Tuesday, October 25, 2016


October ShallowReader Bingo!


For a lovely reading challenge, I decided to up my participation in the ShallowReader Bingo! this month by going for the entire Bingo! card on one book. I chose The Fortress by Danielle Trussoni. It is a memoir about her dysfunctional second marriage. It's written in a confiding manner and in excruciating detail, inviting the reader's critique of the marriage and the author. The book has been widely lauded; my opinion is quite the reverse. My review of the book will be published by All About Romance later this month. I'll link back to it here later.

Here's a copy of the October card. It is copyrighted to Vassiliki Veros and ShallowReader. Click on the image to embiggen.



The Horror : In one desperate move when Nikolai has driven her up the wall, Danielle tries to commit suicide by jumping off the balustrade. He saves her by wrestling her down.

Turtle : Nikolai thinks of his study as his shell. He installs a lock on the door and hides in there, supposedly writing, but in reality playing endless rounds of Internet chess and flirting with other women via Skype.

October : I read this book in October.

From Beyond the Grave : Danielle's father's larger-than-life role in her childhood before and after her parents' divorce continues to haunt her to the present day and is like an unseen presence in her marriage with Nikolai.

Spring : The gorgeous Proven├žal countryside of France and life in a French village is described and depicted in telling detail all throughout the book. That was the only redeeming part of the book.

Power Failure : When the power goes out in the village of Aubais, their huge 13th century Knights Templar fortress, La Commanderie, is shrouded in darkness. In the flickering candlelight, Danielle is surprised by a ghostly woman with calm blue eyes. This is the one and only supernatural foray in the story.

Head : Gosh, I wished and wished and wished Danielle would think with her head and not her emotions. She has an outlandish imagination and revels in the extremes. She has nothing steady underpinning her character.

Fester : Their entire ten-year-marriage was one festering, suppurating wound.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered : By the end of the novel, the divorce is final and both the children are living with her in New York City.

Whitewash : No matter how many times Danielle tries to airbrush away Nikolai's weird starts and thoughtless dominating actions, they all add up to a very disturbing whole that she never lets herself see clearly.

But Then I Thought About the Game : As her marriage is disintegrating, in her mind, she constantly flirts with the idea of taking a lover. How will Nikolai react? How will she react? Will the guy she wants be amenable? What impact will it have on her marriage? Was she willing to take the risk? When she tells Nikolai that she's going to go to Paris, he immediately jumps to the right conclusion and so begins their days of playing emotional games on each other.

Campus Life : At the beginning of their love life, they were both graduate students of writing—she, at the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, he, as a foreign student from Bulgaria at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. At a later point in their married life, they both teach writing to earn their living, while writing novels on the side. He has published a few novels in Bulgarian and English; she has yet to do so.

Delight : When Danielle falls in love, it is in one fell swoop, without thought or restraint. So it was with Nikolai, so it is with her Parisian lover Hadrien. She finds delight in being delighted, falls in love with being in love.

Beer : Would you know it: In Paris, in the City of Love, on their first date when Danielle and Hadrien go out, she has a glass of wine, mais oui, but he has a BEER!!

Death Stare : Quoting from the book: "There was the gendarme whom some of the villagers called 'Robocop' because of his flat, inexpressive manner and his ability to deflect human interaction with a single blank stare."

78 : On page 78 is a good example of how behavior can engender lack of trust that can cause tears in the fabric of a marriage. Nikolai and Danielle talked to one and another and agreed to give their infant daughter a mixture of breast milk and formula, with the formula being slowly phased in. However, one night, Nikolai unilaterally decides that the baby should get formula. "He'd said one thing and done the opposite. And I stewed, silently, adding this slight to a growing stockpile of slights, storing them up."

Spawning : Disenchantment spawns disenchantment, hatred spawns hatred. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it's difficult to control it. Once the chain of negative thoughts and behaviors begin, they're difficult to rein in.

Dutch Oven : In Sofia, Bulgaria, on an outing to Plovdiv with Nikolai's parents, Yana and Ivan, Yana makes stuffed grape leaves, cabbage rolls, and a spicy lamb meatballs dish called kufteta, which is made in a Dutch Oven-like pot.

Slit : The cover design of the book has a sharp, deep, dark groove in the center that can be felt with a finger.

Wild Thing : On her first big book tour, she goes off with a random male writer she meets into a public bathroom and snorts a lot of cocaine.

Blur : Ten years of marriage go by in a blur of bad decisions upon bad decisions. Things stopped being good between them almost from the beginning. Yet they hung on for ten filthy miserable years.

Indecent : Even with the evidence of a ripped open empty condom packet staring him in the face, he flatly denies sleeping with his student in the backseat of the family car with the baby car seat thrown into the trunk. She wants so badly to believe the best of him that while she knows it's a lie and it rankles, she gives in and agrees with his version of the story.

Blossom : Just as love blossomed between Danielle and Nikolai, so did hatred blossom between them. Two sides of a coin, love and hatred both can develop slowly or in one fell swoop. Both Nikolai and Danielle loved so emotionally, so needily, so dependently, that even in their hatred of each other, they cling together feeding off of each other's negativity for years.

Legend : She buys into the legend of Paris is for lovers, by cheating on her husband with Hadrien, a man she meets at a party in Paris.

Stripped : By the end of their marriage, both of them are stripped of any semblance of decency. They have both said and done execrable things without any thought given to their children's wellbeing.


2 comments:

willaful said...

Very creative square filling!

Keira Soleore said...

Heh! I'm learning from the master. :)