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Lessons in French

"An appealing debut novel...Paris entrances" - Editor's Choice,
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Discuss Lessons in French by Hilary Reyl:
Mother and Daughters

Created: 10/23/14

Replies: 3

Posted Oct. 23, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 04/08/14

Posts: 47

Mother and Daughters

There are three models for the mother/daughter relationship which Reyl explores -- Kate/her mom; Kate/Lydia; and Lydia/Portia. What are the positives of each? Negatives?

Posted Oct. 29, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 05/10/12

Posts: 48

RE: Mother and Daughters

I have trouble seeing any real positives in the relationships of Lydia/Portia and Kate/Lydia. I suppose that Lydia felt that she loves Portia but I didn't get that sense at all. Her gestures were all superficial. She talked more about her concerns for Portia but she didn't DO anything. She would have Kate comfort her as she tried to make Kate do at the end of the novel. Frankly, if you factor in Lydia's relationship with Olivier, I don't think I can find one positive thing to say about Lydia as a mother or a person. I don't think her relationship with Kate had any depth, at least from Lydia's point of view. She was fond of Kate but really only because Kate was so easy to manipulate and abuse. I don't think she cared about her at all as evidenced by her treatment of Kate at the end. As far as Kate and her mother's relationship, I found it hard to get any sense of it. I think the author intends for us to see Kate's mother as someone who is trying to direct her child onto the right path. She sacrifices for Kate but expects certain outcomes for that sacrifice. I didn't think the author developed their relationship very well. To me, it was just kind of there.

Posted Nov. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 12/17/12

Posts: 206


RE: Mother and Daughters

Kate's mother seemed to really care about her and worked hard and sacrificed for her. I think Kate took her mother for granted, as a lot of daughters do. Maybe Kate will appreciate her mother when she has children of her own. Lydia didn't care about Kate, except in a kind of evil stepmother way. Lydia worried about her son, and seemed to care for him in a not very involved way. I think it was the same for her with Portia.

Posted Nov. 03, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 04/08/14

Posts: 47

RE: Mother and Daughters

Lydia is a manipulating, taking person, par excellence. I don't believe that she actively wished harm for Portia, but neither did she ever involve herself in any kind of self-reflection to see where she might give of herself (rather than her credit card). Katie comes from good stock. Many people learn through life to see their parents three-dimensionally and to appreciate them. Katie is well on this path by the book's end.


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