Finding it difficult

Probably time of year and the interruption of the festive season but finding it all a bit disjointed and uninteresting. Hope to get into it before meeting. Happy New Year. Charlotte

4 thoughts on “Finding it difficult

  1. Yes, I agree…it was quite difficult to get into and not really my type of book. At first, I felt frustrated by the main characters and wanted to “bang their heads together”! As I read on, I realised that it is well written and clever and that the play in chapter one is a microcosm of the whole book! It represents high expectations then disallusionment as things fall apart…civilised on the surface hiding seething tensions beneath! The neighbours aspire to a more cultural life…a step up from drinking and dining at the roadhouse, but it ends in failure.I see the main theme of the novel as being how each couple deal with their own disappointments in life and their failures to achieve the stereotypical American dream.Does anyone feel that this comment on middleclass America in the fifties travels well….is it pertinent to relationships today? Would we recognise any aspects of our own marriages in the novel?

  2. I also found it brilliant. I agree that it is about unrealised ambitions, in fact Frank is a bit of a fraud – he posed when a student as an intellectual and arty type but when April presents the opportunity for him to realise himself he backs down – the American dream is good enough for him – working in corporate America suits him just fine – but April has better ideas she is ready for the leap into the unknown.

    Not sure about Jon’s comment about corporate America and stifling ambition. Frank actually becomes more fired up when presented with a real challenge. He had initially taken the job because it would tide him over until something else turned up but actually that was a dream – see above. The reality is that he followed a well trodden path after his father and took a job in big business and settled into it.

    One intriguing aside I would make is that the vision of corporate life in which you could get away without doing any work, long lunch breaks, long coffee breaks, trash can is your out tray sounds like one of those stereotypical rants about the public sector. Yates knew what he was talking about as he had worked for Remington Rand which was the model for Knox.

    The book skates over so many other aspects of life – snobbery of several sorts – Mrs Givings gives us the classical sort – the trim your hedge or else sort of snobbery. The Wheelers look down on others because they represent boring suburbia and of course they are above that.

    Then there is class – Shep Campbell hides his upper class origins and tries to be ordinary – people used to do that until The Etonians took over again and made posh respectable. Then there is the trailer trash down the road house that the Wheelers liked.

    I liked John Givings – in the guise of his illness – he is a device for spelling out some home truths.

    Oh well off to find a paragraph


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