This is not going to end well.
We get a summery of Ruben and Laura's drive back to The World's Perfect Mansion. He tells her his life story, which we've already heard, and she tells him her life story, which we already heard. Hey, can we have new material please?
...apparently not. Oh, new nuggets of characterization are hinted at, but they're not brought up. No. They're just talked about. Ruben talks about the digs he went on, and that is exactly the amount of information we are given in the book. Not that he went there, or where he went, or what he was digging up. Nope. We just find out that he talks about it.
He talked about his Berkeley days and the digs overseas, about his love of books, and she talked about her time in New York, and how her husband had swept her off her feet. As for her father, she’d been utterly devoted to him. And he’d never uttered a word of criticism of her for marrying Caulfield Hoffman against his candid but gentle advice.
Yeah, that's "candid and gentle advice" about the guy who straight up drowned Laura's children. That is not the phrasing I would use. And I'm really fucking sorry, but "loving father" and "doesn't criticize for your having married a clingy potential murderer" do not go together. At all. Either her dad was psychologically tone deaf, or Anne Rice doesn't understand how human instincts work.
She’d lived a life of parties, concerts, operas, receptions, and benefits in New York with Caulfield that now seemed like a dream. Their town house on Central Park East, the nannies, the frantic pace and richness of life, all of that was like something that had never happened. Hoffman had been ruined when he killed himself and the children. Everything they’d owned together had been lost. Every single thing.I would like to point out what gets the most description in this paragraph. Laura's family gets half a sentence. Her social calendar and the cash thus implied, that gets the whole rest of the paragraph. Hoffman had been ruined when he killed himself--yeah, that phrasing implies that he was ruined because he offed himself, not that he offed himself because he was financially ruined.
AND LET US NOT FORGET: HE DROWNED LAURA'S CHILDREN.
There is something that Stephen King wrote in Misery that I kind of like. Depressed people commit suicide. Psychopaths take other people with them.
How is the fact that Laura lost her material posessions something more key to her character than her losing her children. That's the kind of thing that becomes your defining trait. I have a much older friend (She's in her sixties) who has a double doctorate in psychology. TWO Ph.Ds, on top of a masters in nursing. She did the masters because she waned to be a nurse. She got the doctorates because her son shot himself and she wants to understand why. She still celebrates his birthday. My mom lost a kid before she had me. I know what his name would have been, and when his birthday was. You can heal from that, in the continuous sense of the word, but you're never over losing your kids.
Unless you exist in an Anne Rice book, in which case the fact that your husband killed your kids is less critical to your character than the fact that you don't get to go to operas anymore.
They discuss Ruben's brother. They discuss DNA testing. We don't get to find out what exactly they discuss, mind, only that they discuss it and find it to be dangerous.
Laura gets her first real bit of dialogue when they start discussing werewolves.
“I wouldn’t assume,” she said, “that this thing is capable of love and conscience as you are. That might not be true at all.”RUBEN. CAPABLE OF LOVE AND A CONSCIENCE.
The tables were draped in lavender linen, with lavender napkins, and the food was subtly spiced, special. He ate ravenously, consuming everything offered down to the last crumb of bread. The place was rustic with a low sloping ceiling, the expected roaring fireplace, and old weathered plank floors.
Anne Rice is one of those people who demands they be able to "taste the fish", isn't she?
Ruben tells Laura he's just made her an accessory after the fact to every one of his brutal murders. Laura finds this to be highly romantic:
“Some mysteries are simply irresistible,” she said. “They have components that alter a life.”
You know, I could take werewolves taking Selfies. I could take Anne Rice's late-stage discovery of superhero motifs. I could even take the massively gross materialism dripping off every page.
If I have to endure too much more of Laura I'm going to do something unspeakable to this book.
Ruben realizes he feels highly posessive of Laura. He also realizes he never felt this way about Celeste, his discarded girlfriend, and this is a sign that he really does love Laura.
You know, manipulative men usually discard women they can't manipulate anymore and switch over to a new girl. Celeste has been growing more independant, according to the text, and this is mentioned while Ruben is deciding if he wants to continue dating her.
I think Ruben is the last guy any female should ever attach themselves to. Ever.
Ruben pulls out her chair and gives her her coat. She compliments him on his Old World manners. Phrased exactly like that.
The chapter ends.