Ah, there are so, so many things I could talk about here. I read it this morning, let it sink in, then came back and reread it just to see where things stood. Things stand very well. ;)
I suppose the biggest piece of the story, for me, was the emotion it evoked. Sitting here, all I feel is a deep, deep wistfulness for Dorcas and Sirius. You introduced them gently, and through her words and his thoughts I became attached to them with ease. I know, it was clear that it wasn't going to be a happy story with peaches and cream and singing fairies, I could see what path it would take, but I was still disappointed by Dorcas's death. She was such a likable person (and I see your literature knowledge reflected in her).
There were so many human bits to this: the part I'm thinking about is when Sirius reads that she would have kissed him, that time, and he wished he'd known. Except then he admitted to himself that he really had known, had just hesitated, and I was crushed for him. That's pretty darn relatable.
Then there's the fact that you continue to be a freaking amazing writer. ;) Couldn't forget to mention that. Sirius and Dorcas's stories melded perfectly together, to the point where some of their stories flowed into each other as if they were almost finishing each other's sentences (not an accident, I think). There was that section where you wrote what Dorcas did, then spliced in with parentheses what she could have been doing, and it was just lovely. That passage could easily be turned into a choppy run-on sentences that got on one's nerves, but you handled it perfectly.
Any other praise I should lay on you, while I'm at it? I'm sure I could think of something. Or I could just chat for a bit. ;) You know, there's this relatively unknown author whose books I reread a couple times a year, and she tells her stories with the most breathtaking language. I can tell when I'm reading too much of her because I begin to subconsciously mimic her style as I write. But there are some authors here who elicit the same reaction in my writing, and I swear you're becoming one of them. Which is just fabulous for your ego and terrible for my writing, because there's really no sense in trying to write as other people when you can just write as yourself.
Perhaps I've gone on long enough here. You're well aware of my thoughts on your stories by now, I think. I'll keep coming back until I've finished the reviews I promised for my challenge, plus I need to catch up on Out of Time, and so on... You'll keep hearing from me. Thanks for such an enjoyable task; I love getting sucked into your stories.
Author's Response: You're not the first person to say that they need to read some of my stories twice before they can review, that they need to let the story sink in first. I'm never sure whether I'm making my stories too complicated and layered, or whether I'm doing something right and the stories are somehow thought-provoking. It makes me wonder whether that's why I have trouble getting reviews unless I ask - maybe readers just aren't able to come back that second time. It's something for me to puzzle over, at the very least. ;)
It's wonderful to hear that Dorcas was likeable. I wasn't really sure about it because she gave up in the end so easily - I thought that would be a mark against her, making her weak. It's not even a sacrifice for her, but rather a letting go of a world she just can't exist within. That giving up aligns her closely with the authors she most loves, particularly Woolf (though that whole era of literature generally failed when it came to WWII). I think that I had more of a problem with Dorcas's actions in the end - I knew that she had to die, but I hated how she let it happen without fighting, and I still haven't gotten over that. *hides*
My favourite part about writing this story, apart from sneaking in as many literary references as I could, was the fact that it came in fragments, the little scenes that brought Sirius and Dorcas together. It made them feel more real to me - those moments are just normal to everyone else, but to Sirius and Dorcas, they hold more meaning.
Being able to write both sides of the story - Dorcas's experiences and Sirius's act of reading/re-experiencing them - filled each scene with more emotion than if I'd only told it from Dorcas's point of view. Sirius is the literal reader, guiding us through the story like someone telling a bedtime story - skipping over some parts he can't handle while pouring more closely over those he desperately wishes he could change. At the same time, Dorcas herself is a reader, going over the same book again and again, telling only the parts she loves most. She is also a writer, but her reading so influences her that her writing really comes as a result of reading - it does the same thing that Sirius does as he reads fragments of her diary - writing becomes an act of interpretation rather than of creation. So it's all a story about reading and what it means to read, the power of reading to evaluate and to heal. Oh my god, I never thought of it this way, but it's so perfect. What kind of monster have I created here?
*blushes* I don't know how to better thank you to thank yell it from the tops of the trees and towers of the world. That compliment... it's more than I know how to handle. There's still so much that I have to learn about writing that I never know how to take these amazingly complimentary reviews - I don't think I deserve them at all. When I re-read this story, all I see are the things that need to be fixed - it's frustrating that my eyes do that, rather than let me see what readers like you do.
Thank you so much for all of your reviews! I've loved reading them, and I look forward to more. They do boost my confidence a lot, which is something I'm ever thankful for. ^_^