All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

My Hundred Lovers Read-a-long Discussion Part 2

Hello everyone and welcome to the second week of discussion for My Hundred Lovers. Before we start I’d just like to thank everyone for the discussion last week! Everyone was so forthcoming with comments and opinions and that is what makes a read-a-long so thank you all for your high level of participation.

Now we’ve read 2/3’s of the book roughly and have learned a lot more about Deborah. Has anyone’s feelings on her changed at all? Do you feel any more or less understanding of her as a character and a woman? Do you judge her, for her actions? As we found out there are probably a few sections in this part that would raise eyebrows these days!

  • We’ve learned that Deborah was married but so far her husband has not been a large part of the book, only mentioned here and there. On p172, when talking about her love for the beach she says “The glorious summer I lived with my son across the road from Rainbow Beach after I lost my husband.” For those who have NOT read on past p173, do you want to take a guess of what she means by ‘lost’?
  • On p91, Deborah states that “In France, she was someone else. She was a girl whose limbs were free, with carte blanche to fill herself in.” She distances herself from this by referring to herself in the third person again, as though she’s talking about someone else, but she talks of herself. Why do you feel she felt things were different in France, that she could ‘fill herself in’?
  • Was anyone disturbed by the chapter ‘Three Men In One Day’ (p103)? This chapter gives more insight into her family and how they have fared while Deborah was in Paris: “…the sister had grown even more beautiful, the mother more drunk, the father on his magic carpet even further away with his endless maps and horizons. The poor brother had long since stepped onto that drinking path which would lead him to an early death.” She has also lost her beloved dog, put down due to old age and and family cat has disappeared. Do you think anything in that above quote impacted on her decision to sleep with the three men in one day? Is it more simple than that? Can Deborah just not say no?
  • Did you find it hard reading this chapter knowing that things today are quite different and that sort of behavior is is considered to be far more dangerous? Then, “Every girl was on the pill and no one used condoms.” Today there is an attempt at a far more different message concerning sexual safety. Do you think Deborah would’ve been as promiscuous if her time was now? Is it something that you don’t feel worries her at all?
  • The shadow lover, whom she is sleeping with upon her return from Paris (as well as the above 3 men) taunts her with remarks that she is not clever, nor is she as beautiful as her sister. She retaliates by “…sleeping with as many lovers as possible”. Why do you feel she stays with the shadow lover, who treats her this way? Whom she found sleeping with someone else at a party, the reason she slept with one of the 3 men in one day. Do you believe that she loves him? Is it habit?
  • The Blind Lover (p123) chapter interested me greatly. He seemed a good, caring, loving man, at ease with his disability and determined to live a full and happy life. Deborah tried and failed to fall in love with him – if she cannot love such a man, can she love any man who is good for her? Does she have a predisposition to drama that dates back to her childhood? Is she always destined to make bad decisions involving men?
  • In this section, Deborah has an abortion. The father of the child is unknown, due to all the men she has been sleeping with. Why do you think Deborah cries when the procedure is performed on her? Is it regret that she isn’t keeping the baby? Or something deeper, such as the reasons behind why she is in this situation? I found the quote “The kindly Chinese doctor has let Ro stand in for all the absent fathers” disturbing and sad. She then ignores a directive not to have penetrative sex for two weeks after the procedure and sleeps with someone she has zero interest in. Does this tie back in with the above question about Deborah not being able to say no? Equating sex with love, or with worth, or with something that she desperately seeks and will take from anywhere to fill a void?
  • When she finally leaves the shadow lover, she goes to the dissolute lover, which she describes as “out of the frying pan and into the fire!” Is this more indication of her incapability to make wise choices with men?
  • “By then the Suspicious Wanderer knew her romantic streak was fatal.” (p138). Do you agree that she has a romantic streak? Does her idea of romantic and yours match up? And how could it be fatal?
  • I felt a bright spot in this section, a beautiful chapter was the one concerning her love for Nana Elsie and vice versa (p147). Nana Elsie is proud of her in a way that her parents aren’t but this quote “There’s nothing like family Debbie. Friends are all very well but it’s family who stand by you when the chips are down” by Nana Elsie seems very idealised. Surely she recognises that it wasn’t particularly like that for Deborah?
  • We also see the return of ‘the deflowerer’, Jonathan Jamieson (p157). How did you feel about Deborah’s involvement with him?

I knew when I was preparing this post making my notes that I’d found lots I thought would be good for discussion but I didn’t realise it was quite so much! If I’ve left anything out that you feel is important, please don’t hesitate to bring it up. I’m looking forward to hearing how you all felt about this section.

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June Read-A-Long – My Hundred Lovers, by Susan Johnson

In June I am very excited to be hosting a read-a-long for publisher Allen & Unwin of My Hundred Lovers, a new book by Australian author Susan Johnson. From the blurb:

A woman, on the eve of her fiftieth birthday, reflects on one hundred moments from a lifetime’s sensual adventures. After the love, hatred and despair are done with, the great and trivial acts of her bodily life reveal an imperfect, yet whole self. By turns humorous, sharp, haunting and wise, this is an original and exhilarating novel from one of Australia’s premier writers.
Lyrical and exquisite, My Hundred Lovers captures the sheer wonder of life, desire and love.

For the first three weeks in June myself and other bloggers will be reading this book in sections and then discussing it both here on my blog and also on the participants own blogs, should they choose. I’ll be posting weekly, highlighting key points and hopefully there’ll plenty of conversation and opinions as we talk about this exciting novel. I can’t wait to read it, I think it sounds fascinating and I’ve been warned that it’s very, very brutally honest in its style which I think should definitely promote some very interesting topics of discussion.

If you’re an Australian blogger who wants to take part in the read-a-long then please email me your details at 1girl2manybooks {@} gmail {.} com with: your name, link to your blog and postal address so that I can pass your details on to the publisher. There are still some spots open so if this sounds like something you’d like to read and take part in, don’t hesitate to get in contact. You can read at your own pace and come back and comment on the relevant posts  whenever you’re ready, there’s no actual requirement to read along exactly to the schedule (which will be posted when I’ve received my copy of the book and can best divide it up into equal parts).

If you’re already signed up through A&U, add your link to the Mr Linky below so we can all get to know each other!

Feel free to introduce yourselves in the comments too. For those taking part who don’t know me, I’m Bree. I’m 30 years old, I live in Melbourne and I’m a mother of two boys – my eldest will be 4 in August and my youngest is 8 months old. Reading has been my escape for as long as I can remember – my parents bought me a 6ft x 3ft bookcase for my 8th birthday and I filled it that day. I’m a book lover, a book hoarder and I started this blog 2 years ago (this week actually!) in order to keep a record of what I was reading in the year and my thoughts on each book. I never dreamed it would lead me into such an amazing community of other book lovers and bloggers. I’ve participated in several read-a-longs before and really enjoyed them and talking to so many other people about the book, but this is the first one I’ve hosted myself so I’m really excited about that. You can follow me on twitter @1girl2manybooks if you like and I’ll tag any twitter posts with the hashtag #MyHundredLovers

I hope you all have fun, enjoy the book and join in the discussion.

I’ll be linking up all the discussion posts with the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012 database and counting the reading of My Hundred Lovers towards my personal goal. Anyone who is also taking part in this challenge, don’t forget that this book qualifies!

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