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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Book Tour #9: The Jane Austen Book Club

Intrigued by the idea of a book tour and want to read more about The Jane Austen Book Club? Hop along to more stops on the Barren Bitches Book Brigade by visiting the master list in the post above. Want to come along for the next tour? Sign up begins today for tour #10 (Embryo Culture by Beth Kohl with author participation!) and all are welcome to join along (see the post above to sign up). All you need is a book and blog.

This was our first time doing a non-IF/pg loss/adoption book so it was interesting to see whether we divorced ourselves entirely from our life experience or whether we viewed the book through this common collective lens. I'm not even sure which end of the spectrum I fall on to answer that question, but I'm interested in reading everyone else's thoughts today.

Jocelyn and Sylvia are closer than most sisters. Their relationship has withstood many tests. Do you have a particular friend who has stood by you through thick and thin in ways that stand out from most friendships, and if so what brought you together and what keeps the relationship so special?

The friendship of Jocelyn and Sylvia, the ease within their interactions, was one of my favourite parts of the book. They reminded me somewhat of the Bennett sisters, though--to quote Lindsay--sisters from a different mister. I think if you have a friendship of that intensity and length in your life, you're drawn to those storylines.

My friend Julie, usually referred to as my Lady When Waiting, is that friend for me. We have known each other since we were in middle school and she had to whip me into shape when she was president of our Jewish youth group and I was running for treasurer under the name Tasty. I had made these gorgeous orange and purple buttons that said, "Tasty for Treasurer." Though she has no memory of this, I remember her cornering me by my locker at school and saying, "take this seriously. This means a lot to me." And gentle reminders to be a better person is just one of the reasons I love her.

She is the one who talked me into seeing an infertility therapist, she raided every Starbucks in the D.C. area when we realized their grande cups made a perfect vomit receptacle for morning sickness in the car (fits perfectly in my cup holder and by the third month of pregnancy, I could vomit and drive at the same time), and told me the babies were beautiful when they were little 2 pound peanuts in the NICU. She has been there through every crisis and every celebration. Her name is on the ketubah above my bed. She's the godmother to my children. She buys me cook books all the time. She taught me how to roast a chicken. She is the person I can call in the middle of the night. Her happiness means as much to me as my own happiness.

You don't take a friendship like that for granted.

Allegra is described as "liking being an aunt. That it offered all the kid time she needed. Probably. All she wanted mostly." If you don't have your own children, but are an aunt how important is that role to you and, what special rewards does it offer?

Before I was a mother, I was an aunt and being an aunt without children was simultaneously my largest joy and largest source of sadness. It was very hard for me to hug my niece and care for my niece and keep in mind that she wasn't mine. My niece is pure love and she is the most beautiful, smart, and funny princess in the world. Now that she's older, it's fun to have an actual relationship with her, play games, talk about things. But when she was a baby and she would sleep on my chest and I could sniff her keppie, how can you not miss those times and how can you get in the car and drive away when the playdate is over? Every time we had to leave her, I would sob for the first ten minutes of the car ride. Being her aunt before I had children created a game of pretend--I could pretend she was mine and practice mothering. Did it make it more painful when it was time to give her back or was it the charge I needed to get through the loss inherent in infertility? Who know.

When Corinne stole Allegra's stories, she both lied by omission as well as stole pieces of Allegra. Do you believe Allegra was more upset about the lie or the fact that someone stole her stories?

I was struck by this storyline--perhaps as a writer myself--and how much stories mean to individuals. I think it's one of the cruelest things you can do--steal from someone's life--and I actually think, for me, it would cut deeper than a lie. A lie can have a positive spin at times--it can spare feelings or keep someone from emotional pain. The white lie. A fib. But stealing, for me, can never be written off as coming from a good place. It's malicious and hurtful and I was gleeful that no one wanted to published Corinne's retelling. It's almost as if the world knew that she deserved to be punished for her transgressions. Go literary magazines!

So again, if you like the idea of a book tour and want to read more about The Jane Austen Book Club hop along to more stops on the Barren Bitches Book Brigade by visiting the master list in the post above. If you want to come along for the next tour, sign up begins today for tour #10 (Embryo Culture by Beth Kohl with author participation!) and all are welcome to join along (see the post above to sign up). All you need is a book and blog.


Bea said...

The problem with other people's children is that, ultimately, they're other people's. They have a stronger connection to mum or dad, and you can only do with them what mum or dad give you "permission" to do. When you deserve kids just as much, it hurts when those "second fiddle" moments are highlighted for you.


loribeth said...

Both our nephews were around long before we ever started ttc, so there wasn't quite that same level of hurt that they weren't ours. In a way, I'm glad for that.

I too loved the long friendship between Jocelyn & Sylvia. And the part about Corinne stealing Allegra's stories upset me too. You really hit the nail on the head there, especially about how Corinne was punished by nobody wanting to publish them! I'm really not sure why Allegra went back to her (although Lord knows lots of people I know have broken up & then got back together with men I didn't think were good for them), & I'm interested in reading if anyone has an opinion on that.

loribeth said...

P.S. You can sign me up for Embryo Culture if you haven't already!

The Dunn Family said...

I'm in the reverse situation as you mentioned. Me and my sister went through IVF (first cycle both) at the same exact time. I now have 10 month old twins, she still has no kids, and is about to start her 5th cycle. It breaks my heart every single day, and it amazes me how she just surrounds herself in my kids and just loves them so incredibly much. I don't think I've ever wanted anything more than I want her to have a baby.

Deb said...

I was glad that no one published her items also but I still am suprised that Allegra went back to her in the end.

Thanks for sharing your great responses!