Sorry for the long silence on my end. Finishing school was a marathon of reading and writing, and when it finished, I guess I needed space to recharge my batteries, both reading and writing. I’ve read some science fiction, written some letters to friends, etc., and feel better now about returning to the blog.
I wish I could say I felt better about Scarlet Sister Mary—it’s not that it’s racist (well, that’s not the current problem). It’s that it’s leapt forward in time in an insensible fashion. I’ll credit Peterkin. I was worried this was a traditional romance story, where she’d built up July as unreliable and unfaithful, and June as stable and loyal, and we’re just waiting for Mary to find happiness with June. But in one fell swoop, Peterkin races Mary into a relationship with June, then flies forward a decade and change, past June’s having abandoned Mary (why? absolutely nothing in her portrayal of June makes that believable) and past her oldest children leaving the home (the only kids we have any connection to). We’re left looking at an older Mary dealing with the struggle of raising kids we have no identity for—one of them loses a leg, but honestly it makes him pitiful and not sympathetic because I don’t have time to meet him before the accident.
I don’t know why authors think they can get away with this. It feels as though Peterkin saw the plot hole she was falling into, and bailed out. But that’s not good writing, even if it is self-aware. Wharton can jump forward in time for an epilogue because at that point, only one thing matters…we need to see the outcome of a single relationship, and the fast-forwarding of all else isn’t a problem because ultimately, these side issues aren’t relevant. But jumping forward half-way through the story, and jettisoning relationships with half of these characters, is just silliness. Especially because the other relationships in the story don’t seem to have gone anywhere—I can’t see, for example, that Mary’s relationship to Maum Hannah and Budda Ben has altered at all. I don’t see the point in having spent all that time on relationships that are left by the wayside. Maybe they’re all coming back into the story and it will all make sense, but right now I feel more disorientation than anything else. If this is clever plotting, it’s poor execution.
Anyway, we’ll see where it goes. I’m glad to be back—and glad you’re back also.