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for Pieces of Lives

10/25/2021 c9 12MrsVonTrapp
I find it is the little notes to real concerns and domesticity that I continue to admire in your stories, not least here. Your lovely little bit of glove business - there are such things as mitt thins, marvels the Antipodean - wrap this in such immersive believability, and your gorgeous catalogue of gift-giving, again hearkening to a Little Women sensibility, was both charming and a little heartbreaking. Well, it would have been heartbreaking, if that hadn't already been achieved by the beauty of Faith being able to draw like her mother.

There is so much else to love about this chapter, though. Faith's circlet of pearls - was Jem entrusted to give Anne's ring?! - makes its proper appearance. The number of cooks weighing in on the cider reminds me of that delightful scene with the soup at the start of Meet Me in St Louis. The sad beauty of Nan's chaffed, worked hands and of Jerry and Carl's joking letters. And finally, though all the interconnections are beautifully rendered, you so lavish lovely attention on the developing closeness between Faith and Poppy.

And What Would Faith Do is not a bad motto to live by, at all x
10/6/2021 c8 MrsVonTrapp
"The jaunty tongue-in-cheek thing purporting to be a letter" is a gasp-inducing beginning here, and so very Carl. How absolutely awful that the baby of the family has joined his brother, and no wonder he's the one Faith has always worried over - the scare they all had with him when still just a boy would have colored so many of those childhood Meredith memories, which are glimpsed briefly but powerfully here.

I really do love the dynamics here, and how these friendships are still evolving. The idea of Di rushing into battles and Mara "always choosing hers" says so much about each girl so economically. "The current shifting between the girls uneasily" was a really potent image, and something you have a definite feel for. And of course you write excellent cat business, though I was too diverted by the mere mention of Frankenstein! I wondered for a moment if you were planning for it to act as an allegory here, but I see you have even more fittingly conjured mention of The Tempest instead. Although I could make a case for Pilgrim as Jekyl and Hyde!
10/6/2021 c7 MrsVonTrapp
Firstly, I am sure you will be greatly bemused to find I am back to the origin point of your story two years after beginning it, given that the action has now moved to your newest iteration of this, another war and half a world away. I haven't wanted to read anything subsequent till I felt I could fully appreciate it all, and thus I have fallen further and further behind, and it just won't do anymore! So here, lovely Alinya, I am... again!

I am a little more knowledgeable regarding Susan's dubious offering than I was a month or so ago, having spent the first half of our latest interminable lockdown scouring ebay and etsy for new projects I have no time for, including looms and weaving, so I well know now what the wool DOES look like when it has been barely separated from the sheep! And I must admit Nan "still stroking the wool as if a biddable cat" brought a broad smile. And the poor love, weaving and weaving till her hands are raw; such a Nan-daughter-of-Anne (to quote Eliza) thing to do! And the way, of course, in which she can feel she is going something more 'personal' for Jerry.

Oh, Jerry... well, oh... ALL of them! Really the Ingleside offering is just the prelude to the even greater gift of this chapter, concerning the heart-to-hearts and shared confidences under the covers, or in their general proximity. Thank you for allowing your characters to have a straight-forward conversation, so that we don't have the I-Think-I'm-Engaged-But-I'm-Not-Sure problems that beset so much of RoI. Nan looking like she "swallowed the moonlight" was unutterably gorgeous, but it is Di's story here that touches me the most, finding comfort and confidence in writing that she can't quite muster in person - we have all been there - and knowing she can't quite pin down the elusiveness of what she has with Andrew Blake - less "substantial" and "settled" just breaks my heart, really, and typifies so many cusp-of-war and home-on-leave relationships I'm sure.

And the beautiful idea of "how to fill those pauses" when - if - the boys return. The ladies left behind must have felt they were holding their breath for years. Just a gorgeous, yearning chapter.
10/7/2019 c6 MrsVonTrapp
Surprise! Here I am popping back in, and these reviews are taking longer than the actual war your characters are living through… sigh.

You do write an excellent letter-of-Nan, and this one doesn't disappoint. The warm collegiality of the girls now is just delightful, going all in - and all out - in support of Mara. There was a gorgeous Patty's Place-ness about their communal preparations and shared clothes that was lovely and lovingly rendered. Twelfth Night is, additionally, my favourite of the comedies and I am very glad that the Redmond drama department are steering clear of anything too dark (although Twelfth Night has enough shade to make it far from glib and has some intriguing things to say about appearance, identity and attraction!)

Again you rather break me with your Walter - "merriment suits you" was just aching. And you continue your unsurpassed uses of light and description of the girls and their environment - Faith like "a meteor"; Poppy wearing the cat "like a mantle" and the "sun streaking the sky gauzy oranges and ichorous yellows". Honestly, you describe things like that and I think I'm back at the Tate, in that glorious room full of Turners.

Such gorgeous work makes me rather relieved that the high drama of Rilla's world is but an addendum to this one x
8/17/2019 c5 MrsVonTrapp
I did love the literary sensibility you brought to all this, and the lively commiseration Anne gave to poor Mara and her problematic play! It is delightful to see what Anne's correspondence might have been and similarly entertaining to see the fondness - and the bemusement! - with which Rilla's is received. All those underlinings! And oh, the drama of being fifteen. I'd rather not have gone back to that, either.

Walter's entrance is superbly done - "a shadow taut and dark... looming grey and severe..." which was perfect for him here. If Faith had come in as a hurricane, Walter is a storm cloud in every sense. You have people wear colors - or their lack of them - brilliantly. "Pale as blue milk" and "the look of a blancmange" effortlessly continue this imagery.

I really loved how the dynamic of the siblings is explored here - who are favourites of one another, who is falling out, both being an extension of canon and more wonderful worldbuilding of your own. Faith's repeated proclamations that she is not her own sister also resonated. It is not a simplistic thing, these relationships, and neither is it static, particularly in these circumstances. The slow withdrawal of the other girls, leaving Walter and Di to it, was delightful - and very Austen-esque! I also really loved the conjecture over what - or to whom - Di was writing, and that sharing of confidences with Faith over a confirmed and a possible beau. Di's situation - not quite knowing where she stands with Andrew Blake, and even quite how it all began - is a nice mirror to Rilla and Ken, and feels much more authentic. And the intrigue of Walter with Ruthie on his arm! It makes me realise how narrow the focus of RoI really is, when you have existing this entire other world that is so vibrant and fascinating.

As an Australian, I had to thank you for the Gallipoli reference - which always made me proud of LMM as she was the only non-Australian WW1 contemporary to mention Gallipoli in print. Gallipoli really was a bloodbath for us, and our withdrawal from Gallipoli our own Great War Dunkirk. It is such a part of our national, collective consciousness, still, that it is always a thrill to see it recognized elsewhere x
8/10/2019 c4 MrsVonTrapp
Oh goodness - now you really will make me think of Little Women again, with all this talk in the beginning of 'keeping Christmas'' as of Dickens and ending with sing songs round the piano courtesy of a pianist Beth-like in both her skill and her modesty. Next thing I was expecting them to give up their dinner to some poor family round the corner.

However, whilst the March family kept largely to their own counsel, you have beautifully rendered Swallowgate as the hub of happenings, both academic and war-related, deftly showing how each little group did their best to combine these two unlikey bedmates. Even Patty's Place was sedate compared to all these visitors "brimful with burgeoning philosophies, pattern books and... bolts of fabric," which is beautifully alliterative.

And then you give us... Blakes! Well, that was genius, not only because everyone loves that family and misses them in canon but because their shared Kingsport connection here opens up so many possibilities. You did well to give us two more siblings after those two older boys we knew about from LMM, and they are beautifully described, down to the easy manner and fair hair of both, the pixie features of Ruthie and the hint of ears (lol!) and that earnest active listening of his father found in Andrew. Gosh I will like getting to know these two, even as Andrew is sadly soon to be off and Di is intriguingly fluxommed by his subtle attention. And again I am going to give you more Little Women parallels, with Walter wading in unannounced and trading on the genialitiy and hospitality of the girls as of Laurie (Walter as Laurie was NEVER an observation I thought I'd ever make!) even though that thread of unease still remains with him.

But they all go away "with a good taste of Christmas in their mouths", which is lovely and perfect.
8/10/2019 c3 MrsVonTrapp
It is wonderfully LMM-esque of you to devote an entire chapter to an adopted cat, and a cat of such looks and even more dubious temperament to boot! But I love how Rusty-like 'Pilgrim' is and how his presence becomes ''habit'' and how we see all the personalities of these fellow-travellers reflected in their attitudes towards him; Poppy acquires him without meaning to, finding purpose for a chipped saucer as defence perhaps against feeding him in the first place; Mara is dubious, with her chequered history of cats and yet might be the one to secretly (if sternly!) most like him; Nan and Faith try literature and languages; Di one imagines tolerates him with characteristic bemusement.

There are some amusing little injokes - 'Mouse' adopts a cat; reference to the Patty's Place chloroform misadventure (WHAT was LMM ever thinking there?!) as well as some lovely little notes on new characters; particularly Poppy-as-substitute Una, down to the baking, late night chats under the covers with Faith and that extraordinary passage where she reflects on Mara's beauty, not even realising her own is reflected back to her.

What I am finding intriguing about this story is the absence of those males - the beaus and brothers that are now and can only be faces in a photograph (or not, as Jem) or fancies as in Nan repurposing Jerry's looks for her character (Nan as Jo March weaving stories for the other girls is a vivid and valid comparison, with this necessarily female-centric universe just like the girls and Marmee). Like Little Women (which I adore) this is infused with a similar gentle domestic rhythm and easy interconnectedness, and more of your incomparable prose. I wish I had the skill and the patience to write with such attention to detail and loving understanding of this world.
8/1/2019 c2 MrsVonTrapp
Hello again after such a long delay!

"Piecing news and pinning hopes" has become my new favourite phrase, and so perfectly encapsulates the war experience as felt on the Home Front. When news is scattered you need something - anything -to tie to, to warp a Susan-ism, and Hope becomes the light that sustains over those four long years. You write how each of them is beginning to do that beautifully.

I don't know who might be your equal in terms of portraying domesticity so immersively, from that lovely communal response to the making of the nightshirt (it certainly takes a village and I am indeed of Faith's ''expertise'' on this!) and showing each girl's personality through their stitches to important converations over the boiling kettle. What a little masterclass in writing right there! And then of course you give us Walter as well, momentarily forgetting "he was supposed to be at odds" with Di, coming in with his snatches of war news and his poetry... already two things irreversably tied to him. "Energy high strung and palbable" is not only an excellent phrase for the before-moments proceeding their making friends again, but seems such a fantastic description of Walter in this time generally - he is a livewire, and it will only get worse, until that electric, unpredictable essence in him settles when he signs up.

Such beautiful work!
1/28/2019 c1 MrsVonTrapp
I really do believe I have to start at the beginning, properly, so here I am...

Can I just say, first up, that I adore your Nan and I think you write her so winningly and beautifully, with a voice that is just perfect - and, if I may be so bold, probably the closest to your own x Her letter here is chatty and literary and lovely, swooping in and out of one thought and another - and one description and another - as gracefully as, indeed, a swallow. And the beautifully named Swallowgate gives the House of Dreams a run for its money, even if it is seems more Alice in Wonderland-inspired in architectural style! I did like all those precious china figurines to watch out for - sure to be as much of a worry as ever all those Patty's Place cushions were!

So lovely, too, that having only JUST reviewed your 'Time Enough and World' here the echo of the same verse links us - of cherry blooms and Eastertide - showing you have such a memory for your universe and they way you have filled it. And too, to introduce two new characters off the mark, and to have them already be vivid creations in their own right- no mean feat considering they share space with Nan, Di and Faith!

It is and will be so intriguing to have the flip here and find out about Ingleside goings-on second-hand (and already a few differing voices to add to the chorus of comments) and I know you will do so much to enliven that storyline through the lens of the Swallowgate inhabitants. So typical of these girls to take sides even when fussing over the kitchen, and it was amusing to see who aligned themselves with whom. I'm with Walter, though, and can hardly comprehend why the fuss, and the "excess of inclination" here was a fabulous phrase! Speaking of Walter, it will be both intriguing and heartbreaking to have him so close, for a while at least, and to see how his disconsolate call-to-arms plays out in the eyes of his other sisters, particularly Di.

Such a vivid and lively beginning! Though I worry a little for the very dark times ahead x
12/3/2017 c1 10Excel Aunt
I have an inner chuckle going on at the thought of these early, 20th-century women fighting how to arrange the cupboards. I know if it were me I would step away from that whole scenario as fast as I could.

Whenever I read of a china shepherdess figure I always think back to the Ingalls family in the "Little House" series and how their figurine endured all their moves and survived unscathed. Somehow I don't think that will be the case here, I beat some of those end table delights crash, but, it does etch in my mind a mental note of an early place and time, and a certain pioneer spirit that I did not grow up to. Not that these characters are homesteaders, but they're certainly making their own adventures in life.
10/5/2017 c33 14elizasky
That was a lovely way to end. Even though it wasn't at the house, it was just the five of them, so the house was constituted without the physical building. I didn't start out expecting this to be such a touching story about friendship, but it really was. And this made a perfect ending — no parents, no boys (except in brief references) — just the girls who pin hopes.

I have seen that you are writing something new and do hope that you will fill in some of the story around these years. Whatever happened with Shirley and Mara? Is Faith going to take up nursing as a career? What are the implications of that? What's next for Di?

I've enjoyed this very much. You are a talented writer and your style is engrossing. I was delighted by all your literature talk (and we should chat more about some of that — I think I'm working some Sir Philip Sidney into my next just to poke back :)). Thank you so much for a lovely story. I'm looking forward to more!
10/5/2017 c31 elizasky
Did they have transatlantic telephone in WWI? Oh well, I won't quibble because I'm that excited to hear from Faith. And glad to hear that Nan will be in Avonlea. It's not quite home, but near enough.

I did feel a little heart-pang over Faith wanting to train as a nurse formally after the war, though. Of course it is what she was born to be and you have proven that amply. In my universe-in-which-Jem-doesn't-exist I've even toyed with medical school for her. But in this one, where he does exist, is this a sign that she has given up on him? Even a little?
Making plans in case he doesn't come back?
10/5/2017 c30 elizasky
I'm not sure how I feel about Nan deciding to leave Kingsport. On the one hand, she is right that it won't be the same with everyone else gone (though will they be? Is Mara going home? Couldn't they get jobs and stay at Swallowgate?). And I suppose it makes sense for her to want to be closer to home after this scare. But she has been slightly uncomfortable at Ingleside the times she has been back lately — how will she feel about being at home? Or does she only mean to be closer to home, but not actually at Ingleside? If she's elsewhere on the Island, I'm afraid for her trying to strike out completely on her own and still getting snowed in when she wants to travel.

This Gilbert is pretty adorable. Between the frying trout and the not being able to resist Di, he is the very definition of a duck. Though he does have patients waiting for him at home . . .

I've been enjoying all the references to Faith and her calling. If I'm being honest, I feel myself rushing through these reviews because I really want to go check in on her.
10/5/2017 c29 elizasky
I do love these visits from Gilbert. He is so wonderful with his girls. And I am glad to see that he is including Mara in the count now. I'm a little worried that he left a whole town full of people to fend for themselves at this critical moment, but I suppose he'd do anything for Di.

I would have thought Mara would have long since stolen that quilt for her new bed.

I do hope that Mara and Shirley will live close enough to the Glen for Mara and Gilbert to continue building their friendship. I love that she is not at all deferential to him and he seems to enjoy it, too.

The thing that stands out to me in this chapter is all the little touches — pinning hair, washing hair, pressing hands, sponging faces, etc. Your writing always feels very . . . I don't know exactly how to say it . . . sensual? tactile? plastic (in the decorative arts sort of sense)? Maybe it's the way you don't explain everything and leave lots of spaces so that the reader has to do some work to fill them in, rather than just having everything bald and neat. But all the little physical touches here enhanced that.
10/5/2017 c28 elizasky
You managed to surprise me here. After the Halifax explosion, I was confident that you wouldn't let the flu go by unnoticed, but I wasn't expecting it so soon. Now this talk of cyanosis and remembering that Poppy has poor circulation to begin with has me very worried for her.

I miss Faith. I saw that you have a few chapters on her in another story and I am exercising extreme patience in not clicking over there until I'm done here.

Doctor's orders? Is Gilbert back?
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