I had actually finished the book already when I wrote last week’s Readalong part 3 – the end was pretty fast.
It is pleasing that Iris gets her way, of sorts – away from the abusive husband, away from Winifred’s awful emotional bullying, back to Avilion, back to Reenie – but also with her daughter, which is bittersweet. We already know that will not go happily.
I had already twigged that it was Iris who had been having the affair with Alex, but I only realised that around part XI or XII, not early on; as it became unlikely that Laura had conducted the affair during her schooldays (in the affair story line, she catches taxis and wears fancy clothes – unlikely for Laura to achieve when playing truant) and she was committed to the mental health institute so soon after leaving school. Then it was quickly clear that Iris had written the book and given Laura’s name as the author because it was so easy then – she was already dead.
All of that reduced Laura as a character for me; she became a little girl once more. The slightly autistic, reserved but also impetuous trouble-maker of the family; no longer a sophisticated woman of intrigue. Iris grew in my eyes to become much stronger, with backbone (which is an odd reaction for me. I abhor infidelity in novels).
The ending felt very rushed. Suddenly Laura was dead, and Richard was dead, and Iris is clearly on the way out herself; either Atwood ran out of time (highly unlikely) or simply decided she was done with the part of the story she wanted to tell.
Thoughts? Thoughts on the book as a whole? on the read-along experience? (as a straight-through sort of reader, read-alongs are a very different animal for me)