The Transit of Venus

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:02 pm

The strangely reminds me of M Night Shyamalan's Sixth Sense, where you don't realize what you're really seeing until you know the trick at the end and then it all makes perfect sense. But knowing it now wouldn't ruin it for me to read again. I almost feel now at a place where I could actually understand what was happening and get more out of the story. It sort of feels like a trick, but I sort of really like it.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:05 pm

I was also caught up in just trying to understand the story and would forget who was who and then when Paul was talking about Ted's 'secret' I thought I would have to go back and try and remember what that secret was. Luckily he referred to it finally. The was just So Much to grasp in this book I can see I got even less than I thought.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:06 pm

I just did a little of what I should have done when I first felt adrift, which is to review the first chapter...It seemed very abstract to me when I first read it (about 3 weeks ago, which wd be my excuse for not having recalled it clearly!).

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Susan P on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:07 pm

It reminds me of Rosalind Belben's Our Horses in Egypt. That one's also terribly elliptical, but when I finished and started reading parts over again, things that had confused me before seemed obvious.

It's a trick I like, too.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rebecca H. on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:08 pm

Thanks for pointing that out, Susan.

I had trouble remembering some of the characters as well, but I like the complexity of the various relationships she described -- that seemed to be the point of it all for me -- to explore the various ways relationships develop, in most cases going bad. The only positive relationships seemed to be Caro and her husband and the potential of Caro and Ted.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Susan P on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:09 pm

When Caro betrayed Ted and told his secret to Paul I fully expected the secret to be used in his next play. I thought that was going to be the cause of Ted's sucide.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:13 pm

Looking at the key 'flash forward' moment about Ted, I suppose technically it doesn't preclude his having gone safely to Rome except for the comment about the timing, the peak of his career: that provides the crucial clue for him. Then the clues re Caro and the plane are kind of a separate thread. Complicated!

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:13 pm

I have a feeling that rereading that first chapter would be a great epiphany--so many things will come together. I understand from reading an essay about it that they also talk of discovering a body in those first pages--which I totally missed, but must have been the man Paul was having a fling with.

And I also think this is very much a way of exploring relationships--particularly romantic ones. And each couple and situation was a different side to it all. I felt very bad for Grace that she never got to have anything more with Angus Dance that a hand hold--not that I think she should have had an affair, but.... Her husband was such a fuddy duddy and a cheapskate.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:15 pm

Paul would have been nasty enough to do just that--am surprised he didn't. I wonder why he told Caro. I think he wanted her to suffer. He was such a callow character.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:16 pm

It's funny, actually, because as I was reading this I was thinking how unlike detective fiction it is--and yet again, as I look back and see the planted hints / clues (like the opthamologist pieces) they were giving me information I should have been hanging on to, as I would have with detective fiction, but during my reading they did not stand out in that way.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:17 pm

And yes, the body swept away is in the second paragraph, one of a few items of news reported--seems just like scene setting for a period piece, which of course it also is. Sly, is the word that now comes to mind.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:18 pm

I never entirely believed in either Caro's love for Paul (I agree, callow is a great word for him) or in Ted's for Caro, which seemed too much 'love at first sight.'

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rebecca H. on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:18 pm

I need to go back and reread the first chapter, but it sounds like so much of the book was there already; we just didn't have the context with which to understand it. The rest of the book was simply filling in the details and making the first chapter comprehensible.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:23 pm

The more I browse around again (and I thought I'd done some of that already, in preparation for posting, the more I think this is the kind of book that really does get better the harder you work at it. A bit like Atonement, maybe. If you knew what she was doing, what you were looking at (or for), a lot of other details might also prove resonant.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rebecca H. on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:26 pm

I'm guessing the structure would become more apparent and appear to be more intricate on a reread -- it seems there are a lot of parallels, contrasts, recurring events and themes, repetitions, echoes, etc. that would be great to explore.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:27 pm

The mirror in Grace's living room, for instance, seemed important--people kept looking in it, at least!

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:28 pm

I enjoyed reading the book--though have to qualify that--enjoyed some parts more than others and sometimes felt it was all a little too much uphill, but I think I am enjoying it more now that I get everyone else's perspective on it. Certainly I appreciate more what she was doing.

And for some reason I didn't catch on at first that Edmund was Ted, so maybe Hazzard only referred to him as Edmund in those flash forwards.

I know Susan has read at least one of her other books. I wonder how this compares. Are they all the same type? And I can't think of another book I've read that relied so heavily on such small pieces of information just thrown into the text so apparently carelessly--but not at all really.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:35 pm

I think this is the second Slaves reading in which I have missed a key detail...thinking of the girl's mother in The Summer Book, who apparently had died without my noticing. Gee whiz, I'm not making a very good showing here. Embarassed Ah well... And here I think of myself as a pretty careful reader. But I did enjoy working my way through it, and I actually like it better now that I see the parts I missed, which make it more impressive structurally (it felt kind of episodic to me, but this does bring it full circle, as has been said).

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Susan P on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:36 pm

I remember The Great Fire as being more difficult, but I don't know if that's really true. I ordered a copy over the weekend for a dollar, though, so I intend to read it again to see!

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rebecca H. on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:39 pm

As I'm in the middle of writing about (in my slow, distracted way!), it took me a while to figure out what direction Hazzard was heading in. The narrative seemed to go all over the place and I wasn't sure what her focus was going to be. I'll admit I got impatient during the South American section when she was introducing new characters at what felt like a very late point in the book. But by the end, I felt that the mood of the book was coherent, and the ideas were too. Now I'm seeing how the plot might be more coherent than I thought as well.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:41 pm

Don't feel bad Rohan--I missed that in The Summer Book, too. I think I only caught on after the fact when I read the introduction!

And I have a copy of The Great Fire and also Bay at Noon, but when I bought them (one I mooched) I had no idea how difficult she was and might not have ordered them had I known. Of course now I am happy to have them. I think I need something a little less challenging as a break, but I might enjoy reading her, and this one in particular again.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:43 pm

Yes, that South American part seemed almost out of nowhere. Of course it makes sense considering the work Adam did and how they met.

Wasn't Leadbetter a real jerk by the way? Caro and her coworker had some great retorts, but talk about an unsympathetic man.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rebecca H. on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:43 pm

Oh, and Rohan -- you are an amazing reader! Who knows what I wouldn't have noticed without reading introductions and getting hints from other people. I could easily have missed the second flashforward that tells what happens to Caro if Susan hadn't kindly told me to watch out for it. I wonder what I would have made of the end if I had missed it.

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by Rohan on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:45 pm

I loved the scene about fixing lunch at the office: "As is that not somewhat absurd? The purveying of--ah--victuals being an accepted part of her functions?" "By whom is it accepted?" As my son would say, PWND! (or however you spell that....)

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Re: The Transit of Venus

Post by dsimpson on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:46 pm

I would never have figured all this out on my own! This was the perfect sort of book to read in a group.

Yes, that is the exact scene I was thinking of!

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Re: The Transit of Venus

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