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The Book Club Post Reply     Print Topic    
User Topic: West With the Night Book Group
NewAttitude
Member
Member # 1030
Default  Posted: 3:51 PM, August 31st (Tuesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

One thing I learned quickly about this book is that I would be forced to put aside any preconceived notions I had about what it would be like.

I read very fast but this book almost forces me to slow down to digest things.
It's like a gourmet meal and I find myself taking my time and almost slathering over the wordiness and descriptions.

I found myself touched and amused by the 'windsock' that was set up for her only the end was sewn shut so it couldn't blow.


Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.

Posts: 58732 | Registered: Jan 2003
howcouldhe1
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Member # 13210
Default  Posted: 4:47 PM, August 31st (Tuesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I must admit I wasn't really looking forward to reading this, but I'm really enjoying it. So much so that I'm well into the second section and having to stop myself from talking about it!!

I think she has a very dry and understated sense of humour and I like that. She doesn't seem to intentionally set out to make you laugh but you do anyway.

One thing I found very sad though; the dying man, Bergner, seemed to place such importance on talking about his acquaintance Carl Hastings, to the extent that she told a small lie about him getting married, but when she actually met him years later, he had no recollection of Bergner at all. Very sad.


Me BS 54 FWH (BT) 52 M 22 years D Day 4/11/06 Over a year of trickle truths. March 08. D Day 2. Online porn and SA. Just when I thought we'd be ok, July 19 08. BT had accident. Severe brain damage, in persistent vegetative state. I lost him anyway.

Posts: 5488 | Registered: Jan 2007 | From: Kent UK
mellowmood
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Member # 2097
Default  Posted: 5:57 PM, August 31st (Tuesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

That struck me too howcouldhe.

While visiting a dying man in a remote african outpost, she describes the conversation. "His voice was soft and controlled, and very tired. 'It's been four years since I left Nairobi, and there haven't been many letters.' He ran the tip of his tongue over his lips and attempted a smile. 'People forget,' he added. 'It's easy for a whole group of people to forget just one, but if you're very long in a place like this you remember everybody you ever met. You even worry about people you never liked; you get nostalgic about your enemies. It's all something to think about and it all helps.'"

When my best friend was dying of cancer and had been shut in for months and away from work, she longed to hear about people she had known, even those who she didn't like.

And it was especially sad that the man in question didn't even remember Bergner.


Posts: 2755 | Registered: Aug 2003 | From: oceanside, calif.
punky
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Member # 12233
Default  Posted: 6:14 PM, August 31st (Tuesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I'm finding myself slowing down with this book, too.


Be a lion, not a mowess...
The Cowardly Lion

Posts: 11294 | Registered: Oct 2006 | From: A whole 'nother country
ladyvorkosigan
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Member # 8283
Default  Posted: 7:16 AM, September 1st (Wednesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Well, she seems to be something of an "honorary man," which was really the first man-approved feminist trope. The world was emerging from the suffragette movement, so coping with that, and if you think about a number of rather outstanding women both IRL and say Hollywood (Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, for examples), they fit into the honorary man category. Men could feel comfortable with these "singular" women because they perceived them as different and not like the rest of them.

As to how she got that way...she seems to have been raised entirely by men, allowed the liberties only usually allowed to boys as a child, so really it'd be her base assumption that there was no other way in which she should be treated, plus the sense that the white people had that things were just Different In Africa. The Africans themselves would probably treat her as they saw the white men treating her, probably having a sense that White People Are Strange, So What Can You Do?

One thing that's interesting about Honorary Men is that they don't play well with other women ("I just get along with guys so much better than with other women!") and guard their place rather jealously, so I'll be interested to see if relationships with other women exist, are elided, what sorts of women she can deal with, etc.

[This message edited by ladyvorkosigan at 8:25 AM, September 1st (Wednesday)]


It nagged him, in particular, that none of the girls hed known so far had given him a sense of unalloyed triumph.

Posts: 14226 | Registered: Sep 2005 | From: Florida
NewAttitude
Member
Member # 1030
Default  Posted: 7:48 AM, September 1st (Wednesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

That is a very salient point, LadyV.
She is much more 'man' than woman in many ways.
I think this plays out in her relationships and how many times she was married, etc.
I'm imagining that she must have mowed down a lot of men in her time.


Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.

Posts: 58732 | Registered: Jan 2003
mellowmood
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Member # 2097
Default  Posted: 8:36 AM, September 1st (Wednesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I noticed that too. There are practically no women even mentioned. She says nothing about her mother so far. None of the men seem to have wives, even the Africans.


Posts: 2755 | Registered: Aug 2003 | From: oceanside, calif.
ladyvorkosigan
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Member # 8283
Default  Posted: 8:47 AM, September 1st (Wednesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Yes, I've noticed that. She is the only woman she sees, whether she's erasing them or just not noticing them or considering their role (which would be typical for a man of her station).

Here is an apt quote from Amelia Peabody, another honorary man, albeit a fictional one:

"If you take a man by surprise, and behave with sufficient arrogance, he will generally do what you ask."

[This message edited by ladyvorkosigan at 1:57 PM, September 1st (Wednesday)]


It nagged him, in particular, that none of the girls hed known so far had given him a sense of unalloyed triumph.

Posts: 14226 | Registered: Sep 2005 | From: Florida
punky
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Member # 12233
Default  Posted: 5:27 PM, September 1st (Wednesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Peabody!!


Be a lion, not a mowess...
The Cowardly Lion

Posts: 11294 | Registered: Oct 2006 | From: A whole 'nother country
NewAttitude
Member
Member # 1030
Default  Posted: 1:52 PM, September 2nd (Thursday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I'm actually going back and rereading the first part with the knowledge of what you all have posted to see what I glean differently.


Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.

Posts: 58732 | Registered: Jan 2003
mellowmood
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Member # 2097
Default  Posted: 2:06 PM, September 2nd (Thursday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Well, I finally found one place where she mentioned a neighbor's wife............

Posts: 2755 | Registered: Aug 2003 | From: oceanside, calif.
NewAttitude
Member
Member # 1030
Default  Posted: 10:00 AM, September 5th (Sunday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Are we on for discussion tomorrow or do we want to put it off until Tuesday since it's a holiday?


Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.

Posts: 58732 | Registered: Jan 2003
dreamlife
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Member # 8142
Default  Posted: 1:21 PM, September 5th (Sunday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Don't mean to interrupt here, but I just adore this book's title!


~XWH told me what I wanted to hear but he always did whatever he wanted to do~

Posts: 25351 | Registered: Sep 2005
hope4tomorrow
♀ Member
Member # 21673
Default  Posted: 4:45 PM, September 5th (Sunday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I'm very sorry that I haven't been participating. Just really busy with back to school things. I promise to get all caught up as soon as I can. I won't be home tomorrow at all. We're going to Disneyland! So later this week I will be able to participate a little more.


Me BW
Him WH-SA
Married 12 years
3 Beautiful girls 8 and under

Posts: 346 | Registered: Nov 2008 | From: California
waiting2see
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Member # 13767
Default  Posted: 9:43 PM, September 5th (Sunday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I've read thru the second section so I am ready to discuss whenever.

I really like this book. It's hard not to keep reading ahead.


me: BS
him: XWS

Much of your pain is self-chosen. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

"It's not livin' that you're doin' if it feels like dyin." Ray Lamontagne


Posts: 1930 | Registered: Feb 2007
mellowmood
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Member # 2097
Default  Posted: 3:06 PM, September 6th (Monday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Me too, waitingtosee. It's a wonderful book.

I'm a little ahead, but don't want to hurry anyone because the book is so worth savoring.

We really picked a winner for our first book, and it just keeps getting better and better.


Posts: 2755 | Registered: Aug 2003 | From: oceanside, calif.
waiting2see
♀ Member
Member # 13767
Default  Posted: 9:00 PM, September 6th (Monday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Okay, I have a million things to say about this section of the book but I'll start with this:

1. The war reference is to WWI and the fighting btwn. the Germans and British in E. Africa? Right? So when Arab Maina is killed, it is in Africa? Would natives have been forced to fight or did he, as she characterized it, feel a loyalty to the British?

2. The imagery she provides is so incredible. I loved how she wrote in first-person (so to speak) from the perspective of the horse, Camciscan. I mean she spoke this horse's mind so well. It was wonderful.

3. Then she attends the birth of Coquette's foal, taking charge and basically handling the actual birth. And, at the time, she is only 15.

Of course, all of this is in the context of a girl who runs barefoot thru Africa with a spear chasing warthogs.

And, not to mention, she survives being attacked by a lion. Though, the picture of his living out his days in a cage was so sad. They had tried to tame him and couldn't (b/c he's a lion) but they ruined him for his "wild" friends so he couldn't return. Then when he does what comes naturally to him, he ends up in a cage b/c he can't go back to the wild. Sad.

I also wonder about how all of this "civilization" being thrust upon the natives strikes her. It seems she thinks it's all a good thing. She seems to believe in her father's and the other British settlers' settling of the land--tearing down the trees, milling and such. She doesn't really seem to question the merit of all of this.

Also, I know we talked a lot about the other women missing in the book. But she does speak of Delamere's wife and she speaks favorably of her, saying she cared for her sort of as a mother since she didn't have her own. But, again, it seems like she doesn't view her as quite equal: she faced her tasks "with perhaps less will than patience, less aptitude than loyalty to her husband." She seems to paint a very "behind every successful man, there is a woman" perspective. But you don't get the sense she will ever be happy standing behind a man.

Another example of this is when the young African girl compares their bodies but notes that Beryl is going hunting and the girl never would.

Beryl really seems to see herself as apart from other women--not just the natives but also the British woman.

Btw, do we ever find out what happend to her mother? She comes to Africa with her father around age 4, right?


me: BS
him: XWS

Much of your pain is self-chosen. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

"It's not livin' that you're doin' if it feels like dyin." Ray Lamontagne


Posts: 1930 | Registered: Feb 2007
waiting2see
♀ Member
Member # 13767
Default  Posted: 9:06 PM, September 6th (Monday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Ok, I went ahead and read the wikipedia account of her life to get the info on her mother, etc. There was a lot I didn't know about who she was. It helps with context if you haven't read it yet.


me: BS
him: XWS

Much of your pain is self-chosen. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

"It's not livin' that you're doin' if it feels like dyin." Ray Lamontagne


Posts: 1930 | Registered: Feb 2007
mellowmood
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Member # 2097
Default  Posted: 9:29 PM, September 6th (Monday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

My understanding is that during WWI, the war was between the British and Germans in East Africa.

And I think the book described Arab Maina went willingly, thinking it was his duty, with his spear.

This was very sad to me. He got his rifle and looked for someone to fight, and was shot and killed.

His opponent was also looking for someone to fight and shoot.


Posts: 2755 | Registered: Aug 2003 | From: oceanside, calif.
punky
♀ Member
Member # 12233
Default  Posted: 7:57 AM, September 7th (Tuesday), 2010View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Wow. I am loving this book more and more like mellowmood.

I haven't read any background on her...I'm kind of enjoying the "gleaning" of info from what she writes. I think her mother is not deceased or she would have said that. Thinking her mom didn't want to go to Africa...or something.

Not just with Camciscan, but with other animals, too--Buller, Coquette, the warthogs, and the new foal--she really has an interpretation of what they are "feeling". I think it's funny how she ascribes to them very human thoughts/emotions. My brother trains dogs and when my kids say things like "that dog is sad", he always says "don't think of them as people, they're not." She is just sooo totally the opposite.

Arab Maina... That was just so sad and so USELESS.

When she was describing the events leading up to the birth of the foal, I really thought she was in her early twenties. She had her own hut, she had assistants...to find out she was only 15 was just a shock. Is there nothing she can't do?

Thought it was also interesting that she only had her first mirror at 15. And that she wasn't totally pleased with what was in it and wondered how that might be changed. This really surprised me--just didn't think she'd care that much. Really added kind of an interesting angle to her for me.


ETA...the part of Arab Maina was just so sad, too, because he really loved her and cared for her. The warthog adventure certainly proved that...I really like how she doesn't really tell things in a chronological order, but rather how things are linked in her head (at least it seems this way to me).

[This message edited by punky at 8:00 AM, September 7th (Tuesday)]


Be a lion, not a mowess...
The Cowardly Lion

Posts: 11294 | Registered: Oct 2006 | From: A whole 'nother country
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