Did anyone else think that Henry was unbelievably selfish in the letter he wrote Clare? He knew that if he wrote they would see each other again, she would wait, regardless of whether or not he'd said not to wait and to live life. I was so angry at him. My friend thinks he was trying to give Clare some hope and comfort, but I think he was just being selfish and was scared to die and be let go. Anybody else?
Regarding Henry's letter, I don't think he was being selfish. I believe the reason he told her he would see her again when she was an old woman was to insure that she would have a long life. If he wrote it down in the present, then it had to happen that way. He wanted to be sure she didn't die an untimely death in a horrible accident like his mother, or commit suicide like Ingrid, or die from cancer like Clare's mother. He wanted this as much for Alba as for Clare. At the same time he tried to set her free by telling her not to wait for him. What I'm not clear about though was whether she was ever able to move on. It doesn't seem like it to me but that's just too sad to believe. I'm going to read it again and look for clues to convince myself that she moved on, and yet was able to be with him again when she died.
I totally agree! I think he was very very selfish by doing this to Clare. Good for her if she sees him again but don't make her spend the rest of her life waiting to see him again instead of moving on. She's pretty much waisted her childhood on waiting on him, why would he do it to her again? I really liked Henry and enjoyed the book but I think that he was very selfish.
I agree 100% and mentioned this in a previous thread. By telling her that he was going to see her again in her 80's, he turned his death into a sort of extra-long time travel. She's waited for him her whole life. Armed with the knowledge he's coming back, what would make him think she wouldn't keep on waiting?
I also don't buy that he wrote it down to ensure she lived a long life. (Sorry Lynne Green!) If he really travelled to the future and saw her, then it's technically in his past, and you can't change the past. He definitely saw her, so she will live to her eighties. It doesn't matter if he tells her so or not.
I really loved this novel. This was my only sticking point. This bothered me WAY more than the fact she was lonely and beside herself and sort of slept with Gomez.
I don't think Henry's letter to Clare was selfish . . . In the letter, didn't Henry say that he wanted her to go on . . . that he didn't want Clare to end up like his father after his mother died . . . Yes, he did tell her that they would see each other again . . . maybe he knew that it would be for the last time (or at least that what I think. Only the author knows for sure and I doubt she'll ever tell). Would she wait for him? Of course, but she always had . . . that seems to be the theme of their realationship.
I don't think his intention was selfish, but I do believe it backfired. I think he should have left it out. Knowing Clare, he had to know on some level that she WOULD wait if there were any possibility of seeing him again. And she did. That was the most tragic part of this story for me - knowing she waited for that encounter for 40+ years. :(
I think the letter is what makes this book so wonderful. At least a small part of the greater whole that makes the book great. The author has done a great job of capturing human emotion and yearing on the printed page. The letter drives home the point that life can be sad. Not all stories are about the prince rescuing the princess and so on. Look at how it has galvanised this discussion board...but I digress. I dont think the letter was selfish. I think he wrote it for her to give her hope. She had to deal with the fact that he was going to die. She didnt know when, and she didnt know under what circumstances until the very end at the party with all the people. She had found a man with whom to be happy and share a life...he left her that note as a gift. A gift and a promise that his death at 43 wasnt the end. A promise that she could liver her life and be happy, raise Alba, meet other people, but that she would see him again. It capped off the novel in the way it started. Henry met Clare and gave her a list of dates he would be back to see her. He did that for her when she was younger, and he did it for her when he died. Kind of like saying "death isnt the end." In fact, this book reminds me of that Kathy Mattea song from the 90's "Where've you been?" The author did a great job...sorry for going off on a tangent there :) Nope. The letter wasnt selfish....it was hopeful.
I agree as well with most of Clint's major pts. I just can't be so analytical about it. But I guess that's what we're supposed to do with art. I just enjoyed the latter 200 pgs. WAAAAAAAY more than the beginning half. For once I thought Audrey didn't appear to be so contrived in her writing and just let it free-flow til the end and I thought the letter just fit in with Henry's personality. Henry is caring enough to know that he is if not most of Clare's life at the least, and for all of Clare's doubting from his death forward how she'd spent her life up til Henry's death at age 43, he is just giving her a simple love letter that says your life has not been wasted. Selfish/hopeful- however Clare wanted to interpret it.
If you were Clare, which would you prefer: not being told when or if Henry would ever return, and waiting everyday of your life for it to happen? Or knowing that you'll see him again one more time when you're very old, so you have something to look forward to, and shouldn't wait everyday of your life until then?
I tried posting about this earlier. It was one of the sticking points in the novel that really bothered me. Henry struggled with the decision to let her know about the last meeting when he was writing the letter. He wanted Clare to live a full happy life but on the other hand, Henry might have been subconsciously being selfish. Clare spends her whole life waiting for Henry. When he pasted away, that burden should have been lifted. Henry wasn't able to set her completely free. It seems unfair but that's how relationships sometimes are. There's never quite an equal balance. One give mores. One takes more. One is more selfless. One is more selfish. But when you love someone you don't necessary mind giving more. I think Clare would take it....accepting the burden of waiting on Henry with the possibility of seeing him again. It's her vulnerability and henry saw it.
I started a blog about the book at www.graceandkate.com. Feel free to comment there. I would love to keep this conversation going. I loved the book. I also listed a few book recommendations! Enjoy. Maybe we'll be talking about our next favorite very soon.
The way I see it, it was one of the saddest endings I've ever read. And the letter truly have summed up the emotions that all readers have collected up until that point. Honestly, I cried. The letter was not selfish at all. It really was a message of hope, Henry's way of giving Clare closure, especially for keeping his death from Clare up until the end. Clare could not prepare for it. I really think by telling her that he'll see her when she's 80-something (I don't recall if Henry's letter ever specified the date of his visit), she'd get one last chance to say good-bye without the dire and impending death looming over Henry. Plus, I have a feeling that Henry's trip to her 80s is kind of like his big send-off to Clare's peaceful end, an angel telling her it won't be long before they meet again. Clare is a smarter girl than a lot of readers give her credit for. She'd know not to wait for him.
I do wonder if Clare does ever move on. Henry was gone when she was in her mid 30s, so she still have half a life to live, perhaps with a special guy (not necessarily Gomez).
I saw it differently. I thought he told he told her about their meeting, so that she could go on and live her life. Otherwise, she would have gotten up each morning, hoping that she would see him. She would not have moved on. This way, she knew that she could go on with her life- knowing that she was not going to see him again until she was old. This is also confimed with Alba- who visits with him often. Clarisse asked Clara didn't it bother her that he saw Alba and not her. She knew she would not see him again until she was old--therefore she was free to live her life, in the present as he asked her to. He said he did not want to give her too many details about their meeting, because he wanted it to be fresh and new for her when it happened. In the same way that Clare did not tell him that they made love when she was 18. She wanted him to be able to experience it fully. I think he tried as best he could to keep her from "waiting" for him. That was the reason for giving her the dates as a child--so she wouldn't wait on days when he wouldn't be there. He also told Clare the dates that Alba would see him- so she would not wait either. I think he tried his best to give her the gift that he didn't get when his mother died- closure, and permission to move on and enjoy a life without guilt.
also, to answer J.Kwan's question... I do think Clare moved on. The chapter where Clare goes back into her art studio after 2 years is called "renaissance" Actually, it's the german translation for the word- I don't recall it,,,, but anyway, it means rebirth in English. The bird that "vanished" was the old Clare. The new bird was the new Clare- the one who had to begin a new life without Henry. I think that was the point in Henry telling her about their last visit-- no matter what she did (remarried, had more children etc. etc.) their love would withstand it.
I think Henry did want to provide some comfort to Clare by telling her that they would see each other again . . . but at the end of a very long life which he hoped she would joyfully embrace. So no, i don't think it was selfish. He gave her the comfort and the encouragement at the same time. He and his father both suffered after the death of his mom and he didn't want that for Clare. She obviously struggled with his loss at first, but i think the scene in her studio does indicate that she has a "rebirth" and lives her life as he hoped.
Wow. This discussion started in Sep 22, 2006, and over the years, people kept replying to the question in the first post. And I hope they keep replying. So... No, I don't think Henry was selfish. By telling his wife she would see him one last time only when she was very old, he set her free. He let her live her life without waiting for him every single day, wondering if he was going to show up.