Hello my book-loving friends!
Before we get started, let me say that we're worried about all our friends on the East Coast! Please batten down the hatches and stay safe! Hurricane Sandy looks as though she will be particularly wicked. If I could I'd send you all hot tea and warm blankets and a big stack of books to get you through. And a few flashlights with extra batteries of course!
I've been thinking a lot about these last five chapters. You know a book has gotten under your skin (in a good way!) when it slips into your thoughts right before you fall asleep, or when you're stuck in traffic, or when dicing onions for dinner. Blackberry Winter is that sort of book for me. And I sort of wish I could sit down with Sarah and ask her *why* she put poor Vera Ray through all this heartache. It's crazy to think I'm so defensive of a person who doesn't exist.
1. Vera: She is willing to do anything to find her son. Any. Thing. And though taking charity from Lon is a particularly heartbreaking form of sacrifice, it got me thinking how universal that instinct is. Though the specifics vary from mother to mother we are all faced with doing things we don't want to do help our children. Several years ago my oldest son needed two crowns on his baby teeth thanks to a hidden cavity. The very thought of spending a huge amount of money to save baby teeth felt ridiculous. But as we were weighing our options (crown the teeth or pull them) I got a phone call with an offer to give a key note speech in another city. And the speaking fee was the exact cost of the crowns. So of course I accepted the offer! Despite the fact that public speaking isn't my greatest strength, I did it because my child needed something. Have you ever faced a time when being a good mother required you to step far out of your comfort zone? Can you relate to the impossible choices that Vera faces?
2. Claire: (I LOVE the cameo appearance from the characters in The Violets of March! I've often wondered how Emily and Bea were getting on with their lives and it felt like a bit of a reunion to see them again.) At this point in the story Claire and Ethan are basically living entirely separate lives. They are not communicating and are constantly wounding one another in the process. When Claire follows Ethan to the event at the Olympic Hotel should she have followed her intuition and mended things right there? She had him on the phone. He would have come to her. What do you think the ramification of her not doing so will be?
3. Vera: I could kill Lon. "Kill him dead," as my mother would say. Poor Vera has lost so much and now he takes her dignity. We get more of a glimpse into her relationship with Charles in this chapter–and the circumstances surrounding Daniel's birth–but Charles is gone and Daniel is missing by the time she ends up in Lon's bed. Just for the sake of discussion, what else could Vera Ray have done in that situation?
4. Claire: In her search for Daniel she discovers that Vera Ray was found dead that same year. I'll be honest, at this point in the story I just kind of stopped and stared at the wall for a few minutes. I really didn't expect that. Never saw it coming. And then to read Vera's next chapter, knowing what lies in her future, was so painful. The really interesting thing at this point in the story is the tenacity with which Claire approaches the mystery of Daniel's disappearance, paired with the way she's letting her marriage go down in flames. Why do you think a person can be so passionate in one area and so apathetic in another? And is the same wound at the heart of each emotion for Claire?
5. Vera: I'm intrigued by the class distinctions represented in this story. The extreme wealth and the extreme poverty and the disdainful ways in which each side considers the other. Earlier in the story someone refers to Vera as "proud." And in a lot of ways that's the perfect description. She's very independent, but to the point that she can't believe that Charles will love her as she is. And it seems that Charles doesn't have the sense to protect her from his family. Based on his history with his sister's behavior, he should have known that bringing Claire home was not a good idea. But he did (wishful thinking on his part?) and it ended in disaster. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you dealt with someone who came from such a different world that there could be no common ground? How did you handle it?
Well my friends, I'll be back with the final questions in our discussion in a few days. Until, please chime in and let me know what you think!