One of the phrases I loved from An Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim was “I see you being happy.” Well, as we come to the end of The Pastor’s Wife you won’t hear anyone saying that, I’m afraid.
Today we finish up with Part 3 and, hold on to your horses, a lot happens in this section.
Ingeborg, who I think never had pictured herself as a mom since she hadn’t been given the freedom to dream in her growing up years, is in a steep learning curve when it comes to mothering. I felt such compassion for her as she seemed to be doing it mostly on her own. “Herr Dremmel looked at his watch and said perhaps he would have time to hold her hand next week.”
I know marriages look different depending on their era and culture, but by this section I’m pretty sure there’s more going on (or not) going on with Robert that has nothing to do with time or country. Ingeborg proved to be tenacious as she tried to get her needs met by seeking out other mothers and trying to gain wisdom and advice.
(It was around here we first learn of Edward Ingram, who is a bit taken with himself.)
Questions for you:
- How was your transition to motherhood?
- Who or what helped you?
- Did you have to seek out help or did it come looking for you?
- When Ingeborg realized Robertlet looked like her mother-in-law it was understandably disconcerting. What physical or character attributes do you see in your children or children in your larger family that are similar to other relatives? (Niece #1 is a replica for my mom. In ways that are, I admit, freaky. Niece #2 is so similar to my dad, it’s just jolting. And #3 has been said to be similar to me, but she’s stubborn and dramatic, so I don’t see it. Wink!)
And then we get the jolting news that “in seven years Ingeborg had six children.” The first two lived, the next two died of mumps and the last two were still born. After pages being given to conversations with Robert about whether or not to have more children and when, it was jarring. But I imagine that’s how Ingeborg felt. “It was the absence of pauses that beat her.” I bet!
Robert’s beliefs that “wives, children, and parishes are adornments, obligations, and means of livelihood” saddened me. I kept hoping something would get through to him. “I’m going to work harder than ever.” Said Ingeborg when she returned from Zapport.
- How common are children’s deaths where you live?
- How do you know when you need to work harder? Or when you do not need to work harder? You need to be secure in who you are, not what you do?
- Have you experienced a time when “the absence of pauses” have beat you?
- Slowly Ingeborg gave up reading and using her mind. There is a normal give and take with different seasons of life, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s going on here.
When Ingeborg’s children were sent off to school — she’s been in the country how long? And didn’t see that one coming? — I wondered what direction the book was going to take since there was still a good chunk. At that point we got into the theme of loneliness and how to stay engaged in an isolated environment.
- In the comments a few weeks ago VJ asked: where /how do we find meaningful and appropriate fellowship with people when its not readily available in our context? Great question. How do you? What have you tried that works? Or didn’t work?
- How do you think loneliness might look different for a single person than a married on the field?
- In light of Ingeborg, I was impressed with her tenacity to keep trying in life. “After all, there’s still me.” And after year of reading the journals and books she’d ordered, she noticed “cheerfulness kept creeping in.” I love that phrase. Where have you noticed cheerfulness creep in?
And then Edward Ingram re-enters the scene. Edward was taken with how unselfconscious Ingeborg was and how willing she was to speak frankly. Remind you of the tourist trip she took with Robert? Ingeborg seems so committed to her marriage it never entered her mind something else might be going on. Can you picture those teas with Robert and Edward?!
As seems to be my catch phrase, “this is running long.” In the comments share what you thought of the ending and the interactions with Edward. And really, anything else the stood out to you.
I can’t say this was a “happy book.” But I can say, I’m glad we read it together and I’ve found myself thinking of the themes more than I had expected. Thanks for reading with me!
See you in the comments,
P.S. Next week I’ll introduce the spring book on Expectations and we’ll have books to give away.
And P.P.S. Connection Group sign-up opens tomorrow! Mark your calendars 🙂
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