Firstly, I have to tell you that I have read this twice. The first time, absolutely nothing made sense until the end. No. That is a lie. Things did make sense. But only once I had read the end. It was as though, while reading the end, the entire story clicked into place. Then I felt like I had to read over it again while paying a lot of attention to the dates. And, to be honest? I'm not entirely sure I understand the whole story. Oh, I understand the main story. I just think that the constant switching between the time frames is confusing. It is well-written, don't get me wrong, you have written it very well. I just think that no writer can ever make this much hopping back and forth between time periods easy to read.
Another issue I had with this is that I had a lot of difficulty in figuring out how old June and Ruth are, particularly the difference between them. My answers to both these questions changed several times throughout the piece and I found it disconcerting as I was not sure how to react to certain things, like the use of swearing, like the fact that one of the girls is having an affair, etc. I just think that even a sentence or two somewhere in the middle that gives us an indication about the ages of the two girls at a particular point in time will make it a little clearer.
But onto the positives of this story, I just found the entire story very compelling and one of those can't-put-it-down stories. And I rarely find that in one-shots. One-shots are normally quite short and to the point, but this packed in a lot. And because it had so many questions, I just felt drawn to it and had to keep reading and work things out for myself.
The characters, June and Ruth were both engaging ones. They weren't cliche at all and, for once, I could truly appreciate an entire story based around OCs with very little canon characters. It takes skill to keep these types of stories engaging, and you managed it well.
I love how you showed another side of the war, though. People on the 'good' side who still have so much suffering and, consequently, bitterness and anger. That side of the war, those people are largely ignored in fanfiction and it was interesting, refreshing and enjoyable to read something different.
I also adore how this was tied in with Luna. This story is almost as much about Luna as it is about June and Ruth which I find very clever. I haven't seen something like that in fanfiction for a very long time and I adore how you manage to, in one sentence, make the story about Luna, more than the girls. Very well done.
That entire speech about how crying is cathartic from Luna... that hit really close to home. And it made me connected to this in a way that I honestly didn't expect to be. However, I did find the speech to be every so slightly out of character for Luna. She is an extraordinarily hard character to nail, I know that. But I think that you might have overcomplicated her slightly. Luna is a simple person and I think that is what a lot of people overlook while writing her. Though I can't fault anything that Luna said. It was still full of wisdom and so very real, real in a way that only Luna can pull off.
I'm still struggling to work out whether I enjoyed this or not, but I definitely was engaged. And you kept my interest for longer and to a deeper extent than a writer normally can in a one-shot, so credit to you for that!
Joop :]Author's Response: I admit there wasn't much preamble in terms of plot that was available to the reader, in the sense I directly plunged into the narrative without doing the groundwork. Which would definitely have been confusing, especially in the fanfic world, but when I was writing this, I wrote it like how I'd write original fiction, if you know what I mean. The importance isn't so much on Harry and co. or even the context than it's on June and Ruth. I approached this story not exactly trying to make it congruous with canon - even though it IS congruous with canon, as it doesn't override canon at any point - than to tell a story. Besides, except the first section - which takes place I think in November -the rest of the narrative IS sort of chronological, in that there are two timelines - one is the 2nd of May and the other timeline charters that events that transpire in the year leading up to May 2. It's like two parallen timelines, rather than a jumbled cornucopia of events.
I think it has been mentioned that June is twelve and Ruth is eighteen. But in a way I'm glad you mentioned that your perception of their ages kept changing, because that was what I was going for when I was writing this. I think, as far is June is concerned, she's a child in the beginning, still too young to transition into an adult, but sometimes during the course of the year, inadvertently, she exhibits maturity and insight that befits an adult, only to later revert back to her childlike naivety. It's a transition that, in a more normal world, would've been gradual but given the turmoil and the panic June is hurtled into, this isn't the case. As for Ruth, in the beginning she's portrayed as cynical and even cruel, but slowly as the narrative progressed I tried to add a few shades of grey to the largey monochromatic spectrum of her character. She does learn to shoulder responsibility and take care of her little sister.
God, Luna is such a difficult character to nail, isn't she? There is no such thing as too whimsical or too eccentric about her, because these two qualities form the cornerstone lineaments of her personality. It was hard to walk the tightrope between making her odd enough and at the same time ascribing enough of philosophical insight to her, and I really don't know whether I managed to strike the right balance or not. Hopefully she wasn't TOO off. :)
Thanks so much for yet another thoughtful review. :) Report Review
First off, I want to apologize for taking so long to get to this review. It's really appalling to leave people waiting so long. Secondly, in your request, you said the title was "Sough," but the link took me here. I didn't see anything called "Sough" on your author page, so I assume perhaps you've changed the title in the past month. I do hope I'm reviewing what you wished me to review.
I'll be upfront here: I usually get confused when I read stories that are broken up with different times like this. *whimpers* My poor logical (I wish) brain, trying to put everything in order. I mention this because I feel I didn't gain as full an understanding of your story as I should have, which isn't terribly unusual for me when it comes to reading something in this format, unfortunately.
I'm also still trying to figure out why you used the present tense in certain sections. I feel like I may be missing something obvious here. It is only in the May 2 sections, but not in the first May 2 section. I suppose you do it because May 2 is the "present" in the story? And all the other dates are the past? Is there a particular significance to the first May 2 section being in the past tense while all the others are present?
You also threw me an unexpected challenge by including two OCs! (I assume they're OCs, anyway, although I suppose they could be obscure canon characters.) I've gotten lazy reading fanfiction; in reading your story, I realized I've become accustomed to already knowing the characters before I even start reading.
I can't figure out how much younger June is than Ruth. For most of the story, I was assuming she was only a couple of years younger, but near the end, Ruth calls her "little Junie" or similar, which makes me think several years younger. I can't say I liked Ruth very much, but she felt real. Human. I liked that you showed her ugly side as well as her normal side.
In fact, this story feels very honest to me. By that, I mean it's more like a true reporting of human experience. That can be difficult to find in fanfiction.
My favorite part was actually the end, which does appear to be what the whole story is building up to, anyway. I am very impressed with your characterization of Luna. She is one of my favorite characters, but I rarely like the way she is portrayed in fanfiction. She's a difficult character to get right, but you did an excellent job. I thought some of the dialogue was slightly different than I picture Luna's voice normally, but it wasn't enough to jar me. I can't even point at anything specific to explain what I mean!
Anyway, very interesting piece. I can't say I "enjoyed" it, exactly, as it wasn't the most cheerful, enjoyable piece. However, I found myself drawn in to the story, and I have a favorable impression of the overall effect of the piece. Nice work.Author's Response: I changed the title, so you did review the right story. :)
I understand what you mean when you say it was confusing. In fact, this is kind of chronological, ony that there are two different timelines - one is the set of events which happen on the 2nd of May - which is significant because it is the day the war ended after Voldemort was killed - and the other set of events transpire during the preceding year.
As to why some of the sections are in past tense and some in present... I wanted to divorce the past from their present - by which I mean I use the past tense for events of the past, by which I mean events that happened prior to Voldemort's death. Also, as you've observed, one of the sections of the May 2 narrative are in past tense, and the rest are in present. That's because, to me, the death of Voldemort seemed to usher in a new epoch and a better world. So from June's perspective - and I chose June here as she's clearly the more innocent of the two, and to think that the coming days would be better than the times they've been through would be nothing but naive, perhaps a hope or a dream that only someone as naive as June can harbour - all the events which happen after the Voldemort's death are narrated in present tense, as they seemed to connote the 'present' or the 'better times' to me. But this is clearly not the case, which is echoed in the story when Ruth tells Harry that the world is not necessarily a better place.
Yes, June and Ruth are OC's I created, and I think it has been mentioned in the second section or third section of the story that June is twelve and Ruth is eighteen. I completely understand what you mean when you say Ruth was not likeable, she definitely was not, but the turbulent and dangerous times she lived in brought out the worst in her. She is not exactly a bad person, but she's human and I attempted to make her as real as possible. Personally, realistic characters appeal to me much more than plainly likeable characters.
I'm glad you think I got Luna right, even if her dialogue doesn't quite corroborate this view. Luna is so whimsical and unpredictable, and to some extent, I think writers have some leeway whilst writing her. Some of the dialogue could have been a little too verbose, maybe, yet I don't think anyone can really have her pegged in entirety. I tried to do my best, and hopefully it wasn't TOO off-key. :)
Thanks so much for this review, and I'm sorry it took me so long to get round to responding to it. :) Report Review
Hello, it's eternalangelkiss from the forums here for your review. First off, let me congratulate you on making such a fine piece of writing. The minimalist style was sparse, but informative. What I was impressed with the most was the very clear voices you have between June and Ruth. Through the minimal amount of words used, I was able to differentiate between the two girls. Your word choice for them and through out the piece was phenomenal. It was a joy to sink my teeth into something as evocative and meaty as this piece was.
I also loved the plot points in the story and how well the story flowed from one event to another. I thought you brilliantly showed the inner workings of this nucleus family and how tragedies tore them apart. I think the most compelling scene was the scene when Ruth goes to see her parents in Azkaban and the stark difference between what they used to be and what had become of them in Azkaban. I thought this scene drove home the point of the casualties that such a war would create and how it can destroy a family.
This was emphasized with Ruth's very cynical and almost hateful opinion of Harry, which was interesting to see. We have always read the stories about Harry or those who loved Harry, but very rarely do we get to see a point of view from someone whom you would think would love Harry, but instead doesn't. I think it was a realistic approach to how a real person would react in this type of a situation.
There really isn't much to say that is negative about this. I did question at times the age difference of the two girls. Sometimes I thought that June was a lot younger that Ruth because of the scene where the guard wouldn't allow June to see the parents, but would allow Ruth. Other times I thought that they were only a year apart.
I also think that the subplot of Duncan seemed a little too sparse. I never really got a picture of what life was like for Ruth and June when they lived with the kids in the apartment. I also didn't know how much Duncan meant to Ruth until the very end. Since the lost love of Duncan seemed to really affect her and was one of the miseries she thought of, alongside the imprisonment of her parents, I wanted to know about that lost love a little more.
I also found a few mistakes and here they are:
1.) "Ruth was stood by the entrance of the room, her shoulders slack, her eyes drawn. June rose, alarmed. 'Ruth...'"
I think it should either be "Ruth stood..." or "Ruth was standing...".
2.) "Her sister Ruth was sat at the table, completing her letter to her boyfriend Duncan. "
Should be "Ruth sat..." or "Ruth was sitting...".
3.) " 'We'll take out owls with us,' June said."
Should be our and not out.
There were more mistakes throughout the one-shot, but nothing too major.
Other than these few things, I really enjoyed reading this piece. I loved the introduction of Luna and the end line was superb. I do think that the title could be a little better and could be made to tie in better, but this isn't a major issue. I did think you nailed Luna's character, having the right mixture of strangeness and wisdom in her. There were also certain descriptions and word choices that I absolutely loved. My favorite line is: "The air smells of salt, the wind flirting brazenly with the hem of their skirts."
I rarely give ratings, but for this I would give it a 10/10. Excellent work.
eternalangelkissAuthor's Response: First of all I'm so sorry for having taken so long to respond. I was up to my neck at uni and didn't want to reply to this review with a one-line response.
I'm glad the voices of June and Ruth was distinct. I'm no great shakes at voices, so it's always reassuring to be told that the voices weren't indistinguishable. I think the Azkaban scene is one of by better bits of writing. Slowly and at long last I seem to have understood what good sentences are and how these can sculpt good prose.
I think it's a little silly to think that invariably everyone is going to hail Harry as a hero. For one thing as you've mentioned in most stories the POV used is either Harry's or someone close to Harry which means Harry will always be seen in positive light. And though personally I don't agree with Ruth when she blames Harry, I think one can see where she's coming from, can't one?
June and Ruth's ages... The way I see it, June is going to start her second year of Hogwarts in the autumn of 1997, which means she's 12 and Ruth has graduated in the summer of 1997 - which means she's 18. I didn't want to spell it out in the story because I dthought it would be slightly redundant. I hoped that the voices I used for the girls would have clued the reader up about their respective ages.
The reason why Duncan wasn't fleshed out was because I wanted to draw attention to Ruth's love life, partially because I'm rubbish at romance and also because I wanted to avoid sentimentality, and if I had to bring in Duncan things would've inevitably got soppy. Also, by relegating him to be an inconspicuous part of the backdrop, I think he commands just as much importance as the events unfolding. What I mean is that love does not occupy a very high position in Ruth's scheme of things, which I think further underscores how jaded and emotionally stolid Ruth has become.
About the mistakes... The first two... I dunno, I'm not an American writer and it's common in British English - at least spoken British English - to say things like 'They were stood' or 'I was say by my class teacher'. At any rate, they have been corrected now. :)
Thanks very much for a wonderful review, and once again I'm sorry about the dilatory response. :)
Hi, I'm here with your requested review. I have to say, I was dragged into this story from the beginning. From the very first section I wanted to know who the characters, what they were worried about, where they where, what they were doing and why... I had all these questions bouncing around in my head, and it was excellent. I got the story piece by piece, in the past and present, and I definitely liked that way of telling the story.
This is very different from the last story of yours; the name has escaped me, but it had this incredible vocabulary and flow, and it was about a guy admiring his girlfriend, and he kept on mentioning her eyes, and so I liked/dislike this change of pace. Your vocabulary is still impressive; I was a little wary that Luna knew some of those words, but it was fine. I have this habit of writing down words I don't know from whatever book I happen to be reading (and if I have a pencil and paper nearby, which is never) and you used two of them: gelid and cadaverous. So I actually got that and was very pleased.
What I liked best about this was that it was totally and completely plausible. Characters like Ruth, June and their family must have been common during/after the war, and their story was compelling. I kept on thinking, over and over, "Wow, this definitely could've happened!". As a fan of untold stories and minor characters, I especially appreciated that.
What hit me was how much Ruth and June were forced to grow up in the war; Ruth had enough pessimism for an old cranky lady that had seen everything, and June, though more innocent, clearly had to mature as well. And yet, Ruth was still reminded that she could learn from people like Luna. The last line, though not quite as connected to the rest of the story as it could have been, was still perfect and hit me right between the eyes. And then I thought about it some more and realized that the last line was connected to the story's meaning; everything Ruth and June went through, that was leading up to their breaking point, and for Luna, there could be another story for hers, and so on.
I don't have much to suggest for this, it's an extraordinarily high level of writing and there was nothing about it to dislike. I found a few tense switches earlier, but looking back can't seem to fine them. If anything, I missed some of the deep, long narration I remember from the other story of yours I've read. However, I don't expect you to change anything here; the story works well as is. Very, very good job on this one.
~lllbAuthor's Response: This is the fourth time I'm trying to respond to this review. Invariably I end up hitting the cancel button instead of preview and my entire response gets lost. Anyway, here goes.
First of all, thanks so much for yet another lovely review. I'm very glad to hear you thought the beginning lines were arresting, because I'm a bit iffy about it. This is the first time I tried to tell a story through an interplay of past and present and I'm glad you reckon it worked.
Ohmigod that last story of mine! Forget it, forget you even read it, lol. It's so embarrassingly bad. It's just very, very bad writing, and I can't believe you remember it and use it as a benchmark to judge my writing. It's a style I'm trying to break free of, and writing this story was like one step in that direction.
You know, one of the most amazing things about writing Luna is that author's have a lot of leeway wih her character. She's so unpredictable and whimsical that there's really no such thing as OOC with her, because I don't anyone can really have her characterisation pegged. Even I felt some of the words she spoke (visceral, cathartic etc) aren't words she'd normally use, but then again if anyone could surprise people with unsuspected insight and wisdom, it's Luna.
Again, glad you found it plausible. I've wanted to write this story for just so long. I think it was in 2008 when I read Suite Francaise on a transatlantic flight, and it wasn't so much the book than the appendix that had me thinking - what would it be like to live during the war? What would it be like to fight for survival? I know what you mean about the absence of the narration in this fic/ This was initially intended to be a novella, but I just couldn't find the time to write it. So I opted for a shorter format, one which is more a montage than a fully fledged story. I hope the concise narrative worked.
Thanks again for this wonderful review. it was a pleasure to read and respond to. :)
Renee Report Review
I'm going to keep this short and sweet because I can't breath, let alone type for tears. Yes, I'm sitting her crying over your story. A true masterpiece, thank you for giving me the opportunity to read it. Bravo. 10/10Author's Response: Trust me, I didn't mean to ratchet up tears with this story. I wanted the prose to be restrained and not overly soppy. Nevertheless, I'm glad this struck a responsive chord with you.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review this. :) I very much appreciate it. Report Review
wow, Well the summary was capturing but misleading, but I went along with the new characters. Your writing is good - great vocabulary - and not Too overwhelming/deep. i liked it :)Author's Response: Hehe. I know the title was misleading. I was too lazy to come up with a proper summary, so I quoted a line from the text. Will change it soon.
Not too overwhelming? I'm glad you said that because I absolutely HATE fics which completely drain me with poxy emotion and angst. It makes me roll my eyes more than feel their pain etc.
Thanks so much for being the first reviewer, and I'm glad you liked it. :) Report Review
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