The Transit of Venus

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The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:42 pm

Hi, all. I just thought I'd get this thread started. I have to admit this is one of the more difficult books I've read in quite a while. I'm very glad I did so, but I am also glad I read it in a group as I think I might not have persevered. She completely surprised me in those last 40 or so pages. I did not see that coming, but after reading a little about it and rereading the beginning I see it all comes full circle. I guess I need to read more closely.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:00 am

Hi, Danielle, thanks for starting up the thread! I agree that it was a difficult book and that it helped to have some peer pressure to move me along. I was surprised at the particular characters and storylines that ended up getting me emotionally involved: I was really interested in Caro's marriage to Vail and the move to New York, for instance, and actually expected something more melodramatic to come of the South American excursion. I was surprised, in the end, that it seemed fairly affirmative or romantic [update: temporarily only, clearly! as I now understand properly], ... Did the rest of you assume they were going to be together?


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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Stefanie on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:04 am

So you see why the ending made me swear? Smile

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rebecca H. on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:30 am

Wait a second -- don't they die at the end? Or am I misreading things? I'm going to go write my post now, but I couldn't resist stopping in here first.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:49 am

Yes, they do die at the end. Maybe that's why she hid those hints. Ted commits suicide in a northern country (that was in the first few pages) and Caro gets on the plane that crashes on the way to Rome--the hint was the mention her opthamologist would die in a plan crash.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rebecca H. on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:52 am

Thank you, Danielle! That's what I thought, but then I began doubting myself. I can't quite figure out what I think about the importance of those two flashforwards. Isn't it a little bizarre that she would let the ending hang on two sentences that are kind of buried, especially the second one?

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:52 am

I didn't expect them to get together. As a matter of fact I was confused as to where she was taking the story and was losing my bearings and feeling restless with it all when Paul Ivory confessed his "crime". Somehow it all came together then. I had a sinking feeling all the way through that it would not end happily, but I suppose she and Ted at least found each other temporarily. It's almost cruel to do that to the two of them after all they went through.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:54 am

Oh for goodness sake: after all the hints on Twitter you'd think I would have picked up that clue too--I noted the opthamologist reference and didn't put the pieces together. Sigh. I guess by the end I was getting a bit impatient re all the hidden details...


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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:54 am

I would have missed the second one had not Susan gave warning. It was weird. I wonder why she buried them like that and did she want people to think they had got together? Had I read this on my own I am sure I would not have been clued in until well after the fact of reading the book and maybe reading something about it.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:56 am

Rohan--does knowing that they die change how you feel? Somehow I was feeling distant from the two anyway, but I was also expecting Ted to die already--not sure what was going to happen to Caro.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:57 am

It makes more sense, actually, as I felt all kinds of foreboding around how ill Caro looked (though I took that to be mental rather than physical), and then the whole tone of the book did not seem, well, encouraging for a romantic ending. I had simply forgotten the allusion at the start to Ted's suicide--another reason why ideally I should really reread books, rather than just read them, before trying to write about them...

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Susan P on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:59 am

There's also a tiny little flashforward on the first page of chpt. 37 involving the concierge at the hotel: Later that week he was to tell his family, "He was in the hotel on Tuesday. Large as life." and that's immediately followed by Edmund Tice was approaching the peak of his career.--we know he dies before that.

(Is Ted called Edmund anywhere but here and the first flashforward?)

Reading back through the book today I noticed lots of foreshadowing, Caro going down to Hades/subway, even something about a plane exploding. We just don't know what we're reading the first time through.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:59 am

This also reveals to me that I really was more distracted by the language than I'd even thought: I kept wandering off into sentences and losing track of who character were, for instance (Charmian Thrale, for instance, kept confusing me when she turned up, until something recalled her to me.)

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Susan P on Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:01 am

What I wondered was if Hazzard always intended to tell the ending via the flashforwards or if she put them in because an editor, her husband, someone, thought the ending wasn't clear enough.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rebecca H. on Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:02 am

I felt the ending was harsh and cruel -- but fitting with the rest of the book. I admire Hazzard for sticking to her dark vision of things. The scenes where Caro is working in London and is lonely are truly awful and Paul is awful, so the ending is suitably awful. But I kind of agree that life can be like that, and the book strikes me as artistically unified.

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