|Reviews for Betwixt the Stars|
| NovemberRainbow chapter 8 . 6/12
I love this chapter (i.e. the whole story)! And that it's incredibly long. I'm hoping you'll make the next one even longer ;D
I don't really know where to start so forgive me if I ramble a bit. The title of the ch. is beautiful and so fitting because it's a truth universally acknowledged ;)
Rob's interlude, giving a great peak in Shirley and Carl's history, intertwining with Elizasky's, was super. My imagination running loose there for a while! Had to concentrate a bit with all the interconnections.
Rob inherited the Blythe trait of being loyal to his family. Trying to hide his feelings for Mel, who's happy go lucky and who knows how to play him, for she is perfectly aware how he feels for her. She reminded me of Faith, fearless and funny, it must certainly be in her genes. And in Mike as well, the cheeky bugger.
The akwardness and the flirting of Tessa and Rob and the interruption by their kids got me smiling.
I felt the same astonishment as Anne and David that Rob knew all about what they had discovered. And understand the sadness why he never opened the Whitman again. As with David initially refusing the house, because then his mom's passing would feel final. Anne was on a roll here, finally giving in to her feelings and not afraid to show it too. I'd like to know more about her relationship with her dad, as she does have less memories with him than David has with his mom.
The ending was hopeful, the start of new beginnings. Hopefully for Rob and Tessa and Anne and David they will be more than just a summer fling...
| oz diva chapter 7 . 6/9
How cool to meet elderly Carl and Shirley finally able to be together without pretence at last. After all their angst in Eliza's story, it's wonderful that they pull through here and can happily live together free from judgement. Although there is still some astonishment apparently. Is there a wonderful family photo circa 1895 with Marilla and John and all the grandchildren? I would pay to see that.
One day I really will need to give this a close reading from start to finish, because I admit I'm a bit lost with all the intergenerational relationships. Then I might be better equipped to properly review.
| NotMrsRachelLynde chapter 8 . 6/5
I love long chapters so was quite pleased to have a nice long chapter to read this weekend. This certainly covered a lot of territory. I was happy to Shirley and Carl as old but still together. While the 80’s were better for gay couples than 1919, it still was a hard time then as well. They really did persevere in their relationship. The second half of this chapter was a beautiful love song to Mel. I love how the two men in her life still strongly feel her presence with them and now struggle with letting go and moving on. David’s is a stubborn determination to fright it and Rob’s an overwhelming sadness and emptiness at the loss. Both exemplified Gilbert in canon as well. Fortunately both David and Rob do seem to be trying to move on but they love they both feel for Mel is so exquisitely beautiful. Thank you for this update. I am excited to see how these two relationships progress!
| kslchen chapter 8 . 6/4
There's absolutely no way I will be able to remember all the thoughts I had when reading this to put them in this review, so forgive me if I don't even try. I'll try to get some of those thoughts in here though, alright?
It's lovely to hear that Shirley and Carl are alive and well (reasonably so) and *together* well into the 1980s. Reading about their struggles in Eliza's story, I am glad they made it to a time when their love, while sadly not yet accepted, didn't need to be a tightly-guarded secret anymore either. Also, that Shirley got to move out of that depressing condo at some point and that they could live their lives together as a couple ought to be able to do.
I enjoyed all theses glimpses at various family member you gave us (I am just as nerdy as Rob about these things), but I also enjoyed reading about the dynamic of Rob, Melissa and Michael as well. Rob's clearly already "dead gone" on Melissa, but other than that, there's a deep friendship apparent here as well as an easy familiarity, that are both lovely to read. I am also back to liking Melissa after last chapter, so that's a good thing as well.
Moving on to the present day, I had to laugh at Rob and Tessa doing their flirting thing, only to be interrupted rather rudely by their children. Also, at how excited David and Anne are at their discovery, only for Rob to have been "in the know" all this time. They could have figured this out a lot sooner if they'd just asked. But alas, when do kids ever do that?
In any case, this turned out to be quite the emotional rollercoaster for David. I can understand him, that's a lot to process, having the memories of his mum's death sprung at him out of the blue and learning he will inherit a whole house, that's quite something. I can see why he had to run away at first. It was brave of Anne to follow, seeing as how little they know each other yet, but it was a great thing to do, no least because they certainly know each other a lot better *now*, after having had that talk. There was a honesty and an openness about it that they hadn't reached before and I think it brought them a couple of steps forward, both in knowing the other's history and also in knowing each other as persons.
Rob's thoughts at the end were touching and beautifully rendered, so much so that I shall not pick them apart in this review. Let me just say that it was a piece of great writing.
| Alinyaalethia chapter 8 . 6/4
I continue to enjoy the way you slip us through time. There’s much here to like, from the amassed bookshelf at the Lowbridge house, so sparse over in Happiness, to the photos and that genuine connection between Carl and Melissa. The intergenerational Manse is lovely to picture -especially on the heels of the desolate afterthought of a place I appear to be writing about. As ever your characters spring off the page in their completeness; Mike is suitably irritating and Rob conflicted, James just the right degree of removed from the young people, while Carl still thrives on community.
The present day is no less lovely. Rob gently undercutting the discovery of the hour is delightful. But then we soup into the revelation of Melissa and the Whitman, and thst is equally poignant. You say a lot with a little, long before we get to the inscription.I like to think Carl kept on at dancing. Though what an inheritance! No wonder David bailie a little here, it’s a hard thing to swallow. What he says about the inheritance solidifying his loss is especially wrenching, and yet so very true to life. It moves his mother into story and narrative, and makes her more removed than ever. And Anne is wise well beyond 17 in the way she wrangles him, but then no wonder. There’s more than a small dose of another Anne in her, and she too was an astute observer.
| elizasky chapter 8 . 6/3
I must start with my very favorite part, which I have read and re-read in both PMs and the published version, just for the sheer pleasure of it: that photo of Carl on the Sweet Flag, laughing up at the person behind the camera. I just adore that sentence. There is so much there, with the photo on display in the house, and the joy of the voyage itself, and Rob seeing it and recognizing that what you see in the picture is part of the story, but that there’s so much more beyond the visible. That’s what really got me in the FEELINGS – the acknowledgement that an invisible someone is taking the picture and that you can’t understand what you’re seeing unless you take that unseen part into account. It just took me 100 words to say what you express so elegantly in a dozen.
Ok, Rob. Rob is the biggest nerd in the world. How I love him. A teenager who can rattle off the family history and also spends all his time reading about WWI and WWII. Hahahahaha I would say we would have dated in high school, but the reality is that we would sit silently at opposite sides of the library and never speak. Alas, he is in love with his beautiful cousin, *sigh*. Though, come to think of it, that’s probably where the family history comes in, checking that they’re related “just distantly enough for decency.”
I love Mel and Carl together. Even before we get to the book, they are so sweet and so well matched in personality and humor. The inscription on the book was lovely, as was Carl’s brief but deep connection to the baby born exactly 100 years after him. What a century he saw! It’s odd to think of wee Carl Meredith of the ants and the sacred concert in the Methodist graveyard possibly having received junk mail offering him 100 free hours of AOL, but he probably did. Give me all the Old Carl content you can – I am so here for it.
And Old Shirley! Gah, he is so scary. I loved Rob’s babbling and his sense that everything was going downhill as he kept saying CLEARLY THE WRONG THING and digging himself deeper and deeper with Uncle Shirley. It was wonderfully cringeworthy and I loved it.
There’s a lot I could say here about the house on the Lowbridge Road and won’t. I’ll just say that I loved their bookshelf and their photos and really everything about the house. Carl and Shirley flirting right over the kids’ heads was excellent.
One of the things I love about this story is the way that you have all these little tidbits about what happened in the family between WWI and the 1980s, all tucked into little throwaway lines. I know some of them are from my universe, but many aren't! I desperately want to read all of the backstories to these little asides and mentions. Who will tell the story of Grandpa Sam and Grandma Zoe? Bruce’s heirs in the tumbledown manse is a tale unto itself. How did Melissa get Una as a middle name?
Speaking of names moves us into the scenes in the present. How much do I love Rob undercutting all David and Anne’s excitement here? So much. They feel like they’ve stumbled onto something taboo and unfathomable and he’s just like, “Um, yes, clearly.” They’re more surprised by that than by anything and I was just squirming with glee to see them get a little lesson in not being the first generation to walk the earth. I enjoyed Rob toying with them a bit and leading them through the process of discovery, rather than just blurting.
There’s a lot in the second half of this chapter about legacies, particularly names and inheritances. You explained Grandpa Tom’s name well, showing how bestowing a beloved relative’s name can honor both that person and the people around them. I thought it was interesting when there has been so much Ford/Glen drama in this story that you show us this Ford-Blythe-Meredith alliance that was a loving alternative to the discord. That theme is picked up with David being the little “co-production” of another “great Blythe-Meredith partnership.” What a lovely inscription from Carl – I can’t wait to see what you do with their friendship.
Although David reacted pretty strongly to the whole news about his mother and his inheritance, I can see how it might be overwhelming. Here he is thinking that he’s just finding some random old letters sort of as a way to flirt with the cute girl in his house, and all of a sudden it’s forgotten relatives and surprise inheritances. It got real very quickly! He knew plenty of family stories, but not these, and to find himself connected to them must be disorienting.
The David/Anne conversation about history and legacy was scintillating. It makes sense that consigning Mel to history along with Shirley and Carl makes her seem very, very dead. But part of that is that David didn’t know anything at all about Shirley and Carl two days ago, so they feel very distant. But now with the stories he’s heard and the house he’s inheriting (is any of their stuff still there?) maybe they won’t feel so far away, which might make it feel like his mom isn’t that far away.
As ever, you give me plenty to think about when it comes to history, family, and connections. With just a *hint* of magic. Those little peeks behind the veil when Anne was catching glimpses of Gilbert in David were intriguing. I wonder what will happen as she starts to see more of that. Is it significant that it happened in the garden, where she has felt very close to Anne before? What might happen in other places that were important to Anne? Eager readers want to know.
| slovakAnne chapter 8 . 6/3
I love to wake up early in the morning at the weekend with your update in my mail. What a start to a day! I prefer the modern days part and I cant play 'spot the 80s' as Im not familiar enough with them...but I love the interaction between Anne and David, how she feels like the old time Anne towards him, like they comfort each other and they know instinctively how to do it. And the part where Anne explains why history matters and how they are a continuing part of it was just excellent and I agree with her thoughts totally.
| Excel Aunt chapter 8 . 6/2
I like how you used LMM habit to name some characters after theologians. Calvin was a good choice for Bruce's son, especially as Calvin is the third in a long line of ministers. Also, the inter-generational home of the Old Manse is a nice touch! Hard to believe that the church still owns that property for its ministers. It amazes me that it would exist in 1984.
I'm not sure what's wrong with Mike's date, Karen, but no one seems to like her except Mike. And even as a young man, in high school, Rob knew all the little links between the Blythes, Merediths and Fords. I like how Mel says, "Tell him!" when Mike protested to visiting the Old Uncles. I have to wonder if his protests are more due to the fact he thinks his Uncles are gay.
Dr. Blythe's assessment of Uncle Shirley as being healthy, despite the leg, its wonderful to know, Carl is ever so much Carl with him in the garden, working. Shirley driving himself to the hospital with a broken leg (in a truck!) reeks of my own family's stupidity. I rather like that character flaw in him as it's so relatable. And I think it was Shirley’s birthday, wasn’t it?
You know, I think Shirley would have liked Hemingway. It's been a long time since I read anything by him, but I get a sense that Shirley would like the clean style. Pity there is no Sherwood Anderson there. I think Carl might have liked him.
Shirley's still baking as Mother Susan taught him? Homemade shortbread? I was looking for a Susan call out. I am beyond sad though that Jem and Bruce seemed to be passed away now. Bruce was quite young as opposed to the Rainbow Valley gang, I wonder what happened there? And you know, I don’t recall any mention to Sam’s siblings, Wally and Jemima. I have to wonder where they’re at too.
In the second reading, I'm not sure I understand why Rob and Mel will finally hear rumors about their Great-Great Uncles being gay when they become seniors in school. What happens senior year that makes this possible? I would think that any rumor about two old guys living a homosexual lifestyle in the Glen would reach their ears fast enough. And for them to be related to the two, if there was negativity about that, their parents put them at a disadvantage for not telling them. I am intrigued about this, because they treat it like a secret but, it’s not anymore at this time. I
I'm even wondering about Mike's orientation now, because, he seems to be awfully defensive and sensitive to homosexuality, esp. after patting Rob's arm such as he did. Esp. since you give Mike wisdom on the matter. “They are two different things, Rob, my man. (referring to Rob’s ‘it doesn’t matter, it shouldn’t matter’) And I wish either of them were true.”
Yes, it does matter and it should matter! But not in the malignant construct of phobia but as a way to celebrate one's identity. Why did you give such introspection to Mike? The dude didn't want to visit in the first place? He’s thought about these old men more than a few times. I have to wonder why that is.
And I wish I could shove 80-year-old Carl and Shirley into a time machine and send them to the Glen, circa 1920s for a short yet encouraging visit. (I suppose in my story, I could.)
But David freaks out from inheriting that house. I had a hard time understanding his reason, but I loved how you expanded the character’s here.
Anne manages to cut through the weeds and get to the truth. That David's explanation is only an excuse. His not wanting to accept the passage of time doesn't freeze his beloved mother's presence into place, it barricades himself from actually living. It invalidates her dying and suffering and is a poorer version of the word love.
Love here would mean striving forward into an uncertain adventure. Like two Great-Great-Great Uncles did back between the two wars and after (and a bit before). Their war was never against the Germans or Japanese, but against stodgy ignorance, and the general paradigms that they were brought up in.
David's mourning his mother is natural. But Anne telling David the truth is what he needs. Don't make your excuse your prison.
And I was really moved at the thought that Melissa’s baby represented the child (Blythe-Meredith) Shirley and Carl couldn’t have together. There are other children (Blythe-Meredith) but David was chosen by Carl, as part of Carl’s final twilight. Just a beautiful and humane thought, which impresses me to no end.
The Easter Egg List:
-Carl/Shirley are still at it in 1984, even in the Lowbridge house.
-Shirley goes to WWII, unknown exactly what he does, something very important due to its secrecy.
-The picture of the Grand Trio: Carl/Shirley/Una, smiling in later years. I’m glad Una is still remembered by her brother and brother in law.
| StolenDanceCard1897 chapter 8 . 6/1
So, Kit, a.k.a., Carl, and Shirley...I like it;)
The whole part with David, Rob, and Anne discussing Shirley and David's mother was great.
I may have gotten a little teary eyed when David was telling Anne about how taking the house would feel like his mother was truly gone. it was a beautiful and heartfelt. I loved the different aspects you brought to this whole chapter. It was a long one, but I see what you mean about not being able to split it in two. Also, long chapters to a good story are always great:)
Thank you, thank you for your sweet thank you snippet! it was lovely:)
| Alinyaalethia chapter 7 . 5/27
Well, I’ve finalky caught up sufficiently to review. You bring this world to glorious, full-blooded life, in all its awkwardnesses ans uncertainties and haphazard boxes. There is so much of the college experience in the way you let Rob and Melissa explore life, and I’m glad to see they really are exploring and aren’t necessarily tethered to one another, even if in the even, no one can quite hold a candle to Goose.
At the same time, you capture that tangle of emotions beautifully, as Melissa shifts from confusion to irritation, live, awkwardness and back again. Rob runsca similar gauntlet, but it’s Melissa’s head you keep us in through that scene and it’s her feelings we share in.
One thing I’ve enjoyed throughout, and it’s no exception here, is the parent-child relationships in their unapologetic closeness. These relationships are whole worlds to the people involved, as becomes apparent in Anne’s addition that she knows perfectly well her father’s treatment of Tessa was imperfect, in the ribbing of Rob by Dave - there’s a hefty dose of Blythe in that lad.
And I mustn’t neglect the family history plot. I love a good mystery, and I’m enjoying the way the young people parse this one. Especially delightful is that belief that because they’ve cracked that code, no one else ever has. Perhaps they haven’t, but even if they have, you conjure a very particular feeling there, and it creates another relationship within a doled if it’s own as they trade knowledge back and forth.
| StolenDanceCard1897 chapter 7 . 5/19
I was delighted to see that you posted a new chapter! Can I just say, that I LOVE David! I'm just gonna leave that there...
The reading of the letters was great. It reminded me a bit of a scene in a book by Diana Gabaldon, which is one of my favorite series (apart from Anne of course). It is about time travel an such, but there is a part in the books when two characters are pouring over some family history, trying to uncover a mystery. Anyways, before my rambling turns into an outright fingerling experience, let me just tell you, that you did another amazing job. I think this was one of my favorite chapters so far. Can't wait for next one!
| Guest chapter 7 . 5/18
Love this story love the echoes of the past Anne and David are so cute together please let them find some of Original Anne’s writing poems letters to Gill etc
| NotMrsRachelLynde chapter 7 . 5/17
I was so happy to see your update! After the kiss in the last chapter, I was eager to see what happened the next day. You didn't disappoint. The awkward morning after conversations were certainly a fun counterpoint to all of the pent up emotion of the last chapter. I also loved the backstory about Rob and Melissa, also a nice parallel to Anne/Gilbert, much like David and Anne. Also the 1989 references are brilliant (and make me feel old!) And hello David...he has a way with greetings you could say! So now I am so eager to find out what Rob knows about Shirley and Kit. This is such a complex and well thought out story that I admit I hesitated to read initially. I am so glad that I did. Thanks for a lovely chapter!
| kslchen chapter 7 . 5/17
I enjoyed these glimpses at Melissa's college life (or, I did, until she ran into Rob at the cinema - but more on that later). You capture it so well, that eagerness to try out life, and then life being not all it's chalked up to be. Kind of like Derek, so promising at first glance, and then turning out to be rather aptly named. I had to laugh at your description of that succession of boyfriends, culminating in militant feminism (oh so tiring, that one), and I like how unapologetic Melissa is about her actions and decisions. Glen might think her flighty, but she won't conform to an image of herself that is not her own.
So, you know, I was all set to like Melissa and then she went to the cinema and... I don't like how shabbily she treats Rob. Not at all. Initially refusing him is not the problem because she has the right to refuse anyone. Problem is, so has he - but she doesn't give him that right. She treats him as if he's her property, accusing him of not waiting, being dismissive of his relationships, expecting him to come running when she calls (and she only calls once he's become physically hot, which garners her at least another side-eye). I kept rooting for Rob to tell her to chuck it and buy a train ticket to Alberta and go see Kimberley instead and I must admit to being disappointed when he fell at Melissa's feet just like that. Have some self-respect, Rob! Grow a backbone!
Moving on to other couples I feel more comfortable with: I really love how close both Anne and David are to their respective parent. It might be down to both having lost another parent and not having any siblings that they can talk this openly and honestly (God knows I wouldn't have discussed such delicate matters with either of my parents and I love them both to bits) but wherever it comes from, it's sweet and refreshing and quite funny. I also liked the contrast of how they talked about the parent that is gone. Rob and David clearly don't share my misgivings about Melissa, while Tessa is pretty disillusioned about her own late husband and Anne also seems to know how problematic he was but being more ambivalent, as children tend to be about their parents. (I do hope you will reveal more about him at one point?)
The awkwardness when everyone met up was well-done and both amusing and realistic. Good to see that there's not awkwardness between the respective couples. David continues to be rather swoon-worthy (seriously, is he ever at a loss for words?) and I don't see Anne minding being "greeted" many times more ;). As for the identity of Kit, the plot is certainly thickening. I wonder if Rob will be able to help out or else, of the Meredith connection of Melissa *Una* will lead them onto the right trail. Looking forward to reading more!
| Excel Aunt chapter 7 . 5/16
I'm going to be a horrible reviewer this time 'round and skip to the end. I've not figured out how on earth that Shirley's letter and the Whitman book were in Ingleside and now I know. Well, of course, this is as clear as clear can be now! The passing of the book-Kit must have given it to Bruce, or, maybe, it was first given to Una and then that's how Melissa got it. But like an elastic teether, that books snaps back home to Ingleside. So Shirley would have had the book and Kit would have had the letter. I wonder who of these two passed away first. I'm feeling that it was Shirley after all, but, I could be wrong. Una had the instructions on what to do when Shirley died.
So, after you greatly distracted me and made me wait for that conclusion to go to Rob with their presumptions, (seriously, I was biting my nails in anticipation, I have to wait longer to find out what Rob knows!). LOL! You sure you don't write mysteries on the side?
But now to the front and what seems to be a very real world interpretation of the Gil/Anne dynamic from AoI. Yes, it's very normal for college students to enjoy sex, or in Melissa's case, "lose her car keys". I think it's through the physical act that both Mel and Rob are trying to find detachment from the other. Melissa just seems scared of how BIG Rob's love is for her. (No-that is not a euphemism. I mean, his emotions and the depth to them are frightening.) And Rob dating someone a bit older with the thrill of illicitness tells me also, their activities are more about exploration and discovery than giving their partners empowerment through the lovemaking act. Although, I do hope that Rob's planned break up with What's Her Name (can't be bothered to scroll) goes smoothly. What if there is somewhat of a scandal, well, Great Uncle Jerry probably won't bat an eye in worry for it. Not after Carl/Shirley comes to light, which, probably would scandalize Jerry at first. I do give him credit for not giving a hoot later on, but he's all rules and order and protecting Dad.
I find Tessa completely unrelatable. It's a lament, truly it is. I didn't have a Mom like that. She would have told me the stork story if it wasn't for sex ed in school. Anyway, at least Tessa paints a realistic picture of coupling and love and gives advice that actually pretty good even if she herself won't subscribe to it at times. I was expecting a bottle of wine or her knocking back a mimosa or two at breakfast.
The talk about leaving at the end of vacation made me sad, because, I think Anne and Tessa should stay on PEI a while longer.