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Further Thoughts On The Murder Of Halland

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I wanted to discuss the themes and nature of this book, and wrote the following paragraphs for my review of it. Noticing that I was giving away much of the plot as well as giving away what I myself had found fascinating to discover, I realised that I ought to keep this information out of the review and instead to post it later. Therefore you should note that this post may spoil the book for you if you haven’t read it. As this post was written as part of a review, the written structure may seem peculiar.

Central to The Murder Of Halland is the seemingly misplaced sadness of Bess. The woman appears to be suffering from depression, and from what she says at first you’d be forgiven for thinking she is upset with the hazy nature of her relationship. But what develops is a situation where the reader understands, better than the character, how she, Bess, feels, and why she is feeling that way. To Bess, who had fallen in love with Halland, leaving her ex-husband and the child she didn’t care for was the best idea. Why, after all, would anyone stay with someone they couldn’t love when there was the option to leave? Yet as the story moves on it becomes apparent that Bess may have misjudged her feelings, misjudged the way she felt about everyone, except perhaps Halland.

You may be thinking that Halland was a bad influence, and in a way that is surely correct, but the purpose of his character, and the purpose of his death, is to lead Bess to slowly understand the choices she made and the feelings she has. It could be said that as much as Halland was a negative aspect for having been the reason Bess left her family, he was a positive aspect also for having aided, through his death, Bess to see her life in the way she ought to have before. If Bess thought that leaving her husband for Halland gave her life more meaning, then the reader sees the death of Halland as doing the same and with an enhanced quality.

There is a lot about Bess’s grandfather, the way she didn’t see him and the way he didn’t particularly mind, that illustrates how negative traits can get passed down a family. If Bess doesn’t care for her daughter, isn’t she simply emulating the grandfather who in turn treated Bess badly? If you are brought up in a particular way, knowing the way your family treats you and others, you will surely match their actions with your own in future unless something happens to help you see another way of being.

Whose love does Bess need? She would tell you Halland every time, but is she right?

Then again, looking at it from another perspective, is Bess right – did she indeed need Halland’s love? Halland provided the space she needed for reassessment. We see in Halland someone who loved Bess very much, but who recognised her personality and let her live as she would. He gave her the space she needed to work things out, which is interesting in itself because it involved pulling her away from what she needed in order to realise it all. Halland is surely no more a home wrecker as Bess was his murderer.


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