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for Through the Dark Clouds shining (English version)

12/22/2017 c10 14elizasky
You do such a wonderful job of weaving that operation through the narration of the first part of the chapter. When the bone saw came out, I thought I might have to put my own head between my knees.

One thing that really came through in this chapter is the way that Rilla distances herself from unpleasant things. She understates them (a patient waking during an operation is “so unpleasant”), she refuses to name them (“I’ve seen my share of, well, *things*”), and she armors herself in a bit of primness (“swears decidedly too often”). And of course in the end, she finds excuses to avoid telling Nan about Jerry. As with the unnamed “things” it is almost as if she believes that refusing to put something into words will keep it from being real.

That makes me wonder about the flip side of that. If avoiding words keeps things unreal for Rilla, speaking them will probably be equivalent to her carving them in stone. I am thinking of canon Rilla's Anne-like penchant for swearing vows — words are unalterable promises for her. I wonder if your version of Rilla will be like that — putting a lot of stock in words/promises. I have no idea where you are going with respect to Ken (though I imagine he will show up at some point), but I hope your more mature Rilla won’t find herself wondering whether she is engaged or not.

Dr. MacIver’s refusal to operate with an assistant makes me nervous. Is he going to botch an operation? Is he going to make Rilla assist at a critical point? He’s entertaining to read about, but sounds like a nightmare to work with. Dr. Thomas and Maurice are fine, but the rest of this hospital sounds awful. Get out, Rilla!

There was some wonderful writing here. Like I said before, the amputation was quite . . . visceral. It gave me the shivers, but that is good writing! I also liked the floor feeling “strangely mobile.”

This may be an odd question, but what did they do with amputated limbs in WWI? In 18th century America, amputated limbs were often buried in graveyards so they could be included in the resurrection. That changed during our Civil War, when there were so many amputations that it had a strong influence on American eschatology. I was reading about Canadian WWI amputations the other day and was actually surprised how few there were. The official history counts 51,508 wounds to the upper extremities, but only 667 single-arm amputations (and 6 double). Obviously any number of amputations is terrible, but it seems that they were able to save an awful lot of wounded arms (lower extremities: 43,652, with 1,675 single-leg amputations and 47 double). I also learned that 476 Canadian soldiers had Carl’s exact wound (loss of one eye).

Rilla’s loneliness at the end of this chapter is heartbreaking. Somehow you’d expect a Canadian hospital to feel more like home, wherever it might be located. But you do an excellent job of showing how isolated she is — she spends all day speaking a second language, the matron hates her, her roommate hates her, the other nurses barely tolerate her, the doctor she works for is sort of a maniac — bring back Maurice so she can have a friend!
12/19/2017 c9 10Excel Aunt
Can a doctor do that, just declare that Rilla will be his operating nurse when the matron would otherwise make the work assignment? I would think that the matron would have more say in this, especially as Rilla herself has decided she's not as well trained in that area that other nurses there. Why wouldn't the hospital use interpreters?

Going back to Maurice, I marveled at how much at your writing and your ability put so much character into him so quickly. He sounds like he might be quite a flirt.
12/19/2017 c9 14elizasky
I love that she's storing up funny things to write to Jem. She's right — he will love it (and need it).

These young privates are all very saucy! At least Maurice has a name, so perhaps he will stick around a bit?

What an awkward situation for Rilla to be thrust into the middle of a pre-existing feud between the surgeon and the matron. Neither of them sounds very pleasant, but perhaps that is only because we have seen them mostly bickering with one another. I hope the doctor will turn out to be an ally (if only because he can speak to Rilla in his preferred language) and that the matron doesn't resent her too much for being pulled out of the normal hierarchy.

I'm curious to learn more about Paris during the war. I was recently reading some letters (for work, not fanfic) written in the winter/spring of 1919 and the writer is going on and on about how expensive things are in Paris, and complaining that the hotels outside of Paris aren't fully operational. It made me sort of embarrassed on behalf of all Americans that this stupid American went to France as a tourist in early 1919 and then complained about it. (The hotels he had visited before the ware just weren't the same. NO KIDDING?!)

You do a good job of explaining bits of terminology (like "poilu") in a way that makes sense for the story. I am learning so much! I didn't realize that military hospitals treated civilians (I think I knew that converted civilian hospitals treated both, but not these new military ones). But now I am wondering about the mystery of the unfilled beds . . .

There's also the absent roommate. In general, this chapter does a good job of showing Rilla's disorientation. She's getting whiplash from the rapid changes in language, there are new people, new politics, a new city, new expectations, etc. But she seems to be meeting them all with good cheer and putting her best foot forward. I think she'll probably find that you can't please everyone, but she's Rilla, so she will try (if only out of stubbornness).
12/19/2017 c9 19Alinya Alethia
Well, the English certainly borrows from the Greek if they don’t have a word for haemodtatic forceps. I won’t try for what it might be though -my Greek is entirely too rusty. If I haven’t said before, I love the sense of humour you’ve given Rilla. She’s wry in a way that suits both her character and her work. And I may have a soft spot for the wee joker driving that car. He felt so young that when Rilla gave his age it felt right. Though I had to laugh over the accents. He would place Montreal, of course, but the Acadian one, as I recall sounds like nothing else on Earth. (This from a place of goodwill and affection. My own imperfect French marks me as Canadian the way little else does.) I loved the tour of France and the imperious doctor with no time for anything foreign. As ever, your characters have life all their own from their first appearance. I’m looking forward to watching more battles with Matron from a safe distance, and seeing something of Rilla’s stay in thus hospital.
12/19/2017 c9 42oz diva
So Paris, using her French. Excellent. I loved the orderly chauffeur. He was a riot. And the matron was suitably intimidating. I can almost read her next letter home or to Jem.

You seamlessly weave a history lesson into your writing and it’s all fascinating. You are one of three writers here who are bringing WWI to life for us and doing it so well.

Will we find out why the hospital is not full?

It wouldn’t surprise me if Mr MacIver (surgeons are called Mr, not Dr for some reason unless it’s different in Canada) becomes a bit of an ally in this French speaking place.
12/19/2017 c9 5McFishie 7759380
so Rilla is in Paris, quite the adventure. love how she sees the fun in everything around her. I worry about whatand whoshe will see in that operating theatre
12/17/2017 c8 19Alinya Alethia
I do like your Shirley. He rings true to the book-World but that bit more, somehow. The rubbing of Rilla helps, I think, in that it links him to Jem, just as his gentleness at the end evokes Walter. He’s an interesting blend of both the way you write him, and as I say, it works.

You escalate this chapter beautifully, starting with the mundane horror of the train station and the comedic horror of the tube. (Some things don’t change. It’s still a zoo, and the train stations are still gritty, by abs large. I always bolt from Kings across at night, less so Paddington.) There’s a real spark between siblings as they jest over electronic/modern evils especially, your Rilla’s Dr Faustus line was gold. But all through you keep elevating the stakes. Carl, who ran away, cropping up after a near miss with a ship, Walter’s recurrent illness, the loss of his men...we’re well orepared by the end for the litany Rilla rattles off at the end. This war definitely has tentacles and you make us feel them.

But nothing prepares us, any more then it does Rilla, for word of Jerry. The way that list she feels off builds had my teeth on edge. I can’t believe I’m saying it was lovely writing, but it was. Mesmeric so that I couldn’t look away, even as I realised with Rilla where we were heading. The way you tackle the question of the letter us lovely too. Their right, it must be written, but it won’t be an easy letter. And the idea that letters from Shirley are hard won is another character touch that tings true. Somehow too the revelation hurts more for happening in the oasis of the Kensington gardens. There really is nowhere sacred any more.
12/16/2017 c8 5McFishie 7759380
I was up in London myself yesterday and confirm it's still dirty, though not full of soot, that at least has been cleaned up. So Jerry has she'll shock. What I really like about your story is you show the impact of war without relying on the battles. it would be easy to have someone lose a leg, but dysentery, trench fever, shell shock are all really casualties of war and just as debilitating. poor Jerry. it is, in the time, largely unknown and therefore not effectively reminded of that scene in the film the King's Speech where Logue's theories were developed in response to patients there was no treatment for. I don't envy Rillas letter home nor Nan having to read it. Shirley is still very much the practical boy he always was. Love his fascination with the tube, and Rillas apprehension of it (I'm guessing you know that the men who built the tube tunnels were recruited to build tunnels in the war).She must feel a long way from home despite siblings being close by with so much changing and so much to be concerned with. I dread someone she knows coming through her hospital
12/15/2017 c8 42oz diva
How nice to be able to catch up with what everyone’s doing and where they are in the world. Poor Jerry though, that’s tough. As Shirley says it’s not the first time he’s seen shell shock, but it’s different when you knew them before, know how they’ve changed. Pretty tough that she’s the one who has to write the explanatory letter to Nan, but I understand why.
12/15/2017 c8 10Excel Aunt
I was wondering which brother she was meeting at the train station and I found myself quite happily smiling that it was Shirley! I had to tell myself that Shirley isn’t in the army; he’s in the air force! But then, I suppose flight was such a new thing in 1916 that no such military unit existed then, so army it is!

I have to wonder if the Army would really enforce that rule about commission officers and non-commission officers not eating together. Why couldn’t a brother and sister eat together, especially, if it’s been so long since they’ve seen each other? Is it because of the uniforms they have on?

“I am good at making things work...” Now there’s a thought I can latch onto! I see this in Shirley!

Ah, fighting tooth and nail to prevent promotion! My type of thinking exactly!

So, Jerry is suffering from shell shock! It’s no wonder and really, there’s no shame in it either. I think Shirley’s attempt to associate the word crazy with Jerry is cruel—even if he means it lovingly. Jerry is a serious fellow and he’s probably very aware that he has a mental illness. But I’m glad that we have the information and I am happy that Shirley cares enough to visit Jerry. I just don’t care for his flip way of telling Rilla of what’s happening.

Great update! I always enjoy reading this story!
12/15/2017 c8 14elizasky
So now we get some of Rilla's fears and dislikes — dirt and things that go underground/underwater. The allusion to the elevator story was wonderful (I love jokes like that — they're always funnier when they are only partially explained). I am hoping that these specific dislikes are only meant to draw a contrast with practical, no-nonsense Shirley, rather than foreshadowing something dire (for example, Rilla being trapped in rubble after a bombing, which is what I would guess from her specific fears).

Thank you for the explanation of the rules regarding officers/ORs socializing. Interesting, educational, and inspirational (from a writing perspective).

Your Shirley is excellent. Practical, measured, but still with that hint of dry teasing. A shrug being "one of his preferred methods of communication" was perfect. Though I must admit I am having a tiny bit of trouble unseeing my own Shirley here. I may or may not have muttered "I'll bet" when he said he had seen Carl — the only one of them to do so in years. That's just me being fresh, though. I will endeavor to clear my mind of all other universes to best enjoy yours. Though it is a little difficult because I agree with you on so much! Shirley is certainly an engineer — you are right about that.

But oh, Jerry. First let me say that I love Shirley for using his leave to visit Jerry when no one else has gotten around to it (even though he's not especially gentle in his description to Rilla, though I suppose he is a cut-to-the-chase sort). But Rilla, please do write that letter to Nan. She should know. And I hope they can get him home soon. I know I've said before, but every time things get bleaker for Jerry here or in Alinyaalethia's universe, I go and add a little happy thing to his ending in my universe for balance (unicorns and cupcakes at this point).

The ending was excellent — that sense of the war closing in around her. And for a Rilla who does not like enclosed spaces, that felt appropriately threatening. This may have been my favorite chapter since the one on the boat with Polly and Betty — love the backstory and learning more about the family members.

(A small note on the translation, I think "For real, though" read as too modern — maybe "Honestly, though" instead.)
12/14/2017 c7 42oz diva
I like the flirting soldier with the broken ankle. Just enough to get him off the line, but not enough to be dangerous to his health. A perfect injury. He provides a much needed lighter touch.

I'm worried about Jerry, what's happening there?

Not that women's rights are totally sorted even now, but Women's Suffrage was granted to Australian women in 1901 so I forget that it was still an issue in other countries in 1915 or later.

I like the way Rilla cracks a joke but when it isn't received as such, she just continues on, changing the tone. I like hearing about their different reasons for joining up. I suppose there were many different reasons which culminated in thousands of people serving a common cause.

Thanks for the change of pace. It's not all relentless blood and guts, theres some exposition too.
12/13/2017 c7 14elizasky
As ever, you do a lovely job of weaving together plot, character, and history. The bits about the nurses’ time off and the difficulty of moving around the countryside were really wonderful for your worldbuilding.

That young solider was very fresh with Rilla! Even though she doesn’t seem to mind him too much, you do put in little hints that sometimes the teasing is a bit too much, though – like her not being thrilled to go see the quartermaster. It’s one thing to have an injured boy demonstrate his joy in being safely injured and in England by making silly jokes and quite another to be constantly twitted by all the inescapable men around you. (Though Miss Talbot seems to be looking out for Rilla, which is good.)

One of the themes here is the “depressingly uniform” nature of army life – not just the thermometers, but the men as well. Your decision not to give us their names makes them into something of a mass – just one more version of army-issue sameness. And yet you make Rilla observant enough that she still sees them well enough to do her job – not overlooking the man in the 6th bed even if he doesn’t want to be a nuisance.

That man (and the joking private) made me think of those medical charts in the service records and how unexpectedly poignant I’ve been finding them. Just the ordinary little notations of temperature or the note that the soldier was asleep when the nurse came by conjure these intimate little scenes.

Rilla does seem to be a capable nurse. But it is nice to see other bits of her personality coming through as well. I smiled at her declaration that her knight never materialized – she must have been what, 18 when she left for nursing school? 17? That’s a nice little detail that shows a young, impatient, and still quite romantic Rilla, even with all her other professional and mature accomplishments.

On the subject of the family:

Please, when you have a spare moment sometime, please write us a vignette of Faith at Ingleside with Nan and the Blythes and all the babies. I need to know this Faith. Is she taking it all in stride, enjoying Anne’s company and having spirited back-and-forths with Gilbert? Have she and Nan grown close? Is she tearing out her hair and escaping for a quiet afternoon in Rainbow Valley with one of Jem’s letters? I must know.

Speaking of Jem’s letters, “reading between the jokes” was great. How does he find time to write to Rilla?

Oh, Jerry. In every universe, Jerry rips my heart out. I am over here hoping that he has gone quiet because you have sent him off on some secret spy mission to account for the canon detail of him not returning home after a serious wound, rather than because he is staring at the ceiling in a hospital, unvisited and unhealed for far too long. Don’t tell me he’s in his own bed #6.

I feel for Betty, too. I’m the oldest of five kids and it’s definitely difficult to go off and live your own life when you know you’re also needed at home.

And last, Di. Yay Di! I am watching her (and her life in Toronto) closely :)
12/13/2017 c7 5McFishie 7759380
How I love your attention to detail. That comment about civilian trains being held up is something I had not thought of, but so true. I like confident, capable Rilla. enjoying her nursing, managing the patients flirting, noticing the quiet boy who doesn't complain. Her observations about Jerry are concerning. I like how you use the shopping trip conversation to update us on the people back home. I can see Ingleside bursting at the seams with children. Love Di the suffragette, what do her parents think of this? love the Glen's reaction to Rillas going off to war too. always assuming a base emotion and not the higher ideal.
12/12/2017 c7 19Alinya Alethia
Well I can fairly tell you I love what you’ve gone with Di! I’ve always liked the idea of writing for her as a career because it linked her to Walter. I was wary of competing with other people on that score though, so never touched it. You make it fresh and full of spark, especially in the way Di ribs Rilla for her nursing choices. It’s an interesting exploration of the family dynamic too. Rilla is so much the baby I’ve often pictured her a bit on the outside of the clan, and I like what you do with thank thing her instead closer to the inversion of Ingleside from desolate as in the books to brimful if people is an interesting one because it gives us a sense of conviviality and family without feeling their loss if Rilla, or wishing her back there.

Betty makes a lovely counterpoint. I’ve liked her from the first (her and Polly both, but Betty and I are cut from similar cloth) so I was glad to see a bit more about her family here. What she says about feeling pulled in many directions is natural, especially eith all those wee ones at home. As with Rilla, I’m intrigued by the question of where her father went and I certainly hope we hear more of Betty as we go on -though I wonder if perhaps Olive and the little Orince won’t reclaim her yet.
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