A story about a woman who doesn't fit society's expectations; a story about relationships, families, work/life balance and how different people deal wA story about a woman who doesn't fit society's expectations; a story about relationships, families, work/life balance and how different people deal with disappointment and grief. Miller's writing is beautifully restrained yet it pulls you through Maud's story as effectively as the tidal waters she sails in: at times, you'll feel becalmed, during others, you'll be cruising, then flying along, and occasionally buffeted and bruised when the storms hit. Now that I've finished reading, I can admire how he structured the story, as well, and feel that Maud's story works well within that.*
I enjoyed meeting the unusual central character of Maud, a woman who seems self-contained and unaware or unwilling to conform to social norms. Some readers may see her as emotionless or unfeeling but I don't believe she is. She just doesn't behave the way society conditions us to believe a woman should or would, (perhaps you could say she's behaving more like a man?) but I liked her all the more for that, and for doing her own thing. It's interesting to see the dynamic between her and Tim, and other men she comes into contact with, and the contrasts between her own family and Tim's. I really enjoyed the scenes in the shipyard and Maud's sailing section of the book. When a person pushes themselves to their limits, you get to understand them a bit better and see what their character is really like, so it helped this reader to better understand Maud. As for the final section of the book, I think you can take it a couple of different ways, depending on what you want or hope for as an outcome for Maud. I thought the ending was fitting for her and the novel. It's a book which I know is going to haunt me and one which I will have to revisit and re-read.
* I think I initially struggled with the fact that The Crossing of the title doesn't begin until around page 200 (getting on for two-thirds of the way through the book). We seemed to be landlocked and not getting anywhere near making a Crossing of any kind for ages. I think I'd expected more of the book to be about sailing from the back cover blurb and quote when in fact it only accounts for about 50 pages in the book. So I guess what I'm saying is that I had to adjust my expectations for the book. Once I did this, I was sucked into the book and totally immersed in its world....more
Three years after the death of her mother and still trying to preserve the family home as it used to be when her mother was alive, Elizabeth discoversThree years after the death of her mother and still trying to preserve the family home as it used to be when her mother was alive, Elizabeth discovers a letter to her father from another daughter, her half-sister. When she rashly decides to make contact and so invites Eunice into their lives, she has little idea of the seismic ripples this other woman will cause, forcing all of them, and especially Elizabeth, to face up to the mother's death and start to move on without her.
Look at Me demanded my attention from the outset with a family barely holding together in their grief, the unusual characters and the sense of unease which permeates the book. It was an unsettling, at times uncomfortable read but also completely compelling: I could not bring myself to look away. It's hard to know who to like or trust here and I continually questioned what the characters were doing and how they were behaving towards each other. Perhaps the two most intriguing characters are those of the narrator, Elizabeth, and her half-sister, Eunice: I knew there was a secret Elizabeth was holding back from the reader, and also wondered at her impetuous behaviour which resulted in bringing Eunice into her family home, and more especially her resulting treatment of her once there. As for Eunice, I constantly changed my opinion of her, which I suspect is exactly what the author wanted: at times, she genuinely feels like a little lost girl trying to find 'home' and her 'family'; at others, her motives seem more suspect, and she seems to know exactly what she is doing and why....more