(Apologies for posting this discussion a day late: sometimes real life gets in the way of blogging.)
Note that the rest of this post contains major spoilers!
Wow, the fourth section of this book was intense. I can’t tell you how happy I was that Mr. Dunworthy’s theory was wrong! I didn’t believe it for a second (what a terrible ending that would have been), but it was a relief all the same that things worked out in the end, even though Michael died and Eileen stayed behind. I think Willis succeeded admirably in what she set out to do, which was to show how everyone in England, from ambulance drivers, firewatchers, air-raid wardens and nurses to canteen workers, shopgirls, chorus girls and librarians, contributed to winning the war.
Intellectually, though, I must admit to a couple of disappointments. First off, it bugged me that the ending was framed as the men (Michael and Colin) rescuing the women (although technically Eileen was not rescued, and both Eileen and Binnie were instrumental in the rescue as well). This just seemed so same old same old. I also kinda wished that we’d returned to 2060 at the end, although the end as it stands is dramatic and satisfying (and might not have worked as well otherwise).
I’m also left with a few questions, which I’m putting to you:
- What does Michael mean when he says his name is not Michael or Mike Davis or Ernest Worthing or Shackleton—that in fact his name is Faulknor (page 550)? Was he really both Shackleton and Faulknor? (How is that possible?) Is he speaking metaphorically?
- What does Polly realize when she looks at Colin and sees the resemblance (page 640)? My assumption is that Colin is Eileen’s descendant. Is that what you understood too?
- Finally, who was it who goes back at the end of Blackout? Was it Mr. Dunworthy? (I don’t think it could have been Colin because he doesn’t return to 1940.) Oh! I just reread that section again and I understand it now: it was Mr. Dunworthy, but he wasn’t coming through from 2060—it’s when he came through as a young man...!
What did you think? Were you as satisfied as I was with how things turned out? Did you have any other questions about the ending?
Thank you to everybody who participated in these two read-alongs—and thank you to Carrie for co-hosting them with me. As I mentioned before, please feel free to join in the discussion even if you didn’t read these books during the read-alongs.