18 Replies to “Real Mums Book Club: Discussion – The Night Guest”

  1. 1. I don’t think there are particular attributes to Ruth’s character that make her more susceptible to “these sorts of people” I think that she is suffering the effects of old age and being alone. I felt that she saw Frida as a bit of a saving grace because she not only provided Ruth with company but also helped with some of the frailties that Ruth was beginning to suffer such as memory issues. It seemed to me that the enquiry to the home that preceded Frida’s arrival was predicated on the worries of her sons regarding her memory and failing health.

  2. I had been thinking perhaps her loving and caring nature was perhaps also trusting? As in, she saw the good in others.

    Or, perhaps, she was reluctant to challenge such a powerful woman as Frida, clearly intent on working her way in to her home? Like with Richard, in that she longed for him, despite his engagement to someone else, she seemed intent on seeing only good in him – an attribute of her personality, would you call it that?

    I think also, yes, the worry of her sons made it easier for her to accept Frida into her home- again, reluctance to refuse/argue with others?

  3. Sure, I can see that. There are certainly aspects of Ruth that are very accommodating and unwilling to challenge verbally which would have allowed access by others more easily. Yet we see her challenging some of the ascertains of both her sons and Frida in her internal conversations so she is aware of that trait.

    So a combination of age and accommodation maybe.

  4. I thought that, too. She was quite challenging in some instances; I found it a little … confusing, maybe? … conflicting? that she could stand up and be confident towards her son and Friday, yet be so relenting at other times.

    I realise the manipulation of her memory being used, and wonder if it was ‘real’ and actually happening, or blatant manipulation or a bit of both.

    What are your thoughts on the tiger? Real or metaphor?

  5. I think there was some blatant manipulation by Frida of Ruth’s memory issues and some plain old forgetting too.

    As for the tiger, I think it was more a manifistation of her subconscious. It seemed to appear when Ruth was working through something but just couldn’t grab on to what it was that was bothering her – sort of like her gut feeling. It was a representation of the fear that one feels when one can’t remember and feels as though they are losing themselves. I think Frida finally latched on to that understanding and created a whole scene where she killed the tiger to remove the remaining fear that Ruth had. That’s why she had Ruth write “Trust Frida” in the book. Ruth no longer had fear (tiger), she had Frida.

    1. Yup, I felt the tiger was a … something like that. A stress or something playing on her mind, manifesting as a ‘tangible’ beast.

      hadn’t thought of Frida latching on and creating the scene. Makes sense. Cheeky cow.

  6. 2. How would you rate Frida on a scale of good and bad? How much of her is monstrous and how much victim? Are any of her actions regarding Ruth defensible?

    Frida is a buddun but George was worse. I think that the only good Frida did for ruth was feed her properly and allay some of the fear of being alone.
    No I don’t think her actions are defensible, she set out to deceive and steal from the start

    1. Agree. I think the ending was a bit of a way for the reader to feel less let down, to show a ‘nice’ side of her after the things she had done for Ruth. I didn’t quite click with her, not like nor dislike her.

      Reprehensible behaviour, even if she did try to salvage it at the end. Why her suicide, do you think?

        1. Do you think she may have started to feel compassion or care for Ruth? That she went in with the intention of ripping her off, but came to ‘have feelings for her’ (but not in that way)?

          And subsequently felt bad for her behaviour?

          1. I think she felt bad for her behaviour as well as not wanting to face the consequences and therefore killed herself. I think that I liked her even less for leaving Ruth to die though. She didn’t need to do that.

    1. I felt sorry for them too but also a little angry as they were somewhat dismissive of Ruth. The novel gave an air of “It’s all to hard” attitude to them.

      1. I skimmed all the waffle when Ruth was dying to be honest. It was sad she died but I think more palatable then the son or Richard swooping in and saving her from Frida IYKWIM

          1. See, I disagree. I think the intention was to kill her, hence all the drugs before. I felt it was another way to cover her tracks in the event that she was able to find George and get some of the money she worked so hard for. No witness, no crime.

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