Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Woman in White Readalong: Twist!

SO. MANY. THINGS. (Disclaimer: most all of said "things" are spoilers.) I can't imagine reading this as a serial. 

Count Fosco shows his evil genius colours, highlighted by those shades of grey we all love so much. The Count finds a way to get Laura "out of the picture" and so grab "all of her money," without resorting to that ominous lake. It's evil, but it's not Evil. My initial thought when I read that Laura had gone a bit mental and lost much of her memory was that Wilkie was being lazy. The righting of the wrong needed more obstacles, and so he made sure that Laura would be of no help. I mean, is it really that easy for a mind to break? But then, there was another sneaky passage of time. It's not like Laura was in the Asylum for a week and emerged promptly in crazy pants. After months of having your identity positively denied, wouldn't you start to believe it? The mind is so powerful; if things don't make sense it will make them make sense.

You're not helping, brain.

Walter is back, in all his adventurous glory, and he and Marian resolve to prove that Laura is herself. Not such an easy goal. Sir Percival's and the Count's plan has succeeded so far, meaning that they be loaded and will spare no expense in covering their debt-free asses. Walter knows that Percy's had him followed before, and is on the lookout for it this time around. He forgets how much Percy knows, though. I love the moment in Marian's lawyer's office, when Walter realizes Sir Percy would definitely be having the building watched.

This is such an action packed section. Most importantly, we discover Percy's Secret. How times have changed! All that build-up, and the Secret seems completely underwhelming to me. I suppose it's the tampering with official documents that's deportation-worthy rather than the simple fact of being a bastard, but really. Seems like an overreaction. Still, in Percy's frantic efforts to cover up his shame, he gets burned (ha HA). 

With Percy out of the picture, Walter and Marian will have to look to the Count to discover the date Laura came to London. SURE to go well. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

WiW: Reading Delayed

I'm not reading along so much as getting distracted by shiny things. I'm 60 pages to the end of the section we're reading and I was going to read the last bit and then blog anyway, but too many Things are Happening for me to be able to fake it (convincingly). So, instead, I offer you this to distract you while I keep reading:

There can be only one.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Woman in White Readalong: Enter the Fosco

So many spoilers, herein.


But first, to backtrack. This section of the readalong opens with a few chapters from the Fairlies' lawyer, Mr. Gilmore. His straightforward, no nonsense writing style is a welcome break from our old friend Wax-Poetic Hartright. In Gilmore's section, I become YET MORE wary of Sir Percival (on top of the whole shutting a young lady in an asylum thing, and the fact that his name provokes the heebies [as well as the jeebies]). First and probably most telling: dogs don't like him. Never a good sign. Laura's little greyhound, Nina, shrinks out of his reach when he approaches and snaps at him later. Good call, Nina. (We see animals being referenced a lot in this section, especially with Sir Percival's friend, Count Fosco. Truthfully, I'm not sure what the make of it, as yet. Wilkie's sayin' somthin', but I'm not sure what.) Second, after much lawyering about, Sir Percy winds up with a £20,000 interest in Laura's death. TENSION! As I say.

Then, Maid Marian enters as our narrator, through excerpts of her diary. Her reaction to the change in Laura immediately after her honeymoon is interesting. Is it Laura's loss of girlishness and innocence that makes her less beautiful to her half sister? Or is it that she'll never again be just Laura, now always tied to this unsettling man? But then Laura was never just Laura. Before the wedding, Marian lamented the fact that Laura will no longer be hers. Possession has changed over, and it doesn't sit well with the sisters.

But Percy isn't the only person who came home with Laura. I love Marian best as narrator, but I'm going to have to reassign the role of favourite character to one Count Fosco. Count Fosco! What a name on that guy. If that's not the name of a master villain, I don't understand the world. He could be a Bond villain, is what I'm saying. "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to quote Dante."

The scene where Marian is hiding on the roof ledge in the rain, listening to the Count explain to the Sir the benefits of Laura's death below her is one of the best scenes I have ever read in literature. Certainly the best I read in 2011 (when I first read it. Well, 2011 was a big year. I also read for the first time that year Jane Eyre and Rebecca. Among others, of course, but those are the two that stand out in memory right now. Anyway, top five scenes I read in 2011). TENSION! Is what I'm getting at.

Anyramble, this post is getting exceptionally long and WiW is quite long enough, thank you, so I'll cut myself off. BUT! Marian descends into Fever! Her writing gets less and less legible, more and more smudgy, and then, the Count is writing and he's read Marian's journal and he confirms her suspicions and AAAAAAAAH! This is Thriller.

Read on!

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Red Pen, She Be Mighty

I work in administration at a local magazine. My ultimate goal, though, is to become Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz  an actress an editor. Is there anything so satisfying? Seeing an error, fixing it, and making the story better. Knowing the language (loosely) and applying that knowledge. Removing commas from sketchy situations and adding them where they are SHOWCASED AS THE PINNACLE OF PUNCTUATION THAT THEY ARE. Sure, it's not brain surgery. I might never "change" someone's "life," but holy moly folks, I sure do enjoy it. And it's communication, dudes. It is important. Editors help break down communication barriers: "This is what I really mean." Also, I never know how stupid my own writing sounds until somebody else reads it.

What I'm getting at, however rambley, is that I got to proofread a draft of the magazine today and IT. WAS. AWESOME. This calling, it's mine.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The Woman in White Readalong: The First Bit

"This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve."

We've been reading The Woman in White for a week now, and what have we learned? Firstly, its preface is called a Preamble, which gives me the giddies in language anticipation. Secondly, its first sentence (noted above) makes it perfectly clear what we're in for: Victorian Victorianisms and the exceptionally outdated gender ideals therein. Also, I'ma say there shouldn't be a comma there, Wilkie! Breaking up a compound. Like a harlot.

Anywho, so far, we've been taken through the story by young Mr. Hartright, an all-around squishy man who clings to those gender ideals like a woman in white to her privacy. He's a bit, he's just, he's not a bad man. He's just clueless. Never more so than when he meets Marian, who is widely agreed to be one of if not THE. BEST. part of this book. (
Marian! She's such a fast talker — I feel like Katharine Hepburn should play her. And she should be an old-timey newspaper reporter. And wear jaunty hats.) Suffice it to say that, when he sees her from behind, he's all "Bah BAM!" and when she turns around he's all "Oh, well. Nothankyou." It is amusing to see how thoroughly confused Hartright is by her incongruous gender traits. Her elegant movement, her womanly form, her masculine face, her frank and lively conversation. Maybe it's Wilkie getting us (and Hartright) ready for the theme of the story. You see this thing you think is this? Yeah, it's not. (Involves no ghosts.)

Marian's half-sister, Laura, is Hartright's other student, and when he meets her, he falls promptly in lurve. And just as promptly into a pit of despair. She is, of course, engaged. But then, a letter! The reappearance of the woman in white, aka Anne Catherick! Her horror at the mention of Laura's fiancé, Sir Percival Glyde! The expulsion (sort of) of Hartright from the Fairlie house! Things, they be happenin', right-all-right.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Woman in White Readalong: Week One

My first readalong!

This one is hosted by the fabulous Miss Alice over at Reading Rambo.

The Woman in White was one of the first Books (note the capital B. It was published in 1859-60 and therefore automatically Legit) I read after graduating with an English degree. Because it was my first walk in smartypants after university, I didn't really engage my brain. Because I didn't HAVE to! Luxury. So this time I'm looking forward to all the delving into character and analysis of symbolism that I'm SURE is going to explode from all of the great bloggers who are reading, as they say, along. Whether I contribute to said smartiness remains to be seen. (I quite like reading books for the font.)

As for Serious Business, I had already read The Moonstone for school, and I'm pretty sure I liked it. The only thing that comes to mind when I think of it is quicksand, so, take from that what you will. (English degrees, man. You read ALL the books! I'd read them and retain them enough for papers and exams and then promptly replace them with next semester's books and also Kevin Smith references. "Get me a ... Holy Bartender.") When I picked up The Woman in White I was convinced to my CORE that she, this white woman, was a ghosty. So convinced, that I kept trying to make it so, re-configuring scenes so that it would make sense, a la Sixth Sense. Not-death can be hard to accept.

Now! To get a-reading so my second post is actually on time.

Spin me a yarn, oh aerodynamic one.