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The General's Mistress - Prognostication

The General's Mistress in trade paperback has a reading group guide attached at the back, and I think the person who did the guide did a great job of asking interesting questions about the book for people to discuss. Therefore, after the book comes out, I thought I would do a post for each question so that people could discuss online -- for everyone who isn't in a reading group but might like to talk about some of the interesting things raised.

Here's the beginning of the reading group guide:

The General’s Mistress invites readers into the world of Elzelina, a young woman living through the turmoil and excitement that followed the French Revolution. Based on the historical figure, Elza—sometimes known as Ida St. Elme, sometimes as Charles Van Aylde—follows her passions, her heart, and her own independent spirit as she flees her cold-hearted husband in Holland for a series of fiery romances in Paris, Italy, and Germany. Her adventures take her into the arms of General Victor Moreau, a tryst with a coy and ambitious socialite, a turn as an acting troupe’s “second girl” and casual prostitute, a foray into fortune telling, and even a taste of war when she disguises herself as a man and joins the French military campaign in Germany. Throughout it all, she is haunted by two mysterious obsessions: General Michel Ney, a man she loves before ever meeting him, and the seductive, protective, and dangerous presence she senses in her dreams and in psychic trances: the Archangel Michel, the Warrior’s Saint—and the Angel of Death.

Elza first discovers her psychic abilities when playing with a deck of tarot cards. Her cousin tells her that they answer a question in three parts: “The first one is the what, the second is how, and the third is why.” Elza asks if she will find a man she truly loves. She sees a red-haired man bearing a chalice, an illustration of Fortune’s Wheel, and an emperor in a chariot.

What do you think Elza's reading means?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 17th, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
Is Michel a red-head? Hephaestion was. That's who. How is sharing parts in the same fate, changing the world. Why is because they both swore themselves to the Emperor again and again and again, all those lifetimes ago, and they'll do it again because it's important. And because they both need to get their heads out of their asses and stop obsessing over how their duty means they can never try for happiness together, because it doesn't, and Michel needs to assert his identity separate from the Emperor rather than constantly going back to that same well to define his life.

And if that isn't what's going on I am so confused.
Oct. 17th, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
I think why is also-- things go up and down, fortunes shift abruptly for better and worse and better and worse again, that there isn't constancy there. That the tide changes, and you are all swept along in it, whether it's a personal tide or change of fortune or a cultural sea change. That's how I interpret the Wheel card in tarot. So here it's that the shifts will bring them together, and possibly apart again (or together and apart and together and apart, unpredictably or chaotically or just over the course of their life/lives).

So I agree, the answer is yes, and the how is complex or random, and the why is... the ship of state? The greater Emperor's Story? Conflicts? All of the above?
Oct. 19th, 2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
Yes! All of the above! :)
Oct. 19th, 2012 05:06 pm (UTC)
Michel is a red-head! Yes! And no, you're not confused. :)
Oct. 19th, 2012 10:40 pm (UTC)
In my head, there's a completely implausible AU where, way back when, Alexander twigged onto what was going on and shook some sense into both of them. If there's one person who wasn't likely to get jealous of Hephaestion's happiness --

But there's still the issue of Michel truly seeing himself as a person in his own right and not an accessory, and no one but Michel can fix that.
Oct. 20th, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
True. Alexander wouldn't have minded at that point. Which is an opportunity he has to fix things in the second book!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )