Response of readers to For Elise has been, and continues to be interesting. I plan to share some of these, and Robert’s letter seems like a good place to begin my blog. He’s an Alberta farmer who has just sent his own pioneering manuscript off to a publisher (Word Alive Press). He gives permission to quote from his letter
Wow! Quite a read! I read it continuously until the third last chapter just after Christmas and couldn’t read more. It was too depressing, or maybe I should say oppressive. Not that you were not a terrific writer and all that, but the events, year after year, drought, grasshoppers, lies, and merely just remaining alive were heavy amidst the continuing deceit. You did an excellent job in researching the material and weaving it together as you did year after year. You captured the oppression of the Vane siblings and their mother as well. I am also glad you included on several occasions the quotes from Percy’s diary, otherwise the reader may be left with the feeling (or idea) that the events and relationships were slanted in favor of Elise. It certainly was a depiction of the times, the way people behaved between the various societal classes and the lies they believed and lived. They also believed they could not escape their class designation, and if they tried it would have been both difficult and artificial. Your book, together with the book entitled, “All of Baba’s Children”, should be required reading in some advanced classes of sociology at the universities. You described the relationships of the Vanes and the Criddles as a complex form of codependency, a word that was coined in the 1990’s.
In a book by Nancy Groom, “Bondage to Bonding”, she defined dependency as “a self-focused way of life in which a person blind to his or her true self continually reacts to others being controlled by and seeking to control their behavior, attitudes, and/or opinions, resulting in spiritual sterility, loss of authenticity, and absence of intimacy.” Elise died, no doubt from her accumulated scars left by sickness and disease that she suffered, but precipitated by and fixed in place by her loss of identity, by the lies she chose to accept as truth, which I think you did a superb job of weaving throughout your book. Did Elise have a choice? Although at times I strongly felt the victimizing effects of her choice. You leave the reader to decide.
Robert raised some interesting ideas. Do you have thoughts or titles to add?