The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D – read-a-long

Check out Bree’s blog here for more comments on the read-a-long so far. (Warning – Bree’s blog and the following post both contain spoilers to what happens in the book – up to page 136).

I am thoroughly enjoying this book!!

The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D begins a few months after the death of said Elizabeth, who has left her journals – a large collection she has been writing in since early teens – to her friend Kate – and not her husband Dave. Dave has browsed through the most recent journal and found references to another man, jumping to the conclusion Elizabeth was having an affair.

Kate, her husband Chris and two children have gone away on their annual holiday, extending it this time by 7 weeks due to the death of Elizabeth, and Kate takes this time to read through the journals, starting at the beginning. Kate is surprised to find an Elizabeth who is largely unfamiliar. As Kate discovers Elizabeth’s secrets she begins to question how well we really know those around us.

Bree has asked a few questions in her post about the book so far:

Do any of our read-a-long participants keep diaries or journals, no matter how frequently? If so, have you ever thought about what might become of them after you are gone? If you had a choice, what would you want done with them?

I have kept journals on and off since I was about 12. Some were written in daily, whilst others are lucky to have a few weeks worth of entries. But I have always been aware that others might read them and that has definitely affected what I have written in them (When I have something serious to vent I write it on loose paper and burn it!). I would hope that if something happened to me my partner would read them and keep them for my children for when they are older.

 If you were the recipient of someone’s journals, would you read them? Or would you destroy them unread, so that their thoughts would rest with them? Or maybe you’d keep them until their children were old enough to decide what to do with them?

I would be reading journals someone had left to me for sure! And I would keep them for her children no matter what they held. For me, it’s like something Chris said early on – about Kate making a choice about what Dave and the kids need to know, about what’s best for them. But like Chris is saying – it’s not really Kate’s place.

I feel sorry for Dave. He has lost his wife, only to learn that her journals – the keepers of all her secrets, are to go to a friend, instead of him, her husband. Then he discovers proof (he thinks) that she was having an affair. To be honest if I was in his shoes I don’t think I could have resisted reading the journals, even though they hadn’t been left to me.

There is so much to talk about in this book. So many points where I felt a heartbreak for what was happening – p. 9 when Elizabeth’s son Jonah says “Did you know my mum is dead?” and there is that awful pause before Chris kneels down and says “I know buddy. I’m really sorry about that. My mom’s dead too. It’s hard isn’t it.”

I recorded so many other comments but here’s just a few. On p 19 Kate notes that the journals were agitating the healing process. It is partly for this reason I would give the journals back after I’d read them. No matter how hurtful the truth is, the not knowing, the lack of certainty means there is no room for Dave and the kids to move past what happened.

And p 20 “to free the key she had to relock the trunk, an excluding click that felt a further insult to [Dave]”.

At one point Kate found herself responding to the journals, like she was speaking with Elizabeth of that time. “Don’t trust him.” But she acknowledged that, “of course, whatever was done, was done.” p 75

I could talk about this book for hours, pages, but I’ll leave it here.

Next week we’ll have the next discussion (pp 137-272) So keep an eye out for that! And if you’ve read the book and would like to comment – feel free! 🙂 (Just up to p 136 though – I haven’t read the rest yet!!) 🙂

Books I want to read…

I’ve been trying to learn more about blogging – reading through forum posts on blogs, skimming (because that’s all I feel I have time for) other people’s blogs. I came across an interview with Thomas Keneally on Taiwanxifu’s blog: He is the author of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, a book that has intrigued me ever since it was first mentioned on a tv ad, of all places. I don’t even remember what the advertisement was for – encouraging reading perhaps? The title grabbed me. I have no idea what the story is about (aside from the fact it is about the Australian Aborigines), or even whether it is one I would really enjoy, but the first time I heard the title I thought ‘I must read that’. So it has been added to my list of Recommended Reading – of which I have several, floating about in various locations. I misplace them for a while – start another.

The problem is that along with the long lists of books I want to read, I have books on shelves I haven’t yet read. The Pact, by Jodi Picoult, I started just the other day, a christmas present from a couple of years ago it has sat with the other Jodi Picoult books (all of which I have finished) awaiting it’s turn. I started the other day, read for a couple of hours, decided I couldn’t read any more. The following day I found myself picking it up again – it’s terribly sad – a 17 year-old girl is dead, her boyfriend claims she committed suicide but he was the only one with her and has been accused of her murder. So far I believe him, and I have my suspicions about why the girlfriend chose to end her life – but Jodi’s books so often have an unexpected twist at the end I’m not certain it will play out the way I think it will.

My thoughts, I suppose, are that I really should finish what’s on my shelves before I go seeking out books from elsewhere – but that doesn’t mean I will.