What is the time span of the novel? Were you clear about the flashbacks in Jennifer's memory? Is the past really the past in Turn of Mind?
Join Date: 10/15/10
Join Date: 01/12/12
I particularly love this question, maybe because I love the use of flashbacks in telling stories. And, to Jennifer, the past was so convoluted, so mixed in with the present it was difficult for her to differentiate what was what, just as it sometimes took me a minute to figure this out, as well.
Also, I don't believe the past ever goes away, or passes. We're products of everything we've ever known or experienced, everyone who's touched our lives. It sounds corny to say when someone we love passes away we haven't really lost them, since we're left with the memories, but it's true. A part of them becomes lodged in us, whether it be a mannerism, a personal joke or whatever. No one passes through your life, and nothing ever happens to you, that doesn't leave behind some trace.
Not to even go into the philosophical question, "What is time..." That it's a man-made idea. That's a whole other ballgame!
Join Date: 05/31/11
I have the feeling that the story from the time of Amanda's death took place over a period of months. But Jennifer's story took place over many years. Her time 'reality' was not lineal. She could be in the present one moment and a child, new wife, revered surgeon or mother the next. For Jennifer, there is no past or present. Just what is at the moment she is aware.
Join Date: 05/22/12
A different way to phrase the question might be "Is the past really IN the past in Turn of Mind?" because for Jennifer past is blurred with present as her memory 'order' blurs time distinction. She is very much living the past IN THE PRESENT during much of the story. Not only does she blur the lines between the times, but Jennifer blurs the past memories blending them (and re-writing her own past history) with her present situation.
Join Date: 10/13/11
I agree with everyone's thoughts on this. It's hard to tell what is the past and what is the present when Jennifer is telling her version. You don't even know if she is remembering the past correctly...and it changed from time to time. As lisag says, the past is mixed in with the present. I liked the use of flashbacks too. Jennifer lives in a world where there is no past, present, or future. Time has no meaning.
Join Date: 05/09/12
Very good points are being made on Jennifer's grasp on past, present, and future. But I think the past is very much in the present for all of the characters. Of course, the past deeds are so dramatic that like lisag says above, it never goes away.
While the other characters are mentally capable of differentiating between the past and the present, their individual past experiences, with each other and individually, loom large and are very much present for every character from Jennifer to Magdalena. It never goes away. hmmm--heavy thoughts.
Join Date: 10/14/11
A very deep question: good responses - all the above. In this novel and with Jennifer, the past is not in the past. For her, the idea of past, present, future have no context in her ever diminishing brain. Others in the story can distinguish between those time concepts but those characters are also influenced heavily by Jennifer. She seems perfectly clear on many occasions & on so many things only to go right off track into some never never land that those around her never can understand. It envelopes them in a vortex of what is reality.
Join Date: 04/05/12
Great discussion! I especially appreciate Lisa G’s comments about the mixing of past and present in the novel.
I found that one of the strengths of the book is in the way the theme is echoed on so many levels, not just in the jumbled mind of the protagonist.
Alzheimer’s itself is a disease in which past and present are inextricably intertwined. Although medical experts speak of the stages of Alzheimer’s as a way to address its symptoms, all agree that it isn’t a progressive disease; symptoms come and go, the patient is disoriented and dissociative one day, coherent and articulate the next, may not recall what happened five minutes ago, but has clear and vivid memories of the past.
We as readers become enmeshed in this looping process as we try to follow Jennifer’s strange journey of the mind where past and present come together in such a way that we are often unable to separate or distinguish the two.
Even the chapter-less structure of the book mimics this non-linear journey. I am one who on reading something that strikes a chord reminding me of something that happened earlier and I go thumbing through the pages in search of the earlier reference. This was difficult in Turn of the Mind and I found myself wanting to plead with the author, “Chapters, please!” But in retrospect, I think the structure was perfect for the story she told.
Join Date: 07/06/12
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