Reviews For First
Reviewer: goldensnidget92
Date: 06/20/12 22:53
Chapter: The Ordinary Sister

This was such a fascinating insight into Petunia's mind. I want to say straight away that I loved the little details like Lily being able to do chores easier than Petunia, and Petunia insisting that she and Vernon only had one son. I thought that they showed you had really thought deeply about how Petunia's mind works, and it highlights to what extent she was damaged by the difference between her and her sister.

It's such an interesting dynamic: having one Muggle and one magical sibling. You don't really think about what it would do to their relationship until you consider Petunia and Lily. There's always going to be sibling rivalry, but it's magnified in this circumstance. I thought that by having Petunia refuse to have more children we see that she genuinely thinks she is protecting her son by making him her only child.

I also though you addressed her treatment of Harry in a unique way. You actually make us understand why she repressed him, because she didn't want her son to feel as worthless as she did. But the really astute bit was to have her regret it later in life, and to realise that she was actually degrading Harry even worse than how her parents degraded her. You can see that she took after them, because it was essentially inadvertent. It was a good insight into her character to see her realise the error of her ways.

The end was very poignant, and it could have been slightly unbelievable if you hadn't highlighted the fact that she doesn't cry about Lily, and that she doesn't get carried away with nostalgia. You got the balance just right, and I think it shows how much thought you put into this fic. I really enjoyed it, so well done!

Author's Response: Thank you very much!

Reviewer: epiphany212
Date: 06/17/12 5:07
Chapter: The Ordinary Sister

Oh, that ending is haunting. I went away after reading this story and came back, and I still can't decide if I like it! It definitely makes this story very unique, and that's certainly a good thing. Great work, dear author.

All in all, I really liked the characterization in this story. You remained consistent, and I could easily see how Petunia developed into the woman she was today. You drew some surprising connections from your characterization--for example, that Petunia takes comfort from/is attracted to Vernon because he is is a decidedly average man (and therefore will put her first), and the fact that Petunia insists Dudley be an only child so that he doesn't suffer from the competition she did.

There are two bits of the characterization that fell a little short for me, and they both have to do with the post-Harry arrival section of the story at the very end. The first is the moment where Petunia states that Lily came first with the arrival of the baby. As a reader, I wanted a little more meat there, more of a direct explanation of how a baby (who is not Lily) translates to Lily coming first. For example, "Here was a baby which disrupted my entire life, my plan to have an only child. Through Harry, Lily had forced her way back into my life again, made sure I couldn't forget her supernatural powers. Now, Vernon and I had to live in perpetual fear that her son might have them too, someday." That's perhaps a bit dramatic, but do you see what I mean? The logic there and the connection to Petunia's ongoing characterization should be more clearly described.

The second point is that I don't completely buy that a childhood resentment translates into the completely awful treatment of Harry when Petunia is an adult. Particularly because she is so careful to clarify that Severus, James and Lily weren't outright cruel to her, whereas the Dursleys are actually cruel to Harry at some points. I think you could possibly describe that section in more detail as well, and show us the slippery slope down which Petunia goes from payback to (nearly) child abuse. For example, something like, "It started so simply at first. Harry had to do twice the chores Dudley did because it took me twice as long to do my chores as it had taken Lily. Dudley could go to the zoo for his birthday, but Harry had to stay home because Lily got to go away for school and I didn't. But then, as the boys grew older, it became worse and worse." And go from there into the living under the cupboard and other more serious things the Dursleys did/come up with a rationale for how they got to that point and why they kept upping the ante. A slower transition like that would make the connection between Petunia's characterization and history and her problems in adulthood more believable.

Other than that, you did an excellent job showing a huge chronological period in a single character's life without making me feel like you were only skimming the surface. I could really hear Petunia's voice in this story, I think, and that's a wonderful accomplishment. :) Great work. Write on!

Author's Response: Thank you very much! I will look at those sections again and see if I can work on them a little more.

Reviewer: Ithinkrabis2people
Date: 02/27/12 0:20
Chapter: The Ordinary Sister

Hiya.

I really, really like how you’ve interpreted Petunia here: she gets a lot of flak from the fandom (not completely undeserved, of course…), so to try and paint her in a sympathetic light was always going to be a challenge. However, it’s one I think you’ve risen to, and achieved it as much as you ever going to (I really strongly dislike Petunia, so for to get me to feel empathy for her is a real achievement!).

Her relationship with Lily is of particular interest to me: I think the jealousy is a key part of it. Jealousy is such an insidious emotion; once you experience a little of it towards someone, it grows until everything they do becomes a slight to you. You sort of expand on this theme of jealousy as pervasive and consuming throughout the fic (first it’s that Lily has more friends, then it’s that she’s “special” and the subsequent way she gets more attention from their parents, she’s first to bring home a serious boyfriend, etc), but when it has the biggest impact is when Petunia is even jealous of Lily’s death, because it’s another “first”. It’s so tragic, but at the same time accurate: I’ve known people to experience grief this way, it’s as if the fact that they’ve died is “selfish” (more common, of course, with suicides), but that same sort of resentment of the dead person is not uncommon, and I think you’ve presented that really well here.

I think my only slight criticism is of how the girls are when they were younger: I don’t think the jealousy really existed before Lily discovered her powers, because if there was, I don’t think Petunia would have felt so bitter, as the two wouldn’t have been so close anyway. In any case, I don’t think that excuses her adult behaviour (although you’ve handled that very well in this fic “ I don’t think you’re trying to excuse so much as explain). However, that’s just my interpretation of her, and I completely respect that yours is different.

I think my favourite thing about this, however, is how you’ve presented her relationship towards Dudley: I wasn’t expecting Petunia to acknowledge that he isn’t as exceptional as her canon treatment of him implies, but how you’ve justified that (ie, she doesn’t want him to feel as inferior as she did as a child) is very clever: I think most people, when they become parents resolve to “do a better job” than their parents did, and many ultimately go about this in such extreme ways that it does quite as much damage of a different sort than what they were trying to avoid, and Petunia embodies this in your fic.

It’s terribly sad that Petunia never really finds closure with regard to her sister: although she goes to the grave, she behaves in such a stiff and formal way that it seems like she seems cold towards her. Perhaps that’s not what you intended, but that’s how I’ve read it: it’s like she’s trying to come to terms with it, but doesn’t know how to reach out to Lily, and that’s tragic. (I must say, Petunia visiting Lily’s grave isn’t something I ever considered “ does she ever meet Harry there?!)

Well done with this, it’s a really well-executed character study.

Author's Response: Thank you very much for your review! I'm glad I've changed your view of Petunia as she's a character who I really understand. I'm glad you like it.

Reviewer: The_Real_Hermione
Date: 08/09/11 0:04
Chapter: The Ordinary Sister

I'm quite surprised this fic has no reviews yet... I read it a few days ago and thought that by now someone would have left you a note to tell you how great it is.

You made Petunia so believable in this. And you really showed her mixture of love/affection and jealousy for Lily, and somehow the idea of her going to Lily's graves, which I never would have believed before, just works perfectly in this story. When you described their school years and showed how little their parents cared for Petunia, I actually felt sorry for her.

I've always assumed that Petunia married Vernon because she wanted someone normal, but I liked your idea that he was just a man who would put her first, and who was naturally disposed to like her better than her 'abnormal' sister.

Just a little thing - when Lily was Head Girl, Petunia would have left school a few years before as she's a few years older, and you suggested that she was still at school then.

Anyway, your writing was fabulous in this, and you really grasped Petunia's character in such a short story. Considering there was no dialogue and direct action, you moved the plot along quickly and it was a very enjoyable read.

~Katrina

Author's Response: Thank you for reviewing. Petunia's relationship with Lily is partly based off the relationship I have with my own sister, if a little exaggerated. I always felt that there had to be more to the Dursley's relationship than just being normal. I'm sorry about the dates-- I thought that I conveyed that Petunia was an average girl while at school and felt a little aftermath that Lily was perfect. Thanks again! Julie.

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