On my recent absence and The Mists of Avalon

For the last couple of weeks, I haven’t been writing, or moving, very much. Costochondritis is inflammation in the cartilage of the ribcage, where the ribs attach to the breastbone, and brother let me tell you, it’s a real bitch. I spent most of the last two weeks humped over like someone’s 90 year old granny, trying very hard not to do anything that would move my chest – like breathing.

Given those parameters, my daily activities boiled down to watching television (OMnG, who picks that stuff they put on during the day?) or reading. Marion Zimmer Bradley can be credited with having saved my questionable sanity from the likes of “Real Housewives” and Rachel Ray *shudder*.

The Mists of Avalon is a book I’ve been meaning to get around to for years and never quite managed. It’s a weighty tome, reminding me of the days when hubris and having read just about everything else in the school library led me to carrying War and Peace around my Jr. High. Tucked into my husband’s reclining chair with pillows and a lap blanket, like any respectable debilitatee, I found The Mists of Avalon to be the perfect size to rest on my lap and require no movement out of me other than the turning of pages.

All together, I’d say that it was a very well-crafted story, but not at all what I was expecting. There was a gentleness to the narrative, told from the perspective of numerous female characters, that allowed even murder and violence to be sort of melancholy rather than mortifying. While this is certainly counter to my own style, where the women’s points of view tend to be, if anything, more direct and practical than the men’s, I felt that it was a very effective style for the story being told. Particularly because while the women narrators presented the world in a softer light, perhaps than most war-torn lands would reveal, they were not passive in the story. The women in this story shaped their world, though often by manipulation rather than direct action, and not always to the ends that they desired. The women were both strong and weak, both pawns and directors of fate, and in the end I believe that Ms. Bradley achieved a level of humanity that many writers today miss in their characters.

A worthy read, though perhaps a shade too genteel for today’s market, where readers relish being flung headlong into the gritty reality of worlds like those of Martin, Morgan, and Abercrombie, or so the book marketers would have us believe. One has to wonder, though, how much the audience and the tastes of the audience has really changed in the last couple of decades, and if those readers who are buying today are buying in hopes of finding something they can’t name and can’t seem to find. I know I am.

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