Friday, November 21, 2008

The curse of happiness

Amidst the glowing praise for Impossible has been a smattering of dissenting opinions. Of course, as an unabashed admirer of Nancy, I don't much enjoy reading any of that, but I recognize that there are going to be differing tastes and perspectives, and so it's all fair enough, at least in principle.

But what annoys me is a consistent premise of the critics: that it's too convenient and unrealistic that Lucy should have the love and support that she gets from Zach. Oh, yeah? People can't be kind to each other? Love is impossible? Happy endings, too? Nobody is allowed to have things bounce their way for a change?

Hey, life is a bitch. Often. Repeatedly. In many cases, horribly. Just not always. I'm sure that a lot of Nancy's readers feel the pain of her characters, and are relieved in some way by the notion that it's not just them that must endure whatever it is that they're enduring. And by all means, they have every right to prefer books in which nobody catches a break, in which comfort is only relative, in which the protagonist has to work within a dark world for each and every little positive thing that comes their way.

But good fortune happens. That's why they call it that. And do the math, people: twenty one generations of Scarborough women are enslaved by a demonic character, followed by one (count 'em) barely wriggling out of being the twenty-second. Over 95% living through hell. Doesn't seem like an overly sunny view of the world to me.

This protagonist was lucky, no question about it, but only after starting out really, really unlucky. If you're one of those readers that identifies with Lucy, you're right to suppose that a Zach next door is unlikely. Please just understand that he's not impossible. As I read it, that was kinda the point...

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