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Topic: Summer House by Jude Deveraux

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Subject: Summer House by Jude Deveraux
Date Posted: 12/31/2011 9:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
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I'll be occupied tomorrow and asleep when it hits midnight so I'm going to post the first question of the day about this book and we can begin discussin our general feelings about the book.

1. Which of the three main characters do you feel you most relate to?

My answer: All of them in different ways, they feel like facets of one person rather than three characters. At first glance I'm most like Ellie because she is nervous and negative but still smart and a smart ass. Upon getting to know Madison better I feel akin to her because she had encouragement and promise but ultimately is disappointed in life. I also feel a bit like Leslie because she goes along with things rather than causing a fuss.

Date Posted: 1/2/2012 12:06 AM ET
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Question 2: Are the women victims of bad men or are they passively blaming their woes on others?

It seemed a bit of both to me. They each went into their situations without knowing how it would be but then they stayed and took all the abuse that was given to them. Well all except Leslie, she wasn't really a victim at all she was just bored and making assumptions about her life without confirming anything. She really was passively blaming her woes on her family when in reality they were sorta just in her head.

Date Posted: 1/2/2012 12:09 AM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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Q1. Which of the three main characters do you feel you most relate to?

I liked Madison the most. I liked her both before and after their time-travel experience. Plus, her choice of not wanting to remember her past left me thinking about things beyond the book itself. Would I have chosen the same? How much did Madison not tell the other women and the audience? Is the author suggesting that people have soul mates since Madison met... (I'm forgetting his name, the smart boyfriend, not the jerk she married...) him in both lives?

As far as who I related to the most? I've got Ellie's inner monologue, but Leslie's everything else. What do Leslie and I have common? Ditto, Chris, on that not-causing-a-fuss thing. When in the company of friends, I like to listen and engage conversations. I have tools, event planning skills, and a DIY attitude when it comes to 'projects.' When faced with the possibility of re-careering, I also get a sense of helplessness. I really identified with the home-town/leave town conflict that both Leslie and Madison seem to have. And I will always want to be a dancer!

Q2. Are the women victims of bad men or are they passively blaming their woes on others?

I'll have to think on that one for a while. I'm still trying to get past how rich all leading men were! I was irked by how often wealth and class came up in this fantasy.



Last Edited on: 1/2/12 12:20 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/2/2012 12:22 AM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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...passively blaming her woes on her family when in reality they were sorta just in her head.

Chris, kinda sounds like you disappointed by the ending? Or Leslie's ending? Am I reading that the wrong way?

Date Posted: 1/2/2012 12:38 AM ET
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No I wasn't dissapointed in her ending. It just seemed like she realized her life wasn't bad at all in the end, she did after all chose to keep her life. I think a lot of people have the same issue, they percieve slights and badness where there isn't any because of assumptions they make about other people. I know for sure I've done that in the past.

I'm still trying to get past how rich all leading men were! I was irked by how often wealth and class came up in this fantasy.

Yeah, this was for sure not a very realistic book. I often credit my favorite writers with making the unbelievable believable and Mrs. Deveraux did not at all accomplish that task with this book. I found it to be an easy read that didn't really provoke much thought from me.



Last Edited on: 1/2/12 12:45 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 1/2/2012 2:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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It was a little unrealistic how great all the new men were, they were a bit too perfect.  Perfect men and rich to boot? I'll take one please. It wasn't much of a thinker, in fact I summed it up as a romance novel trying to masquerade as a standard novel, she just added a subplot to connect the romance stories. It's a book searching for a genre. It was interesting enough to keep reading but I didn't miss it when I was done, which is my hallmark of a really good book. I saw there was a sequal but I can't imagine how they could further these women's stories without messing them up so I didn't even look at it. 

I don't think anyone is ever completely a victim of a bad man/woman, you have to be complicit in the relationship for them to be bad to you. At least more than once. Madison was a total doormat in her first life, actually they all were pretty much doormats. Leslie let her family walk all over her too as did Ellie her husband. I do think Leslie was a bit of a victim of being used by her family because she let them, she catered to their every whim and they were spoiled rotten and didn't have any problem taking advantage of her. 

Date Posted: 1/2/2012 2:59 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2009
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Leslie's situation sort of irritated me.  Isn't she the one that left her fiance nearly at the altar?  Then went back and picked up where things left off?  Then her hubby got bitchy?   Sounds too unrealistic to me.

Ellie let the guy walk all over her in a divorce?   Get a better attorney.  I dont' know much about the law, but that was unrealistic too.

I sound like I didn't like the book, but I actually thought it was okay, or as least as okay as a group of women who only know each other on line, and who agree to read a book that is readily available at a swap book site can be.  

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 1/2/2012 4:52 PM ET
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That's the thing though, in their first lives the women all seemed to let life happen to them. In their second lives they found good men and learned to take charge of their lives. Ellie was too useless to know she should get a better lawyer. Madison didn't have the spine to make it as a model so she let her husband rule her life. Leslie gave it over to taking care of her ungrateful family. Bunch a doormats. Then they meet a wonderful man and all of a sudden they have backbones. 

Date Posted: 1/2/2012 5:57 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2009
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Barb,

good point.  Now I see why I need a book club.   Women needing men to be strong makes me like the book less.

 

Date Posted: 1/2/2012 8:20 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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Okay, I'm ready to tackle the second question. Despite it flaws, there are reasons I did like the book more than I expected. I'll save that for later after we get the initial steam blown off. angry... blush

Q2. Are the women victims of bad men or are they passively blaming their woes on others?

The short answer? They're all on a spectrum which ranges from victim of abuse (Madison) to victim of circumstance (Ellie) to passive blaming (Leslie). 

The longer look at it...

Madison is the closest to legit victim. She suffered the verbal / emotional abuse of 3 people -  husband and her in-laws, and her chances for 'getting out' were very limited by her financial dependency, physical isolation of living in a small, rural town, and limited (traditional) education. All three of those seem pretty common in real life, even if they weren't fully fleshed out in this book. 

Ellie was victim of her husband but had more opportunities to either get out of the relationship or at least protect herself professionally while in the relationship. She had the financial dependency to leave at anytime, but by the time she got to the divorce, her husband had a pretty ruthless strategy cooked up. I'd say she was more the victim of circumstance since it was a combination of things that brought her down: being blindsided by her husband during the divorce, her inability to cope during its proceedings, and crappy legal situation she was in with the bribed judge and mediocre attorney. The divorce details were another thing glossed over in the book.

Turns out Leslie's the one doing the most blaming, though it was subtle to catch. The author sets up Leslie's husband and daughter to be quite a pair of yuppie villains! For me, the main problem of Leslie's whole family is simply the rut they got themselves in - a rut of selfishness and miscommunication. (Yet again, this seems common in real life but, in this context was unsatisfying because it was not fleshed out.) I think Leslie chose to keep her life less out of love and more from the realization that her life could be simply be fixed. At least, that's how I reconcile the ending to be less unsatisfying. I think I'm making Leslie more complicated in my head than she was in the book!

 

For me, this question opened up a mental hornet's nest.

In cases of domestic abuse, I hesitate to simplify it down to blaming the abuser. Placing all the blame on one person shifts responsibility away from the victim. I'm not saying that the victim shares the blame for not 'getting out' when she could. Rather, it takes time for most victims to realize their predicament and then figure out how to escape or change their situation. Not only that, a victim goes through a huge emotional evolution, and can hopefully mature into a successful plan-of-action. Blaming the abuser steals the focus from all the emotional baggage that the victim has to deal with. It gives all the attention to the person who doesn't deserve it. I'd rather help a victim than simply point-a-finger and expect a solution. (Whew, got that off my chest!)



Last Edited on: 1/2/12 8:29 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 1/2/2012 8:40 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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I think you're right Deb about her going overboard on Ellie's divorce settlement. No judge would give him all that and all her future money. All she would have to do if someone did bribe the judge is appeal and the next judge who saw it would have said that judge was crazy and thrown it out. 

 

Date Posted: 1/2/2012 9:10 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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Lol, Barb. The Summerhouse: Doormat Makeover edition! I think the sequel has a cast of three new characters, right?



Last Edited on: 1/2/12 9:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/2/2012 10:37 PM ET
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Wow Dw, I guess because the book was very two dimensional I just didn't delve into the characters that much. You're right though, Madison was the closest to being truly abused and a victim. However, I think its more along the lines of her feeling sorry for Roger than feeling unable to leave.

Ellie's story from the beginning was so absurd to me that I just went along with it, everything from a judge just giving her wealth to her first husband to the jaw dropping almost humping a stranger scene in the barn when she sees her new husband for the first time.

Date Posted: 1/2/2012 11:00 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2009
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Off subject, did we decide on a new book?

Also do we think everyone who read the book knows about this site?  

Date Posted: 1/2/2012 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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Yeah, I'm trying not to overthink the book, but I must be compensating for it. It helps that I just finished it yesterday or the day before. I completey agree with

Ellie's story from the beginning was so absurd to me that I just went along with it.

I didn't mind how much of the book seemed "unrealistic." If I can suspend my disbelief enough to read about time travel and erasing your memories, then I'm willing to cut the fantasy romance stuff some slack. I bet if I read another, more realistic book by this same author, I'd be more critical.



Last Edited on: 1/4/12 8:03 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/3/2012 12:30 AM ET
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A Reliable Wife was the book to read in January. I have my copy already and I've read the first few chapters.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 1/3/2012 1:04 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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I finished the book some time ago so it's already faded a little, I'm gonna wait a bit before staring the next one so I finish closer to the first of the month. My memory sucks anyway so it's been long enough that I'm remembering things that I forgot as they get brought up. I didn't dislike the book or worry about it being unrealistic when I was reading it, I think she wrote it well enough and it changed up often enough to keep me from getting bored or analytical, but looking back parts do seem more far fetched. I don't really have a need for reality though, I can hang with unrealistic as long as it's interesting. 

 

"A story of three women who had traumatic experiences brought together by a psychiatrist in an unusual setting."

That's all the site says about the sequel, Return To Summerhouse, and there's no Amazon link, not sure if it's the same women or not. I can't imagine there being any more to these particular women's stories though. The've already time traveled and rewriten their lives, how much more can they do?
Date Posted: 1/3/2012 3:10 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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These two quotes were orginally posted in another forum, but somehow, they both seemed to apply to the women in our book.

"Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold on to."  Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

"Being nice is all you have left when you've failed at everything else." The Thirteenth Tale by  Diane Setterfield



Last Edited on: 1/3/12 3:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 1/3/2012 5:23 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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I bumped the thread on the CMT forum with a reminder, maybe we should do that every few days until some of the people that have been posting there show up. 

Date Posted: 1/3/2012 10:04 PM ET
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Question of the day: Ellie thinks castration is too light a punishment for Madison's high school boyfriend, who dumped Madison for his college sweetheart. But later, Ellie approves—smiles and all—Leslie's choice to dump her boyfriend and move to New York. "You wanted to see life," she says to Leslie. Care to comment on Ellie? Is she inconsistent, or is there a deeper morality she's aiming for?

My answer: The situations aren't really the same thing. Leslie left a boring relationship to see the world. Roger cheated on Madison then used her and left her when he got what he wanted from her.

Date Posted: 1/3/2012 10:06 PM ET
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That's cool Barb, I didn't think that thread was getting any attention anymore.

Date Posted: 1/3/2012 10:43 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2009
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I think Ellie is inconsistent.  Maybe she evolves thru the story.  Mostly I am enjoying all of you making points about the book.  I guess I tend to just read superfically.

I think I am going to skip on Jan/Reliable Wife.  I need to finish some projects around the house here.  But I'll be on for February.

Date Posted: 1/3/2012 11:01 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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This is the perfect sort of book to read superficially. There was enough to characters to keep me interested all the way through despite how silly much of the book was.

Question of the day: Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. Ellie inconsistent? She seemed like the sort who go ahead and make a castration joke simply because the chance was there! About the only deeper morality I can sense in Ellie is the fact that she'd support a friend through her choice whereas she doesn't hestitate to skewer someone who caused pain to her friend. Whether the author was trying to parallel these two moments, I can't tell. I liked Ellie almost all the way through. My interest in her did start to wane when her new life was going all too perfect. Sadly, it made her less sarcastic.



Last Edited on: 1/3/12 11:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/4/2012 2:57 AM ET
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Question of the day: If given the chance, which three weeks out of your own life would you choose to return to and relive? Are three weeks enough?

That one was easy for me. If I could change any three weeks I would go back to when I was thirteen and stop my house from burning down.

Date Posted: 1/4/2012 7:44 AM ET
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Heavy stuff, Chris. Out of curiosity, how do imagine that'd change your current life? If you don't want to get into, I completely respect that.

Me? Nothing drastic, but I'd definitely take the chance to be able to time travel!

I might go back and change my major in college, but I can't remember what specific three weeks I would need to go back to in order to do that.

Or I'd go back to the group trip to Washington D.C. I took when I was 14? Or was it 15? I'd love the chance to joyfully blow-off the b.s. they kept us teenagers busy with and savor being in the Nation's capital. Now that I've grown into a history nerd, I'd like to relive that trip and simply enjoy myself. At the time, I thought I had fun, but looking back on it, all I have are memories of catty dorm dramas and schlocky tourist visits.



Last Edited on: 1/4/12 8:07 AM ET - Total times edited: 5
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