Agnes Mack

Quiet and obedient

Gideon describes his mother as being a very quiet and shy woman who was obedient and dutiful to her husband, James. She confirms this after James' death:

He wanted someone who would look after the house and be obedient, and that’s what he got

Gideon reveals that his father never loved his wife, he merely tolerated her and regarded her as stupid. Again, Agnes was aware of this:

He didn’t worry about me, because my mind wasn’t good enough in the first place

Agnes received little love and affection from her husband who neglected her and was indifferent to her needs.

Distant and unaffectionate

As a mother, Agnes was just as distant and unaffectionate towards Gideon when he was growing up. Although she was never unkind to Gideon, she was not a natural comforter and there was no genuine maternal bond with her son.

It seems in the end that Agnes and James were well suited. When asked if she loved her husband she says:

It wasn’t like that. I was the same as him, I thought it was what I should do.

In the end the question is left as to whether Agnes Mack did feel neglected by her husband. Certainly she claims that love and happiness were not the basis of the marriage:

Your father and I were suited. This life isn’t about happiness. It simply isn’t important.


Gideon’s relationship with Agnes does not improve after his father dies. She develops dementia, leaving her forgetful, in a permanent state of confusion and unable to take care of herself:

within a short period of time she began to lose her mind"

Gideon visits his mother in the care home twice a week but only does so out of a sense of obligation and duty. However, when he does so she seldom knew who I was and she is unable to hold a lucid conversation with him.