Friday, February 8, 2013
Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy
This 538 page novel has 12 chapters-one for each month of the year and reads rather like a diary of sorts. It is a little slow. It's not a page turner type book, but it DOES bring up a LOT of talking and thinking points: how you choose to live your life, how you choose to pick your priorities, what is the subtle difference between honesty and telling the truth, the expectations we have of others-especially when in a relationship with them-and how they can change through time, misunderstandings, forgiveness, where is "home".
If you just want to be entertained by your literature, you probably won't like it much. But I found several things compelling. For instance, some relations of Neil's, two children, 9 year old twins Maud and Simon come into the story as little terrors. Turns out they just needed love, discipline and stability. Their father was 'away' on business, their grown brother (still living at home) was highly irresponsible, and their mother dealt with alcoholism. Luckily for them, when Cathy and Neil ended up caring for them, they found a home with Cathy's parents, Lizzie and Muttie Scarlet, who while of little means have big hearts. Which brings another point up-about the true needs of children and how unfortunately sometimes the system works against children and sends them back to flesh and blood because that must always be the best place for them when indeed there are unfortunate cases where they really would be better off with someone else. So really there can't be a blanket statement about children who through no fault of their own end up in situations like this where they are told on every side that this is "what's best" and then feel betrayed by the people they trusted. This story explores this idea from a few vantage points; the children, a grown woman and a widowed retired accountant. All with different views-going through it in the immediate, having experienced it as a child and having been on the foster parent side.
For me, it is definitely good to examine relationships in the context of careers. While I am currently at stay at home mom, I don't think it matters whether it's one person or both persons in a relationship pursuing a career. But my husband has often expressed desire to own a hearing clinic of his own; or at least be a partner. Depending on the route we take (he graduates finally in May!) it could be fairly painless or it could be a 24/7 proposition-at least in the beginning. Most businesses are-you have to give them EVERYTHING. Which could make or break a relationship based on the expectations. Even if those expectations turn out to be a little off-needs at home or work becoming more than expected, for instance. Many things went wrong despite "We talked about this! We had agreed about this! We knew what we were getting into!" But I think a lot of it was not acknowledging the other in ways that were meaningful. Kinda like the "5 Love Languages" and recognizing that what may be immensely important to someone you care about is something you need to care about also. You don't have to understand it completely, but you should try to support it.