Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Discussion

Fair warning, this discussion (and probably many of the comments) will have *SPOILERS* so please don’t read this post if you haven’t finished the book yet.  After you’re done, feel free to revisit this post and share your thoughts with us.

Hey book worms! Have you finished reading Alexandra Fuller’s Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness? (Don’t feel too bad, Katie hasn’t finished it yet either.) Today we asked our mom to share her thoughts on the book.  We thought it would be fitting because she finished reading the book before both Katie and I and since this book is largely about Fuller’s mum, we thought it’d be interesting to hear our mom’s thoughts on it.  If you missed our discussion of Fuller’s first book, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, you can check it out and participate here.

Before we get to that, I also wanted to introduce our autumn book club pick!  Katie started reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and is absolutely loving it so we decided everyone else (including myself) should join in on the adventure.  I actually saw the movie in theaters last week.  I’m excited to compare notes with Kate and it will be interesting to dissect our thoughts and perceptions of both the book and movie since we’ll be consuming them in the opposite order. If you’d like to join our discussion, go grab a copy and start reading!

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Now onto our mom’s thoughts on Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

The Live Seasoned sisters have asked me to lend a hand on this book discussion, as I finished the read on our 23 hour trek from Raleigh-Durham to Boulder. Let me first give you my perspective on novel reading. We sit down and watch tv and everything is laid out for us, no deep thought involved, just entertainment or trying to solve the puzzle before the end of the show. When I read a novel, I am constantly in the moment thinking about the characters, their situation, and then I am usually carried off thinking about my reactions if I were the character in that their particular situation, or it makes me think of situations related to my own life’s journey.

When the Live Seasoned sisters respond to their book selections, they are looking through the eyes of the child and in the case of the books they have selected thus far, the novels are written from the point of view of the child. This will be a switch since I am viewing the book through the eyes of the mom…the crazy mom, of which I have some experience.

I can’t imagine being Nicola Fuller living with the threat of war around her, losing a child, no less more than one child…I think she has earned the right to be somewhat crazy. She relies on liquor to escape and to keep going…who does she have to turn to, to rely on?  I wonder if she keeps somewhat of a distance between herself and her girls to try to make their loss bearable, in case it would come to that? I wonder about what changed, what went wrong around the 40s and 50s, that women needed to find a coping mechanism…liquor, darvon, Valium, marijuana, heroine, oxycodone? The sweet and funny times in my life are in my memory, at times forgotten, but when we are together, those memories are pulled out like woolen sweaters from a cedar chest. But, the tragic sorrowful times have made scars that constantly pinch me. I think this is what brings about the craziness in me and in someone like Nicole.

While looking through the discussion questions for this book one that is interesting to discuss is the relationship between Nicola and Tim…two opposites that attracted. Isn’t it the opposite, the mysterious, that attracts us? What happens when the novelty wears off? Tim goes off and does his thing while Nicola carries on the best she can at home…no back-up…deal the best you can. It’s interesting how men can do their thing and be so oblivious and disconnected to the goings on and the needs of their families. Isn’t it funny that raising a family, something so important, is a total learn by doing, somehow we are expected to have those instincts.

I read these stories and wonder what goes on in the hearts and heads of the characters, but who really knows what experiences have piled up upon them to steer their thoughts and actions. I am unable to recall specific events in the novels I read! as I constantly relate the moment to my own experience, helping to explain or validate my feelings and reactions, and then I move on…just as Nicola does…you just keep moving on. I must say, though, one moment that really stood out to me, is when she dressed the girls for Halloween, I think it is kind of funny that the novels chosen by my daughters are about crazy mommas. Are they trying to figure out this crazy momma…I can’t even do that. We pick and choose the moments to remember, I have many sweet and tragic and funny that come together to steer me along the way, all the while trying to stay sane.

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