Strip the Willow and Rip the Bodice

Because everyone needs a hobby …

Ginger Post: Part 6 July 1, 2010

I just watched the last ten or so minutes of The Assassination of Jessie James and now I want to watch the whole thing. There’s always something about period pieces that get me – but this one looks well filmed … I love really well done cinematography.

But anyway. Ginger Post!

Amy Pond = Awesome

Except not.

There aren’t any – at all – gingers in this novel. Instead – there’s a ‘dark’ woman. What do I mean by a ‘dark’ woman … well, it’s usually the character that’s paired with the light, virtuous woman.

Easy enough to understand. ‘Light’ is what Cosway was going for anyway – he had in his mind some docile and biddable (thanks to this mother who lied and said Isidore was in her letters) girl waiting for him in England. He didn’t expect the ‘dark’ woman he got – the independent, temperamental, gets her own way when she has her mind set on it one.

And, since their both virgins, lest we forget, is there really passion in Isidore to fuel the fire (oh, that was bad, I know – i take full responsibility for that).

As the novels supposed main plot centers around Isidore and Cosway, it seems only right that she’s one of the opposites – a ‘dark’ woman instead of a ‘light’ one. Before anyone cries foul at what particularly makes a woman ‘dark’ or ‘light’ here’s a description of Isidore that should clear it up:

“Isidore glanced at herself in Jemma’s glass. Men had lusted for her ever since she turned sixteen, and the particulars hadn’t changed: black hair, pale skin, generous bosom. In short, something short of Venus, but delectable enough to send most men into a lustful frenzy.” p.12

So – dark haired and curvy is aka the ‘dark’ woman. A ‘light’ woman would have blonde hair, blue eyes – look pretty much fragile. The ‘light’ woman, as I also mentioned, is obedient (in my seminar last semester, we read a lot of period texts that dealt with the light woman in contrast to the disobedient dark woman).

Really, gingers have no place in this novel. The duality alone of a docile ‘light’ woman that Cosway thought awaited him and the ‘dark’ woman that was Isidore that he found, is enough to make a ‘hair color’ post on.

Mind you, a short one.

I don’t know what it is about this book. I should really be jumping at the whole sexuality in it … maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Sexuality and family then go on to talk about Jemma and Villiers because they’re really the ones I want to focus on.

I’m hardly trying to be lazy but nothing in this novel made me really consider anything new. I was more annoyed. I didn’t very much care that Cosway was a virgin – though it’s a big deal with the woman, it’s not so much with him. When he has sex, he has it. That’s … really it.

Maybe I’m just over-shocked from the epic-ness of the past few days: first the awesome Doctor Who finale … then the new Harry Potter trailer … too much for my brain to handle.

What I’m going to do is re-read parts for when I post again. I don’t want to gip myself out of some good critical thinking. The posts on this book are so short …

Okay: tomorrow definitely dealing with sexuality and the ending with family. Then maybe a sort of mega post on Jemma and Villiers and structure in these novels. That will all make sense … hopefully.

And hopefully this post made sense, too.

At least I passed the 500 words mark ...

Anyway:

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Reference

James, Eloisa. When the Duke Returns. New York: Avon Books, 2008.

 

The Post in which I Get Tired of Happy Endings June 18, 2010

It appears! The RDJ .gif I was going to use in the Title and Rank post!

Okay. I have to admit.

I see the pattern, duh.

But I’m really sick of the constant happy family ending.

As you probably guessed – Jem is a family man at heart, raising his daughter Little Father – sorry, Eugenia on his own. In fact, she gets her own little subplot where she is bit by a rat and suffers from rat-bite fever.

Shock and awe that this is another chance for Jem and Harriet (now known to Jem and Eugenia as a woman) to bond. Over a child.

Okay. That’s fine. So Harriet, in marrying Jem, becomes Eugenie’s mother. Saw that from the beginning.

But the epilogue?

“‘Where do you suppose this baby came from?’ he said wonderingly.

‘The usual places.’ He loved her laugh.

‘But we were married for years without children. And then Colin, and now -‘

‘I didn’t think I could.’

Under his hand was just the smallest flutter of life. ‘I never used to cry, not a single damp eye, before I met you,’ he said accusingly.

She kissed him until he didn’t feel sentimental anymore, just hungry. But he didn’t want to wear Harriet out, so he didn’t follow that kiss to its natural conclusion.” p.365

Yep. They have their own baby and another is on the way.

Curb my enthusiasm.

But this doesn’t make sense. We’ve learned that this novel takes place in the 1780s right? And at the start, Harriet is twenty-seven. Jem is thirty. Eugenia is eight. In the epilogue, Eugenia is in her teens (she’s come out) so that means that Harriet has to be somewhere in her mid thirties.

And it’s 1780. I don’t know – I feel like the author is playing with fire here. Especially since Eugenie almost dies of rat-bite fever – sickness was easy to come by. To give birth in her thirties seems a little troublesome – but then again – maybe not so much. I guess we can just chalk that up to the masculine side of Harriet.

But I’m going to speak plainly here. I did not want this book to end with a happy family. Marriage? Sure. Family unit? Sure. But a new baby and another on the way?

Simply: I felt that Harriet’s masculinity was taken away. She had this great side to her for over three hundred pages then all of a sudden … she’s a mother and pregnant. She still has her streak of independence, of course (we hear about her riding from Jem as well as her wearing breaches when she rides), but I just felt that in this moment, Harriet was de-masculinized.

I won’t even comment on Jem getting teary. We’ve seen in pretty much every novel before this that the men get this sentimental streak in them by the end of the novel so it isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s part of the formula. I don’t even think I’d bring my gender argument into this part because it’s so hackneyed that his ‘weepiness’ was just expected.

Happy family, remember?

So – my question: is there a book out there that ends with the protagonists going off on a new adventure rather than settling?

Is there something else to look forward to?

Sure, for the first few books, the ending was satisfying but now … now, I want something different. You can always change aspects of the formula  – but the structure of it remains. Can’t adventure be substituted for ‘happy family?’

I don’t mean that I expected Harriet and Jem to explore the world – they didn’t seem the type – but what about the characters like Breanne and Caedmon from Viking in Love who seem to be?

So – until I find that – my reactions to the family-endings of these novels is going to be something like Ned’s:

Yeah ... no.

I was going to used a bummed Ron and Hermione (from PS even!) but I miss Pushing Daisies and I don’t want to think about how principle photography finished on Harry Potter a few days ago.

I still remember where I was when I first saw Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint in a picture together – I was at my friend Sandy’s house using the computer – the picture took forever to load and the background was a the usual logo in tile effect. I remember how excited we were. And that was so many years ago …

End of an era … my childhood is really dying next year with the last film (though, it really did probably end with the final book – I’m giving it one last stretch).

Anyway – enough about HP.

Next week book looks … well … it looks interesting in an interesting way.

Have a great weekend!

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Reference

James, Eloisa. Duchess By Night. New York: Avon Books, 2008.

 

We’re totally not going to talk about how awful the Tonys were … June 14, 2010

If I started talking about last night – aka Tony Night – I would fly into a tangent that would never end. To sum it up: Worst. Tonys. Ever.

But moving on – Eloisa James’ Duchess By Night.

The one with just the girl on the cover.

The girl that’s a blonde.

La de da de da …

la de da de da ...

I read Duchess by Night just this afternoon (since last night I was occupied … but we aren’t talking about that) and decided, what the heck, I’d read it in a day. And I will say that, by far, I think this is the best one of the bunch. Not for snark or anything like that – it was actually not too bad of a book.

It, of course, followed the usual structure and there are a lot of things I want to talk about – gender, specifically – but just in terms of storytelling, James surprised me. I suppose I shouldn’t say ‘surprised’ as if I expect these books to always be lazily written – but James really does surpass her predecessors in this blog by miles.

So – why?

First of all, there was no real secondary plot that pretended to be the plot. There was no random chapters or random breakaways to remind you: oh yeah and this is what’s happening here – don’t forget about that because it’s the reason ‘a’ and ‘b’ meet. If there was a secondary plot, I suppose you could say it belonged to the character Isidore, but it was so simple that it only served as set up and not really consequential to the rest of the story.

Secondly, you actually gave a damn about the secondary characters. Now, while I had a hard time with the male protagonist’s daughter Euegina (think Little Father Time but crazy happy and obsessed with math), I liked hearing from the other characters. They weren’t fodder. In fact, I found myself liking the character Villiers (the friend of the female protagonist – Harriet). One of my marginal notes reads “He’s too good for her.” I liked his dry wit – and his lack of over sentimentality (is that proper grammar? Whatever – I’m still reeling from … you know).

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, this book gave me a lot to think about. Not just about structure or hair color – no, I felt almost like this book had a little more depth. It played with gender and gender roles – and, this taking place in the 1780s, you can tell that the author was invested in the period (down to the books her characters were reading). The period wasn’t just this backdrop to throw two attractive people against – it was interactive. And the secondary characters added to that. Also, I know I’ve spoken about the idea of position and rank in these novels and this text is no different – in fact, that is the main point the novel revolves around: gender and rank.

But I have to say – the male protagonist’s name – Justinian Strange? Yeah … no. And his nick name?

Jem (I kid you not)

Obviously – ‘Jem’ was a bit of a downside. And obviously no novel is perfect – this novel had it’s flaws. But I couldn’t deny that it was well written.

The narrative was steady – it moved nicely in and out of third person limited and free indirect discourse without the use of annoying italics at the start of paragraphs. There were rarely anachronisms in the narrative either – once and a while something would seem out of place, but otherwise it was consistent. It was something I appreciated. It didn’t seem self-indulgent as some of these novels *coughIfHesWildcough* have seemed *coughVikinginLovecough*.

It’s also important to note that this novel is also in a series like A Highlander’s Homecoming and If He’s Wild. There are more “duchess” books by James and – as with the other series novels, you get a preview of the next book at the end. And, surprisingly, I would be almost interested in reading it.

Shock. Awe. I know.

I’m going to make a note of it though, honestly. Why? Because I really haven’t explored the idea of the ‘series’ yet beyond canon. And why not explore it with a writer I happen to like? Plus, what James sort of craftily did was interweave the next story with this one – but very subtly (saving that for the sexy sex post). Also something I appreciated.

Oh sorry ... rage left over from last night ...

Anyway – I think this James’ novel will be interesting to take apart compared with the others because I think it’s one that brings to the front a lot that I have spent too much time on like gender itself (which is actually surprising) and I think I want to look more at independence in terms of power and rank – how that’s all connected.

See what a week off does?

It really refreshes the whole brain.

So – Yay! I’m back! And it’s time for …

PALATE CLEANSER! CLICK ME!

(you’re a soulless person if you didn’t find that episode moving … just saying … (obviously this pertains to the PALATE CLEANSER)).

Reference

James, Eloisa. Duchess By Night. New York: Avon Books, 2008.

 

For I Have Crossed the Rubicon! May 31, 2010

Barnes and Noble - My Mecca

Yes, I’ve done it. I went to the ‘Romance’ section in Barnes & Noble. Purchased two books. And had enough courage to go up and buy them.

Of course – I also bought Eliot’s Middlemarch and Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop so maybe I cheated (punishment being my new Dickens has no footnotes … again).

I can't just walk into that store and buy two trashy novels! Come on!

And to turn into a fashion blog for a mo’ – here’s the link where you can buy the dress I’m wearing. I am kind of obsessed with it – it’s all … flow-y and fun. (And yes, the room I share with mom in NY is covered with my LOTR posters from my high school years. Slowly, they’ve been falling off the walls but I haven’t made the actual attempt to actually take them down). Nostalgia, I guess.

Anyway. New week. New book. And oh god how I hated this one. I forced myself to read it in a day because I couldn’t imagine reading it longer (plus, I’m absolutely in love with North and South at the moment). Was it the romance? No. Was it too crude? No.

It was simply: boring.

Boring to the point where I would fall asleep. Boring to the point where I wondered why on earth this wasn’t just on FanFiction.net where one could be reading some crazy slash story, instead – that would probably be more entertaining to pick apart.

But I’ll get to the specifics in a moment. This week the book is – dun dun dun dun:

Hannah Howell's 'If He's Wild'

I picked out this book (at Walmart – the B&N books are for the next two weeks) for one reason: there was only a guy on the cover. Even under the sale sticker where that little lighted window is, there is no woman (if you don’t believe me, click on the picture where B&N will show you an unmarked cover). I wanted to sort of run a test – how important was the cover, first of all, to the novel. Also, would a redhead pop up? Would she be the heroine? The answer to the first two questions is – yes. The third, though, is no.

The heroine, for the first time, was not a redhead. I was a little surprised, but happy at the same time because it gave me more to question. A ginger is in the novel itself (and of course, it will make for a good ginger post), but she is not a main character. And, if the heroine isn’t a ginger – how will she be portrayed? The same way? Differently?

Does hair color really make that much of a difference?

Okay – this isn’t the ginger post. I want to start off, as usual, talking about the narrative voice because I think it really is important to situate where the narrator stands before getting further into the novel.

The narrative voice is very similar to what we have encountered before. It’s third-person limited with moments of free-indirect discourse. What I did like about this narrative was the use of practically no italicized thoughts. Everything was set in ‘regular’ save a few little things.

What I did not like about this narrative voice, though, was the way the story was told, the exposition, the way the characters were portrayed – and some of this actually ties back to the cover.

So what do I mean by the way the story is told? First of all, this is another series book, much like Mayhue’s. Apparently Howell’s written several ‘If He’s <insert sultry adjective here>’ and has also written about the families used in this novel. There’s a canon – which is easy enough to catch on to.

In a nutshell: Alethea (the dark-haired protagonist) is a virgin widow living with her uncle Iago (can’t make these names up). She has visions of this man named Hartley and of his possible death so they try to warn him. He’s known as a rake but surprise surprise, he’s only bedding women for information for the government. Really, that has nothing to do with anything. For some reason, his niece and nephew were almost killed so Alethea helps him find them, he marries her oddly (we’ll get to the oddly sometime later – in the sexy sex post), then they go back to the original plot and everything tries to resolve itself (with the help of some deus ex machinas), and Hartley and Aletha live happily ever after.

Convenience dominants this novel – especially in the beginning. The narrator fails to portray human doubt. Things are just … accepted. Alethea’s gift to see these visions? Sure, they’re questioned, but she’s trusted pretty much off the bat once she shakily convinces Hartley and his gang of her powers.

“‘I have no wonderfully logical or scientific explanation got my gift. It just is … Since it was given to me, I feel it is my duty to heed it. It told me that you were going to be kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. From what little I have learned this night, I still believe in what I saw. Since, I suspect, you know more than we do, I would think you would at least consider the possibility that I am right, If you will not, it does not signify. If you do nothing, it is still my responsibility to try to ensure that my vision does not prove to be an accurate prophesy.’

‘Makes sense to me,’ said Aldus as he and Gifford retook their seats.” p.45

Yeah, I wasn’t too fond of – Yay! We all believe her! She makes total sense! Look at those convulsions she goes into when she has ‘visions’! Ooooo! Ahhhh!

The narrator quickly whisks over any conflict that believing in this ‘gift’ of Althea’s could cause. It’s so quickly taken as fact, I swore from the first twenty or so pages I really was reading fanfiction. It was self-indulgent – the heroine had this great amazing gift, she was also too perfect, then of course twice she finds herself almost getting killed then being saved by Hartley.

Hello Miss Mary Sue.

Another fanfiction quality of this story was really the amount of times Alethea’s character suffered. She is this innocent girl, early twenties, and gets beaten, shot, etc. It’s common for a lot of fanfic writers to torture their characters – I don’t know why but there it is. Don’t believe me? Look it up. It gives not only a chance to gain sympathy for the character, but also bedside scenes were the hero of the novel can sit beside her and whimper while the other characters make whispered remarks on how much he must love her.

It’s annoying.

And I felt like that was what the whole novel was – someone getting hurt, someone sitting by their bedside, promising retribution. Blah.

And then there is the exposition. While I didn’t have trouble catching on to the canon – I sort of like stories that begin in medias res, so I didn’t feel as though I was lacking too much so far as series canon – I actually had trouble catching on to the time period. We were never told when the story takes place – pretty much just that it’s in London.

Whoop.

So me being the awful time period freak I am, I just had to pay hopeful attention that something would give me a clue. I figured since they used the word rake so much it was around the 18th and 19th century and since when the danced it seemed to be more of a couple-ly thing (rather than line dancing), that would be more 19th century, I think (waltzing, if I’m not mistaken, became popular then – but I read that a long while ago and I don’t write ballroom scenes often so I could be wrong). Anyway, I guessed this was probably the 19th century (especially with what Alethea got from her husband’s death). So, maybe I liked solving the puzzle (okay, I did) but what does that say about the narrator? The setup? Why don’t we know this simple fact?

This leaves us with the characters. Beyond the self-indulgent female protagonist, the passionless male protagonist Hartley is just boring – and he isn’t the ‘rake’ everyone thinks he is. That’s why the cover confuses me – it’s not as though he is running around sleeping with everyone and needs to be tamed or she needs to be – both of them are level headed (beyond the supernatural gift Alethea has) and just flat characters. As are the rest of the lot. There is so much explaining of the gifts (I mean, pages of just ‘this works this way, he has this gift she has this one) and cooing over being rescued that the characters sort of self-destruct into boredom.

Mix with that a plot that I think the narrator wants the reader to take incredibly seriously – I mean, the book feels heavy-handed on a rather non-existant plot by explaining all these gifts and how they’ll work – the characters beyond the Mary Sue Alethea take a backseat.

I once called Twilight a self-indulgent mess of a book. While If He’s Wild isn’t in that league of horribleness, it is still poorly written and incredibly self-indulgent mini-mess.

Once I started - I had to finish it. Pencil in hand.

And so no one asks me again, North and South is NOT about the Civil War, but about industry vs. the country in England (ie: the north and the south of England).

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Reference

Howell, Hannah. If He’s Wild. New York: Zebra Books, 2010.

 

I apologize for the lack of snarky-ness in my last post. May 18, 2010

Drink for Thought and/or Thank God for Wegmans

So – why am I apologizing for my lack of snarky-ness?

Well, I know that’s what a lot of you are here to read. And, let’s face it. Yesterday I went a little academic on all of you – I applaud whoever managed to get through that heap of ‘here are six points and me explaining those six points and aren’t you glad this is the first post?.’ Really, I blame it all on this kick I’ve been on lately – let’s call it … Dickens Mania. It isn’t just Dickens though – it’s Victorian writers, it’s theory – all my cups of tea.

So, tonight what I am saying is – be glad I am on my third Strongbow and am talking about canon, exposition, and the skipping of scenes.

Just to give you all a little background, I am drinking lots and lots not only to use up the obvious plentiful amounts of alcohol I have left, but also because I am packing. Packing, to me, is stressful beyond the usual ‘omg I have so much’. My OCD is through the roof plus it’s mixed with a lot of other problems that make packing/throwing things away an absolute nightmare. So the formula for today has been: Strongbow starting at 4:00 pm + the Little Dorrit mini-series starting a little earlier + a lot of music I can dance to since the morning. Happy to say – it’s working and my room is rather clear beyond my computer and a few other things that will be moved in the morning before I leave.

Anyway. Canon.

Canon - The Camera

Me and a cannon in Scotland (Sarah, either your Grandad or your Granny took this photo)

For those of you who have no idea what canon is – wiki that shit, I’m not your babysitter (god, I think I said that in my last blog almost word for word, but there you go – you know how to use google).

Before I actually get into the novel (which, as I told you last night, I would finish and I did – of course), I need to say that this particular book is part of a series. Not like Harry Potter but a series with an established canon, what I assume to be recurring characters, etc.

Thing is – canon in this book really doesn’t matter much. Exposition doesn’t matter either. I mean – the two things are there to a very small extent – but the reader isn’t treated to a warm up on the canon or even details into exposition.

For instance, look at this chapter transition – it contains these two points (lack of canon, lack of exposition):

Prologue (ending)

“With something of a plan formed, he pushed all thoughts from his mind. None of them mattered for the moment. When he finished the task his king had assigned him, nothing save death would keep him from his oath to see to the safety of Isabella MacGahan.” p.5

Chapter One (beginning)

“As it turned out, death was exactly what had kept Robert from fulfilling his oath to protect Isabella MacGahan. Or more precisely, the death he would have suffered had not Conner MacKiernan’s bride not whisked him more than seven hundred years into the future through the use of her Faerie Magic.” p.8.

While you’re digesting that – let me write out my marginal notes for you:

Are you joking?

What is this paragraph???

Done digesting? Good. Confused? Well, maybe not confused but left wanting at all? I mean … wtf? Seriously. Wtf.

I know I talked A LOT about transitions yesterday but that was from person to person – this chapter to chapter transition is unforgivable. And yet …

Okay, I’m not going to make excuses for the author. Clearly, this sucks. It just does. You can’t dance around the fact that is some shitty writing. There’s no exposition. There’s sudden introduction to canon we’re expected to know. Why I pause with that ‘and yet …’ is the whole ‘series’ aspect of this particular novel.

The plot itself is self contained, but the canon – the Magic – as a whole isn’t. It brings to light something rather interesting about these books – their following. Obviously, there is a following – I never doubted that. What I didn’t realize was how – at least in this book – how ‘insider’ it seems to be.

Let me go back to Harry Potter. And let me first say – I am not comparing. This happened in my seminar, funny enough. I made a comment – more of a joke that was misinterpreted by a few at first. I said that Stephenie Meyer needs to step away from the fog. Fog is Dickens territory. I didn’t mean that I was comparing the two. Same thing here, I’m not comparing Mayhue to Rowling. I’m just using an example to prove a point – like Dickens uses fog, Rowling uses exposition and canon. Mayhue – not so much.

Explain. Yes. I know. When you pick up a Harry Potter book, you obviously don’t start from book five and continue on. But, let’s say if you did, Rowling provides you with some backstory. Not an egregious amount of it – not an outlining of the books that preceded the fifth – just a bit of background, enough to remind the usual reader and let the newer reader slip in as best as possible (I can say this from experience. I read the first three books when I was Harry’s age (haha) and was rather out of the loop when then fifth came out so what exposition she gave was helpful as I couldn’t remember a damned thing).

But, in Mayhue’s work, we’re not really given that chance to … catch up. Granted, we gradually learn about this Faerie (god I hate that spelling and I cannot tell you why) Magic, but, in my opinion, it functions as this sort of deus ex machina (wiki that too if you don’t know what I mean). Oh the Faerie Magic can heal people! Oh it can send you back and forth in time! Oh it can control the weather! Blah blah blah – yadda yadda yadda.

Needless to say, I was the one at a disadvantage. I had no idea what the established canon of Mayhue’s world was, nor did I gain any information from her exposition … of which there’s rather little of. This time jump that occurs from the Prologue to the first chapter is strange. We never actually see this happen, we’re just told that it does.

This is where a good following comes in handy. This, I think, is one of the perks of writing a trashy romance novel – I may be wrong – I’m only hypothesizing at the moment so no one strike me down! You can get away with little to no explanation of canon or any exposition in a series because there are fans – fans who know the ins and outs and – let’s face it – probably don’t care too much about the specifics. I mean, what are these novels really centered around, one must remember.

Anyway, sum that up. Your canon is not explained – you just … tumble upon some of it and hope it’s enough to carry you through to the end. Your exposition is … to the point of hardly being tolerable, but again it’s unneeded. A plot is unneeded. In fact, when I finished the novel, I wondered why there was a plot at all, canon at all, exposition at all (though for the latter two there was very little) because we knew the ending, didn’t we? In fact, one of my marginal notes reads: ‘What does this have to do with anything?’ – strangely, it was concerning the actual plot. I’m not saying my mind was addled but plot becomes something annoying, brushed aside – not that I found it annoying, but in the flow of the novel it becomes a bump. It’s all sex sex sex PLOT sex sex sex. The poor dear plot … I wonder, at night, if it really was a good one. Needless to say, I don’t care much since it really wasn’t and I ended up ignoring it.

Moving on though – it’s important to keep this sort of … skipping in mind. The next sort of skipping doesn’t involve prior knowledge of former novels in the series explaining it away. Instead, it’s more of a time crunch.

“As the rains outside had gentled to a fine mist, he and Isa had talked long into the early morning hours. At first, she had wanted to know about her father, but soon she was asking questions about his own life. The battles he’d fought, his family, his home – she’d wanted to hear it all.

He had wanted to know everything about her life, hoping by some small miracle he could ease his sense of guilt at having abandoned her for so long.” p. 111.

“She’d spoken last night of readying her garden and of her ongoing battle with the small animals that raided her vegetables each season. Stepping out into the sunny morning, he’d decided that building a fence would be a good logical use of his time.” p. 112

Theme here is – all of this ‘talk’ they … talk about is never actually in dialogue form. We just sort of hear that it happened. I will say – all right, by pass some boring jabber but this struck me. And it has to do with the exposition and canon as well.

It is as if the author or narrator, whichever, wants to spend as little time possible going through the details between the couple. The main point is to get them together to have rather that romantic, unoriginal sex that you can pretty much find on any fanfiction website (again with the fanfiction!).

My personal preference takes over here. I like sometimes hearing mundane things. The build up is sort of fun – but we aren’t really given it. There was potential in the conversations mentioned above, for instance, for one-liners or even just to unravel the characters more … but no. This ‘skipping’ had a strange effect of me – I wrote it down almost immediately when I noticed it. As I said, there’s plenty of novels – fantastic novels – that I have read that don’t always go word for word in dialogue but the skipping of some of this vital information is strange.

But then again, not a strange choice.

Again and again, I remind myself what I’m reading – what the formula is – what the readers want from it. It’s a high – they don’t really care about Isa’s or Robbie’s background in detail … do they?

The great thing about this being the first novel I’ve read is that it’s raised a lot of questions in my mind about what I’m going to encounter in the other books I read. Will the narrative voice be similar? Will the exposition, canon, skipping be formulaic? I just may be. Or it may not be.

As I read more, I plan to compare the novels I read. I really want to see how this formula works – not just that it gives people thrills on the beach – but why people will spend $8 on these novels (if not for an academic reason …). Is it the easy reading? Just the thrill? Do they look for anything more?

There is something lacking … lacking lacking lacking (and I need to repeat that for that is how I felt for most of the novel). Not to mention that whole Ginger mess …

Right. I’ve talked about canon. About exposition. About skipping scenes. Hopefully that was more entertaining than the last post … though, you know I like that post. I was tired as hell when writing it, but I like it. Tomorrow I’m skipping a day – obviously with packing, riding in a car for a million hours, then unpacking doesn’t leave much time – or mood – for writing a post. But there will be five posts for this novel as there will be fore each I read.

Ah – and according to my outline, I tackle the Ginger problem next.

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Reference

Mayhue, Melissa. A Highlander’s Homecoming. New York: Pocket Books, 2010.