Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > The Girl in a Swing

The Girl in a Swing by Richard  Adams
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's review
Nov 23, 2009

liked it

This was a sad and odd sort of ghost story and really it never actually made sense to me on several levels. I don't want to put in spoilers but the 2 people involved do things that lead to tragedy but the actions themselves don't make sense within themselves. I suppose it can be looked at as 2 selfish people who set it all in motion, but still there are gaping holes in the story, the plot...the internal logic.

It does have it's own sort of terror, and that feeling of inevitable doom. I won't say it's bad or a waste of time. It's not a bad read, try it yourself and see what you think.

My attention was recently drawn back to this book and my review. This is a book I read some years ago because some friends (who all liked it) "aimed it at me". I think I'll add a note under a spoiler tag to clarify what I said.


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Finished Reading
November 23, 2009 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Highness (new)

Highness Atharva hello mike.... u r truly an interesting fellow!! Would u care to read some of the reviews I've written. I'm on a review rampage. Wrote about fifteen reviews today...

message 3: by L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

L. Legault Kathe's decision to kill her child is based on more than a casual comment from Alan. She is a single mother at a time - in the early 1970s - when this was barely respectable. Even single divorced mothers were still rare then, let alone mothers with no visible father around at all. She is desperately poor, which Alan fails to notice, although he is vaguely aware that her clothes and shoes are cheap, that she takes the bus, etc. But he prefers to think that this is all her natural modesty, just as he prefers to think that she is so popular with men that he has to win her away from many other (non-existent) suitors. There are even hints that K is a former prostitute, if you look closely. From what you say it seems you may have noted these things too but I'm not sure.

The reason Alan and Kathe don't intuit any of this about each other is that neither is - at least at first - truly in love. Alan is sexually enthralled, his vanity tickled that he can capture the attention of such a beautiful woman. Kathe is, as I said, desperate - she badly wants to get away from her cramped, poverty-stricken life. Further, Alan is nice to her, and it's quite clear that the men in her past were not; they treated her as a sex object only. Of course, Alan does too, but being a fundamentally decent man, he sees more in her and he also wants to offer her an honorable love.

I don't know if that helps, but that is how I've come to understand the strange relationship between these two characters.

message 4: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Jun 11, 2016 12:14AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike (the Paladin) The points you make don't really mitigate the decision to murder her child. It is at heart based on Alan's comment that he didn't want children. Yes they both have a "past" and emotional baggage. Alan is at least smitten with K from the first. What I get is the emotional shallowness that makes him up.

I read this in the '70s and am 64. I remember the era and no matter what the provocation it doesn't really explain or or make in any way understandable the murder...except for a desperate selfishness.

I agree Kathe is desperate to have what she has or potentially has with Alan. Still, I'll go with my review.


message 5: by L. (last edited Jun 11, 2016 08:49AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

L. Legault Not trying to change your mind, necessarily, just putting in my 2 cents... You're right about the 'desperate selfishness', but that is not really rare as a motive for murder. Also, it's clear that Kathe is not very stable emotionally, certainly after her child's death, but perhaps even before.

I remember that 1973 as the watershed year for *everything*, at least in North America - divorce, single parenthood, adultery, pre-marital sexual relations etc. At least, that's when those behaviors hit the suburbs in such a way as to be obvious, rather than hushed up in front of the children.

1973 is also around the year when GIAS is set. (I'm an amateur fashion historian; I am judging by the descriptions of Kathe's clothes.) I don't think you could have read it in the 1970s, because google tells me it was first published in 1980.

[Name Redacted] Good gravy, I had no idea that this was by the author of Watership Down!

Mike (the Paladin) Could be. I read it when it first came out.

Mike (the Paladin) I never noticed that ND.

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