Reply
Frequent Contributor
PinkBaby
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎09-03-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

as a whole this novel wasnt as good as some of the first look books. but then again it was never boring. i liked the way setiawan weaved the symbolism throughout the book. i was alaways hoping though that daniel and merida would get back together. even though merida had every right to stay away from him. im surprised how merida was with eva at the end of the book. she  had every right to walk away from the dying eva. and not tell daniel but she was still nice. as for hannah she was the imaginary friend she needed when no one else was there. i sometimes wish i had women friends. but i dont anyway it wasnt to bad a book.
Frequent Contributor
AIRKNITTER
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

Just a quick note to thank Mr. Setiawan for sharing his "voice" with the FirstLook b/c. What a divine voice, indeed. There are so many unanswered questions that I am looking forward to the next installment "of Bees and Mist".

Someone in my household was watching the TV w/the sound way to loud. It sounded like Eva's bees. It was a religious program; a large group of nuns praying the rosary together.

Can I be the only woman 'of a certain age' who has female friends that are our girl-friends. When we meet we hug and kiss, in public, this used to be so normal. Has society become so ultra-conservative that same-sex hugging is now "bad"?

Children are the living message we send to a time we will not see.
Contributor
KimberlyH
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎12-24-2008

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

Elias pleads with Merdia with his glance from his deathbed to “save her”. However, Merdia was left on her own to decide who “she was” that Elisa wanted her to save. She feels a clue on page 316 after she gives Permony her blessing for the wedding, “Somehow, despite her best intention to honor it, Meridia knew she had broken a promise she could not remember making.” After Permony’s death that Merdia on page 368, reflects that “She had not fought harder for her, had succumbed to deceiving appearances and allowed her to marry the wrong man.” It was then when she understood that it was Permony that Elisa wanted her to save.

 

Elisa’s reaction to Ahab at Malin’s wedding becomes understandable. There is a glimpse into possible trouble on page 252 when Meridia notices, “Elisa was looking at the distinguished-looking foreigner who has been stealing glances at Permony. His gaze seemed angry and troubled, as if he had placed the man’s face from somewhere but wished he had not.”

 

 

I found this novel an interesting reflection on the impact of children on one course in life and relationships. The novel offers several of these to look at Ravanna, Gabriel and Meridia – Elias, Eva and Permony – Meridia, Daniel and Noah – Patina and Eva – Malin and Jonathan.

 

Meridia was born “blue and wrinkled” on the first page of the novel. With no breath, the midwife was about to “bundle her away” when Ravenna demanded the baby be given to her. Eva’s angry and violent words on page 142 give us the first look at the changes that Meridia’s birth created at 24 Monarch Street. She tells that Ravenna “lost all interest in your father three days after you were born” and “the thought of being touched by her own husband repulsed her to the core”. Eva goes on to confirm Meridia’s suspicions of another woman by telling her that her father “found a perch between another woman’s legs”. This leads her mother to become a “jilted, ax-wielding lover”.

 

Ravenna held a motherly obsession over her baby. Ravanna explains herself on page 151 how the cold wind blew into the house, and she was “pinned helplessly against the wall while Meridia’s bassinet flew across the room”. New parents feel the crushing weight of responsibility for the new life that is completely dependent on them. Add to this the weight that was placed on Ravenna with the knowledge of how Meridia had entered the world. Again on page 151, Ravenna remembers this feeling “That night the world suddenly teemed with dangers, herself and a stranger in it, and in the days that followed she lost her reason and her strength.”

 

Three months after the wind, Ravenna begins to twist her hair because Gabriel does not keep his promise. His promise that was broken is not relieved until the touching exchange between him and Ravanna before his death on page 277. Ravenna needed time and patience. Gabriel saw it as her falling out of love and turned to another for comfort. They both still wanted and needed each other but could not see past “daily imperfections” (280), and Ravanna her “pride” (151).

Contributor
TrishNYC
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎09-16-2008

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

I definitely believe that when Elias says to Meridia to save someone, it was Permony he had in mind. When you think back to the way that Elias was looking at Ahab at the wedding, it all makes sense. At first when I read that scene, I thought Elias was just experiencing a bit of paternal jealousy because he was seeing a man admire his beloved daughter. But when that scene is taken into context with what later follows, you realize that Elias probably knew something about Ahab's true nature. He may have encountered Ahab or stories of him on his travels to buy jewelry for the store but whatever the case maybe, he knew that Ahab was not to be trusted. I somehow doubt he was speaking of Eva as I think he most of all realized that that woman was beyond redemption. Short of Meridia killing Ahab, she could not have saved Permony. The man was determined to have his latest plaything and her mother was determined that her coffers be filled. And for once in Permony's life, she had gained her mother's favor. No, Permony was beyond redemption at that point. 

 

Malin's character is a very interesting one as she really does a 360 revolution as the book progresses. As a mother, I believe she would be excellent in part because of the pain over loosing her own child but also because she would spend the rest of her life making up to Joshua all the pain she had inflicted on his mother.

 

I suspected that Ahab was not all that he portrayed but my doubts were solidified by Meridia's concerns over his character. Since Meridia had shown herself to be a woman of so much substance, her not trusting or liking someone made my heckles go up immediately.

 

As to the question of if Ahab was the only character that morphs into a monster? Not at all. His transformation was obviously the most physical manifestation of a monstrosity but so many characters in the book demonstrated "beastly" characteristics. Daniel's blindness to his mother's evil nature and the way that he treats his wife and child was appalling to say the least. He morphs from a loving husband to a man who lets his insecurities about his wife become an excuse to stray from home. Elias also morphs into a beast while under the ministration of Eva and her bees.  

 

Long and tall of it  as concerns Hannah is that I am sure she was a figment of Meridia's imagination, conjured up at Meridia's lowest points and moments of great stress. Notice she is the daughter of a traveling salesman and later marries a traveling salesman. It is a built in safe guard that Meridia's mind must have created knowing that she would not always need her (Hannah) and so her absences could be explained away by occupation.  

 

 

As to Daniel, well there were many moments when I simply despised him. His blindness to his mother's behavior bordered on criminal. But he gave Meridia love when that was an emotion was alien to her. He was weak and insecure and at the end of the day I could not hate him because he was all too human.

 

Both Eva and Meridia's action are at the center of the novel and one would not be revealed without the other. If Eva had embraced Meridia as a daughter and loved her, then even Meridia would have been unaware of her own strength. What is that thing they say?... "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  

 

 

 

 

Correspondent
meme1
Posts: 106
Registered: ‎12-17-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

The bees and mists were difficult for me to accept.  I think I'm too literal.  After I've completed and thought about the novel, I've decided that the bees and mists are only symbolic, not real.  They are like the internal noise people experience when they are struggling to solve a situation that has arisen in their lives.  If I approach them that way, I can enjoy my thoughts of the story more.  ~  This is also like Hannah in Meridia's life.  I think she is an imaginary friend, an internal support for Meridia when her life is chaotic.

 

I wonder about the relationship of Meridia and Daniel.  She shows concern for him and Eva at the end of the story.  Then she tells him to come to her after he has seen Eva.  Will she actually let him back in her - and Noah's - lives?  That seems like a lot of compassion that is not warranted. 

 

Meridia was aware of Ahab's evil nature.  Her perception of him seems so accurate, which I think shows some maturity of her.  I think she sees him like Eva- evil, manipulative, self-centered.

meme

~~ Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.

~~ Be careful reading health books. You may die of a misprint. Mark Twain
Distinguished Wordsmith
Zeal
Posts: 258
Registered: ‎03-18-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

The request made to "save her" by Elias on his death bed was definitely referring to PermonyAhab was a guest at Mailin's wedding, and we saw an indication of Elias's dislike for him there, although it was slight foreshadowingAhab had been starring at Permony, and Elias glanced at him with extreme dislikeI think he knew about the reputation that Ahab had rightly earned and may have even suspected Eva's meddling in Permony's futureAt that point, my suspicions about Ahab's character started, but I never could have imagined the monster that he turned out to be
"I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer."
Sharon Draper
Wordsmith
ponie
Posts: 359
Registered: ‎01-30-2009

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

Finished the book.

 

What a study in dysfunctional family dynamics!  A report would take many pages.  Suffice it to say the harrowing toll unaddressed dysfunction takes on everyone involved is tragic. 

 

I remember crying through The Great Santini, the movie based on Pat Conroy's My Losing Season.  I Never Sang for My Father was another one that was painful to watch.  There are many like examples of dysfunction and abuse in literature and the movies and the local paper; much of it takes place behind closed doors.  I recently read The Glass Castle by Walls and was renewed in my determination to help people out of the murky mire of family dysfunction.  People can rise above; with help some do, tho sadly, many do not seek or get the help they need.  There are those who take their "perceived reality" with them to the grave. 

 

 Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

ponie
Inspired Correspondent
ladybug74
Posts: 89
Registered: ‎03-18-2009

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

I apologize for posting so late. I usually read every night for at least a couple of hours, but I am in my very last 2 classes in graduate school, plus interning right now. I have had a crazy month! I would not typically fall behind like this.

 

I have not read the other posts before giving my answers, so forgive me if I am repeating things that others have already said.

 

I do believe that Permony is the "she" that Elias wanted to save. No, I don't think she could have been saved because she did not want to listen to the warnings of others. She should have been suspicious of her mother's sudden support after years of abuse from her. Permony thought she was in love and had found the man who she wanted to spend her life with, so she would not listen to anyone who tried to save her.

 

I believe that Malin has done a complete 180 since she was first introduced. As much as she mourned her own baby and as much as this caused her to grow up, I believe she will be a wonderful mother to Permony's baby. Perhaps she feels that she can make up for her earlier mistreatment of her sister by taking care of Permony's baby, but I do think she will be a great mother.

 

I did have a feeling that something would happen with Ahab, but did not expect him to literally be a monster. I had assumed he and Eva were both profiting off of his marriage to Permony in some way, but had no idea that this would be his secret.

 

No, I do not understand Hannah's character any better now. My thoughts about her are the same as they were previously. Perhaps I will be enlightened when I read what others have said about her.

 

I do feel kind of sorry for Daniel in the end, but he brought it on himself. He should have never cheated on Meridia. I was glad when Noah decided to forgive his father, but do not blame Meridia for telling him it was over for the two of them.

 

I think Meridia's resilience was greater than Eva's will in the end. Eva ruined many lives and would not stop at anything to get what she wanted, but Meridia was the one person who she could not break (at least not permanently).

 

I do not know why the festival of the spirits was mentioned again. This is another one that went right over my head.

 

I believe that Meridia's fireflies are representative of Ravenna. She first saw them at Ravenna's house after she died and they seem to take the place of her mother in the role fo supporting and protecting Meridia. I assume the fireflies are supposed to be the opposite of the bees in some way. I know that as a child, I would stomp on bees and catch fireflies in jars to look at them. So bees are negative to me and fireflies are positive.

Frequent Contributor
GadgetgirlKS
Posts: 52
Registered: ‎02-10-2009

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

I have been slacking on posting because of traveling and I read the book the first week and was worried I would reveal something that actually happened later in the book. I have greatly enjoyed reading everyone else's comments.

 

The character that puzzles me the most is Hannah. Most of the mystical aspects throughout the book are just symbolic of real life things, but Hannah seems to really be an imaginary friend. While this is a bit aggravating to figure out, it is also stimulating. Thanks Erick for writing a book that is a little outside the box.

Inspired Contributor
kren250
Posts: 76
Registered: ‎01-01-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

Yes, I felt that Permony was the one who Elias wanted to save. Honestly, with Eva for a mother I don't think poor Permony had much of a chance at all (unless she had run away, and found shelter with someone normal and nice;-)

 

Malin has really matured, and become a better person with age. I'm sure getting away from home helped. I think she'll make an excellent mother.

 

I definitely felt there was something more to Ahab than what he wanted us to see. I wasn't surprised at all by the scene in the basement.

 

I never did fully figure out Hannah. Some type of imaginary friend? An aspect of Meridia's personality? I don't think she was a ghost, which is what I believed when she first appeared.

Correspondent
floreader
Posts: 95
Registered: ‎09-15-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

I also never figured out who Hannah was.  I also initially thought she was a ghost.  I lean toward the imaginary friend angle, but am not really sure.  This is part of the reason I liked the book since it made you think.

 


kren250 wrote:

Yes, I felt that Permony was the one who Elias wanted to save. Honestly, with Eva for a mother I don't think poor Permony had much of a chance at all (unless she had run away, and found shelter with someone normal and nice;-)

 

Malin has really matured, and become a better person with age. I'm sure getting away from home helped. I think she'll make an excellent mother.

 

I definitely felt there was something more to Ahab than what he wanted us to see. I wasn't surprised at all by the scene in the basement.

 

I never did fully figure out Hannah. Some type of imaginary friend? An aspect of Meridia's personality? I don't think she was a ghost, which is what I believed when she first appeared.


 

Contributor
dk_phoenix
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎05-04-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

Hannah was probably the most confusing and yet one of the most intriguing characters for me... I kept wondering when she was going to show up again. It was like an aspect of Meridia that appeared when she needed it and disappeared when she didn't... I'd like to re-read those sections again to figure out what exactly triggered Hannah's appearance/disappearance each time. I can't say I'm convinced she was a real character, and I agree with others here who thought she was an aspect of Meridia's personality... but then, the mystical aspect of the book could always mean that Hannah was a real person, but because only Meridia needed her, only Meridia could see her. Other people in the book had 'gifts', per se, so I don't think it's too far fetched to assume that Hannah might have had one too. I would have liked to learn more about her, all told.
Distinguished Scribe
blkeyesuzi
Posts: 730
Registered: ‎01-26-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel


thewanderingjew wrote:

I think PiperMurphy's comment about the name Hannah being a palindrome and her comment about Meridia and she being mirror immages was really intuitive. I also think that SunlitCloud's assessment was great.

After reading the first two assignments I decided I really wanted to finish the book, and just continued to read it until the end, so it did capture my imagination. The book was a very creative, quick read which held my interest pretty well.  I think it could really be a good introductory first novel for the author. There could be many sequels in the future for people who enjoy this kind of a tale.

I do agree with vivico, because in the end it fell a little flat for me and rather than post before everyone had finished reading, I stopped posting for awhile (also due to the fact that I got the flu/severe cold which put me out of commission for longer than I expected) to think about my reaction to the total book.

It is not typical of a book I would have picked up on my own to read. I am grateful to Barnes and Noble for giving me the opportunity to try out other genres.

Finally, though, I thought it seemed a bit like a fairy tale. At times, there was almost too much magic in it.


I have to agree with vivico and thewanderingjew.  I really enjoyed reading the book, however it isn't my typical book I'd read, so I had a difficult time discussing it this time.  There were so many things going on in the book and my life at the same time, perhaps?  Who knows....  I've already suggested it to several of my friends who like this genre, as I just know they'll adore it.  It took great imagination and I loved getting lost in that world for a while.  It really was fun, actually.  I have to thank Erick Setiawan for introducing me to this mystical genre...it really was fun to read.

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
Distinguished Scribe
blkeyesuzi
Posts: 730
Registered: ‎01-26-2008

Re: Later Chapters and Whole Novel

 

 

I think Permony WAS the one Elias was talking about.  I think he knew she was in danger and that Eva would think only of herself, particularly once Meridia was out of the house.  Elias knew Malin was the only person who could save her and the only one who really saw the truth.  What Elias didn't consider is the fact that Permony was a headstrong young lady and she was determined to get her way.  There was very little, if anything that would have stopped her from marrying the person who turns out to be a terrible monster.  That said, I found this part of the story a little disturbing and almost out of sync with the rest of the story.  Perhaps I just wasn't expecting it.  He was absolutely the worst monster I've ever imagined, that's for sure!


I think Malin has learned from other people's mistakes and so she will be a good mother.  She has supportive people around her to help her achieve that goal.

 


I don't really have a conclusion about Hannah.  She is still a little bit of a mystery to me, but that's ok.  I enjoy that part of the story.  She's kind of a guardian angel, or a fairy that shows up when Meridia needs her.  I really liked this character and what she added to the story. 

 

I still find Daniel to be weak and I'm having trouble being sympathetic to him.  I would think he would stand up for the person he loved whatever the cost.  He was blinded by his mother...a glorified mama's boy.  I found it somewhat pathetic at times.  It was hard to respect his character because of his actions.

 

I'd say that Eva's fierce will AND Meridia resilience played equal roles in the events of the novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed Eva's character.  She's the character I loved to hate.  Meridia was the good fighting the evil and I wanted her to win.  Both the characters were necessary to make the story work.

 

All-in-all I'd say it was a really fun read.  I enjoyed it a lot.  I wish I could have discussed it more, however a family emergency has kept me away.  I'm back now!  Ready to tell you how much I enjoyed the book.
Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs