The world becomes much easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil.
•A long marriage is complicated. So complicated, in fact, that most people in one sometimes ask themselves: “Am I still married because I’m in love, or just because I can’t be bothered to let anyone else get to know me this well again?”
•She’s ashamed to admit it to herself, but getting to work feels like a liberation. She knows she’s good at her job, and she never feels that way about being a parent. Even on the best days—the tiny shimmering moments when they’re on holiday and Peter and the children are fooling about on a beach and everyone is happy and laughing—Kira always feels like a fake. As if she doesn’t deserve it, as if she just wants to be able to show a photoshopped family photograph to the rest of the world.
•What happened to us?
It was a question that interested her. Most people seemed to believe that they were experts of their own life story. They had a set of memories that they strung like beads, and this necklace told a sensible tale. But she suspected that most of these stories would fall apart under strict examination—that, in fact, we were only peeping through a keyhole of our lives, and the majority of the truth, the reality of what happened to us, was hidden. Memories were no more solid than dreams.
•And yet you’ll still feel this weird pinch of tenderness toward him. It was his dream to have sons who adored him, to be the fabled Good Dad, to be sweet and kind and wise, to be your buddy in your time of need, and you feel a twinge of compassion but combined with the urge to flee, to put as much distance between the two of you as possible.
•In any case, she liked Jill Tillman better: there was something a little snappier about it, more acerbic, which suited her. She got on the phone—to talk to one of the boys’ teachers, or a construction contractor whose work wasn’t quite up to par, or some bureaucratic functionary—and she had found a perfect, crisp snap to the words. “This is Jill Tillman,” she would say, and a perfectly pleasant chill would spread across the syllables. “May I speak to your supervisor, please?”
•As for developing into a writer—she owed that not to any decision to sit down each day and try to be one but to their stifling life. That, of all things, seemed to have nurtured her talent! Truly, without the terror and the claustrophobia of the achterhuis, as a chatterbox surrounded by friends and rollicking with laughter, free to come and go, free to clown around, free to pursue her every last expectation, would she ever have written sentences so deft and so witty?
•'Look,' said Esther, ' I don't know how to explain this, I know quite well that Claudio knows he hasn't seen a werewolf or spoken to a witch, but that so great is his power of — well, of what? of self-hallucination that he can persuade himself that he might have done? No, not even that. He knows he hasn't. But —' and Esther glanced at Liz in anxiety, in embarrassment, for never in all their years of close friendship had she ever made such a confession ' — the thing is, when I'm with Claudio, I find myself believing these things myself. It's as though I know I'd better believe them. that, when I'm with him, it's safer to believe them. Does that make any kind of sense at all?
•“It’s just that he loses control sometimes. As soon as he gets the business established again, and gets back to work, you know how he loves to work, he’ll be fine. The drinking is only temporary—it’s like medicine for him, like he has a terrible headache and needs to anesthetize himself, you can sympathize with that, Judd, can’t you? We might be the same way in his place. He’s a good, decent man who only wants to provide for his family. He’s told me how sorry he is, and he’d tell you except—well, you know how he is, how men are. He loves you no matter what he says or does, you know that don’t you?
•She mused over the word mine. What a funny word for the extraction of precious metals from the earth: mine. She thought she would tell her kids her thoughts on this, the very funny confluence of the meanings of mine and mine, and then found herself whispering the words, mine mine mine, and noticed she was smiling. She was far gone.
•Maddy Rooney, née Dunne, the big pale blur. You have piercing sight, Miss Fitt, if only you knew it, literally piercing.
•Opinions vary as to whether the doorkeeper intends the announcement that he is going to shut the gate merely as an answer, or to emphasize his devotion to duty, or because he wants to arouse remorse and sorrow in the man at the last moment.
•He wants me to go to the zoo because the animals are real. I told him these are zoo animals. These are animals that live in the Bronx. On television I can see animals in the rain forest or the desert. So which is real and which is fake, which made him laugh.