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for Through the Dark Clouds shining (English version)

9/8/2018 c79 AnneNGil
I feel like Rilla is a very grey person. She is very gloomy. "Dark clouds", right ? I'm still waiting for the shining part. ;-)
9/8/2018 c80 18Alinyaalethia
It’s good to see Collette again. You know I’ve always loved her. (I think she reminds me a bit of *my* Collette, which is mad, because they couldn’t be more different.) Anyway, we get to see them here in a completely different kind of limbo, in-between places and plotting futures. Collette has retained her bossiness, of course she has, and her enthusiasm, but it makes a change to see it directed towards something so hopeful as a wedding. Everyone’s happiness feels so hard-won in this universe that leaky roves really seem the least of it. But I love seeing that ease and warmth, even elliptically between her and Maurice. To think they were st each other’s throats in the beginning -though they’re hardly the first pair to start that way, I suppose. Like Rilla, like Collette too, I’m sorry they won’t be closer together. Having Nan and Di nearby will be lovely, but I wouldn’t mind Rilla having a ready-made friend in Toronto. Nothing new there; you know friendships have often trumped family in my writing.

I appreciate too that Collette has a solid read on Rilla’s attitude to the baby. If I didn’t know better, I’d hazard they’re a bit likeminded when it comes to children. Though this also gives us a chance to chart Rilla’s emotional progression. She’s still not sounding trumpets or anything, but she’s tentatively hopeful. And when Collette does make that visit, I want it in writing. So we’re clear.

Otherwise, the visit to Betty’s family will take its toll. I’m glad someone is going, it needs doing, but especially in this chapter, it was hard not to think back on the hopeful Betty of your beginning and feel how massively the war had changed them all. I wonder, can Rilla still feel off all Betty’s younger siblings? Could Polly ever? Here’s to long years of letters between her and Polly anyway, may they come easier when there isn’t a war on.

I also enjoy the way you brought other favourites back here for me. I could have gone eith a conversation or ten with a MacIver, because I always have time for him, but I make due concessions to narrative momentum. Grudgingly.

I’ve been looking forward to Ken’s drawings. This was beautiful, especially the idea that he hoards the good while expunging the painful memories in charcoal. There’s a book, Fall on Your Knees, very Canadian, Catholic in spots, and it has one character forever performing an act of penance by eating the charcoal. This reminded me of that. As if Ken were trying to balance the scales so,show by drawing everything, as if in drawing it he could quiet his demons. It would have been easy too, to let him draw Rilla in lovely moments. To capture the worry and darkness there was much braver. You let us see that Ken really does know all of his wife, has lived through trauma that extends beyond the war. We needed that, and Rilla needed it too. It almost makes up for his insurance on letters earlier that’s rankled with me.

I’m reminded too,of a bit at the end of Gaudy Night that talks about how much easier giving is than receiving. The way Rilla takes on, or halves Ken’s trouble put me in mind of it. How much easier to shoulder someone else’s worry than share our own. And yet, for all that, we’ve seen Ken do the same enough to know these two make a good couple. Here’s to seeing more of that soon.
9/8/2018 c78 AnneNGil
I love that Ken went to buy a book on fetal development. It's endearing.

I find it really disturbing that Rilla and Ken refer to the baby as "it" all of the time.

I think more than mothering, Rilla is afraid of being able to protect her child. How many times have I heard that people don't want to bring children into this crazy world?
9/8/2018 c80 38oz diva
It was lovely for Rilla to travel with Collette, who knows how that happened? but it's a nice touch.

Ken's drawings obviously have a raw power, maybe not as nice as his mother's or as technically brilliant, but the subject matter sounds incredible. They sound good enough for an exhibition, though I doubt the audience could cope with them. I'm pleased he has an outlet for his emotions. The drawings of Rilla sound a bit more disturbing. I mean I'm pleased he showed her, probably, but I'm not sure how I would feel in the same situation, were it ever to arise?

It's good they have a few days on this ship before they make it home. Gives them a few days of respite before they have to face the family and start making real decisions, especially as there's no debriefing or post war therapy back then (which we do poorly enough even today).
9/7/2018 c80 AnneShirley
I liked Ken's idea of drawing whatever he saw in the trenches - all the horror and pain that Walter didn't, or couldn't, capture in his poems, but which Ken, and to an extent, Rilla, saw during their war. At this, the end of the war, his pain is deep, although he tries to mask it with a humorous facade. The list of names of the dead that he forced himself to memorize, and now repeats in the night, is clear evidence of that.

I liked the fact that Colette was on the ship which carried Rilla home. It somehow circles back to those dark days of the war, when Colette was mourning her friend and Rilla was the stubborn Ilienne who intruded on her grief. I was intrigued by the class difference between Colette and Rilla, and the fact that, had it not been for the war, they'd never have met. In your story, you do a good job of showing how the war changed the futures of so many people - would Rilla have married goddamn Kenneth Ford if an ocean hadn't separated them from home?

Leslie's talent for art sounds interesting - she who grew up in the environs of Four Winds Harbor, with its picturesque harbors and shore, yet carried a burden of grief until her marriage to Owen. Theirs must've been a very artistic home, and I wonder how Ken went from that world of poetry and pictures to the battlefields of Europe.

Rilla really uses every opportunity she has to demonstrate her knowledge of nursing and the human body, such as when she shows Ken just where his heart is. I'm wondering now if she, like Colette, will try to look for a job in Toronto. Or whether her nursing skills will just be a desperate attempt to prove that the wife of the business mogul Ken Ford once saved soldiers' lives, the same way as her mother's BA was mentioned half pityingly and half scornfully by the Glen folk.

This, by my reckoning, is the penultimate chapter - congrats! I'm awaiting the last chapter to see where you take Rilla and Ken, and I'm also curious what your next story is.
9/7/2018 c80 14elizasky
It's good that Ken has a strategy for getting those thoughts out of his mind. The images may be disturbing, but at least he can put them away. I was going to say that it is a bit like journaling, but I thought about it for a minute and it's really a form of the closet exercise, isn't it? The one where you hold the intrusive thought in your mind for a moment, then visualize a very specific box with patterns and colors and a lid, put the image in the box, and put it on a shelf in your mental closet where you can visit it if you need to but you can put it away for now. That one has always been way more helpful for me than EMDR, which I found useless. If it gives him some power over the images in his mind, that's worthwhile. I think it was probably right for Rilla not to tell him about the sleep-muttering — he can't control that and it might upset him to know that 1) he is not in control and 2) he might be upsetting Rilla.

The pictures of Rilla were beautiful in their own way - disturbing, of course, since they are Ken's bad memories, but also lovely in showing his care for her and how he notices her and has seen her in all sorts of rough shape. She once worried about her hands being ugly, and she might still prefer them to be soft, but she hardly needs to put on a show for Ken. Just be safe and beside him and that's enough. He's going to be a wreck during the birth, isn't he? Wishing her a smooth labor for all their sakes.

Wait, am I getting this right that Ken was able to invite Rilla to stay in his cabin just by smooth-talking the other officers, not by officially revealing their marriage to the army?! Kids these days, with their cigarettes and their bobs and their likely stories about secret marriages.

I appreciated that Collette did not assume that Rilla was happy, even before Rilla got there herself. Very interesting to see the class difference here - would Collette and Rilla ever have crossed paths socially if not for the war? But it equalized them enough for friendship to blossom. Though if Maurice gets his garage, he and Colette may have a comfortable life, at least for the decade. I kind of chuckled at Ken's very vague business whatever. It is all very nebulous, which seemed fitting for a sort of life that seems hazy and not yet real, unlike the very specific drawings that make you feel that you are right there with the subject.

As for Betty's family - that's a hard job. I hope Ken can go with Rilla for that. In WWII, after my grandfather was shot down and got wounded and malaria and all that, he wasn't *quite* injured enough to be invalided out (shot in the face, but they gave him false teeth, so all better, right?) so he had to serve on a death-notification detail. My mom said that was one of the things he never talked about at all. But at the same time, I can see it being very important to the family to get that personal attention. Hard, too, to see Rilla alive and well. Gah. No way around it, that will be awful.

Point of clarification: do the nurses get a Service Gratuity as well?
9/7/2018 c80 10Excel Aunt
Collette and Maurice (gosh, I missed him!) have shadows of Anne and Gilbert, esp. now that Maurice wants to doctor cars. They are going to make so much money! But, I think it is good for Rilla to keep up with her promises. She's developed a taste to travel, although, I suppose she might like just to stay put for a while. I wonder if she can become a private nurse too? I entertained a thought that Jem might hire her and then recalled his going back to The Glen. Maybe another doctor then?

I like the little detail of Leslie having a talent for painting. I was thinking what a wonderful outlet that would have been for her after the Dick Moore years, which, that entire marriage probably required loads of therapy. It makes sense to me that Ken would 'talk' in the same way. I'm really happy for him that he shared those pictures, because, if you don't share them, then it never really leaves you, does it? Also, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Ken would prefer the efficiency of that fact.
9/5/2018 c79 18Alinyaalethia
I shall always enjoy the comeaderie between Jem and Rilla here. Who’d have thought he’d be the one to help her realise this baby? And yet, they have similar experiences now, so perhaps it makes more sense than she or I had thought. Certainly his own experience as a father is a fine foul to Rilla’s uncertainty. He barely knows his children, nor they him.

And I enjoy the discussion about middle names. It is indeed why they were invented, except in my family, in which case you gift the first name to the dead and answer to the middle name. It wreaks havoc on banks and health cards, I can tell you. And, of course, I can’t help but think Jem would commemorate Jerry somehow. They really were the best of friends for years.

An interesting point though, his not having all the pieces of Di’s life. Rilla does a reasonable job dodging the question, but I get the sense it’s onky a matter of time before Jem puzzles that conundrum out. He onky shops here because Rilla turns the inquisitorial table.

And, of course, the heartbeat was a lovely touch. What Rilla needed, I think, to at least cement the reality of the pregnancy. Not being able to akcnoekedhe it probably isn’t helping her, but at least this leaves her with a sense of her child, something to hold on to as she gets closer yo home.
9/5/2018 c79 38oz diva
I love love love the chapter title. The first little song of love is just so perfect. Maybe your best yet.

Rilla's concern about the building being a workhouse have little to do with the facilities, and more to do with just the horrors of the place, I would imagine. The conversation about Walter is lovely. Two siblings remembering their dead brother. They both miss him dreadfully and are grieving in their own ways. They'll get to a point where it's not as painful, but they're a ways off yet.

I love Jem here. He is playing the big brother role, which is somewhat irritating I guess, but he is the one to alleviate her misgivings. To let her into the mystery of her baby. When you hear that heartbeat for the first time - well it is is a beautiful thing. It sounds more like a fast galloping horse than anything. Like a racehorse coming around the last bend. She's lucky to hear it, because of course few women could back then, though it's common enough nowadays - but no less wondrous for all that. It's the first time you really feel your baby is real.

Their talk about their futures feels very real to me too. Jem being prepared to move back to home (well not home, but nearby) and take up his father's reins. It may seem like a sacrifice to Rilla, but for Jem with the weight of the eldest son and the memory of the past four years - I could see how attractive it might sound.
9/4/2018 c79 10Excel Aunt
Well, having never read Oliver Twist, I am wondering if there is something I missed there with the haunting joke. I can very much relate to Rilla being reminded of Walter while visiting Jem. Not that Jem and Walter were much alike, but, they would naturally have similarities. I never realized how much my father looked like his mom until after he passed and every time we'd make the obligatory tripe across Iowa to the land of Lincoln to see her, I would just stare and stare at her because she looked so much like Dad. I figured Jem knew that Rilla was expecting as they chatted. The whole conversation about naming a child after a deceased loved one is a bit more cheeky as a result with this "I know you're expecting but I don't want to mention it".

Jem did seem happy for Rilla, and I approve of her naming the baby Walter or even Cuthbert (his nickname could be Bertie!) or even Susan if it's a girl. Walter's warning he'll come back to haunt Rilla sounds like a promise he'll always be there, and, I actually think Walter would be tickled to get such an honor if he were alive.

Rilla becoming domestic is a really issue I think. She'll not have time to work, what with the necessary nursing she'll need to do-although, I suppose she can use formula. But she's lived for so long a life where she's had routine and rules and uniforms and her talking about getting a house with a garden felt really strange. I'm sure she can do it, but, I think she's going to miss very much her career.

Not that she doesn't deserve a break.

So, Jem gets her to relax and listen to the baby's heartbeat! She might feel annoyed with this life change coming, but, she's warming up to it as well.

I'm also glad Jem has taken it upon himself to be the heir apparant to the Blythe/Meredith clan, connections and responsiblities.
9/4/2018 c79 14elizasky
Aha! Now I see the stethoscope thing. Well, great minds think alike, etc. etc. :)

I do love a Jem chapter. And he is wonderful here, reassuring Rilla in a language she can really understand (his personal and professional expertise makes him at least as comforting as Ken), and thinking of their parents and how best to care for them as well. He's right that his return will be a major adjustment for the children, but Jem is ever attentive to other people's needs, so I imagine he will do as good a job as anyone can of soothing them. (I did giggle at Ian's name being Ian John - as you said before with Shirley, they could have just named him John all along since it's the same name and would honor Anne either way.)

But goodness, what a roster of loss this is. If Nan has lost the most in terms of one person important to her, Jem may have lost the most in terms of many people important to him. Walter and Jerry both — and then from Faith's perspective to have lost both Jerry and Bruce. They'll all be feeling Susan's loss, too, but especially the people who live at Ingleside. It makes sense that Jem will want to put as much of that world back together as he can. And I can only imagine Gilbert and Anne's joy at having him back. I don't know what everyone's relationships with Shirley are like in this universe, but clearly he does not spring immediately to mind as the obvious candidate for caring for their parents in old age. I suppose the Merediths don't really realize that they won't be getting Carl back either (at least not permanently) though I hope they can wish him well rather than trying to hold him too close. Faith and Jem staying in the Glen does feel right for them personally, but it also frees the other siblings in a way that I hope they realize.

Di an Mildred not being out to Jem and Faith was an interesting twist on those relationships. I suppose I am used to thinking of Di and Faith as close, though I suppose there's nothing to mandate that. I imagine Jem will mull that over in his newfound leisure time. As for Ken giving Nan a place to live, that's very kind of him.

But now you have me worried with this line about Rilla someday being thankful she had a general demob and not a dishonorable discharge! No! Never need that for any reason, Rilla! Now you have me doing math to see how old she'll be in 1939. No. I want to hit her on the nose with a newspaper. (Though I suppose she'll still be married then as long as Ken is still alive.)

I thought the bit of having them talk through their reflections was very nicely done, especially after the earlier discussion of summoning Walter back as a ghost through name-conjuring. It's not that Jem is a ghost to Rilla, but he's going back to the old place and the old life. He doesn't know the Toronto siblings as well as he once did and he's practically surrounded by the ghosts of all the people he's lost. It felt fitting for them to have this conversation about the future in a mediated way - not quite occupying the same space even though they are physically touching. Though they still manage to be close - the stethoscope scene is lovely. Still, the window emphasized the distance that may part them as they follow their own futures.
9/3/2018 c78 4OriginalMcFishie
Rilla is an amaking character. Strong, independent, resillelient. And yet she doubts herself, and be a useful we love her so much, that really hurts I love how this chapter pics up from the last. Ken joyful, determined to equip himself with the knowledge he needs, concerned about Rilla; Rilla daunted by what is to come yet slowly embracing their future. After all she did throw out the tea on honeymoon and decide to let tings take their natural course. Persis is wonderful her email bouncy, enthusiastic. Her determination time travel with Tim is very Persis and i can see her living a 19 20s bohemian existence before the world gets serious again. She's sharp as a tack too realising Rillas news by the subtle love to see a sequel following Persis' adventures. As for Rillas fear she may never feel unconditional happiness is wonderful whatime will jolt her into realising this is what she wants. An early scare? Reactions from home? Or just time to get used to her new life as Mrs Ford
9/2/2018 c45 2Kim Blythe
''Hello little sister'' I love the way of Shirley and for all the other four Blythe children to greet and call Rilla !
9/2/2018 c44 Kim Blythe
Wow, to think that by now, Rilla wouldn't be no more, if she had been on her bed, sleeping, at the time the the bombings of last night took place... Damn, that is an awful, terrible, bad thought to know...

I am also happy that Persis, Tim, miss Talbot, Maud, are all safe !
9/2/2018 c77 4OriginalMcFishie
This is a delight on soooooooooo many levels. Firstly, they're pregnant. How wonderful! Then we get into the detail Bramshott is about 15 minutes up the road from me, come stay at mine Rilla and you'll be close to Ken! (of course, in 1918 my house was a muddy field, but needs must :)) I can't imagine how difficult it would be to be so close and still not together, especially with all that's on her mind. I loved the slight clandestine nature of their meeting in a hotel. Its almost quite shocking, which of course just makes it more fun. I love that she takes his pulse subconsciously and how it calms her, its wonderfully real after all the horror of the past few years. "The clock hands had time to move to midnight" is such a beautiful way to describe a long romantic kiss, and his cheekiness at that quickening his heartbeat is wonderful. He must have been very worried when she started talking about doing things wrong, especially when she is all of his world and make everything make sense. Its very typical of Rilla to tell him in such a round about way he's going to be a father, and he's reaction is wonderful. Her fear is natural and the way he calms her epitomize their relationship beautifully, she worried about everything that could go wrong, he narrowing it down to the matter at hand, helping her to focus on the crux of the matter. And then him getting excited about how developed the foetus is, once more, wonderful. The discussion around making it work, loving the child, having help feels very real. That last comment, however, sent shivers down my spine because they can't keep it safe, not completely , in any world but especially as we know what this baby's generation will have to face. The way Ken holds Rilla, shows that whatever happens they will work it out together. The unsteadness of his heartbeat though shows just how scared he is too, despite his overwhelming joy. Brilliant chapter.
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