The Dream Archipelago Week 6: The Miraculous Cairn part 2



  • While visiting with sick aunt Alvie, young Lenden is put through a course of shaming by the adults in the room, then made to kiss the sickly old Aunt for whom Lenden had no real feelings, it seems.
  • After this, Lenden and cousin Seri are encouraged to go outside together, and Seri shows Lenden her 'hideout.'
  • Before Lenden knows it, Seri is lifting her skirt and revealing herself, then proposes a round of exploratory touching. Lenden is uncertain, but interested, and touches Seri's private parts.
  • They are interrupted by one of the priests of the Seminary, who seems to be spying on them. So Seri leads Lenden away to somewhere more quiet - outside of the Seminary grounds to one of the dread towers of Seevl.
  • The priest seems to follow them up the path, but Seri says he won't follow them into the tower.
  • Lenden is worried the tower isn't safe, but Seri says it's fine. They close the door behind them and re-engage in touching. Seri is the more bold and willing to strip; Lenden needs more time and remains clothed.
  • Again, they are interrupted by the priest who calls from outside and tells Seri to come out because 'it is forbidden'.
  • Seri goes out alone to talk to him while Lenden watches. Lenden soon concludes that there is something more to Seri's relationship with the priest than first seemed. Are they flirting?
  • Meanwhile, back in the present, older Lenden and Bella drive through the countryside and discuss the island a little.
  • They have a short 'morning after' conversation in which both seem apologetic for the encounter the night before, but both also declare a willingness to pick up again where they left off and see where it goes.


  • The current encounter with Bella puts Lenden in mind of a previous encounter with Seri, and the narration passes back and forth between the past and the present. Many years have passed between the two events - why is Lenden still so tentative? Could the earlier encounter responsible for Lenden's reticence, or is there something else?
  • Did Lenden's visit with the aunt ring true for you? Evoke any feelings? Remind you of your youth?
  • Having read the other book first, we probably assume we know something about the tower, but I wonder if we can rely on that assumption.


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    edited June 2021

    So, Lenden's a woman. Nicely played, Priest. That played right into my assumptions of gender.

    As for the story? Again, it's an old story (this from 1980) and I think that real-world context plays a large part in this story too.

    This story is set in somewhere similar to rural Ireland. There's a deliberately-named Catholic seminary. While there, a visitor is attacked by a sexual predator embedded in the very fabric of the institution. That predator uses the girl's body for its own selfish pleasure, causing her great pain and fear. When it's over, she's left with the memory of the attack but no visible marks. Meanwhile, another victim has been raped over a period of time and been told to accept it as normal. The combination of the trauma from those attacks, and the public revelation of them, causes the victim to disappear from the land of the living. When the viewpoint victim returns to the scene years later, there's no evidence of the crimes and she's made to doubt her own memories of the attacks.

    It's almost as if Priest were trying to tell us something.

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    @NeilNjae I think you have strayed beyond the week's read :) but I agree, it was difficult not to.

    I like the way CP is developing these two parallel narratives - it's not yet clear to me whether they are strictly parallel, or related by causality, or if it's just another of his explorations of twins and pairs. I've even been wondering if Bella is in fact Seri=Seraphina, or if that's far too naive a development for this author. Seraphina comes from Hebrew for "burning ones" (as in seraphim) which again strikes one as important. But is Bella simply beautiful or is there more to her than meets the eye?

    Again the priest's "it's forbidden" call leaves you wondering what exactly is forbidden? The place? The company? The activity?

    Basically, I'm enjoying this story and feel it is showing us CP's talents as a writer.

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    Yes, I think @NeilNjae has read on past p.177, too. Perhaps breaking up the stories is too artificial... and not generating as much dialogue as I had thought in the midpoints. Would it be better safe the discussions to the ends of the stories (keeping to the same schedule for convenience)?

    The twins idea is interesting.

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    Sorry! I did indeed read too much. I misread that the story was split over two weeks. My mistake.

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    Sorry, a bit more time now. I don't think the breaking of stories is a problem: the problem was me not paying attention to the schedule. Let's not let one mistake derail what's been a successful slow read so far.

    As for the story... the 1980 publication date is still relevant. Thinking back to then, in the UK at least, homosexual men were either figures of ridicule or targets of hate. Lesbians were rarely spoken of outside titillation for men. To have a lead character be a lesbian who wasn't a sex kitten would have been unusual for the time.

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    I agree with keeping to the shortish sections you worked out @Apocryphal . They do make sense in the context of the longer stories... it's our problem as readers to remain aware of them and stop.
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    Ok - I’m easy either way.
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    I also accidentally read past the ending of this second part, and I fear to comment lest my further reading taint my comments. Therefore I will comment at the end.

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