Queen of Attolia (was Re: [DWJ] Book recommendations)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Tue Nov 21 14:32:44 EST 2006

On Tue, 21 Nov 2006 10:11:31 -0500 (EST), deborah.dwj at suberic.net wrote:

>On Mon, 20 Nov 2006, Ven wrote:
>>Ania wrote 
>>>And on another subject- am I the only person who
>>>was disappointed with the 
>>>Queen of Attolia? 
>>Nope, you're not the only one, I really really
>>disliked the QoA too -- book and character irrc.
>The thing about the Eugenides books for me is that I can't be
>rational about them. I can see many of the plot and
>characterization holes (I remember Melissa was the person who
>pointed out that there is some places where she cheats in The
>Thief), but she hit so many of my fictional kinks that I just
>adore them completely irrationally.

I'd go a step further and say that I see no characterization problems with
this series.  Turner sticks so very closely to her third-person-limited
viewpoint that there seem to be a million inconsistencies in how her
characters are portrayed, but in my opinion there are very few real mistakes
that can't be accounted for by the perceptions of the person telling the
story.  This is probably why it bothers me so much when I see what (yes,
just in my opinion Hallie) seem to be abuses of that point of view that
deliberately keep the reader in the dark for the sake of a plot "gotcha."
Consciously or not, Turner has taken the idea of the naive narrator to the
reasonable extreme that ALL of us are naive witnesses at some point.

I'm irrational about the series too.  There is something terrible and
poignant about two people who fall in love and stay in love when everything
argues against it.  It ought to be--and forgive me for bringing this up
again--a _Wuthering Heights_ moment that destroys both of them, and maybe
this is why there are readers who don't like the books, because Gen and
Irene ought to fall into that category.  The difference, as I see it, is
that the two of them are genuinely good and unselfish people underneath all
the social conditioning and political maneuvering that appears to define
them.  Gen is in love with the girl he first saw--the girl Irene really is
underneath--and determined, as he usually is with lost causes, to keep her
from being lost forever.  And Irene, for her part, has been as obsessed with
the Thief of Eddis as Gen has been with her.  She had to know that the gifts
he left on her bedside table were what a lover might leave; why else would
she have imagined he was mocking her?  It's not that far a step from hatred
to love, surprisingly, and I think in the moment she took his hand she knew
she'd gone too far.  And I think a lot of us know how seductive it is to
know someone cares for you--and to let that influence our own feelings as

I think a lot about this series.  Irene is by way of being my dark sister,
and it surprises me how much I learn about myself by watching her behavior.
I'm not so terribly irrational that I can't criticize the books, but to me
it seems that much of what others see as inconsistency or flaw makes perfect
sense to me.

Melissa Proffitt
(yes, I am still here)   

More information about the Dwj mailing list