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Mermaids Singing ?2

June 25, 2007

The search for a place to call home is a powerful element of this novel. Discuss how growing up in the Willoughby home may have affected Grace. Does Graínne, too, lack a home? Do you think she’s able to find one at the end of the novel?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2007 12:18 pm

    I felt so bad for Grainne. She really wanted to stay back and not go with her grandmother. Of course that would have been a disaster given her affection for Grace’s boyfriend but at the same time I could just picture her world crumbling when she realizes she has no one. I do think the novel ends on a hopeful note.

  2. June 27, 2007 4:53 pm

    Grace probably felt like an outsider and somehow “less than” because of her situation in the Willoughby home, therefore, she always felt like she needed to prove her desirability and worthiness through her multiple boyfriends, etc. I think it really stung Grace that the Willoughby son turned out not to have much higher regard for her than the rest of the family, and I think this betrayal colored her future relationships in some way. I think Grainne also lacked a home as it didn’t seem like Grace provided much stability for her (with the revolving door of boyfriends, etc.) other than the emotional stability she tried to provide by attempting to be her daughter’s closest confidante and friend. I’m not sure she succeeded at it or not, as I think maybe her goal was her own emotional stability more so than her daughter’s best interest. As a personal note, my mother was like that and it wasn’t healthy for me – I saw a lot of my mother in Grace.

  3. June 27, 2007 4:55 pm

    I forgot to answer the last part – I agree with Iliana that the novel ends on a hopeful note. Maybe this is the chance for redemption for both Cliona and Grianne.

  4. June 28, 2007 7:29 am

    I think Robin’s probably right that growing up in the Willoughby house made Grace feel unworthy and that she never had a real home with her own mother. I found Grace to be extremely unstable, immature and unlikable and I don’t think she provided a good home for Grainne at all. I do think, though, that Grainne does begin to find a home at the end, even if she doesn’t spend the rest of her life solely on the island. At least she is coming to terms with the reality of her life (that she has a grandmother, father, and other relatives, a family history, etc.) and, like Iliana and Robin, I think there is hope at the end. And it does seem that, at the young age of 15, she was much better off in Ireland. She was much too young to be on her own; it would have been extremely innapropriate for her to stay with Stephen (especially since she was growing up with such dysfunctional ideas taught to her by her mother); and it didn’t seem as though she even had any friends or anything going on for herself in Boston. She seemed lost until she went to Ireland.

  5. June 28, 2007 10:33 am

    I think that Grainne lacked a home in which she was supported and grounded in family. In Ireland, even if she leaves as she gets older, she now has a ‘homebase’, with family and that history. Grace was not much to rely on; with her emotional neediness and desire to be best friends rather than a mother, she didn’t provide much for Grainne to feel supported by, once she would want to make her own way in life.

  6. July 2, 2007 1:48 pm

    This reminds me of a quote from another book:

    “For an expatriate, the whole matter of “home” is an emotional conundrum riddled with ambiguities and caprice.” (From Almost French by Sarah Turnbull)

    I think for anyone that lives in a country different than the one they grew up in, the idea of home is a nebulous one. For Grainne, even though at the end of the novel I believe she has begun to accept Inis Muruch as her home, she will still feel somewhat distanced from those who were born and bred there. She’ll always have that connection to America and being different from those around her, even though I believe she would come to love the island and being a part of that community.

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