Monday, October 6, 2008

Windflower: early commentary & a WTF moment

Great moments from last night's reading
Book: The Windflower
Author: Laura London (a.k.a. Tom and Sharon Curtis)
Page left off at: 137/spoiler level: Low
Part of the Windflower World TOUR!

Okay, I'm not very far in this book, so I sort of don't have an opinion yet. But I do have observations! One is that this is an unexpectedly rich book with some stunning writing here. I haven't been tracking standout passages, but there are many. Here, from where I left off last night:
Far above the Black Joke the sun was a lonely stranger, a flat circle with sharp edges that were blue and phosphorescent. A breeze rich in sea spice ruffled foam from the slate-covered ocean waves and made the ship deck lively with furling shirts and pant legs, swinging lines, fresh cheeks. Under the uproar of the great wheaten staysails Merry watched bright, busy light skitter on the sailmaker as he mended. His knuckles were swollen and red, like candied cherries. His palm was so tough that he used it as a thimble...
I really really love the sun was a lonely stranger and bright, busy light and knuckles that look like candied cherries, and the artistic way the sailors are described via furling clothing and fresh cheeks.

I find when I want to slow down and dip in this book is a great experience. Sometimes, however, there is more description than I am used to, and I'll get impatient and want to get to the good stuff. Like, from pages 53-55 it's all description of the year passing. "As the days of September began to lessen..." etc. I mean, it went on and on. October, Christmas. Spring. Like THREE pages! It was the authors trying to put time between one event and another, but today, that would be one sentence: A year went by. And that's what I'm used to.

Reading it, I was reminded of when I watch an old Clint Eastwood movie or something, and there's a long scene-establishing shot and then a long shot of a bad guy pulling up in a panel-sided station wagon for a couple minutes. It's great movie making, but you're aware it's not today's pace.

My impatience with this long scene setting isn't just the pace, it also has to do with expectations. Say if I was reading somebody like Anita Brookner or George Eliot I would accept it. But I think because I know I'm reading romance here, I expect bawdy excitement. I read an MMF erotica recently and after a while, I couldn't be bothered to read the story parts at all. Did I just type that out loud? Do I have a point? Yes.

I realized that when I stop trying to compare this book to current genre and subgenre stuff, (which is like comparing apples to crack), and when I stop trying to decide if I like it, or figure out what it is and just let it take me, I have a fabulously enjoyable time with it.

(Frankly that goes for romance part too, but that's another post, which could be titled something like, healthy relationship politics vs a deeply embedded fantasy trope that secretly titillates me.)

WTF moment
Okay, the first night I was reading it, I had this total WTF moment. Is this sly humor, or are they seriously setting the stage in a psychological way? Imagine my surprise, if you would, when, on pp 1-2, I encountered this passage describing the virginal girl alone in the garden:
She would have been so much more comfortable, she thought, if she dared sit as the housemaids did on the back stoop in the evening, with the hems of their skirts pulled up past their knees, laps open, bare heels dug into the cool dirt. A slight smile touched her lips as she imagined her aunt's reaction should that lady discover her niece, Merry Patricia, in such a posture.

Setting down her pencil, Merry spread and flexed her fingers and watched as a tiny yellow butterfly skimmed her shoulder to light on the ground, its thin wing fluttering against the flushing bulge of a carrot. The beans were heavy with plump rods, and there would be good eating from the sturdy ruby stalks of the rhubarb. Merry looked back to her drawing and lifted her pencil.

The rutabagas weren't coming out right. The front one had a hairy, trailing root that jutted upward at an awkwardly foreshortened angle...
OMG. The garden is full of penises, and I think the butterfly wing is her hymen! Were the authors laughing in their sleeves as they wrote this? A paragraph later we learn about a dream that had invaded her mind: the unicorn had come again! What??? Does this unicorn appear elsewhere? It seems this unicorn is way different than the unicorn that invaded the dreams of her childhood. This one was:
...pawing and snorting, looking bigger than it had been before, its muscles white and glistening beneath its creamy texture, its chest broad and heaving, its horn poised and thick.
She hides under the covers, but then wants to look. He wants me to ride him, she thinks. Tell me, Windflower lovers, are these authors being funny? I have to think this passage was meant to be funny. At any rate, I found it highly entertaining. Opinions welcome.

Please don't think I'm making fun of this book. It is 9:26 pm right now, and you can't imagine how greatly I'm looking forward to taking it up again.


RfP said...

Thanks for those quotes. They're quite fab.

I vote for funny, or hot, or a little of each.

There's no way that's unintentional. They'd have to be perversely perverted perverts, and terrible writers to boot. (All of which: romance writers? Never! ;)

Brie said...

O.M.G. I have been avoiding reviews for this book like the plague, so that my own interpretation won't be muddled by the many of them, but this I could no resist.

The garden scene comes off as vegetable erotica. Is there a proper name for that? She is sitting in a garden full of penises, and hairy scrotum's. I can not imagine an author writing that scene or anything like it with a straight face.

And I will not even try touch on the Unicorn's poised, thick horn. This is bordering on bestiality, and is just too much for my delicate sensibilities. Ha!!

RfP said...

Good point. The vegetable paranormal is a well-established form, so why not vegetable erotica? I'm partial to a nice chubby zucchini myself--no wrinkly carrots, please.

Shannon said...

omg! Now I REALLY can't wait to read this book! heehee!

Carolyn Jean said...

rfp: Okay, first of all, what? Bunnicula? I don't even know what to say about that. You're right, it couldn't have been unintentional. And the fact that they are a team, it makes me think one of them might have been entertaining the other.

Brie: Well, it's on page 2, so it's not spoiley. Will the unicorn come back? I don't know, but I'm counting on seeing that horn soon!

Shannon: The whole book isn't like that. Are you on the tour my dear?

Carolyn Jean said...

But I hope the hairy rutabaga doesn't reappear!!

pidute said...

LOL it's 7h20 am here and you set the mood for the day ,so a big thank you!

I haven't read the book but i can't wait for your review.

Ana said...

CJ, LOL. I realise that my review was 100% negative without ever touching the positive points. The h/h relationship bugged me to no end I was deaf and blind to anything else.

It means I do agree about the writing and I too, was very much into the book up until she is taken to the pirate ship. Althouh the endless pages of description were boring - and I did mention that in my review. *g*

MK/Kati said...

Yes, the thing that I love most about the Curtis's writing is the lushness of their prose. They have an exceptional dexterity with words and are able to draw gorgeous visuals with them. I hate to say it, but my guess would be the imagery in the garden was 100% intentional. You'll find as you continue on in the book, that you laugh out loud often (or well, at least I did). They do have a very sly wit.

I hope you continue to enjoy the book!

Carolyn Jean said...

Pidute: Thanks - I'm so glad!

Ana: It is not easy to be first. I loved your review - don't be apologetic! In a way I'm standing on your shoulders. Also, I come at things as a writer and a reader, so I look under the hood a lot more.

MK: It was a surprise!

Ladytink_534 said...

Your title made me laugh. The descriptions are indeed pretty but too many can get annoying. I think that was the problem I had with one of Anne Rice's books the first time I tried to read it (I did go back and finish it eventually). I've never read an old romance before but I really love old books! I think I would have a lot of the same problems you did because I'm used to being spoiled when it comes to romance.

Well I caught it too so it's not just you. Serious WTF moment though.

Tracy said...

OMG you're so funny CJ. I'm guessing, like everyone else, that it was completely intentional on the authors part. I mean, how could it not be?

This is a fun tour and a great idea. I'm loving reading everyone's views on the book.

Ciara said...

Lol. That's hilarious. Sounds like the book would make great dramatic reading material. *snort* I really liked the first description you typed. Looking forward to reading it!

Holly said...

Hmm, it could be what's mentioned above. could just be that you have a dirty mind.

I'm rolling w/ the latter. :P

Carolyn Jean said...

LT: Anne Rice! I sort of forgot about her.

Tracy: that seems to be the consensus...

Ciara: I should look at the list. Are you last?

Holly: Gasp! No wonder it takes me so long to get through the produce department.

naida said...

OMG that is too much, an xrated garden.
cant wait for your review on this one.

little alys said...

Oh my, now I'm really excited. Nothing like a little flowery sexually hidden prose, yah? Heehehehe, I cannot wait to read your review. :D

Liza said...

Looks like I'll have to give this book a try just reading about your WTF moment.

Christine said...

LOLOL OMG I can't wait!

.... I think. =)