Rowling Interview: Tracks of My Years

We learned pre-publication that Troubled Blood would feature Joni Mitchell’s 1974 ‘Court and Spark’ album. The source of that revelation was publicity for an interview Rowling had recorded for a BBC radio program, ‘The Tracks of My Years’ (read all about that here). The Version.co has posted a transcript of the interview; hat-tip to Nick Jeffery for the find! Here are the two pieces of that conversation I thought most interesting: [Read more…]

Part V of Spenser and Strike: The Knight of Justice Comes up Swinging with Britomart Triumphant

Moorthi Sukumar : Faerie Queene - Edmund SpenserAs we head around the bend toward the back of the novel and the back of the year, the closing of the mystery and of the timespan that is clearly our stage, it’s time to take a peek at some of the best Faerie Queene  cues in Part Five. If you haven’t caught up to our thoughts on Troubled Blood so far, there is time, so check out our Hogwarts Professor takes on a wide variety of angles for this novel so far. I’m having a grand time keeping the Spenser score running, looking at ways in which our intrepid detectives are mirroring elements of The Faerie Queene, and I hope you’re having as much fun as we are! Follow me after the jump for five Faerie Queene  take-aways from Part Five! Remember, spoilers galore, so stop here if you need to get past chapter 59! [Read more…]

Troubled Blood, Part Five: Top Ten Take-Aways from Chapters 49 to 59

As explained Tuesday, I will be reading and writing about one of the seven Parts of the just published Troubled Blood every day this week. For Part One’s seven chapters, go here. Part Two’s seven chapters and my Top Ten Take-Aways can be found here. Part Three’s epic post? It’s right here. And here is Part Four, the longest part of Troubled Blood and the longest HogwartsProfessor post ever. Thank you in advance for not posting in the comment thread about Parts not yet discussed in this series; feel free, of course, to join in the discussion if you have read no further than Part Five, Chapter Fifty Nine!

What a break that was! Yesterday I gave a talk to the Oklahoma Christian Fiction Writers about Ring Composition — and I think they may be the Perfect Audience for everything I want to say on that subject. They were not Harry Potter or Comoran Strike uber fans, but, as serious readers and writers as well as Christian believers, they were most interested in parallelism (chiasmus!) and receptive to ideas and possibilities that most others would not be. It was a great break from the Troubled Blood marathon-analysis and the narrative slow intake experience I’ve been on.

I came home to chart Part Five, the eleven chapters I’d read early Saturday morning. It was an even better experience the second time, though just checking out the various ring elements and re-reading the ‘happy ending’ of the Oakden interview at the Stafford, leaves me dreading all that comes next. Part Six, especially if in parallel with Career of Evil and Order of the Phoenix, must be a nightmare.

Before we go there, though, here are my Top Ten Take-Aways of Part Five, the beginning of the return trip to the epic story’s latch. Join me after the jump for looks at Part Five as a ring, what I expected, what surprised me, and what I had to look up, and my thoughts heading into the Longest-Rowling-Book-Ever’s wild finish!

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Troubled Blood, Part Four: Top Ten Take-Aways from the Center, Chapters 31- 48

As explained Tuesday, I will be reading and writing about one of the seven Parts of the just published Troubled Blood every day this week. For Part One’s seven chapters, go here. Part Two’s seven chapters and my Top Ten Take-Aways can be found here. Part Three’s epic post? It’s right here. Thank you in advance for not posting in the comment thread about Parts not yet discussed in this series; feel free, of course, to join in the discussion if you have read no further than Part Four, Chapter Forty Eight!

True confession: today’s post about Part Four is the reason I have been doing the in-depth look at Troubled Blood one Part at a time, in sequence, before even reading to the end of the book. It’s a test of a theory I’ve played with while reading every Strike novel since The Silkworm. I stopped at the half-way point of Strike 2 to make a blog post predicting who the murderer of Owen Quine was based on the character who had appeared near the start and at the middle of that book. I did this because the Bad Guy of Cuckoo’s Calling had been in the first, middle, and last chapters so I suspected this was structural tick of the author. Long story short, I was right in my guess. Career of Evil and Lethal White baddies have also hidden themselves in the central chapters of those books a la an Alfred Hitchcock cameo.

I’m hopeful that a very careful reading of the first half of Troubled Blood with an especially close look at its central Part, the fourth of seven, will reveal the solution to the mystery ‘What Happened to Margot Bamborough?’ that Rowling-Galbraith will spell out at the end of Part Six and in Part Seven. I’ll share my best guesses on that subject in my ten take-aways on chapters thirty-one to forty-eight. Frankly, I’m excited about the credible solution the text and the embedded texts reveal, not to mention what can be deduced from the echoes of other Strike and Potter novels.

Right or wrong about such guesswork, of course, I lose. If I’m right, I will be unable to prove to any credible standard that I didn’t read the ending before writing what I have. If I’m wrong, well, I’ll seem a first-class idiot then, won’t I? At least my error will make believable my claim not to have peeked at the published finish.

The effort won’t have been pointless, however, whether I am right or wrong in my guess at the half-way mark. I’ve had to read most chapters three times to properly chart each Part, which effort involved reading the Part straight through, then charting it, and then returning to the text to write up these posts. For a book this long, I doubt very much I would have done for several months if ever what I’ve managed thus far in a few days; charting is a laborious task and once the finish is known a detailed ‘hard look’ is anything but inviting. As it stands, I have charted the first four parts, discovered each is a ring, and had time to look relatively closely at the embedded texts an all-night-and-day straight-through reading does not allow.

Am I the only person in the world who has taken a week off work to read Troubled Blood? I have to doubt there are more than a few of us. That being said, I rush to add that the work deserves all the time and attention anyone gives it. It is by far the most complex, crowded, and challenging novel to date from J. K. Rowling. The structure, symbolism, and narrative control are singly and taken together mind-boggling. Which is not to mention the number of characters in play in this year’s mystery, the office’s various cases, and the suddenly brilliantly vibrant back story with Charlotte, Rokeby, and the Masham and Cornwall crews all taking turns at center stage.

I was charting Part Four’s eighteen chapters, the longest Part of the book, and realized it has one more chapter than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Charting Stone, believe me, was a lot more straight-on than this single portion!

After the jump, the Ten Take-Aways for Part Four: three ring points, four wild and crazy ideas (Robin the Gypsy, Long Itchington’s “accent light,” Talbot’s Celtic Cross, and the Embedded Text of Astrology 14), and three more ‘larger wheels’ structural points, as in what the end of Troubled Blood suggested in Part Four says about the death of Leda Strike. See you on the far side! [Read more…]

Troubled Blood  and Spenser–Part Four Thoughts

The Faerie Queene - WikipediaApologies for the late post today! With these hefty readings, I’m falling behind nearly as much as my students, but I dare say I’m having more fun with my reading than they are with theirs! I hope you’re enjoying the threads we’ve thus far discovered that tie Troubled Blood to its literary inspiration, Edmund Spenser’s epic Faerie Queene. If you have not been following along with our multi-faceted coverage of the new Cormoran Strike novel, I hope you’ll catch up, and then I hope you’ll come with me after the jump as we enter the next season, both literally and figuratively, in the latest installments of the adventures of our modern-day knights Artegall and Britomart, Strike and Robin.

As we are all racing toward what is sure to be a thrilling conclusion, it is sometimes hard to slow down long enough to process the artistry being exhibited by Rowling/Galbraith, but as we reach the end of Part 4, here are the four most interesting Spenser connections that both show the depth of our story’s connections to The Faerie Queene and may offer us clues for the journey ahead.

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