I’m going to tell you something that shows, I think, just how attached I’m getting to these characters: When Cassandra wrote that this would be her last time performing her beloved Midsummer Eve rites, I thought, Oh, no! Then I got really wistful for her passing childhood. And then I thought, um, Maura, this is fiction.
But that’s how engaging a narrator I find Cassandra. I think she’s very self-aware to realize that she had to put her rites aside because, as she said it, “if I ever held them again I should be ‘playing with the children.’ ” (This is how I imagine her around her bonfire—though minus the fairies.) At that moment, she pretty much takes her last steps out of childhood and into adulthood. But, then, she has made smart/funny observations throughout the book (of course, having the advantage of being authored by a grown woman). Some of my favorites:
• “Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.”
• “The last stage of a bath, when the water is cooling and there is nothing to look forward to, can be pretty disillusioning. I expect alcohol works much the same way.”
• “I wish I could have had that food when I wasn’t at a party, because you can’t notice food fully when you are being polite. ”
As endearing as I’m finding Cassandra, her father is quite irritating me. What’s up with him? What, exactly, is he working on so secretively, and why is he allowed to treat his family as poorly as he does? And while we’re at it, why do you suppose Smith sent him to jail, and why did she feel the need to kill off the mother? Would the story have been different if she hadn’t died? Though I would have sorely missed Topaz, who is just a wonderful creation (as is the Vicar; I’d love to have dinner with him).
And then there’s Rose, for whom a beard makes all the difference between being in love or not. Do you find her calculating or just emotionally naive? That kiss between Simon and Cassandra would seem to complicate all these relationships, especially since there appears to be more to it than a spur-of-the-moment response to the music and the dancing. And, of course, Cassandra’s first kiss is bittersweet, coming as it does from her sister’s fiance, and just as Cassandra and Rose are discovering how much they actually care for each other. (By the way, do you believe Cassandra when she says, most vociferously, that she does NOT ENVY ROSE?)
So now the question is, does Simon really love Rose—or is it Cassandra? Does Rose really love Simon—or is it Neil? And does Cassandra love Stephen—or is it Neil. . .or is it Simon?!
Just like last time, we broke off in a place that’s guaranteed to keep me reading—you, too, I hope. For next Friday, let’s read through to the end.
See you then, Bookies. Enjoy your weekend.
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