Hearing a little of Harriet’s back story gave me a stronger impression of her and an admiration for what she has accomplished. She is living her chosen life – the way she wants, no compromises. The only thing Ruby has to do is work to high expectations.
“…her neurosis was so annoying – following along behind me, checking and redoing each thing I did, taking over every task so I sometimes spent entire shifts doing nothing at all…”
Welcome to my mother, Ruby. This is the other end of the mother spectrum. Sure I didn’t see my mom bringing weird men home but I sure did have to fend her off when my zits proved to be way too tempting to pop. I have also lived with the knowledge that my inability to correct garb myself in matching hues has forever scarred my mother. Harriet sounds like a joy in comparison.
“I’ve always been a one-woman operation. That way, I’m responsible for everything, good and bad. And I am afraid if I relinquish any control…”
I waited for her to finish. When she didn’t, I said, “You’ll lose everything.”
Her eyes widened. “Yes!” she said. “How did you know?”
A nice piece of mirroring for our lovely protagonist. And the best part, Ruby recognises it for what it is too. She realised that she had already subconsciously taken her own advice about giving up some control. With self-awareness comes growth, young Grasshopper.
I love that Reggie has a crush on Harriet. Don’t you just want to sigh? Old people (well compared to our main character) crushing on one another is just so heart warming and a little gross. The fact that Harriet remained completely unaware of the Vitamin Guy’s attentions was a nice little call back to Ruby’s denials regarding Gervais. Although Reggie’s methods are a little more considerate than the twelve year old, as one would hope. Any guy that signs a note with an icon (especially a smiley face) is either in elementary school, gay or in love. I could be simplifying things but my brother, the biggest bogan there is wouldn’t be caught dead with even a pen in his hand. Worse still is that Harriet’s preoccupation with the stall is keeping her from even giving Reggie encouragement.
Denim shirts make me think catalogue immediately. Jamie’s untempered enthusiasm to take a photo for the Christmas card, wearing matching outfits, is horrific. The only time you should be wearing the exact same outfit as someone is if you’re in gaol and it’s one of those orange jumpsuits or if it’s part of some equally crappy uniform. I am still amazed that people fall for the illusion of togetherness if they witness others wearing the same garb. But a canine sized denim shirt is just plain bad. Jamie, you are now slipping in my esteem – Pacey owns you now.
Then he pulls a double whammy. 1) it’s his family’s tradition and 2) he wanted the girls to experience one of these traditions, which is all very good and well, but matching denim shirts? With this one revelation he’d relegated both Cora and myself to mushy acceptance of the photo taking place. Jamie really is one of a kind. The fact that he even bought and wrestled Roscoe into an outfit is unbelievable. That he is so eager to fill a void in his wife and sister-in-law’s Christmas experience is even more impressive. I would have loved to have seen that photo.
Olivia approaches Ruby with the news that her boyfriend had been cheating on her and she was thankful Ruby was honest with her. The whole interchange about being even, despite her only giving a name made an impact on me. That “it counts” resonated for some reason. Nothing for Ruby is easy but she doesn’t make the easy choices either and in this situation it won her respect and a potential friend.
Question – Nate has left the team (swimming? I obviously wasn’t paying close enough attention) despite having a scholarship for college. Why?
The use of the Ume.com advertising campaign is a brilliant stroke by Sarah. To organically bring a discussion about Jamie’s family into the novel that otherwise might have been seen as extraneous. The fact that the campaign is also about connectivity is also an interesting thought as this is a key area in Ruby’s life that she experienced problems. It’s all kind of amusing until Cora adds that she didn’t know anyone at their wedding. Why wasn’t Ruby invited? Why didn’t Ruby even know Cora was married before now?
Appliance anxiety? The dog is awash in paranoia and deranged sensibilities and yet I love him all the more for it. Give him a fear of germs and he’s one step away from a pet mental asylum. I absolutely adore the idea that Roscoe might need to be on antidepressants. It kind of reminds me of the opening scene of Best in Show where a situation is set up that a child has been psychologically scarred by her parents and it ends up being a dog. (If you haven’t seen this Christopher Guest movie, go and hire it now). The fact that both Cora and Jamie are talking about Roscoe like he’s a child with discussion about reinforcing behaviour is both amusing and sad.
Finally there is a scene between the sisters where there is some direct honesty –
“We’ve been trying to get pregnant for awhile, and it’s just not happening. So we are meeting with a specialist.”
It’s like the first crack in the Cora facade that Ruby’s been a direct witness to, that Cora’s allowed her to see. And then with this one hairline fracture we get the flood. Turns out that mommy dearest did get an invitation to the wedding. A personally delivered invitation that she chose to not advise Ruby of. The nerve of that lady. Her whole existence was really all about her. That she would put effort in keeping her daughters apart, in shutting out her eldest and deserting the youngest is reprehensible. I am disgusted. I am saddened. This is becoming a real tragedy. Cora and Ruby have been pawns in their mother’s deluded game of life.
“You disappeared. You went to college, and you were gone. We never heard from you.”
The truth as it had been for Ruby for ten years was crumbling. Everything she knew to be true is being turned inside out. Ruby has nothing but what she knows and even that is not what she thought it was. It’s like she’s trying to plant her feet on a waterbed but all she’s getting is wave after wave of information that makes stability impossible. This poor girl. I am glad Cora kept pushing though, shaking off her passivity to proactively address their relationship. This is huge for Ruby but also for Cora. Cora was unaware of Ruby’s lack of knowledge regarding the wedding. She knows now that Ruby’s been kept in the dark too.
“All I wanted was to find you. The entire time I was in college, and after…I was trying to get you out of there.”
Call me crazy but I believe her. It seems very in character with the memories Ruby has of Cora in the pre-separation days. That Ruby still holds such a tight hold onto the idea that Cora deserted her is interesting but their next interchange confirms my earlier thoughts.
“Is that what you really think?”
“That’s what I know.”
It’s all she has, and to relinquish hold on it would be to let go of all control. Ruby’s not ready for that. This is heartbreaking. It appears that selflessly Cora time and time again sought out her mother (not an easy job with all the moves) and allowed her to fill her with an infinite number of lies. Cora’s been at this for years thinking Ruby had rejected her as a sister. Her mother promised to give Ruby the wedding invite in exchange for a withdrawal of the court intervention. It is at this time that I imagine Cora on her wedding day hopefully looking for her sister in the pews, hoping against hope that Ruby would be there for her on her day and nothing. My heart breaks.
Cora also sheds light on their mother’s desertion. That is was her way of gaining the upper hand. That knowing Ruby was nearly an adult she left before another daughter could leave her. This woman disgusts me. She’s robbed her daughters of so much and most importantly of each other. Thank goodness for Cora’s perseverance. And then with the reveal Ruby does the only thing she can, she runs out. Hearing that the foundation of her life so far has been a pack of lies, that Cora did care and had been actively trying to rescue her from her mother’s choice of life, Ruby’s cut adrift.
“What do you do when you only have two people in your life, neither of whom you’ve ever been able to fully trust, and yet you have to believe one of them?”
Well, one left you. One you were told left you. I’d go with Cora.
“My mother had been left by a husband and by one daughter, she’d had enough of being left. So she’d done what she had to do to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
Not only has Ruby fled her sister but with the appearance of Olivia she decides to flee the school too. Way to make some bad choices Ruby. Olivia knows it’s a crappy decision to but in her need to be equal she agrees. Where ever Ruby ends up it can’t be good. Truth has a way of weaselling below the skin and making people make bad decisions. I just hope it doesn’t involve The Douche.
A Note from Adele
I have been a lady of leisure the past two days and I apologise for the delay. That being said, be happy that I wasted my time seeing some truly horrible movies J
I have decided to do the podcasts in bunches of 2-3 chapters as recording/editing them every chapter was way too difficult to accomplish on an ongoing basis.
I received an email from Sarah. I am not going to post it but needless to say she was lovely, supportive and an absolute gem. I adore her.
Thanks for the increase in comments. They are very much appreciated.
This morning I went to see The Dark Knigh and every time Heath Ledger came on screen my hands immediately covered my ears as I was freaking out (it’s a habit from childhood). This actor was so immensely talented. This movie is a tribute to his talents and all who were involved in the production of this movie. It’s fantastic and the make-up (specifically of Harvey Dent) is truly gruesome. Go and see it as soon as you can.