|Reviews for All Is Mended|
| oz diva chapter 27 . 10/29/2022
Thank you for posting sooner rather than later, it is appreciated and a lovely treat.
Carl, well mate you put your family into quite the bind with your little jaunt down the beach that day. Upon reading it I was reminded of an old beach scene I wrote for Anne when she too got lost in rockpool universes; though thankfully her situation was easily sorted by a handy white knight. Interesting to compare the two though which I've never done. I wonder if Anne saw a little of herself in dreamy Carl? (fanfic idea?)
I digress, back to Singapore Oz diva. What strikes me with this story is how invested in Una's safety Carl continues to be. He believes that Li and Iris will stick together and that will save them, but the thought of Una being alone is what drives him. Was he wrong to collaborate? I guess you could see it that way, but who can say how you'd act in similar circumstances? The survival instinct is strong after all.
Really it's afterwards that he's most lost. He can't go home because it's changed. His letters are sent back (very bizarre) and he seems unjointed and at most danger. You wish he'd just knock on the Trinity House door but I suppose a unknown Una is more bearable than a dead one, so maybe I can understand why he left her dangling like that. But you'd think maybe he might have gone back to Canada? But obviously not, for he didn't.
So frustrating to read, and even more to live, how they circled around each other for years never quite making contact. But now finally they have and the wonderment must be intense. I do hope they can help each other heal now, but it won't be easy. Still, you promised us a happy ending and you delivered, so thank you.
| oz diva chapter 26 . 10/29/2022
I think it's interesting that Una is apologising for Puck's death as though that could be Carl's main concern. I think in this instance he's right to swear (I love a bit of swearing myself) because honestly Puck as gorgeous as he was, was a pet. Carl (as we see next chapter) was more concerned with Una than Puck. Puck is an emblem but he's after all a monkey and an elderly one at that. I suppose that was Una deflecting but I'm pleased Carl brought her back to earth.
It's understandable that there are miscommunications and misunderstandings in this most complicated of reunions. Everyone is going to leap to the wrong conclusions when it comes to Robin, and rather than berating them for it, as Una often seems to, I think she should be pleased. They're only worried about her after all. And how many women were raped in that uncertain time. It was completely plausible, probably more so than not, really. Una's just incredibly fortunate that that's now how Robin came to be hers.
But it's also understandable that they need tea and fortifications before they can unburden their stories to each other. The brief version that is (the fully story will come out in fits and starts over years) Rather than there, on the dock.
How surreal for Carl to return to Trinity House and find it, if not the same then still home with a resident Harry, a chatty parrot, new family members to meet, and red and gold stencilled butterfly bowls - no two the same.
| kslchen chapter 27 . 10/29/2022
Thank you for not making us wait another week for Carl's story. I agree with the assessment to not wrap his return and his story into one big chapter, but instead to split it in two, so both parts could take their own effect, but given how long we've been wondering what happened to Carl since he disappeared in 1942, it's kind of you to not make us wait even longer!
As with Iris, reading about what Carl has been through is gut-wrenching and yet also tinged with a bit of relief. Knowing that he must certainly have fallen into the hands of the Japanese back in 1942, I kept imagining him being put to work building the Thai-Burma Railway, which as you certainly know wasn't called Death Railway for nothing. Since some of the first POWs being made to construct it where Australians taken from Changi Prison (which kept supplying more prisoners for forced labour as the war went on), there was a chance higher than zero that a similar fate could have befallen Carl. He's no Australian and he was no soldier, so not really a POW, but those I doubt those details mattered much to his Japanese captors.
Thus, as heart-wrenching as Carl's story is otherwise, I'm sort of relieved that like Iris, he escaped the worst possible fate that could have been his. Yes, translating for the Japanese might have been seen as collaborating after the war, but the truth is, it was just staying alive and no-one shall ever be judged for that. Interestingly, Carl striking up a sort of understanding with the commander and playing board games with him reminds me of Una a little, who had her own sort-of connection to the commander in her camp through poetry and literature. We know Una saw the man for who he was and I'm sure the same was true for Carl, but again, they both stayed alive and in Una's case, kept others alive as well (in Carl's, too, if that promise by his captors was worth anything at all), which is the only thing that matters.
Interestingly, it seems almost like Carl's ordeal got worse after the war ended. I'm not saying it was sunshine and rainbows for him while in Japanese captivity, but he had a relatively decent position as a translator and he had his captors' promise to tide him over, clinging to the hope that he family might be safe. It's only once the war is over and he returns to Trinity House, again and again, that it all seems to fully hit. He must have been lonely before, but finding Trinity House empty and plundered, he must have felt terribly alone. That scene of him sifting through the jewellery cases, looking for any sort of clue or reassurance or even a sliver of hope, is extremely poignant and touching. He clearly feels like the loneliest person in the world in that moment and also, clearly, like he failed his family - despite the fact that objectively, everything that happened to him was completely out of his hands.
Him feeling utterly alone in the world is also why him turning resistance fighter makes sense. On the surface, it might look a curious choice at first, because this is still Carl - peaceful, scatter-brained, loving, funny Carl who wants nothing more but to love his family, care for his animal family and study his bugs. With his family and his pets gone and his home destroyed by both British failure and Japanese cruelty, however, what else does he really have left? Singapore is the only thing he's still got, signifying all the happy memories he had of the past, so when one looks at it like that, how can he *not* fight to have Singapore set free? He's not free of his demons, but this place they all loved might possibly be and when there's nothing else to fight for, this is the only fight left.
It'll be interesting to see how they will navigate Carl's being labelled a 'collaborator' and 'resistance fighter' by the authorities in charge, but even more so, I'm curious to see how his own experiences will affect Carl going forward. Iris and Li settled back into post-war life in a thankfully straight-forward way and Una, in her own way, did so as well with time. Carl, out of all of them, lived in a war-like state the longest and he was also, I feel, the loneliest of them. Iris was mostly cared for by decent people, it appears, Li had other women in her camp to look out for her (and for her to look out for her in return) while Una had the second family of Bernice and the others for support. Carl, by the looks of it, had no similar human connections, at least not on an emotional level, making his existence the loneliest of them all. I wonder how he will manage to settle back into a life filled with people, much as he loves them and they love him in return?
| Parnokianlipstic chapter 27 . 10/29/2022
Of course, it all starts at the beach, a little private paradise that is disappearing and falling apart. And Puck! Brave, lovely Puck! You portray Carl's version of his time in Singapore with heartbreak, great tenderness, and a quiet rising fury, and grace.
An extremely interesting choice, the fact that Carl, as an academic and a researcher, was forced to be a collaborator of the Japanese, even if only in writing the orders cleanly, proper propaganda training, and then later, resistant-fighter, underground, frenetic, dangerous activity, to free Singapore.
Oh, Carl, he has steel in him just like Una. When Carl walked through the empty Trinity House looking for traces of his family, and all of Una's jewelry, so many options, and little intimate secrets, Percival Curtis, Walter's letter, Una's confirmation bible, and when Carl took his vows - powerful, (the tea was really necessary )
There are an awful lot of high points in this chapter, and that ending, like a dream that finally comes true, an impatient wait, in Keppel-Harbour.
I loved this!
| Tinalouise88 chapter 27 . 10/29/2022
Oh Carl, all the tries and none of them hit or work in his favour. It truly is many cases of missed connections and chances.
Working for the Japanese as a prisoner, I suppose it is the worst and best-case sort of scenario for him to live and survive that war.
But again all the missed chances and communications for 6-7 years after the war. It's brutal for both sides of the search.
Carl wandering through Trinity's house, all the jewellery and his memories, it is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
Still, he kept coming back, circling his old house. missing chances-Iris, and then Li, all three of them Then one day it's like all their prayers are answered and Frenny finds him and then I am sure it is just waiting and arriving at that dock hours before it meant to arrive wondering if he's crazy if this was just a daydream or if he's going crazy...
Either way...I know there are only two chapters left...and I don't want it to end...
| OriginalMcFishie chapter 27 . 10/29/2022
There is so much in what is not said here. Carl's are, though safer than some, must have been a constant fear of being found. If the Japanese knew what he did to help those fighting for liberation, if the other prisoners thought he was cheerfully collaborating with the Japanese, if he mis translated. He must have endured so much just to make it through. And then there's his anti-British rule work, so dangerous and so full of danger for him. Believing his family dad must have driven him to almost madness. All of which makes me wonder who this man is. Its Carl, certainly, but not the Carl we knew. Can he settle with Li and Una again or has he seen too much to return to family life? THank you for posting early, so much pain. I wish these characters a happy future
| oz diva chapter 25 . 10/28/2022
Is it? Can it really? After all this time? You give us such tantalising snippets. And it makes sense the way they deal with them. Don’t want to get you hopes up, or the children’s. But you can’t help speculate all the maybes and pitfalls.
Martin approaches marriage perfectly. After all this time Una is hardly likely to fall for the bended knee approach. But to casually slip it into conversation as the need arises is more in character for them both. And about bloody time too.
| oz diva chapter 24 . 10/28/2022
You paint such a beautiful family scene with so much movement and colour. The Blythe/Meredith clan were never ones to stand on ceremony, so while the they’re dressed up they’re not exactly sitting on ceremony.
It’s fun to see Kiki taking on Puck’s penchant for getting into everything and the way Una deals with it, with her typical aplomb. For all her carping when Carl bought his animals home, she adores them.
Don’t think I missed Martin kissing her fingers surreptitiously. He’s adopted the menagerie and sorted out ways to woo her regardless. Clever chap. And also to track down Li’s requests which I expect is no mean feat in Canada in 1953.
Also there’s a Chinatown?
| oz diva chapter 23 . 10/28/2022
What you bring back for us is the incredible edges of Una's memories of freedom. Too bright, too clean, too soft. All the things she'd longed for without even giving them a name and it was just too too much. And if it was too much for her what will it all be like for Li?
I did enjoy the way she saw her sister by the way she moved. A bit stiffer these days, but still recognisable. I found that very esoteric rather than describing her face or hair or whatever. Speaking of which it reminds me of Klinger looking for his in-laws in Korea, saying someone has black hair and is short is a very poor descriptor in Asia, but I digress. Movement is one of those things it's practically impossible to describe but which is so recognisable to someone who knows you.
Imagine telling Iris she had to sit an exam rather that meet her long lost mother. What a cheek! I'd have told them what for, that's what! But I suppose it was a different time.
The dichotomy of Una being simulataneously pleased Li wasn't in camp and wishing she were is intriguing because I wonder actually how she would have been regarded there. Thinking of Tenko there was an asian character who fought hard for her rights and I wonder if a similar fate would have befallen Li. Not everyone was as welcoming and loving as Una.
So difficult to explain that no only is their dear Puck gone but that Carl is still lost. You can imagine how hope of her husband has sustained Li and to have that dashed would be awful hard news to impart. Many prayers will continue to be sent up to find him.
Their sisterhood has a new basis. They've both been beaten. It think their shared understanding that something awful happened to them both really cements their long parting. They've suffered in different ways, of course, but neither has got off lightly. They each have a tale to tell and understand what those scars mean.
I think of it all the scene where Iris and Li keep Una close by is the most moving of all. There's no reunion if she's not there. She's as close as mother and child, one of their family and as important a member as any of them. I have to say, I agree with them. She's more than aunty, if slightly less than mother.
| Tinalouise88 chapter 26 . 10/27/2022
Oh, Carl, I don't how and when they found out about each other and when and where they would meet but in the end, it doesn't matter as they are together once again.
It's all unspoken words, thoughts and feelings that join them together in this reunion, But that is all that matters in many ways. Uncertainty is washed away slowly from them as each moment passes.
Unlike the others who are hugged indefinitely though with Carl, it is different. Li takes the plunge first, how surreal it must be for her after all this time to see him again, and Iris who spent more than half of her life most likely recalling memories of her father and mother to be reunited with them once more.
Una is next and such a siblingly moment for them and Robin, who always brings out the questions. And Phantoms indeed! She has heard of him all her life, yet he is much as a stranger as anyone.
It's rather a gut-wrenching moment when Carl says 'they promised they wouldn't'
God Of all things..I've imagined I never thought he would go willingly, it does make you wonder if Iris and Li would have been alright staying, that maybe they wouldn't have been separated and just sent to camp altogether. Of course, things are not as such, but one can only wonder what Carl might have bargained for them that night he disappeared.
You know I am looking forward to Carl and Martin meeting, but I am content with Trinity house being fully intact once more. No more missing people, no more ghosts and whats-ifs.
Old and New are joining the house and it will be interesting to see they manage it all.
| kslchen chapter 26 . 10/27/2022
The impatient part of me wouldn't have minded if you had included Carl's story in this chapter, as you thought about doing, but there's another part of me that agrees with the eventual decision not to do it. Wherever Carl was these past years and whatever he did (was made to do), it can't have been pretty and it won't make for a nice story. To include it here in this chapter would have satisfied my curiosity, but it would also have changed the tone of the chapter as well. Not that it's solely a happy chapter, because obviously their long separation makes it bittersweet and the fear of what happened even more so, but ultimately, it's the chapter that gives us Carl back and it deserves to end on a hopeful note.
What you capture really well in the beginning, I think, is the moment of uncertainty that they all share during this particular reunion. They recognise each other, of course, but so much time has passed and so much has happened that it's only natural for there to be a moment of wondering. The vulnerability that is evident in almost all their reactions is incredibly touching. We're most privy to Una's thoughts, of course, but Carl is indeed the open book she describes him as. It's also there with Iris and her question and, understandably so, in Robin's nervousness at meeting this man who was a phantom before. Only Li betrays no outward nerves, but that's because Li is Li and her outer calm doesn't mean she isn't in turmoil on the inside as well.
The hug shared between Carl, Li and Iris, followed by him holding Una and then extending a hug to Robin as well, has a distinct feeling of actions taking the place of words because words are, for the time being, too difficult to be found. Una and Carl try, but even they speak in fragments and similes. They still *understand* each other, which just proves that Carl is still Carl, despite everything, but I don't think they have words for everything that needs to be said and asked yet. For now though, they're all home and everything else pales beside that. They're back in Singapore and while Singapore is not the same, it has recognisable parts, and Trinity House does as well. Against all odds, they've somehow all made it through and came back, to Singapore and red tea bowls and Harry the lizard (who, obviously, is the very same Harry as always, just magically immortal)!
| OriginalMcFishie chapter 26 . 10/27/2022
Carl's alive real alive. Given what we know of Unas story, I suspect a strong cup of tea will be needed for his. No doubt he's damages and hasn't had Unas chance of recovery yet. lots to come but for now, they all survived. never expected this. feeling rather emotional
| Parnokianlipstic chapter 26 . 10/27/2022
Well, I somehow imagined I could get through this without tears.
They overflowed, in "The crickets, the preservation of all Gods Creatures", and if this is an even more unclear and messy review than usual, apologies.
The fact that you immediately picture Carl waiting for the ship in Keppel Harbour, slim, tanned, Tramp-looking, his clothes are disheveled and worn, including his eyepatch. The eye is as blue as Una's, but lined, with furrows "Their Mothers eye", there is the tears.
The way you describe Carl's nervousness and Li's certainty, and Una's openness, "trailing feelings like lace, unraveled" as Naomi Blake that was, and Una too, then partly, but not now. And the way in which Una and certainly also Li evaluate Carl without words, the suffering, the interrogations, some kind of camp conditions, and the presuppositions in relation to Robin, who is Una's child in everything, but not biologically. Nameless horror description, half-spoken words, from Carl "They promised nothing would happen to you if.." So I'm guessing that Carl was captured, somewhere and maybe blackmailed and imprisoned, maybe relatively close to Trinity House in these past 11 years that have worn out.
That hug moment was extremely wonderful, how Li and iris immediately took Carl as their own.
And the way you now reinforce what I already suspected, that Una doesn't talk about her camp times with anyone, except those who were there, her camp family, and how effortlessly with a few sentences you throw the readers to Sinapore in 1954, with echoes of the 1920s a chapter about slightly lighter happiness, tea times, and searching for writing paper and stories.
And, when we get to Trinity House, there's Kiki and Martin, and Iris rushes over to Harry-the lizard, because of course all lizards are named Harry, and Una is making tea, an Assam-wise choice! and savory guavas, which he cuts, and serves them from certain teacups, which are now at last together, like all the original inhabitants of Trinity House, and the there is time for Carls story.
This is insightful, breathtaking. and absolutely beautiful.
| Guest chapter 26 . 10/27/2022
Where is Martin?
Otherwise, I love this story and your writing style. It is mesmerizing now that I have gotten used to it.
| kslchen chapter 25 . 10/21/2022
I read the chapter title and crossed my fingers very tightly that it would signify news from Carl. Of course, in a rational way, I've known for years that we would have all of them returned to us, but even armed with that knowledge, I felt with the other characters - Una most especially, naturally - as they had to continue their lives without their loved ones by their side. The hole ripped by the separation was sometimes more pronounced and sometimes less so, but it was always palpable in the feeling that things weren't quite right. Even with Iris and then Li returned, the absence of Carl and, really, the loss of him didn't become less pronounced. Perhaps, in some way, it stood out even more starkly, because it was apparent for things to be right, he needed to come back.
What is almost impossible to wrap one's mind around is the amount of time that has passed. Singapore fell in early 1942 and Carl disappeared not very long afterwards, so they all lived for over a decade right now without a sign from him. I do very much wonder what happened to keep him away for so long and, knowing how meticulously you researched this story, I know that you will have a good explanation for us. Still, what stands out even more about the sheer number of years that have passed is that still, they never lost hope. Sure, we've seen Una come close to it in darker moments, but overall, she held out hope that one day, she'd find all of them again. I hesitate to use the term of "keeping faith" because God knows it's been overused to almost lose its meaning, but since with Una, faith is a very real and tangible thing, perhaps it's not the worst way to put it.
Of course, such a lot has happened in the decade that passed that Carl returning doesn't meant they will go back to the way things were, nor, I think, would they want to. Una's concerns about Carl being changed and not knowing them feel very real and perfectly heart-wrenching, but I don't believe you'd be so cruel as to make them come true. Still, the Singapore days of pre-1941 mostly consisted of the tight-knit group that was the four of them and various animals. They felt self-contained back then, as if the outside world was far away, whereas now, Una has been thrust into that outside world for better and for worse - and she came away, I think, for better, because despite the pain and hardships accompanying those years, her heart's family grew to be several times its size.
Martin, naturally, quietly and steadily became one of the most important members of that family - and, lets be honest, that wedding was a long time in the making. The wedding is perfect mainly because everyone pitches in to make it so, which I think gives *soul* to it, if that makes any sense at all. Even more perfect, perhaps, is the engagement preceding it though, because it's Una and Martin at their best and most natural. No grand declarations of love for them, because really, they're not needed. Those two communicate on a much deeper level and their jokes and teasing exemplifies that. The sentence of "Una ignores him" at the end is marvellous both for being funny and for showing that no, this isn't the Una of yore who dreamily imagines wearing her mother's dress to a rural church wedding.
What stood out to me about the wedding was Una's final thought in that scene, too, because it rings very true. Being married isn't the ultimate goal to aspire to for her. She's lived a full life already and is set to live many more full years, which she would have done with Martin by her side, wedding or not. It's a lovely thing to happen, but not something necessary for her happiness and I like the quiet confidence inherent in that thought. Marrying makes sense for the return to Singapore and it's also something that they both want to do at this point, so they're doing it, but their connection never depended on signing papers and speaking vows and exchanging rings. A lovely moment, but ultimately not a necessity.
Now, speaking of the return to Singapore, that's another thing that's been a long time coming and yet, it makes perfect sense for it to come when it does. Una had opportunity to go back there and stay before, mainly during her visit for Iain and Emily's wedding, but clearly it never was truly right. Singapore never stopped being home, but at the same time, it feels like it also couldn't truly be home as long as Carl was missing from it. All those years back, it was him and Una going their to start a new life and they then fell in love with it together. Singapore without Carl clearly didn't fully make sense for Una and therefore, it's only right that it's the prospect of Carl's return that makes it possible for her to return, too (and this time, even Faith understands!).