The Household Accounts

Author: Branwyn

Nominator: annmarwalk

2006 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Gondor Fixed-Length Ficlet - First Place

Story Type: Fixed-Length Ficlet  ✧  Length: Other Fixed-Length Ficlet

Rating: G  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: What is the stuff of memory? During the inventory of a storeroom, Eowyn finds echoes of the past that have been lovingly preserved by an elderly servant.

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Reviewed by: annmarwalk  ✧  Score: 10

Oh, this is such a somber tale, heartbreaking in its simplicity! The housekeeper is an understated, yet fascinating character. Her duty, no less that Faramir’s, or Beregond’s, was the protection of the property entrusted to her care; she has accepted and performed that duty without flinching for so many years. We can’t tell if she is happy to be going over the household accounts with Éowyn, relieved that she will be able to finally lay down her burden and responsibility; or proud to demonstrate that she has performed her appointed tasks with loyalty and care for so many years. She is cool, almost too cool and businesslike, yet it seems as though we are able to discern just a whisper of her pain and devotion as she describes her tally of the household's loss by the fabric left behind. Denethor; Boromir (the imagery of his surcotte swirling as he paces is so vivid, what a wondrous detail! You’ve really captured his restless energy in just that tiny bit!); most heartrending of all, the unborn daughter Finduilas longed for in vain. The line about Eowyn’s rough finger catching on the fabric is such an exquisite detail that really seems to symbolize the difference between the two women: The domestic, staying by her post, guarding hearth and home; the frustrated warrior who abandoned her responsibilities to follow what she saw as her own path. In the end, Eowyn has ended up in the same place she sought to escape. Perhaps she is ready, now, to accept these homely duties?

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 7

A cleverly written, subtly haunting vignette where Eowyn faces the influence of her husband's family's past on their new lives. Unlike some more heavy-handed stories, the influence comes not in the form of nightmares, but in the account books kept by the housekeeper of the Steward's residence in Minas Tirith. Eowyn feels the fabric worn bought for various garments made for Faramir's father, mother and brother; a unique way of furthering her knowledge of those who are gone forever. The writer is obviously quite knowledgeable about textiles and ancient weaving techniques, the vocabulary used in the story, while intelligible to readers, adds to the feel of authenticity. I liked Eowyn's implied resolution to turn the scraps of the material used to make Finduilas' gown into a dress for a baby girl of her own - a nifty way of tying together Faramir's lost mother with the daughter Eowyn hopes to give Faramir. And the detail of Finduilas' material being a [sea-green] is appropriate and moving.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 6

I thought the author did a good job of capturing Eowyn's PoV in this story. I loved her perspective of the housekeeper, of the faint dreariness with which she approached this routine task, and the image of her warrior's hands and the silk. That last picture in particular resonated with me as a symbol of what might be a difficult transistion for her, past life and dreams into the present ones. There was a lot of depth in this short piece, covering remnants and reminders of Faramir's lost family members. The brief comments about the cloth brought forth very clear images of their one-time owners, and I was especially touched by Finduilas' unspoken hope for a little girl. Branwyn also managed to deftly weave in a lot of detail about the cloth and its storage, which I thought added much to my feeling of being in M-e.

Reviewed by: Bodkin  ✧  Score: 5

I love seeing Eowyn in this role. One of those womanly tasks with which she would be even more familar than sword-wielding. I love the different pieces of fabric - the rich red, the black, the green suitable for a child's gown. But I can see why the task would depress Eowyn - it's the unearthing of a past, a range of hopes and desires that never came to pass or ended in sorrow. She could not help but see echoes of the possibilities of her own life laid out there in the neatly folded array. A cage, perhaps? But one that came to nothing, I think. She and Faramir were not Finduilas and Denethor and they lived in different days.

Reviewed by: Elen Kortirion  ✧  Score: 4

I love that something so simple as checking the nature of her household can bring forward such memories for Eowyn. The lines about her not caring to use the cloth woven for a deadman are particularly telling. Overall the concept is starightforward but in its simplicity it is amazingly original - I have certainly never seen an evocation done on this subject and in this way before.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 4

A very atmospheric account of the Housekeeper giving Eowyn a tour of the storeroom.It almost seems the room is full of ghosts as the room is stacked with cloth from which the garments of those now dead have been made. I like the idea that Eowyn might make a gown for a future daughter from material belonging to Faramir's mother,as she is surely a presence from the past worth remembering. The writer obviously has a good knowledge of ancient textiles and their uses which she puts to good use here.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

What a wonderful and unexpected idea for a story! Somehow, though it is hard to imagine of the Shieldmaiden who slew the Witch-king, she did become the chatelaine of Faramir's possessions. And yes, it would be a sad and dreary thing to think of those mementoes of the past.

Reviewed by: Nesta  ✧  Score: 3

That's a marvellous evocation of Eowyn's world, very economically and effectively written. I'm sorry she didn't find something to her liking, though - for a wedding gown, or for a baby perhaps?

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 3

Eowyn's discovery of the 'cast offs', almost, of the last ruling steward's family, speaks succinctly of lives cut off, like the lengths of cloth themselves. She'll need some time to exorcise those ghosts, clearly.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 3

Powerful. I love how you use objects and heirlooms to introduce Eowyn to the family history she has just united herself with. The ending wasn't what I was expecting, but it felt somehow appropriate for her.

Reviewed by: Marigold  ✧  Score: 3

Beautiful descriptions, especially of the cloth. I think that what struck me most was the bit of cloth that was just enough for a girl child's dress - I wonder if Findulias had kept it in hopes that she would someday have a daughter, and that unfulfilled hope makes the fact that she died so much more heartbreaking.

Reviewed by: stefaniab  ✧  Score: 2

Good mood piece that was nicely written. However, I thought it ended abruptly. I expected a different end.

Reviewed by: elliska  ✧  Score: 2

This was a very moving peak into the past of the steward's family framed in a very clever and powerful way. I really enjoyed reading it.

Reviewed by: Llinos  ✧  Score: 1

Lovely descriptions here and Éowyn was especially well written.