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Saturday, September 05, 2009
'Jane' by PF Jeffery, Second Entr'acte

This tells of a journey – the office group of girls / women including Jane and Coral (a group built up for us heretofore) actually travels to where they are to sort our the prizes (loot, booty?) auditing following the Battle for Lundin. Passing "...the colossus of the Leather Mistress seemed almost to touch boiling clouds in a wind-whipped sky" in Leatherhead, awful toilets elsewhere, celebrating Lifenbud, bunny cakes, semaphore towers (reminding me of the literature of steampunk?)


An important passage I should quote in full (although there are many other equally important passages I don't quote!):

"It occurred to me that, given how closely our bodies would be pressed together, it was fortunate that my sexual relationship with Coral had fizzled out several months before.  That's a matter I've hesitated to mention, afraid that it will make me sound more calculating than I really am.  The fact is that desire for Coral died soon after the necessity to spy on her ceased.  Did having the secret service on my heels stoke my passion?  Were my feelings charged by the possibility of dreadful consequences?  Was I stimulated by the tension arising from a simultaneously obligatory and forbidden love?  To these questions, I have no answer.  But it wasn't, I swear, a case of me dumping Coral because the pressure to continue had been removed.  Perhaps, in the end, it comes down to Jenna Javelin's words:

The world is a stranger and more complicated place than you imagine.  And the human heart is about the strangest and most complicated place of all."


This journey is not told in a linear fashion as it would be if it was, say, Jane's diary. This is Jane artfully creating fiction – like the 'Jacqui Blood' books?  But it still strangely retains an element of a diary:

"My account included a great deal that I did not see fit to include in the first entr'acte of this book.  The written word allows me the advantage of second thoughts, and the ability to cross out things that might be better kept to myself.  It occurred to me to wonder why I'd held the story back from Coral during our passionate affair."


typo: "...it would treason to miss our party?"


Interesting maxim embedded in the on-going prose:

"...an experienced woman of the Empire is never more than two tumbles from Her Majesty."
And we all know, following a sweaty tennis game, Jane was earlier closer than that to the Empress!  (BTW, a 'tumble' in this novel is a sexual liaison).


We end with the group reaching the mighty sculptures / statues at "the Grand Ceremonial Gateway of the Palace Victoria in Lundin."



Links to all my JANE chapter comments:

Posted at 11:15 am by Weirdmonger

PF Jeffery
September 8, 2009   05:08 PM PDT
Thank you for that!

And thank you for spotting the typo, which I have now corrected. It’s strange that I can read a sentence repeatedly and, each time, read the word “be” that isn’t there.

I’m not sure what the literature of steampunk is. I assume that it’s something I haven’t read.

The journey does seem framed by colossal statues: the one of the Leather Mistress in Leatherhead, and the pair at the Palace Victoria gateway.

The extended passage you quote refers to Jane and Coral’s “simultaneously obligatory and forbidden love”… Obligatory because entered into at behest of the secret service. Forbidden because (as stated in my counter-comments to the last chapter) contrary to civil service rules.

“And the human heart is about the strangest and most complicated place of all” might serve as the head quote for the entirety of “The Warriors of Love”.

As you note, (and exceptionally for “Jane”) the narration of this chapter is not at all linear.

Near the foot of the second page is this sentence:

“Wonder what we’ll do for Lifenbud,” I said, changing the subject.

There are then about seven pages of retrospective, until the narration returns to the same point with:

“Wonder what we’ll do for Lifenbud,” I said reflectively.

While writing the chapter, I wondered whether this extended flashback would really work. Or, rather, whether the return to the same point would work. I think that it works very well, and that Jane’s repeated “Wonder what we’ll do for Lifenbud” forms the frame that enables it to work.

Indeed, Jane herself is less than two tumbles from the Empress. Whether the “two tumbles” business is (in general) an exaggeration, who knows?

On bunny cakes, I have just polished Chapter 6 of “The Warriors of Love” Volume 2, which contains an unseasonable mention of bunny cakes. The narrator is shopping for the (winter) festival of Solstice:

Having rummaged on a shelf, he withdrew a piece of harness, his manner triumphant. The leather had been dyed white, embellished with depictions of holly – green leaves, red berries – and other seasonally appropriate motifs. Looking at the object critically, I tried to imagine Miss Fletcher’s face on receiving it. The metal picture that arose did not encourage me.

“It’s a bit Solsticey,” I observed with unassailable accuracy.

“Well, it is Solstice, isn’t it? Or will be in a couple of days. There’s no whiff of bunny cakes from Littlejohn’s bakery.”

“No, of course there isn’t, sir. All the same, I’d like something that was for always, not just for Solstice.”

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