Good Reading : February 2005
goodreading 9 needed them most times. SALLY CR ‘Do you agree that a woman’s place is in the home?’ RHONDA In my heart of hearts, I do agree. While she is in her childbearing years, a woman’s place is in the home. But today we’re lucky that we can combine our work, sometimes, in the home − we don’t always have to go out to work − and I think that’s a big positive.Where Lilian, if she wanted employment, she had to leave her family while Margaret found a job she could do at home, so she had the best of both worlds. I wonder if Margaret’s lot would have been any different if she had had to work outside the home. HELEN What I think would have been really interesting is if each one of those women had written her autobiography. To see how things would change. JANI To see how honest they would have been too! SALLY CR Things didn’t change that much from Margaret Ann’s day to Lilian’s day. It was only when Margaret, the third generation, came along that situ- ations had really changed in the world. So Margaret Ann could still look at her daughter Lilian and not be bitter because she was virtually living out of the same tradition, but when Lilian looked at Margaret’s life she did seem to become bitter because her daughter had it so easily. SALLY CR ‘The family versus the indi- vidual.Which should come first? How important is self?’ HELEN Just from reading the notes and from reading that question I think Margaret was inclined to put herself first in a lot of things. She didn’t have a lot of time for her mother, she gave her a hard time some of the time I thought. Her mother had tried to branch out, she had a really good job. It was only when she became panic stricken that she was going to get too old to have children that she finally decided to get married. I felt sorry for her mother a bit. SALLY CR It wasn’t until almost to the end of Lilian’s life that we got an insight into the voluntary work she had done and yet there must have been so much of it in her life. JANI The thing is you do only have one life and you can only live it for yourself. And if you get to Lilian’s stage in life and you look back and you think I’ve never done anything for myself. A lot of times that is our own fault.That we don’t make a stand and say well today is my day. RHONDA But her husband wouldn’t have stood for that. JANI He never got tested did he? And it still goes on. Men are still like that, they want to be waited on. HELEN I think Lillian felt she was trapped. SALLY CR ‘How political is this book?’ JANI I thought it was quite political. I thought that was Margaret Forster’s intention in writing the book to make statements about women’s lives and whether they’d changed much at all per- haps. I thought most of the way through she was making political statements. ALL I agree with that. SALLY CR ‘How do you account for the relatively recent growth of women’s power?’ SALLY CA Everyone attributes that to the Pill don’t they? Power over your body. HELEN I remember my mother saying that the most amazing thing that ever happened to her was the Pill. She was so pleased when that Pill came along! JANI Education was a great liberator of women, wasn’t it? They wouldn’t edu - cate the girls at one stage and without an education there wouldn’t be women doctors and all that sort of thing. SALLY CR And you can see that with Lilian in the book can’t you? She had the opportunity but didn’t go on with it. RHONDA But in those days women were prevented from working after they got married. It just wasn’t allowed no matter how much you might want to. JANI And there are still people who say that it’s because of married women work- ing that there aren’t enough jobs for people. SALLY CR ‘When it comes to marriage, are women still drawing up the balance sheet?’ RHONDA That was the one question I liked.Women are still doing the balanc - ing trick because women seem to be plagued by guilt. In many of the books we’ve read this year, women’s guilt has been an element in all of them. I don’t think men have similar feelings. Are women still drawing up the balance sheet? − do I stay home with the kids or do I go out and excel at something? And if you do stay home and look after the kids, educate them, nurture them and you think I’m doing the right thing, and then other days you think I should be out earning money, going out and doing this and doing that − self development. There’s this balance the whole time and some days you feel you’re in the right job and some days you don’t. SALLY CR The other thing is that women have their own money too now don’t they? HELEN You thought of a financial balance sheet? SALLY CR I did initially. I was thinking how having my own income allows me to buy what I want − books, clothes, etc... without having to ask my husband. I couldn’t imagine having to do that. Ratings (out of 10): JANI 10. RHONDA 6.5. HELEN 6. SALLY CA 8. SALLY CR 7. Share your opinions and thoughts with our readers by becoming our Reading Group of the Month. If you are successful, we’ll provide each member of your group with a free copy of a specially selected title and publish an edited version of your discussion. To register, simply fill out the card on page 45 and mail to: Good Reading, GPO Box 3835, Sydney NSW 2001, or register your group online at www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au Would you like to be our Reading Group of the Month? reading group (l-r) Helen, Rhonda, Sally Cr, Jani and Sally Ca.
December January 2005