Isobel, hi! I'm here for the TGS review exchange! I hope you get to feeling better soon, but hopefully this review will cheer you up in the meantime :)
At first I thought you were going to go entirely second person with this, and I was glad to discover that wasn't the case. Second person isn't my preferred style. But I think it's really creative of you to do it this way, having Eileen's narration directly address the biographer in the cafe. I've never seen that done before, and I thought you pulled it off beautifully.
I'm really impressed with your prose throughout the chapter. You've painted such a dignified picture of Eileen through your word choice and the flow of the narrative. The part at the beginning when she muses on how the dining experience has changed was one of my favorites, because it shows Eileen's proud, head-held-high air. And when we learn that her hair has fallen out from the cancer treatments, it adds so much depth and reinforcement to her character. Does that make sense? Despite her obvious illness, she still carries herself with pride. That's so telling about Eileen's character, and you conveyed all that with only a line or two. Fantastic characterization! I'm so impressed :)
Two nitpicky things. First, "madwoman" and "questionable sanity" say the same thing; it would be more concise to choose one in the first sentence of paragraph 2. Also, I never thought that cancer would be a disease exclusive to Muggles. I've seen authors take it both ways, so it's really just a personal preference thing. But I'm just not sure why it wouldn't affect wizards just as often as Muggles. But then again, I almost hate to suggest that you change it, because I love the line about Eileen sharing a star sign with her disease. I thought that was particularly clever and beautiful, and I wouldn't want to see it go.
That wasn't helpful at all, was it? Haha, sorry about my contradictory rambles. They happen sometimes :/
I am definitely excited to see you update this! Your summary pulled me right in, and you've done a wonderful job of creating suspense with this opening. I love the idea of Eileen going to a biographer with her husband's story; you've shown us a woman who values the truth highly, and doesn't want people to think badly of her boys without the truth being known. I'm super anxious to hear Tobias's story, and I can't wait till you update! So glad we got paired together for the exchange, Isobel! :)
Author's Response: Hi, Maggie! I'm really sorry for the length of time it's taken me to respond to this review, and I assure you that I'll be more prompt in future with responding! And yes, this review definitely did cheer me up!
Yay, thank you! I'm afraid I can't take credit for this style -- it was inspired by Nicole/teh tarik's one-shot Sanguini, the Vampire, and if you haven't checked that out then you definitely should! Nevertheless, it's fabulous to hear that you enjoyed the style and that you felt I pulled it off beautifully! ♥
Ooh, that's great to hear! I have a really vivid picture of Eileen and her personality in my head and I really wanted to get that image across to the reader so your comments confirm that I did. I grew up with my mum's and grandma's friends forever talking about "the good old days when..." and I incorporated that into Eileen to help make her more realistic, particularly as a woman of her age. I'm really pleased you enjoyed her characterisation!
I see your point about the madwoman / questionable sanity thing, and I'll see if I can edit that out the next time I have the opportunity to. With regards to the cancer, my headcanon is that it doesn't affect wizards very often because they have magic, which helps their immune system to fight most Muggle illnesses (unless they're hereditary, from Muggle-born or half-blood families) and leaves them vulnerable to magical illnesses. Likewise, Muggles don't often suffer from magical illnesses because they don't have magic, which attracts the illness. However, there are exceptions -- Eileen has cancer because while she's a witch, she hasn't used magic or been around it for many, many years so she's become susceptible to Muggle diseases, just as a Muggle who lives full time with their magical family could be at risk of a wizarding illness.
I agree with you about the cancer line though, that's actually one of my favourites! I'm really pleased that you're enjoying this story and that the summary was effective in enticing you into reading, and that the plot's intriguing so far. Thank you so much for such a lovely review, Maggie, it really made my day!