|Reviews for Enigma Variations|
| Kathryn Merlin 2/22/13 . chapter 1
| Mimbulus 1/26/13 . chapter 1
I think I first read this story several months ago, but I keep coming back to it. I think it's because of this paragraph:
"Matt's a good sleeper. He rarely dreams, or at least, he rarely remembers his dreams. When he does, they're usually good ones, involving Helen, his children, or some version of one of the happy memories he still has from a childhood that most of the people he knows wouldn't expect to have produced happy memories. The poverty, the struggles, his time in the Marines—they don't bother him at night, or, really, any other time. It's not that he's unfeeling, but his mind doesn't work that way; he knows he did the best he could then, that he's doing the best he can now, and he's comfortable in his own skin. His particular demons are ones that rarely get the better of him. He thinks everyone sleeps the way he does."
I think about this paragraph, especially, "He thinks everyone sleeps the way he does," all the time. It's maybe the most perfect characterization I've seen of Santos-it sums up just about everything you need to know about him, doesn't it? "He thinks everyone sleeps the way he does."
| Arpad Hrunta 1/3/13 . chapter 1
This is an excellent character study and a really good read. I liked it a lot.
| Saffy 10/22/12 . chapter 1
Beautiful and moving. So sad that Matt and Helen really didn't bother to get to know Josh better.
| sassie69 10/21/12 . chapter 1
Another of my favourites. This is an excellent character study. At first I was defensive of Josh and disagreed with Helen Santos' opinion, but being objective this is spot on. He was less joyful in the last two seasons, and only really came back to being a more mature version of his earlier self when Donna was around. This story encapsulates Josh and it being from Matt's point of view adds that extra dimension. I have read this countless times and the ending still makes me breathe a sigh of relief that he will not be going through the loss of his mother alone.
| Veridissima 10/21/12 . chapter 1
So sad so sweet
But so perfect
Love the idea, the fire part just fits, how he wants everyone out, how he looks for her face
How she hugs him, and how happy he's in the photos his the Bartlet gang.
Love it, great story.
| alix33 10/21/12 . chapter 1
Yay! for you having written this fic: IMO there are far too few Santos-election or -administration fics on this site.
"He's such a—politician." "You say that as if it's a dirty word." "It is. I don't like politicians." Matt grins a little. "You married one." - Hehehe.
"politics is about compromise; you know that. You sacrifice some things so you can win on the bigger ones. It's all about knowing which is which." "And he knows?" "Most of the time, he knows better than anyone." - I am not sure how I feel about Matt's confidence in Josh, whether I like it or whether it scares me a fair bit.
"If he's still so wonderful, Matt, why isn't he running Bob Russell's campaign, or even Hoynes'? Working for someone who's going to win?" "You don't think we're going to win?" "You don't, do you?" "No, of course I don't. But Josh does." - My comment above applies equally to their lack of confidence that they are going to win. They should back themselves, even just a microscopically little bit.
"You should be in bed." "With you." "Absolutely with me." Matt looks at her affectionately. There are a lot better things they could be doing than talking about Josh Lyman, after all." - AW!
"the acerbically intelligent Toby Ziegler," - What an apt description of Toby.
"something about the pictures strikes him, and he takes another look. He's still studying them a few minutes later when Helen touches his hand. "Is something the matter, Matt?" she asks, sounding puzzled. "No, no," he says, pushing the magazine away and smiling at her, but he isn't really telling the truth. When he'd first looked at the shots of Bartlet's staff, there was one face he hadn't recognized right away. It was one that should have been thoroughly familiar to him, one that should have stood out at once as the common link between the two campaigns—the face of the man who was the reason why the New York Times Magazine had run an article comparing Bartlet's campaign to Matt Santos's in the first place. But Matt had had to look twice to recognize Josh Lyman in the older shots. It isn't a matter of receding hairlines or lines on the face, he thinks; it's something more fundamental than that. In one of the pictures Josh has his arm draped around Leo McGarry's shoulders; in another, he's got C.J. pulled into a side-by-side hug; in a third, his feet are all mixed up with C.J.'s and Sam Seaborn's and Toby Ziegler's on a table covered with papers and cardboard Chinese take-out cartons. And in all of them, Josh is smiling. Not the tight, sarcastic little curling-up of the corners of his mouth that Matt is used to, but a huge, happy, infectious grin—the kind of grin that makes you want to grin back, even when it's just a photograph of a grin you're looking at. I've never seen him smile like that, Matt thinks, never. And he can't help wondering why." - These paragraphs made me feel sad for both Matt and Josh reading them.
"he finds his thoughts turning back to the pictures he looked at that morning. He's still troubled by those images of a Josh he doesn't know. A friendly man, he thinks; a friendly man among friends. There must have been a time when the Bartlet gang didn't know each other, of course, but by the time those pictures had been taken they were a team, a family, even. Matt wonders why Josh and his staff haven't meshed like that, whether it's just because Josh has been the outsider coming in to a little group who already understood each other well, or whether it's something more than that, and whether there's something he should be doing about it. He wonders how much contact Josh still has with his old friends at the White House, and whether he misses them." - This paragraph too.
No wonder Josh was so tense about the fire. But of course Matt will not know about Joanie having died in one, as we - and probably Donna from the Russell campaign - do.
The parallels with Josh's dad dying during the first Bartlet campaign, and now his mom during the Santos campaign, made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
"His own mother is very much alive, a feisty, indomitable matriarch who still cooks the best carnitas and enchiladas in Texas, and tells Matt what he should be eating, wearing, and saying in Congress. He always feels about ten years old when he talks to her," - Why does Matt's mom not run for something next, then? :-)
"Ronna will book your ticket while you're packing," Matt says. "I'll tell her to get the first flight out she can." "Thanks," Josh says again, still in that flat tone. "Will you ask her to get me an early flight back tomorrow morning?" "You'll need more time than that," Matt says, looking at him strangely. "No. Jewish funeral—over by sunset. Her rabbi's already arranging it." "But—you'll need time with your family," Matt protests. He's never sat shiva, but he knows funerals. He has five brothers and sisters, seven aunts and uncles on his mother's side, eight on his father's, and about a hundred cousins, second cousins, and other relatives close enough to demand his presence on such occasions. Or that's what it feels like, sometimes. And that's just his family; Helen has almost as many on her side. Josh looks at him, his face still closed. "There isn't any family," he says. "Just me." - These paragraphs were SO sad to read.
At least Donna was there to give Josh a hug. however painful it must be for both of them.
| lcf328 10/21/12 . chapter 1
Another amazing fic! Love the focus on the relationship between Josh and Matt - and of course, it sure would have been nice to have seen Josh and Donna reconcile at this point in the series instead of being at odds with each other for a season and a half...!