” ‘You want to serve your country, right? What did you think that involved, dressing up and playing parts?This job is about betrayal. About persuading people to betray other people. Their countries, their friends, those they work for. And in return, we betray them too in the end.’ “
“Tony was very proud to be well-read, and had often railed against the defensive anti-intellectualism that defined his country’s culture, but he had nevertheless recognized in himself, at times, a deep desire to perform a kind of excessive rugged practicality in compensation for his bookishness, submitting himself to physical privations, testing his strength and his endurance well beyond what was called for, and devising circuitous home-made solutions to problems that could be solved much more easily, and often more cheaply, by paying someone else to fix them. It hadn’t been until he’d gone abroad that he’d been able to identify this trait as itself particularly Kiwi, reflecting a broader attitude held among his countrymen that to do a thing with effort was always more respectable than to have it done with ease; inconvenience, in New Zealand, tended to be treated as a test of character, such that it was a point of national pride to be able to withstand discomfort or poor service without giving in to the temptation to complain.”
“Each time she tried to articulate these thoughts to William, she stopped, afraid of how meaningless the sentences might sounds. Words simplified situations and emotions, robbed them of their complexity. Could her words portray how powerless she felt, how torn? Never fitting in, unable to truly belong. Or would they convey another message, validating Amanda’s assumptions: How insular her community was, how limiting?”
“There are moments when something we’ve idealized all our lives changes and becomes something less. Not by a noticeable amount, just an infinitesimal disappointment. But it’s like going from 100 percent to 99.9 percent- imperceptible quantitatively, but dramatically different qualitatively, from flawless to flawed. After this point, I found myself questioning Dad’s motives, doubting his perspectives, in a way I hadn’t before.”
“Lana considered the question. She’d drawn a firm line between work and family while Beth was growing up, putting 90 percent of her attention on the work side of the line. She’d never hung up any of Beth’s drawings In her office or left work early to see a class play. Not that she had a choice. She’d seen what happened to the careers of women who were foolish enough to show those kinds of weakness.
Now Lana looked at her daughter and wondered, not for the first time, if she’d made the right decision.”