Archive | 12:15 PM

Book Club Reflection: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

20 Jan

The lovely ladies I work with and I sat down over lunch to have a discussion on our latest cute little book, Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I was fortunate to find a list of discussion questions on the Penguin website so I’m going to follow that format to tell you about our discussion. We reserve the rights to skip questions we didn’t like.

  • Who is Lincoln O’Neill? How would you describe his character when we first meet him? What is your opinion of the status of his life?
    • We thought the best word to describe Lincoln was ‘shmuck.’ (Spell-check doesn’t agree.) He was a very unfocused person who didn’t know what he wanted to study in school or what he wanted to do with his life. He was a very over-grown teenager and reminded me of some of the characters in the movie Failure to Launch with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey. He never saw a reason to grow up.
  • Much of what we learn about Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner–Snyder comes from their email exchanges. What impression do you get of these two women? What draws you to Beth’s character?
    • We liked the story of Beth and Chris. It was cute that she was attached to this rock star she was still in awe of after so long. Though most of their emails were really short, we liked the long ones that really moved the story. The problem we had with the emails was that the two voices were really similar. Both were well spoken and witty, which isn’t a bad thing, but it made it hard to tell them apart some times.
  • Lincoln’s job, among other things, is to monitor company email. How would you have acted given the same position and why?
    • We work in a highly competitive industry where we know our emails are being read and could be pulled up in a court of law if it were ever necessary. That being said, I will still send an email to my mom from work if I want to ask her a quick question. Would Lincoln flag it? Maybe. One of the women in our group would have flagged Beth and Jen’s emails. I’m not sure if I would have flagged the first one because I think one or two aren’t killing productivity, but there’s a threshold when he should have done it.
  • When we first meet Beth through her correspondence, we hear about her relationship with Chris. How would you describe their relationship? What draws Beth to Chris?
    • Chris is the opposite of Lincoln at the beginning of the book: not a shmuck. They’ve been together so long they don’t really know how to be apart. Beth is drawn to the ‘cool’ factor of Chris. And hey, he’s been faithful and never given her a reason to doubt him. It’s his bandmates she doesn’t like.
  • How would you describe the fate of Lincoln’s college relationship with Sam? How does that relationship inform his actions throughout the book?
    • He clung to Sam. It was hard to read about the time leading up to the beginning of college for them. It was something we’d all  seen before and knew it was going to end badly. It was bad of her to string him along so far. She seemed to know before they left for California that it wasn’t going to last. But Lincoln needed a woman to guide him. After Sam, it was his mother, and then it was Christine from the D&D group, and then his sister, Eve.
  • Beth’s longest email to Jennifer recounts the events of attending her sister’s wedding. What do we learn in that email? What does that email reveal about Beth and what she wants? What effect does this email have on Lincoln?
    • Even though Beth claims that she’s happy with Chris, it’s obvious that she wants a wedding and a marriage. Being in the state of limbo she was in with Chris wasn’t making her happy. She needed the next stage of commitment from him. Lincoln had been waiting for something to be wrong with Chris; something Beth couldn’t stand and he could provide better than Chris had. Maybe it was a little much for him to have walked by her desk, but this finally gave him something that made him a better choice.
  • What impact does his brief reunion with Sam have on Lincoln? What significance does the timing of this reunion carry within the story?
    • Lincoln was just starting to make a change in his life. He seemed reluctant to do it for a long time because he seemed to think that Sam was going to come home and they could pick up right where they’d left off. He thought if he stayed the same, she would too. Seeing her confirmed for him that it was time to move on. She’d obviously changed and it was time for him to keep going as well. It reinforced for him that he was no longer in love with her and that he could like Beth. Woo!
  • Jennifer is dealt a devastating blow late in the novel. How does this event change her? What is your opinion of Beth’s reaction to the news? How do you feel about Lincoln’s knowledge of this event?
    • It really bothered us that Lincoln ‘figured it out.’ It didn’t seem like something that was intuitive based on a lack of emails between the women and there wasn’t something about the way Jennifer looked or acted that should have let Lincoln sniff it out of her. To us, that was one of the flaws of the book. We felt bad for Jen because she did want to talk about what happened to her, but Beth wasn’t there for her when she needed it. She ignored it because she didn’t know what to say. It was sad that Jennifer had to lose a baby to realize how much she wanted one.
  • Describe your reaction to the moment between Lincoln and Beth in the movie theater. What strikes you about this moment? Knowing what Beth knows at that point, would you have acted as Beth did?
    • All three of us were a little bothered by then ending. It seemed to ‘clean,’ very forced by the author. There were a million ways they could have gotten together and this one wasn’t a favorite of ours. It went too far and kissing in the theater was a little too out of character for both of them. She was angry with him, why would she have done that?
  • Attachments brings up the interesting notion of “love before love at first sight.” Do you believe in this idea? Is it possible? What do you see in Beth and Lincoln’s future?
    • In today’s world, Internet relationships can be ‘love before love at first sight.’ It’s interesting that Rowell set this novel in 1999, right at the cusp of the Internet boom and the beginning of on-line dating. The only difference is that in Internet dating profiles, you don’t know what’s true and what is someone trying to put on a good face. What Lincoln saw of Beth was only the truth. We hoped that they would stay together.

Well that’s it! We haven’t picked a new book yet but there’s been an idea of a mystery being thrown around. We’ll see if we find something we like!

Until next time, write on.

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