Wednesday, August 11, 2010
A day in the life of a random conversation between Mary and Gina after Gina decided she ought to tackle reading Mary's 80 million novels before the next one is released. Primarily because Gina has also decided she doesn't read enough CBA fiction and really ought to. Yes, Gina freely admits she's a picky reader.
Book 1 done, 79,999,999 to go
Gina is not necessarily reading books in order written. She tries to be adventurous.
Gina: Hey, Mary, I read your book and it made me cry. Lots. And then another round. Which probably had nothing to do with the book. Okay, it didn't. Well, a little. But that little lead to me crying and I needed to. And now I feel better. Mostly. Some. More than half at least. Or close to half.
Mary looking all confused...and a little worried, though not overly empathetic, which could be a bad thing, but not necessarily: Cried huh?
Gina: Uh huh. That's how a Christian man is supposed to struggle with sexual thoughts both before and after he married the heroine. Realistic yet honorable.
Mary: My editor at Barbour actually debated with me whether we oughta give Red more of a conflict, internal angst. Character arc, struggles with his faith. You know, the usual. :) But Cassie just needed so much gentleness and kindness, I couldn't bare to make Red difficult. So I gave him a temper to battle with, but he mostly controlled it really well.
Gina sighing: I love Red. He loves a woman who isn't afraid to tell him he's being a lazy good-fe-nutin' pole cat who can pick up his own dagblang underwear and put it in the hamper. Too bad I'm happily married...and he's a fictional character. It'll never work out. Drat.
Mary sighing too: I've always said, Red Dawson is the perfect man. All men should immediately change to be exactly like him.
Gina: Exactly! I'll start a petition...and a blood drive.
Both sighing again
Mary: I'm in talks with my husband to arrange this for him. To be more like Red. We may have to call in a Federal Mediation Team.
Gina: Then send them out here to Virginia. Maybe I'll write a review of MONTANA ROSE since it made me cry...in a good way.
Mary: Lemme know. I'll link my blog to it.
Both staring awkwadly at each other during the extended moment of awkward silence with several people wandering past clearly looking--and obviously feeling--as awkward as Mary and Gina, then after a quick hug both walking away because neither knows what next to say except for something related to flower pots and tire rotation, but since neither know much about pot, umm, potting or vehicle maintenance the conversation would only be awkward and stilted, thus the walking away
Hi, me, Gina, here! The above minus the bold was an actual conversation, which prompted me to write this review.
I picked up Mary's book on Monday night thinking it'll be a sweet, fun read. Mary's my kinda gal. She writes what I hope my stories are "popcorn fiction for the soul." Wonder if I could use that for my brand? Hmm. I like popocorn and fiction and soul stuff (not to keen on the music, though). Could that be a brand? Hmm. I like fun, action-packed stories with an occasional dead body, not that I want to see the dead body. No, more like just talk about it. Now I digress.
So the story begins in the heroine, Cassie's point-of-view. The hero, Red, is digging a hole to bury her husband and two secondary characters are talking to him. Cassie overhears them gossipping about her dead husband (village idiot) and gossipping about her (snotty china doll) and wondering how quick she'd get hitched again now that her loser husband is dead. While Red didn't participate in the gossipping, he didn't tell then to stop.
Rather realistic because how many times have we said we're not gonna gossip and we don't but neither do we tell those gossipping around us to stop? Uggh. See me raising my hand. I'm guilty.
Now it's suggested that Red marry Cassie. Well, that got him to thinking about being married to her and what he'd say when she demanded silk dresses and whatnot.
He'd imagined it many times--many, many times. And long before Griff died, which was so improper Red felt shame. He'd tried to control his willful thoughts. but a man couldn't stop himself from thinking a thought until he'd started, now could he? So he'd started a thousand times and then he stopped himself...mostly. He'd be kind and patient but he woudln't bend. He'd say, "Cass honey, you--"
Red jerked his thought away from the old, sinful daydream about another man's wife.
Here's this guy struggling with his physical desires for a married women now digging the grave of her husband. He's not joyful her worthless husband is dead. Because that would mean he's glad Cassie's now single and he could marry her. Nope. He may have the hots for her (okay, he does), but he knows "there was only one way for him to serve God in this matter. He had to keep clear of Cassie Griffin." Why? She wasn't a Christian.
Actually he admitted he had no idea if she was or wasn't, but evidence seemed to point to her not being one, so he assumed she wasn't. And he assumed right. I wonder if he ever read BLINK by Malcolm Gladwell.
Well, next thing you know, as soon as the last bit of dirt is tossed over Cassie's dead husband's body, a slew of men have arrived to marry her. Even brought the parson. That's because men don't waste time waiting smelling flowers while the clothes dry. In that time, they fix a broken fence, put new tires on the car (hmm, two references to tires, is Gina fixated on something), and watch three football games on three different channels. Or at least the men not married to Belle Tanner do that.
Only Cassie doesn't want to marry any of them. So after one guy threatens to take her to his ranch and breed a couple chitlins off her to convince her to agree, Red steps forward and proposes. Cassie agrees. And they're married.
I suppose this is a fitting spot to give 3 Things Gina Didn't Like About the Book. Mary has now paused partially in writing book 80,000,002 to listen.
1) On and off for the first 6 or 7 chapters, I kinda thought "Cassie is as dense as a doorknob." I didn't dislike her. I just...well, here's the deal. Cassie was as dense as a doorknob. I doubt Mary would disagree. She was married at 15, but from the ages of 12 to 18, her husband raised her. He framed her mind, twisted her thoughts, and manipulated her behavoir. She wasn't stupid. She merely didn't know any better. She was ignorant in the truest sense of the word.
As a writer, I kept thinking "Why didn't Mary explain all Cassie's backstory in the first chapter?" I wouldn't then have struggled with not wanting to knock sense into chit. And certainly would have a few less mental what a dimwit thoughts. Well, I then realized a couple of things.
Mary knew the reader needed to get to know Cassie for who she was at that moment in the story. Struggle with her because, eventually, that would lay the ground for understanding Red's struggle with her. Beyond that, I think this is a perfect example of where the reader needs to just trust the author, which is something I've decided readers know how to do. Fellow writers, critique partners, and contest judges, not so much. A writer thinks "Why?" A reader doesn't think.
Well, not exactly. I'm gonna assume you know what I mean beyond what I said.
2) Didn't know until a good 50-60 pages into the book that Cassie was only 18 and another handful of pages after that Red was maybe around 23. (Granted I could have missed a reference when reading.) I'm not sure exactly where Mary could have worked that information in earlier, so this is probably a pointless complaint. I'd imagined Red being a tad older, only because he had a maturity of someone older. However once Mary layered in his backstory family life and his faith, his maturity at a young age made sense.
3) Why did I need to read scenes in two secondary characters points-of-view(POV)? The easy answer: Because Belle is the heroine in book 2 and Wade is the hero in book 3. This was a way to connect the reader to them and want to read their stories. Buy the sequels.
Only I doubt Mary did that for such simple or financially-driven a reason. I'll be candid and say I read all of Belle's scenes. Wade, only the first two and the last. Partly because I didn't know until I finished MONTANA ROSE that he was book 3 hero. Had I known that, maybe, I would have invested into reading all his scenes. But I didn't, and I figure it's an author's resposibility to include a good handful of pages for me to skim over (aka, skip) to satisfy my need to skim/skip pages. Mary does like to appease my whims. It's one of her most endearing faults.
However, as a writer, I see the merit in the authorial decision Mary made to include these two secondary character POVs. Belle was the complete opposite of Cassie. She was confident in who she was and what she wanted and had no problem telling anyone what she thought, and she didn't need a man to survive. In a way, she epitomized the modern post-feminist-revolution woman.
Cassie had no confidence in who she was or what she wanted and couldn't tell anyone what she thought, and she couldn't survive without a man. She was completely submissive. In a way, she epitomized what (I think) the modern post-feminist-revolution society thinks that's what Christianity says is a woman should be. Sadly, I can admit I've heard a pastor or two preach this.
I like how the book shows readers that they don't have to become a doormat to be godly woman. Nor does treating the men around you like they're worthless pieces of pole-cat stench make you powerful. It makes you a...well, you know.
One of my favorite lines in the book came in Belle's POV.
She decided she'd give the man a chance to be a man.
How did she go about doing that?
1) She decided it'd been a sin how she'd treated her husband. She'd been bossy, unkind, and hostile. When he said his back hurt, instead of feeling sorry for him, she treated him like a liar, and a lazy one at that. Of course, she knew he was a liar becuase he's back only hurt when he had chores, but...
2) As a mother, she needed to encourage her children to give their step-father the benefit of the doubt. It wasn't for them, or her, to judge him. Consequently...
3) They all needed to treat him with kindness and love. Because his behavior was between him and God. Their behavior was between them and God. They weren't responsible for changing him. They were responsible for changing themselves, their attitudes and actions.
And with Wade.... Well, besides the fact he's th hero in book 3, his scene provided suspense. What is this villain gonna do to ruin their lives? Only he's not merely a villain. He's a man broken by his father. He's a man needing to learn true love. He's a man who doesn't know how to be a man. By the reader understanding his inner pain, the reader could admire the decision by Red and Cassie to pray for him and, later, reach out to him. Okay, that probably means I should have added SPOILER ALERT to this review.
But Red and Cassie had no idea of Wade's inner demons like the reader did. Yet they still prayed for him. Yet they still reached out to him. That makes me realize that I'm not always going to know the burdens those around me are carrying. Maybe that villain who can't quite ring my groceries up every time I go to Kroger isn't really a villain at all. Maybe that schoolteacher who insists my child is ADHD becuase she's a first-grader who can't keep her tooshie in her seat every moment during classtime isn't really a villain at all.
God doesn't expect me to know everyone's burdens for me to treat them with kindness.
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