Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, September 17, 2012

If You Can Get It - 36

And here it is. The final installment. Final total is 67,960 words.

Forgive the self indulgence, but if you've read all the way through, even if you normally just read in an RSS reader without clicking through to the blog, please leave at least a brief comment. I'm curious how many people have been following all the way to the end. (If you want to leave more detailed feedback, I'd certainly welcome that too.)


It was Lent, and Katie threw herself into it with the enthusiasm of the neophyte. She fried fish on Fridays. She went to Stations of the Cross with Paul on Friday nights. She placed an Operation Rice Bowl carton on the kitchen counter and trimmed the food budget in order to stuff it with change. She stopped making desserts except on Sundays, the change which Kristy found hardest to adjust to, despite the minor satisfaction of seeing her morning consultations with the scale confirm the accusations she had long leveled against Katie’s baking.

As Easter neared, the preparations for it began to take over increasing amounts of Katie’s time. Easter dinner was to be at their parents’ apartment, and Kristy, Katie and Paul were to be in attendance. To the same extent that Katie’s new religiosity had led to a slight asceticism of cuisine over the the last few weeks, Katie was determined that Easter should be a notable feast. To this end, she seemed at particular pains to discover dishes that would require the maximum amount of preparation in the days before. Kristy volunteered to bring wine and a salad, and considered herself fortunate to be spared of further worry, though as she saw less of Katie she began to wish that she had agreed to become involved in projects such as pickled eggs and homemade ravioli if only in order to be included.

The Thursday and Friday before Easter arrived, and Katie seemed to contrive to spend virtually all of the evenings either away at church or going about somberly with a book by the pope about the life of Christ.

Work provided no effective source of diversion. Half the office seemed to have taken vacation. Brad wandered in to Kristy’s office at three o’clock on Friday and advised, “It’s dead around here. Unless you’ve got something really important you’re working on, just clear out and get a start to your weekend.”

Easter vigil did not, in itself, hold great allure to Kristy, but it was a relief that she would, at least, be included in the main event of the day along with the rest of her family. Katie and Paul were going out to dinner together before the vigil, and Kristy had invited Pat and Tom to have dinner with her, both for company and so that her mother would not have to cook amidst the elaborate Easter preparations already under weigh. Thus, late afternoon found both sisters getting ready for the evening.

“Do you have a cardigan I can borrow that would go with this dress?” Katie asked, bursting into Kristy’s room without knocking as Kristy was standing in her bra and slip, contemplating the relative merits of two different dresses.

“There’s a light pink one that might go. Second drawer down on the right,” Kristy said, her head disappearing into her own dress. Once dressed and adjusted, she turned back to Katie to see her rooting through her makeup drawer. “Wrong drawer.”

“I found the cardigan. I just thought maybe you’d have some lipstick that matched it.”

“Feel free,” said Kristy, shaking her head but smiling at the same time.

“Oh hey,” said Katie into the makeup drawer. “Hmmm. No. Not that.” Sounds of more pawing around followed.

“Are you seriously wearing those scuffed old flats?” Kristy asked, surveying Katie’s outfit more critically.

“I don’t want something really high,” Katie said, contemplating the shade of coral lipstick she had just applied.

Kristy disappeared into her closet for a moment. “How about these,” she said, reappearing. “Kitten heels. The shade matches your dress better. And they look new. I liked them but I don’t have anything to wear them with.”

“Oooh. I like those. Okay. Hey, can I use this eye cream?”

“No. That’s for wrinkles, and it’s really damn expensive.”

“I might get wrinkles some day. I used the face wash of yours from the same brand and it felt really good.”

“You work yourself up some wrinkles and let me know. Now get out. I want to finish getting ready.”

“Okay. Thanks for the shoes. And the sweater.”

Kristy shoed her out and shut the door behind her, feeling like she was back at home after a long absence.

Dinner with her parents was a quiet affair, and at their insistence they left for the church with plenty of time to spare to be assured of getting a good spot. Mass was to begin at 10PM, but there was already a significant crowd gathering at 9:30 when they arrived. There was, it seemed, to be some sort of blessing of the Easter candle outside before the mass started, and so the congregation was assembling on the patio in front of the main doors, enjoying the unusually warm April night air.

Kristy and her parents had been standing there for only a few minutes when she heard an excited squeal of, “Kristy!” and turned to receive a sudden and fierce hug from Katie.

“Look! Look what— Paul— Look!” Katie, who was almost bouncing up and down in her excitement, disengaged from the hug she was giving Kristy enough to show a left hand which sported a slim gold band holding a tiny solitaire. “Isn’t it beautiful?” Katie asked.

Kristy’s first, if quickly suppressed, thought was how much smaller it was than the diamonds she was used to seeing on women at work, but she assured Katie that it was beautiful and asked how it happened. Katie, however, had already turned to show the ring to her parents.

Paul ambled up, smiling proudly though looking somewhat awkward.

“Katie was just telling us,” Kristy said. “Congratulations!” She gave Paul a quick hug. “And on Easter. Was she surprised?”

Paul nodded, his smile approaching a grin. “I thought, feast of new life, starting a new life together, you know… I asked your father for permission last week, but he said he wouldn’t tell anyone.”

“You asked Dad for permission to propose to Katie?” Kristy asked, without thinking to prevent her disbelief from sounding in her voice. “What did he think of that?”

Paul shrugged and shifted from one foot to the other. “He seemed a little surprised. But pleased.”

At that moment Katie seized Kristy by the shoulder. “Kristy! Come here. I want to tell you and Mom how it happened.”

Discussion of the engagement, in one form or another, took up all of the Nilsson family’s attention until the mass began.

The mass was long, and the first half of it was lighted only by candles. A whole sequence of readings traced biblical history from the seven days of creation to Jesus Christ. By turns listening to these and looking over at Katie — who was so obviously trying hard to pay attention yet continually drawn to look at Paul or at her ring — Kristy found herself thinking back over her own recent history.

Last April she had been busily working toward the PocketDJ launch, with her only thought of Katie and her parents being that she would not have time to make it to Katie’s graduation in May. Katie’s unexpected arrival. Two new jobs. China. Moving back to Illinois. Christmas with Katie and her parents. Paul. And now Paul and Katie getting engaged. The hopes of a year ago now seemed remote. And yet the news which made it seemingly impossible for Katie, sitting next to her, to stop smiling, even as she tried to look piously attentive to the mass, was for Kristy the final step in returning to the old way of things. Katie would get married and move out, and once again Kristy would be alone.

When Katie had first arrived it had seemed a temporary disruption is the organized and satisfying life that Kristy had created for herself. Now the prospect of Katie leaving seemed like the breakup of a family. Katie would go on to form a real family, living out on Paul’s farm in the broken down old farm house he was fixing up, and probably having lots of babies. And Kristy…

What will I do? Kristy found herself wondering as they all knelt. She looked over at Katie. Happy in love and deeply involved in the liturgy going on before them. Having all the things I lack. Things I’ve shied away from or just never found.

Why should Katie, a sister so much younger that they’d barely known each other, have created this deep attachment? How was it that the household formed by Katie’s sudden phone call, by Paul’s handyman ad, and by her parents’ house selling so much faster than expected: Why had this household of chance made such a deep impression when neither of the people she’d chosen to share a roof with had worked out? Had the necessity of getting along with someone familiar and long cared about, but unchosen, somehow been the key to forming a household when trying so hard to choose just the right person had failed?

The priest was raising up the host. Katie, beside her, was watching raptly. Kristy thought she could see the gleam of tears in her eyes.

“Behold the Lamb of God,” he said. “Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

The congregation responded with words that seemed unfamiliar from Kristy’s previous experience, and incongruous in the situation, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

The priest consumed the host, and row by row the congregation came up to receive communion. Kristy reflected on the words as she sat watching Katie and Paul and her parents go up to receive.

The blessed did seem to be the ones going up to the supper of the lamb. Having all these people come under her roof over the last year had brought her soul a certain healing, and inspired in it a hunger for more.

Lord, she thought, in an unfamiliar, prayer-like mode. I’m really not sure I’m ready to have you under my roof. I’m not even sure what that would mean, yet. But I need someone under my roof if my soul is going to be healed. That much I’ve learned this year, whatever else is to come.

Mass concluded, and each went their separate ways. Pat and Tom to their house, Katie and Paul, to whose happiness midnight still seemed early, to find somewhere to talk for another hour or two before parting for the night, and Kristy back to her empty house.

Sitting on her bed, she thought over the string of memories and desires that had been crystalizing in her mind since that hesitant half-prayer as she watched the rest of her family go up to communion.

Kristy pulled out her phone, scrolled through the contacts, and for several minutes sat contemplating the name long familiar but with a new possibility of significance. At last she pressed ‘Call’ and waited, half hoping, half fearing, that there would be no answer.

“Kristy? It must be late out there.” There was an edge of concern in his voice. “Is everything okay?”

“Hey, Dan. Yeah, everything’s fine. I know it’s late. It’s just, I’ve been thinking, and…” Her wont had never been to intentionally expose what might be seen as weakness, to ask for that which might justly be refused.

“What?” Dan asked, his tone one of searching curiosity, clearly aware that she was hesitating over something.

The words from earlier that night ran through her mind: Enter under my roof. Say the word and my soul shall be healed.

She drew herself together. “There’s something I want to talk to you about.”

-- The End --


Judy said...

I've eagerly looked forward to reading. Thanks so much! Really enjoyed it.

Zagorka said...

I've been reading along from Germany. Thank you, it was good to read!

Zagorka said...

I've been reading along from Germany. Thank you, it was good to read!

Anne Bazin said...

Delurking to let you know I've read all the way through too

Jenny said...

"Brad wandered in to Kristy’s office at three o’clock on Friday and advised, “It’s dead around here."

Ha! :)

I've read all the way.

entropy said...

You know I've read all the way. And what is with this ending?! I need to know what happened! Does it work out, does anyone convert? Is he interested?

So. Many. Questions. Need. Epilogue.

One thing I found alternately annoying and refreshing was how you skipped all the drama and would skip to after everyone had worked it out, somehow.

Kelly said...

I read all the way through and I'm sad that I won't have anything to read while I'm drinking my morning coffee now.

I liked it all up until the ending. I think you need a few more chapters. I am not convinced that Kristy has had a true change of heart. I think she might just be feeling emotional at the Easter vigil and is relying on her crutch Dan once more as she faces a future as a lonely spinster. I'm also not at all convinced that Dan is going to reciprocate her feelings. I need more text to convince me that this is all real.

Liza Downey said...

I've been reading along in Google Reader and it's been great - an epilogue would be nice, though! Thanks so much for sharing your efforts with all of us!

Aurora said...

I've been reading along since the beginning on Google reader and have really enjoyed it! I do agree with a previous poster though; the ending is a bit rushed, I think you need another chapter or something to really tie everything together.

Anonymous said...

I've read all the way through! I've loved it! I do agree with Kelly. The ending seemed rather abrupt, and her relationship with Dan not evolved enough (I know Kristy was trying) to justify a resolution. But really, this is critique is minor compared to the very believable world you created.

Anonymous said...

I have read the whole think from Google Reader... and I want more.

JP said...

It's all Aurora's (above) fault that I started reading about a week and a half in. Although it's definitely not the sort of thing that I normally read, I enjoyed it well enough. :)

And congratulations on meeting your 50k goal for the month. I did NaNoWriMo last November and I know how crazy that can be. I'm curious if you think posting it here helped or hurt your progress?

Amber said...

My husband and I made it to the end! (he won't comment, so I will comment for him)

Overall, I liked and found Katie's story arc more interesting and believable. I am not sure I would want to read her story from her perspective, but I enjoyed it throughg her sister's eyes.

I wasn't fully convinced by Kristy's whole progression... And I have a hard time seeing Dan being all that interested given the religious differences. Kristy's story felt somewhat uneven - lots of work, lots of personal, lots of work - I have no idea how you would integrate it more, but it seems like it needs it. My husband (who, admittedly, does not want to think about God if at all possible) didn't buy the ending at all. To him, the engagement was way too fast and Kristy's sort of change of heart was not believable.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this. The characters grew on me, I enjoy how you write, and it was something I looked forward to. I will miss having this pop up on my feed reader!

Sitting Pretty said...

Long time reader, first time commenting!

I read all the way through from the beginning, and I really enjoyed it. I'm a little sad that it's finished, actually.

The engagement did seem a bit rushed to me, too. I can see Katie being impulsive enough to say yes, but I have a hard time imagining Paul asking her after only a few months. Also, I found the part in section 33 where you address the reader directly to be rather jarring. I like my fourth wall firmly in place.

Thank you so much for the entertainment!

Care said...

You have a hungry public, Darwin.

My mostly irrelevant thoughts in order of sequence:

1) No matter how devout Katie gets, I hope she never gives up those tacky pants.

2)The really important relationship in this novel is between the sisters.

3) If someone asked my dad for permission to marry me without asking my mom, he would get laughed out of house and town.

4) She asked him out!!!! Finally!!

Will try to think deeper thoughts and share them later.

Amber said...

Oh, yes - that 4th wall breech was really jarring. I read that part a couple of times just to make sure you were actually doing that! You have got to edit that part and change how you do it.

mandamum said...

Read all the way through, but was hesitant to actually read this one because I didn't want it to end! But I like the way you ended it. I like the way it's almost more of a new beginning than a neat tying up of everything. And even if Kristy and Dan don't work out, letting herself be open to getting hurt might be the work she needs to do to get to where she needs to go.

Anonymous said...

Another long-time lurker here.

Congratulations on finishing! I hope it gets published.

I read to the end starting from the trip to China.

Personally I'm always suspicious of "conversions" that take place for reasons of marriage. I just think that some women will do anything to please a man. Would Katie have converted to Islam if Paul were Muslim? I suspect she would. The story ends too soon to resolve that question for me.

Hannah G

Laura Staum said...

I really enjoyed it! But like many others, I have more curiosity about the ending than it was able to satisfy. Thanks for sharing!

Lois in Indy said...

It's a good thing I thanked you yesterday. Not sure I would have done so today. I absolutely hate, despise, detest, loathe, did I mention dislike, stories which end like this one. The whole focus of the novel, it seemed to me, was Kristy's evolution into a relationship and it ends just as she might be about to have one. How revolting. The Communion response has the word "world" instead of "word" just fyi.

Steven said...

Darwin, I'll admit, when I started reading this I wasn't sure where it was going but you certainly made an interesting story out of it. Looking back I realize this is the kind of personal story that, let's face it, we all dread having to sit through when it happens to our own friends and family. Yet, this was fun.
I do want to applaud your writing style. So often an author creates drama by making their characters do things that regular people simply don't do. Your characters have some drama but they don't blow it out of proportion just to make the story more interesting.

Kathleen Miller said...

I enjoyed the story, enjoyed your writing, enjoyed savoring the moment when I'd open the "Darwin" tab on my browser.
I agree with previous comments: I want more of the story. I even care how the tools do at Home Depot.
Thank you! (Those late nights for you were a morning blessing to me.)

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this story - read all the way through from day one. Good job!

Joanna Miller

Skywalker said...

I read the story all the way through, and enjoyed it greatly. In the Katie/Paul storyline, I would find it more believable that he would want to date her after she had some interest in his faith, rather than before. I would cast my vote for an epilogue, too.

Anonymous said...

I also read the whole way through. Like others, I'm not sure if I believe Kristy's evolution, but I find Katie and Paul's relationship and fast engagement very convincing. I don't think an epilogue is enough, I'd love a sequel, haha!

Rae said...


I have read it all the way through and really enjoyed it. I found the Katie and Paul romance a nice twist whose unexpectedness nicely highlighted Kristy's self absorption.

I also support the need for an epilogue. I am also curious about your future plans for the work.

thanks for sharing it!

Lisa said...

I've read it all and enjoyed the story. Would like to see what is next for all of them.

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading your story.

I really enjoyed spending the day thinking about what could happen next, so while an epilogue would be fun, not having one has also been fun.

rhinemouse said...

I read it to the end and enjoyed it a lot!

MaryMargaret said...

Loved the story..the ending, not so much. Seemed forced? Dan is an observant Jew..Kristie, a not so observant Catholic? How can that work out? Just seemed to come to a really sudden end.

Loved the writing, but had the same feeling I had about Willa Cather. She just didn't really get men..they always seem a little womanly. Got the same feeling here. Your women are just a little too manly, I think.

J.C. said...

I read it from beginning to end and looked forward to every installment. Personally, I found it interesting that you chose to write this particular story line and from the perspective of a woman, just because this happens to be a familiar theme of conversation with my husband about women he encounters in the workplace. I know it's a story, not meant be some kind of social commentary, but I just found it interesting that this theme strikes a cord in more than one family man (assuming that was responsible for at least some of the inspiration--could be way off!) I also enjoyed the theme of food preparation running throughout--sort of a parallel between physical and spiritual nourishment, both improving together with the protagonists' circumstances. I found turns of phrases in the dialogue reminiscent in my mind (without any sort of empirical experience!) of how I imagine Mr. Darwin might express himself verbally in a given situation instead of revealing the unique personality of the character he was constructing. I was also left wondering how the Catholic-Jewish thing would work out... :) Sequel? Thank you for sharing, Mr. Darwin! It was a fun read.

Anonymous said...

Read it from start to finish and really enjoyed it. As far as Katie and Paul, sometimes it does happen that way and that quick. This was one of those stories. It seems that Kristie's evolution/growth will be a longer more thoughtful process and would be too involved for this particular novel. I think it ended at the right time. But do think about writing a sequel!

Brandon said...

Read it all the way through, of course, and enjoyed it all. I think Katie was your best character, which, interestingly, I wouldn't have expected at the beginning, since I usually prefer sense to sensibility; but they were all quite good. And J.C.'s right about the food symbolism -- quite good. Also, I have to applaud again much of your use of indirect discourse (as in the China sequence).

The ending is just fine, although if you revise, the other commenters are right that it could stand being drawn out more -- I think it's just the length that is feeling rushed to people, since content-wise it's perfectly fine. I don't think an epilogue is needed, and, I think, it would clash with the internal logic of the story, which is not about how Kristy ends up but how she finds a way to begin: The future needs to be open.

Darwin said...

Thanks, everyone, for reading. I had no idea that there were so many people reading all the way through. I was thinking maybe a dozen people tops. I continue to be interested in hearing from people as they finish, and any and all reactions and feedback. I hesitated over whether it was "cheating" as a writer to reply to some of these, but what the heck, I'm a blogger, we discuss everything. So for what it's worth (and with a spoilers warning):

1) For starters (and this is where I feel like I'm cheating a bit) I ant to clarify something that I'll probably be at pains to make sure is a little more clear when/if I revise and pull the whole thing into finished form. In the last section here, in Kristy's "prayer":

Lord, she thought, in an unfamiliar, prayer-like mode. I’m really not sure I’m ready to have you under my roof. I’m not even sure what that would mean, yet. But I need someone under my roof if my soul is going to be healed. That much I’ve learned this year, whatever else is to come.

I don't think this represents a return to the Church on Kristy's part. I have the feeling that Kristy would return to the Church eventually, given her family and influences, and you can see a little bit of the door to that here, but she's seriously not ready yet at this point. Thus: "I’m really not sure I’m ready to have you under my roof." What she has realized, though, and what she's talking about with " I need someone under my roof if my soul is going to be healed." is that she's realized that what she's had over the last year is a family, and with Katie moving back out again in the foreseeable future, she's losing that again. She's realized that what she really needs to be whole is to start a family -- not just "have a relationship" as she's thought about it in the past, but that slightly awkward union of different people, not always chosen, that is a family.

So Kristy certainly has a conversion of sorts at the vigil there, but I think it's mostly a human rather than a religious one. At least for now.

2) I worried a lot about the ending, pretty much from the point when I realized that my close would be Kristy calling Dan, in that I was concerned people wouldn't find it satisfying. However, I had a hard time seeing my way towards a more satisfying ending, in that the path for Kristy and Dan (assuming it works out, which I think it might) is necessarily a really long one. They're both at a stage where they're used to their ways, their families are in different parts of the country, they have religious differences. I think the only reason why it would work out at all is because they've been friends for so long and have such respect for each other -- and a certain common predicament. But Kristy and Dan would take a year or more to sort out in a satisfying way, and it would be a whole separate story, so I felt like the only way to end things neatly was by closing things out at the moment that she decides to turn to him and leave the decision itself as the closing action of the story.

As for Dan's Judaism: Part of what I used to fill in details on Dan was my experience working at a Jewish family-owned company when I was just out of college. As the joke ran there, "I had an uncle who was Reformed. Very, very, very reformed. He was a Nazi." Dan is kind of reformed (he calls it "temple" rather than "synagogue" or "Shabbat") and I suspect that he (like all the guys I worked with) would not object to marrying an Gentile, even after having tried hard to find a Nice Jewish Girl. If I were to guess, I think that Kristy would return to active practice of her faith after getting married or after having children, and Dan would remain Jewish. This is far from ideal, but it seems like what the characters would do. But I'm not actually writing that part, so I don't have the final say.

Darwin said...

3) FWIW, the primary story has always been about the two sisters. When I first got the idea for the novel, had three scenes:
- Katie calling to ask if she could stay and then revealing that she was outside
- Kristy's lay-off sending her home early on the same morning that Katie straggles in late after the night out that ended badly
- Katie accusing Kristy over the memory of being locked in the trunk and Kristy not remember it as being important.

The idea of Paul as a potential romantic interest for Kristy came along a bit later (once I figured our the arc of Kristy's business adventures) and almost as soon as I thought of that I realized that Paul would actually end up with Katie.

Dan was a curiously late addition, at least as a prospect for Kristy. I wrote the scene at the wine bar to deal show Kristy's post-layoff desperation and to have a Checkov's gun on the wall to get Katie out of her legal troubles later. When MrsDarwin read that section the next morning, she said, "You had him touch her under the chin. You can't do that if there's nothing between them." I disagreed, but eventually it turned out that there was something (in embryo) between them.

Random responses:

Lois: Thanks for the typo correction. I fixed it. Sorry you found the ending so frustrating. I've enjoyed your encouragement over the last few weeks.

Clare: I'm glad someone remember the shorts! That was one of the gags that had me cackling for weeks before I wrote it, and No One Seemed Struck By It. But I am satisfied, because I am the one who wrote about the ass shorts. And I'm glad to hear the affirmation that the primary relationship in the story is between the sisters.

JP: I found writing for an audience very motivating. I don't know that I would have made the 50k in 31 days without publishing as I went along. Though one interesting thing is that although I distinctly had nine chapters, I found that it mattered a lot to me where I broke off each section that I posted.

Amber & Sitting Pretty: The fourth wall breach was something that I thought about a lot: inspired in equal parts by Sayers' bit on Wiffling in Murder Must Advertise and the authorial voice of Anthony Trollope (a big favorite of mine) but I'm still not sure it was the right call.

MaryMargaret: Writing a heavily female novel was one of the things that I was curious to try. As I was planning this out, I wanted to write a non-genre novel (not SF or F, like I used to write, and not a mystery or thriller or romance or historical) and the dynamic I wanted between the main characters seemed like it could only exist between sisters, not brothers, and I'd never written something with a female main character before, so writing women main characters was one of my main objectives here. I felt like I learned a lot, though at the same time I cheated a bit by picking a character in Kristy who is a lot like me. Though, by the end, I liked Katie more than Kristy. She's kind of endearingly crazy -- to me at any rate.

Anonymous said...

I started somewhere in the middle and then read it to the end. I'm not sure about the ending. I feel as if Kristy quit being the protagonist at some point. However, the big, obvious point is that I just had to read on!

Kate said...

I've been reading from the beginning. I usually read novels through in a day or two, so being made to wait and read by installments has been interesting, and actually increases my sense of 'knowing' the characters, since they have grown on me over the month.

I didn't find either relationship pairing unbelievable - I've known plenty of Pauls and Katies, and my (very Catholic, spent time discerning in a convent) sister is preparing to marry a somewhat observant Reform Jew - it happens, and fairly often. Kristy and Dan seem to me to have the well rooted mutual respect that takes. I admit I'd love to read that sequel!

GeekLady said...

I'm sorry I didn't comment yesterday, it was a busy busy day and I didn't have time. So...

I've been reading from the very beginning, and while I've enjoyed it immensely, especially Katie and Paul's arc, my biggest issue is the character of Kristy. Right now, she doesn't really have her own arc - she's just the lens through which we view Katie. Her self absorption doesn't lessen appreciably over the course of the story, she doesn't grow more attentive of her personal relationships outside of her family, and she doesn't pay any more attention to Dan throughout the book (as befits a mutual friendship) until the very end. This left me unsatisfied at the end, her phone call to Dan felt exactly like her rudimentary thoughts of dating Paul.

I loved the food theme running through, especially the subtle shift from the heavy focus on sweets to the cooking of more nourishing, sustaining meals and Kristy's counterpoint of learning to appreciate desserts without the self absorbed "they'll make me fat".

Christine said...

I really enjoyed it. Like some of the others I would like more, but was satisfied with how you ended it. Thank you for sticking with it even after you finished the month.

I also really enjoyed the business side of it, and loved how Kristy worked out a solution to the big box stores that might even make Paul happy - even if she doesn't rub it in everyone's faces that she balanced it all.

Please write more stories/novels at some point.

Amber said...

I'm glad you posted some comments, Darwin. I love getting a little glimpse into the thoughts of the author once I've read the story.

BTW, regarding those shorts - they had me chuckling for days. My favorite crazy plot scenario involved Katie coming into the communion with the Church, thinking she had a calling to the religious life, going to a convent, then scandalizing the Novice Mistress by wearing the shorts under her habit. Then they all break into a "how do you solve a problem like Katie" chorus a la Sound of Music.

OK, so the whole Paul thing was probably a better direction...

JackieD said...

Read it all the way through via RSS feed, and just remembered now to come back and comment. I really enjoyed the novel, several sections were literally laugh out loud funny. I agree with the ending-is-fine commentors, although I'd love a sequel! Finishing up Kristy's conversion, sketching out the romance, and following through on the changes with her and Katie's relationship would be very interesting.

mandamum said...

I was reminded of the whiffling comments, reading your 4th wall break. So I guess I wasn't reading into it :)

Myth said...

Read it all the way through as it came out - just lazy about getting around to commenting. Nothing like what I usually read but I enjoyed it, and found both girls believable, though I did like Katie more.

Gianna said...

Long time reader, first time commenter, and I just wanted to let you know that I read all the way through and really enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

When I started reading, I privately predicted that one of the girls was going to jail, and the other to the convent, and I wasn't prepared to put money on whose fate was whose. I'm somewhat let-down that they ended happily sharing clothes and with Kristy ceding Paul without a murmur. It's - so mature. Heart matters tend to be messier, and relations between sisters edgier.

Also, I was considering the business story in comparison with two other works, Revolutionary Road (Yates) and the film, In Good Company. In RR, the characters end in tatters, shipwrecked by their inability to sacrifice for each other, but business is in its lusty adolescence, and Frnak has just got in on the start of the personal computing revolution. In the film "In Good Company," buiness is holding onto benign paternalism by the skin of its teeth, as is the older male lead, and he wins over the young thruster, who is desperately in need of a father-figure. So what is the message of American business in your book? Because its hollowed-out, denatured look made me a bit sad.


LadyVergo said...

I usually just lurk, but since you asked so nicely, I wanted to let you know I read all the way through and enjoyed it very much. Thank you for posting all of it!

Meredith said...

I just wanted to congratulate you upon finishing while at the same time carrying on a busy career and family life! I certainly couldn't have done it.

What I found most interesting about the novel was that, like Mary Margaret suggested, the characters might have been missing the emotional nuances of women. For instance, I felt that I learned much more about pricing and production than I did about their inner selves. Part of this is Kristy's style--hiding behind business--but a revision might include a more balanced approach to the overall character development.

Good work!

Mary said...

I'm a frequent lurker, but I wanted to say that I really enjoyed the read. I also found the 4th wall break disturbing, but only because it did not seem to match the style of the rest. The ending was dissatisfying to me as well, because I would like to know how it worked out. I did NOT find Katie and Paul to be too fast for realism because I think by a certain age you know pretty well what you would be happy with when you see it. As a story about the relationship between two sisters, I found it dissatisfying that there seemed to be no additional discussion between the sisters after the relationship began. In my experience living with my adult (but younger and college age) sister, there was a lot of drama and hurt feelings in her particular case. She felt rather abandoned. Kristy is a rather withdrawn character, emotionally, and has the benefit of maturity but I would have liked to see more interaction about the implications of the impending marriage. FWIW, I could see Kristy converting to Judaism for the sake of starting a family. Is it the right thing? Eh, who knows? I'm pretty sure it's what my husband did for me and we're still married after 12 years. I think Islam, as mentioned above, would be something else entirely.

Lois in Indy said...

Thanks for the insight into the novel. I think I got hung up early in the story by the seeming intimacy of Dan and Kristy in the wine bar scene so I thought the object was Kristy's eventual choice between career and marriage. I found Kristy to be a very loving and caring sister to Katie. I didn't find Kristy or Katie to be manish in any way so I don't understand the comments re them not being feminine enough. I got the distinction at the end where Kristy's realization is more practical than spiritual. I know turning to Dan to possibly solve this problem is perhaps the most expedient way given their background and age but it almost strikes of "using" him. Don't understand why he would not be more forthcoming to her about his deeper feelings for her if he truly had such feelings. I hope he's not the long-suffering "whatever makes you happy makes me happy" sort. I think I'll take Kristy an entirely different direction, since you leave it sort of up in the air. She finds a nice widower at Schneider and over time they marry and have kids. Dan find a "nice Jewish Girl" and everybody lives happily ever after. I know I totally lack imagination but I see too many obstacles like you listed to Kristy and Dan getting together. Anyway, thanks. I don't know how to put this but your writing is easy reading.

Alexandra said...

I've been quietly reading your blog from Toronto for a few years now, and this is my first comment. Thank you. I enjoyed the novel mightily, loved the characters of the two sisters, and felt that the end was a satisfying expression of each of their characters.

Also, Katie's shorts made me giggle so loudly that I scandalized my husband.

TGWWS said...

Oh, I was waiting for that ending! One would have thought that it might have occurred to Kristy before that one possible reason Dan seemed incapable of finding a nice Jewish girl was because, well ... yeah!

I think the fate of both girls worked out pretty well. Katie the hyper-immature ends up with the extremely staid and religious man; Kristy, the hyper-independent and self-assured and responsible has to take a real risk, has to make herself vulnerable ... yes, I think it works. You could say cynically that both girls are "punished" for their characters or their mistakes; I think they're pushed, or forced to grow out of them.

It was most enjoyable!

Darwin said...


So what is the message of American business in your book? Because its hollowed-out, denatured look made me a bit sad.

Hmm. I haven't read the book or seen the movie you mention, but overall I would say there isn't really a message about American business in the book. It's a culture and environment that I'm pretty familiar with, from the last ten years of my work life, and most of the odder things that Kristy deals with are drawn fairly directly from my experience or that of people I've known. Like any milieu that one knows well, it's possible for someone with a certain amount of familiarity to draw a lot of humor out of corporate life, and that was one of my main aims with using that as Kristy's setting. Also, it's just something that I know well, and they say "write what you know". I figured that writing almost exclusively about women was my main imaginative stretch for the novel, so I picked a setting that I knew fairly well -- though I had Kristy take things further down that road, putting her in the Bay Area (which I know a bit about, but chose to avoid) and sending her off to China (various friends from a technology company I used to work for had been sent to China, Korea or India for various lengths of time, but I never was, so I there I worked off anecdote and a fair amount of research.)

Generally speaking, I don't tend to think that there's a big MESSAGE to be told about American business. It's just a place and a culture. In dealing with that, I was trying to draw a little from the way that some of my favorite Victorian authors (Trollope, Thackary) deal with the British business world of 150 years ago. I think they tended to provide a lot of good commentary and comedy, but it's mostly of a human sort, just in a specific place and time, rather than being a Big Statement on the nature of the business world.

Jenny said...


You said, "and with Kristy ceding Paul without a murmur. It's - so mature. Heart matters tend to be messier, and relations between sisters edgier."

I find this completely believable about Kristy. Kristy is wrapped up in being in control, not letting emotions drive her decisions, and not letting other people see her vulnerable. She would never let on, even to herself, that the fact that Paul wasn't interested in her bothered her beyond the initial shock of finding out. She isn't acting mature--she's repressing her own feelings. If she were more open to her own emotions, you would have seen more edginess between the sisters. But Kristy was squarely in the mindset of "it doesn't matter anyway." I'm not saying she would have/should have fought for Paul, but it would have at least come into conversation.

Melanie B said...

When I saw that this was the last installment, I expected to be disappointed at the ending. It seemed much too soon and I couldn't imagine how you could wrap things up in a way that would be at all satisfying. However, I think it did work rather nicely.

Unlike many others, I found the more open ending satisfying. I hate it when things are tied up too nicely. Leaving the reader wondering whether or not things work out for the two couples satisfies me just fine. Then again, I don't understand why people think the characters should end up in relationships that will work out or be the very best relationships for them. Life is often messy that way.

As for the relationship between the two sisters, I found it very believable and satisfying. In fact, in some ways it reminds me very much of my relationship with my sister. That the two of them don't talk much about men and relationships I find believable because that's pretty close to my own family's dynamic. We all play those cards very close to the chest. And Kristy is very much like myself in not showing her disappointment about Katie's getting Paul. I'd never have let on that I'd been interested much less made a big deal out of it. Such emotions are too private to be aired even to a sister. Especially to a younger sister with whom Kristy has some emotional distance.

I wouldn't have found a religious conversion of any sort believable for Kristy in the near future; but I did like the way her move towards Dan was framed in a religious sort of language leaving open the possibility in her more distant future.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Darwin,

I obviously had a bad attack of internet aspergers', because I focussed on critique and forgot to say how much I enjoyed the story. I did. Thank you. Also, I love serial stories: they take me back to the days of radio serials. Loved those, too. Cue the Archers' theme tune:

Best, Otepoti