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Author's Response: No, thank you. I hope you liked the story. xx Ariana
Why have I never read this before, Ariana? Because I was clearly always going to enjoy it. I'm not sure there's anything more up my street than a messed up, angsty rarepair after all, and you do write these sorts of emotionally heavy stories so well. It's compelling and heart-wrenching, but you keep it all very restrained. This is a couple who have been to hell and back, and the reader with them, but there isn't a hint of melodrama.
I think the opening paragraph is probably one of my favourite parts of the fic. It is so vivid and sensual and raw. It's clear Susan has gone from his life but she still has such a physical presence. It's as if the thought of her isn't haunting him so much as she is still there, even when she's not.
I love the way that you use description in this story to really heighten the emotions. I think that's what allows you to steer clear of melodrama, because you allow the reader to infer the characters emotions from the way you portray them rather than battering the reader around the head with who is feeling what. That opening paragraph shows the connection between the pair of them instantly and how passionately Theo feels, despite his laconic detachment that he shows through most of the story.
Another moment where you really heighten the emotion in such an understated way is the image of Susan spending nights out on the balcony with her hand resting absentmindedly on her stomach. It's so sad but yet beautifully subtle. It shows so well their isolation from each other and the clutching at something that's gone.
Also, I rarely tend to focus on word choice, but I have to just dwell briefly on the reference in that section to her staring out over the 'dirty' city. It's a single adjective that just strikes me as a really inspired addition as it offers so much. It somehow widens things so that the world seems broken in the wake of what's broken between Susan and Theo so that there's nothing of beauty left for them.
Maybe it's just because some sections, like those I've mentioned, had such intensity that anything would feel a little flat by comparison, but I just felt that sometimes the intensity flagged a little in places. It's really hard to keep up such intensity throughout a fic, but I feel like this is the sort of story where it would be possible and I genuinely believe you have the talent to do it, Ariana.
I think perhaps part of it is that, after the fantastic opening, you lapse straight into backstory, which takes away from that lovely immediacy that you created in that first paragraph. Obviously, this is the sort of story that requires backstory, but I wonder if perhaps, rather than giving it all in one go at the start, it might be a little more effective to break it up, weaving it through the present day narrative more and withholding some details until later in the story or even leaving a little more to inference. I just wonder if that might allow the early part of the story to be a little more pacy.
That said though, that section of backstory does give some real insights into Theo as a character. It shows his pragmatic and the defensive detachment that he wraps himself in. Perhaps, as well, that's another factor that allows you to avoid melodrama, because, whilst, as the opening paragraph shows, there is a lot of passion bubbling beneath the surface with him, he has an icy hard shell that he seems to try to prevent anything piercing. I love the line about a small part of his heart deflating a little because it is so very understated and very much the reaction of a man attempting to keep the world at arm's length. Similarly, there is an almost studied callousness to his reference to 'the baby incident'.
I think those elements of his characterisation really feed in to portraying the fragile state of their relationship and why they fall back together but also why Susan still has to leave and they have to heal apart. I did find myself though wondering what brought them together at the start and held them together before things fractured. I assume that is probably explored in your companion piece, but I wonder if perhaps a little allusion at least to that would just make this story stand alone a little better. Whilst it makes sense on it's own and it's easy to connect to the characters, I felt like perhaps the emotions would be even more powerful than they already were if I had a little more idea of what it was that was shattering between them rather than just how.
So fittingly, I'll end with the ending, which I thought suited the story perfectly in its unresolved state. I wasn't frustrated by its ambiguity; it felt right. Hope was what they needed to be left with. It would have been too hard an ending to pile yet more misery on them but they weren't ready for a happy ending yet either. It was the perfect end to a very accomplished story.
Author's Response: Thank you so much for this review! I didn't think this story would be getting any more, to be honest, and I'm incredibly happy that you stopped by. I am also glad you liked the story, overall. This was such a lovely review because everything you said - even, actually, especially the crit - rings so true. I'm thinking about starting a chaptered fic/follow up on Susan and Theo sometime, and so hopefully that will give more insight into their relationship background. I realize now, as I read back, that the beginning moves kind of slowly because of the whole explanation thing, and not reading the companion piece makes this a difficult standalone.
Thank you so much for choosing to review this! Seeing a SPEW-length review for this story definitely made my day. xx Ariana
Awww, a happy ending - sort of - well a hopeful ending at any rate and totally in keeping with the honesty of this story.
Ariana, this is a gorgeous piece of writing. From the first sentence about her nails leaving indents on his back, I was utterly drawn in. I really felt for both characters and wept a bit for their baby.
If I had to quibble about something it would be that I'd like to read more about how they got together especially as they were on opposite sides, although I realise that would take you into the realms of a chaptered fic (so get to it!)
HA! I've realised that Blaise is just like me thinking that Theo's gay. That particular memory made me giggle, a slightly lighter moment in a very poignant fic.
I hope they get their happy ending.
Lovely story ~Carole~
Author's Response: You are so lovely for reviewing this! Thank you :). I am very happy you liked it even though it wasn't totally happy in the end. If you want to read how they got together you should read "Not Broken" which is what inspired this piece (although the writing is ghastly). Theo has been written as gay a lot so I wanted to add that little bit in to make sure everyone knows that in this story NO he's not gay because he has to be with Susan who is not a man. As for their happy ending…I really should make the most of the last bit of free time I have this summer. Thanks again! xx Ariana
This was wonderful, Ariana. Even with that first line, you just know how to create tone and mood. He could still feel the faded, crescent-shaped indentations from her fingernails on his back. That just tells so much about what he's feeling and even a bit of the history of their relationship.
I re-read "Not Broken" before reading this, and you've kept the characters so well from that, it flowed on wonderfully.
It was interesting how in a way the baby tore them apart, but it seemed like their relationship wasn't exactly going that well before that. You've done a great job at showing two broken people. “I think sometimes it’s possible for people to lose so much that they begin to lose themselves.” That was just a fantastic line - it really showed Susan's emotions.
I think it was interesting that you wrote this one from Theo's perspective, since the last one was from Susan's - it worked really well, because we got to see more of Theo and his character and his reactions to situations in this story.
You have a wonderful way with words. The characters jump right off the page, the dialogue is fantastic, the story well-paced, the images perfect.
I really wanted them to be together in the end, but I think the way you've written it is actually better - in a way, Susan does have to sort herself out before she can be herself with Theo, if that makes any sense. Part of him realised that maybe he didn’t have to fix her. Together, they had picked up the pieces and tried to mend what could not be mended. All he could do now was wait. It's a beautiful ending, and really quite full of hope. After this they have somewhere to go.
Anyway, sorry this review hasn't been really coherent... but I really loved this story and I don't know why it has so few reviews.
Author's Response: Katrina, thanks so much for the review! I'm so happy you liked it, and thought the characters still maintained their characterization from 'Not Broken.' It makes me smile to read that you liked the lines…I tried to make a few sentimental points without sounding like a cheese-ball :). I wanted to write this from Theo's perspective because I see him as a very private, mysterious and reserved person, and I wanted to ensure he came off dimensional in their story.
As for the ending… I want them to be together, too. And I think they have a real chance of working out, but the way they were going -- with the basis of their relationship being to sustain each other from the aftermath of the battle -- I don't think it would have worked out. They need the space, and then…we'll see :).
I think I said this earlier, but I really want to thank you for this review! It was definitely coherent and lovely to read :). xx Ariana
Has anyone ever told you that you're utterly fabulous? No? But you areeeeeee! Oh my Salazar, I couldn't have picked a better fic to have written for me. It's just so melancholy and sad and sexual and perfect. You just picked up all the right things to put into the story for me, and you did it with your usually mind-blowing style. I can't even... gahhhhh!
I think my favourite part was the... blase reaction from Theo when he was told the baby was no longer coming (I wonder whether it was an abortion or a miscarriage). He wasn't angry or crying or melodramatic... just numb. That feels so right for the Theo in my head.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for the lovely gift. You are an amazing friend, and I want to squish you right now.
Author's Response: Yay! I'm so, so happy you liked the story :). I really owe you so much because I think that if it wasn't for you and your help with my writing, I probably wouldn't write rare-pairs or anything remotely interesting -- I credit you for any improvement (large or small) in my stories. So it means a lot that you actually enjoyed reading this! :)
I'm glad you liked Theo in this story. Originally, I'd planned it as being a miscarriage but when my lovely beta mentioned she thought it was abortion, I decided to leave it ambiguous (I didn't want it to be interpreted by people as a pro-life campaign where only bad things arise from abortion, so in order to leave it as unpolitical as possible it's up for interpretation).
You are so welcome, and I am so happy you liked this! I decided I should write Susan/Theo since you were the one who undoubtedly convinced me that it *could* happen -- and probably did :).