Neverwhere Group Read – week two (with Wondrous Words!)

Carl @ Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting a group read for Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Below are my answers to this week’s questions. Please beware, there may be spoilers. (I’m getting better… Maybe next week, the last, I will be able to post on schedule!)

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?

“Well,” said Richard, “I still don’t believe that there are flocks of angels wandering about down here.”
“There aren’t,” said the Marquis. “Just one.”
“Maybe,” Richard said, persisting, “we’re thinking of different things. The angels I have in mind are all wings, haloes, trumpets, peace-on-earth-goodwill-unto-men.”
“That’s right,” said Door. “You got it. Angels.”

I’m a bit disappointed in Richard, because he tries so hard to make sense of what he is going through, he tries so hard to categorize everything so that it fits his normal, London Above experience. In this week’s post, Carl points out that this reaction is way more realistic than the usual one where the characters embrace their new, out-of-this-world experience, whatever that is. I have to agree that Carl is right, but as a reader, it still bugs me.

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?

“Now me,” said Mr Vandemar. “What number am I thinking of?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“What number am I thinking of?” repeated Mr Vandemar. “It’s between one and a lot,” he added, helpfully.
“Seven,” said the Marquis. Mr Vandemar nodded, impressed.

Actually, I don’t know. He seems to know so much about so many things, he seems to have some kind of power/status of his own, and most of all he seems to be after his own plans. I’d like to know more about him, he has so many facets, and I would definitely like to read a novel with him as central character. Oh, wait — that’s what I’d have to look for at the Floating Market…

3. How did you feel about the Ordeal of the Key?

“I think I will have that cup of tea now, if you don’t mind.”

This was probably the most disappointing part of the book for me. First, we have a three-part ordeal in perfect fairy-tale style, but they go through part 1 & 2 without even realizing it and without the least difficulty (I mean, I guessed the riddle before Door did, and without stopping in my reading, and I’m no good with riddles usually!). And then, Richard’s part of the ordeal, it seemed not creative at all to me, something seen again and again. Sorry.

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.

“And you worked for her, Hunter?”
“I worked for all the Seven Sisters.”
“I thought they hadn’t spoken to each other for, oh, at least thirty years.”

There is a tagline in The Neverending Story that goes like this: “But that is another story and shall be told another time.” More than the moments, in this reading I am noticing these very small details that hint at a completely different story branching out from this one. The quote above is just an example of what I mean, but the book is full of them. And to me, a book that hides in itself a million other stories like that, is a perfect book, no matter what.

5. Any other things/ideas that you want to talk about from this section of the book?

Its eyes were clear and wide. Its robes were not white, as Richard had initially thought: they seemed to have been woven from light.

I can’t believe I had missed this reference before. Talk about foreshadowing!

“For I am Saruman, the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!”
I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
“I liked white better,’ I said.
“White!” he sneered. “It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.”
“In which case it is no longer white.”

Edition note: I am reading the author’s preferred text, as published by Headline Review, paperback, 372 pages plus exclusive material.


I also found a new word for this week in Neverwhere, despite the fact that it’s definitely not my first read.

… at Jessica’s mews flat in fashionable Kensington…

When I saw the word “mews” I actually thought of this:

I know that would be “meow”, but I first thought of an alternate spelling or something. Except that it didn’t fit the context. Photo credits: MowT on Flickr.

Instead, it’s this:

Photo credits: synaethesia on Flickr (Oh, I love that it sounds like one of my favorite characters from this book!)

And here’s the definition:

mews: n. Brit. 1 a row of houses or flats converted from stables, or built to appear so 2 a group of stables round a yard or along an alley.

(All definitions are taken from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 via unless otherwise stated.)

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) and interesting (to us, again) words we encountered in our readings. See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!

6 comments on “Neverwhere Group Read – week two (with Wondrous Words!)

  1. I thought cat too – LOL! Its funny, because it is probably fashionable to live there and it is a converted stable. On the other hand, its probably better construction than anything that they are building now, and probably in good parts of town…

  2. I knew mews had something to do with stables but I didn’t realize they’re flats converted from stables. Thanks for clearing that up! I want to live in a mews now!

  3. “a book that hides in itself a million other stories like that, is a perfect book, no matter what” – exactly. This is one of the reasons I love Gaiman’s writing. He writes stories within stories within stories, and more often than not, he does it in just a few sentences. Love it!

  4. Oh wow. We included the same quote!
    “But that is another story and shall be told another time.” You’re right. There are so many instances that could be entire books in their own right. And like Emily said, every story has so many mini-stories and references that I can’t help but wonder just how many books Gaiman has managed to read to date, and how he files away all this information in his head. His Sandman series is FULL of them. I need to get me one of those awesome memory things.

  5. I came across mews a few years ago, I come across it fairly often now- you probably will too know that you know what it means.

  6. @ Libby: I’m glad I’m not alone!
    @ Kathy & Louise: I’m in awe that you knew this one!
    @ Emily & Tanya: I think that’s the mark of an exceptional writer, or of exceptional fiction. Whenever someone asks about the 10 (or 5, or 1) books to save/bring on a desert island/whatever… this is the kind of book that I think of. A book that sparks more fantasy than it actually contains.

Ditelo con parole vostre/Let your words be heard

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