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The book felt like an actual changeling

The Changeling - Joy Williams

 

 

I'm positive that I've missed something with The Changeling. It read like a different novel each day I picked it up to continue reading it.

I've read different reviews that suggested the island was a cult, which never crossed my mind. It was this possibility that made the whole situation that much sadder.

I took Pearl as a free spirit who was a victim of her parent’s suicides when she was younger. She muses to herself she doesn't do much other than having sex with her husband of five days, but then that was only five days. Who knows what would have happened to her had she stayed with the gym teacher.

It is to Pearl's great misfortune she is carried off by Walker. First he has sex with her at a motel, which she is resigned to as her fate. I suppose this was the part feminists despised the book for back in the '70s. Pearl isn't a character to act heroically for others benefit.

Whatever she notices is happening on the island is probably more than the kid’s mother Miriam has noted. Miriam is too busy making her skirts.

Was Thomas a pedophile? The man gave me the creeps.

The part where Pearl mistakes him for Walker thus comes onto him. Walker's reply that he doesn't need women, his work with the children, why he brought Pearl back to the island. The way Williams described Thomas speaking to her as if a pet on a leash spoke to me how everyone viewed Pearl. Miriam was kept busy with her skirts and would not hinder him with his work with the children.

 

When the book shows her back on the island after Walker dies in a plane crash, it is the children who disturbed me.

The book appeared to change on me whenever I put it down.

I never got a feel for whether Sam was real, if he was malicious or the other kids were. Was Pearl the grandmother?

Their hatred and fantasies of killing their hapless father Lincoln. I did skip the part where they spied on their dad jerking off. That felt like it would go on forever.

 

Pearl reminded me of previous Williams’s characters such as the story The Farm Sara that were about alcoholism. The Farm gave us the manslaughter and guilt one would normally associate with this condition. The Changeling may have really been about a demon baby and not booze.

I felt like those kids were snickering at me and I wasn't in on the joke.