Please note that there will be some major spoilers in this discussion and more than likely in the comments. If you have not read this novel and plan to do so in the future, I caution you not to read this.
1. Chapter 6 begins with Richard chanting the mantra, “I want to go home”. How do you feel about Richard and his reactions at this point to the unexpected adventure he finds himself on?
I think Richard’s reaction seems perfectly normal. I know that if one day everything I knew about my life was gone and I didn’t really exist anymore I would want to go back to normal as well. And to be thrown into a dangerous world like London Below, heck yeah I would want to go home. Of course I wouldn’t want to go back to Jessica, but that is whole different matter. I would love to say I would be super brave and act like Batman or something, but I started this post with okie dokie–Does Batman say that? If he does that is so cool. I love to travel and go on adventures, but when I am home I love my routine. I’m a routine kind of person. I’m not a superhero and I would be clicking my red shoes as fast as I could chanting that I wanted to go home. And none of the places I’ve traveled to have resembled London Below. So I can relate to Richard’s response. He’s a normal guy and I think he is reacting like an average person. And I really admire that about this story. If he reacted differently it wouldn’t have fit with his personality. Gaiman doesn’t change who Richard is and that works. I like reading a story about a normal person in an unbelievable world. It seems more believable if that’s possible.
2. The Marquis de Carabas was even more mysterious and cagey during the first part of this week’s reading. What were your reactions to him/thoughts about him as you followed his activities?
I can’t figure out this character at all. Sometimes I really like him and think he’s got a good heart somewhere in there and other times I think he’s two-faced and is only out for himself. Then I read the part when Door’s father said if you need someone to help you search out this man. Her father says, “He’s a fraud and a cheat and possibly even something of a monster. If you’re ever in trouble, go to him. He will protect you, girl. He has to.” And then Croup and Vandemar crucify him. Ouch! They are turning out to be more sinister than I thought they would be. Poor Marquis de Carabas…I’m back to liking him. Like I said, I don’t know how to feel about him. He does keep things interesting. I never know what he is going to do.
3. How did you feel about the Ordeal of the Key?
At first I thought to myself, “Why did so many fail before?” Then I thought that the Ordeal was pretty clever. Most people can’t face their own inner demons and Gaiman is calling attention to this. I wasn’t expecting his book to be so big on social commentary but it really is. The theme of not noticing the undesirables in society and now the theme of Richard coming to terms with who he is as a man is quite interesting and telling. I don’t know if I would like to face the “truth.” And his visions are pretty brutal. “Gary” and then “Jessica,” Richard didn’t really have a whole lot going for him before venturing into London Below. It is interesting that he found a way to fight it off and now I wonder what type of man he will be if he goes back to London Above. This part reminded me a little of A Christmas Carol, except Richard is no way comparable to Ebenezer Scrooge. (I love the names Charles Dickens came up with for his characters.)
4. This section of the book is filled with moments. Small, sometimes quite significant, moments that pass within a few pages but stick with you. What are one or two of these that you haven’t discussed yet that stood out to you, or that you particularly enjoyed.
I don’t know if there are specific moments that I am enjoying more than others. For me I am loving all of the connections to London. Since I just moved here I am noticing all of the references (that I know of, I’m sure I’m missing some) and I finding that to be really fun. For instance, when they talked about Earl’s Court I really got a kick out of that since I live in Earl’s Court and when I first arrived I wondered about the Earl. And I remember when I first moved here and saw all the Mind the Gap signs and I would hear it when I traveled on the Tube. I found the author’s use of Mind the Gap to be extremely clever. That is my favorite part of this book, connecting it to my new city and seeing London through Gaiman’s eyes. I don’t know if I really answered the question. Whoops.
5. Any other things/ideas that you want to talk about from this section of the book?
After not answering the question above I’m going to not answer this question either and instead ask a question. For those who are more familiar with the novel and with Gaiman, is the TV show worth watching? Or will it ruin the book? I read in the intro to my edition that when the director and/or producer would take stuff out of the TV show Gaiman would respond by saying that’s fine, I’ll put it in the book. Should I bother with the series? Or leave it alone?
Next week is the conclusion of the novel. I’m really excited to find out what happens.