I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Nichole Bernier does such a great job of digging into the fears we all have, of showing the fears and other emotions that affect how we act/react in daily life.
Overall I think the message of this book is one of how similar we all really are underneath. We may react differently to life’s events, but overall we are the same. I also think there is a message towards the positives of being open. We fear so much – but if we are open to one another we learn how similar we all are, and can have deeper relationships from it.
Look at Kate, reading the journals. She discovered an Elizabeth she had never known and when she came to the end of the journals she found herself grieving again – not for the Elizabeth she had known, but the Elizabeth she hadn’t, and only now was beginning to meet.
At first I assumed that Dave had taken the last journal. I was so angry at him for it! When I realised it was missing I skimmed through the last section, hoping to see sections of text in italics to show that Kate had indeed found the journal. When I couldn’t find the italics I felt cheated somehow. But Nichole wrapped up the end of the story satisfactorily – without the need to ‘read’ that last journal.
The ending was quite unexpected – while I began to doubt that Elizabeth was having an affair, the idea of Michael as a healer of some form. At first I assumed Elizabeth was seeking help for depression, but when the true reason came out everything fell into place. I understood Dave, and felt sorry for him.
The argument between Dave and Kate gives another insight into life in general. Dave accuses Kate of using Elizabeth, of only seeing her as a mother. Yet Kate’s response is equally valid – that the identity of ‘mother’ is the one Elizabeth presented to the world, she hid all other sides of herself. How often do we do that? Hide the truth due to fear of what those nearest us might think. I am guilty. There are few who know of my writing, of my desire to be a published author. I am becoming braver, as more of my short stories are published (or accepted for publication) I find myself feeling a little more confident, a little more able to share my writing with my family and friends. Unlike Elizabeth I have not hid this from my closest family and friends, but there are still members of my immediate family who do NOT know that I write at all.
I liked the first paragraph on the final page “It was all so exhausting, trying to be understood. She’d once read a quote… that had stuck with her: If you knew all there was to know about a man, you could forgive him anything. There was something reflexive in the forgiveness, but of course, once you knew what made a person into a collection of oddities and defenses. The work to reach the knowing was exhausting, not the forgiving. That seemed to happen on it’s own.”
I really enjoyed being part of the read-a-long – it’s interesting to hear others views on the book, and what parts others picked up that I missed, or didn’t really think about in terms of the larger story.
Thanks very much to Bree at firstname.lastname@example.org for hosting us and Allen and Unwin for providing the book! 🙂