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Group Read - Sunburn > Group Read - Sunburn Part 1 Ch 1-11 Spoilers Welcome

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message 1: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments Part one is twenty-one chapters - let's break the comments on this topic to chapters 1-11
If the first to post, please briefly summarize this segment to guide the discussion. Spoilers Welcome.


message 2: by Geri (last edited Mar 27, 2018 01:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Geri Sunburn

1 - Polly and Adam meet in a bar in Bellevue Delaware. Polly says she’s staying. Adam follows Polly to the same hotel and asks for an open ended stay.

2 - Polly decides to leave Greg and their daughter, Janny. Adam and Polly see each other the next morning.

3 - Greg resells the story of how he met and married Pauline. Their relationship and the anger that led to Pauline slapping him during sex. Greg is unhappy because he was planning to leave Pauline and their daughter. But Polly beat him to it.

4 - Polly was abused in her first marriage. She would jump from the car. It made her feel like she chose to go back to her abusive husband. Polly gets a job at the bar. Makes a pass at Adam. He does not reciprocate.

5 - Greg has been hired by someone to follow Polly. Adam gets hired to cook at bar. Polly and Adam bicker. Then Polly asks if Adam can go with her to an auction where she can get things for her place.

6 - At auction, Polly buys some furniture. Adam ends up buying Polly a bed from someone who outbid Polly.

7 - It’s been a month and Greg hires PI Sue Sneed to find Polly.

8 - we learn more about Polly’s past, being on welfare, dating Greg.

9 - Adam and Kath begin an affair since Polly seems uninterested. Adam recognizes the other PI immediately when she walks into bar.

10 - Sue Sneed the PI tells the story of her past. She has found Polly and will tell Greg. Does not say anything to Polly.

11 - Greg confronts Polly at the bar 3 days after Sue found her. Greg confronts Polly again later, this time with a gun. Adam pushes Greg, gets gun, injures Greg’s hand. Polly invites Adam to her place. Where they begin an affair. Polly playing her games, excited by the violence. And Adam justifying it as doing his job.


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

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments Thanks for the terrific summaries Geri, I am eager to discuss this one!
Polly is a puzzle. I admit to not finding her very likeable after abandoning not just her husband Greg, but her tiny daughter too. I "get" abandoning a husband, even choosing to do it first, but why is leaving so important you leave your toddler daughter with her father who you don't expect to be a good caretaker?
The mystery of why Adam has been hired to follow and watch Polly is also a puzzle. The flashbacks do start to fill in some blanks.


message 4: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments Adam started out doing a job and staying at a distance from Polly, but that doesn't last long. Greg coming after Polly seemed to surprise her (I think)
I suppose I wasn't surprised when Adam and Kath got together, the close quarters of the diner with Adam cooking and the two waitresses juggling shifts was a hot house for some romance to bloom. But Polly and Adam seem destined for romance too ( if Polly has her way) and the love triangle seems to be heading to, at the least, some hurt feelings.


Geri I agree Polly wasn’t very likeable from the beginning for the reasons you mentioned. But she is the kind of character that really intrigues. She is flawed and so very complicated! I would be interested in what her mental diagnosis would be because I know she has some sort of personality disorder. Reading her thoughts are fascinating, though.

I like the cat and mouse feel to the book. The chapters are quick paced and fast to read. I am enjoying how the story is being revealed, little bits at a time!


message 6: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments Geri: good point on what sort of mental disorder or personality traits would fit Polly at this point of the book.
Narcissistic would come to mind; manipulative, and clever, very clever. She seems to be a planner with lots of patience when it comes to consideration of her next steps.
She is fascinating and I particularly liked the scene when she and Adam were at the auction looking for household stuff for her and the bidding got interesting. Polly seems contradictory with her seeming flightiness and propensity to jump ship and run beside this “nesting” urge to make her space just right....
Which makes me wonder what she expects to gain from her “just right” personal space. I get the feeling it isn’t only for personal satisfaction. There seems to be something of a honey trap there.


Geri Your description of Polly is right on the nose, I think. It’s interesting how she finds men “useful”. But being so clever, you would think she’d have chosen more wisely! I also found the auction scene very interesting. Polly is an odd mix of contradictions. Probably why I enjoyed this so much.


message 8: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments Geri
Yes, true, you would think Polly might choose more wisely; she seems to have no or low fear of risks associated with a new male target!


Sandi (sandin954) | 1215 comments A really strong beginning. I agree with you both that while Polly is not likable she is very intriguing. I have enjoyed the flow of the book so far with the changing POVs making me want to read just another chapter to find out what is going to happen.


message 10: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments Sandi: I sometimes find that a style of a book with changing pov's encourages me to put a book down at a shift, but not this one!

Sandi wrote: "A really strong beginning. I agree with you both that while Polly is not likable she is very intriguing. I have enjoyed the flow of the book so far with the changing POVs making me want to read just another chapter to find out what is going to happen.."


James Emery | 14 comments Interesting takes.

A few things I wanted to add. The multiple POV has to be done well. I think she's done a great job capturing Polly and Adam's voice in the close 3rd and still keeping the clipped, staccato rhythm of noir. However, I think she over-reached having the POV scene from the private investigator that Greg hired. At this juncture, she's introduced a side character that I'm only marginally interested in and forced me to sit through a authorial intrusion of backstory. This is Polly, Adam, and Greg's story. Anything more, and unless it ties to the overall arch, just seems a way to move the plot along.

And as far as plot, I'm not sure I'm as invested as I should be at the 25% mark. I like theories on structure of novels, and at this point we should be exiting Act 1. Depending on your theory, at least to a point of no return. All Polly needs to do at this point is go home to Greg to end the story (or so it seems). All Adam needs to do is report his findings to his boss and quit (or so it seems). Aside from the complicated relationship between Adam and Polly, the confrontation of Greg that seemingly resolved, there isn't a point where the characters are completely and irrevocably spinning towards the climax.

Finally, something I found interesting in myself and from the above is the impression that a mother walking out on a child leaves. Lippman even points it out, that if a man walks out, it may not be smiled on but it isn't a damning trait. A woman walks out and there's something wrong with her. To me, it made me wonder if this is the result of society forcing gender roles, me not being aware of intrinsic sexism, or is it true. Is there something worse about a mom walking out than a dad? Does a mom leaving suggest pathology and a man leaving just make him a d***?


message 12: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments James: interesting takes indeed.
My personal negative opinion of Polly's leaving is based mainly on the mother / child bond that often forms at birth. While a father can also bond with his child, that may occur less often; and it may be less disruptive if the paternal bond is broken. Gender roles or sexism might play a part, but the responsibility of either parent is to care for and nurture their children. Abandoning your toddler to a parent who isn't expected to be a good parent is not an admirable action.
James wrote: "nally, something I found interesting in myself and from the above is the impression that a mother walking out on a child leaves. Lippman even points it out, that if a man walks out, it may not be smiled on but it isn't a damning trait. A woman walks out and there's something wrong with her. To me, it made me wonder if this is the result of society forcing gender roles, me not being aware of intrinsic sexism, or is it true. Is there something worse about a mom walking out than a dad? Does a mom leaving suggest pathology and a man leaving just make him a d***? "


Ceelee | 206 comments Oh yay! Another psychopathic female! They make very interesting behavior profiles. I remember some commented that Polly is similar to Alice from ALL THE BEAUTIFUL LIES and it dies seem a good comparison. I saw Alice as a "Spider Woman" who pursues men, then traps them in their web of lies. The thing about Polly is she is not very likable at all. I think it is because Polly not only left Gregg but she left her child Jani too. I could understand if she knew that Gregg would be a better parent than her but he had been wanting to leave Polly himself and he got "stuck' whit the child when she beat him to it. I am sure Polly was not unaware of his intentions. What a mess! I feel sorry for Jani more than anybody!
It is obvious that Polly had some crazy mixed up life and that is what made her such a hard heated woman. Her first marriage was an abusive relationship but i think she had been mistreated before.
I don;t think she had any intention of staying in town despite the fact she bought some cheap but nice home furnishing and clothes. She was creating a scene,a set piece like an actor on a stage to keep people from realizing she is not the person she claims.
Adam was hired by some guy named Irving but not too sure why. I know there is a question of her story on how her first husband died. Polly claimed it was an intruder but her story has enough holes that she is being investigated for insurance fraud perhaps? And murder.
Another thing I am confused about it her first daughter was named Joy but she is not with her mother. Did I miss that something happened to her? She had some sort of disability. Did she desert that child too? Cold.


message 14: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments Ceelee: there was a lot of confusion over Polly's daughters at this point, though clear she isn't much of a caring mother. I still don't get how she could abandon Jani.


James Emery | 14 comments And what bugs me is the reasoning for Lippman doing this. I get slow reveals to build suspense, but in this case with the kids, all it did was confuse the reader. There's a line of honesty with the reader an author needs to walk, and I think Lippman dipped into the intentionally convoluting area.


Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 8053 comments Am just getting to this novel and it's pulling me in for sure. I agree that Polly reminds one of Alice in All the Beautiful Lies. She has that same cold, distant aspect. I am watching her manipulate Adam and getting this sinking feeling.

I was hoping Adam would be a bit more of a challenge for Polly, but maybe that is needed to set up what comes next. Still, I was disappointed since I liked him better as a skeptic than as a lovesick puppy. Well I'm exaggerating but you know what I mean.

I thought it interesting that Adam knew Polly would come running when it was clear he was "dating" Kath. Again, I liked it when he was as manipulative as she was, it seemed like he'd have a better chance at succeeding with his "mission." Also (am putting this in spoiler text because not sure if this is in this section or the next) (view spoiler)


message 17: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments Carol: I know exactly what you mean about Adam and especially the spoiler comment. His character seems to let us down as he falls in with Polly.
Carol/Bonadie wrote: "I was hoping Adam would be a bit more of a challenge for Polly, but maybe that is needed to set up what comes next. Still, I was disappointed since I liked him better as a skeptic than as a lovesick puppy. Well I'm exaggerating but you know what I mean.
"



OMalleycat | 1448 comments Ann said: “ I admit to not finding her very likeable after abandoning not just her husband Greg, but her tiny daughter too. I "get" abandoning a husband, even choosing to do it first, but why is leaving so important you leave your toddler daughter with her father who you don't expect to be a good caretaker?”

Ann, I thought Lippman did this to set up Pauline as a prototypical bad woman, so bad that she’d abandon her kid. Otherwise I can’t think of a reason. She wanted her daughter, seemed fond of her (at least as fond as such a seemingly cold person could be), and so far we haven’t learned any compelling reason for her to leave. She wants to beat Gregg out the door, but why? Just a nonspecific need to move on? In fact I do wonder that such a seemingly unaffectionate woman wanted a child. Was it just to trap Gregg? If so, why? I love Lippman’s ability to layer suspense.

Ann also said: “Polly seems contradictory with her seeming flightiness and propensity to jump ship and run beside this “nesting” urge to make her space just right.”
And Ceelee said (of Pauline decorating her apartment): “She was creating a set piece, like an actor on a stage to keep people from realizing she is not the person she claims.”


I took her careful decorating more in Ann’s vein as creating her vision of a home. But looking back I can also see your point of view, Ceelee. Guess I’ll have to wait to find out what her aim was. She’s so manipulative that I can see her using the look of her apartment to create an impression. But I think her waters run deep and she wanted a particular quilt and bed because it reminded her of a less troubled time in her past. Something worse than the abusive husband happened further back, I think.

James said re: the introduction of Sue Snead’s POV: “At this juncture, she's introduced a side character that I'm only marginally interested in. . .”

I’d gotten used to the rhythm of back and forth between Pauline and Adam and also found it jarring suddenly to be inside Sue’s head. But I don’t think it a mistake, James. Lippman is a careful and deliberate author. First I wonder if Sue will continue as a character. Having been cast aside by her flighty and needy lover gives her some resonance in the plot as we know it so far. Or perhaps she comes in as a brief cameo to contrast professional ethics with Adam. She uprightly rejects telling Pauline she’s been hired by Gregg, though she has concerns about his motive for wanting to find Pauline. Adam, on the other hand, only a few pages later, has only a passing thought about ethics as he falls into bed with Pauline.

I’m betting on Sue reappearing, if only because she seems an entrenched Baltimorean and, being a Lippman book, we’re bound to get there sooner or later.

Carol said: “I was hoping Adam would be a bit more of a challenge for Polly, but maybe that is needed to set up what comes next. Still, I was disappointed since I liked him better as a skeptic than as a lovesick puppy.”

I know! I was thinking this would be a book of shifting power struggles with Adam being ahead of Pauline at times and she leading him down the primrose path at others. Now I’m afraid he’s in her spidery clutches!


Geri said: “I like the cat and mouse feel to the book.”

Yes! I keep being drawn along, hungry for any little tidbit Lippman throws to us, but at the same time I was eager to get to the board’s discussion to see if anyone had picked up on anything I hadn’t.


message 19: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14609 comments Jan O’Cat: it’s good to know we can reconstruct some of the previous discussion points with your fresh input! Polly was certainly a complicated puzzle of a character to unravel!


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