I’m late, I’m late, I’m late! I got really bogged down in Part Two and am only now finishing it up, so here’s a very late posting of the Part Two questions and answers. I still hope to finish the book by the end of the month.
The Twelfth of July:
1. “The day Jemima’s baby arrived, and the day the question on all our lips was answered.” p. 181. I found this line confusing, as it did not seem clear to me for many pages what question we were talking about. How did you react to this line?
I assumed that she was talking about the question of whether Jemima’s baby would be a boy or a girl, thus determining if Frederick would inherit Riverton.
The Fall Of Icarus:
2. I think I finally know her mother’s secret. Do you?
I’ve had a guess about what the mother’s secret was ever since Frederick first saw Grace and had a strong reaction. Now that we know Grace looks like her mother at that age…
3. I seem to have problems with titles in this book. Why the fall of Icarus? I thought she was going to fall in the fountain or something. How do you explain this title?
I’m not really sure about this one, either. I thought at first that it referred to how informal the girls were acting, raising their skirts to put their legs in the cool water. Then I thought it meant that Grace was falling from her position as a proper servant by joining them, which would have been forbidden.
4. “Happiness grows at our own firesides. It is not to be picked in strangers’ gardens.” How do you understand this comment in the context of the novel? Is it relevant today in our modern lives? How or how not?
I thought this was very relevant in the context of Grace’s position in the house. She seems to gain pleasure by living vicariously through the exploits of the children of the house, instead of through her own adventures.
5. As a grandchild or grandparent yourself, what do you think of the way Grace describes grandparents-grandchildren relationships?
It reminded me a lot of how I’ve heard my children’s grandmother talk about their relationship. I can see that it’s nothing but joy for her, and I look forward to having that same kind of relationship with my own grandchildren someday.
6. Why all this thing about eavesdropping?
It goes back to how she lives vicariously through the children of the house. At the same time, it bothers me, because their elevated status should not make their lives any more interesting or meaningful than her own.
7. What are your impressions on the way American social manners are presented?
I noticed right away that the American is portrayed as talking about money, as putting a value on things that the English are shown to appreciate for other reasons. It’s a bit stereotypical, and although it may be true to how the English perceived Americans at the time, I don’t really like it.
8. How does the author grab your attention in this whole 2nd part?
I had a much harder time getting through Part Two than I did Part One. I’m hoping things pick up in Part Three!