Unhappy ever after?
Ms. Lanagan had me right up until the final indignity she committed upon Liga. I didn’t need a complete 180 with some deus ex machina HEA; but subjecting her to all those previous brutalities, then leaving her with such a ridiculously bleak ending ruined the entire experience.Thea (author of the original post) comments on the comment: 'the way things unfolded was unforgivable, in my mind'.
This surprises me, because I didn't see Liga's not-getting-the-man as either an indignity or the end of her story. Perhaps I saw it more as the peeling away of the last layer of illusion she had about the 'real' world; finally she sees things truly; the (fictional) world is not set up to accommodate a marriage between a 25-y-o man and a 40-plus-y-o woman, and she must accept that.
But she's not in a bad position at the end of the novel: she's an independent business woman; she has good friends and neighbours; her two daughters are each on their path to happiness, probably; she has social standing (which is a direct result of her own unwitting fiddling with time, so that the whole town is forced to 'forget' her earlier humiliation); the men who humiliated her in her youth are either dead or brought low themselves. She is not ugly, or a witch—two things that might hinder her marriage prospects. There's nothing in the way of her finding a nice man in St Olafred's (okay, so you don't see many nice men, but you do see some: Ramstrong and his family, Bullock and Noah—there must be enough of a culture of non-oafishness in the town to have produced those men?) at some point in the future. She's a fine match!
Then again, there's nothing wrong with her remaining single; she can still have a very nice life in the circumstances in which I've left her. Perhaps, um, she doesn't really need a man for her ultimate happiness? I know, weird thought.
I know we leave her at a point where neither of these possibilities has been explored, when she's still a bit in shock from having seen Ramstrong prefer Branza over herself, but 'ridiculously bleak'? 'Unforgivable'?