Saturday, 13 October 2012

Linda’s final chapter -- not to be sniffed at

... By now the ferry was almost half way across the Thames to North Woolwich. Maybe he wouldn't turn up ...
Rosewater, pistachios and oranges were the ingredients of Annie's cake. Gluten-free, for the benefit of Linda; delicious, for the benefit of us all.

We had gathered at Annie's to hear the closing chapter of Linda's novel. A few of us found the mood of this final chapter quite different to the rest of the book, compared with other extracts we had read. Rob wondered if the mood was a little too sombre and felt that the reader would want to know everything was going to be all right in the end. The closing scenes take place on the Woolwich Ferry in London. A few of us noticed echoes of Magwitch and Great Expectations in the sinister character of Laros and the atmosphere of the fog-bound Thames. 

Annie found it hard to comment, feeling she had less of an overview of the whole book than other members of the group. Chris admired the sense of ‘pay-off’ (the central character Lily pays off the debt she owes Laros; Linda pays off the debt she owes the reader.) Lily has come full circle -- back in England and broke again but able to make a new beginning. Linda herself was concerned about the ending because, as she noted, people do like a happy ending but people also like a ' lump in the throat ' ending.

Chris was heard to remark, 'I didn't have a problem with the crippled old men and I didn't have a problem with the wheelie bins.' Nevertheless, we learnt that Chris is someone who likes to call a ferry a ferry.

There was an interesting discussion about whether Babe and Darlin’ should be capitalised, and Rob consulted the Guardian Book of English Language, summoning up curious examples like 'You're not my sister, Sister' and ‘I'll ask Dad and then you could check with your dad.’  When Rob suddenly started to sniff and sneeze I began to feel guilty he had so rapidly succumbed to my cold but Annie suspected an allergic reaction to something in her flat. Let's hope he's not allergic to rosewater, pistachio and orange cake. Perhaps the damp London fog of Linda's chapter had chilled him to the bone.