Monday, February 9, 2015

VIXEN (THE FLAPPERS, #1) RECAP: CHAPTER 4 or "Just Shut Up, Gloria. Please. Shut UP"

And we're back.

A lot longer than I intended, but I'm still going at this. I will give a heads up: this chapter irritated me so much that I had to listen to either something full of rage or soothing as I did this. I opted for something soothing. So imagine the beautiful sounds of Loreena McKennitt playing in the background as you follow along.

In the last recap, we had a chance to be inside Lorraine's head as she watched Gloria get her hair bobbed. We also got to learn how wonderful and beautiful and great and amazing and breathtaking Gloria is. Now we're back inside Gloria's head with chapter 4. Joy!

Now, if you're just joining us, here are the first three chapter recaps to catch you up before you continue with this one:

Prologue and Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Moving on to Chapter 4 which should just be called Shut the Hell Up, Gloria.

And it starts off with a bang. 

Gloria was hungry. She focused on cutting her crab-stuffed mushroom into tiny pieces, avoiding eye contact with everyone at the dining room table. She could feel all their judgmental stares--her mother's, cousin's, and fiance's--burning a hole through her bob.

That first paragraph actually wouldn't be so bad if that first sentence wasn't so out of place. Instead, something like Gloria sat at the dinner table, wishing the ground would swallow her up as she focused on cutting her crab-stuffed mushroom into tiny pieces might have been more effective. With everything that happened (the next paragraph basically describes how all hell broke loose in the house when Gloria arrived home with her bobbed hair), it might be more realistic for her to be so anxious (either in a good or bad way) that she could barely keep her food down. Though, I guess it's also possible that she could be a stress-eater.
Anyway, now she's at dinner with her mom, Sebastian, and Clara. BTW, as a side note, even though Gloria calls her fiance Bastian throughout the story, I'm going to call him by his full name, Sebastian. Because anytime I see the name Bastian, this is what I think of:

And that would just be wrong. So Sebastian it is.

She sees Sebastian glowering at her and her bobbed hair from across the table, glowering as if he's going to leap across the table and strangle her. She thinks of how that might be weirdly exciting as she had never seen him heated before. How he is so dull compared to her.

In the past, he'd always been so stable, so predictable. So dull.
Why had she ever found him appealing? Sure, on the surface she was just a prim prep school girl, but she had hidden depths.

Um, no you don't, Gloria. There are no depths to you. All you've done up to this point was prove how shallow and dimwitted you are. Sure, one can argue that you did look passed the color of Jerome's skin, but even that attraction seems superficial at this point. The only person who HAS demonstrated hidden depths so far is Clara.
After Gloria's ode to herself, we get a back story on her supposedly passionless relationship with Sebastian. How convenient. Because of course, no story is ever complete without a love triangle (and I do mean NEVER). Therefore, Gloria is thinking of Jerome the entire time she reflects on her relationship with her current fiance. Seriously, hands up if you are tired of seeing these love triangle themes.

So then Gloria mentally degrades Clara  and asks her cousin what she has been doing with herself. Not because she honestly wants to know, but because she wants to shift everyone's icy stares from her. Yep, it's still all about Gloria. Gloria is also suddenly a smartass while Sebastian pretty much kisses up to her mother. The sad thing is, Gloria's smartass comments would actually be funny if they weren't coming from her. Gloria also continues her mental degradation of everyone around her. Actually, this time it's toward her father, who isn't even in the room. At this point I'm surprised she's even giving Jerome the time of day. And yes, I realize I'm overusing Gloria's name. Because it's all about Gloria.

Clara does make the scene more bearable for this reader by turning on her country girl charm, overdoing it just a tad. Which is quite amusing. Much more amusing than Gloria fancying herself a rebel and failing dismally. At this point I'm wishing this story was only about Clara.
After Clara describes a day in the life of a farmgirl, Gloria hopes her cousin is joking about it all. And of course, more judgmental thoughts from our girl:

It was a wonder the girl [Clara] could speak at all, what with her blouse buttoned up so high. It was easily the ugliest blouse Gloria had seen in ages.

Shut up, Gloria. Nobody cares.

Clara continues:

"I also love the volunteer work I do in the pediatric ward of the local hospital."
"Pediatric ward?" Gloria repeated. Was this girl serious? 

So now Gloria takes issue with the idea of Clara volunteering her time to care for sick children. Fuck you, Gloria. Maybe Sebastian or someone should actually leap across the table and strangle you. I hope you get hit by a falling chandelier.

After Clara continues her act some more, it is suggested by Sebastian that perhaps Gloria should have gone out to the country in Clara's place for improvement.

This what, Bastian?" Gloria asked. "I'm dying to hear what improvements you think country life could work upon me."

As much of an asswipe Sebastian is, Gloria, I do agree that you need all the improvement you can get. Clearly, Gloria can't stand it when someone tells her she's less than perfect.

Bastian pounded his fist onto the table. "This...atrocity!"

Gloria glares at her fiance before shift the focus to Clara, pointing out that she too has her hair bobbed. To which Clara offers the explanation of donating her hair to organizations for women who had lost their hair due to illness. Of course, Beatrice and Sebastian are impressed, but Gloria continues her inner temper tantrum, even thinking she could tell Clara a thing or two about charity.
Now, I will clarify being aware of the fact that Clara is bullshitting her way through dinner. But Gloria doesn't know that. Therefore, her negative remarks toward volunteering in a pediatric ward makes her come across as a whiny, spoiled brat.

As the other two at the table are gushing over Clara, Gloria thinks about wanting to return to the Green Mill and see Jerome. Sweet Lord, NO!!! Jerome is the most awesome character so far! PLEASE don't ruin him! (Though I have a foreboding feeling that that is exactly what'll happen)

Then Gloria starts thinking about the instant spark she had with Jerome and how it isn't there with Sebastian. Of course not. Because then we wouldn't have the cliche love triangle.
After thinking about it some more, Gloria makes a plan to seduce her fiance.

Now, I will say the scene in which she attempts to seduce Sebastian is actually very well written. Once again demonstrating the authors ability to write and actually tell a decent story. I'm starting to feel like she's trapped in cliche guidelines set by her publishers.

Of course, Gloria's plan to seduce her fiance fails. It ends with them arguing and him leaving her alone.

Gloria watched him leave. She slumped into the love seat, hugging a pillow to her chest. Her throat ached as she tried to swallow the oncoming flood of salty tears.

Yet another well-written passage. Dammit, Jillian, you can write! I would love to see what you can do without the constraints of all these insufferable cliches!

Anyway, Gloria's mother enters the room, obviously not happy and informing her daughter of their need to talk. Gloria wants to wait until morning, but Beatrice (her mother) insists they talk now.

Her mother sat down on the love seat next to her. "You're lucky you still have a diamond on your finger after this little stunt you pulled." She was referring to Gloria's bob, of course, but her tone made it very clear that she had also been eavesdropping. "Unfortunately, it's no longer just about you."

YES!!! Score one for mom!!!

Then, Gloria says:

"I don't know what you're talking about, Mother."

It is then Gloria's mother fills her daughter in on the divorce. We learn that Gloria's father found a younger woman to shack up with. A twenty-three year old exotic dancer named Amber, to be exact. Understandably, the news comes as a shock to Gloria.

Then her mother continues:

"The Carmody name, our entire family's reputation, could be permanently destroyed. Running off with some floozy? We'll be ruined once this gets out to the papers. Unless," her mother said, taking hold of Gloria's hand and squeezing it tightly, "you are married to Sebastian Grey."
Gloria felt her heart sink. "I'm already engaged. Remember?"
"I do. Only, we no longer have the luxury of a long engagement. Now there is no time to lose. The second this scandal breaks is the second Bastian takes that ring away."
"But, Mother, it's 1923. Plenty of couples get divorced these days!"
"You don't understand me, Gloria," her mother said sharply. "Your father is the sole proprietor of your inheritance, which is due to you on your eighteenth birthday. But if you fail to marry Sebastian, you won't see a penny of it....I will be out on the streets. We'll be left with nothing."

You know, I feel like I've seen a plot almost exactly like this before...

Remember that scene in Titanic when Rose's mother has that private talk with her daughter of why it's important she marry Cal Hockley? In fact, now that I think about it, when looking at the physical descriptions of Gloria and Sebastian again...

Now, is there anything wrong with the author using Titanic as an inspiration for her story? Absolutely not. But it's pretty much the exact same scene and scenario. And it's been done many times. And we know exactly where it's headed.

We also find out that Sebastian didn't court and propose to Gloria because he loves her. Apparently he also has nothing. He's living on credit and loans and his father gambled away their money. Basically, everyone in this story is a hot mess.

Because of the situation, the wedding has been pushed up and now Gloria is to be married within the next month. And there is no other choice.

After her mother leaves the room, Gloria bursts into tears. And I do understand, as she is in a pretty tough situation. Marry a jackass or have her mother out on the streets. Then we are treated yet another frustratingly well-written chapter ending:

As she sat alone, crying, she found herself trying frantically to twist off her diamond ring. Before tonight, it had been a promise, yes, but a dazzling one. And a slippery one, to be put on and taken off according to her own free will.
Now her finger bulged under the platinum band, cutting off her circulation, the skin beneath turning purple. The ring was stuck.

Ending is strong. Again, Ms.Larkin, obviously has talent for writing. Maybe this really is all the publisher's fault. That's what I'm telling myself, at least.

Til next time, folks.

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