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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

The incredible British disregard for children: Loving

The ladies of the Castle, Mrs. Tennant (?) and her daughter, Mrs. Jack, leave the Irish castle and head for England ostensibly to greet Mrs. Jack's husband home on leave (setting is WWII), altho she'd just been caught back at home naked in bed w/ another man - so who knows what kid of trouble they're headed for - but we don't follow them. This novel, Henry Green's Loving, is firmly set in the Irish castle, so after the leave the story becomes entirely the story of the servants - who now realize that the ladies will never come back and they're left on their own. Mostly, they're afraid, especially the cook and maids, as they imagine that the German armies might occupy Ireland to get a footing for an invasion of Britain, and that the Irish, who hate the British, especially those living in castles, and they anticipate being pillaged "or worse." Of course from our vantage we know that didn't happen. Amazingly, though the ladies have disembarked for England, they have left two daughters plus on young boy whom they'd taken in, behind and in the care of servants and nannies, with that incredible and unremarked-upon upper-class British disregard for children. The novel becomes (somewhat) easier to follow by this point - more than half-way through - as we begin to get a sense of who the characters are, but I really don't yet see what makes this such a great novel, such a personal favorite of one of my literary heroes, Updike: Updike, too, wrote about domestic infidelities and about the roiling sexual tensions beneath the placid suburban surfaces, but Updike's writing is so much more clear and his plots so much more driven by action rather than by insinuation and innuendo.

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