Friday, January 16, 2015

VIXEN (THE FLAPPERS, #1) Recap: Chapter 3 (Lorraine) or "Tropes, tropes, and more tropes"

Greetings, my lovely readers.

It's the end of the week and time for another recap. With my new schedule, I will be posting recaps by the end of the week. I'm not really going to designate a specific day, because you know how that works (especially since recaps are on the more time consuming side). But at the end of most weeks, a new recap will be here.
As for other posts, those will likely come Monday or Tuesday.

Now, onto the recap of Chapter 3 which is titled Lorraine:
Last time, in Chapter 2's recap, we met Clara, Gloria's eighteen-year-old cousin from Pennsylvania. We learned that she has a rather sordid past and is so far the most interesting and least annoying person in this story. Hopefully Lorraine will also be less annoying than Gloria and Marcus.

If you're just joining us, here are Chapters 1 and 2 so that you may catch up and understand what the hell is going on:

Prologue and Chapter 1 (Gloria) Recap

Chapter 2 (Clara) Recap

Anyway, as I was saying, Chapter 3 is where we meet Lorraine, who is described as being Gloria's best friend. When the chapter opens, the girls are standing outside a barber shop and Gloria is pacing nervously. Why? Because Lorraine made an appointment for Gloria to have her hair bobbed. Lorraine also has an affinity for speaking French:

Lorraine had watched her best friend, Gloria, pace frenetically beneath the red and white barbershop pole for the past ten minutes. Frankly, she'd had enough.
"Glo, calmez-vous!" Lorraine caught her friend's petite shoulders, bringing her to a jolting halt. "You're acting as if you're going in for surgery!"
"At least they'd put me under if I was," Gloria whined.
"A true flapper shows more guts than that!" Lorraine said, steering Gloria to the door. "If we hang around out here any longer, they'll start to think we're a couple of streetwalkers."
"They'd only think that about you, Raine."
"Because I'm the only one who's dressed like an adult," Lorraine said. "Now let's go!" 

So far, Lorraine seems promising. Obviously these girls want to be flappers or at least look and act like them, which is cool. Maybe in this story, the best friend is the more sophisticated one instead of the "dumpy" sidekick who idolizes the main character, which is typically the running theme in most contemporary entertainment. Or maybe Gloria and Lorraine are equals, therefore making the social climbing Lorraine reportedly does in the synopsis even more interesting and intriguing. We could only hope, right?

After their exchange outside, they enter the barbershop and again, the author does a great job with setting the scene and describing the interior of a 1920s barbershop. We also learn that Gloria is to have her hair bobbed. And of course, Gloria is shaken up over the fact that she has just entered a place where men get haircuts and shaved. Now, why are they going into a male barbershop instead of a beauty salon for women, you ask? Well...

Before Lorraine had cajoled her father's secretary into book the appointment, she had done her best investigative work to find out that a certain Marcus Eastman was scheduled for a haircut on October fifth at 2:30 p.m. She had then booked Gloria's appointment for October fifth at 2:45 p.m. sharp.

Then there is a paragraph describing the many desperate attempts Lorraine has taken (with Gloria in tow) to stalk Marcus. Damn. It looks like the hope I held for Lorraine is slowly starting to slip. I really hope she doesn't start falling into the traditional soap opera backstabbing best friend trope...

Of course, our ladies man himself, Marcus, is discovered as being one of the men getting shaved.

I've decided this ZZ Top song will be Marcus's theme song throughout these recaps. Every damn time he's in the room.

 So when Marcus makes his presence known, Lorraine starts speaking French to him. Which is already starting to get annoying. SOME phrases are fine, but this is starting to overdo it:

"Quelle coincidence!" Lorraine continued, trilling in mock surprise.
"'Quelle coincidence'?" Gloria repeated. "Really, Raine?"

In a way, Gloria's right to call out her friend for trying too hard to appear sophisticated. I will agree that it does make Lorraine's desperation to get Marcus's attention painfully obvious, and it has been established that Gloria has been subjected to Lorraine's many desperate attempts at winning Marcus over. And maybe that's what the author was trying to accomplish. But there probably could have been a more subtle way of approaching it, you know, since they're supposed to be best friends and all. Lorraine isn't really hurting anyone by speaking French, so maybe Gloria should just let her have that. Sometimes, you really can't stop a trainwreck from happening, and if this is Lorraine, Gloria should know her and what makes her friend tick fairly well. Or if it's really bad, like I said, there are more subtle methods that don't involve making your best friend look like even more of an ass by calling her out in front of everyone. So far, I'm getting the feeling that although these two girls are supposed to be best friends, it's not going to be all that believable.
Lastly, Gloria's wording, "really, Raine?" seems a bit on the modern side.
Now getting back to what I said earlier about my hope for Lorraine being the attractive, confident best friend who is equal to Gloria without any "dumpy best friend sidekick" tropes or "insane jealousy over the perfectly perfecter than perfect main character" goes? Looks like I spoke too soon.

Because after this, we are treated to rather flirtatious banter between Marcus and Gloria, followed by one jealous, spiteful thought after another from Lorraine. Because NO story would ever be complete without best friend rivalry. ABSOLUTELY NONE.

So we get some conflict from Gloria as she demonstrates last minute butterflies over getting her hair bobbed, which is understandable. In the high society she grew up in, it was, for the most part, looked down upon. She also knows that her fiance, Sebastian, definitely would not approve. But then she decides she's tired of being seen as a good girl and decides to go for it.

Marcus's man whoredom is also confirmed and we also find out that Francois, the barber, is every bit the stereotype of a flamboyant French hairstylist. Therefore, giving us stereotype #3.

Stereotypes So Far Found in this Story:
1.) People from bygone times were "unenlightened" and ignorant to EVERYTHING.
2.) People who live in rural communities and work on farms are as dumb as the soil they work on.
3.) Male hair stylists are loud and flamboyant (especially if they are French).

And while Francois is cutting Gloria's hair, Lorraine is making more desperate attempts to get Marcus to notice her. To the point where it's almost embarrassing.

 Well, I guess there's still hope for Gloria. Maybe she will redeem herself and not be a total perfecter than perfect Mary Sue...

 Francois was busy snipping the finishing touches into Gloria's hair when Lorraine approached. He swiveled Gloria around so that they had a full view of her. "Voila! C'est magnifique, non?"
Glora's hair swept across her forehead like a crinkled autumn leaf, billowing over one sea-green eyes before delicately ending in a soft edge along the line of her jaw. She blinked at them with wide, apprehensive eyes. "Oh no, do I look like a boy?"
"More like a movie star!" Marcus whistled.
Lorraine glimpsed her own bob in the mirror and nearly cried. How was it that she suddenly looked like a dowdy Joan of Arc and Gloria looked like a doe-eyed starlet?
She pushed away her jealousy. It wasn't Gloria's fault her hair turned out smashing, right?

Yes, that is everyone fawning all over Gloria and talking about how positively beautiful Gloria is.

I'm starting to think that all hope is lost for this plot. But, I committed to doing these recaps and besides, we do still have Clara.

So yes, Gloria looks stunning, with everyone oohhing and aahhing over her while Lorraine demonstrates much inner hatred.
You know, wouldn't it have been more interesting to have Gloria be the one to not look right with her hair bobbed? Oh, but then that would take away from the dowdy, jealous sidekick Lorraine is supposed to be. Everyone just has to love Gloria. We're all supposed to. And you WILL...

You will love will love will despise Lorraine because the author said so...

On top of that, Gloria and Marcus are still the only two who know of their speakeasy escapade, which of course makes Lorraine even more jealous. I could display the dialogue, but it really only is more demonstration of Lorraine's jealousy over Gloria's closeness with Marcus and everything else about Gloria. Seriously, why are these two girls even friends?
Then we are treated to Gloria moaning over her "goody-goody cousin and total reuben" Clara is coming to town to help with planning Gloria and Sebastian's wedding. Of course, the three conspire a plan to "ruin her". Seriously, am I watching "Mean Girls"?
And we see more asswipeness from Marcus:

"So I was thinking," Marcus continued, working the promade into his hair, "that I, say, make Country Clara fall in love with me--"
"And then you break her like a twig!" Lorraine offered. "I mean, in a nice way."
"It seems Miss Dyer and I are in agreement," Marcus said, winking at her. Lorraine could have swooned.
"I don't know," Gloria said, tilting her head and watching her hair move in the mirror. "Doesn't that seem excessively cruel? Even for you, Marcus?"
"What is cruel, my little red morning glory, is that your cousin is here to ruin your life before--"
"Before Bastian does!" Lorraine chimed in.
"I was going to say before your wedding. And besides, the girls around here are such a bore. Some fresh blood will really spice up my game. I know you think I'm horrid, but it's true. Dating is like a sport, and as with every sport...practice makes perfect."
You know, I'm thinking of changing his theme song from ZZTop's "Sharp-Dressed Man" to the Bart Baker parody of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." Because that describes him so much more.

So this chapter ends with Gloria, Marcus, and Lorraine agreeing to conspire against Clara and run her out of town. And Lorraine has an inner monologue in which she vows to make everything work in her favor "for once."

So, what has been established so far?
- Gloria is supposed to be scholarly, though certain passages suggest a different scenario.
- Gloria has shitty friends.
- I can't decide whether Marcus is an asswipe or just plain stupid. Or both. We shall see.
- One negative stereotype already: people prior to the 21st century were dimwitted and ignorant to everything.
- The author does have a talent for setting a scene and introducing characters. Hopefully this will end up being a decent read.
- Another negative stereotype: people who work on farms are also apparently dimwitted.
-Lots and lots of semi-colons.
- Clara is more interesting than Gloria (at least so far).
- Marcus IS an asswipe
- Lorraine seems to be the stereotypical backstabbing "best friend" trope
- Gloria is the perfectly perfecter than perfect lead character adored by everyone, even the best friend who really seems to dislike her.
- Frenemies are better than real friends

I also have this foreboding feeling that this isn't the last of the whole "frenemies" or male love interest being a complete douchebag but we love him anyway tropes. We will be discussing this further, as I do find these trends rather troubling.
Til then, stay tuned for the Chapter 4 when we are taken back into Gloria's head. Great...

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