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Day 1

Chapter 1, p. 1-18 (through “She was not sure that she did not find him a bit too familiar.”)

December 3, 2020 by Claire Messud

Jane Bowles wrote this novel during World War Two; Christina Goering’s name is no accident: ‘Christina’ for the woman who “wanted to be a religious leader when I was young”, and ‘Goering’ for the infamous Nazi aviator and Reichsmarschall.

“It’s not for fun that we play it, but because it’s necessary to play it.”

Even as a kid, Christina Goering takes things too seriously, roping her sister’s friend Mary into a game called “I forgive you for all your sins." Who hasn’t known (or perhaps been) the kid who doesn’t understand fun?

Miss Gamelon announces to Miss Goering (on p.9) that “you can make friends more quickly with queer people.” She may or may not mean ‘queer’ in a contemporary sense; but she certainly means ‘unconventional’. And is not, perhaps, wrong.

Bowles’s other serious lady, Frieda Copperfield, shares a surname with Dickens’ dogged, feckless protagonist. Of travel, she says, “I don’t think I can bear it…it frightens me so much to go.” [p.17] Both women are bound to do what most frightens them.

Daily Reading

Day 1

Chapter 1, p. 1-18 (through “She was not sure that she did not find him a bit too familiar.”)

Day 2

Finish Chapter 1

Day 3

Chapter 2, p. 37-62 (through “The other two women looked across the street and they all watched him disappear.”)

Day 4

Chapter 2, pp. 63-83 (through “Oh, I’d love to Pacifica,” said Mrs. Copperfield, running out of the room.”)

Day 5

Chapter 2, pp. 83-102 (from “When Mrs. Copperfield arrived in Mrs. Quill’s room" through “Mrs. Quill was dignified and remote and did not give her the lavish thanks which she had been expecting.”)

Day 6

Finish Chapter 2, pp. 102-121 (from “Early the next morning Mrs. Copperfield and Pacifica were together in Pacifica’s bedroom" through “Listen, your pal’s been out of the room two whole minutes already. She’s gone to look for Pacifica.")

Day 7

Chapter 3, pp. 123-142 (through “She held her hand over her heart and smiled to herself.”)

Day 8

Chapter 3, pp 142-158 (from “When she arrived at the tip of the island" through “something would happen to interfere with her departure.”)

Day 9

Chapter 3, pp. 159-176 (from “She noticed with a faint hear” through “shortly she fell into a deep sleep.”)

Day 10

Chapter 3, pp. 176-196 (from “At about five thirty on the following afternoon" through “Then all three of them politely bade good-by to Andy’s back and left the room.”)

Day 11

Chapter 3, pp. 196-210 (from “Arnold’s father had been sitting in the ice-cream parlor" through “He’s never going to listen to me,” Miss Goering said to herself.")

Day 12

Finish Chapter 3, pp. 211-End

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