First off, thank you for requesting a review from me. I've been wanting to read this story anyway, and I was also a little afraid no one would post in my thread! I hope I can offer some helpful feedback.
I'm going to focus mainly on what you listed in your areas of concern, though I may throw in additional points as well. I'll start off with the POV.
I don't know yet how large you cast will be in this story, but if it's big, you might have been really smart to go with a third person omniscient here. It's not a style I have a lot of personal experience writing with but in a drama it can really bring the characters' individual emotions to the forefront. I didn't feel it was at all jarring to switch between Jame's POV and that of his mother. I think the line break clearly tells the reader they should prepare for some sort of change, either in time, location or narration style. However, I did think find the switch between the opening narration and Olivia's thoughts to be a bit uneven. I really liked the opening: it's like watching a movie. We start with a panoramic view of the city and then move down to the street, then to a single house, and finally to the family inside. But with phrases like "If one were to pass" or "Yes, even though it was now well past any reasonable hour," those are very detached, as if there is some great narrator in the sky telling us what's happening. It says, hey, you reader sitting there, you're about to be told a story. There is nothing wrong with that (JKR did it in the opening chapter of PS), but it doesn't jibe so well with the detailed thoughts of James's mother that follow so soon after and which are very specific to her character. I don't mind the switch in POV between sections, but be careful within sections.
Now to characterization. It's early yet, obviously, but I like what you've started. I think we all have this feeling from the books that the Potters were a good family. Not perfect, perhaps, but they cared. They must have if they were willing to take Sirius in. And I think you highlighted that here. They don't let James just run off and do whatever he wants but they do listen to what he has to say and they do care for his friends. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say on the characters in the future if you decide you want me to continue reviewing.
Last, you mentioned description. I can definitely tell that you worked hard to include some physical details into the chapter to help set the scene, which is great. And as you said, this story is more about the characters themselves than anything. It doesnít really matter to the reader what every detail of the house looks like, where every piece of furniture is; it's much more important what the characters are saying and feeling. That said, you might want to be on the lookout for the kind of details that will help illuminate the characters. I thought, for example, that the bit about the mailbox just being for show was great. These are wizards, after all. A "fake" mailbox says something about who these people are. Compare that with "...deep cushions of a leather sofa and began pacing over the plush, white carpet." Nothing at all wrong with these details, and you are right to include them. If you only ever wrote things like, "he stood up and then he paced," the story would be flat. But these details don't really set the scene in an important way. They don't say anything about the characters who are in the room. Maybe consider what it is you want to tell the audience about the Potters and pick details that reflect that. An imported rug and antique coffee table might suggest wealth. A well-worn floral couch that's fraying at the edges might suggest they are sentimental or perhaps an older couple. A leather sofa may say wealth, but it might also say relaxed, or masculine, or simply that it was on sale. Not every detail, of course, has to have some secret meaning, but if you know you are going to keep them to a minimum, try and pick the ones that say the most so you as the author don't have to spell it out for the readers later on.
One final note: I loved that you ended the chapter on a cliffy. It's one of my favorite writing "tricks," especially early on when readers aren't fully invested in a story. It's such a great way to offer incentive to keep pushing forward.
I hope this is the sort of review you were wanting. If you're interested, I'd be happy to keep on reviewing. Though I won't always be quite so fast. I'm just taking advantage of the holiday!
Author's Response: Oh my gosh look at this juicy review! I am so excited to sink my teeth in!!
PoV - I really agree with your comments about the detachment. I've felt like it's a bit abrupt and now you were that little voice telling me that it really is abrupt, which I needed because I pretty much ignore my own little voice.
And yes, this opens up into a very large cast which was exactly my reason for choosing the omniscient (or maybe I just like playing all powerful writer God, mwahah).. Anyway, one of the biggest things with this is I focus on the other aspects of a Marauders story. Of course it's primary Lily and James, I dip into the Death Eaters side as well as their individual friendships so that PoV really gives me the freedom for it. I'm happy that for the most part it feels natural for you because I do find myself struggling with going into their minds a bit too freely.
I'm happy you picked up on the fact that Olivia and William don't just let James do whatever he wants, but they do still give him a bit more freedom than most parents.
Wow, that could be one of the best pieces of advice concerning. Lily plays piano in this, it hasn't been brought up yet and won't for many chapters, but adding in a piano in the corner because I know it will eventually come to use.. okay I'm clearing thinking out loud or in typing form or whatever, but you've sparked such a new idea when it comes to description!
I feel kind of bad for being the tricky cliffy-er, but it's just too tempting.
You have given me so much to think on, this review was amazing. I'm also ecstatic that I caught you on the vacation day! ♥
I really would love if you'd continue to review for me! I'm heading over to your tgs to add my next areas of concern right away, thanks again! ♥