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reading wrong

I am currently reading one of the forthcoming new Persephone books, They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple. It's very, very good - one of the eponymous sisters is in an unhappy marriage with an appalling man who is both an utter monster and a totally convincing character - he's never violent, and in fact he thinks he's incredibly funny and good humoured, but his jokes are all horribly mean and he exerts power over his family by expecting them to go along with his random whims. But it's become almost too grim to read - the dreadful husband has just done one of the psychologically cruelest things to his children which I have ever encountered in literature. His young kids have always wanted a dog, and finally, on a whim, he gets them a jolly little puppy, which they adore. After about a year the father announces that the family are going on holiday to a country inn while he stays in town. When they're about to leave, the kids on their bikes and the mother in the car, he says - as a "joke"- that they can't take the dog to the inn with them, and when the kids react in defiance instead of tears he decides to really forbid them to take the puppy. The little boy, however, who has always been in awe of his father, has had enough and sneakily takes the dog anyway. The dad doesn't say anything about it, even though he comes down to the inn at the weekend, but when the family are about to all go home, the horrible dad presents the pup to the bewildered inn landlady, even though the kids are weeping and begging him not to.

That's bad enough, but the next day the brave dog turns up at the house, having made its way all the way back on its own. The kids hide the exhausted little dog in their nursery and are planning on a way to win their dad over, but when they come back from school the next day, their evil father has discovered the dog and taken it to the vet to be put down.

Now I am so outraged that I don't want to go on until I know that this terrible person is going to get their comeuppance. I've always found it bizarrely hard to actually read anything in which things which are not just tragic but utterly unfair happen to innocent, well-meaning people - particularly when bullying of any kind is going on. Even when reading comics like Mandy and Judy as a kid, I could literally never finish those stories (and there were many of them) in which long-suffering girls got blamed for the evil actions of others. Except for The Honourable S.J., of course, because even though she was an evil blackmailer, she rocked. Although not if she were blackmailing you, of course. But still! Her name was Sarah Jane Cheatwell! What's not to love? Oh, yeah, the blackmailing.

By the way, I have started going on AIM once more, but alas I keep leaving my computer and returning to find lots of messages from people who went on AIM after I wandered off and are now offline again, and who may have thought I was ignoring them. Which I wasn't!


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 22nd, 2005 03:56 pm (UTC)
Have you read Expelled from School? Takes the code of Not Sneaking to extremes.

I'm going to have to get to Persephone soon.
Feb. 22nd, 2005 05:00 pm (UTC)
If Expelled from School involves someone being booted out for something they didn't do because they wouldn't reveal the real culprit (as I suspect it might be from the title and your comment!) then I don't think I would actually be able to finish it. It's really weird, it was never a conscious thing, but I'd always find myself just skipping to the next story whenever something like that happened in comics - and as for books, I'd just somehow end up not finishing them.
Feb. 22nd, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC)
That is pretty much the plot, yes. However, it does All Come Right in the End. But the middle bit is infuriating (and probably excrutiating for you!). Oxenham. Not one of her best.
Feb. 22nd, 2005 04:14 pm (UTC)
Oh my God. I want to know this horrible person gets their comeupppance too. I hope his wife snaps and kills him, except she probably lives in a time when she'd hang.
Feb. 22nd, 2005 04:21 pm (UTC)
Sadly, the book was written in the early '40s and set just before the war, so she would. It'd probably be worth it, though, because he's so incredibly vile and, what's worse, so pleased with himself all the time.
Feb. 23rd, 2005 01:23 am (UTC)
Accidentally back the large 40's vintage car over him several times. Cars are such tricky creatures. Could happen to anyone.
Feb. 22nd, 2005 04:48 pm (UTC)
Those kids need to pull a Lizzie Borden on their dad...
Feb. 22nd, 2005 05:40 pm (UTC)
Oh sure, you were ignoring me, I know you were! ::sob::

Wow... I really hope there's a point to all that child/animal misery. No. Even then, I don't think I want to read it. No.
Feb. 22nd, 2005 10:59 pm (UTC)
Well, it's actually a really good book - the characters are so well drawn that you really feel for all of them, apart from the aforementioned villain - and that incident was just one horrible chapter of it. The heroine of the book is the dreadful man's sister in law Lucy, who is trying to persuade her sister to leave him, and the whole thing feels extraordinarily modern for something written in the early '40s. Lucy in particular is a really great, sympathetic character, and unusually for a book of this vintage, she's married but happily childless. So it's definitely worth reading, even though that chapter was so upsetting. Although if the awful Geoffrey doesn't pay for his crimes I will be appalled...
Feb. 22nd, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
With TWO 'p's?
Feb. 22nd, 2005 11:11 pm (UTC)
But of course!
Feb. 22nd, 2005 11:11 pm (UTC)
Feb. 22nd, 2005 08:57 pm (UTC)
:shields eyes:

Can't look! Can't look!
Feb. 23rd, 2005 02:44 am (UTC)
Oh, god. It's bad enough when people do horrible things to each other, but I just can't take people doing horrible things to animals. :(

I have never been able to finish reading or watching Black Beauty because I always throw up when the one owner starts abusing the horse.

I have to go cuddle my cats now.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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