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Chapter Three



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Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:42 am
Attolia says...



Hey everyone. First two chapters here and here.
post679790.html#p679790
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“Of course, everyone knows Madame Verdon is simply a dreadful hostess,” said Madame Breton, as she sat with a few others in the elegantly furnished living room of the Loudon house. “How she ever entertains any company is beyond me. Why, I went to a dinner of hers last season – actually Adèle, you were there as well, were you not?”

Adèle nodded.

“Anyway, as I’m sure Adèle could also tell you, Madame Verdon has no sense of how to arrange these things. The assortment of guests that night! Simply bizarre, am I right Adèle?”

“Very interesting people.”

“And the help!”

“Dreadful help,” Adèle chimed in, smiling.

“Quite slow, and terribly impolite. To think! If any of my servants acted as hers do, I’d dismiss them in a heartbeat. Anyway, the whole evening was a debacle. What am I forgetting, Adèle?”

“The food, horrible food.”

“Quite right! Why, their cook must be just terrible. To imagine having to eat that sort of food every night. I’m not sure how I would survive.” At that Madame Breton stopped talking, appearing breathless.

Red leather chairs and exquisitely carved mahogany tables covered the spacious living room, and small groupings of people were scattered about. The murmurings of polite conversation filled the air. Adèle sat on the chair to Madame Breton’s left, smiling slightly, and a fair girl sat rather stiffly to her right. She had a pinched face and had barely said a word all evening, probably hoping to remain unnoticed.

Monsieur Loudon, a rather short man with graying hair who had been sitting across from them, politely listening all the while, waited until there was a definite pause to speak. “I’m sure you would survive, Madame Breton,” he said, smiling. “What about you, Mademoiselle Turcotte? Do you agree with their verdict?

The pale girl blushed at being so directly addressed. “I’m not sure, Monsieur, you see, I’ve never been to her home.”

“And quite well you haven’t!” Madame Breton broke in, appearing to have regained her breath.

Just then a man from across the room approached Loudon. He was young and possessed a strong, lively stature that seemed somewhat at odds with his tired-looking eyes. Short brown hair framed his head and his well-defined features.

“Monsieur,” he said. “Please forgive my late arrival.” He smiled, his face breaking into a warm, natural expression.

Loudon immediately stood up and shook the man’s hand. “Think nothing of it. How good to see you, Francois. I’m so glad you’ve arrived. You know Madame Breton, of course?” he asked, gesturing to the stout lady.

The man nodded. “Nice to see you, as always, Madame.”

“Francois! My dear boy. You don’t know how many people I’ve been telling about your achievements!”

“You flatter me, Madame.”

Before Madame Breton could say another word, Loudon cut in. “And I’m not sure you’re acquainted with Mademoiselle Turcotte or Mademoiselle Dupont?” He gestured to the two young ladies on either side of Breton.

“Neither, I’m afraid.” He nodded at each of them. Adele nodded back, and Sarah smiled weakly.

“Adele, Sarah, this is Lt. Colonel François Despard; he’s been a hero on the southern front,” he said. “And François, Mademoiselle Adèle Dupont and Mademoiselle Sarah Turcotte.”

“Pleasure to meet you both.”

Loudon sat back down. “Please, François, take a seat,” he said, gesturing to the empty chair next to Adèle. François obeyed, and Madame Breton immediately claimed Loudon’s attention as he reclaimed his seat.

“Why, Monsieur, I don’t believe I’ve told you of my nephew’s engagement? The most lovely match!” she begun, and trailed off educating him on just how exactly the very best matches are made.

François turned to Adèle. “Mademoiselle Dupont, I’ve heard so much about you.”

Adèle raised her eyebrows, her features creasing as she demonstrated the textbook definition of polite surprise. “Good things, I hope?”

“Of course, Mademoiselle, what else could there be?” François smiled. His face was tanned from long hours spent in the sun, and his features shifted once more into their warm expression.

Adèle laughed. “I am only surprised to learn you knew of me.”

“The only child of Colonel Dupont could hardly escape notice.”

She nodded slightly and gave a look of comprehension. “You know my father?”

“Know of him, rather, but yes, we’ve met a few times. One tends to learn of other officers rather quickly in this war.”

Adèle opened her mouth but Loudon interrupted before she could speak.

“François, tell me, how long is your leave?” he asked hurriedly, seizing the first chance of escape from Madame Breton’s focused conversation.

“Only until this Saturday,” said François, and the two men went on to speak of the war. Adèle waited patiently for his attention to be focused back on her, as it inevitably would be, but he failed to look back at her any more than politeness entailed.


------


It was some hours later, as dinner was ending, that Adèle seized her chance. François sat across from her, a few china dishes, long white candles, and the red tablecloth separating them. He had been previously engaged in conversation with Loudon’s daughter on his left, a polite, pretty girl who possessed her father’s rather short stature and small features.

“Do tell me, Colonel Despard, how someone as young as yourself becomes such a high ranking officer?”

François turned and directed his brown eyes on her. He smiled. “I fear you give me more esteem than is my due, Mademoiselle, and on that matter, that I am fast approaching the end of youth.”

Adèle laughed. She was sitting at the edge of her chair with impeccable posture, her expression at ease and her words charming. “I know that you are too young to say that, at least. Why, you can’t even be thirty.”

“Come summer you will be quite incorrect.”

“Is that so?”

“Well, next summer, that is.” François smiled and Adèle laughed. “Here I am, letting a girl tell me about age. And how old might you be, Mademoiselle?”

“Colonel, you must know nothing of polite society if you are asking a lady her age.”

“Ah, well, I’m afraid I’m rarely in polite society nowadays, so that must be the cause.” He smiled.

The guests were slowly beginning to rise from the table and adjourn to either the drawing or billiard rooms. The sounds of conversation, laughter, and piano music from an adjoining room continued to fill the air. Adele opened her mouth to reply.

“Shall we?” François asked, rising. Adèle replied affirmatively and stood, and the two made their way to the drawing room.

------

A dozen and a half people were gathered in the drawing room, and it was not easy to unobtrusively claim the colonel’s attention when he so adamantly failed to play his part. Mademoiselle Sarah now played the grand piano in the corner. She played quite well, if a little mechanically, and seemed to be at great relief to be in her own sphere, free from expectations of educated conversation.

Adèle sat once more in the company of Madame Breton and half a dozen other ladies, discussing passionately last season’s hats and the failure of some to give them up. Their conversation had not been trivial the entire evening; earlier they had talked of the war and of the husbands, brothers, and sons deployed, but now they fell back into the easy patterns of late. Some embraced the new topic, while others could be seen with creased brows and pursed lips in the midst their trite words. The conversation was a pretense, though a comforting one, and the worry could not be so easily lifted for those among them of more sensible natures.

Adèle sat on the cold leather sofa, smiling and laughing with the other ladies, adding in a comment or two when necessary, but her eyes focused on the opposite end of the room, where Lt. Colonel Despard stood with a few middle-aged gentlemen too old to serve and one or two other officers who were also on leave. Only eight or nine men could be counted among the guests that night, which was only to be expected. The rooms, for the most part, were filled with the chatter of ladies.

“When will they ever learn...”

“And the English think that they know fashion!”

“It was really quite a dull color, almost the same as... ”

Adèle ceased to hear the conversation around her. Despard shook the hands of Loudon and a thirty-something blond man in uniform. He smiled his warm smile and said a few words that Adèle could not hear, and began making his way out of the posh room. But Adèle did not greatly worry. He was staying the night in the Loudon house, as was she and as were most of the guests.

----------

Some two hours later Adele walked down the hallway of the second floor, the location of the majority of the guest rooms. Everyone staying the night had retired to their rooms, and most were now drifting off to sleep. Adele was still dressed in the soft blue dress she had worn throughout the evening, her dark hair still up.

She knocked on a door near the end of the hall. Francois opened the door, and he looked down at her with an expression more alert and awake than Adele had expected.

“Please, Colonel, it’s Madame Breton. She asked me to come fetch you. She needs your help with something. Moving an armchair in her room, or something of that sort.” She smiled apologetically.

His brown eyes met her green ones. “Of course.” He looked over his shoulder back inside his room. “Let me just take care of something first.”

Adele glanced inside the room. The same poster bed and ornate furniture that covered her room furnished his as well. She eyed the wooden desk, scattered with papers and quills.

She remained in the hall as Francois made his way to the desk and cleared the papers, storing them away in one of the desk’s many drawers. He walked back out and smiled.

“And where is Madame Breton's room?”

“Just down the hall.”

But her room, as it turned out, was not just down the hall. It was down the hall, on the opposite wing of the house. The two walked in silence for a few moments.

“Are you enjoying your leave, Colonel?”

They continued to walk in silence for a moment before he replied. “I’m rather more anxious to get back, actually.”

Adele did not answer but turned to her side to glance at him. His eyes appeared sunken and weary, and his uniform hung straight and orderly against his tall frame.

They approached the door of Madame Breton. It stood, white and wooden, amongst the sea of white, wooden doors.

“Odd,” Adele said. “It had been open.”

She knocked on the door, to no answer. “Madame Breton?” She knocked again and waited. Silence filled the empty hallway. The door remained closed. “Madame Breton?”

Tentatively, she turned the metal door handle. It did not move.

She turned to Francois, her eyes slightly frantic. “I am sorry, Mons– Colonel, I don’t know why she’s not answering. I passed by her door only minutes ago and it was open. She called me inside, and after thoroughly explaining her predicament, asked me to fetch you."

“Do not worry, Mademoiselle,” he calmly reassured her, and knocked on the door himself.

They waited in silence. The corridor seemed to stretch endlessly in either direction. “She must have forgotten she asked me, or resolved it herself.”

“So it appears.” Francois laughed. “The antics of Madame Breton.”

Adele laughed somewhat apprehensively.

“Do not worry, Mademoiselle. Really, it is no matter. Let's head back.”


They journeyed back to his door in silence. The nearest light flickered, casting shadows on the walls. Francois opened his door and paused before entering.

“Why don’t you come in for a moment, Mademoiselle?” His warm brown eyes fixed upon hers.

Adele’s eyes lost their frantic touch and a glint of something else entered them. She merely shrugged and followed him inside. He closed the door behind her.

Once inside, Francois walked a few feet to the desk. Adele remained by the door. They stood facing each other somewhat expectantly for a few moments under the electric lights. The brilliant brown tapestries that adorned the room worked to soften the lights’ otherwise harsh glow. With its furniture, tapestries, and the nineteenth century paintings that decorated its walls, it was a beautiful room.

Adele’s eyes scoured the room, carefully noting all these furnishings and particularly catching upon one tapestry in the corner. She looked back to Francois, whose back was to the tapestry. His attractive, yet weary face was no longer creased into its warm smile as he stared back at her.

“Any particular reason you asked me to come in, Colonel?”

He gave no answer. Adele took a step toward him at the same moment that there was a flurried movement in the back corner.

Adele’s eyes were quick. She saw the gun before she heard its shot. Of course, Francois had a gun. She and Nicolas could rarely work with guns, their gunshots too noticeable. But Francois, Francois wouldn’t have to worry about gunshots, she thought dryly. Apparently, he and Loudon had awfully close connections.

Adele watched as Nicolas’ body dropped to the floor in the corner. He fell onto the brown tapestry, and his body laid intermingled with it on the ground. She hadn’t even seen him yet, in the room, and already he was dead, or close to it. He laid unmoving, blood seeping from the small wound on his chest. His face looked quite young, quite guileless in death.

Her father was dealing with a greater match than he realized.

She tore her eyes away from Nicolas and looked back to Despard. His broad-shouldered back was turned to her, still facing the corner where Nicolas’s body lay. She could see the slightest movements, up and down, that his body made with each breath he took. She waited.

Slowly, Francois turned himself to face her, pointing his gun at her as he did so. He took in her cold, stoic expression and his features twisted in disgust. They stood motionless across from each other in the room, his arm and gun pointed in a straight line to her heart. Silence filled the room, and the air seemed to grow colder.

She stared back at him impassively for a movement before a slight smile crept up her lips. “Go ahead,” she murmured, almost taunting him. He would already have done it, had that been his plan.

He shook his head and sighed deeply. “Believe me that I want to.”

He lowered the gun to his side and dropped his head, and he rubbed it wearily for a moment in his free hand. Adele did not move, and the two continued to stand across from each other in the room.

Francois raised his head to meet her eyes, but did not lift the gun. “Your father is dead,” he said coldly. “I’d suggest you stop doing whatever the hell it is you do exactly if you don’t want to end up like him.”

Adele’s face remained impassive, her smile gone, but her eyes appeared wickedly amused. “Fair enough.”

They stood there for a good moment, under the electric lights, staring at each other silently. Then Francois sighed and shook his head once more. He pointed with his gun to the door.

“Get out,” he spat.

Adele raised her eyebrows slightly, and lifted her soft blue dress as she walked out the door.






-------





6/9: Okay, I edited it up to make Adele appear less weak (she did have her reasons, but I hadn't realized how weak she looked), to make the surrounding characters seem slightly less fake, and some other suggested editing here and there. I'm not satisfied or done editing yet, but this is what I have for now.

7/12: Majorly re-edited the last couple scenes. Just to make them more clear and hopefully cinematic (and descriptive.) I had one of those experiences where you look back on past writing and just think 'eww'. Sooo hopefully now it's less "ew," although I didn't spend too much time with the beginning, or even doing any real major changes. I just redid presentation. Anyway, you guys are gods, thank you so much for all the help. Editing is reediting, I suppose.
Last edited by Attolia on Mon Jul 12, 2010 8:58 am, edited 4 times in total.
  





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Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:53 pm
*coco says...



Hi, Attolia! Coco here for a review!

Let me start off with what I loved about this. One word: characters. Madame Breton and Adele share some really great dialogue together, through this dialogue their personality really shines through, so well done with that! I especially love Francois, he seems so charmingly modest but he also has another side to him.

And you don't have to apologise for the length, I love stories like this so I just breezed through it :D

The only thing I found was this:

Attolia wrote: Adèle opened her mouth but London interrupted before she could speak
[I think you meant Loudon instead of London]

Aside from that I'm really liking this, and I haven't even read chapter 1 and 2 yet [I'll probably get to them later if that's alright]. Best of luck with this, I'm looking forward to reading more!

*coco
"Do you know what my heart says now? It says that I should forget about politics and be with you. No matter what. You're a true Queen, a Queen any King would kill for." - Prince Francis ♕
  





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Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:00 am
canislupis says...



Just then a man from across the room approached Loudon. He was young and possessed a strong, lively stature that seemed somewhat at odds with his tired-looking eyes. Short brown hair framed his head and his well-defined features.


I like that we get a clear picture here, but it feels a bit too much like a list to me.

On the other hand, I like the way the story is being developed so far. And I like all the characters. ^_^

“Shall we?” François asked, rising. Adèle nodded and stood, and the two made their way to the drawing room.


Nothing special about this line-I just wanted to mention that I'm loving this story so far. It's very engrossing and feels like something I could read in a published book.

Adèle continued to fail in the drawing room


Wait... there's been no mention of her failing yet. Failing at what?

Adele’s eyes were quick. She saw the gun before she heard its shot. Of course, Francois had a gun. They could rarely work with guns themselves, their gunshots too noticeable. But Francois, Francois wouldn’t have to worry about gunshots, she thought dryly. He and Loudon had awfully close connections, apparently.


This bit was quite confusing. I had to read it several times. Maybe make it clearer who 'they' are?

She stared back at him impassively for a movement before a slight smile crept up her lips. “Go ahead, do it,” she murmured.


It seems like (And this is just me) that she would probably at least try to protest her innocence. After all, she isn't the one who tried to kill him. And if everyone already knows that she's so manipulative, she wouldn't be the best assassin.

Overall here, I'm still liking your story and the characters in particular. The setting is also very well imagined and I nearly always had a clear picture. My biggest criticism is the plot so far. It would be quite perfect for a short story, because within each chapter the conflict rises and then is quickly resolved. But since this is a longer work, it's starting to feel like a series of short stories strung together. We get very little idea of an overall plot conflict or something that affects her in a negative way, because each problem she has is resolved within the space of that chapter. (Did that make sense)

So I'd strengthen the over-all plot arc so it's a bit more obvious. That way you don't have to grab the reader's attention for every new segment.

I hope that was at least partially coherent. Sorry if it wasn't--I'm a bit sleep-deprived at the moment. XD

Tell me when you post more! I can't say enough how much I'm liking this. You definitely have talent.

Also let me know anytime you need a review.

See you around!

Lupis
  





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Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:06 am
zankoku_na_tenshi says...



Hi Attolia!

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again—I loooooove Adele. She makes for an absolutely FABULOUS villain protagonist. She’s just so deliciously manipulative and cold, and it makes her fascinating. There’s a sort of horrifying charisma to her character that I just can’t tear my eyes away from. I think part of it is just the fact that I love villains like this—the graceful, charming sort—but whatever the reason, I’d be willing to keep reading this book pretty much for her alone. I think all her charm is really very effective in the story sense, as well. After all, she’s deceiving the world into thinking that she’s a graceful socialite, and so she needs to be charming and witty to get into that world. In any case, it makes for a character that’s a thrill to read about—I just look forward to seeing her on the page.

The other characters are pretty neat, too—I’ve got to say that Madame Breton made me laugh at least a couple times. I like Sarah’s shyness and vulnerability, it’s rather sweet. I didn’t get much of a grip on Loudon, but he only has a few lines, so that’s to be expected. XD Francois is a great character, too—I liked the abrupt transition to the darker, colder side of his personality after the naïve-nice-guy he’s been for most of the chapter, after he realizes what Adele’s about. It works really well, I think, revealing that the character is more than he seems—and perhaps his distance from Adele was not cluelessness but intelligence. Many of your characters are more than they seem, really—it makes for a lot of good twists and surprises.

Your prose is beautiful, and it makes even long chapters (which this really isn’t) just sort of sail by. I think the main reason for that is that it’s very elegant and graceful, yet has those moments of wryness like when it’s commenting on Madame Bredon’s superficial conversation—really it’s much like Adele herself, smooth as silk but with little barbs hidden in it. In any case, it’s a joy to read.

I especially love the dialogue—the back-and-forth between Adele and Breton, and then Adele and Francois, is particularly natural and fun to read.

You already know I’m in love with your plot. XD But at the same time, I can kind of see what canislupis means about this feeling more like a collection of short stories right now than like an overarching plotline. So far, Adele is the only recurring character, and chapter one and three both sort of followed this pattern of “Adele acts like a society lady, tricks someone to earn their trust, then turns on them and makes the assassination attempt”, with some variations, and the second chapter was like an interlude between those two plotlines. I don’t really mind it right now, but I’m really hoping to see the consequences of this failed assassination attempt carry into the next chapter. After all, a prominent member of the military knows who Adele is, and Nicholas and her father are dead, so the playing field has majorly changed—this episodic chapter progression will probably have to change with it.

Just a couple of nitpicks on my way out:

Anyway, the whole evening was a debauchery.

“You keep on using that word. That word does not mean what you think it means.”[/obligatory Princess Bride quote.] XD But in all seriousness, I think you meant “debacle.” “Debauchery” could mean wickedness or sin, which is kinda in the right direction, but I don’t think it’s got quite the connotations you’re looking for.

Adele nodded back, and Sarah smiled weakly.

You haven’t given her name as Sarah yet, so I’d avoid referring to her as such just yet.

Adèle opened her mouth but London interrupted before she could speak.

Oops, that’s “Loudon.”

But Francois, Francois wouldn’t have to worry about gunshots, she thought dryly. He and Loudon had awfully close connections, apparently.

The fact that both sentences end in adverbs gives these two sentences a strange cadence—it kinda throws me off. I’ll also admit that, like canislupis, I stumbled over this paragraph. XD I think making it clearer who “they” are would help fix things up. : )

Otherwise, another fabulous chapter. Please let me know when chapter four is posted, because I am absolutely hooked on this story. If I saw this in a bookstore right now, I’d buy it. XD I hope this review is helpful, and I’ll see you next chapter!
"The world is not beautiful, therefore, it is." --Kino's Journey

Hey, how about a free review?
  





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Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:06 am
Attolia says...



Coco - Thanks so much for the review! I'm glad to know that you still enjoyed this, without having read the first two, and that you like the characters. And thanks for the catch on the Loudon/London thing. :wink:



canislupis - Brilliant, as usual. Thank you millions. I'll work on fixing up some of the confusing or awkward parts you mentioned. Ooohh yeah and I hadn't thought of that, but I can see what you mean about how the plot arc looks right now. But don't worry, there is a greater scheme and greater plot coming up. The first four chapters (which are actually the only ones I've planned out so far) are just to kind of introduce and essentially set up the story. The death of her father is big; her life is about to majorly change. The real plot line will probably begin around chapter 5/possibly 4; and it will heavily involve Francois, Jacqueline, and Adele. They are three of the four main characters of the story; the fourth has not been yet introduced. As for the "Go ahead, do it" - she knows that he knows who she is now, so she's not gonna pretend otherwise to him, as that would probably only anger him more. Plus she respects him enough now to realize nothing she can do will change whatever he had decided upon, especially considering his hatred of her. And that just wouldn't be her style. :) Thank you again, sooo much, I always appreciate the clarity(?) of your reviews. You're super good at seeing like, the bottom line of what needs to be fixed.



Zan - I kind of love you right now. Seriously, your reviews make me feel so good. I'm glad you love Adele as I do :). One of my goals is actually to make it so that most people will kind of dislike her by the end of the story, but I've always been fixed on liking her, except then oddly when sometimes I don't. Yeah, I feel super nerdy right now, I'm gonna quit talking about this.

Anyway, thank you soo much. About the
“Adele acts like a society lady, tricks someone to earn their trust, then turns on them and makes the assassination attempt”, with some variations, and the second chapter was like an interlude between those two plotlines. I don’t really mind it right now, but I’m really hoping to see the consequences of this failed assassination attempt carry into the next chapter. After all, a prominent member of the military knows who Adele is, and Nicholas and her father are dead, so the playing field has majorly changed—this episodic chapter progression will probably have to change with it.


Ah, yeah I totally see what you guys are talking about :(. But don't worry too much; I direct you to what I explained to canislupis above. You are very correct in what you forshadowed with the playing field being changed :D.

“You keep on using that word. That word does not mean what you think it means.”[/obligatory Princess Bride quote.] XD But in all seriousness, I think you meant “debacle.”

Ah hahah that is pretty much my favorite movie ever!! I seriously have almost the entire movie memorized word for word. Oops yes that is kind of embarrassing too, thank you for catching that. I always manage to mix up words like that.
  





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Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:33 am
Navita says...



You attract long reviews, I'm afraid. I'm also pushed for time, so only have read the piece, and not any reviews, so forgive me in advance if I repeat anything that has already been mentioned.

Character

I felt extraordinarily dissatisfied from reading this. And that was not at all because of the quality of writing itself - oh, no; you've got a good grasp on the intricacies of writing, flow, characterisation and all. It was more the way I felt about Adele (sorry, can't figure our what the keyboard shortcuts for the 'e' accent is) at the end of this. In the first two chapters, she is utterly self-possessed, the consummate professional. She knows what she is doing, she doesn't make mistakes, she thinks everything through perfectly. In this chapter, she comes across as less professional, flustered even, out-thought by Colonel Francois Despard (I thought it was Francois Perrot as stated in Ch 2?). From the first couple of chapters, you've built up this amazingly tight view of her cunning, her deceit. And now, all of a sudden, that's all thrown away. She is discovered; moreover, she loses a battle. Why now, after she has done so much to perfect her skill?

Also, I have a problem with the other, minor characters. I appreciate the fact that the setting is sort of in the upper class, perhaps the bourgeoisie, but what annoys me is the fact that I'm having trouble distinguishing between the characters. They're all pretty, rich, charming, cunning - they're all the same. And this is a great drawback, since even the minor characters should have some kind of voice, some kind of distinctive feature that makes them them. The fruitless conversation and little word games and such make them all come across as fake - and, while this may be the intention, it might help to have them show their fakeness in different ways. Personally, I'd prefer if you showed how they pretended to be fake, but weren't really (it's a personal beelief of mine that people aren't really fake, that they just act that way). Doing this might give you greater depth, a bit more of an edge for the way you craft and present your characters.

Structure

Actually, change of character for Adele is a great idea, so it's intriguing to see a side of her we haven't seen before. However, I feel it's too early in the novel for a climax of this sort - a character change, I guess. I feel like the tables have turned too quickly, like there's a great chunk of her life I am missing. In fact, I'd almost say I haven't had enough of her deceit, even though I have. Which brings me to...

Plot

Firstly, I feel like it's getting repetitive in the way she sort of attacks everyone and victimises them. For this reason, each subsequent 'attack' (whatever it's called; cannot find the right word right now) loses the tension and appeal of the first one, the very first one. Instead of feeling intrigued and on an edge here, like I did with the first one, I am very expectant, almost as if I know what's going to happen. In the second chapter, I felt amused, somewhat, but I could see the careful crafting there as well, enough to know that you were dangling juicy nuggets of info in front of us to keep the plot moving, but not too fast - at your pace.

On the other hand, I feel like the parallels between this act of victimisation and the former need to be sufficiently reduced so as to make this act acceptable here. I think it belongs - I want it to belong (minus the fact that she fails miserably) - I sort of haven't had enough of the tension, the drama - yes, that's the word I'm looking for. Here, with all the exchange of pleasantries and the plot perhaps too clearly laid out (due to Adele's conversation with dearest daddy in Ch2), the drama suddenly vanishes. Which leaves me feeling rather neutral, and hence dissatisfied that I did not feel anything new. I'd recommend thinking about doing this 'undercover operation' more creatively than the last one - or just differently, that's all.

Specifics (yes, trying to structure reviews a lot more!)

These are just little things to fix up (or ones that I liked - I'm going to state both, in case you get rid of sth I enjoyed haha):

“Of course, everyone knows Madame Verdon is simply a dreadful hostess,” said Madame Breton


Great beginning, great italics. Draws us in, gives nothing away and is just so tongue-in-cheek.

as she sat with a few others in the elegantly furnished living room of the Loudon house. Two young ladies sat on either side of her, one dark haired and the other fair. Across from them sat a short middle-aged man with graying hair.


The descriptions are unecessary. I don't think we need visuals of the characters, since they add nothing to our insight of their character. Rather, they make them come across as fake - I've mentioned this above. 'Elegant, dark-haired, fair, short...man' etc - these fill space more than anything, and for me, they are killing the tension that you might otherwise create in the scene. Anyway, the first line is good enough to make us dive straight into the setting - posh, refined, genteel and all - without you having to say it.

Adèle nodded affirmation.


Just a quick question - is the rest of the story written in present or past tense? I've forgotten - in fact, I forget in my own stories. Just need you to keep the consistency. Oh, and, doesn't 'nodded affirmation' seem a little unneeded? Why else would one nod but in affirmation? :lol:

“Anyway, as I’m sure Adèle could also tell you, Madame Verdon has no sense of how to arrange these things. The assortment of guests that night! Simply bizarre, am I right Adèle?”

“Very interesting people.”

“And the help!”

“Dreadful help,” Adèle chimed in, smiling.

“Quite slow, and terribly impolite. To think! If any of my servants acted as hers do, I’d dismiss them in a heartbeat. Anyway, the whole evening was a debacle. What am I forgetting, Adèle?”

“The food, horrible food.”

Quite right! Why, their cook must be just terrible. To imagine having to eat that sort of food every night. I’m not sure how I would survive.” At that Madame Breton stopped talking, appearing breathless.

Red leather chairs and exquisitely carved mahogany tables covered the spacious living room, and small groupings of people were scattered about. The murmurings of polite conversation filled the air. Adèle sat on the chair to Madame Breton’s left, smiling slightly, and the fair girl sat rather stiffly to her right. She had a pinched face and had barely said a word all evening, appearing as if hoping she could remain unnoticed.

Monsieur Loudon, who had been politely listening all the while, waited until there was a definite pause to speak. “I’m sure you would survive, Madame Breton,” he said, smiling. “What about you, Mademoiselle Turcotte? Do you agree with their verdict?

The fair girl blushed at being so directly addressed. “I’m not sure, Monsieur, you see, I’ve never been to her home.”

“And quite well you haven’t!” Madame Breton broke in, appearing to have regained her breath.

Just then a man from across the room approached Loudon. He was young and possessed a strong, lively stature that seemed somewhat at odds with his tired-looking eyes. Short brown hair framed his head and his well-defined features.

“Monsieur,” he said. “Please forgive my late arrival.” He smiled, his face breaking into a warm, natural expression.


This is funny and fantastically written. However, sometimes fantastic writing can look out of place in the larger context of things. I mean, of course, there's nothing out of place as such about this - it's just that it creates details and questions that clog our minds unecessarily - who is Mme Verdon? What has she got to do with anything, other than act as a space-filler? Not that filling up space is bad; just that I'm more interested in Adele's antics than the pleasantries of the characters.

Ah, a word on these marvellous pleasantries. I've bolded them above; the emotive words, anyway. It's classy, for sure, but it's almost too pretty-boy, pretty-girl perfect, if that makes sense. I don't see much life in it - and, I have to say, I actually think that might be appropriate as a fairly accurate description of upper-class society, however much I dislike it. In a modern society, I think that part would work wonderfully in a film, but for me, just reading it is a chore - too-tried-and-tested.

Adèle raised her eyebrows, her porcelain skin and lovely features creasing as she demonstrated the textbook definition of polite surprise.


Ugh. Here's what I mean by pretty-girl. I want to throw something at her. Instead of liking her, siding with her, egging her on, I detest her for her shallowness, like the others. If she even had the barest hint of something more engaging than her looks, then perhaps I'd like her more. Now, I've got no one to identify with, again. I'm gonna be watching this as an omniscient observer again...

"Colonel, you must know nothing of polite society if you are asking a lady her age.”


PERFECT one-liner. In fact, I'd say that the conversation needs to end right there. Just seems to drag on otherwise.

Adèle continued to fail in the drawing room. A dozen and a half people were gathered there, and it was not easy to unobtrusively claim the colonel’s attention when he so adamantly failed to play his part. Mademoiselle Sarah now played the grand piano in the corner. She played quite well, if a little mechanically, and seemed to be at great relief to be in her own sphere, free from expectations of educated conversation. Adèle sat once more in the company of Madame Breton and half a dozen other ladies, discussing passionately last season’s hats and the failure of some to give them up. Their conversation had not been trivial the entire evening; earlier they had talked of the war and of the husbands, brothers, sons, and nephews deployed, but now they fell back into the easy patterns of late, which came to them as a comfort and relief.

Adèle sat on the cold leather couch, smiling and laughing with the other ladies, adding in a comment or two when necessary, but her eyes darted to the opposite end of the room, where Lt. Colonel Despard stood with a few middle-aged gentlemen too old to serve and one or two other officers who were also on leave. Only eight or nine men could be counted among the guests that night, which was only to be expected. The rooms, for the most part, were filled with the chatter of ladies.


Window padding here. Too much description of pleasantries, external items, not enough of a internal monologue. I wanna see her chewing her fingernails at this, racking her brains for a way, or perfectly calculating probabilities of each method. What I don't want to see is her seeming to almost dismiss the task and get wrapped up in the rest of the dinner party.

"Why don’t you come in for a moment, Mademoiselle?” His warm brown eyes fixed upon hers.


A technical issue: he leaves the room with A, Nicolas enters and hides himself (sth that F knows he'll do) and thus F takes A inside to watch N being killed. Is this a correct interpretation? If yes, then I'm just wondering why he didn't lock his room when he left it in the first place - maybe he wanted Nicolas to enter just so he could kill him? Or maybe he thought that Mme's room was just down the corridor all along.

“Any particular reason you asked me to come in, Colonel?”

He gave no answer. Adele took a step toward him at the same moment that there was a flurried movement in the back corner.

Adele’s eyes were quick. She saw the gun before she heard its shot. Of course, Francois had a gun. They could rarely work with guns themselves, their gunshots too noticeable. But Francois, Francois wouldn’t have to worry about gunshots, she thought dryly. He and Loudon had awfully close connections, apparently.

It would have been her job to find out he had a gun, but had failed. She had failed, and now she and Nicolas would pay the price.

Adele watched as Nicolas’ body fell to the floor in the corner. She hadn’t even seen him yet, in the room, and already he was dead, or close to it. He lay unmoving on the ground, blood seeping from the small wound on his chest. His face looked quite young, quite guileless in death. Her father was dealing with a greater match than he realized, came her next dry thought.

She tore her eyes away from Nicolas and looked back to Despard. His back was turned to her, still facing the corner where Nicolas’s body lay.

Francois turned himself to face her, pointing his gun at her as he did so.


Amazing shock-factor going on here. Pleasantries, pleasantries, pleasantries and then BANG! Gunshots! Bolded is the part I don't like. I'd prefer A to not lose her cool at all about that - in fact, I'd love her to have another plan up her sleeve, some kind of secret karate-chopping wonderousness. I don't care to see her fail, and if she does, I don't think she'd admit it, in all her cold, clinical practicality. I'd say she's more a person who'd brush it off and think of plans out of the situation.


“Go ahead, do it,”


Erm...too colloquial. No one in those days would have said 'Do it.' Sounds terribly misplaced. I realise that death is probably the best option for her, after having failed, but still...it's too early in the book to see her give up on life, I think.

Adele raised her eyebrows slightly, and lifted her soft blue dress as she walked out the door.


And voila, this is characteristic of the Adele I know. I'd say this is a wonderful ending line, if sounding a tad cliche - bit of a cop-out, almost, in the sense that the chapter closes at the 'walk-out-of-the-door' (kind of like beginning a chapter with 'he woke up' and ending it with 'he went to sleep' as a way of worming one's way out of a proper transition). Could be better, but I like the flair and sass here as it is :D.

So...I hope that has been helpful. Any questions, issues, discussion...PM me.
  





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Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:16 pm
Rydia says...



Hey hey ^^ Sorry about the delay, I'm in the process of moving so everything's pretty hectic XD Anyway,

Introduction

Love it. The dialogue is fast paced and amusing, the description timely and well done. That first paragraph had me worried for a moment. I think the description there could be spiced up a little?

Red leather chairs and exquisitely carved mahogany tables covered the spacious living room, and small groupings of people were scattered about. The murmurings of polite conversation filled the air. Adèle sat on the chair to Madame Breton’s left, smiling slightly, and the fair girl sat rather stiffly to her right. She had a pinched face and had barely said a word all evening, appearing as if hoping she could remain unnoticed. [A little hard to read. Perhaps, '...barely said a word all evening, probably hoping to remain unnoticed' or '...all evening, successfully unnoticed.' ]


Adèle sat on the cold leather couch, [Doesn't fit the sentence. I'd suggest sofa.] smiling and laughing with the other ladies, adding in a comment or two when necessary, but her eyes darted to the opposite end of the room, where Lt. Colonel Despard stood with a few middle-aged gentlemen too old to serve and one or two other officers who were also on leave. Only eight or nine men could be counted among the guests that night, which was only to be expected. The rooms, for the most part, were filled with the chatter of ladies.


Characterisation

Francois was good, I'm quite glad that Adele failed to kill him in all honesty because I found myself taken with him, though you should be careful to ease into the weary, darker Francois more gently. Still. I liked him enough to worry slightly that he wasn't going to be long lived. However, I have to agree somewhat with Navita. As much as I'm relieved, Adele disappointed me. I'd like to see her fail less... dramatically? Or for the fail to be to the fault of Nicolas? Or for that side-plan Navita suggested, I want her to at least act like this isn't a set back. Instead, she seemm to be in too vulnerable a position.

Maybe I'd even like to see this chapter not end at a death. Maybe he could dismiss her at his door and then there could be a chapter with contact with daddy or general planning and worrying, further attempts in the morning when it gets harder, frustration growing. It would help to build the tension further and give us longer to understand all the thought that goes into these assassinations. And give us some of her deeper thoughts. I love the col, clinical Adele but if she's to be the main character, I want to know her on a more intimate level. Is she really this calm and collected or does her mind move at a thousand miles an hour, trying to prepare for all events?


Annnnd that's all I have. The others have covered plot and structure very well so I'll leave it at this. Thanks for a lovely read,

Heather xx
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Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:10 pm
Lauren2010 says...



Hey, sorry for the delay! I was on vacation for a while.

I really enjoyed this! The flow of your writing in this story is very good, and I especially adore the language you use to keep the story in it's time period. It seems everyone else has gotten to the nitpicking, so I won't worry with reiterating any of those. I really only have one thing I want to talk about.

The end of this chapter is a little awkward to me. First, Francois lets Adele just leave after she was planning to kill him. It seems like he wouldn't let her go so easily, as she could just try to kill him again. Why would he trust a murderer to stop killing? Especially when he was a target?

And then Adele just leaves. Why? I'm assuming she has something up her sleeve, but that isn't let on to at the end. It just seems like she gives up, which isn't in her character. Though I am assuming it is an act, and she has a plan.

Again, great chapter! Sorry for the delay, again. Can't wait to read more! Keep writing!

-Lauren-
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