Review of Rebecca for Insecure Writers Support Group Book Club


This post is a duplicate of my review of this book on Goodreads.

Technically, I didn't read this book. I listened to it. 
It's a bit difficult to review this book without spoilers, but I will endeavor to do so.
I didn't expect to be as taken in by the story as I was. I thought it would be a romance, but it really was not. I read in Daphne du Maurier's biography on Wikipedia that she disliked being pigeonholed as a romance writer. She stated that her stories tended to be dark and rarely had happy endings. Romance stories may have dark moments but everything generally turns out right in the end.
It needs to be understood that this book was published more than 80 years ago and has some dated ideas about people with developmental disabilities and about sexual orientation which most modern people would find offensive. 
From the description, the character Ben appears to have Down syndrome, and is referred to as an "idiot." At the time the book was written, terms like "idiot" and "moron" were medical terms. At one point, Mrs. Danvers states that Rebecca "hated all men," the implication being that she was a lesbian, which was considered a perversion at the point in time when the book was written. While these ideas are offensive to modern sensibilities, it is worthwhile to recognize them as a product of a less enlightened era and enjoy what the story as a whole has to offer.
I found myself enthralled with the tale from the very start. As a plain-looking woman in a society that places a lot of value on a certain type of female attractiveness, I identified with the narrator's insecurities. She became obsessed with what Rebecca represented while initially having very little knowledge of who or what Rebecca actually was.
This story offers up many surprises, including one that had me exclaiming "OH!" aloud as I was driving along listening. My eyes widened, and I put my hand over my mouth. I can only imagine what the drivers around me were thinking of my completely justifiable reaction. That reveal was a doozy!
In some ways, Rebecca challenges the reader to question whether any of our individual perceptions qualify as "reality." The characters often find themselves in the position of learning that beliefs which were an integral part of themselves are erroneous. 
Other questions raised include whether or not wealth equates with happiness. Certainly, having adequate funds at one's disposal alleviate the stress of being unable to meet the basic needs such as shelter, nourishment, and clothing. However, many of the characters in Rebecca are wealthy, and none of them seem particularly happy.
Truth or the lack thereof is a recurring theme throughout the story. Is anyone ever able to be entirely honest about themselves, even with themselves? There are the lies that one tells the public in attempting to keep up appearances. There are the lies that one tells others, either to protect oneself or the other individual. Then there are the lies that one tells oneself. 
Other than the ingenuous narrator, hardly any of the major characters are particularly likable. Maxim is a troubled, middle-aged widower who is often emotionally manipulative and who marries the narrator, a woman approximately half his age, after a very brief courtship. Mrs. Danvers is judgmental, jealous, and secretive. Frank is kind but a bit of a toady. Beatrice is well-intentioned but interfering, and there are upper-class twits aplenty.
There are moments when Rebecca is darkly humorous, and others when it is simply dark. If the reader is seeking a sweet, old-fashioned romance, this isn't it. However, if the reader is seeking a darkly intense tale that is full of surprises, including some which may make the reader exclaim aloud, this is the book you are looking for.

These are my replies to the group discussion questions:
1. Did it bother you that we’re never told the main character’s first name or maiden name (before she becomes Mrs. de Winter)? Did you notice?

It did and it didn't. It wasn't necessary to know her name, but the nit-picky part of me wishes I did.

2. From Rebecca, Chapter 1: "The woods, always a menace even in the past, had triumphed in the end. They crowded, dark and uncontrolled, to the borders of the drive." 

A) When you write setting, does the setting itself become a character that aids the main characters?

I think that it can and that Daphne du Maurier does this very well.

B) Do you give the setting actionable parts? 

I suppose I do. I never really thought about it before. The setting does take certain actions which add to the story.

3. From Rebecca, Chapter 5: "I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love, For it is a fever, and burden, too, whatever the poets may say. They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little coward-ices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word." 

Question: It is not a scene description but a description of emotion using power words delivered in a descriptive way. Have you ever delivered emotion as descriptive cadence using power words? 

I honestly don't know. I suppose I must have at some point.

4. Do you use setting to bring your characters, mood, and atmosphere to life?

From Rebecca, Chapter 25: "There would be other people touching his shoulder, and touching mine, but we would not see them. Nor would we speak or call to one another, for the wind and the distance would carry away the sound of our voices."

I think I do use the setting in this way. I don't do it consciously, I just let the story tell itself.

5. For your own personal taste, do you think there was too much description for settings/scenes in Rebecca or just enough? 

Apologies for sounding like a fangirl, but I found the descriptions to be absolutely perfect and felt that they enhanced the tale quite well.

If you are interested in joining me at the Insecure Writers Support Group book club on Goodreads, click this link.

If you are interested in joining the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop, click the banner at the end of the post. 

If you are interested in reading or listening to Rebecca, I will provide links following the post as well!

~Cie~




Real Cie Reviews; Surviving the Forest by Adiva Geffen


Rating: Five of Five Stars

I recently watched Downfall, a movie which depicts the last days of Hitler and his comrades while confined to a bunker as Berlin falls around them. I remarked to my son that watching this movie was like watching a video filmed in the bunker itself. It was that realistic.
This book has a similar feel.
From the idyllic days of Shurka's childhood to the troubled times which come to her small village to the horrifying devastation when the Nazis bring their efforts to exterminate the Jews to Shurka's home, I felt as if I was right there with Shurka and her family.
While reading of the atrocities committed by one human being on another, part of me wants to believe that the Holocaust was a nightmare, a work of fiction, anything but reality. However, one cannot allow oneself to turn a blind eye. Nationalism is a dangerous mindset. One must always be critical of one's government and officials and never become entrapped in any sort of extremist ideology.
I wept openly while reading this book. It is a tremendously powerful work. The writing style is easy to read while not being overly simplistic. There are a few minor grammatical and punctuation issues, but no flaws in the storytelling itself.
I feel that this book could be an excellent addition to a course on the history of World War II. Seeing the events of the time through the eyes of a sympathetic character would encourage students to develop empathy for those who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust rather than simply memorizing dates and military data.
The events of the Holocaust must never be forgotten. This is is a very important story. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

~Cie~


Carnal Invasion X is Live and Free for Five Days


Hold onto your hats, lovers of all things lewd, crude, and out-of-this-world Naughty! Carnal Invasion X is yours for free between March 18, 2019, and March 23, 2019. Don't miss out on this chance to grab this piece of otherworldly lusty action for the unbeatable price of Zilch!
In this installment, a team of agents from the Alien and Supernatural Search Squadron (A.S.S.S.) are hot on the trail of our bawdy team of Gamma Iridians and their supernaturally-inclined friends with benefits. Will agents Cumming, Dicking, Spitz, and Swallows find anything they can report to their commanding officers, or will their cravings for the lusty lords and ladies of Climax Castle distract them from their mission?
Tobias Walton makes a reappearance, this time in the body of naive college student Muel Biermann. Tobias claims that he's changed his ways and wants to help others from now on, particularly when those "others" happen to be attractive young nerdy men. Has Tobias really changed, or does he have more wicked surprises under his hat?



When a lusty, cross-dressing Leprechaun named Kizz Myass makes the scene, you know full well that he's got some surprises under his hat, and probably in his magical pantaloons as well!
When the preparations for the upcoming Carnal Carnival celebration are nearly as scandalous as the party itself, you know you're in for a good time. Join the agents of A.S.S.S. on a wild ride, yours for 100% FREE for a limited time!

~Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press~


Haibun: My Son is a Woodworker


My son is a woodworker. He does chip carving.
The tools he uses for this type of woodworking are a knife and a gouge rather than a chisel. However, one day he would like to try different types of woodworking, some of which involve the use a chisel.
People worry about him working with sharp tools. They say that he should beware when working with gouges and knives. It is true that he must be prudent when using imprudent (or perhaps impudent) tools. However:

The cuts that hurt worst
Come not from the sharpest knife

But from jagged edge

Word Count:
99

~Cie~

Note:
The prompts led me to create this non-fiction slice of life in Haibun form. If the result bends the rules of any of the prompts too far, feel free to delete my link.

Prompts Used:

Weekend Writing Warriors 17 March 2019 (ER, LGBT, PA, SF)


“They didn’t seem unhappy about the experience,” Cumming remarked.
“No, but they did seem euphoric, which is an indication…”
“There were no illicit drugs, sedatives, or even alcohol present in their blood, and that gel is something that can’t be identified. It isn’t toxic and it even smells pleasant, but it’s not of this Earth. Still, they did say some strange things, didn’t they?”
“Embarrassing things. Things like: “It was totally hot being probed by her tentacles, but I want to see Mistress Nyx in her human form,” and “Desire is a real sex goddess. I hope she’ll come to Earth for the Carnal Carnival.”
“Right. I guess I’ll be spending Fat Tuesday at a sex party,” Dicking sighed, rolling his eyes.

~Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press~

Notes:
Happy Carnal Carnival Day! I mean, St. Patrick's Day. I am well relieved to not have to work this St. Patrick's Day. When I am not collaborating on Kindle smut projects, I work as a delivery driver, and you will have to trust me when I say that making deliveries on St. Patrick's Day is chaos personified.
In this snippet, Agents Marc Cumming and Dale Dicking of the secret government agency A.S.S.S. (Alien and Supernatural Search Squadron) are discussing an incident in which their fellow agents Julie Spitz and Sarah Swallows turned up on Agent Cumming's doorstep covered in the same sparkling gelatinous jelly that often appears in the adult videos released by Climax Productions. 
The cynical, jaded Agent Dicking is not looking forward to spending a wild and boisterous night at a Climax Castle party. The ever-eager Agent Cumming is looking forward to seeing what happens.

Just a bit of fun.
Nothing to do with the snippet.


I would like to apologize to anyone who left a comment on my previous snippet because I did not return any visits this go-round. I left the link for the wrong blog (I duplicate the posts on this blog and the Horror Harridans blog.) I have had an atrocious week psychologically speaking. In spite of my messed-up head, publication of the first segment of Carnal Carnival is a go. At least I didn't manage to screw that up.


Fetch: Pepper's Conversation with a Dark Young

Shadow of a Tree
Photographer Unknown


In the Dreamlands, the refugees were free to do as they pleased, which was a wonderful escape from the tyranny and hopelessness which was overtaking both the Netherworld and the waking world. Nonetheless, the woebegone shadows of the oppressed realms remained heavy on the hearts of the refugees. Like a distant hum, despair seemed to fall with the rain as Pepper followed the drops with her eyes from the zenith of the Dreamland sky into the teacup sitting before her on the patio table at the Falona Inn bar.
Pepper made a hollow entreaty to herself to not let the light interrupted by the billowing dark clouds reinforce the belief that she was only hiding from the truth on the other side of nothing, but her instinct to doubt caused her to reinforce her status as "other" in her mind. 
Pepper couldn't help but think of the Cosmos as cruel. From the first day of her life, it seemed that there was a universal plan or vicious cosmic prank to ensure that she would forever be the girl with the cast iron smile. It mattered not at what pace she ran on fat legs the thighs of which could not help but rub together. It did not matter if she ran so fast that the sweat caused the fabric of her pants to stick to her fat thighs. It did not matter what tree-lined dream passage she dodged down or what wild caper she imagined for the characters in the many tales her mind concocted. She would always be yanked rudely back to a forlorn and hopeless reality by the chain which tethered her soul to eternal despair.
"The only book I've any business writing would be titled 'Dark Days: Biography of a Self-Professed Cynic'," the discouraged Pepper sighed as a single tear mingled with the rain on her face while she slogged towards Gerry's homestead in the Karthian Hills. 
Every day, Pepper wondered if it wouldn't be best for Gerry if she set him free. What good could she possibly be doing him? She remembered how wonderful and terrifying it felt to find herself suddenly in love with the ingenuous little Fetch who nervously confessed that he wished to be more than friends when she presented him with the offer to become one of her invisible roommates. 
That day seemed to have happened in another lifetime now. She had hurt the fragile Fetch, now a full-fledged angelic spirit, more than once and deeply with cruel words born from insecurity and past psychic wounds which had never fully healed. He remained supportive of her, said that he understood, but he was still fearful of fully connecting with her again, and she wondered if she would ever be able to close the gap between them and give him reason to trust her to love him as he deserved rather than accusing him of imagined infidelities.
The rain fell harder now and the path ahead was muddy. Pepper gave a shout as she slipped and fell face-down on the path, tumbling off into the shrubbery. She gave a discouraged moan and considered just lying there until the rain stopped or she woke up on her son's couch or the cold bedroom of her squalid mobile home. Suddenly, she felt as if a giant hand with very slender fingers had wrapped itself around her, and she was lifted into the air to find herself facing a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath.
"I can take you to your home, Miss Pepper," the affable Dark Young said. "I know you think of it as his home, but it's your home too. He wishes you'd think of it so. Maybe when we get to your home, we can help each other to write our stories. I have read every one of your Bloody Velvet books, you know. It inspired me to write my own series about a lonely Dark Young who meets a Vampire Tree. I've found a few fans, both Dark Young and animated trees, who say my stories really get the sap flowing! Unfortunately, I cannot seem to get beyond the title on my latest one."
"What's the title?" Pepper inquired, heartened by the tenderness shown by the gigantic being who now carried her towards the Karthian Hills homestead.
"Well, the working title is Mr. and Mrs. Deadtree. It's a ghost story. Perhaps you can help me get it off the ground."
"I'd be happy to," Pepper replied, settling into the crook formed by two of the Dark Young's sky-reaching tentacles. She was pleased that this Dark Young smelled like moist loam rather than an open grave and appreciative of its green and guileless manner. Despite its gargantuan size, it was like a babe in the woods, still filled with hope and a belief that right action would be rewarded in kind. She intended to do her best to ensure that it remained that way for as long as possible.
"Does your kind drink tea?" Pepper inquired. "If you do, we can make some in one of the rain barrels for you."
"I take my nutrients from decaying leaves and the flowing streams and the Earth itself, but I would be happy to enjoy a rain barrel of tea," the Dark Young replied. "You will stay warm and dry in your room with the window open so I can speak with you from outside, and I will be happy for this torrent and the welcome sustenance it brings."

Fae Little
Gem Moondreamer
The Real Cie

Prompts Used:

Titles/Sentence Fragments
A Distant Hum
Light Interrupted
Hollow Entreaty
Dark Days: Biography of a Self-Professed Cynic
Suddenly in Love
The Otherside of Nothing
Invisible Roommates
The Girl with the Cast Iron Smile
Mr. and Mrs. Deadtree
The First Day

Wordle Words
bar
caper
chain
instinct
legs
pace
passage
plan
prank
other
rub
stick

Reference:
https://lovecraft.fandom.com/wiki/Dark_Young_of_Shub-Niggurath

Weekend Writing Warriors 10 March 2019 (ER, LGBT, PA, SF)


“Dale, what have I told you?” Cumming demanded. “Two weeks ago, when Agents Swallows and Spitz were deposited on my doorstep covered in that glittery space jelly and looking like a couple of unmade beds, I saw a light descending from the sky followed by a glittering rain of sparkles. I calculated the trajectory of the light. It landed at Climax Castle.”

“Marc, I just can’t buy the idea that the porn purveyors at Climax Castle are extraterrestrials,” Dicking sighed, reaching into his desk drawer for a bottle of ibuprofen. “For the last time, they aren’t aliens, they’re adult film actors. We don’t have any reason to investigate them. They don’t have any performers of questionable age. Everything they do is legal.”

~Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press~

Notes:
This snippet is from Naughty Netherworld Press' upcoming release, Carnal Invasion X: Carnal Carnival. The release date was moved from March 6 to March 17, because, to be honest, we got so involved with writing the espionage part that we haven't even started writing the carnival part yet!
So, we'll be Watchin' the Detectives for a little while longer as Agents Cumming and Dicking discuss the possible Dirty Deeds being done at Climax Castle.
In the meantime, you can check out the previous installments in the Carnal Invasion series. Take note that these stories contain explicit erotica. I keep the blog posts PG-13, but the books are a definite XXX.


Review of Rebecca for Insecure Writers Support Group Book Club

This post is a duplicate of my review of this book on Goodreads . Technically, I didn't read this book. I listened to it.  It&...