I knew in the first few pages that I was going to enjoy this book.
Clearly there was something interesting to come, from the obsessive and territorial attitude of the mother to her grandfather and the little church out at Gleniffer, and the feelings of jealousy that aroused in her husband.
I love his reference to her walking "around the perimiter of St John's like a dog pissing around a fence".
The Advent Wreath scene is very telling. To use the fusewire, and leave the house without any, demonstrates the high priority the church (this particular church building) had for the mother, and her husband was justifiably enraged - but she was convinced that God confirmed the correctness of her action by restoring the power. I can see her stubborn adherence to her opinions as a direct link to her great-grandfather, Oscar's father, Theophilus.
There is something Hardyesque about the story of the rift between Oscar and his father.
I am always moved by stories where the characters are unable to express their feelings, and misinterpret the words and actions of others. The story of Theophilus is one of turbulent emotion held in strict control by the rigorous teaching of The Plymouth Brethren. Oscar is brought to question everything his father stands for by the discovery of just one small crack in the edifice of righteousness he has been brought up to believe in.
Having discovered his father to be in error, Oscar cannot do otherwise than seek The Truth for himself - however painful it is for both.
I was brought almost to tears at this passage, when the two of them met on the Combe, having been apart for three months.
I have been struck by the similarities in Oscar and Lucinda's characters. Both have been brought up in fairly isolated circumstances by parents of strong opinions. Both are quite self-willed and stubborn, and both are overtaken by a strong passion - Oscar by a passion for gambling, and Lucinda for the glass factory.
I am looking forward to seeing how things progress. I can't think that either passion will lead to a happy conclusion, and with two such strong personalities, there are bound to be fireworks once they meet.
One of his university 'pals?' calls him Oddbod. Well, you can't really disagree with that. Carey gives us a vivid mental picture of Oscar and certainly doesn't cast him in any heroic mould. By turns he's painful to look at and painful to be with. Perversely, perhaps, I wanted him to succeed in some worldly way which isn't the point at all I acknowledge.
I have just read the last 20 chapters in one sitting. Suddenly, with the engagement of the terrifying Mr Jeffris the story starts to gallop towards it's inevitable conclusion.
From that fateful mouthful of Christmas pudding Oscar has made one bad choice after another, and even as we hope for a happy ending with Lucinda, we fear that some disaster will befall them.
As I finished it my eyes filled again, as they have done at several points in the story, I was just so sad- for so many of he characters; Oscar, his father, the Strattons, Wardley-Fish, and Lucinda.
I will be thinking about them for some time to come.