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!