Sunday, 19 May 2013

the skeleton in the cupboard

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was reading The Skeleton In The Cupboard, by Alice Thomas Ellis; I finished reading it in March. It was fine, but I won't read it again (though that's true of 99% of the books I read; life's too short) - if it had been the first of hers I'd read, I might not have come back so readily to read more (though it, like most of her books, have the great merit of brevity). But here's an interesting quote (from p44 of my 1989 Penguin edition), reflecting a clear understanding of and sympathy with issues of faith (I seem to remember she was a committed Catholic):

'In one way I was relieved that Syl had not married until now. My family had been Catholic since Adam was a lad. They had lived in a remote corner of the North and the upheavals of the 'reformation' had not troubled them. None of us had been called to martyrdom and we all took the Faith for granted, like air and bread. When my mother left my father all those years ago, the gentry and the yeomanry for miles around had been delightfully scandalised, for adultery and divorce were social sins and rare in those parts. But my uncles and aunts, her kin, without talking, or even thinking, about it, feared for her immortal soul. They were ashamed in the social sense and angry with her for so shaming them, but those emotions are bearable. it is the knowledge that somebody you love - one of you - might, by sin, separate herself from you for eternity that is a source of anguish. Embarrassment and wrath kept my family away from the neighbours for a time, but it was not those feelings which would make one of my uncles fall silent, another give a sudden exclamation and bite his lip. It was not because my mother had put her sisters into the awkward position of having to hold their heads high before the curious regard of the neighbours, when what they wanted was to clap their hands over their ears, close their eyes and pretend they were insensate that made one of my aunts weep silently in church and another take to saying Decades of the Rosary at peculiar moments. It was the fear that one of them was lost.'