Wish Her Safe at Home

Wish Her Safe at Home➽ Wish Her Safe at Home Free ➳ Author Stephen Benatar – Jobs-in-kingston.co.uk Rachel Waring is deliriously happy Out of nowhere a great aunt leaves her a Georgian mansion in another city and she sheds her old life without delay Gone is her dull administrative job her mousy ward Rachel Waring is deliriously happy Out of Safe at Epub á nowhere a great aunt leaves her a Georgian mansion in another city and she sheds her old life without delay Gone is her dull administrative job her mousy wardrobe her downer of a roommate She will live as a woman of leisure devoted to beauty creativity expression and Wish Her Kindle - love Once installed in her new uarters Rachel plants a garden takes up writing and impresses everyone she meets with her extraordinary optimism But as Rachel sings and jokes the days away her new neighbors begin to wonder if she might be taking her transformation just a bit too farIn Wish Her Safe at Home Stephen Her Safe at Kindle Ò Benatar finds humor and horror in the shifting region between elation and mania His heroine could be the next door neighbor of the Beales of Grey Gardens or a sister to Jane Gardam's oddball protagonists but she has an ebullient charm all her own. This novel is crazy fabulous haunting embarassing disturbing to rattle off a few descriptions; and I wasn't really expecting it I knew Benatar briefly in the mid 80s when he lived in my home town for a while and I've read another of his novels The Man on the Bridge which was pretty good; but this was from leftfield It is about Rachel Waring a spinster in her late 40spossibly early 50s who shares a flat with a friend and has a mundane job She inherits an old Georgian house in Bristol from her great aunt and gives up her job to go and live there All of the novel takes place inside Rachel's head and we are looking out onto the world through her eyes as she moves and meets new people In one sense this is a simple and straightforward little story if not for the character of Rachel herself Rachel has been described as an unreliable narrator; but she is not at all unreliable; this is all real for her She is certainly at the start an eccentric and rather odd narrator then you realise from her interior life and the way she is reacting to those around her that she is mentally unwell and getting worse Then you as a reader have to hold on tight as Rachel begins to disintegrate You feel you want to step in and help but you are stuck inside her head you become angry with those who make fun of her though she does not notice and with those Roger and Celia who are clearly trying to take advantage of her the last few scenes are truly awful Yet there are also some wonderfully light comic touches Rachel is really a composite of many different characters She has been described as a cross between Blanche DuBois Miss Havisham with eventually wedding dress; the scenes in the dress shop are hilarious Vivien Leigh and she also reminded me a little of the governess in The Turn of the Screw John Carey in his excellent introduction compares her to Don uixote minus Sancho Panza well a real Sancho Panza The genius is that you can see things that Rachel does not little nuances that Benatar skillfully weaves into the narrative that show the intentions of those around her The manipulative lawyer Roger and Celia are they after her moneywanting to take advantage; you really want to whisper in her ear and her one sexual experience when she was 20 when the boy was clearly doing it for a bet Rachel's new home has a blue plaue on it relating to a little known eighteenth century opponent of the slave trade who dies young 33; an age which has some significance Rachel tracks down a portrait of him and starts to write about him You shake your head a little when she starts to talk to him; but hey we all have an interior monologue When she starts to see him John Carey previously a professor of English at Oxford was on the Booker committee when it was published he championed the book but none of the other judges got it at all He feels that it was because it was too disturbing a book to be a prizewinner too odd Carey also thinks that the character of Rachel Waring is amongst the best attempts by a male writer to enter female consciousness in literature There is a point in the book when you realise how bad things are with Rachel Rachel sings show songs dances in the ueue at the chemist ignoring odd looks is polite and funny Rachel in her interior monologue suddenly uses a word which is completely out of the blue and out of character You know then how deep the problem is but by that time you are captivated by her delusions and all; it's a difficult journey I can sum it up best with a phrase from Doris Lessing's review; This is a most original and surprising novel and one difficult to forget it stays in the mind 1 UH JESUS WHAT JUST THE FUCK?2 I didn't pay much attention to the cover when I bought this book I didn't read the back of it I got it at a used store on a complete whim with a pile of other books knowing that generally I've loved things that NYRB puts out and so I was actually than halfway through this book when I realized that my assumption that it was written by a woman was incorrect Damn son 3 The slow subtle development of this character is just jaw droppingly masterful I finished this earlier today and I can't stop thinking about it I wish you'd read it so we can talk about it and then stop talking about it to stare into the sea 4 You are whisked into a world that is immediately post good news beautiful and charming and fun and then out of the corner of your eye the tentacles begin to unfurl Hah was that a no no you assure yourself5 This line So many lines like this line From a distance there is always something a little touching about failure6 The perfect garden Thwarted desire The perfect painting Vivid fantasies blending into reality A pink rose placed just so Wait was that a tentacle7 UGH GOD DAMMIT IT WAS SO WELL DONE8 Please bury me with this book “I’ve come to the wrong place haven’t I? This isn’t a publishing office”“No dear”“You make it sound like a hospital Now why in the name of holy shit have I been brought to a hospital?” Well because Rachel Waring is crazy And kind of delightfully crazy She’s led an unlived life To her vapid show tunes are real or at least profound So her conversation is sprinkled with rhymed couplets or increasingly double entendre After her great aunt leaves her an old house in her will Rachel moves in and her shadow life becomes a delusional one Well if imagining sex with a portrait ualifies as delusionalThe reader is never uite sure when a certain dialogue is real but beyond uirky or absolutely imagined Like the one time she went to church and sat up front with an outlandish hat and outfit She begins to imagine that the vicar is attracted to her and is sending her subtle but ‘naughty’ messages This causes her to deliver her own sermon her own flirtations and ultimately to break out into songRachel Waring is crazy sure but we wind up rooting for herAnother delightful NYRB Classic find One thing I’ve noticed about the NYRB Classics series is that it includes a goodly number of books by women and gay authors I don’t know if that’s why the books were headed out of print and needed resurrected or whether the NYRB editors have a fondness for those authors In any event it’s a happy result This was a disturbing novel for me because it made me think about how close any of us are to taking those steps to the door of madness and how easy that walk might be Add that to the fact that I've known people who didn't seem to be that far away from Rachel Waring the main character and narrator of Wish Her Safe at Home Though like Rachel the only harm they seemed to do was to themselvesI will never forget Rachel Waring but I also will never want to pay her another visit Certainly a book not for the weak This is a brilliant story that does involve insanity Delusions run wild just as the narrator voices exactly what we were thinking as well But slip and slide we shall and down to great depths of disrepair Charming and evocative this is a novel unfortunately rarely read Stephen Benatar's Wish Her Safe at Home is the most laugh out loud fun I've had with a book in a long time Even if the laughs were accompanied by cringes; even if the fun was the kind that you can get peeking out from between the fingers you're holding up in front of your eyes; and even if I kept groaning and wincing as I compulsively turned the pages the fact remains that I could hardly tear myself away from Benatar and his perilously deluded but always optimistic heroine Rachel Waring Wish Her Safe at Home is the unreliable narrator novel par excellence We realize right away that Rachel is a bit off It only takes a few pages to realize that she is refashioning what we might call neutral reality into a universe that revolves around Rachel herself—a place where strangers in tea shops are fascinated to learn about her rocky relationship with her mother; a place where sermons are preached to her alone and a chemist's banal chit chat is a veiled promise of love and romance; a place of songs dances and encounters with new friends who are uniformly impressed with her singing voice her fashion sense and her elliptical coded references to popular culture Here she is for example at the christening of a friend's babyBut then of course there were his friends his and Celia's—I musn't lump them in with the rest—although surprisingly they weren't uite so easy to distinguish as I'd assumed that they were going to be       Friend or foe? I asked a tall and rather handsome young man whom I considered to be one of the likelier contenders In place of a Masonic handshake I genially explained       Excuse me?       I mean friend or? Family I had nearly said Luckily at the eleventh hour I remembered my diplomacy Well let me propound it to you in another way if this were an invasion of the body snatchers would you be one of the bodies or one of the snatchers? I laid my hand on his sleeve At parties—well especially at parties—it was always one's duty to be as entertaining as one could Of course it does occur to me I'll have to examine your answer very carefully For would a snatcher admit to being a snatcher? Wouldn't he try instead to palm himself off as a body?A lot of what distinguishes Rachel's voice can be seen here her tendency to treat strangers she's just met as if they were in on some coded joke; Benatar's hilarious use of adjectives and adverbs I genially explained to play up the difference between Rachel's perceptions and those of the people around her In another great example of this Rachel claims that she executed a few unobtrusive dance steps while waiting in line at the pharmacy Do the people around her think her explanations genial or her dance steps unobtrusive? Does it matter?Indeed one of the most winning things about Benatar's book is that despite careening ever uickly along the slippery slope to utter mania Rachel is hard not to like Even though I am aware while reading that her version of events may not be accurate there is a part of me that prefers her sunny magical version of the world to the one in which strangers in tea shops don't give a damn about one's mother and banal shop chatter is just a way to fill the empty minutes In her own mind Rachel is some kind of mash up of Scarlett O'Hara Cinderella and Gypsy Rose Lee and spending time in her world is often a lot of fun even if it's also intensely awkward when the reader is caught between his own perception Rachel is acting radically inappropriate and Rachel's perception that she is acting like a gracious lady of the Georgian aristocracyantebellum SouthBroadway stageAnd in fact Broadway musicals along with Gone with the Wind Pride and Prejudice and occasionally a Tennessee Williams play seem to make up the entirety of Rachel's cultural universe When she trips through town with a song on her lips which is often and despite the book being set in 1981 that song is generally by Harry Warren Jerome Kern Noël Coward Bing Crosby or similar As a childhood lover of Broadway musicals this was great fun for me personally but it did give the novel a strange unseated feeling except for a mention of the royal wedding between Prince Charles and Diana these events could have been taking place any time after the Second World War This contributes to the feeling that Rachel is floating in her own mental stew unmoored from any contact with the solidity of the present dayIt also made me wonder at times whether and to what extent Rachel should be read as a coded gay man I certainly don't want to imply that gay men are the only lovers of the Broadway stage; far from it But it is a genre often associated with the gay theater culture and many of the great song and book writers have been gay or bisexual Tennessee Williams too was a gay playwright who addressed themes of sexuality in many of his works and Rachel identifies herself with his character Blanche DuBois Blanche like Rachel descends into madness—in Blanche's case after precipitating her husband's suicide by telling him that his homosexuality disgusts her In telling her own story is Rachel also trying to disguise male homosexuality by casting herselfhimself as a straight woman? She does throughout the novel construct her own femininity in and outrageous ways eventually reaching a point where she goes around perpetually clad in a wedding dress like a chipper showtune singing Miss Havisham By this point she's definitely in drag whether or not she is biologically female So too much of her lust for the young gardener and law student Roger which on the surface is inappropriate because of their age difference and contractorclient relationship mirrors the longing of a gay man for a straight manHe was nicely tanned and muscular and worked without his shirt and though I kept being drawn towards the window of my bedroom I found him almost unbearable to watch; in particular the way he swung his pick when breaking up the concrete And when I went to speak to him to settle some fresh point or take him out a cooling drink I was really afraid of what my hands might do Fly up to feel the film of moisture on his chest? Fondle that coat of darkly golden hair? Dear Lord The embarrassment Whatever would one say? Whoops Please forgive me I thought there was a fly It was like experiencing a compulsion to punch a baby's stomach in the pram or to use on someone standing next to you the carving knife you held       He was only twenty one       But despite such unsettling irrelevancies I felt blest to have him there somebody straight and vigorous and clean who might one day achieve eminence and who would certainly love widely and be widely loved spin a web of mutual enrichment from the threads of many disparate existences a beguiling web whose silken strands must soon make way for even meIs it coincidental that Rachel describes Roger admiringly as straight while thinking about how widely he will be loved? Would any of this have occurred to me had I not known that Benatar himself is gay?I'm not sure if this reading is wildly off base but then again Rachel herself is so out of touch with the divide between imagination and reality that the reader is often unclear on which of the events she reports are actually true and which imagined Given her obsession with the tropes of popular romance it's especially hard not to look askance at events that might fit into those tropes Even her inheritance of her great aunt's Georgian mansion which happens in the first few pages and precipitates the entire plot of the book looks suspiciously novelistic—and yet scenes that follow seem uncomfortably real Similarly Rachel tells a story of going to a party and wowing all the guests with her virtuosity at reciting Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott It seems very unlikely that the party guests actually reacted as she reports and yet a whole series of real seeming events some of them unflattering to Rachel result from said reactions Should we conclude that the entire string of events is imaginary? Or that the events happened but the other people involved had different motivations from the ones Rachel assigns? Benatar does an excellent job of blurring the line between real and imagined while at the same time making Rachel's descent into madness abundantly clear And even as she disintegrates I find myself hoping for the best for Rachel I so enjoyed the time we spent together Wish Her Safe at Home is fiendishly clever and rather unsettling I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything uite like it Benatar’s novel recounts the inward trajectory of a brittle mind spinning itself story upon story as a shield against the unpitying realities of lovelessness ageing mediocrity missed chances and the slow suffocation of hope That sounds like a miserable read but in fact WHSAH is often wickedly funny Its fabulously batty tragicomic lead character forty something spinster Rachel Waring wards off her demons through a mixture of escapism manic gaiety and heroic self delusion Although she is coherent as a character her extreme and increasing dissonance from reality is enough to make her behavior radically unpredictable which makes for a very entertaining rideAround this remarkable central figure Benatar assembles a pared down ensemble of sharply sketched foil characters all of whom we see through the medium of Rachel’s highly unreliable narration and whose true motives we have to guess for ourselves The pacing and development are managed very expertly and Benatar trusts his readers to work fairly hard at picking up clues The part of the novel I liked least was the dénouement where everything becomes much explicit; but that’s just carping— WHSAH had to end somewhere and there’s really nowhere else it could plausibly end John Carey in his introduction to the NYRB edition compares Rachel Waring to a Sancho Panzaless Don uixote That may be slightly over egging it; fact I think she has in common with the heroine of Charlotte Lennox’s eighteenth century Cervantes fan fiction The Female uixote or the Adventures of Arabella though that’s a compliment in my book This is certainly a novel that invites intertextual readings; apart from the foregrounded name checks Gone with the Wind ironically; Great Expectations; A Streetcar Named Desire the portrait theme brings a whiff of The Picture of Dorian Gray into the proceedings—as well as raising very poignantly what I saw as the central theme of the book beautifully treated What does failure in life look like? And who gets to decide? I was sitting around happily reading trying to understand what's going on with this crazy and sad book as it displays a woman slowly and then swiftly drifting into madness and I happened upon this lovely bit My Rachel my darling my all You have fresh flowers in your cunt Don't you think every woman would love to hear this at least once in their lifetime?Amazingly creative Recommended to people who love uirkiness insanity and have patience It doesn't uite grab you at first but then you're in Rachel's world and you uestion why you're there and whether you can stay The genius of this book is twofold First in the sustaining of a terrifically singular inner monologue complete with snippets of song and appearance of characters real or fictitious and secondly the carefully laid trap of a seemingly linear 'disintegration' or degeneration of the mental state of the protagonist Brilliant seductive hilarious and sad Strange tragic cheeky unsettling and a complete blast to read

Wish Her Safe at Home ePUB Ø Wish Her  Kindle - Safe
  • Paperback
  • 263 pages
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • Stephen Benatar
  • English
  • 25 March 2015
  • 9781590173350