Friday, January 4, 2008

The Vanished Child

Just before Christmas I went to the library, then ended up not reading most of the books because my husband gave me some that I liked even more. I'll write about them later. But I'm going to the library in few minutes and I need to write about this one before I go.
This is a thriller, but it is a period novel, so I figured it wouldn't be the gore and horror sort, more a mystery. Which it was, very little of the nastiness that makes me shy away from more modern mysteries. I actually liked it, enough to start reading the sequel. There is child, who vanished, everyone assumes that the child was kidnapped and killed. A man with a missing identity and all those secret things that make for good Victorian mysteries. I really liked how the author handled the emotional consequences of past decisions. So this book was good.
I started reading the next book, but one of the elements of the next book, which draws directly from this one, really irritated me, to the point that I quit reading it. When something bugs me so badly that I keep thinking about it even hours later, then I know I need to stop. This book has a girl who is engaged, to the wrong man of course, (is anyone ever engaged to the right man the first time in fiction?). She meets the hero and gradually comes to know that marrying the wrong guy will make her miserable, He wants her in an idealized sense; he wants a picture of the perfect girl that he thinks her can mold her into, because she is young and almost blind. That's all fine. But in the second book they begin having an affair, when they could have easily gotten married, in fact it was proposed, because the two people cannot reconcile her desire to have a music career with being married. Marrying will ruin her as a musician. What a lot of garbage, like having an affair in 1910 wouldn't ruin her even more. All the excuses you are used to hearing and none of the common sense. A lot of talk of love, and why they can't live without each other, and justification, but all of it modern rot to excuse doing what you want and pretending there will be no consequences. Maybe they do finally marry in the end, I couldn't stand it any more and quit, and I don't really care to find out. I wish people would be more realistic about the effects of sex on themselves and society. So many try to idealize it and say there "Shouldn't be consequences." But there are, whether you like it or not, and to disregard them is to be selfish and greedy, not loving.

The Vanished Child. Sarah Smith. Random House. 1992

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