Reviews for The Bells
sparra-music chapter 2 . 10/9/2015
If you were trying to make me cry, you succeeded.

Until I read this, it for some reason hadn't really sunk in that if Schultz fought in the trenches in WW1, then some of his 5 kids might be old enough to fight 20-some years later in WW2. And I really wish you had had him fighting somewhere (anywhere!) else, so that Hogan would have more hope of finding out what happened to poor Friedrich.
SaraiEsq chapter 2 . 9/7/2014
This one tugs at me heartstrings more 'n a little. Well done.
Goldleaf83 chapter 2 . 1/8/2012
Oh, what a magnificent story this is! The imagery of the opening line totally mesmerized me: that is such a perfect description of northern winter at the time of the solstice! The church service is described so very well, all the details emphasizing both the sensory experience and the mental feelings of being in the congregation. It’s a great beginning for your method of characterizing Schultz in this story. All three of the dream/memories of home and family in this story work so well: they are perfectly believable as dreams in the way they reflect Schultz’s sense of himself as the responsible pater familias and translate his fears for his missing son, seen as the young boy whose memory Schultz treasures. Writing convincing dreams is one of the hardest things to do in fiction, but you’ve just nailed it with these, in their form and their thematic relationship to Schultz’s very real anxieties.

The dreams plus the letter also account for his short-temperedness with his staff and the prisoners, of course, but only the reader can see that, not the men of Barrack 2 (or poor Langenscheidt). You do an exceptionally good job balancing his severity with the teasing prisoners with his sense of shame at Hogan’s regard and his essential kindness in not following through with the discipline. It sets up the scene where he finally asks for Hogan’s help just beautifully. Your portrait of Schultz’s desperation and cold understanding of the realities of his options is so well done: his sense of himself as old and impotent, his recognition of Klink’s inability to help and the possibility that Hogan might be able to (another “important man” with “contacts”).

Hogan’s character is done well too: you show his self-interest (Schultz as a kind of investment for the team) balanced by genuine compassion, knowing that there’s little to no hope in this situation, and his advice as an officer to an enlisted man to take what family time he can. Klink is also done well, first in his “bright malice” toward Hogan in their ongoing propaganda war and self-absorption over Christmas leave, then in his helpless compassion for Schultz’s situation, unable to do much but repeat the party line about pride in his son and reversing his earlier position on leave. Even that is beautifully nuanced: Schultz’s reluctance to face his wife’s desperation too.

And the music provides such an amazing counterpoint to the action: all the celebrations of the Child that is coming to contrast with the child who is lost. It’s great to see Doyle again, who slides in so naturally from your wonderful story “Perfect Pitch.”

This is a story that will stick in my mind for a long time to come, precisely because of its uncompromising ending – which makes it far better as a story than a happy one could.
Canadian Hogan's Fan chapter 2 . 1/3/2012
A bittersweet ending for Schultz, which makes sense, as I'd hate to have his heart broken at Christmas, but sensible if you don't want a tacked on happy ending. Once again, the opening chapter is so in character for Schultz, but so heartbreaking because it's only a dream. Doyle's appearance and the filks help lighten the mood before Schultz makes his request to Hogan.

My heart is still breaking for Schultz, though. Waiting and not knowing is indeed the worst part.
Belphegor chapter 2 . 12/25/2011
This is the second time I've read this part, and what strikes me is the quality of the narration, how it flows neatly from Schultz's very vivid memory/dream (with details that help make it sound real and sweet, and all the more heart-breaking) through tongue-in-cheek descriptions of life in camp ("cold enough to make brass monkeys nervous" is a *great* line!) to Hogan and Schultz's conversation while the men talk behind the door... The overall style has a self-restrained, quiet quality, but the humour in the middle part fits very well, partly because the scene with Doyle is told in the same manner. (Sorry if that's not very clear - I probably shouldn't review at almost one in the morning :o)

By the way, Doyle is a fantastic character (one of these days I'll re-read and review "Perfect Pitch", because it's one of my favourite stories of yours, which is saying something!); he seems to get all the best lines :o) I mean, I really can't decide between "My dear man, (...) I can't even get a decent English pronunciation out of them. What possible hope do I have with French?" and "My dear Langenscheidt, music has no nationality. (...) I assure you, we are not at war with Bach, and there are no rules, as far as I know, against singing his music in camp." A great answer, truly worthy of a musician :o)

The ending, with the double-edged hope, is as sad as it is sweet. Poor Schultz. Have you decided whether Friedrich is alive or not? I know I hope so :/
konarciq chapter 2 . 12/25/2011
Very poignant. Especially loved the opening scene. And the closing scene. And you're right: this does need a follow-up!

Oddly enough, two quotes in this solemn story made me chuckle:

"My dear Langenscheidt, music has no nationality. I assure you, we are not at war with Bach."

And a budding classic from Hogan: "Every tradition's got to start somewhere."

So true...

Nice to see Doyle again, too!
80sarcades chapter 2 . 12/25/2011
Beautiful. Hogan's reactions were perfect; the inner agony suffered by Schultz was plainly evident. I could only hope that our favorite Sergeant would eventually receive good news...unlikely though it may be. Great chapter!
St PA chapter 2 . 12/24/2011
May I amend my greeting - Merry Christmas to you and all the other authors!
St PA chapter 2 . 12/24/2011
Merry Christmas!
ColHogan chapter 2 . 12/24/2011
This story can't be marked complete! It just can't! It's a beautiful story that needs at least an epilogue or 1 more chapter so we know what, if anything, Hogan found out. Even if the ending is an unhappy Hogan is right. Schultz should go home and be with his wife, especially now. And your portrayal of Schultz is excellent because I can picture him acting just like that as well as Hogan's reaction when Schultz asks for a favor after Hogan thinks three of his men were put on report.
smithcrafter chapter 2 . 12/24/2011
Good story so far. Different. Although I'll admit I'm NOT looking forward to the ending since I saw the warning about no HAPPY endings.
sarajm chapter 2 . 12/24/2011
What a beautiful melancholy and touching chapter. I know and love all of those carols (well, the standard versions anyway) so it was a nice musical backdrop for this.
Six of Twelve chapter 2 . 12/24/2011
Poor Schultz, with a heavy heart of almost unbearable grief. Yes, he should go home to his Gretchen for Christmas so at least they can be together at this time.

I liked Newkirk's filks - people have always liked making up their own words for songs.

I hope that Schultz will get some kind of closure soon.
Snooty chapter 2 . 12/24/2011
So beautiful, but so sad
Sgt. Moffitt chapter 2 . 12/24/2011
Ah, my heart is breaking for poor Schultz. Hope is indeed the heaviest burden of all.

I loved the way you introduced the German carols that are also sung in English; it really establishes a common bond between the men in camp, prisoner and guard alike.

And it was wonderful to see Lieutenant Doyle again as well! His conversation with Langenscheidt was so real, I could believe he had actually been a character on the show.

Thanks so much, as always, for the musical references. I've had the pleasure of hearing them all this Christmas season.
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