Far Shore

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Bodie/Doyle Fanfiction
Title: Far Shore
Author(s): Angelfish Archivist
Date(s): 2007
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links:

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Far Shore is a Bodie/Doyle story by Angelfish Archivist. It has much art by Suzan Lovett.

It was published in Never Far Apart #1 and was online until the writer's site went down. It is unknown if Suzan Lovett's art was included on the online publication.

Summary

From CI5hq by Callisto: "It’s post-CI5, as it were. Doyle’s invalided out and in the Hebrides, carving out a difficult, solitary existence for himself. He and Bodie have been on the outs for two years, since a disaster in Northern Ireland that saw Bodie basically abandon Doyle and get married. One day, a car draws up, Bodie gets out.. and the rest of the story is the pair of them working out their respective demons amongst the heather and storms of north west Scotland." [1]

Sample Interior Gallery

Reactions and Reviews

I really struggled to like this one - I wanted to like it, because there're some beautiful bits of writing in it, but for me the lads were just too pathetic - fainting and weeping and swooning over things in such a way that I could't see how they could ever have acted as effective CI5 agents if they'd been that breakable. And I like breakable Bodie and breakable Doyle - just... you can take it too far, and for me this did.

I also felt like I was continually being thrown by reality checks - how in the world could Doyle get a job as a supply teacher with no qualifications? How in the world was a school able to fund him, and have the other teachers cover for his classes, while he was back and forth for the many various reasons he gave, if he worked on a supply basis?

It suffered a little from please-let-it-end as well - I felt there were perhaps various shorter stories here that should either have been told separately, rather than jammed together in what felt rather like a soap-opera to me, or else described as having occured over a much longer period of time. The mystic-y supernatural bit felt tacked on too, and very much out of place.

The writing is beautiful in many places, there's atmosphere and feeling, which I adore in stories - but it read a little too much like an American soap opera to me, and ultimately I just didn't see either Bodie or Doyle, or the real world, in there.[2]
I know this fic has caused mixed reactions, so I think I should state my take on it at the outset. I have a blind spot when it comes to Angelfish. I adore her, she’s my favourite writer in the fandom. And my blind spot is what I like to think of affectionately as the Maclean/Fish Syndrome. The pair of them do things to the lads that shouldn’t work in the cold light of day, but through the skill of their writing I’m drawn into their world, their Bodie and Doyle. Hook, line and bloody sinker. Yes, Ray Doyle – and Bodie, actually - weep a fair bit in this, but their demons break my heart in Far Shore, so I’m there. Yes, Ray goes a-scrabbling in the stones and Bodie leaves AGAIN, but my howl of frustration is recompensed by a Bodie who sits with Doyle on the floor and finally realises he has done enough, so I’m there. And yes, Bodie’s abandonment of Doyle remains inaccessible, but he’s such an awkward, tender diamond when it comes to caring for him second time around that, yup, I’m still there.

My favourite part of the story is the beginning of that second time around, actually, when they’re tentatively finding their way with each other again.

Gradually it bore itself in on both of them that they were living happily. It took some accepting. Neither had managed anything remotely like it before… ….They discussed the phenomenon and discovered that each had independently reached the conclusion that he would die on the streets too young to make any permanent attachment worthwhile…. Neither would have believed that each other was the heart of it – it had taken this long enforced experiment, subtracting the high-octane lifestyle, to show them what was left.

And besides all this, I get the Hebrides again. I spent every summer as a child camping there, so to have them again through the eyes of my favourite writer is the icing on a rather windswept cake for me. The weather did its Hebridean thing and soaked them between bursts of brilliant sunshine. Quite! And I love Bodie’s silent appreciation of the headlands and views Doyle shows him, “an uncomplaining serenity, most unlike his normal city self.” [3]
[a fan complains about the cost of the zine]: $28 +11 shipping, converted from US dollars [equals] $47.60 They have *got* to be kidding.[4]
I thought this was an absolutely amazing story, and it really got under my skin.

The writing was so beautiful and powerful, I was blown away by it. The portrayal of each of the lads' pain (both physical and emotional) was so vivid, I felt every moment of it with them, and it utterly broke my heart.

I pretty much cried the whole way through it, and for several days after! [5]
I found it very much like the parson's egg - good in parts. Some of the writing was exquisite, as Angelfish's writing often is. On that front I cannot fault her. She has some beautifully evocative scenes and emotional moments that truly touch the soul.

But there's also some real clangers.

Unlike you, I didn't get a good sense of place. Not because of the weather and the scenery - which were well painted - but because the people just felt very very wrong. There was no depth to them, no consistency in characterisation during the story (to whit, where the hell did the pass the doc made at Doyle come from?) and no real attempt to make them anything more than stereotypical local colour.

Added to this, and also on the subject of characterisation, was the lads. Oh god. Where are my down and dirty, hard living, hard drinking, womanising, tough guys? These two would make your average encounter group look macho. This was fainting flower Doyle (a pet hate) at his worst, and to add insult to injury Bodie was at it as well. No, I'm sorry, but these were not my lads. These two were not CI5 agents, or even ex-CI5 agents, however battered and bruised they might have been by life.

But, you know, I might have forgiven all this - and have been known to - if the plot had been good. It wasn't. It sucked. The thing about the curse and the standing stones at the end? Where the hell did that come from? I realise that there's such a thing as over flagging a twist, but some kind of warning would have been nice. As it was, there was nothing. Not even really a hint of the supernatural right up to the end when it was all explained by the local colour.

In some ways would have been nice to have had the supernatural themes explored more fully as it would have given the lads something to do that didn't involve breast beating and angsting like teenagers.

So, yeah, all in all I was very disappointed. I've been fond of the author's previous work, but she's gonna have to change her tune if she wants me back a reader.

And on that happy note, I'll rest my case.[6]
I take your point on the pass with the doctor, that made me flinch too. (I remember a similar reaction to the one Murphy makes at Doyle in ATY). As for the supernatural stuff, I'm glad it wasn't explored too much as a tangent, it's just not my thing in a fic (exception being Ellis Ward's Legacy of Temptation, which is an AU anyway). There *are* some hints of the house and its past, but maybe not enough to prevent us from puzzling a little as to how - and why- Doyle unerringly uncovers those stones. Normally a Doyle and a Bodie that emote like this are my pet hates too, but for some reason, I go along with her depiction of it here. Is it because of the demons themselves? Bodie's especially - the brutal murder of his child - means I allow his character more turmoil than I normally would, I think. I've not read any other fic that depicts such a thing.[7]
I want to like The Far Shore, I really really do, but something stops me every time I have a go at it… Actually several somethings, and while I can quite happily skim over the odd glitch in a piece of writing, when they seem to be as dense as they are here then I really struggle.

I do agree that a lot of the writing is beautiful, and a lot of the images are too. I really liked The back door still stood open, admitting a churchlike solemnity of light." description for example - a beautiful visual - but quite often what's going on through all the description seems to jar so much that I end up not being able to accept either.

The lads that she's written are so damaged that I can't see how they made it into CI5 in the first place, let alone survived everything ep-wise. Granted the author has thrown hideous trauma after hideous trauma at them, but the way she has them coping with that trauma - through tears and fainting spells and nosebleeds - just doesn't make any sense to me. If they didn't have ways of dealing with mental trauma - killing people on a daily basis, seeing the victims of crimes, knowing that they're helpless in so many cases, that they're responsible for such torment in other cases, all of which are canon - other than the physical relief of tears or blacking out or whatever, then they just wouldn't have survived as long as they have… (I struggled with this in All These Years as well actually - her touch seems to have become heavy somehow since her first two fics).

The soap-opera-ness of the plot got to me as well, I'm afraid. Just when it seemed that one trauma (or half a dozen) were resolving themselves, they were suddenly called out to rescue a boat at sea, or to sell Doyle's art (because he is, of course, an incredibly talented artist), or deal with Doyle's impotency, or an old merc mate of Bodie's is taking him away… It read very much to me as well this bit's finished, what can I throw at them next to make the story long enough?, so that in its entirety the fic felt… jerky somehow…

Other bits and pieces:

Modernisms. As bad as Americanisms, for me - "hardarse", "give it up to me", "psychotic episodes", "I'm not dealing with it", "just go with it", - none of these fit eighties slang, to me. (Willing to be told I'm wrong!) On the opposite side, I'd be surprised if supply teachers were hired with no qualifications in a 1980s Scottish state school (and see here) even if it is strange vocational classes he's teaching. Oh and with all the cuts that schools were facing back then, if they didn't need him enough in the first place (told him to take all the time he needed for his surgery) then they're not likely to have splashed out to employ him as a supply teacher - that's just not how it works. You either desperately needed to get supply teachers in, or you didn't. If a school was paying a supply teacher then it was likely paying them on top of the teacher they were replacing - otherwise they'd have hired on short-term contract.

The character McPherson - took me a moment to suss him out, and doing so pulled me right out of the story, which isn't a good thing on the first page! He was a Scottish name, in Scotland, who said "wee" and "bairns", but I eventually realised I was supposed to recognise him as Irish, because of "the reflex his accent stirred in Ray's gut". And there was me thinking at first that it was a bit daft of Doyle to have moved up to Scotland if Cowley's accent upset him that much… *g* [8]
Speaking of Doyle being daft to move to such a remote place with such a major and disabling injury… Pride and depression and all allowing, I can't see him being that stupid about it - he had a go at death-wishing, it didn't work, and Doyle's a fighter, to me that's an integral part of his character, and he's smart. Then the rest of that thread - going private for the back surgery (with Doyle's socialist beliefs?), a long NHS waiting list for it (not sure about that either, not when he was in so much acute, life-threatening pain, not back in the eighties - and I've been there, seen it, done that too) and then having it done incredibly quickly privately and walking, absolutely pain-free, after apparently major surgery within 48 hours…

Otherwise, and as empty_mirrors says above, I have no sense of the characters as people in their own right, let alone Scottish, let alone Islanders. I didn't get the motivation of the doctor suddenly entertaining a gay relationship either - there was absolutely nothing to hint that he didn't have a very happy, stable het relationship with his wife. Yes, these things can come out of the blue, but again there are so many things coming out of the blue in this story that they stop ringing true after a while.

Ditto the earth-child moment about the "upper deck" of Doyle's house, and the bizarre standing stone supernatural trauma - there was so much else going on (I mean Doyle was out there about to die, right?) that it just seemed thrown in there for the sake of it.

Oh, and I must stop now, I'll probably have to double-post as it is! The worst thing is that those are all random things that have occurred to me again as I've flipped through the story - and I won't even go the way of grammar and too many typos - this isn't even me at my most picky. But so many things are what have kept dragging me "out of the story" by the scruff of my neck, it was happening on almost every page. It's not good to start laughing when you realise that one of the lads is about to faint, or burst into tears again, or on top of everything else can't get it up, or… you know? Part way through I realised that I was car-crash reading - not because I cared about these pathetic versions of the lads, but because I wondered what in the world was left to happen next...

I promise that after reading her first two stories (Chances and Broken Cover) my first thought on seeing Angelfish fic has been yeaaaaay - but it's just not panning out in either this story or the last one. It's as though she's lost any sense of balance as she tries to make the words more beautiful, the characters more traumatised, and the world a more magical place.

So... is it just me then? :s [9]
So much has been said here already but I just wanted to add that I found this story - like many descriptions of Doyle’s face - beautifully flawed. I loved and devoured large chunks of it to the extent that every time I put it down I actually looked forward to returning to it (which is rare these days), it was always on my mind and I wanted to know what was happening in their lives and what the next stage was in their relationship blah blah blah. I loved the beautiful writing, the atmosphere, the setting (and I really could see them there), their (desired) isolation within that setting, and I think some of the more problematic details mentioned above didn’t really bother me as long as they didn’t detract from the story, i.e. to repeat someone else’s description, as long as they ‘didn’t jar' for me. But, a couple of things *did* jar and I think that’s a shame because they could so easily have been corrected or tidied up: e.g. Bodie’s ‘drowning scene’ - I had to read a couple of times to work out what was actually happening; the now famous ‘GP’ scene and the idea that a happily married GP would suddenly contemplate having sex with a patient (and the fact that he was a happily married family man had been stressed by the writer, so it seemed more odd) – I don’t think the writer needed that scene and she gave herself more work by including it, and, more importantly, it made me scratch my head about Doyle at that stage, made me question my perception of him and so interrupted the flow of reading (not to mention the fact that Bodie disappeared a bit too easily, given the strength of their feelings at that time). I think maybe the problem is that I’m judging this particular writer by her own near-perfect standards and what might be overlooked or glossed over in a more mediocre or below-average story writer/story stands out more in her work, because – in my opinion - her norm is so damn good. And it seems a shame to achieve the hardest part i.e. the beautiful writing, while missing out other things like the (slight) inconsistencies mentioned above which could so easily have been ironed out. But anyway, despite it not being perfect(!) I loved a lot of it, still think it’s head and shoulders above most other stories and I definitely intend reading it again. Amen.[10]
Major spoilers, I'm sure...

I'm away from home, so I can't quote specific lines, since I don't have my zine but my very favorite line was when Doyle let Bodie return the second time and Bodie questions Doyle about what had happened, whether it was a suicide attempt or an accident. Bodie says (not a quote!) not over me! To which, Doyle replies, if not over you, over us, then what is worth it? Completely paraphrased, but that line almost made me cry. It was so touching and desperate. That alone might be a good thing (it is for me) or a bad thing for others!

Okay, I loved the story as a whole. I'm willing to overlook the parts I hated (that damned doctor scene) and the very idea that Bodie left again. But I understand why Bodie left again, but he does return. Even Bodie asks Doyle why he took him back a third time! But then, I have to had my lads together by the end, so I was happy.

I think the writing was beautiful. Sometimes I did have to reread because of the amoust of imagery included. Actually, I read the end first (I hate being dragged into a death or sepearation story!), then hurridly read the story. The second time I read it slowly, enjoying it yet again.

Yes, I have problems with some of the scenes, but as a writer, I know how I feel about including things that maybe I love myself without realising that it might toss a reader right out. None of us can do it perfectly. Where's the fun in that? But overall, I loved the story.

I understand about the characters being so damaged. It was hard to read, but for a romance reader and writer, I didn't mind at all. I liked their struggle back to health and love, but then, I'm a sucker for that kind of story as long as the pain and anguish isn't too over the top. For me, this wasn't over the top. I have rec'd this story and the entire zine. It's one of the few zines I've bought in any fandom that I've been able to read through the entire thing and liked every story. Some crossed over into downright love.[11]
I was not keen at all on Far Shore, which was surprising and in a way disappointing, as I love Chances and All These Years, so was hoping for the same emotional connection.

But with this, my mind kept drifting away. I almost put it down twice without finishing, but then couldn’t help but pick up again to see if got any better. It just felt like she hadn't really thought through what the story was about and instead chucked a dozen plot devices at it to see what sparked, if any.

And some points just didn't sit easy with me - such as how, if they only had a phone installed a couple of days ago, how did Rosie know to call Bodie there and tell him of the funeral? And surely he wouldn't be so disconnected (or maybe callous is the word I want) as to leave her the week their child is killed to sort out the funeral etc and just to tell him about it, even if she blamed him, wouldn't he have stayed that week at least? And Bodie with Keller and Murphy and liking it rough whatever, just felt squooshed into the storyline for no apparent reason, and Doyle to suddenly want it like that also felt squooshed, and if he was in awful pain for so long, well it was over and done with quite quick, and the whole doctor insert... Do see you what I mean - all squooshed!

There were some gorgeous lines, she does play with words in a very nice, totally beautiful way, but... unless I like or believe [12]

References

  1. ^ 7.19.2007 at CI5hq
  2. ^ 2008 comments by byslantedlight
  3. ^ 7.19.2007 by Callisto at CI5hq; WebCite
  4. ^ 8.24.2007 by moorspede at CI5hq; WebCite
  5. ^ 7.19.2007 by angel_ci5 by moorspede at CI5hq; WebCite
  6. ^ 7.19.2007 by empty_mirrors at CI5hq; WebCite
  7. ^ 7.19.2007 by Callisto at CI5hq; WebCite
  8. ^ 7.19.2007 by byslantedlight at CI5hq; WebCite
  9. ^ 7.19.2007 by byslantedlight (and part of a much, much longer discussion) at CI5hq; WebCite
  10. ^ 7.20.2007 by shooting2kill at CI5hq; WebCite
  11. ^ 7.20.2007 by sc_fossil at CI5hq; WebCite
  12. ^ 7.27.2007 by magenta_blue at CI5hq; WebCite