Hello again :) Back with another extraordinarily overdue review!
I usually tend to review in order but I just have to start with how much I loved the ending. Of course we know this story is about Eileen and Tobias, so it isn't a huge surprise that the odd man in the shop turns out to be him. But like I mentioned in my first review (at least I think I did!), there is just something special about an ending that hints at what's to come next. Some authors just have a good knack for finding the "right" end point, and I think you hit the perfect note again here.
For me, the characters really stole the show in this chapter. We got a nice sense of Eileen in the previous chapter, and we get to know her a bit more here as well, but it's really the characters around her who shined. Lorraine is great. Instantly she's one of those characters you say, "I know someone just like her..." about. She isn't a caricature, but she's familiar and relatable and likable in her earnest clueless-ness. And the line: The hopeless woman gives a jerky bow like she's just met the Minister of Magic and asks to see the trousers. Adorable. What a great mental picture!
It was nice to see a bit of Hannah and Liam's home life too. I loved the lines: The walls are covered with the children's drawings. A single family photo rests over the fireplace, and it hangs lopsided on the uneven, buckling walls. Perfect and understudied, all while really saying something about the people who live inside.
And of course, we get to meet Tobias! I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I really like what you've done with him so far. I like the way he makes Eileen feel a bit uncomfortable, singling him out from the normal way she feels around customers. I like that he's standoffish at dinner without being over-the-top rude. He's a bit of a mystery to Eileen and to the reader. I know it's early still in the story, but I like the way you're laying the groundwork for them. We know he doesn't turn out to be a total loving husband and father, so seeing him here being overly friendly or personable would seem odd. But I also like that he isn't immediately being cast as a villain. A bit rude, perhaps, but not evil. He must have been likable enough at one time for Eileen to have married him, right?
In terms of CC, there's only one area I'm a little unsure on. I feel like the tone of the narration is a little... detached. For example, there will be times we are in Eileen's head, like:
-- Eileen feels small as he looms over her.
-- Eileen thinks proudly of her astuteness.
-- Secretly, she hopes that the woman will become a good and trusted friend.
It feels like her story, her perspective. But at other times, you refer to her as the Prince lady or the seamstress And there are lines like: Eileen is a tree hovering over the small and swaying dandelion that is Lorraine, the disparate image they create framed against the cracked darkness of the back room. It's a beautiful line, but it isn't the way someone would usually think of themselves. It's got a very "external narrator" feeling about it, hence the detachment. The more formal, detached tone is something I'd expect to find more in a one-shot or perhaps a period novel, but with the rest of the story being very grounded...
I'm not 100% sure that made any sense, and since I don't know what tone you're aiming for it might not even be helpful, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway.
Overall, another great chapter. I can't wait to see how this all plays out and ties back into all the mysteries in the prologue once the plot really starts thickening!
Author's Response: Hello my dear! Don't you worry - I tell you, I'm patient and don't mind any kind of delay at all! And I'm sorry for the response delay! It's been crazy in my little universe lately.
I hit the perfect ending again? YES! That makes me so excited. I can't always get that genius ending (and for me, that gets exhausting for both readers and myself as an author), but it's always good to know that I'm keeping readers intrigued. I didn't want to be sneaky with the man in the shop - I knew everyone would figure out it is Tobias, but I like that. I like that everyone knows without really knowing until the very end. That way, I believe, readers focus more on the characterization and their perception of Tobias.
I'm always very concerned about my characters (have I told you that before?). I'm super stoked that you're enjoying them. And Lorraine! Oh, I do love her and love writing her. Like you say, she's relateable: we all know someone like her and it makes, I think, the reading much more enjoyable.
So you like Tobias so far? I hope so. I hate that as a fandom we've typecast him as a Voldemort-esque human being. I believe that almost all relationships have love in them at some point and really want everyone to give these two a chance. I'm stoked that you like the groundwork and foundation I'm trying to establish. As you say, it would be weird for him to be Mr. Perfect. I want relateable and very realistic, so here he is. Hopefully you continue to like what I do with his character!
Thank you so much for pointing that out. This is my first real (if I discount my novel "Armageddon" from like four years ago) attempt at a novel, especially a novel that I want to see end successfully. Anyway, I'm always trying and working toward turning myself as a writer into a novelist from a one-shot junkie. Unfortunately, those kinds of lines, while beautiful, I'm still trying to get out of the habit of writing. Thank you again for saying something. I'm going to continue working on that!
Thank you so much for the wonderful review! I really appreciate all of the time and energy you take to read and review my story! I always love hearing from you!
Thank you, again!