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The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
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Recommended to Mariel by: the innocent always spared
Recommended for: the guilty always punished

She did not look flustered and frightened now. It was true that she was pale, her hair a little disordered, but there was something in her face she had not seen in it before, a sorrowful and quiet beauty. That's how I look to him, she thought.

There was a film version made of this called The Deep End. I didn't make the connection until later. I'd seen it when it came out, thought it kabuki hysteria, really. In We Need to Talk About Kevin Tilda Swinton coffin nails being in another person's this isn't happening. Dragged to the depths of the sea because you can't say you didn't give birth to this. Turn your back and the fun house mirrors laugh the end of your life. The cold shoulders entombing some Stonehenge nightmare. The watery grave is all in The Blank Wall, the umbilical strangling and toneless eyelids shut guilty, guilty, guilty. From some place else, perhaps the looming knees in dress-up. Beatrice is her son and the mother says this isn't happening when her little boy brings home a man. It's been a long time so if they are related past this change, I don't remember. Swinton was real for me in 'Kevin' and I never felt anything like the answers for yourself, the willed shut, in The Deep End. Could be me, though. I likewise lost interest in Lucia's show before I was done reading The Blank Wall. I didn't care if it all works out for her, and cared even less when it appeared her stupid fantasies were true (Holding, what were you thinking making the blackmailing thief into a lovesick helper? Seriously?). I didn't have much more than a vague idea that I wanted out of her something to say for herself. If I fell into one of her letters to her husband (Lucia wanted nothing more than to be interesting in a letter to her officer husband. Living it is neither there nor here) and was doomed to eternity wandering around her domestic shoe box embryo I could have done better than the fantasy one she lords over herself. How she looks as the damsel in distress on the arm of the stupid criminal who fancied her. I felt like a pretty good book became much, much less around this time. The filmmakers must've thought a lot of the scene of the crime, the boat house, and its watery deep since that's what they kept. Pebble surfaces and skipping and drowning in dreams. For me it was all fun house. There's no fun house in The Blank Wall but still. Lucia would stop to check what she looked like. If she were in a Harry Potter book and found the mirror Erised she might be like young Ronald Weasely as the best in everything, complete with people to be better than... nothing that means much, maybe what a small child repeats of an adult's conversation, skimming the context off the top. Only Lucia's people would see her as the competent housewife and mother. It would all be true. I don't know if they thought about her much at all. She's there to make them feel worldly. The daughter who runs around with the married good for nothing has lots to say about where Lucia is lacking. Holding was a natural in balancing her wish to belong in her own family. I did like that a lot. Her memories of eavesdropping on the moment when her two kids found each other in play. Her husband couldn't be bothered to understand how lonely she felt, how she also petted herself. Lucia is like a little girl assuring herself they'd do without her if she died and wanting to be needed. It's too bad the crime part slipped. This idiot trying to covering up a crime and her motivations for doing so (no one must think she wasn't a good mother!). The desire to be caught, end it all now. No, how much better off her family would be without her. I wonder how this would have been filmed in its time. Probably like that Hitchcock film starring Joseph Cotten as the handsome uncle with the lethal weapon reflection. In the end I didn't give anything if the dumb girl married her boring cop hero. Someone must've gotten scared and couldn't follow through with the real story (Cotten was great, not pinned under the glass. Somewhere in his gut he's cooking for something out of the world where eyes ask why, don't, be that). Maybe that's what happened here. Lucia has to turn back into the boring letter and tell him, herself, who are THEY anyway, some thing. The boring letter to herself had some guy who would die for her.She's still cow eyed in her kitchen, afraid her family will see past her domestic tricks. Still would rather sound good in a letter. The sleepwalker had a nightmare but never woke up. Sometimes I hoped Holding was going to follow the Lucia that was afraid she was wrong, the world wasn't good, no one needed her and she was caught. It felt a chosen insanity that way than if she wasn't good at housewife chores. More than what you could hold onto reality it hurt more that she could have never been there at all, let go of it all.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 2, 2014 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Henry (new)

Henry Avila As always, wonderful review, Mariel.

message 2: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Second that, wonderful. I've missed your reviews.

message 3: by Dolors (new)

Dolors "The sleepwalker had a nightmare but never woke up." Powerful phrasing Mariel, I love your gut-punching reviews.

message 4: by Martha (new)

Martha It was filmed at the time, in 1949 as The Reckless Moment.

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