The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier – Readalong, Week 3

This is the final week of the readalong – thank you to Bree at All The Books I Can Read and Allen & Unwin for hosting and providing the books respectively. Today we’re discussing the final third of the book, pages 273 through to page 405.

Please note spoilers are ahead!

My thoughts on finishing this book were initially that I should have guessed the ending! There were so many hints sprinkled through the first and second sections that Elizabeth was a good candidate for cancer. Her mother (and aunt too I think) died relatively young from cancer, she had the abnormal Pap smear – all signs that she was likely to have an inheritable BRCA mutation. I am really kicking myself for not working it out!

I found it amazing that Elizabeth didn’t tell Dave about her diagnosis. Going through probable metastatic cancer with a poor prognosis is hell, let alone doing it alone. Why did she keep it to herself? It must have been an incredible burden. Was it Dave’s reaction (or lack of one) to the abnormal test results previously? Did Elizabeth think he’d disappear again? What about the likelihood of passing the mutation on to her children – shouldn’t they be allowed to know the truth?

That brings us on to Dave. He really thought that Elizabeth died on the way to a rendezvous with a lover. Is the truth more painful to bear – that Elizabeth refused to divulge the truth about her health? Does that show that Elizabeth didn’t trust Dave or that she loved him so much she was willing to save him pain? It’s an interesting conundrum. Which would you choose?

Kate’s determination to tell Dave the truth about what happened to Elizabeth seemed to drive a wedge between her and her husband, Chris. As it turned out that Dave was already discovering the truth without the aid of the journals, did she really need to? I think that she did. Kate had a firm sense that justice and loyalty to Elizabeth should be done, almost at any cost. The ending, where Kate comes home to Chris, gives us an inkling that everything may just turn out okay for them.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and analysis during the readalong. While I’m not a mother, I could emphasise with Kate about how scary the world was post 9/11 and I really felt that Nichole Bernier captured that sense of unease and wariness. The theme of women having ‘multiple lives’ also resonated strongly – women these days are expected to be mum, career superwoman, lover, fashion plate, tech savvy, chef extraordinaire…the list goes on. (I believe it is similar for men too!) We can’t be everything – Kate is forced to face the truth herself – she can’t be the Best Mum, Best Wife and Best Chef. All we can do is what we believe is best for ourselves and our loved ones.

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