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Monday, October 05, 2009

rgz roundtable: The Sweet Far Thing!

Little Willow rounded up a bunch of readergirlz for a roundtable discussion of Libba Bray's THE SWEET FAR THING, October's featured book at the readergirlz blog. Stop on by for chats with Libba throughout the month, culminating in a live chat on October 28th!

Here's a taste of the roundtable chat, and you can find the full discussion at Little Willow's world-famous book blog, Bildungsroman!


Welcome to the readergirlz roundtable! Today, we're discussing A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing, Libba Bray's three exquisite Victorian novels featuring the risk-taking Gemma Doyle. Join us!

Lorie Ann Grover: Welcome to the table, ladies. Let's chat.

Dia Calhoun: Byron could have penned his immortal line, "all that's best of dark and bright" in praise of Libba Bray's The Sweet Far Thing. For in this fantasy novel, the dark and bright powers limning Gemma's passage from girl to woman enthrall the reader's heart from beginning to end.

Lorie Ann Grover: Dia said it so beautifully. Is that not perfect? So, let's go through the door and enter the realms! *shivers*

Little Willow: What did you think of the time and place? Do you enjoy stories set in Victorian England as much as I do?

Melissa Walker: I love this setting! The juxtaposition of proper Victorian England with a wild and supernatural world is perfect for the tempestuous teenage years. I also loved how many "proper" people were involved in both worlds, and the commentary on class and status as well.

HipWriterMama: I don't often read books set in Victorian England. Once I do, I wonder why I don't more often. Libba Bray did a wonderful job building this world--Melissa says it so well.

Holly Cupala: Yes! It reminds me a bit of the historical romances my grandmother used to read, though with the added intrigue of the realms. Jane Austen could never have imagined it so well!

Lorie Ann Grover: I love reading about Victorian England! The society is primed for a good female struggle for voice and independence.

Dia Calhoun: Ever since I read The Secret Garden I have enjoyed novels set in Victorian England. And are not the realms a kind of secret garden? Though with delicious dangers. But I think there is something always hidden and secret in such a strict world.

Little Willow: I love The Secret Garden! I can definitely see the Realms as a secret garden of sorts, Dia. I love stories in which the main character goes through a portal and finds herself/himself otherwhere. In fact, many of my favorite fantasy novels travel to magical lands: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende, Strangewood by Christopher Golden, and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I also love the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane, which was selected by the postergirlz and divas to be listed in this month's recommended reads. I would love to travel to Wonderland or Fantastica (called Fantasia in the TNES films) as well as the Realms in Gemma's stories. What are your favorite other realms?

Holly Cupala: I loved The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende - one of my all-time favorite reads, Little Willow! I first read it at age nine on a camping trip with my cousins - not that I actually did any camping, only reading. I finished it in the middle of the night and cried because I didn't want it to end! I've probably read it a dozen times since. Note: the movie doesn't compare to the book, especially the one printed in red and green.

(Little Willow rejoices over Holly's response.)

Lorie Ann Grover: You know what came instantly to mind? Pern! I love Anne McCaffrey's Pern. Does that count?

Dia Calhoun: I would like to travel to Daria, I think it is called, in Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword. And Middle Earth, of course. But I'd like to have some kind of magical powers to help me deal with the darker elements always found in other realms. Aren't many of these other realms really stand-ins for the subconscious world?

Little Willow: I think so. I am also a sucker for books set in boarding schools. Are any of you? I never attended such a school, but that coupled with the time period, the location, AND the supernatural elements all intrigued me.

Holly Cupala: The idea of boarding school is so intriguing, though I did attend a small private school where everyone knew everything about every moment of your life and imagine that boarding school would be something like that (the panopticon, to bring in a theme from another boarding school book!). However, authors like Libba and John Green and E. Lockhart and Rachel Cohn all make them seem rife with possibilities. That sort of environment could be a crucible for all kinds of experiences.

Dia Calhoun: Yes, I too, have always loved the idea of boarding school, thought I imagine the reality might be quite different. When I got to Mills College--a small liberal arts women's college--living in the dorms where we all had private rooms and sit down candlelight dinners on Wednesdays was very much like a boarding school in some ways. And I did love that! I think any kind of environment where you bring a small group of people together is excellent for fictional possibilities. I want Felicity's tent!

Lorie Ann Grover: I don't want Felicity's tent, Dia! I was ALWAYS worried people could overhear through the cloth. Do you know how when you think you have privacy and you don't? I've never had a boarding school experience. But I could imagine living at Hogwarts! Or having Snape as my headmaster. Oh, my. Holly, I may need a photo here. :~)

Little Willow: (singing) Snape, Snape, Severus Snape! (normal voice) Would you like to have visions like Gemma?

(Would you? Read the rest at Little Willow's blog!)


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