As I was reading the first five chapters, the story of the Secret Garden kept running through my head. The way that the parents almost ignore the fact that they have a daughter is very similar to Mary’s parents in the Secret Garden. They kept her tucked away when their friends came to dine. Her mother was a great beauty, and her father was absorbed in her mother. Ruth’s parents are the same. The difference is that Mary’s parents died when she was very young, so we do not get to see them evolve with age. Ruth’s parents, on the other hand, evolve or devolve in the first five chapters. Her mother goes from being a beautiful actress to a lazy, voluntary, invalid while her father begins to move away from his wife and starts thinking for himself. I liked how chapter five ended with the father giving Ruth some of the grandmother’s things. You see the father’s concern for Ruth over the course of these chapters. Hopefully, it is a concern that will develop into a more active role in his daughter’s life as the novel continues.
Now, Mrs. Cutler is a character all in herself. Forget the fact that she should never work as a cook because of her untidy habits, she has absorbed herself with the mother and is enabling her to keep up the pitiful charade of the “Woe-is-me” lifestyle.