I found this book a thought proving, compulsive read – which I completed in two days. I liked the short chapters, alternating between past and present, which helped explain the story as it unfolded.
The theme of the book is one which we are all familiar, how does the past effect the present.
Guilda was bought up in the belief that she is clumsy, large and unattractive – ideas put to her by her mother and sister. These ideas are so embedded in her self-image, that she is surprised to see a photo of herself as a young woman, looking attractive. At school she was clever, but ridiculed in Germany for being a Jew, and in England by being German. She never had a chance to pursue education as she was married from school to a man she had never met, a business partner of her father.
I feel for Guilda, she felt she had no control over her life, ending up feeling divorced from reality and depressed.
She is a lost soul, lonely and depressed, unloved as a child, and unable to show love as an adult, despite a fierce feeling of love she has towards her son.
When her son marries, she is desperate to become part of his family, but her neediness repels her son. She stalks her daughter in law, even to the extent of entering their house when they are not there, which is very creepy.
She finally realises that she has made mistakes in the past, but they have not totally been her own fault. She was a victim of her upbringing, and has past that on to her son, who is a victim of his past. We are left wondering if this cycle will ever be broken.
A question for the author – is the story based on true experience, it feels to real to be fiction.