Reviewer: OtterMoone
Date: 07/21/11 0:51
Chapter: A Prize Above Rubies

Awwwwh! Another very good one :) I love Historical fics. By the way, would you pronounce Isla "eye-luh" , or "iz-luh" ? And, does she run off and marry Robert, or is she forced to just have a crush on him and marry someone else?

Author's Response: It's 'eye-luh' :) . According to the Black Family tree that JKR drew Isla Black was blasted off the tapestry for marrying a Muggleborn called Bob Hitchens, so Robert is actually Bob, but using his formal name. Thank you for the review, I tend not to write historical fics but this one was for a challenge. I found it hard to write but was pleased with the result especially when it won the Best History Fic in last year's Quick Silver Quills. ~Carole~

Reviewer: One Lily
Date: 01/29/11 9:20
Chapter: A Prize Above Rubies

its great! i cant wait for more!

Author's Response: Oh ... um, sorry, it's a oneshot. I don t think I'll be continuing this story, but , well you never know. Thank you so much for the review and glad you enjoyed the story. ~Carole~

Reviewer: DogLover4Life
Date: 12/12/10 17:28
Chapter: A Prize Above Rubies

I'm surprised this doesn't have more reviews! So, hi. Reviewing makes me uncomfortable, especially when I so obviously fangurl. But, you know.

I totally loved this. The fact that Phineas and Isla were once close, but pulled apart by their places in society was very clever. And, just.

Isla and Robert. True love. Even though we only see the very beginning of their relationship, the acknowledgment they're both more than they thought of the other, was wonderfully done.

I love the setting and descriptions! I find we often have to be removed from the place we call home to see who we really are. I can so see everything that happened in this fic. Especially Ursula. So spoiled.

Anyway. Thank you!

Author's Response: Thank you so much for the review. I think the historical setting and other pairing aspect put people off. I'm fond of this story because it was written for a challenge and it was reallly tough. Part of the stipulation was that it had to end in an open way with a promise of romance but nothing more. Thank you so much for all your reviews, by the way. ~Carole~

Reviewer: ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor
Date: 10/08/09 20:20
Chapter: A Prize Above Rubies

I love this story! It's nice to see all those little Slytherin pure-blood maniacs thwarted by one of their own. There are so many places that this story can go, and I would love to read further adventured of Miss Black and the ever-charming Mr Hitchens.

Author's Response: Thank you very much for the review. Mmm, perhaps I will have to write more about them. ~Carole~

Reviewer: luinrina
Date: 10/04/09 11:41
Chapter: A Prize Above Rubies

o.O I hope you don’t honestly expect me to accept that story as finished, do you? Because it is fantabulous and I want to see more!

Really, Carole, the open ending is killing me. Please, please, please continue writing on this story as I want to see your take on how Isla and Robert get together, how they overcome social borders and prejudices to find themselves. It’s so different to the story I’m writing, and yet I can very much see yours be the only true story around the young woman who charmed her way to be my favourite character.

But let me break it down more slowly:

First of all, I love your take on the setting. I could very vividly imagine Burma, the house, the valley of rubies… You showed it all nicely, but never overly described anything. It leaves a lot of room to my imagination, giving hints and pointers, but never overwhelming me. Add to that your fluent style of narration and conversation, and it felt like I was there, or at least read – or watched – a movie that played in that time, like for example Anna and the King. It was very accurate for the era, especially the dialogue. Exceptional work!

The fact that the goblins seemed to work alongside Muggles, though concealed by magic, was another interesting part of the story. I really liked how Robert took the time and explained that to Isla. It added beautifully to their developing relationship.

Coming to the characterisation: I found that Ursula was portrayed very authentic. She’s a spoiled pureblood woman who was majorly disappointed that the supposed fortune of the family she married into was depleted. I liked how she got worked up so easily about minor details like Muggle books in the house. I also found that you showed her behaviour towards Isla as very believable. To a degree, she cared about her sister-in-law, about the proper etiquette, but on the other hand, Ursula was also jealous. Isla still had her life before her, not yet knowing who she would marry. Isla’s future husband might be a rich man, wealthier than the Blacks. Isla’s life would then be the one Ursula wished for herself. The tension between both women is palpable, but not overpowering the story in itself. It’s a wonderful effect.

Phineas is portrayed nicely, coming across as the proper son and heir, but I feel like he’s missing some more backbone. I always imagined him as a strong character, a leader, someone who would have a woman like Ursula in control when she has one of her hissing fits, especially with his upbringing. The Blacks are proud to be Blacks; they think of themselves as being much more powerful than everyone else. I would think that being raised on those beliefs from the beginning would make Phineas a strong man, proud of his heritage, even though the money has been spent and he had to work for it. But to me it sounded like not Phineas but Ursula was the patriarch in the family. Especially the part Phineas ran from the house, but tripped on the uneven ground and went sprawling. “Ursula,” he roared. “You are my wife. You have to stay.” gave me this impression. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the picture of Phineas, an adult and a proud wizard, being sprawled on the ground.

What I liked was that Phineas seemed to have had a special bond with Isla, but I’m missing some explanation. You said they were close together when she was younger, and I can easily imagine that. He as the big brother would want to protect his little sister. But I would have loved to see more details in there, like for example why Phineas was close to Isla and not to Elladora, who was older and thus in age closer to Phineas than Isla. What confused me, however, was the way Phineas always addressed Isla. “Old thing” or “old woman” – it sometimes gave me the impression that Isla was actually older than Phineas, an old virgin, you know? Are those words he uses for her some internal joke between them? Some kind of nickname from their days as children? I would have loved to see that one explained as well. I find that you did a good job on Isla and Phineas’ relationship, but right now, to me, it lacks depth. You could have developed that one much more to make it a much stronger part of the story than it already is. And see, this would be a perfect opportunity to continue the story, and take the bond between the siblings to another understanding. ;)

The developing relationship between Robert and Isla is very expertly managed. You kept nicely the tension between both. I could easily pinpoint the etiquette that ruled society back in the middle of the nineteenth century, and at the same time see a young, adventurous Isla shine through, feeling some pull towards Robert. Robert himself felt being drawn to Isla, because why wouldn’t he? She’s young, she’s beautiful, she’s still single – all perfect reasons for him to seek her out. And yet, there are the misunderstandings and prejudices between them, as well as their pride. All of these mark their different upbringings, their different beliefs. You brought all those details out wonderfully. It’s engaging, and I found myself unable to stop reading.

By the by, I find it funny that you name him Robert as well – after all, according to canon, we know him to be Bob Hitchens. ;) Robert was the name I gave him, unless you found a source of information I don’t yet know? In this case, please enlighten me. :)

All in all, Carole, the story is truly beautiful, from the first word to the last full stop. It’s captivating, it’s gripping, it’s romantic, it’s adventurous – well, you get the picture (and I’m running out of adjectives, lol). Please do continue with it. I love to see Isla rebelling against her family without a Savaric Orwell in the process. ;)

Thanks for an excellent Sunday afternoon reading experience.

Author's Response: OOOh, thank you very much for the review. Given that you're the Isla Black expert, I was half dreading this. I'm glad you enjoyed my different take on this.

Okay, let's go through with Phineas. I do agree that he's not perhaps as well developed as he should be. I actually wanted him to be less authoritative as we'd expect from a male in the House of Black. To me the fact that he was a teacher/headmaster suggests that he had to make money somehow (or he would have been like Lucius Malfoy and not bothered to work). I do have a back story in mind for Phineas, which I should possibly turn into another story or perhaps chapter two (darn you and your plot bunny badgering, Bine!) The phrase 'old thing' are terms of affection that I'm dredging up from my days reading Enid Blyton, where her teenagers called each other 'old thing' all the time. I agree that the House of Black are a very proud family, but I was thinking that if they had fallen on hard times, and Phineas' is out of his normal social setting then he may be less assured that normal. Plus his wife is horrible - ha ha.

I decided on Robert because 'Bob' seemed too informal for that era ... he wouldn't introduce himself as Bob, I don't think. Perhaps she'll call him Bob later (Aghhh! Evil plot bunnies).

Aghh, the open ending... well that's Joanna's fault. The challenge demanded it *sigh*.

Thank you again for such an insightful review. I will certainly look at Phineas to stop him turning into a total buffoon. That's assuming I write some more of this story. (Shoos away the evil bunnies nibbling her toes.)

~Carole~

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