I have I’m afraid got about 100 pages ahead of schedule (it’s too absorbing, Inever want to put it down!) so will try and be careful not to mention anything that we haven’t all yet read.
It is a challenging book, the night of terrible abuse with Caleb was upsetting but it never felt like gratuitous violence, and actually it was almost the mental torment that you knew he was causing Jude that was harder to bear than the physical pain. When Jude said something along the lines of knowing that it was not the end but the beginning of a long night, and one in which he had no control you feel his helplessness, the terror that that feeling must inspire. Caleb’s cruelty in his words, his utter humiliation of Jude in his nakedness, something that he has been so conscious of, is heartbreaking, as is the fact you knew when it was happening that Jude would blame himself, that he would take on what Caleb said as the truth and it would damage him so much in the long term.
I also noted his comments on the self harm being a form of control, that he had so little control of his body anyway, that although he knew they were trying to help he wanted to maintain that freedom.
The further detail of his relationship with Brother Luke tells us a lot about how his personality and view of himself has been formed. It’s horrible reading him feeling happy that Luke is paying him attention, that he is kind to him, when you know it is going to lead to abuse. Yanagihara is skilled at building emotional depth to her characters and giving them vulnerabilities that the reader really feels. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book I’ve felt this emotionally involved with.
The section with Harold and Willem discussing Jude as if he were no longer around gave me a sense of being on a train hurtling toward a wreckage with nothing you can do to stop it. Jude deserves some love in his life, some happiness, it is difficult to read a novel where more and more misery is piled on him, where any attempts at trust prove to him that he was right to think he was worthless. I’m really hoping it’s just a clever trick of the author so we’ll be surprised when he doesn’t have a tragic ending. Wishful thinking perhaps but it’s devastating to think of this middle ages man who has never been shown love in a safe environment in a romantic setting (his friends and Harold, Julia, and Andy obviously care for him deeply but he has always lacked the intimacy of a genuinely loving relationship).