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To Capture What We Cannot Keep
This love story set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower is "vibrant...
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How are the characters affected by setting, and how is a sense of place evoked in the writing?

Created: 10/19/17

Replies: 7

Posted Oct. 19, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

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How are the characters affected by setting, and how is a sense of place evoked in the writing?

"To Capture What We Cannot Keep" moves between Glasgow, Paris, Edinburgh, and West Africa. How are the characters affected by setting, and how is a sense of place evoked in the writing?


Posted Oct. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
millicentg

Join Date: 03/10/15

Posts: 12

RE: How are the characters affected by setting, and how is a sense of place evoked in the writing?

The setting and period of time the author choose for these characters was the most interesting part of this book for me. I felt like I already knew these people...I've see them before in countless books, films, TV shows. The rebellious youth pushing the limits when away from home , the impoverished single woman contained by societal rules, the drug addicted beauty who is fated to ruin lives, the emotionally tortured upper class gentleman who is oh so torn between his mother and two unsuitable women, and the brilliant man of ideas and projects who has the money to pursue them. What made this book so interesting was not these pleasant but stock characters ...it was the setting...the contrast drawn so beautifully by the author between Glasgow, Edinburgh, Paris and West Africa...the descriptions of the Tower slowly rising above Paris, the art scene of the time...the clothing and food and rules of society...the smell and sounds and tastes...the juxtaposition of what was going on in the world at that particular time in history... the opportunity to time travel back into this amazing time and briefly observe everyday life. I did not need the characters to drive this story...Paris and the Tower ...they were fascinating enough.


Posted Oct. 22, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
victoriah

Join Date: 08/22/17

Posts: 16

RE: How are the characters affected by setting, and how is a sense of place evoked in the writing?

Yes, it was a fascinating time - I think one of the strongest themes was the impact of technology and new cultural norms on Paris - making for a very exciting but agitated stage setting. Most of the Scottish characters were portrayed as not very sophisticated, and their reactions to the Paris milieu were used to show the effects of sudden freedom, with Jamie's proposed Eiffel Tower elevator room taking the cake.
Cait represented to me the calm center - she certainly did not have worldly experience, but took in events, learned from them, and adjusted, even though she did feel hopeless sometimes. The clash of quite different cultures and everybody's reactions in the Parisian boiling pot were key.


Posted Oct. 22, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
normar

Join Date: 05/15/11

Posts: 21

RE: How are the characters affected by setting, and how is a sense of place evoked in the writing?

The setting of this book was more important than in many other books I have read. All of the vents and all of the relationships were tied up with Paris and the building of the Eiffel tower


Posted Oct. 24, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 71

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RE: How are the characters affected by setting, and how is a sense of place evoked in the writing?

The Scots, including Cait are unsure what is socially acceptable behavior in Paris--which is far more open especially in male-female interactions although there are still some lines that cannot be crossed. Still, Cail allows Alice to sit, unchaperoned, with a male artist, Jamie is far more open in his carousing than he would be home in view of his uncle. Even Cait a widow is willing to speak to a strange man without proper introduction and even accept a social invitation from him. Beatrice uses the art scene and bohemian characters of Paris to evoke the open gaiety of the place. There is none of that in the Scottish scenes where the dress is more sedate, the homes more dark and heavily stone and the snow and ice of the Scottish winter more dismal than the soft snowflakes in Paris. I think the most evocative sense of place though was that of West Africa, when Cait's simple cotton dresses without the layers and stays of a corset was described. Cait was at last free in more ways than one.


Posted Oct. 29, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
judyw

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 39

RE: How are the characters affected by setting, and how is a sense of place evoked in the writing?

The answer posted by Millicentg encapsulates the way I related to the characters and setting. I have been to Paris several times--the Eiffel Tower is such a centralizing edifice to all visitors. "To capture what we cannot keep" drew a visual of the time before such an edifice dominated the Paris skyline. I felt as if I were there before 1886 and when the tower was being erected. Colin's characters only added to my interest in this mesmerizing book.


Posted Oct. 31, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ritah

Join Date: 05/26/11

Posts: 38

RE: How are the characters affected by setting, and how is a sense of place evoked in the writing?

I agree with several others that the setting of this story was the compelling element. However, I was just a bit taken aback by Caitriona's willingness to venture out alone at night...truly, at midnight and to engage in what seemed a rather sudden affair. That was only saved by the fact that she was a widow and not a young inexperienced girl. On the other hand, I felt rather sorry for Alice who ended up being used by Gabrielle, the count and then, even Emile and Cait. The epilogue was a bit too cute on this issue.


Posted Nov. 02, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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patriciag

Join Date: 07/11/14

Posts: 13

Social earthquake

I think the building of the “outrageous “ Tower was the perfect setting for this story of people straining against the social norms of the time. Just as the Tower is such an exceptional breaking of the rules of architecture, the characters also break away from accepted norms trying to put their own stamps on their lives , refusing to simply give in to expectations. Cait shedding her bustle and Emile walking away from the family business are examples. There’s a generational earthquake happening throughout the narrative.


patricia gurnak

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