I offer a lot of the following background on Godwyna (although most of it will not appear in the actual book) because it will inform much of the girls’ lives, even if they don’t have direct knowledge of this background material:
Godwyna (nickname “Wyna”) is the type of person who is never happy with what she has; she is always looking for more and reaching for a life that is better than she already has. The point is, she will always yearn for something else and never be satisfied, no matter how much she achieves professionally or who she falls in love with. She is always glancing over her shoulder, both metaphorically and literally. While she’s capable of physical passion, she seems to be incapable of unselfish love.Godwyna’s general characteristics:
So, then, she feels guilt in leaving her children only to the extent that society might disapprove of her actions; to her, being labeled as a bad mother is worse than the actual act of being a bad mother. Obviously, her desire to leave has outweighed any societal disapproval.
She cannot sustain a romantic relationship for very long; in fact, she has already cheated on her husband (no name yet) several times and does not feel guilty over it, in fact, feeling entirely entitled to her affairs. In her mind, her extramarital activities mean nothing to her except as adding spice and excitement to her perceived dull life. (“If it feels good, then it’s all right.”)
(How much Quinelle and Qeah find out about their mother’s extramarital life is still unknown; maybe they find out via snooping on their mother’s computer [left behind], where they find her profile on a dating site called Peepskin.com, with somewhat lewd comments by various men. Obviously, I, as author, will know more than the girls do).
According to what the girl’s father have told them, Wyna had fled the family home in a 2000 Lexis, all her expensive jewelry, and $50,000 of the family’s cash.
She was born in 1968, and for the first 10 years of her life, she lived in a Vermont commune and was home schooled at a time when home schooling was considered counter-culture. Part of her difficult social skill set may have been exacerbated by the isolated and agrarian nature of the commune.
Her parents never married, splitting up when her mother fled the commune.
After the commune, her mother married someone else, and the family moved to a suburban neighborhood, where attended a ritzy public school. She had difficulty fitting in with the non-commune lifestyle and making new friends. She fell in with a disenfranchised Goth-like crowd and experienced several scrapes with school officials and the local police.
After her stepfather made sexual advances toward her and her mother refused to believe her, Wyna, at 15 (1983), ran away from home and knocked about for a while (in shelters and on the street, where she engaged in sexual activity for room and board, which may explain her cavalier attitude toward sex) until, at 17 (1985), she met a wealthy older man (about 40), who she married at 18 (1986). During this marriage, she earned her G.E.D. They divorced a year later (1987) after he caught her in bed with a high school boy, a kid who had been doing yard work for them. Wyna used the divorce settlement to finance her college education and to set up an off-campus apartment.
Wyna met the girls’ father during her second year of college (1989), he moved in with her immediately, and they married a year later (March 1990), after she discovered she was pregnant with Quinelle.
Just before Quinelle’s birth (July or August 1990), the young couple, on a casual tip from a track groomer, bet a sizable amount of money on two bets at the dog track: a quinella and a superfecta. Their dogs come in in exact order, and they win a boatload of money, which finances the rest of their college life.
Unlike other gamblers who have won a lot of money, they never gamble again. Wyna has always contended, “We shot our wad of cash and won big time, but lightning will not strike twice.”
In honor of their big win and given that they had no contact with either side of their families, they decided to legally assume a new last name: from Netta to Quinella. In addition, they decided to name their first born Quinn (boy) or Quinelle (girl). They entertained the possibility of naming the girl Quinella, but her husband put his foot down and said, absolutely not). (Wisely, they decided against naming their kid Superfecta, although most of their win came from that bet.)
They were unpleasantly surprised when Wyna gave birth to twins: a boy and a girl. Wyna panicked and insisted that they couldn’t afford to support twins and wanted to put one of them up for adoption. Her husband was adamantly opposed to giving up one of their kids, but she threatened divorce if he didn’t agree.
She chooses to keep the girl because the boy (who Quinelle later dubs as “Shmug”) is “homely” with big ears. “I think he’s retarded” (He isn’t), she said. So reluctantly, he agreed to giving the boy up for adoption, an act that will cause a permanent rift in their relationship. Oddly, Wyna harbors no regrets and doesn’t even think about her boy child. On the other hand, the husband mourns for his missing child. (More about him in his character sketch).
Wyna has had no contact with her parents (Mother, father, and stepfather) since she left home at 15.
Not surprisingly, Wyna is an indifferent mother, leaving most of the child rearing to her husband. Only when her children grow a bit older (and, therefore, more interesting) does she “play” with her girls. But she never really nurtures them (the girls are always seeking her approval, but she never really gives it).
On 9/11, Wyna does NOT disappear because of another man. I have an idea what happens, but I’m still mulling it over. According to her husband, she had fled the family home in a 2000 Lexis, all her expensive jewelry, and $50,000 of the family’s cash.
--She is poised, gracious (at least outwardly), and reserved.Physical characteristics (which, of course, the girls would notice):
--She is capable and clever, a potential a high-powered SEO of a large company (Before abandoning her husband and children, she works as an accountant (who is moving upward) for a bank and, on the side, writes an advice column for a local newspaper and doing well at it). The advice column gig has been a way to be social and still
--She is a private person and difficult to know; everyone in her family has been blind-sided by her disappearance.
--She is reticent and often lonely and misunderstood–does she feel that her husband and children cannot possibly understand her pain (which, in this case, is boredom with her life)? Her family will never know, I’m afraid.
--She wants to be a social butterfly, flitting easily from one acquaintance to another, but she must work hard at it. Ironically, she makes it look easy, but every time she returns from a social engagement, she wants to vomit.
--She is an avid reader with amazing powers on concentration; she may suffer from a case of A.D.D., the non-hyper kind.
--She is a better writer than a conversationalist, which is ironic, given that she fails to write her children a goodbye note. She may have written a note to her husband, but whether or not Quinelle finds out about it is still unclear.
--She yearns for the mysteries of life and an understanding of the greater picture of life, suggesting that she leaves because her family life has become mundane, and the outside world has called to her. Still, she sees herself as being extremely spiritual and humanistic. On the other hand, she is very materialistic, and covets the finer things of life.
--Drop dead gorgeous, looks like an angel. Tall, willowy, natural blonde, blue-green eyes, and perfect skin.
--She dresses to the nines, even when she’s at home. She never leaves the house without being impeccably decked out