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Distinguished Correspondent
JerseyAngel
Posts: 168
Registered: ‎03-18-2009

Sticking to the schedule

As a sidenote, I can clearly see now why Paul suggested that everyone stick to the reading schedule. This book is filled with so many questions & so much speculation that I imagine it would be difficult to participate if you already knew all the answers. Particularly hard without accidentally giving something way. It would definately have taken away some of the enjoyment for me to post if I knew the answers already.

 

Thanks Paul for giving us that heads up!

 

Stephanie

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jclay26
Posts: 74
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

This book is even better than I expected. I did not anticipate the mystical magical world that Erick has created. It is entrancing. I had extreme difficulty putting the book down after I read chapter nine. Unfortunately, if I keep reading I won't be able to participate because I will inevitably include spoilers without realizing it! I don't think I have read anything like this before. I think that is why I am so caught up in it. There are so many mini-mysteries going on and it makes this novel even more intriguing. We get some teasers and then get let down and I want to read and read and read to figure it out. I want answers and I love that this book invokes this in me!

 

I was saddened by Meridia's nurse. She knew Meridia's vulnerabilities and naivety and tried desperately to protect her (even if she was a bit overbearing - okay A LOT). She was about to tell Meridia about the night that haunts her dreams and the reason for the existence of the woman with the yellow eyes before she disappeared. Having her swept away right as she is about to divulge this secret to Meridia is a fantastic way to build tension with the reader!

 

It is possible that Meridia disappears in her own house because she is treated as invisible. But...I think there is something else going on. I think she is being protected. When she looks in the mirror her image is blocked by that of the apparitions which seem to envelope her all the time - much like the mist does her father. I wonder if these apparitions are trying to shield her from the hate within the house. I still have not figured out the lack of fingerprints within the home, but this could be due to the treatment by her father breaking her down to nothing. I wonder, too, if she is dead. Could she have died in the event that haunts her dreams and the anger and hatred between her parents a result of her death? Could we be following a ghost's life? Just wondering... 

 

Hannah seemed to have this same trait of disappearing/non-existence (when Meridia looked in the mirror as she hugged Hannah after having her hair cut). Hmmm....

What you have to do...is trust your own story. Get the hell out of the way and let it tell itself. - Tim O'Brien; The Things They Carried
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Amanda-Louise
Posts: 156
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Meridia?

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this (or if it's even worth mentioning), but what about Meridia's name?   It's kind of close to meridian - kind of inbetween, but technically an invisible line.

 

?

 

Perhaps this is discussed in her own little thread, however I'm afraid to go there for fear of spoilers.

 

Amanda

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PB684
Posts: 182
Registered: ‎08-03-2007
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

[ Edited ]

bookloverjb85 wrote:

When I first started reading this book I was a little confused by what was going on and who the characters were.  Once I read more, though, I was pulled in to the story of Meridia and her life.  The words were captivating and put great visuals into my head.

 

This story is somewhat what I expected, especially since the editor left us that video about how she was pulled into the world of the book.  The story reminds me of a fairytale or a book like "Wicked".  It has a different perspective and is a different type of story than you usually see.

 

It's strange that Meridia "disappears" in her own house, but yet when she walks outside she is very visable to the world because she is wrapped up in many layers of clothes.  She is not used to this and therefore is very uncomfortable when she goes outside with her nurse.  Meridia's nurse is very protective of her and this seems to hinder much of what Meridia does.  She does not get to see the outside world very much and is told that it is not good for her when she does encounter it.

I believe this is the reason that Hannah came to be, it is Meridia's need to be free and rebel against the house, that she invents an "imaginary friend".  Hannah shows Meridia what the outside world looks like and how to have adventures.  She makes Meridia brave enough to venture out of her comfort zone.  When Meridia realizes that Hannah isn't really there she is shocked and disappointed because it was the first friend that she had, but I feel that she needed that in order to grow and eventually find Daniel.

 

We still have yet to find out what that flash of light is that Meridia sees in her dreams, but her nurse was about to tell her when she "left".  I'm not sure what this could be or mean, but hopefully we will find out soon.


 

I haven't had a chance to read through all the posts yet so this might have come up already but I wanted to reply while it was fresh in my mind. I find myself wondering if the magic is really "magic" or a devise used by the author. For example, what you stated about Hannah not being real...that maybe she was just made up by Meridia as a way to help her come out of her shell...I hadn't thought of that. I wondered what was magical about her not appearing in the mirror but it hadn't ocurred to me that maybe she was just made up. I can definitely read the story both ways...is it purely magical, in which case we have to suspend our disbelief (as in Physic Book) or is the author using magic as a literary devise? I'll have to read more and see which way I sway:smileyhappy:

 

 

Something else that just came to mind is on page 20 where the author states that everthing in the house changed when Ravenna "wrestled with the wind". Is Mr. Setiawan just using this as a metaphor for the trouble between Ravenna and Gabriel?

Message Edited by PB684 on 06-01-2009 09:02 PM
PB684
Inspired Contributor
januttall
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎09-26-2008
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9


maude40 wrote:

On page 5 the sentence, "Failing to stop the chill where his shadow had touched her, she wondered if all fathers were curel and all mothers forgetful." This sent chills through me when I read it. What a terrible thing for a child to feel about their parents. Yvonne


 

That sentence really got to me too Yvonne.
Inspired Contributor
januttall
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎09-26-2008

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

I'll admit it took me a few chapters to get into Of Bees and Mist, but now I'm completely intrigued and can't wait to see how this story plays out!  I think Erick's poetic writing style really lends itself to the mystical storyline.

 

As many others have already indicated, I don't believe Meridian disappears in the physical sense, rather that serves as a metaphor for a "lost" child in (what appears to be) a dysfunctional family. 

 

I think 24 Monarch St. is haunted (hence the cold wind that appeared) and Hannah was a ghost/spirit (perhaps just one of many we'll "meet" on this journey).

Distinguished Correspondent
Lil_Irish_Lass
Posts: 163
Registered: ‎11-21-2008

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

The novel opens with conflict and promise of a battle on the same scale as good vs. evil. I find it intriguing that Setiawan chose to open his novel with a paragraph that encompasses what should be two of the most happiest moments in a woman's life (her wedding day and the birth of her first child) and spins them into such angry feelings and foreboding. Almost like he's telling readers that there is no such thing as pure happiness... that with every beautiful moment there also comes the evil and the grotesque.

I also find it interesting that we go from the birth of Meridia's child... and the war that comes with it, to her own birth which is a battle itself - one that Ravenna had the strength to win (though I'm not sold on the fact that she's not still fighting with all she's got).

I actually like the nurse and feel that she was overly over-protective of Meridia because she knows the family secret and she is doing all she can (and what she thinks best) to protect the little girl who she sees yearning for her parents love, affection, and approval while she gets none of the three. Like a grandparent raising a grandchild when the parents are unfit, the generation gap leads to what can be viewed as "bad" parenting decisions by the grandparents yet their intentions are always in the right place and they are doing all they can in the way they think that's right. My personal theory right now is that while Ravenna overheard the nurse telling Meridia about what happened... but it was the house that banished her.

There isn't enough yet on Gabriel to truly form an opinion so I'll save that one for later in the novel... same with Ravenna.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"No sensible man ever engages, unprepared, in a fencing match of words with a woman." - The Woman in White
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stkong7
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

I'm really curious about where this book is going, hence why I'm enjoying it and motivated to keep on reading.  I'm not sure what I expected, but am quite surprised that so much is left to the imagination.  Personally I think everyone in the book is strange, and Meridia is perhaps delusional.  Hopefully some things are explained by the end of the book.
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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

Hey, FrankieD,

 

Seeing faces is a good thing. I am a photographer and I hunt for unusual faces. I particularly like knotty faces in the trees in the park on my daily walk and have taken many pictures of them.


FrankieD wrote:

I read our current chapters this morning while having my chemotherapy meds flowing...which took about 1 1/2 hours. The book had me absorbed within the first few minutes and before I knew it...I was invisible in the chemo room and went unnoticed by the rest of the crowd. Haven't we all had moments...or longer...of "invisiibility" at sometime during our lives...although Meridia's is long-lasting and at regular times.

Oh yeah...the cover was interesting to me as well and all the hidden items caught my eye early on. Lately I've been noticing shapes in things as well...like a face in my bathroom that has pine knots as eyes...and today I even saw a clowns face in the garbage liner in the chemo room while getting my treatment??? Perhaps this has been a side-effect of my meds...but it happens a lot.

So...as I said...this book has me drawn me in already and in some ways I almost feel like I've been living some of it already...but then I come to my senses...sort of!!!

 

                                                     Looking forward to the next section...FrankieD :smileyhappy: 


 

Correspondent
jabrkeKB
Posts: 164
Registered: ‎11-15-2008

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

This is not the type of book I would normally choose to read, but I am enjoying it immensely.

 

As I read the first nine chapters I keep thinking about Erick's letter to us--he says that the purpose of writing this book was to put words to the daydreams that saturated his silences in childhood.  Wow, what does that mean. It will be interesting to have him join the discussions.

 

I also love the cover and the hidden objects in the vines.

 

 

Inspired Wordsmith
Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Sticking to the schedule

I agree with you, Stephanie.

At first I didn't see the reason why we couldn't just read the whole book and make sure we didn't discuss more than the scheduled chapters. But as soon as I started to read I knew that it would be impossible to keep all the magical events separate, and that to read ahead would spoil my own speculations. I like being surprised.


JerseyAngel wrote:

As a sidenote, I can clearly see now why Paul suggested that everyone stick to the reading schedule. This book is filled with so many questions & so much speculation that I imagine it would be difficult to participate if you already knew all the answers. Particularly hard without accidentally giving something way. It would definately have taken away some of the enjoyment for me to post if I knew the answers already.

 

Thanks Paul for giving us that heads up!

 

Stephanie


 

Scribe
debbook
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

First of all, I am very proud of myself that I was able to stick to the reading schedule and not read ahead.

 

This book is definitely what I expected of a book labeled "magical realism". It reminded me a little bit of Alice Hoffman and alot of Isabel Allende- 2 of my favorite authors. I like the mystery of Meridia's childhood with the flash of light. I really enjoy the authors descriptive writing. He is very talented

I, too thought Hannah might be a ghost or Meridia's imagination. Though not sure why an imaginary friend would leave so suddenly. I hope this will be answered.

The only part I didn't really like was the way it was set up about her father having an affair- that didn't seem like something that would be particularly mysterious or shocking and I thought maybe the reader was supposed to think that way from how it was set up. But everything else so far makes me want to keep reading.

A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
"bookmagic418.blogspot.com
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JaneM
Posts: 152
Registered: ‎02-01-2008
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Re: The Cover

I like that you  noticed the difference in flower styles, but as a horticulturist, I can tell you that the flower next to the spade is not a swan, but a rose bud.  There is another one on the lower left side of the front cover in yellow.  The other flowers are roses fully opened, and I like the small yellow bee in the top right corner!
Jane M.
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JaneM
Posts: 152
Registered: ‎02-01-2008
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Re: Mist Colors

I'm glad that you are as puzzled as I am about the mist colors.  I'm not sure if I agree with your analysis, but on the other hand, I can't offer anything better.  I'd like to see additional comments on the mist colors as we progress through the chapters.
Jane M.
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JaneM
Posts: 152
Registered: ‎02-01-2008
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

The book is as I expected, and every more so!  It's a delightful read.  I love the playful approach to place and time (or lack of it), and the imaginative approach to activities/social interchanges/religion, etc. are all compelling.  I feel that the writer is somewhat akin to Alice Hoffman and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. 

 

The nurse creates mixed emotions - at first you like her for her protectiveness toward Meridia and then you are frustrated by her over-protectiveness (too many clothes, no time to play at the park).

 

I think Meridia disappears in her own house as a self-protection against the difficulty living with two so disinterested parents.  She pulls into her own shell.

 

I love the descriptive phrasing in the book.  Time and time again I stopped and re-read sentences, delighted in the visual images they evoke.  "Another afternoon they dipped their feet in a spring of immortality which archaic turtles nibbled at their toes."  "Meridia learned that they lived in the only part of the world where snow fell but never chilled, where the sun blazed with tropical intensity but never scorched."

 

I believe Hannah is Meridia's alter-ego - the person she wants to be - adventuresome, fun-loving and willing to explore the world around her.\

 

I'm excited by the book and can't wait to read more.

Jane M.
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Danimal79
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎12-03-2008
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

This book is nothing like I expected it to be!  I've found it to be unsettling, in a way, due to the fact that I started reading it with preconceived notions (and have had to remind myself numerous times to throw those notions out the window). 

 

I'm really intrigued by the world Erick Setiawan has created-I love an author with imagination. 

 

I still don't get a great sense of who Meridia is and I look forward to seeing how her character develops.

 

Eva's character is written really well- her cutting, passive-aggressive remarks truly make me cringe.

 

Hannah's character was an interesting addition..I assume she's a figment of Meridia's imagination/imaginary friend (I'm sure this has been said already...I haven't read everyone's comments yet).  

 

Finally..a comment to poster Linda.  Thank you so much for pointing out the hidden pictures on the cover.  I read your post and ran to the bedroom to look.  I can't believe I hadn't noticed this earlier!

 

 

Danimal

 

Author of Chronic Stimulation- a diary chronicling every day life with a recently implanted neurostimulator (for severe chronic pain).

http://www.chronicstimulation.blogspot.com/
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Read-n-Rider
Posts: 157
Registered: ‎01-29-2007
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

[ Edited ]

Well, I did notice the images on the book's cover, but those are about the only things I've been able to "unravel" so far. I'm not much into symbolism and tend to take things pretty literally when I read, so I'm probably going to have a hard time getting the real meaning here. This book makes me think of Bellefleur, by Joyce Carol Oates. It's been a very long time since I read that book, though, so I'm not really sure why that is; I guess it's just that I have the same impression as I read it--dark, mysterious, shifting between reality and unreality.

 

 I liked the nurse and was disappointed when she disappeared; I felt she was sent away by Ravenna because she was about to tell Meridia the secret of what happened the night she was born and why her parents behaved as they did; I thought she wanted the child to know that it was in no way her (Meridia's) fault.

 

I was happy for Meridia when she and Daniel fell in love; I hoped when they married that Meridia would be on her way to a better life. However, the last 2 sentences in Chapter 9 have me doubting that: "After she finished, Patina fetched an apron from the side of a cabinet and tied it around her waist. At that moment Meridia began to understand her standing in the family." This does not sound promising for our heroine!

 

 Joan

 

Edit:  Hmmm, I had this post nicely divided into paragraphs and then when I submitted it the sentences were all run together.  I don't understand that, since I see that others' posts don't have that problem.  I'll fix it now--if it's still all one paragraph when I re-submit it, please realize that I DO know better!

Message Edited by Read-n-Rider on 06-01-2009 11:44 PM
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Read-n-Rider
Posts: 157
Registered: ‎01-29-2007
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

Ahhhh, much better!

 

Joan

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pjpick
Posts: 1,043
Registered: ‎03-16-2007

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

Well, it's official. I have no imagination. I find this very perplexing since I spent most of my childhood in the Land of Make Believe. When did I get so literal? Once again I'm reminded why I don't read fantasy.

 

Although I'm finding the book somewhat enjoyable I'm really struggling with the whole mist and bee concept. The posters here will really help me with that concept (hopefully). Like others I saw Hannah as an imaginary friend but I like some of the other posters' positions that that's not the case at all, maybe she's a type of spirit guide or something. 

 

And I, too, seem to need a time and place for the story. I figure the author doesn't bring these into the stories so we can apply our own imagination/visions. For me, I see the story taking place in Venice (I think the Festival gives me that feeling) or maybe even Bath (simply because I've been to Bath and in my mind the town looks a lot like it). As for the time frame I want to say the late 1800s or early 1900s but there seem to be some anachronisms to negate these guesses.

 

Whoowee! A definite different type of read for me!

Frequent Contributor
deannafrances
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎07-19-2008

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

I am glad to read that others had difficulty in the beginning--with getting "into"  the book.

It had such a strange and quirky beginning.

Slowly, as I am reading I feel drawn into this unusual world and am curiouser and curiouser about it!!!---acknowledgement to Alice in Wonderland.