MY HUNDRED LOVERS, DISCUSSION POST #2

The My Hundred Lovers bloggers’ read along has continued this week and there are some fantastic insights from all involved. It struck me at one point that the author, Susan Johnson, may possibly think we are all completely mad! She has since reassured me that she is really enjoying reading the comments from bloggers – am heaving a big sigh of relief. Blue Eyes thinks it’s silly to analyse fiction too much because we may completely get it wrong…but I think that’s part of the fun.
This week our host Bree raised a stack of interesting discussion points – well done to her. If you follow this link, you’ll see what they are. Here’s my contribution this week.

‘Love lives in the body and when love dies the body is the first to know’ (p89).  Isn’t that truth? For me, that quote struck a chord because I have experienced that feeling. As I think about the quote in relation to Deborah, it seems like a contradiction. In the context this is written, love and sex go hand in hand, and yet, there are many times in this section that love and sex are kept quite distinct from each other, continuing that theme of dissociation. Not always though. Sometimes Deborah seems to fall into that age-old “If I sleep with him he’ll love me” mindset. I think her need for approval and self-acceptance outweighs any issues with promiscuity at this time.

The more I think about this book, the more I read, the more complex Deborah gets. One minute I think that she has a deep-rooted desire for approval, and then I consider her moniker “Suspicious Wanderer”. Her suspicion is probably rooted in her past, just as her desire for approval is; these conflicting aspects of her personality seem to lead to self-defeating behaviour. As for a romantic streak, I do think she has a romantic streak – that comes across quite strongly in the language used to describe her other, non-sexual lovers, for example. With her physical lovers, she wants romance, the whole hog, in one sense, but she knows it could hurt her – be the emotional death of her. So she remains suspicious and pushes away.

For me, the words that stood out the most in this section were: “I did not know how to be intimate except through my body, as if I believed that in opening the door to my lips or my sex I had opened the door to myself” (p128). At this point, her body is the closest anyone, anything ever gets to her. It’s the closest the grass, the fingernails, the men – save perhaps her son, but I’m still getting to that section – even her Nana Elsie, gets to her. Her Nana Elsie knows her as much as Deborah will let her know her, but yet she (Nana Elsie) seems ignorant of some critical family dynamics. (That chapter, Bree, was lovely, I’m just off on a different tangent here…). A lifetime of suspicion, a lifetime of dissociating from pain, all probably going back to a lack of attachment with her mother, means Deborah just doesn’t know how to really let someone under her skin. And even if she did, could she?

Yes, Bree, there certainly were a few chapters in this section that raised my eyebrows and I’m guessing you did at the same time as me! But, I am enjoying this read along. You raised some excellent questions, but I fear I would be here all night if I thought and wrote about them all. Right now, it’s off to rest my aching head!

In other news, completely unrelated, the postie delivered four books to me this week! I was getting worried on Wednesday, but my worries were unwarranted. Reviews of This is Life by Dan Rhodes (liked, but didn’t love) and The Meaning of Grace by Deborah Forster (thought-provoking) have been uploaded on Write Note Reviews. Right…off to bed early with a cup of lemon tea, a heat pack and a new book.