Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Please explain this sentence to me.

"She had a kind heart, though that is not of much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation. For more than eight years of half a lifetime she had lived at Hardborough on the very small amount of money her late husband had left her."

I picked up this short little book today at the library. I think I've checked it out many times but tonight I decided to read it. In the second paragraph I came to the above passage and I'm now trying to figure it out: what does "eight years of half a lifetime" mean? Is the writer making the assumption that, say, 45 is half a lifetime, and that the character's husband died eight years before she reached 45?

I'm not reading another word until someone helps me decipher this.


Susan Harris said...

My take? She'd lived there half her lifetime and for 8 years of that time blah blah. Bad writing!

Margaret said...

Too murky for me! Is the book decent?

Pam J. said...

Thanks Susan. That makes a certain odd sense. I'll now keep reading but if I come across any more murky (thanks Margaret) phrases I'm tossing the book into the return pile.

Anne said...

Maybe it'll become clearer as you read on. But, yes, what a clumsy sentence. It's hard to tell what's important--where she lived or how little money she had . . . or both.

Has she lived there for half a lifetime, but in reduced circumstances for the last eight?

Or as you think, is her age only half a lifetime?

I must learn the answer. Please update when it becomes clear!

JGH said...

You realize that now you are obligating yourself to read the rest of the book and let us know, right? haha

But I agree with Anne - I think she lived there for half a lifetime, but on what her husband left her for 8 years of that time.