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VTL - Chapter One, meeting with Mrs Hoffman

But there—Belinda had the same small shoulders and wispy, tea coloured hair that frazzled in damp. They both got wind from hardboiled eggs, had a weakness for TV adaptations of Agatha Christie, and turned at the same instant to kiss each other during the chorus of “Nights in White Satin”. It didn't necessarily mean anything.
And he recalled that, when it stopped meaning, the face he prayed not to see was Mrs. Hoffman's. Mind's eye was bad enough, playing back how she sighed her sentences, how worry lines threaded beads with the freckles on her cheeks. She took too much blame for what didn't work in her marriage, Jon believed. Her desire to make things good made things worse, but there seemed no way to explain the contradiction that wouldn't upset her. Then the professor lost his tenure in '97. The allegations were never proved, but she went through a very needy spell, and not just her; the tape on his answer phone warped with messages. The only time he had managed to keep free from pastoral business was the first day of a round fifteen match between Nottinghamshire and Somerset. He hadn't seen a game all summer, but she sounded so anguished he bought her a ticket.
The woman he met wasn't from the same world. She wore a hat--not that Grace ever went out casually dressed. But she had millenry in every shape and shade, to suit every occasion, so what made her choose broad brimmed watermelon straw with an orange band? Oh, and Fleuretta was going to spend Christmas with her aunt Sophie and cousins in Basseterre—this talk started and didn't finish until they found seats. She would see the moko-jumbies in the masquerade, and taste the best cook up the world ever knew, maybe go diving. She anticipated his questions; he didn't get a word in.


Not 100% happy with this. The phrases "she sighed her sentences, how worry lines threaded beads with the freckles on her cheeks" annoys me more each time I read it. I feel I have to elaborate on Jon's reluctance to see her after his marriage break-up. Because he's worked so hard to save hers and then his goes belly up. So I don't think describing Grace's appearance...well, it seems clichéed. To Jon she is a symbol of a woman who tried to preserve a marriage that was probably a mistake from the start. Jon, conversely, thought his marriage was solid and probably failed to notice the signs of its deterioration.

I do like the bit about the hat. We'll have another bash at this.


January 2015



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