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

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Terrific chapter on Ursula's plight in Life After Life

Terrific chapter in Kate Atkinson's Life After Life in which main character, Urusula, a somewhat sheltered teenager in the London suburbs, is raped in a back stairwell in her family home by a "friend" of her very nasty older brother, an American student, Howie, several years older than she and a very big guy. The scene itself is frightening and horrific, and then the aftermath - this poor, naive girl knows nothing not only about sex but about childbirth, doesn't even realize she's pregnant for quite some time, can't tell her parents or anyone, considers suicide, heads off to London where she wanders all day and finally goes to the doorstep of her progressive and artistic aunt who takes her in - Ursula at last tells of her situation, Aunt Izzie arranges for an abortion - very abrupt, nothing explained to this poor girl who somehow imagines the fetus will be a baby given up for adoption, she becomes very ill after the procedure, her parents called in finally to help, they're angry and ashamed - all told chillingly and credibly (makes a sharp contrast w/ one of the Lucia Berlin stories I read recently about an abortion clinic in Juarez) - and I'm really glad Atkinson didn't have Ursula die (and be reborn) after this experience. Definitely the most powerful and dramatic scene so far in Life After Life, which seemed to be treading water up to this point. My quibbles: Despite her shame and fear, I think she would have discussed this w/ her older sister, and maybe even w/ her brute of a brother. Second, OK, Howie is a totally loathsome character but why does Atkinson go out of her wayto make him an American? Are there no British louts? What's her point?

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