|Reviews for From Childhood's Hour|
| ASingleSplendidSong chapter 1 . 6/4/2012
I am in desperate need of revision for my final exams, so I cannot read this just yet. HOWEVER, I am saving in it favourites so I can find it easily. I will leave the appropriate reviews when I can. Thank you :)
| ColonelDespard chapter 21 . 2/25/2010
A prolonged and appreciative round of applause - as delighted as I am to see this rounded off to an excellent conclusion, there's always that little pang that one feels at the end of a well-spun tale. The only consolation is that with this foundation laid, you can take your character development even further as adults.
I think you've set a very high standard in this for childhood fics...what a superb background for your later stories about these characters! I'd go back and re-read BotM from the start with all this context for Combeferre - his relationships with his parents, the pride and love his father cherished for him after his supposed death and display of the portrait Feuilly created, the references to his mother, the complexities of his sibling relationship with Charles and, above all, the ghost of his brother Henri that layer the story - but I almost think it would be too sad to reread.
It's all in there - the seeds of their adult characters, lifelong interests alongside childhood occupations, education both in the formal sense and also in life lessons that aren't part of a scholastic curriculum, the development of their social consciences, and above all a bond that will last the rest of their lives, even if one is no longer alive. There's charm, humour, pathos and a plethora of wonderful character portraits, particularly so for their parents and tutors but also for the others they encounter like the residents of the fishing village.
This is a beautiful story that is exquisitely written from a literary point of view - one that works as both historical story and rites of passage tale. I particularly liked how you let so much speak for itself - you don't overstate. The loneliness of their respective situations - each in different ways and with completely different family backgrounds - is demonstrated by their circumstances and the portraits of the characters around them. That there is more to their bond than that isolation drawing them together becomes apparent as they age. There is a good deal of the enthusiasm of youth to them, but more than that - one can see why Hugo speculates about what might have happened had they attained the pages of history, and why each had different strengths. They are vivid in both their youthful earnestness, youthful awkwardness, and charm.
I think the readers will wave goodbye to them with the same reluctance that Julien passes the gate to the Enjolras estate, while still aware of a future for them that is yet to come.
| AMarguerite chapter 21 . 2/23/2010
Gah, why am I so bad at reviewing? I'm terribly late on this one, sorry, but, as ever, this chapter was wonderful. I absolutely adore your way of creating an interesting, realistic setting, and all the amazingly researched details you throw into your narration. It rocks. I also find the development of Mme Combeferre quite interesting- was it out of concern for her dependents, or her fortunes? Or a sense of responsibility? Or was she, again, picking up her husband's slack?
So, onto the copy-pasting of my favorite bits:
-"A vague attempt was made at presenting the idea that Delarive was somehow in charge, but that only meant that he would take a book down to the beach if they were swimming and ignore them until they started shouting too much." Pft. Excellent child care there. Though it does sound pretty awesome and I love how he gives them their little victory before leaving them to splash one another in the waves.
-"The children were supposed to bring watered wine to the workers so they might cool themselves and quench their thirst, but Julien preferred to do as much as possible himself, letting the children have their fun. He had been granted two weeks of idleness; the least he could do was provide the younger ones with a few hours." Aw, Combeferre. 3
-"School is going to be awful."
"It might not be so bad."
"You won't be there."
-"Can we say brothers, full stop? I wish you were my brother for real." *wibbles again*
Poor things. I did love the blood brother ritual and how serious they tried to be in their painfully (literally) serious execution of it. What a marvelous fic! I'm sad that it's over, but now there can be adult Enjolras and Combeferre! :D
| MamzelleCombeferre chapter 21 . 2/20/2010
Wow. This chapter was filled with so much emotion and I honestly felt for them! Honestly and I wanted to cry when Julien started to and just Wow. Brava!
| Monsieur Henri chapter 1 . 2/16/2010
Hi! As a huge Enjolras fan, it's quite lovely to read about his youth. He seems so friendly now - even though he's already enough IC - so I'm quite curious to know what will happen to make him the man he became.
I really liked François, and one of my favourite part is when Combeferre brings Enjolras to see the world. I sort of imagine him with wide eyes looking around and growing every day more.
Really nice story!
ps. I always thought Enjolras was a sort of nickname, but I like the name Henri too... guess why!
| AMarguerite chapter 20 . 2/16/2010
I suck so much at reviewing things in a timely fashion, but this was, as usual, awesome.
The poetry discussion is great- Combeferre knowing, um, everything, pretty much, and Enjolras's utter indifference to art is so wonderfully IC. I find it kind of hilarious, actually, that the first bit of poetry they study is a Sapphic stanza. My mind has clearly just set up camp in the gutter.
I kind of love how blunt and to the point M. Enjolras is. Henri clearly gets his moments of social skills fail from him.
| ColonelDespard chapter 20 . 2/15/2010
First review was eaten, so let’s try this again!
Cordillot is the stand-out in this...not as personally appealing as some of the boys’ other tutors, he still engenders the utmost respect for his honesty and firmness. Finally J-P has been confronted with direct and well-reasoned criticism over how he is raising his son – possibly a first? I imagine he has cut off all contact with his late wife’s family, and the only real challenge to him up to now has been the very tactful suggestions of M. Combeferre. The possessiveness of his love is so much to the fore here...that he should be envious of Henri’s one and only friendship is terribly sad and yet rings true. There’s something sad in thinking back to the very earliest chapters and Henri’s assumption that he would go to school and get to meet other children...instead, his social development has been severely curtailed and his intellectual potential stifled.
Love the poetry studies. I imagine that Henri, however unwillingly, does absorb some of Combeferre’s lessons...as a future orator, he’ll be learning valuable lessons about rhythm, cadence, precision of words, uses of imagery etc (so many great speakers start out as mediocre poets!).
There’s something gently idyllic here, too – we’ve gone back to M. Combeferre’s recollections of his own childhood summers, eating apricots (albeit with more books and fewer girls). Amidst the loneliness and the sort of family issues that most people will experience some variation of in their lives (who has a perfect family or perfect childhood?), it’s nice to think that they’ll be able to look back on warm summer days and some simple pleasures.
You’re really bringing this up to its natural conclusion as they go through another rite of passage, but it does make me sad to think that this era in their lives will soon be drawing to a close.
| MamzelleCombeferre chapter 20 . 2/12/2010
Every time you write a new chapter it continually replaces my last favorite. Well done. (I am really beginning to sound redundant aren't I?)
| AMarguerite chapter 19 . 2/11/2010
“Christ,” Delarive said to the other tutor. “I've been with them seven months, and I've never heard the boy laugh.” had me feeling SO SORRY for poor Combeferre. I did love how he and Enjolras sort of flopped on each other and started wrestling- it's such a teenage boy thing to do!
Combeferre's way of searching for meaning in everything is wondrful, as seen in the poetry. Discipline of though- what a very classically French thing to say! Though it's probably classical in general? At any rate, aw to Delarive. He's a sweetheart, and I like how his concern is for Combeferre placing out of his age bracket as opposed to anything else.
| AMarguerite chapter 18 . 2/11/2010
I don't know I've fallen so behind on reading this. I think it's because I've seen the drafts and then I go, 'Oh, read this already' and then I miss out on all the neat little tweaks you make to the text. (Oh and please forgive any typos in this I don't catch- I'm using a French keyboard and still haven't figured out how to type on one with any semblance of ease.)
At any rate, I enjoy the ongoing tribulations with the tutors- they're all so wonderfully individual, in their teaching styles, their personalities and their ways of interacting with their pupils.
A couple of lines I liked in particular:
-"he had hugged M. François tightly and distinctly felt that he did not want him to go"- Aw, there's Enjolras's tactile tendencies coming to the fore!
-"Henri watched rather in awe as he had never seen such a polite argument." That's so darling.
-"Cordillot bowed, thanked him, added, “I choose this as one of my evenings this week,” and retreated to his room." Oh class warfare, you are so entertaining when taking place in drawing rooms.
-"Well, anyone who knocked about pirates was reasonable enough." Psh, I love you M. Enjolras. I'd feel so awkward if he was my father, but he's great.
| ColonelDespard chapter 19 . 2/8/2010
I've been thinking about how beautiful the educational themes are developed in your story - the tutors they go through during the years with their different approaches, each a distinct character in addition to having a distinct technique, their own response to finding themselves in the system, their fathers who are seeking to find the best methods of educating them not only in academic requirements but also in life experience. J-P is so coloured by his own experiences and background, is overcompensating in some ways for his affection for his son, but is stil so earnest about doing the right thing for the child he adores.
There are issues here specific to the era and the system, but also educational issues which still concern us today...which seems so appropriate given the concern both characters have in Hugo's original work for education. It's central enough for it to be mentioned as part of Combeferre's opening character sketch and to comprise an important part of Enjolras' last speech.
I've always loved your visual in this chapter of the chiaroscuro lighting effect. So appropriate for these characters - not a sharp demarkation between light and dark, but shades gradiating between them. Grantaire works as a contrast to Enjolras in the sense that he is an absence of light (thus making the illumination shine the brighter), but Combeferre is not such an absence of light - he's infinite shades and subleties and contributes an essential element to the final picture.
| MamzelleCombeferre chapter 19 . 2/5/2010
They're growing up. *tears* Just kidding. Really though, you know how I said last chapter was probably my favorite? Well this one was even better. It will be so sad when Combeferre is sent off to school. :(
| MamzelleCombeferre chapter 18 . 2/2/2010
I think this is one of my favorite chapters so far, and rdillot has some guts standing up to M. Enjolras in such a manner. Well done.
| ColonelDespard chapter 18 . 2/1/2010
I am SO going to make "The Mountain" one of my favourite toasts!
What an interesting thing for Henri to observe - someone challenging his father's authority and absolute position in a polite, cool, but intractable manner...this must surely be a first? Even Henri himself, from his position as only son of the house, has really only defied his father in minor ways like pursuing his friendship with Julien, and even that all came out and had to be submitted for approval.
And M. Enjolras' ambitions for his son...the idea of Enjolras succeeding his father in running a business empire is so mindboggling incongruous! And yet, these are the sort of expectations that must have been on the only son - that, or something along the lines of a role in the National Assembly (you know I agree with the nouveau riche background you attribute to the Enjolras family).
| ColonelDespard chapter 17 . 2/1/2010
Love how you're situating the tutors in relationship to the boys, both in educational and emotional development. It's always interesting to trace these early influences - Michael Collins attributed his revolutionary leanings not only to family elements, but also to a local village blacksmith and a particular nationalist teacher. Richard continues to be a charming and thoughtful father, far more ready to let out the length of Julien's leash and learn through experience, while still tactfully steering and offering some (but not overly protective and cloistered) support. And it was a pleasure to see Julien able to interact with his little brother, even if it was so abruptly cut short! Those shiny knees were certainly the bane of those wearing pants at the time...that, and the risk of putting your elbows through your coat if you were a bit down at heel.