|Reviews for Like Eiderdown & Disendowers|
| Virtuella chapter 18 . 5/24
Soooo, Rebecca gives up or finds unexpected courage – depending on what perspective we want to take. I remember in one of the first chapters have you linked her in your imagery to “the fall” and confirmed that it could mean both autumn and the biblical Fall. It is excellent to find so many chapters later that same imagery continued: “knowledge was fruit luminous and heavy with forbidden possibilities.” Also nice how you have linked that the Dan’s thoughts earlier: “he questioned if despite all his intentions, anything he did could make good come to fruition”
“Each daisy had twenty-one petals.” Clever, so that in a game of “He loves me, He loves me not,” it would ends with “He loves me.”
“he felt his spine bend, felt his shoulders drop” In spite of what Rebecca is thinking about needing him and finding safety with him, it might turn out that he is too weak to protect her?
Very thought-provoking chapter.
| Virtuella chapter 17 . 5/4
And here Phelan makes it to yet another height of creepiness and loathsomeness. Dan has got some nerve, though, to demand of Rebecca that she should report things when he has consistently failed to do so even though it is his professional duty. There are moments when it feels as if she is the adult in this story.
I liked the opening with Rebecca musing about the talents she would have liked to have. That rang very true. Also very nice the bit where she asserts that she is not a damsel in distress. Anyway, her problems are far too complex for such a simple concept.
And ah, the endless awkwardness of their conversations…
| Virtuella chapter 16 . 4/28
It is very touching that Rebecca, after all that has happened, considers her chaste and awkward kiss such a big deal, thinking of it at HER SECRET. Though she is right to feel bad about it, because she has put Dan into an impossible situation.
The detention room might as well be called the tension room, given how tension-filled it is. Is it a “red room” in reference to Jane Eyre or is this just coincidence? I liked how you described Phelan’s smile as acid and venomous, snake that he is.
Rebecca’s memories of her mother are lovely and heart-breaking. She was clearly trying so hard. “, the one who took a nap on a fruitful autumn afternoon to wake up finding herself in the midst of winter” – such a poignant sentence!
“tendrils of terror” - very good, very Cthulhu!
I liked the reflection on Dan’s tame but contented life and his very modest dream of meeting another sympathetic woman. Life could have been kind and granted him that!
I also liked how you described the decaying atmosphere in the house.
they weren't her allies. [They]
marked where where suppliers
| Virtuella chapter 15 . 4/26
I liked the way you conveyed Rebecca’s feelings of awkwardness in Hannah’s house. It is very believable and something many people will know from their own experience.
“Rebecca didn't know anything about cars besides how to sit in them, and she knew less and less about parents.” That is both funny and sad.
I know you live in a different country from me, but can you hear me SCREAMING? Screaming at Dan that he must, MUST go and speak to his head teacher? There is really no longer any excuse for him (if there ever was). Whatever Rebecca says or does, it should be clear to him that she is not capable of handling the situation on her own. Quite apart from the obligations of his professional ethos.
And Rebecca is being a typical woman, focussing in that conversation on the issue of beauty…?
Couple of typos:
“She hoped he wasn't expect”
he said after a pause, "About you."
| Virtuella chapter 14 . 4/21
I didn’t think it was possible for me to find Phelan more loathesome, but now I do. His callousness has no bounds. It is shocking to think that someone like that would be in charge of young people. What is also shocking is that Jen is also willing to let this extremely serious case of child abuse go unreported, this time out of concern about the reputation of the school. Well, the reputation of the school will be blown out of the solar system if this cover-up gets out. Phelan belongs jailed, obviously, but Dan and Jen both belong fired.
I didn’t find the focus on dialogue a problem. As you can see, you got me properly worked up here!
| Virtuella chapter 13 . 4/19
Ah, you capture in a nutshell what is wrong with education: “The school's average performance on state standardized tests and college enrollment rate affected everything from PTA involvement to housing prices.” So really, it is about everything other than the students. No wonder Dan is getting cramp. And of course having to be in the same room with Phelan.
A rather cryptic message from Phelan. So, presumably he knows that Dan knows, as the old geezer would have told him about passing on the prize. Does Phelan take the fact that the police have not been at his door yet to mean that Dan is complicit? Is he going to blackmail Dan? He certainly has a nerve to turn up and claim Rebecca as he does. And, OMG, she goes with him? After she just felt that Dan had “he'd spun something to catch her,” what a lovely sentence that was!
I also liked the ideas of impulses, reactions, forces and balances that are evoked by the physics lesson. In vanilla. :)
| Virtuella chapter 12 . 4/17
What a wonderful description of Hannah's home! I always love it to come into someone's house and find it full of imaginative detail. You have such a talent for making such scenes vibrant. The music box is a delightful addition.
Certainly a dangerous time for Rebecca to be playing Truth or Dare, even without the dare! However, she escaped unscathed, it would seem, and perhaps even with a greater degree of self awareness.
Dan's dream is powerful and his yearning for Sophie palpable. The way he struggles with his feelings for Rebecca is believable. I am rather surprised, though, that he doesn't seem to give any thought to his professional misconduct and the possible consequences. He has failed to report a very serious child protection issue. Howevermuch he feels he wants to respect Rebecca's confidentiality, the law is not on his side (certainly not in Scotland, and I would imagine not in the USA either.) Is he so vulnerable and so, well, infatuated, that he doesn't care about his self preservation?
I'm intrigued by the new plot element you are introducing concerning Rebecca's mother.
| Virtuella chapter 11 . 4/12
Oh, you hit a nerve here. Roadkill makes me so sad, the way we casually accept it that all these fellow creatures lose their lives due to our pursuit of speed. Of course the symbolic application is obvious. Will Rebecca become roadkill? She seems cautious enough now to avoid that fate.
The awkwardness of the café scene is palpable. Interesting to see that Rebecca is harbouring feelings of self-loathing that predate her encounter with Phelan. I liked how this contrasted with the second café scene, where Dan, though not getting very far in his mission, is so much more at ease.
I come down very firmly of the Rochester side, so I’d have failed that student, lol. The real creep in that book is St John, he who emotionally blackmails Jane. I’m wondering now what the significance is of the books that are mentioned. Rebecca, abused orphan without a penny to her name, fair enough, but no Jane she. Dan’s house, while not Thornfield by any stretch of imagination, is similarly a refuge. Tennessee Williams, too, hm. I’ll need to think about that some more.
| Virtuella chapter 10 . 4/11
And now this is absolutely heart-breaking. I can’t really say much else about it.
First paragraph, nice way of inverting the usual idyllic seaside scene.
Liked the glass of milk, indicating he treats her like a much younger child.
| Virtuella chapter 9 . 4/11
The first paragraph is absolutely excellent, and I really liked the whole passage about Sophie. It made me feel very sympathetic towards Dan. Even more so the description of his house, the lacking fence, symbol of his vulnerability, the space for a family that isn’t filled, not even by a dog. Makes me feel so sad for him.
There are some excellent phrases and sentences in this chapter:
“skin the texture of new paper” - Such a good image of what young skin feels like! The outside of my daughter’s arms, for example.
“His watch ticked on, its second hand too slow, minute hand too fast.” - Great oxymoron that conveys a sense of confusion and emotional disorientation.
“in a bed he knew and she didn't” - Good point, and he could have had the good sense to let her sleep on the couch. It’s not as if he’d changed the bedlinen.
“it did hurt in those places where pieces of her once there were scraped away.
He could try but he couldn't unscrape what wasn't there anymore.” - Both these sentences are very good, however they are tautological; I’d leave one of them out.
I totally cringed at the awkwardness and inappropriateness of this situation!
| Virtuella chapter 8 . 4/8
The bleakness of the fast food restaurant is an excellent contrast to Phelan’s lavish home and I liked the bit about how all the sounds seemed to loud. Places like that aren’t pleasant at the best of time, but downright dismal late at night, and yet it becomes a refuge for Rebecca.
She really doesn’t have a lot of options at the moment, does she? Of course I agree with Waters, she really ought to go to the police, but I can see why she doesn’t want to.
| Virtuella chapter 7 . 4/7
My goodness, what a painful, painful encounter! For Rebecca to think what she had to think under the circumstances, for Dan Waters to become aware of what she was obviously thinking and yet being so oddly (for an English teacher!) incapable of clarifying the situation, for him to make a slip like saying “Not like this," and for her to pick up on it immediately. – it makes me want to bury my head in a pillow, it is just such an awful situation!
What a shame that he makes the innocent mistake to call her sweetie and thus destroys his chance to win her trust. I was cheering on Rebecca, though, that she takes charge and runs without waiting to be rescued. It seems a little too convenient, though, that in spite of Lucia’s clear-out she still has clothes, and suitable ones too, at her disposal.
There is some excellent imagery in this chapter, the Easter egg for one, and most particular the deer/carcass metaphor.
“He was above all that.” – Is this a deliberate nod at Miss Jean Brodie?
“the back of his palm” – Isn’t that the back of his hand?
| Virtuella chapter 6 . 4/7
Lucia’s complicity is chilling. She may have children to support, but she must be aware that she is covering up criminal activities. The whole age-of-consent issue aside, this is clearly a case of kidnapping. No wonder Rebecca wants to throw a glass at her.
"Do you think one of your beloved teachers will see the injustice and save you? That would be a cute idea." - And yet we get the idea that this is what might happen…
The description of Roger’s luxury life are strong, perhaps to the point of being a little overwrought.
I love this phrase: “but a phantom succubus hung in the air” The use of the term “succubus” is both ironic and startling here, and I liked how the rest of the sentence evoked an atmosphere of general unease.
| Virtuella chapter 5 . 4/7
I absolvent adored how you described the room that is to become Rebecca’s prison. The “not quite cosy” size, the foreshadowing from the reference to fish tanks and bird cages, the décor of the room with its gentleness and innocence which will contrast with her experience there. It is a stroke of genius to sum it up as “lovely in the way of pressed flowers or glass paperweights.” This is, on the surface, indeed lovely in a nostalgic, Victorian/Edwardian way, and yet, the connotation of pressed flower! The paperweight also, with the connotation of weighing things down, keeping them in place, and often a paperweight might have something enclosed inside, thus making it a miniature prison.
While the opening only hints very subtly at what is to come, you have skilfully built up towards her in the following paragraphs:
“he held them in front of her like blades to her neck”
“his presence filled each corner of the rooms and reverberated off the walls, squeezing Rebecca.”
"Mr. Phelan works in mysterious ways." Establishing him with god-like absolute powers.
“He had her as a minnow on a hook”
By this time the danger is palpable and what follows isn’t so much a surprise as an unveiling of something already suspected.
You mention that readers have misinterpreted this chapter as pointing to Rebecca being gang-raped by her teachers. I think this is because the odd way in which Rebecca brings up the question of “colleagues” and then explicitly mentions teachers. I’m not sure why she would think that. It seems clear that Phelan intends to prostitute her, but it should be equally clear that her teachers would be the last people who could feasibly be involved with this.
In this context, can you clarify for me what your take on the legal situation is? I see you are in the UK, but there might be a difference between Scotland and the rUK. In Scotland it would definitely be a no-no for a teacher to be involved with a dependent minor, and while the age of consent is sixteen, the situation is different where an adult is in a position of responsibility (as a teacher is) for a person under eighteen. It would be a criminal offence for Phelan or indeed any of Rebecca’s teachers, to have any kind of sexual interactions with her. I cannot even see how Phelan could invite her to live in his house; that would be considered totally inappropriate.
The brief scene with Dan Waters is excellent. I like the reference to Oedipus, which together with the earlier Antigone comment is building towards a Greek tragedy theme. Bittersweet to think that he lost his wife years ago and never took up with anyone new.
| Virtuella chapter 4 . 4/5
I like the opening paragraph with Mr Water’s consideration about what to do regarding Rebecca. It is good that he retains the memory of his own teenage struggles and that this helps him to be sensitive towards his students. (Though it would be good to see him have some concerns for students other than Rebecca…) It is so easy for adults to forget how tough it is to be teenage.
The scene in the car is well handled, low key and subtle. I liked the description of the rain.
The situation between Rebecca and her brother comes to a crisis in rather a shocking way. I had expected him to be cold and negligent, but not that he would physically attack her. I bet she didn’t expect it either. No wonder she feels poisoned.
“It was the difference between mousse and orange juice” This is an excellent sentence that highlights the difference in the two men. Interesting to see that Rebecca apparently plumps for mousse over juice.