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for Through the Dark Clouds shining (English version)

2/27/2018 c30 10Excel Aunt
Rilla's really struggling but I don't blame her at all. I love how she counts up all the awful things that have come to pass in the last five months. She hides her stress well-the Blythe in her, I'm sure. But there are signs. She's not eating. [Given her surroundings, I can't say I blame her. I'd be completely nauseated myself.] She rests but she's never rested (no dreams). Even though they are saving lives, the sounds put her on edge more. I just love how she comes to realize she hates this place she's in.

I wonder who Dr. Connelly's old friend is? I'm got a fleeting hope it's Jem, but would the army put siblings together like that?
2/27/2018 c30 Oz diva
Can’t log in

Anyway ritsch ratsch is the best way to convey that sound, I’d be interested if anyone knew of a better way in English?

What I was ruminating on while I was reading this is how do you keep your sanity writing this story? It’s so unremittingly awful (not the writing which is incredible) but the situation she’s in. Windy was a short distraction sure, but not enough.

When I write I might have a heavy scene, but I can write something happy next time, but for you it’s just ritsch ratsch all the time.

So I was very happy to see that she’s being transferred. Hopefully it will be a relief for you too.
2/26/2018 c29 8Catiegirl
Of lace and surgery... I can't help but think that Rilla is right, although I felt that tension in her trying to get that piece of shrapnel! I was tense too! Ken's request was surprising- and yet I understood it, too. Even while it made sense that he would want her to not come, using Rilla in this sense was a bit unfair- and Rilla could see that immediately. I loved that she wanted to help, and wouldn't want to hurt him- but she had to stick with her principles. I have to say, you made me feel his retreat as well- and the hurt it must have caused her. I was right in the moment for this whole chapter.
2/26/2018 c1 15MrsVonTrapp
Dearest kslchen
At last my long coming catch up reviews begin! As I’ve said previously, I am in awe of your beautiful writing and what is essentially your translation into your second language- but that we all could write this evocatively in our first!

How wonderfully brave and audacious to start with a funeral; this is Rilla too long into her war already, and it is wrenching. The detail and minutae- such a hallmark of yours- is felt in every line. But here it is the many sounds that struck me- the aural landscape you evoke- the soil on the coffin; the ‘thunder and growl’ of the distant guns (such a fabulous line) and particularly the stark, haunting ‘Last Post’, which every Australian schoolchild is familiar with. You also set up the intrigue of the unfortunate soldier - was he just one of too many, or perhaps a special someone? - and the excellent motif of being buried alive- which is such an effective metaphor and one that you return to in different ways with such skill.

The war is gruesome and gritty and I know from my reading that you tackle it both unflinchingly and with compassion, which even in Rilla becomes wearied, but never to your readers x
2/24/2018 c29 5McFishie 7759380
My favout6bit is 'not even for him', xhe does care for Ken! And what a prat he is, 'you're unwilling to fulfill my request'. She's not one of you're bloody soldiers, she's Rilla Blythe, daughter of Anne!

I like that she's back doing surgery, seems a good fit for Rilla. Is there a doctor course in her future?
2/24/2018 c29 19Alinya Alethia
I was going to lay out all the reasons Ken cannot do this, or shouldn’t, anyway, but Rilla has saved me the trouble. I love this treatment of the pair if them. They talk as equals, and they’re sort of a tram even when they’re disagreeing. They argue, as they never did in canon, because finally we see them really talking about weighty things. It’s glorious. They share an understanding too, as even in her exhaustion, Rilla realises first Ken’s oromotion and then the nature of his favour.

I’m not atogether sure I blame him. I mean, he should never have set out on this mission, but it’s an understandable one. He’s seen horrible things, he’s lost friends, and here’s his sister -and she’s the on,y one he’s got, not having half a dozen others to fight with and cherish -hell-bent on coming to witness those horrors and live them herself. Of course Ken wants her miles away. But he’s going about it all wrong, because if anything, telling Persis the unspeakable horror will just put her on the next boat to England.

In other news, Dr Connelly is lovely. And Rilla’s right about lace: you need the patience of a saint and about ten spare years to make up half an inch. (It’s still more fun than tapestry. Everything is more fun than tent stitch ad nauseum.) I imagine the optimism would be an asset, but as the song goes, ‘wouldn’t life be extremely flat/ with nothing whatever to grumble at?’ (Answer: it would not. I don’t know what mood Arthur Sullivan was in when he wrote that, but I could do with the odd day where nothing went wrong. So can Rilla. So can this whole collective.)

It’s good seeing her out of resus -limbo though. Partly Not-Dead harrowed her, but also because Rilla is a born surgeon. She’s always at her best when she’s operating and it makes for rewarding reading.

The German dying of infection is one of those awful quirks of fate, but at least Cooper knew they gone what they could. And Rilla feeling sorry for him only reinforces that she feels the weight of her losses, whoever the person. She worked on him. She didn’t necessarily want to, but she did her bit to save him and that has knit them together. I’m equally relieved Not-Dead pulled through. Even if the revelation unnerved Rilla. She couldn’t have stood to lose him again, I feel.
2/24/2018 c29 14elizasky
That whole shrapnel business sounds like awful agony. But for once at least they can do something about it. Soldiers were getting shrapnel and canister shot and that sort of wound in the 19th century with no x-rays or disinfectant to help them, so that whole procedure was actually maybe a bright spot in all this? Not like the mustard gas, poor men.

I’m glad that Rilla got away from the resus ward, even though she is sort of hiding there in the operating theatre, not facing her problems. But I’m pretty ok with that at the moment! If she feels more secure under the eye of a surgeon and she’s doing good work there, then that’s actually fairly good in the wake of Not-Dead. I was expecting you to put her in a bomb shelter so we could see her claustrophobia at work. Though where Rilla got years of experience doing fine needlework I don’t know – she couldn’t even baste a sheet hem correctly at the beginning of RoI.

The foreboding of the oncoming offensive hangs heavy over this chapter. Between the freeing up the beds and Ken in terrible shape even before it starts, the whole chapter feels on edge. I went back and checked the date and groaned. Poor Canadians. Poor Rilla. Please post the next couple of chapters quickly so that we can all get through to the other side to see how things turn out.

Poor Jem, losing Jerry. Their friendship in canon is mentioned more than it is proven, but I am imagining them as best friends and know how much that must hurt him, especially given that Jem is close with Nan as well. At least he’s where he can reach family members again and be relatively safe while he works.

As a major, is Ken still in charge of a company? Or is he moving up to command a battalion?

It’s good to see Ken (and his unfriendly horse), though I can’t approve of his mission. One of the wonderful things you have done for this Ken that is such a huge improvement over canon is have him actually respect Rilla, not just as a fellow officer but also as an adult. That contrast between the way he has treated her and the way Zachary treated her was stark. But now here’s Ken deciding what Persis can and cannot do. Maybe he’s right that she wouldn’t be suited to the work, or that she would find it too hard. But if he’s said that to her in a letter and she still wants to come, it doesn’t reflect well on him that he’s taking fairly extreme measures (like riding hours over the border to ask Rilla to lie to someone she barely knows) to manipulate her. Sure, sure, Ken might want to protect Persis, but that’s not the argument he makes – he says that she won’t be able to handle it. And it sounds like she might just be going to England – why is it even relevant what conditions in a CCS in Belgium are? Besides, it’s stupid to say Persis can’t handle VAD duties because she’s never worked a day in her life when Major Ken is out here leading men when all the experience he had before the war was play-acting at army summer camp. Sorry, Ken. She may rise to the occasion and she may not, but you are wrong for thinking she shouldn’t have the chance to do her bit. If he can’t give Persis that respect, he’s no better than Zachary.

At least Rilla sends him packing. Good on you, Rilla. I realize that Ken is exhausted and by your description of him probably more than exhausted. He seems slightly defeated and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is feeling the weight of new responsibilities that come with a promotion and an upcoming offensive (and maybe some personal losses in the time since she has seen him last). So it makes sense that he might want to keep Persis away, even if it is still crappy of him.

“Part of me just wants to do it, honesty be damned.” So that’s the part of her that’s crushing on Ken and just wants to please him, I guess. But I’m glad she’s holding out and sticking to her own guns. It’s not a fair request. And as sad as that parting is, I think Rilla has done right. Now I’m just hoping that Ken doesn’t get wounded at Passchendaele, making Rilla regret that she disappointed him because she was right.
2/24/2018 c29 10Excel Aunt
I wonder if Dr. Connelly takes up lace tatting in response to Rilla's comments about the activity requiring loads of patience. I actually do not see Rilla particularly good at making lace in her youth, she has too much Shirley in her, but, I do believe her to be enthusiastic to learn and generous in her compliments to those that tat well. I love the description of a very tan Jem and it comes from Walter to boot! Ken's concern over Persis (his sister?) is too big brotherly. I thought he was more willing to let women come to their own path and here he is attempting to stack the deck. Is he right, I would venture to say he is, and I love Rilla for saying, she'll write but she's going to tell her the truth.

As far as dealing with Not-Dead, the move to another part of the CSS was wise, especially if it makes Rilla's day easier to bear. I wonder if we'll find out more about that decision anyway. I am starting to get a MASH vibe from her surroundings.
2/24/2018 c29 42oz diva
Rilla’s comparison of the fiddly nature of shrapnel hunting to sewing is kind of amusing in a ghastly sort of way. They were sensible to mov her out of resus. I’m sorry for German boy of course and amazed that not-dead made it as far as she knows.
Nice to meet grumpy Nellie. You go horse, this is a hellish landscape they’ve dumped you in. Why should you be in a good mood or friendly?
Ken was quite presumptuous expecting Rilla to persuade Rlla to persuade Persis to stay at home. For one thing she’s needed. I don’t know her character at all, but shouldn’t she have the opportunity to do more like everyone else is. Typical brother. He can’t control all the women around him. Makes me pretty mad actually. It’s quite sexist to say can’t cope. Who knows if she can or not until she’s tested?
I hope though that he doesn’t sulk about it for too long.
2/21/2018 c28 4krisknowsthis
I really like this specific chapter. It's definitely relatable to all of us. I really learned a lesson from this chapter. It's not easy to care for an enemy, and Rilla certainly did. There were so many other lessons to learn from this chapter. (This review would be awfully long if I wrote all the lessons I learned from this!)

But one thing I love the most about this story is its accuracy. Everything in this story is historically accurate. I'm not even kidding, but this story can definitely become a historical-fiction novel! I just love how you incorporate real people in this story. I don't know how you do that, but it's amazing, and adds to the story. Please keep up the great work you have already started!

Can't wait for chapter 29!
2/20/2018 c28 5McFishie 7759380
Wow this is amazing. The sense of the enormity of Rilla's task at the beginning, and the sense of oppression that the bad weather adds. Then the description of what the mud really means. I have to close my mind off to that, I don't want to think about men, good men, tired men, a long way from home drowning in mud.
The sadness at losing another patient, her growth that she moves on more quickly now.
And then the moral dilemma of the German soldier. Just a lad, just another man-child dragged into this horrid conflict and yet because he landed on the wrong side of a line the medical treatment he gets is different. Cooper really does come to life here. A man who is there to help regardless of political affiliation, and such questions it raises in young (because she is still young) Rilla. How to help a dying man whose only crime is where he was born, and yet so many that Rilla knows have died at the hands of those who were born on the other side. As I read this it reminds me how important it is to remember how similar we are around the world, and to find a way to be together. I've read this story after reading the news of the attacks in Syria...
The Nellie story is interesting, once again I love how you weave reality into your story.
And just when we think we are through with the horrors and the moral dilemmas we find that the dead soldier is alive. How many were buried that weren't dead? It doesn't bear thinking about.
2/20/2018 c28 8Catiegirl
It feels as if we are finding Rilla’s breaking point now- helping the enemy because her own morals would do no less, but it hurting, and being personal now. she’s so strong, but she can’t get everything right all the time- it’s so understandable to see her pain, and I was grateful to see the matron there to help her through.
2/20/2018 c28 10Excel Aunt
I know it's a little silly to say, "There are sure a lot of things going on," as the scene takes place at CCS in WWI, but there is. It's really piling up on all sides. Rilla is dealing with wounds caused by very modern weaponry (bombs and mustard gas) and with very old weaponry (bayonets). The story about soldiers dying from drowning in mud is horrifying! I hope their comrades were kind enough to deliver them a bullet, although, I do not know how kindly a mercy killing would be viewed by armies.

How weird it would be to offer the 'over the top' soldiers planks to walk on. That's just mind-boggling to me. Doesn't it make them better targets? I guess better off on the planks than stuck in the mud.

Josef might be a German soldier but I get the feeling he was a 'danke' and 'bitte schoen' type of Junge. I feel bad for him and Rilla can't seem to keep straight that fact that his just a boy. Sure, she falls to her training to handle his situation. She refers to him as 'the German' instead of Josef. But I think she's thinking through the absurd situation that put them both here in that moment and she regretfully prioritizes. I think her not getting to know Josef or calling him by his name allows her to keep the necessary distance. Although, Cooper seems to care enough to bridge some of those antiseptic reactions.

Does Josef have a bayonet wound? I was thinking if he did it means he got fairly far along in an 'over the top' campaign. Should I be concerned that the allied forces will need to retreat?

Interesting that the soldier she thought dead lives. That really jolted her confidence, although, Sister Inglish doesn't seem to think Rilla behaved neglectfully. I hope Rilla doesn't berate herself too hard for the mistake she made. That is why you work in teams. You support one another and listen to the other. It's not all on her. Miss Inglish did a good thing there in letting her know and covering for her, and not beating her up.
2/20/2018 c28 14elizasky
Oh, good. This will help Rilla's claustrophobia TREMENDOUSLY. She's not even going to be able to go into a bathroom after imagining her not-dead soldier suffocating in the mud (and those other soldiers drowning in the mud). Though I have to wonder, if he's so far gone Rilla thought he was dead, can they really do anything for him in this place? They don't seem to be rushing him off for surgery either. I would imagine he might haunt her whether he dies or not.

I am left wondering whether Rilla would have felt the little death-pang if she had seen the German soldier die. She says that it never goes away entirely, and knowing whether she felt it for him would help to sort out what, exactly is driving that emotional response. Is it empathy? Disappointment in not being able to save a wounded man? I imagine there's a possibility that Rilla will start questioning her own eyes and her own judgment after the incident of the not-dead soldier - will she be able to do her job? Come up with some sort of death checklist?

Cooper continues to be lovely and compassionate. With so many of your characters losing their religious faith or at least struggling with it, it is nice to see one person who is living out his beliefs in this dire situation. Everyone is better off for it.

One thing I liked about this chapter was the feeling of in-between-ness that continues to characterize the resuscitation ward. There's the sense in this chapter that time is slippery (Rilla thinking already a year/only a year), that the line between life and death is not very clear, and that an enemy soldier may or may not be a person worth saving (his place on the operations list precarious at best). Add to that the gloom of the weather and the absurdity of men trying to live in mud so deep it can drown them, and the whole chapter just feels bogged down and claustrophobic in a way that's making *me* want to claw my skin off. So I imagine Rilla's in for a jolly time next chapter.
2/20/2018 c28 19Alinya Alethia
Well no one said this would be easy for Rilla, butbshe does fairly lurch from quandary to crisis here. We begin with her failure with the soldier, never easy because it’s the living contradiction of what she’s signed on to do. And the first person helps you wonderfully here because it casts us deep into Rilla’s psyche.

Then Cooper, whose sort if Rilla’s interactive conscience, brings her the German lad, and I half wonder if he and Cooper aren’t connected. I know Cooper is Quaker, saintly and eith has smattering of German, but even do, he’s very insistent. Rilla’s reaction is very human. She can’t not help him -he’s there and he’s dying and hasn’t she had enough of failure today? But equally how can she not see the ma infestation of the bullet to kill Jerry, or her sister nurses, or indeed any of her own? Cooper might want her to do more, but I like Rilla’s fallibility here. She wrestles ith it, and she does what she can, which is in and around the just enough mark, but she must have hundreds of her own people who need attention too. She goes to have masses of time to wage moral war with herself. (Aside: I’d love to know Walter’s opinion here. Can he and Cooper meet and have interesting religious conversation, or would that be dangerously cheerful? ;) ) Bravo on those intestine descriptions. You bring the scene alive to fantastic effect, even if it is dire. And yet, as with the brains, there’s a very black comedy infused in this, the kind of near-hysteria that comes when no other response will, that I like very much.

And then, having wrestled that demon, Miss Inglish hands her the revelation of the dead being wuite literally quick. On the one hand, there realky is divine miracle god you, but on the other, how unsettling for Rilla. As if the myriad dead weren’t enough now she must second guess all her assessments of dead patients, how can she not? It’s going to make it they much harder for her to trust her instincts, I feel, in future, but I’d be interested to see how it effects her treatment of the feldgrau. Would she do more for him, knowing she hadn’t lost a patient? Certainly it’s an interesting thought experiment.
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