I’ve been slow with this as I hoped to reread it before our discussion. I’m well on my way with that though not yet finished, but there is no reason my tardiness should delay the discussion any longer.
Here is what the jury said:
“We are all familiar with books in which the setting is some sort of fantasy/feudal blend and the gender roles appear unexamined and uninteresting. So one thing we loved about Lifelode was the way the society’s hierarchical, feudal social structure included both a traditional view of marriage, through which hereditary power is passed on, and an established tradition of polyamorous relationships. Life here is comfortable and relatively egalitarian; through Walton’s characters, we see the power inherent in traditionally feminine social roles. But Lifelode takes place at just that moment when the cozy village of Applekirk finds itself threatened by an alien and terrifying new monogamous order…”
One of the things I admired about this book was its clever reversal of social arrangements so that polyamory represents a kind of cozy pre-industrial stability and monogamy an unnatural, restrictive, and unreasonable demand.
I think the book says some interesting things about the work traditionally assigned to women — there is something extremely pleasurable to me in the cooking scenes and in the magical responsive house — and I’d love to talk about those.
It has nothing to do with gender, but the way time is played about with, especially in the beginning of the book is very deft and impressive conceptually and maybe does shadow in some way the fluidity of Applekirk’s sexual and romantic mores.
And I’m sure you all have things you’d like to talk about, too. Whenever you’re ready!