I started to read The Moon and Sun last night, and hardly came up for air. At 6am I woke up and finished it.
Ignobly… I snapped at Moomin because he was dawdling and I had to stop reading to help him get dressed and ready for school. (Rook got his breakfast and made his lunch.) He was cuddling up to me in bed and patting my face, sighing and saying “I love you, Mom” but I was patting him absentmindedly as I read the book over his head. Yeesh. Only later do I realize the book isn’t going to disappear… I can put it down and pay attention to my family… I’m better at this than i used to be, but The Moon and Sun overwhelmed me.
In the first half I was giggling at the things I’d heard people say about this book… that it was terrible… it was embarrassing… it was badly written and annoying and shouldn’t have won the Neb… And I thought “Oh of course people said that, because it’s femmy and Mary-Sueish and romance-novelly.” I saw what kind of set-up was going on – the same as in Troll. I was dying to see how she would handle Odelette’s enslavement and what would happen to her… (and it was all just right.)
The book got very intense, about halfway through… certainly before or during the crucial moment of the King’s hunt with the animals of the menagerie… and when they all said Marie-Josephe was mad, and the physician bled her. I could hardly stand to keep reading, it was so painful at that point. (I thought suddenly of my friend Lynlea and her role in a play by Carol Churchill about witches – the teenager freaking out about how her family was threatening her with being bled… and Lynlea played it so well.)
I could definitely read this book again and think about it more deeply.
I note that instead of romantic love being a trap, a lure, part of the co-optation of patriarchy… it’s pure melodrama… and love/sex is the only real relief from pain, isolation, mistrust. “Without boundaries”. The darker possibilities were not there, I don’t think (as they are in Bujold’s work). Though the end may be open to cynical interpretations of the exchange of jewels for liquor… the gratitude and wealth… the lack of actual family ties… and the threat of war underneath all in the ivory spears. So that love and exile are one result or solution, but they’re underlaid by war. (And again I’m thinking of the end of Aira’s La Liebre, with its exaggerated melodrama-marriages and the discoveries of kinship ties, lost brothers and mothers reunited.)
I enjoyed the religion/science/alchemy tensions – and wished for more alchemy to seep through the corners. The symbolic struggle of moon and sun, art, science, and political power, with the statue of Apollo in the fountain facing the wrong way, and Marie the only one who noticed. That was beautiful and I think I have to read the book again and some extra history to really get what’s going on. I’m on fire to go read some history of those times, but it will have to wait. (It’s a book that I want to connect in to my map of all other similar books and histories.)
japan sending an ambassador… I hadn’t thought… but surely it’s true. Hmmm. I suddenly recall the craze for “chinoiserie” etc. and then can’t remember the dates of what happened when in Japan. Here’s another fun thing to write up – what the ambassadors offered, and what they were given in return.
I realized last year that I needed to search out and read everything by Vonda McIntyre… so, that will definitely happen.