Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Aldred and Peter, Helen and Benedict

Hi Everyone,

Well, I finally finished reading the book, and I enjoyed Hazzard's writing style very much. I underlined the phrases in the book which I particularly enjoyed. I thought and thought about who became my favorite character. It was more difficult for me to single someone out than it had been in our past novels. I guess If forced to pick, I would have to choose Aldred. He seemed to overcome adversity. Even though he fell in love with someone much younger and more vulnerable than himself, he wasn't presented as deviant.

I liked some of the questions from picador. Question #4 regarding "destiny" and its role in the novel seems interesting. I also liked the role that illness or affliction played in the book. The theme which I sensed the most was the idea of resignation and whether a character resigned himself or herself to particular surroundings or circumstances or whether he or she fought for a better outcome. This idea seemed most central to me. The fact that Aldred Leith is a war hero who risked his own safety to insure that others would survive stood out in my mind. Peter Exley is often referred to as "unfortunate" or "unlucky" and in the end he winds up seriously ill, yet trying to save his tailor's daughter was an heroic act.
He seems unwilling to settle for any of the women in his office as life partners. He runs away from the career for which his parents wished he would settle. He leaves the country where he felt trapped. The woodcutter's son at the end of the book also strives to break away from what's expected from him for something better.

I think the paragraph where Aldred is describing how "free" he felt when he was running to save his fellow soldiers is important. The idea of entrapment and freedom comes up again and again. Benedict and Helen are described as imprisoned by their horrible parents. New Zealand seems like Helen's prison until she's able to escape with Aldred.

I don't want to bore, but those were some of my thoughts about the book.


At 6:58 AM, Blogger Aydelvise said...

Carol, good points.

Unlike you, I did not enjoy the author's writing style. Not enough detail for me, which I get was the point but I just had to work too hard to understand what was happening. What I really liked were the author's insights, which were many. Since I've already returned the book to the library, I cannot quote specifically, but in particular I remember one about women accepting disappointments. The different settings were interesting. I had a hard time picturing the places in Asia and New Zealand, but could easily picture London. She did a good job of using the settings as a metaphor for Aldred's feelings: as scarred by the war as the countries were. It took the youth and innocence of Helen to restore him just as new growth of flora and fauna would restore the torn up battlefields of the countries that had been bombed.

For now, that's enough from me.

Leroy, what was it about this book that you liked enough to recommend it to us?

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Carol said...


Yes, settings as a metaphor --good observation. I really loved the economy of her writing. It felt to me like there were no superfluous phrases or sentences. I would recommend that every high school junior or senior read this book as it is packed with SAT vocabulary at least from what I can recall. I am also waiting to hear from Leroy. Where are you, El Andy?


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