Quote Of The Day: Experiment In Love

Image by Rolf Dobberstein from Pixabay

Quote Of The Day #78

“She was quarrelsome, dogmatic, and shrewd. Her speech was alarmingly forthright, or else bewilderingly circumlocutory. Her eyes were large and alert, green like green glass, with no yellow or hazel in them, with none of the compromises people have when it comes to green eyes. When she laughed, I seldom knew why; when she cried, I was no wiser.”

“Women were forced to imitate men, and bound not to succeed at it.”

“I was able to understand Carina’s outlook on life. She believed in hierarchy and degree, and disblieved profoundly in equality of men. She believed in self preservation by scheming, by conserving her efforts and never wasting her breath. She did not believe in justice, or at least she acted as if justice was a luxury. She did not believe in speaking her mind. She was steady and slow; she put her shoulder to the wheel. She was, as Julian said later, a peasant.”

“If you knew at twenty what you know at thirty-five, what a marvelous life you could have; on the other hand, you might find that you couldn’t be bothered to have any life at all.”

I can’t remember when and why I bought this book, which is titled “An Experiment In Love” by Hilary Mantel. It might have been another audible sales event, which I didn’t want to miss. I never want to miss a chance to get my hands on a discount no matter how much I hate myself for it.

Anyway, I read the summary of the story, and the Wikipedia page about the author before proceeding to listen to it. I thought it would be very interesting since the summary seems to say this is the author’s autobiography about her life as a teenager in England, attending a Catholic boarding school and then university. She and Carina, her friend and neighbor from a East European immigrant family, were friends since kindergarten. They went to the Catholic boarding school together. Her over-ambitious mother pushed the author to sit for exams, and attend schools on scholarships, which was not enough to live on. The summary sounded very interesting, especially when I encountered buzz words like boarding school, ambitious mother, and immigrant.

Wikipedia tells me that the author’s mother lived with her husband and lover together for a while before her husband fled, never to be seen or heard again. I thought that’s an unusual family dynamic and I wanted to hear more about it.

Anyway, the book was not as I expected. There were few description of the dynamic between the daughter and the mother, no mention of the mother’s lover, and very little content about the life of an immigrant’s family. I also wanted to hear about the boarding school since I attended a boarding high school too and I hated it. However there was not much about the boarding school life either.

Although this book is not as I expected, it does paint an honest picture of her life. She disliked Carina very much, and Carina disliked her–Carina disliked everybody. But the two girls were on the most friendly terms on the surface. The author’s mother treated Carina as the daughter she dreamed of having but never had, which mortified the author.

Although I am not really satisfied with the book, I feel quite intrigued. I want to hear more about his narcissistic mother, about Carina’s life as immigrant, about the boarding school. When I was in boarding school, there were two or three girls giving me hint that they wanted to have deeper friendship. I didn’t take up the hint and now I really regret that. I hated that school very much, and the only reason I attended this horrible boarding school was because it was better than my family, with my parents forever battling and every breath filling your lung with air of antagonism. Well, now reflecting on my past, I should have formed a deeper bond with one of the girls–good relationship could exist in harsh environment. It was an opportunity for a wonderful “experiment in love” which I missed.

9 thoughts on “Quote Of The Day: Experiment In Love

  1. So much truth in that second quote. In order to succeed, women often have to imitate men and end up miserable. For example, many women have to sacrifice being a parent in order to succeed in their careers while men don’t since they are not expected to do both work and raise their kids the same way women are. Fatherhood is not seen as a hinderance to their career while some women lose their jobs or job opportunities when they become parents as motherhood is seen as a distraction from their work. And instead of accommodating women at workplaces, it’s easier to just not hire as many women or let them go/give them bad positions when they become mothers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. So true. I absolutely agree. Women are tied with their children forever while men don’t. Even my mother who hated children had to cook and clean every day, which she hated. And I have observed many women around me. My conclusion is that a woman has to be a super-human in order to work both outside and inside at the same time. Most Asian women have their mothers or mother-in-law to raise their kids while they go out for career battles. If they don’t have that, their lives can be rather hectic. I’ve heard of one super-woman who had one child with her first husband, then she divorced him, and went for her second husband, with whom she has had two more children. However she was so full of energy. She’s like a super energetic person all day long. Most of women are not like that.

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        1. She is a super woman. She also goes dancing after work once per week. Most women will not be able to do that. I have only heard of one person in real life who’s like this. Nobody else is this way. I guess she can fulfill all the social requirements, but she is 0.1% of women. Or I guess upper-middle class women who can afford to pay two nannies. They can have it all. Other women can’t do it. It is just not humanely possible.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Wow, that’s really impressive. Yeah, being upper class helps a lot since you don’t have to do a lot of the work women have to do. You can get help for the house and nannies for the kids.


    2. the problem comes when one’s mother or mother-in-law raises the kid–one does end up having quite indifferent relationship with one’s kids. Well…I’ve seen people like that around here. So common. Still women can plan a best life for herself to make oneself as happy as possible. I guess having it all is probably not possible for most women. Just my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True, my grandmothers sister raised her first son (my dads brother) and his relationship with his parents is completely different. He’s also a huge narcissist like my grandmothers family. Yeah, women can’t have it all. At least not right now. Hopefully things will improve some day.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Probably in the future when robots can help with certain child rearing tasks, when people have more flexible views about women feeding children while working (many works can allow women to have such flexibility), when women can design more innovative ways to form supportive community or institutions, I think women can have it all. Right now things are too rigid and many things are set up deliberately to separate career from child-rearing, which have forced women to choose one or the other. It doesn’t have to be this way. And social structures should be set up to cater to women and children’s needs, rather than the other way around. I think one day it will become a reality…

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I agree, women can have it all if the world was more accepting of it and helped women achieve their goals the way they do men. If society becomes more accommodating to women’s needs both in the household and the workplace we can definitely have both a career and successfully parent our kids. I really hope this becomes a reality someday.


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