War and Peace Saturday: Chapters 155-161

I have to say it’s started getting good again. After the innocent vs. corruptors section of last week, we now see the plot thicken, as Sherlock would say. Anatole goes fully throttle into seducing Natasha and has the help of Helene and Dolkhov. We are even given the description that Natasha is Helene’s “little protege.”

Anatole goes to a lot of trouble for this seduction. He’s pretty much ruining his life and good name, as he plans on sneaking her out of the country and breaking laws to put on a fake marriage. He’s cast as pretty stupid, unaware of any morals and believing that as long as it pleases him it can’t be wrong. He has no care or concern about how his behavior affects anyone else. With all these plots afoot it doesn’t look good for Natasha, though she at least has Sonya standing up for her character, whether Natasha wants her to or not. Sonya is beginning to stand out a little more as a character, while Natasha has gone from an interesting character with somewhat admirable wits to a brainless little girl and not nearly so interesting.

Another observation I’ve made: Tolstoy has really made the effort to flesh out all his characters. None are good or evil. They are just various people, portrayed from lots of different points of view. Only one of them truly stands out as a villain, with no explanations given for his character, and who gets more villainous every time he reappears, and that is Dolokhov. He is a gambler (cheater), carouser and corrupter, and he seems to hand a hand in every nefarious undertaking going on in this story. And I can’t wait to read more about him!

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Sherlock Holmes: “The Musgrave Ritual”

Summary: Sherlock reflects back on his third case, helping a rich acquaintance from college figure out what happened to his butler and maid. The man’s family had a ritual that had been passed down through the generations, but the man had no idea what it meant. He found his butler going through his things and fired him. The butler had been trying to crack the code of the ritual to find some hidden treasure. Sherlock followed in his footsteps, and they found the butler dead locked in a cellar. The maid had killed him and tried to run off with the treasure but found it unsatisfactory or something and had thrown it in the pond. The treasure turned out to be King Charles I’s crown.

Reaction: Character revealed: Sherlock is a slob! Fun quote: “I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of our room was improved by it.” Watson is speaking about the pattern of bullet holes Sherlock had shot into the walls.

Sherlock Rating: Sherlock Arabian Nights/Life in my apartment. This story starts when Watson is trying to get Sherlock to clean up a little and file his papers away from his last hundred cases that have been lying around everywhere. Sherlock convinces Watson that it would be much more interesting to get out an old file from his case box out, kind of like┬áScheherazade stalling the king in Arabian Nights. It also kind of reminds me of how my apartment gets sometime (though it looks nice right now)–I am more Watson than Sherlock, though.

Mystery Story Convention: Hidden treasure. Great mysteries always have a hidden treasure to uncover.

Sherlock Holmes: “The Gloria Scott”

Summary: Sherlock relates the details of the first case he ever undertook. When in college, his only friend’s father died suddenly after reading a mysterious note. Sherlock decoded the note, which told him that a mysterious man had discovered the father’s secret. After reading a note left behind for the son, they learned that the father had been a prisoner on a ship where there was a mutiny. The boat of the least murderous prisoners left before the boat itself exploded. For some reason they went back to look for survivors and saved one of the sailors, who had plagued them ever since. The father died of fright for no reason, because the man disappeared after that. Sherlock deduced that he was done in by another blackmail victim, who then went into hiding.

Sherlock Rating: Meh. It was exciting to read, actually, and interesting because it was his first case and we saw a little of Sherlock’s backstory, but upon writing the summary, I realized that Sherlock did absolutely nothing to solve the case. He decoded the strange letter, but it was decoded in the explanation letter the father had left him anyway.

Mystery Story Convention: Hidden identities and secret dark pasts. A lot of these stories and mystery stories in general seem to deal with this.

War and Peace Saturday: Chapters 148-154

As usual, I’m pretty busy today, so I’m predicting that this post will be short, but this reading section seemed pretty short as well. It was better than last week’s, at least.

First, Old Bolkonski is definitely going crazy. He’s announced that he’s kicking Mary out of the house, though in these chapters she hasn’t actually gone anywhere. This could be the opportunity she’s been waiting for to go on that pilgrimage!

There’s Boris the gold-digger, who’s bagged his heiress, Mary’s friend Julie.

The best part was when we switched back to the Rostovs, who have traveled to Moscow. This section stopped right in the middle of an opera scene where Natasha is being charmed by the wicked trio of Dolokhov, Helene, and Anatole. I love the contrast of the incredibly naive vs. wolf-like experience. It’s some of the best tension we’ve seen so far! I’m excited to read this again!

Pantsing It: Day Something…

First, as warned, I’ve not had time to get my posts up this week. I didn’t even read any Sherlock. But at least I finished my War and Peace reading today.

Plus I submitted my current WIP to an agent this week, and next week I’ll try another one.

Along the lines of my new work, which I’d started by using a seat-of-the pants strategy, I may already be straying from it. I have an outline (actually a couple different ones) in my notebooks. Pantsing it hadn’t become so fun anymore and I was stalled out with no idea what I’d do next, except I knew what I needed to figure out, and for me, figuring it out involved making some outlines. Hopefully this will help me get further into the book while having fun with it. I’ll still try to keep up a mix of pantsing and outlining just to stay on my toes and interested.

War and Peace Saturday: Chapters 141-147

Today I am having fun at Cedar Point! Yay!

Anyway, we are still with the Rostovs for a while. At first all is well. Some mummers come by and everyone cross-dresses, go out to show off to the neighbors, and then Nicholas falls in love with Sonya more than ever because he gets to kiss her when she has a mustache drawn on…

There’s been some weird cross-dressing type stuff going on here lately. There’s this other “buffoon,” an old guy who goes around in a dress all the time. I’m definitely not opposed to it, because it makes things much more interesting and at least entertaining, but I’m not sure how I’m meant to take it besides as strange. I’ll just go with the flow as normal, though.

Then the Rostovs have to face reality again. Their money trouble is not going away, and they have to sell their Moscow house. Nicholas is almost disowned by his mother, but for Natasha’s interference–because mom wants him to marry someone with money and not penniless Sonya.

Then we go back to Pierre, who alternates from easygoing idle society man and leader of his area Freemasons to heavy drinking womanizer. He can’t handle being idle, but that’s all he seems to know how to do.

Then we go check in on Old Bolkonski, who is going senile and is more awful than ever and beats his daughter and makes her life hell and wants to marry that French chick who hangs out/serves Mary and who had earlier broken up Mary’s match with some jerk.

And that’s all for today. Think of me today, riding all the coasters over and over!