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Rachel-K
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

 

Please use any of these questions to begin discussion of Eternal on the Water. Also please feel free to post your own questions for the group!

 

Knowing the ending: What effect does it have on your reading to open the novel with Mary's death presented to us first, and Cobb beginning to tell a ranger about her? Did this capture your attention or repel you, or both?

 

Most love stories begin with complications and reversals, but the love story between Mary and Cobb is absolutely passionate and --relatively--psychologically uncomplicated from the first page. What effect does this have on  you? Do you believe in immediate true love like this one?

 

What do you make of Mary's nightmares?

 

What do you make of Cobb's relationship with Henry David Thoreau? Mary respects his reason for being on this trip. Does she seem to embody any of what Cobb admires about Thoreau? Why do you think this writer is so important to Cobb?

 

What do you make of the wedding that the Chungamunga girls arrange for them? How seriously do all of them take it?

 

What do you make of Mary's conditions for Cobb for continuing to be together? Could you know the test results without telling her?

 

 

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bookloverjb85
Posts: 168
Registered: ‎10-12-2007
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

 

I have only read, the opening and chapter one so far and I am entranced by the writing and characters.  The fact that the novel opens with Mary's death and then goes into the story of how they met, strongly captured my attention.  Even though I knew this was going to be a sad ending, since you know she is going to die, I wanted to find out how they got to that point in their lives.  I immediately could put myself into the park ranger position, listening to Cobb's story about how he and Mary met and what she was like.  I can't wait to finish this first section and find out what else went on during their lives.

Rachel-K wrote:

 

Knowing the ending: What effect does it have on your reading to open the novel with Mary's death presented to us first, and Cobb beginning to tell a ranger about her? Did this capture your attention or repel you, or both?

 

 

--Jen--

"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann
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biljounc63
Posts: 189
Registered: ‎11-02-2008

Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

I like the fact the the story starts with the death of Mary. I did not expect it and I was hooked from the first words. With Mary's death chapter one began with the actual telling of a story...the story on the perspective of Cobb. The words used I really feel that I can see the river. I am from New England so I can easily relate to the scenery.

 

I can't help but wonder if they ever got 'married' or if they took the wedding performed by the Chungamunga girls as the real thing. I for one am thinking that is the case but we will have to wait and see. 

 

We know how the story ends (Mary dies) but we don't how how the story ends. I have my theory on Mary's death but I will have to wait and see if I am right or not.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
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CathyB
Posts: 271
Registered: ‎12-30-2006

Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

 

The novel opening with  Mary's death did not bother me ... I think it is an attention grabber. I'm not as sure about telling a complete stranger your life's history at this point in time ... I simply see that as a method for telling the story.

 

Do Mary and Cobb love each other? I would say yes ... I do believe in true love of this kind ... a soul mate for lack of a better term; however, nothing is uncomplicated. I don't see the relationship as psychologically (relatively speaking) uncomplicated at all. Mary's potential illness definitely has psychological effects on both of them whether or not either wants to admit it. Mary sets up conditions for Cobb in order for them to continue being together. I do agree that he should be fully informed before making a decision but, to know without telling will have some ramifications. Although we know his decision, it would be a difficult test for most ... if positive, will one stay? ... yes, results may remain unknown ... no, results surmised.

 

The mock wedding by the Chungamung girls was sweet ... I believe that all participants took it seriously. This may be the only wedding that any participate in.

 

At this point, I will say that Mary's nightmares are just that ...

 

 

 

 

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sifu-hotman
Posts: 91
Registered: ‎07-24-2009
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

Knowing the ending: What effect does it have on your reading to open the novel with Mary's death presented to us first, and Cobb beginning to tell a ranger about her? Did this capture your attention or repel you, or both?

 

I didn't give it too much thought really. There are so many books that begin like that, and a lot of them not very good ones that I was waiting to read more before getting excited over it, or upset. 

 

Most love stories begin with complications and reversals, but the love story between Mary and Cobb is absolutely passionate and --relatively--psychologically uncomplicated from the first page. What effect does this have on  you? Do you believe in immediate true love like this one?

 

I thought it was really silly that he started expressing his feelings for her so quickly. Usually that doesn't bode well. I immediately started questioning his sanity and experience in life. And hers as well. But getting to chapter 6 her actions made more sense; Why she was counting days, why she acted impulsive. she knew she had little time, and she was trying to make the best of it.

 

What do you make of Mary's nightmares?

 

Not sure. I didn't give it too much thought. I was distracted by how Cobb was taking her nightmares so seriously. again questioning his sanity :smileytongue:

 

What do you make of Cobb's relationship with Henry David Thoreau? Mary respects his reason for being on this trip. Does she seem to embody any of what Cobb admires about Thoreau? Why do you think this writer is so important to Cobb?

 

People like other people for so many reasons that are beyond me I didn't bother with it really.

 

 

Will answer the last 2 questions later, haven't gotten that far yet. Should have waited, I've accidentally read spoilers :smileysad:

 

 

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ambika22
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

I like that the start of the book presents the death of Mary, it's a good way to make the reader focus more on the evolution of the character from the very beginning and even tough you know what the end will be, it still touches you.

 

I also liked the wedding a lot, the setting and all.. it seems kind of a magical and mystical situation. I think that Mary and Cobb really take it seriously because the Chungamunga girls putted all their effort into it and because Mary is so close to them.

Wordsmith
Anna_Louise
Posts: 238
Registered: ‎06-17-2009

Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

I liked that the starting presents Mary's death and then dived right into her story along with Cobb.  I love that both of them enjoyed a comfortability for each other from the beginning.

 

I love the river and the setting so far along with the Chungamunga girls.  The girls are so in touch with the river and I love the fact that they are always "eternal with the river" once a Chungamunga girl.  I loved how Mary shared her story with all the girls about Cobb and how they woke him up with their song.

 

I also liked the wedding a lot and it seems very magical and mystical and "real"!  The Chungamunga girls along with Mary and Cobb took it seriously and I hope that they all realized the magic in being a Chungamunga! :smileyhappy:


Anna Louise

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BHall
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8


Knowing the ending: What effect does it have on your reading to open the novel with Mary's death presented to us first, and Cobb beginning to tell a ranger about her? Did this capture your attention or repel you, or both?

 

 

What do you make of Mary's nightmares?

 


I've only read half of this week's reading assignment, so I can't reflect on all the questions.  However, I would like to comment on the 2 questions above.

 

The opening definitely captured my attention & the fact that we know Cobb will be telling the story filtered by his perspective of Mary's death, the events leading up to her death, the recovery of her body, & the fact that they are in essence holding a private wake for her at the time the story is being told.  By opening with Mary's death, Mr. Monninger sets a high bar for Cobb's narration.   So far, Cobb is a very credible narrator.   

 

Cobb tells Sarah that Mary didn't have long to live.  So the nightmares caught my attention in this respect & cause me to consider whether the nightmares might be the result of a brain tumor.  Her reaction to Cobb's inquiry of her regarding the nightmares was interesting. 

Frequent Contributor
AIRKNITTER
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

EOTW is not about sickness or death but about living, being in the moment; loving another and being loved. It is so beautifully written. This is a story that will never leave me....

 

Children are the living message we send to a time we will not see.
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MSaff
Posts: 272
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

  Good Morning Everyone, 

 

  Well the day is finally here and I am looking forward to all the discussions.

 

Knowing the ending: What effect does it have on your reading to open the novel with Mary's death presented to us first, and Cobb beginning to tell a ranger about her? Did this capture your attention or repel you, or both?

  I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, I found that knowing the ending is a great stepping off point to start the story.  We immediately find Cobb talking about Mary and I found myself transposed into the story and wanting to know more about their lives both separately and together.  Somewhat like a mystery in a television show or movie, we see the end, or is it the end, and then we see the characters some time before.  We see them meet, and we find out about their lives.  I find this a wonderful way to tell the story.  I think that it gets the reader more involved in the story right away, and it keeps the reader wanting to know more.

 

Most love stories begin with complications and reversals, but the love story between Mary and Cobb is absolutely passionate and --relatively--psychologically uncomplicated from the first page. What effect does this have on  you? Do you believe in immediate true love like this one?

  You can see the passion that both Mary and Cobb have for each other as soon as you meet them.  Mary is, in my opinion, the more aggressive, but don’t let Cobb fool you.  He too knows what he wants, and is not afraid to go after it.  Mary and Cobb make a wonderful couple and I could see their relationship flourishing right from the start.  They both love the outdoors and they have much in common.  I see them as free spirits with a common goal.  Living life to it’s fullest.  There is no pretense here.  They are going to live life without any holds barred.  You see this in their mutual respect and love for the outdoors. 

 

What do you make of Mary's nightmares?

  As for this question, I haven’t made any judgments yet.  So I’m going to leave it alone for now.

Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
http://travelswithcarsandbooks.blogspot.com/
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spyderfly
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

I finished the book last night.  Knowing Mary's fate from the beginning diminishes nothing of the story or ending.  If anything, you read the story as she lived her life.  Full of living and vigor, but always with the nagging notion in the back of your mind that it will end before you're ready. 

 

I also believe in "Yeti love" and thought that the love between Mary and Cobb was believeable.  Having met my husband at a gas station tends to help me believe in things like this, though.  I mean the odds that Monninger lays out in the first chapter are absolutely true.

 

I think that Cobb's relationship with Thoreau, ever present as it was, took a back burner to major story.  I think that he saw in Thoreau what he wanted to embody in himself and Mary could have been the catalyst, or muse. 

 

I think that, knowing Mary's condition, that she has every right to lay some conditions, but I am also glad that Cobb sort of pushes into her comfort zone and gets her to let him in.  Given their kind of love, I don't think that she could really have denied him, even if she wanted.

 

The characters of this novel are well thought out and endearing.  I can't wait to discuss more!

Inspired Correspondent
Amanda-Louise
Posts: 156
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8 (my thoughts)

Monninger's writing is very captivating and picturesque.  I feel as though I know the characters right away.  He also brings the sense of foreboding to the fore very quickly (not including the prelude).  Alhough we find out about the disease in the Maine section, it does not detract from the story at all - it's not too weighty. 

I just love the chungamunga girls!  I found myself wondering how to find out how to learn more - something perhaps my daughter could do in the future.  Then I learned what all the girls have in common and I desperately tried to erase all my previous thought about my daughter attending!

Monninger's writing is such that I keep having to remind myself that this isn't his story - it's really got an autobiographical feel to it.

The more I read the more powerful I find this book.  And just beautiful.  I'm not overly outdoorsy so I can't relate on that level.  There is also a Waldorf aspect that I wonder if it's coincidental or if Monninger has experience there. 

Mary's illness raises many question - would you do the same if you were Mary?  Or would you want to know?  Would it bother you if your partner knew and you didn't?  It's like having an enormous secret between the two.  I can fully understand Mary not wanting any ties in case she decides to check out, but there is that chance that she will not get sick.  Then would she have missed having children?   I just wonder what I would do in the same case.  It's very complex.

 

Knowing the ending of the book does not take away from the story at all.  I think it almost makes it easier to read - I understand why Mary is approaching the relationship the way she is.  

 

I don't think that it's possible to know someone's diagnosis without somehow hinting about it.  If Cobb finds out she doesn't have it and will live a 'normal' life span, perhaps he would want to bring up the subject of adopting children and making other long-term plans.  That might clue her in.  In addition, she says she doesn't want it to seep into all the cracks in her life, but it does.  Every thing that happens to her she analyses through the glasses of the potential disease.  So, will she do this to everything that Cobb says?  If he talks about retirement, does that mean the test came back negative?  If he says they should go on a particular trip now and not put it off, does that mean it came back positive?  I just think it puts an added complication to a relationship.

 

What are people's thoughts of Cobb's failure to achieve his goal of communing with Thoreau?  That was his goal and he's completely throw off it by Mary.  He doesn't spend as long as he'd planned on the island and really doesn't seem to do much in regards to research for his essay.  I understand he found something else he was looking for in Mary, but should he have been so quick to abandon his mission?

 

 

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vpenning
Posts: 71
Registered: ‎11-03-2009

Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

Knowing the ending: What effect does it have on your reading to open the novel with Mary's death presented to us first, and Cobb beginning to tell a ranger about her? Did this capture your attention or repel you, or both?

 

I have read many books that begin at the end. Although not my favorite way to start the book, I am aware that many love stories end with the couple getting together...so essentially you know the ending before you even open the cover of the book. So, with that said, knowing how it would end did not repel me, as I know that for any true love, it is the journey getting there that is the best part. And, this love story did not disappoint.

 

Most love stories begin with complications and reversals, but the love story between Mary and Cobb is absolutely passionate and --relatively--psychologically uncomplicated from the first page. What effect does this have on  you? Do you believe in immediate true love like this one?

 

Yes, I am a believer of true love QUICKLY, not at first sight....  I felt that Cobb had intrigue before love, and then lust. And eventually love...they just happened faster.

 

What do you make of Mary's nightmares?

 

At first I thought they were going to be an intrigal part of the story line...I even thought that her sleep walking might have contributed to here death...could have actually explained how she got into the water...but, then it did not seem to have much bearing. I am not sure if the nightmare was a precurser to the disease, or just a red herring to throw the reader off....

 

 

What do you make of the wedding that the Chungamunga girls arrange for them? How seriously do all of them take it?

 

When the same words are repeated at the real wedding, you realize how significant that ceremony was for Mary. For the girls that may not live -like Myrtle-it is also significant in that this may be one wedding that they might be able to help plan and attend...a dream many little girls have.

 

What do you make of Mary's conditions for Cobb for continuing to be together? Could you know the test results without telling her?

 

Since Mary's mother indicates that she believes that Mary has known for years, it is not hard for Cobb not to tell. He is quite aware that Mary probably knows, it is just unspoken. In addition, since her symptoms present themselves very soon after he learns the test results, it is almost moot that he himself has learned. It just was put into writing.

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MelissaW
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎01-31-2007

Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

I was caught from the opening of the story and couldn’t put this book down. 

 

Knowing the ending didn’t bother me.  Knowing the Mary died was not the story.  The story was about her and Cobb and the life that they built together.  To me, Cobb telling the ranger about Mary was part of his grieving process.  He needed to talk about her because he loved her so much and wanted people to remember her.  I was a little surprised that he was telling the ranger the truth about her death since the ranger is an officer of the law, but I think that his need to talk about her was more important and she seemed like she genuinely cared.

 

Mary's nightmares:  I really didn't focus on the nightmares.  To me, they were not as important as how she lived her life.

 

Chungamunga girls and the wedding:  I think that the wedding that the Chungamunga girls arranged was very sweet and thoughtful. They were all aware that they might never get married and this was a way for them to be a part of a marriage ceremony when they might not otherwise be able to do so.  I think that they all took it seriously because they are all aware that life can be very short. 

 

Mary’s conditions for continuing to be together: I think that Mary is trying to give Cobb a graceful out with her conditions for continuing to be together in case he realized that he couldn't what could be coming.  I don’t think that I could know the results without telling her though.  This information is very important and while I respect her desire to continue to live life to the fullest, it would be hard to know that she was alright and not to tell her that everything was going to be all right.

 

 

Wordsmith
babzilla41
Posts: 252
Registered: ‎05-04-2009

Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8


vpenning wrote:

Knowing the ending: What effect does it have on your reading to open the novel with Mary's death presented to us first, and Cobb beginning to tell a ranger about her? Did this capture your attention or repel you, or both?

 

I have read many books that begin at the end. Although not my favorite way to start the book, I am aware that many love stories end with the couple getting together...so essentially you know the ending before you even open the cover of the book. So, with that said, knowing how it would end did not repel me, as I know that for any true love, it is the journey getting there that is the best part. And, this love story did not disappoint.

 

Most love stories begin with complications and reversals, but the love story between Mary and Cobb is absolutely passionate and --relatively--psychologically uncomplicated from the first page. What effect does this have on  you? Do you believe in immediate true love like this one?

 

Yes, I am a believer of true love QUICKLY, not at first sight....  I felt that Cobb had intrigue before love, and then lust. And eventually love...they just happened faster.

 

What do you make of Mary's nightmares?

 

At first I thought they were going to be an intrigal part of the story line...I even thought that her sleep walking might have contributed to here death...could have actually explained how she got into the water...but, then it did not seem to have much bearing. I am not sure if the nightmare was a precurser to the disease, or just a red herring to throw the reader off....

 

 

What do you make of the wedding that the Chungamunga girls arrange for them? How seriously do all of them take it?

 

When the same words are repeated at the real wedding, you realize how significant that ceremony was for Mary. For the girls that may not live -like Myrtle-it is also significant in that this may be one wedding that they might be able to help plan and attend...a dream many little girls have.

 

What do you make of Mary's conditions for Cobb for continuing to be together? Could you know the test results without telling her?

 

Since Mary's mother indicates that she believes that Mary has known for years, it is not hard for Cobb not to tell. He is quite aware that Mary probably knows, it is just unspoken. In addition, since her symptoms present themselves very soon after he learns the test results, it is almost moot that he himself has learned. It just was put into writing.


 

PLEASE be careful of spoilers for those of us who are sticking to the reading schedule!  This thread is for chapters 1-8!

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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vpenning
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

sorry, :smileysad: I am not an expert at this, and the site is very confusing. I did not see the schedule until after you wrote this. The letter I got just basically told me to go on-line on this day and post. It did not indicate there was a reading schedule...so, when I got the book, I was under the impression that I had to have it read by that date, and answer questions.

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Zia01
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

Knowing the ending: What effect does it have on your reading to open the novel with Mary's death presented to us first, and Cobb beginning to tell a ranger about her? Did this capture your attention or repel you, or both? I must say I guess I didn't read the synopsis clearly because until I read the first sentence I hadn't realized it would take that route. It does make it a bit bittersweet now.

 

Most love stories begin with complications and reversals, but the love story between Mary and Cobb is absolutely passionate and --relatively--psychologically uncomplicated from the first page. What effect does this have on  you? Do you believe in immediate true love like this one? Yes I definitely believe this can happen.

 

What do you make of Mary's nightmares? They confuse me. I don't know what part they play yet or if they're just Mary's fears coming to the surface.

 

 

 

What do you make of the wedding that the Chungamunga girls arrange for them? How seriously do all of them take it? I loved the wedding! The poem used during struck such a chord with me. So simple yet so binding.

 

What do you make of Mary's conditions for Cobb for continuing to be together? Could you know the test results without telling her? To be honest, I'm not sure I'd look at the results myself if those were the conditions. I don't think I could not tell her somehow whether it be with words or actions.

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dhaupt
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

I really liked knowing how the story ended and Cobb's retelling of his and Mary's life together, their story if you will to the ranger. 

 

I have never experienced love at first sight, but that doesn't mean I don't believe in it and for this particular story it works and it inspired me to keep on reading and it explained a lot of things as you go along.

 

I don't know what to make of the nightmares yet.

 

I think Cobb's relationship with Thoreau is his way of getting back to nature in a way that inspires him even though it also apparently frightens him.

 

I thought the wedding was one of the most touching scenes I've ever read in a book.

 

It's hard to say what I would have done in Cobb's shoes as to how to deal with not only Mary's condition itself but the conditions she put on to it. Having never had to deal with it, but I also think that knowing Mary it fits in with her character of living life to the fullest she can.

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fordmg
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

I am going to reply to some of these issues before reading everyone elses, so I know I have my own thoughts.  

How does knowing the ending affect my ability to get into the story?

I think it is a catchy start.  I saw the emotion from Cobb when he was being questioned, and wondered what really happened.  Not what the investigators suspect.  The Ranger who sat with Cobb and asked him to tell her the story showed real compassion.

Cobb, Thoreau and Mary's acceptace of Cobb's trip:

It seems that Cobb is searching for something.  He is looking to nature as Thoreau did.  Mary is nature.  She seems to live with the birds and bears and grass and water, etc.  By finding Mary Cobb is finding something of Thoreau. 

Chungmunga Girls Wedding: 

I don't think it was serious, but I think it reflects how much the group adored Mary and wanted her to be happy.  All the girls are expecting to get something from this trip, and they like Cobb and approve of his relationship with Mary.  They know Mary is "sick" like them, and want her to find her happyiness, that way there is hope for each of them to do the same.  The girls truly enjoyed throwing the party. 

Mary's conditions on continueing tge relationship with Cobb:

I actually can understand how she feels and why she doesn't want to know.  She doesn't want Cobb to tell her because in her mind he would be modifying the relationship based on the knowledge.  He can't say he will only tell if it is good news, because then the implied bad new comes from silence.  I think it would be hard for Cobb not to let the knowing show in his actions.  If I were in his position, I would choose not to know either.  It would be hard not to give away the results. 

MG

kch
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kch
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎11-01-2006
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Re: Eternal on the Water: Chapters 1-8

Knowing the ending of a story does not bother me in the least. I have a bad habit of sometimes reading the end of a story sometime during the middle of the reading anyway. Whether it is reading a book or knitting a sock it is about the journey, the journey is where the joy is, not the beginning and the end...

 

I love Cobb and Mary, such wonderful characters that will stay with me for awhile after I have finished this story. Their love story does not seem very realistic to me though, I have a problem with love at first sight usually it is lust at first sight and still needs time to grow into love...I believe that there are those that are meant to be together but I don't think we can know it in an instant.

 

I love the Chungamunga girls' fairy wedding.  All weddings are about ritual, some go in for the religious wedding before the priest, in my faith we go to the temple to be sealed for eternity, some go to the court justice,and some just cohabitate long enough that the state recognizes them as married. The rituals don't matter as much as the commitment between the two people involved. If in the end Mary and Cobb are truly commited to each other and want to be married that Chungamungu Fairy wedding was a beautiful ritual to start their marriage with.

Make it a good one.

Karen