Wow! This is incredible! Like seriously, some of the best writing I've seen from you--I am so blown away by your descriptions of characters and places. And the voice of your main character is so well-written and thorough! The fact that she's no longer like Mathilda is stated plainly in the beginning, and then so beautifully by the line, "I was never one for poetry." Wow!
There are some really disturbingly beautiful images here, like "fragile stomach" "my fickle heart" and "bile black as ink." So I guess Mathilda is much younger than Elizabeth, as she has to ask permission to walk around the ship. I like the age difference here; I think it shows a lot about how Elizabeth had to grow up quickly.
I like that Elizabeth smokes, and isn't proper; and even more that she only began smoking to infuriate her step-mother. She's responsible and level-headed, but certainly isn't going to be walked all over by a woman like that. I really admire her!
WHOA she punched him in the face. Hahaha. That was really great to read; she really wants to prove a point, eh? I like that he came back to return her handkerchief. It was a totally different feel from if she'd dropped a piece of jewelry or something trite like that. ;3 One thing I did notice is that you said "I am having breakfast with Mathilda the next morning when he walks up to your table," which I think is supposed to be "walks up to my table."
Which reminds me, I love the tense you're using here. It's so fun to read. :D
Something I'd also like to know is what class they're in. I'm assuming that Mathilda/Elizabeth are in upper class because of having a porter, a private bathroom, and being chastised for not behaving as "proper ladies," but are they part of the London elite? Their stepmother only gave them enough money for the trip, so is she broke or just a hag? Also, what kind of class does Jeremy belong to? It was a really big issue back then, and especially since they're all confined in one space, class distinctions were really important to keep them separated. It'd be really interesting to know! :D
Again, really great glimpse into Elizabeth's character just by describing her coffee. Black, no sugar, no milk: just the bare essentials. Wow! Val, this is really amazing writing. You've always been talented, but I'm so blown away by this--it seems you've really found your voice with this character. I'm so humbled that it's a present for me! Really amazing work!
Author's Response: YOU ARE THE MOST FABULOUS PERSON EVER, YOU KNOW THAT? HOW DO I RESPOND TO THIS? HOW?!
Mathilda is, as a matter of fact, much younger than Elizabeth -- eight years (which for some reason seems to be a recurring age difference in my stories, but I digress), which makes Mathilda thirteen.
Comments on my imagery, gah. I'm just incapable of expressing how flattered I am that you like my imagery, because it's not something I'm normally good at. So thank you.
The smoking habit is entirely inspired from Helene. When I read your description of her smoking, my first thought was "Woah. This girl irradiates power." So, Elizabeth is to you what Helene is to me (or so I hope) -- I think we can call it even!
Punching in the face has to be my favourite part of writing female characters, I think (this must be my feminist side kicking in) ;)She /definitely/ had a point to prove! As for the handkerchief versus jewelry, it would have seemed so out of character, in my head, for Elizabeth to even wear jewelry. She's too down-to-earth for that.
That typo, urgh. This was originally written in second person, except that's not allowed for OCs, so I got this proofread and changed, but obviously, I missed that particular mistake. I'll edit asap, thanks for pointing it out!
As for class, well, I /thought/ second class could have adjoining bathrooms, but Wikipedia just proved me wrong :) They'd be second class on the boat, although their step-mother is still the second of the two options! Jeremy is also second class -- this is not a star-crossed lovers type of story, or at least I'm hoping that it won't turn into one.
I'm done rambling here. Thank you for this awesome review, and I'm so happy you like the present! &hearts