This was a really well-written fic! The imagery was really well-done, and the characterization was believable (even if I don't understand why Florence decided to get married!). Like mother like daughter seems to be a theme for both Petra and Igraine then. I love the fanfiction world that you've created!
Author's Response: I'm glad you liked this story, and found the characterisation of Florence believable. Her reason for marrying Edgar is so simple, that I'm not surprised some people might not 'get' it, because it is rather horrifying and shallow. She marries him for his money, and no other reason. And you are right, like mother, like daughter is something of a theme of mine :) Thanks for your lovely review, and I'm glad you like the way my stories interact! Alex
Alex, that was nowhere near as disturbing as the reviews lead me to expect. It made me think, but I didn’t feel like I was going to vomit at any point in the story (which was a very good thing for my laptop). I think what made me fine with all the abuse and non-con was that it was all in there for a reason. You didn’t randomly throw in rape just to make the story “interesting.” All of the warnings contributed to the characterization of Florence. I felt that Edgar Parkinson’s abuse of her made Florence’s decision to marry and remain married to him define her character even more. It’s one thing for her to marry someone older than herself for money, but having Florence knowingly marry someone who is going to abuse and rape her says an enormous amount about her personality.
I liked how you didn’t justify Florence’s decisions, but you gave the reader her reasoning and motivations behind them. I think one of the issues with non-con and abuse is that many fanfiction writers seem to put them in their story on a whim or they make them sound justifiable and sometimes even glamorous. I don’t think you did either of these things. Florence was obviously not happy about her choice, but I got the impression that if she had to go back and choose whether to be poor or marry Edgar Parkinson again, she’d still marry him. That in addition to her passive aggressive attitude towards her husband defined her character beautifully. Florence felt like a person that could easily exist in real life, and I’ve never read a character quite like her (and I read quite a lot).
On the whole I liked the narration of this piece. I personally feel that first person is the hardest point of view to write or read, but keeping that in mind I thought that it worked well in this piece. I find that a first person narrator often rambles, is repetitive, is whiney, or just sounds flat. Florence managed not to fall into any of those categories. The piece stayed concise and to the point, and using first person helped communicate Florence’s motivations and reasoning to the reader. The narration sounded natural, like she was actually talking or thinking. There were a handful of fragments, but I think they complemented the narration. I liked the reflective nature of her telling and how it almost felt that Florence was reminiscing about her past. Her tone felt calm and resigned, as if she didn’t exactly regret her actions but wasn’t happy with them either. She sounded removed, as if she was trying to distance herself from the story, which I feel made the abuse aspect work in my mind. I think if the piece had been passionate, it would have been very easy for her to sound forced. The lack of many emotional phrases added to the feeling that she was trying to forget what had happened, something that I think contributes to and fits in with her characterization.
There were a couple phrases that sounded a bit off to me. I liked how you led into her story with a common phrase, but I thought the final sentence of the first paragraph (“Or, at least, it was for me.”) broke the flow a little. The first two sentences hinted that Florence’s life had gone downhill after Hogwarts, and the next sentence didn’t quite feel necessary and sounded a little bit scripted. By scripted, I mean that it sounded to me like it was intended to give Florence more voice. I felt that Florence had a very strong voice, and gained it through the way she told the story. It also felt a little like that line hit the reader over the head with the information that her life went downhill after Hogwarts, and I thought that you managed to show the reader that in the rest of the piece. Apart from that, I liked how the paragraph led into the piece and the rest of the story followed in chronological order. I thought that it made it easy to follow and in combination with the first person narration highlighted Florence’s motivations and reasoning.
Twice in the piece Florence directly addressed the reader. Her voice through the rest of the piece felt, to me, like she was trying to emotionally distance herself from what happened. So, having her speak to the reader broke the passive feel, that I thought hugely contributed to her characterization. The other thing that made addressing the reader sound odd was that you used dialogue. I can completely see someone addressing their reader in a letter, but use of dialogue made this sound like a collection of memories, rather than a letter or spoken story. In the eighth paragraph Florence said, “Don’t judge me. Please, please don’t judge me. It takes someone stronger than me to get a job and I hated the idea of working.” This line jumped out at me a little. I thought that Florence’s appeal for the reader not to judge her broke the flow of the piece. It felt like it worked with her characterization but really didn’t fit with the rest of the narration in the piece. The other time she addresses the reader is in the eleventh paragraph when she says, “Oh, you could call it prostitution if you want.” I liked the idea of Florence comparing herself to a prostitute. It fit well with the honesty of the story. The only thing that made me pause for a moment was her speaking to the reader. If this were my fic, I would rephrase the line in a more passive, less direct voice.
The only other phrase that made me stop was at the end of the final paragraph. Florence says “Well, nearly anything.” I thought that the line before it (“If there’s one think I’ve learned since I was eighteen, it’s that money can by anything.) concluded the piece brilliantly. It summed up the story, and tied in neatly with the title. I feel like it needs a line after it, but beginning the final line with “well” didn’t sound quite right to me. Obviously, that’s enormously subjective, but if this were my piece I’d just tweak it just slightly.
Finally, I really liked how concise this piece was. The story was told, and you focused on enough details and examples to communicate the point, but you didn’t dwell on anything or get overly wordy. It felt like each sentence contributed something, and I think that made the characterization and plot even stronger.
To finish, I really, really liked this story. I thought that the plot and writing told about Florence wonderfully. I loved how you portrayed her entire character through her voice and her actions. I now really need to read your chaptered fic, “Thin Red Lines,” since everything I’ve read by you has had lovely characterization.
Hope I was at least sort of coherent,
Author's Response: Hello Meg! Sorry for taking ages to reply- Non-con and abuse is never glamourous and very, very rarely justifiable to I'm pleased you don't think I've used them gratuitously. I do agree that there is sometimes a tendency to do this in fanfiction, a tendency I'm pretty sure I avoided.
I am aware that I use a lot of fragments, not just in this but in other first-person stories, but since most people use fragments in speech and they can be used effectively (not that I always do, but I try) it seems wrong not to have them within what is intended to be someone speaking. I do try and avoid them when I use the third person though.
I think you've got Florence's character perfectly- whilst she does to some extent regret her actions, she knows that she would do exactly the same thing again.
I agree that the last line of the first paragraph sounds somewhat forced. I do think it's important that Florence makes a distinction for herself, as she is quite vain, so I've removed the "or,at least" but left her distinction. I hope that sounds better.
I understand that the addresses to the reader might break the flow somewhat, but I think they are important. This isn't a letter or story––I'm not sure what it is, but it's important that Florence wants to be heard, although it's doubtful that anyone does hear her, and understood, rather than pitied.
The last line was one of the few lines that I hesitated about in this story. I do think it's important that she accepts that money can't buy her anything, but she has sacrificed things like happiness for other things. However my characters do have a tendency to say things like "well," "besides," "whilst" and "after all"- those are my speech patterns slipping into their voices. But I don't think it affects the story too much and I think I'll leave it there.
Thank you so much for your lovely review- it made me really happy :) I'm afraid Florence is by far one of my most concise characters, but I hope you enjoy Thin Red Lines and find the first person voices I use their realistic and interesting. Thank you! Alex.
Wow. This is the most disturbing fic I have ever read. That said, I think your writing is so, so good. You have a very straightforward style, with shorter sentences, and I found it so effective. The characterization of everyone in this is so well done. Is she an canon character? Or totally OC? Either way, she functions as an OC and you have drawn her so well. There is enough emotional upheaval in this to keep Oprah busy for weeks and weeks, haha. Brilliant writing.
Author's Response: Is it really that disturbing? It's definitely not the most disturbing thing I think I've ever written, but having said that I'm pleased it made an impression and that you thought it was well written. It's probably one of the stories I've written which I spent the least time writing, if quite a bit of time thinking about.
She isn't a canon character, but in my personal canon she's Pansy Parkinson's mother. I have a plot bunny knocking around my head about Pansy's younger sister, so this probably won't be the last I write about Florence.
I'm glad you--if not enjoyed it found it interesting and well written- thank you for reviewing and for the SBBC controversial fics recommendation. Alex
Alex, you just blew me away with this... I'm speechless. It's disturbing and frightening to know that there are people like this. I don't know how you managed to get into Florence's character so well, but that's what amazes me about your writing - all your stories feel slightly different. So in my mind, Florence wrote this, not Alex.
I loved how you showed Florence's desperation to justify herself. Don’t judge me. Please, please don’t judge me. To me, that's what this story really is. Her trying to prove to herself that what she's done is okay, or good.
I wanted to feel bad for Florence, and yet at the same time it was hard. Lines like It takes someone stronger than me to get a job and I hated the idea of working. made her just seem weak and whingy... and yet I still didn't feel like I could wholly blame her for what she chose.
I loved the contradictions in this. For example, Florence says this right at the beginning: Which, in hindsight, was a bad decision. Not necessarily marrying, but marrying him., and yet she seems to be trying to prove that it was a good decision. I think this really showed her character. I also loved how you showed that in the last line. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I was eighteen, it’s that money can buy anything. Well, nearly anything. That 'well, nearly anything' just adds sooo much to this story.
Also I loved how this fits in with your other stories - it always impresses me when people not only fit stories in with the vasts amounts of canon, but also more new things they've created themselves.
I think it sad how many people say the Hogwarts years are the happiest of their lives. You get to eighteen and it’s all downhill from there. Or, at least, it was for me. I love the opening line, but the next sentence doesn't quite make sense to me. I thought she was saying 'I hate it when people say that because it's not true for this reason...' so it didn't quite make sense to me.
Anyway. This was just amazing.
Author's Response: I don't really know how I wrote this/ where it came from. Well, kind of since I've always been interested in how pre-normalising of divorce/ gender equality women deal with being in a marriage where they are automatically at a disadvantage. But of course with Florence she's chosen it for money. So I'm glad you got the duality of that- that she has to some extent chosen this- because I agree with you. I find it hard to sympathise with her, so I'm pleased you think I've pulled off her voice.
And also, particularly with the first person, I really hope that my characters sound different so you saying that this didn't feel like I wrote it but like Florence writing it made me really happy :)
I see what you mean about that first sentence. It kind of builds up to a contradiction and then there isn't one. But I quite like that. Anyway thanks for the review. I'm slightly in shock that you thought so highly of it, but thank you :) Alex
OOH, Alex. Really powerful story here. I clicked because I have some prior knowledge of your Mystery story and am glad I did. You do write OC's very well. They're incredibly well fleshed out and I could picture them in my mind as I read on.
I should start on Thin Red Lines now. I don;t usually read OC stories because I find they rarely interest me, but this is good and you've hinted at enough of the canon characters for it to intrigue me. (I dislike Rabastan very much in my personal canon).
Well Done ~Carole~
Author's Response: I love writing OCs/ canon characters who are pretty much OCs, so I'm really pleased that Florence came across as realistic. She just appears very briefly in Thin Red Lines (Rabastan slightly more so) so if you blink you might miss her. I hope you enjoy Thin Red Lines (I won't hold it against you if it gets too OC-y for you :) ) Thanks for the review- reviews, particularly in mid-exam horror, really cheer me up. Alex
Alex, this was...disturbing, and definitely sad, but I think you did a brilliant job portraying domestic violence. This is in no way a SPEW review -- I spent more than three hours in an exam hall and I don't really want to think -- but just to let you know, this was a great oneshot. It was just so sad and dark and I feel very sorry for Florence. I think that in writing it, you reminded me about Florence, because I almost forgot the time Rabastan asked Viv for an abortion Healer in Thin Red Lines. Nice job, as usual, and sorry I didn't leave you a novel-length review, but I'm far too tired to think straight right now :)
Author's Response: Don't apologise for not leaving a long review- I've just sat through a three hour exam myself so know how you feel. This review cheered me up immensely. You can see why I found the first part of TiM surreal, given I'd just written this. Florence always had this backstory, even before I started writing "Tooth and Claw," so as disturbing and unhappy as it is, I wanted to write it. I was worried the reference to Viv would seem out of place to someone who hasn't read Thin Red Lines, but Fresca thought it read fine, so it's nice you noticed it.
Thanks for the lovely review- Alex