Luke and Astrid

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Thu Jul 6 14:05:22 EDT 2000

>> > I always thought Astrid's wistfulness was because what happened between
>> > Siegfried and Brunnhilde was something which matched her own dreams,
>> > somehow; the idea that love and the demands of love could be so beautiful
>> > as to make any amount of unhappiness worthwhile.
> That's something that's also passed my mind. What Astrid needs is
> someone who makes her feel worthwhile, which she doesn't get in the
> household she lives in - there's a whole culture of making other
> people feel worthless there. I get a feeling that Astrid is there
> more or less by mistake: she may even have married Ronald because she
> thought that she could change him, or his situation.

Possibly, although I rather subscribe to the idea that she was dazzled by his

>> and Mary Anna shuddered at the thought of Astrid being involved
>> with someone of Luke's apparent age.
> Hmm. As a woman married to a man eleven and a half years my junior, I
> think I'm entitled to comment :-)

Gosh!  I have often wondered why it is more unusual that way round than with the
husband older than the wife.  Is there a story there (or part of one) you could
share with the list?  I am not trying to be nosy - please don't take offence; I
sha'n't if you refuse - but I have a personal interest in this (about which I'd
rather not go into details on a public list)

> When we first meet Luke, he indeed seems to be in his mid-teens, but
> at the end of the book he has matured considerably, and I'd give him
> an apparent age of twenty at least. Astrid would be, what,
> thirty-five? Does it say anywhere? And she's only had the wrong man
> until now, so I can imagine that the age difference is not important
> to her as long as the man is the right one (or at least *a* right
> one).

I wouldn't have put Astrid quite as old as 35, but that's a sensible working

I disagree about Luke "maturing".  I think Luke's own remark, "I never _seem_
old", and David's observation that Luke could have been any age when observed
sleeping, provide a better key.  Luke has a talent for making people think of
him as a contemporary, whatever age _they_ are.  Luke's age we know to be
several centuries anyway, although he won't admit it (when asked how long he'd
been in prison, all he said was "I've lost count", but he did admit that hiding
the hammer was about 1000 years ago)

>> I've collected some more support for my interpretation. Taking the
>> age objection first (something which struck me the first time I had
>> the idea) l think Luke's age is rather elastic, that he projects
>> himself to people how he wants them to see him.

Yes, that's more how I see it.

> Exactly. Also, when he's no longer scared out of his wits he can be
> more himself.

I would say the opposite.  When he's no longer scared out of his wits, he can
give himself more fully to fulfilling people's expectations, and not do things
like ignoring Alan and the cricketers.

>> The first time he
>> appears "he appeared a year or two older than David" which would
>> make him in his mid teens (I'm sure David is twelve but I've lost  the
>> reference).
> I don't think his exact age appears anywhere, but as he's just
> started to do some serious growing, he's presumably in his early
> teens. Certainly no younger than twelve and no older than fourteen.

I have always assumed 12.  I don't think you can restrict it quite so tightly on
the basis of the adolescent growth spurt.  The one reference I remember to his
age was when one of his relatives finds a course "for under-tens" and suddenly
rmembers that David is older than that, isn't he?  That, together with David's
"of course!" suggests about 12 to me.

>> However Aunt Dot refers to him as "that charming and
>> nicely spoken child." p72.
> Aunt Dot seems to be the type of old woman who calls everybody under
> thirty a child :-)

True.  And Luke is projecting himself as Friend-of-David, so of course he will
seem a child.

>> The real turning point comes after Astrid has
>> guessed who Luke is -- as well it might.
> Ah, when she knows he's not a teenager, and his flattery may well be
> serious, not boy's play.

I don't see that at all.  When she knows who Luke is, surely she should suspect
even more that his flattery is just that - flattery?

>> Going on to some of Jessie's comments I do think Luke is that
>> amoral and I'm not sure he is still in a relationship with the red
>> haired girl.
> Well, he *is* that amoral and he may have two things going at once...

Agreed 100%.

>> I agree on the reasons why Luke is tired of course but I still think
>> the "urgently" needs explaining. And why didn't he just got back to
>> Valhalla for some R&R?.
> I can imagine that he still doesn't feel safe there. As for the
> "urgently", have you ever gone without sleep for considerably more
> than a day? After more than 40 sleepless hours when I came back from
> Canada, I needed to go to sleep urgently!

I agree about the "urgently" - I had a similar feeling flying home from Jakarta.
A long day in Jakarta, an 18-hour sleepless night on the plane, and arrival at
Heathrow at 6am.  I then got into a car and drove the 40 miles or so to my
brother's flat.  Sleep was definitely an urgent requirement!

As for Valhalla for R&R - Luke said himself that he'd been blackballed from that

>> All IMHO of course, but is there anyone out there who agrees with
>> me? Please?
> Parts of it :-)

Likewise, parts of it, but...

I can see where people are coming from, as regards a relationship between Luke
and Astrid.  I had never read that into the ending before - I'll have to read it
again soon!

But I don't think Astrid's remark about short-term happiness justifying
long-term sadness has anything to do with it.  I think she is simply thinking
about Brunhilde.  And I think Luke's remark about the urgent need for sleep
_definitely_ has nothing to do with it.  Eight days?  Yes, eight days and seven
nights, when the book ends.  No need for an eighth night...

>> Here's a by the way, my friend and Dwj fan Sarah bought a copy of
>> Power of Three for 39p in a Bridlington junkshop. I said I'd post it
>> and make people jealous.
> The Puffin one with the proper picture on the cover? I have a copy,
> fortunately, but it's the ugly new one. Yes, I'm jealous :-)

Proper picture?  I'm afraid I still think of the one on the hardback as the
proper picture (gloat, gloat!), but I agree the early Puffin had a much better
picture than the one I saw in a 2nd-hand bookshop a year or two ago.


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