How to pick up life after your husband suddenly leaves you? That is what this novel is about.
In the beginning there is a family. It is a very ordinary family, just like yours or mine – Ben, Rose and their three children. One morning Rose is boiling eggs in the kitchen when, without warning, Ben leaves her. Rose is all of the sudden left to face life alone.
In this novel we read the story of Ben and Rose’s marriage and how Rose struggles to re-invent her life after he has left her. We read how the marriage was “In The Beginning”. We follow Rose for one year after the break-up. In this year she manages to create her own new beginning.
The author uses simple prose and has a good eye for both sharp and subtle observations. Catherine Dunne delivers these sharp and subtle observations with lots of humour. When you have finished this novel you will not only admire Rose, but also know (again) that it pays off to reflect what you want and to live your life accordingly.
In this reading guide you will find a summary, some background information about the author and lots of discussion ideas to make most out of your book club discussion of “In The Beginning”. Enjoy your read and the discussion.
One morning, out of the blue, Ben tells Rose he is leaving her. Devastated and numb by this news, Rose decides to stick to her routines as best as she can to survive the day. And so we read how she gets through the first week. She gets help from her friend Jane and, unexpectedly, from her teenage son. In one week she evolves from an obedient housewife (whose days are filled with keeping the house clean and organised, with taking care of the children and with cooking the most exquisite meals for her husband and serving them on time too) into a woman who takes the initiative in unknown territories.
In between those 7 days, we can read in flashbacks how Ben and Rose came together and how their relationship took shape. This makes us understand why the marriage was as it was when Ben thought it was enough.
The novel has got 4 parts. The first part is a daily account of Rose’s life, not just the day, but even the time is mentioned. In the course of the novel the time lapses are further apart, which is in line with Rose’s growth into the new situation. In total the 4 parts deal with the first year. We mainly read the story through Rose’s eyes, though there are a few chapters written from Ben’s point of view.
The novel can be easily bought as an e-read version, but is hard to find as a “traditional” book. I think that is a shame, since the novel may be nearly 25 years old but the topic is unfortunately still very actual. Many relationships fall apart and often women struggle with the emotional and financial consequences of a break-up, especially when there are children involved.
Catherine Dunne was born in Dublin in 1954. She had been a teacher for many years, before she became a full-time writer in 1995. “In The Beginning” is her first novel. She has written 9 more since then. On her website you can find more information about her 10 books. She lives in Dublin.
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Questions and Icebreaker Ideas by Book Club Post. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks so much!