Dex and Em Have Grown Up

Beware of SPOILER ALERTS for chapters 11-14!  Also, so sorry for the delay in publishing this post!  Sick toddler threw my writing out the window; thankfully, he is on the mend as is mommy’s reading and writing.

So, chapters 11-14…Finally!  Finally, Emma is taking action with her life.  It seems as though the farther she is from Dexter, the better she is at making decisions about her life.  She makes gains towards becoming a paid writer and we discover that she ends a self-destructive relationship with Mr. Godalming.  Since Emma made the decision to tidy up her life at the end of chapter four, this seems like the first time she’s actually doing something to accomplish that.  Good-bye insecure Ian, good-bye creepy, self-absorbed headmaster; yet, Dexter remains with her, in spirit, there is always Dexter like an old blanket that comforts in times of anxiety and fear.

Speaking of Dexter…lovable, self-absorbed Dexter (clearly, Emma has a thing for self-absorbed men). I really expected for his career in the media (as Emma disdainfully notes) to take off – for Dexter to become a television darling, not laughing stock.  I guess Dexter expected the same thing because he is so completely clueless when his agent gives him the bad news.  The two independent conversations are brilliantly weaved into each other:  Emma is mistaken for a nanny applicant and Dexter is sacked. For me, this is Nicholl’s writing at its best – he shows off his ability to create captivating dialogue while giving us insight into the struggle of his protagonists.  Emma makes a definitive decision for her life’s direction and Dexter is left wondering how to make someone love him sincerely

Enter Sylvie Cope: blonde, classic beauty, successful, rich family, perfect.  Ice Queen.  I am left with the question: does she give him some kind of validation?  He has a failed career without any prospects or desire to do anything else; he has sabotaged his love life by pursuing endless meaningless liasons and so, he is grateful that Sylvie is with him.  It is so not like Dexter to lose control in a relationship – maybe, it’s what he deserves….but she’s sooooo boring!  She’s not fun enough for Dexter and doesn’t really bring out the best in him; she just keeps him under control and I feel sorry for Dexter.  But, I guess her name says it all.  Cope.  Does she cope with Dexter so that her dreams of marriage and family in the upper crust might come true or does Dexter cling to Sylvie so that he can cope with all of the failures in his life?  I guess we all hang on to relationships that we shouldn’t because they help us cope.  Is this the love that will save him?  I certainly hope not.

My sympathy is strongest as Dexter sits at the dinner table and has to put up with Sylvie’s fascetious twin brothers.  Really, what is up with this family? They are so perfectly in-love with themselves and in-disdain of everyone else its sickening that Dexter still believes he loves Sylvie.  Although, there is some redemption for Dexter when he accidently hits Sylvie during the Cope family’s traditional game of “Are you the Moriarty?” which is essentially set up for Dexter’s failure. And, he does fail atrociously in the eyes of the family…but, I must admit, I felt much satisfaction at the way the game ended.

Not all that surprising is my enjoyment of Emma and Dexter’s reunion at Tilly Killick’s wedding.  It is a drink of cool water to read their fun dialogue in what I believe might just be the best conversation they’ve had.  Nothing changes after two years of no contact – two chapters without their wonderfully clever dialogue – Nicholls quenches my thirst for their unique banter.  They are not skittish about hiding any truths, nor comments about their life.  Beautifully paralleled by their walk through the maze, this conversation finally brings together a more mature Emma and Dexter.

Nonetheless, chapter 13 ends with another brief moment where their relationship could irrevocably change, and the moment evades them…or, perhaps, they evade it because they are not ready to truly grasp it.  Even after two years apart, Emma and Dexter feel the love that they share and the uniqueness of their situation…but, this time Dexter is engaged to Sylvie and she is pregnant.  Nope.  Definitely not their time.  This is not something I saw coming; I shivered slightly that Dexter would tie his life to someone without any emotions.  In true Emma style, she supports Dexter happily.

Dexter’s anxiety as he talks to Emma is palpable and it is no surprise that he and Sylvie pretty much fall apart.  I certainly didn’t expect her to be in an affair with Callum, and it is disappointing that Dexter drinks wildly while caring for his daughter – there seems to be a constant feeling that this wouldn’t be happening if he had just had the courage to live a life beyond the partying and drinking.  If he had had the courage to give himself a chance…

Although I am not enamoured with this book, its characters are somewhat interesting.  I keep waiting for the big “ta-dah!” and it just doesn’t seem to happen.  This is a case of liking the pieces, not necessarily the whole…I hope the final few chapters change my mind.

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