Oh my. Poor Granny! I have to admit I didn’t see that coming, although obviously something
bad was bound to happen. I complained in my last review about how Fremlin seems to like writing female characters who are constantly spouting off about the newest thing they’ve learned about child psychology. Claudia, however, is not quite the same as Mrs. Hooper in The Hours Before Dawn: she has a psychology-related response for everything
. Margaret is absolutely right when she says something like there’s no arguing with Claudia; she has an answer for everything. I really don’t feel sorry for her at all; for most of the novel I wanted to smack her, or just tell her to go away and stop talking. There’s a small sign that she will reform and try to act like a normal person, when she realizes all the trouble she’s caused and apologizes to her mother when they’re both sitting by the phone waiting for a call back from the police. She can’t wholeheartedly believe that nothing is criminal and everything is the fault of Society. Why would she bother going to work for a paycheck, when she could just rob a bank as needed? Why bother paying for anything at all? Etc., etc. I do feel sorry for Helen having such a lunatic for a mother, and not having her grandmother to rely on anymore, but at least she’s nearly grown up and her personality is pretty well developed. Margaret seems to feel guilty for acting like she’s the one who raised Helen instead of her parents, since Margaret took care of her while they were both working, but it’s really true; Margaret is the one Helen turns to with all her problems, and they have real conversations, and listen to records together (which is really cute – I wish I had a grandmother who didn’t mind listening to the music I liked as a teenager, instead of one who said “turn off that noise” and called everything rap). I’ve enjoyed all of Fremlin’s novels I’ve read so far (this is the sixth), despite wanting to strangle those characters who can’t shut up about psychology and the modern way of raising children, but this was the first to make me actually tear up a little at the end. This was the saddest ending so far, taking the characters, at least Margaret for sure, beyond the point of no return.