts about her family being threatened show just how protective she is as a mother, as well as capturing the essence of those times really well.
There were some great light moments in this section too – loved how Elizabeth called 911 when she dropped the thermometer! This also shows Elizabeth’s fierce love for her child, even though she doubts it sometimes. Also her love for Dave, even though she feels bitterly the way he disappeared before they were married. Was her trip to Joshua Tree payback for that?
See you again next Wednesday for the final third! In the meantime, visit All The Books I Can Read for the main .discussion