I've just read RAH for the first time and whilst I enjoyed it, I also found it rather disconcerting. I found myself unsure which side AF was expecting us to take in the Edward saga and wondered what others felt. If I've got it right, Edward was snatched by his father as a baby and taken to Switzerland, and his mother refused to follow as she didn't want to live abroad. When Edward came back to visit, his mother then refused to let him go back to his father (who had, after all, snatched him). As far as all the Marlows except Ann are concerned, Judith is then the demonised one, with comments about how stupid she was not to just follow him to Switzerland, and particularly how dreadful to have put him into care and all efforts are obviously put into reuniting Edward with his father. Edward is seemingly quite disturbed by the whole thing and is fairly unpleasant throughout the whole thing.
Several things disturbed me about this book. One was that no one seemed to communicate at all with Edward - I kept waiting for some sort of denoucement involving Edward, Judith and Felix, where there would be lots of weeping and resolving of misunderstandings, and finally an arriving at some sort of joint custody arrangement which Edward was happy with, or at least some moment when Edward would break down and we would get some glimpse of the distress he was going through, and of the complexities of what was going on.
Another was how united the Marlows were in their pursuit of returning Edward, and how completely they dismissed Ann's opinion about it - what do you think AF wants us to feel about Ann in this book? Her religious views are obviously against AF's own, and she comes across as rather dogmatic in othe ways - is her support of Judith meant to be another example of how she takes the side of the law without considering the facts and emotions of the case?
Then, despite this, it seemed like AF was trying to make the point that the case wasn't cut and dried, by introducing Judith's overdose and also portraying Judith as a likeable character when she appears, but that doesn't seem to lead to much genuine reflection on the part of the Marlows, just momentary second thoughts in some cases.
But then, after reading RAH, I felt that most of the Marlows did not get portrayed as possessing much capacity for self-reflection, and also didn't appear to communicate much with each other! Giles in particular appeared to simply decide what to do, announce it and then do it. I was reminded of that comment made by someone (Lois Sanger?) in Cricket term I think (am just remembering so have probably got it wrong) about Nicola thinking, like Rowan, that what more could one ask out of life than to be a Marlow. It seemed like they just acted, assuming that somehow, their very Marlowness would mean they were on the right side.
What does anyone else think? Will a re-reading resolve these issues, or are they intrinsic to the book?