The Larton Chronicles

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Zine
Title: The Larton Chronicles
Publisher: Gryphon Press
Editor:
Author(s): Rhiannon
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s): no interior art
Date(s): May 1995 (with four stories); revised with fifth story added (2002)
Medium: print, circuit, audio cassette
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Professionals
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
Larton.jpg

The Larton Chronicles is a slash AU 152-page Professionals novel by Rhiannon. It includes a lengthy glossary.

This zine won a 1995 STIFfie Award.

Parts:

  • One Bright Morning (47 pages)
  • Second Round (25 pages)
  • In The Deep Midwinter (34 pages)
  • A Touch of Romance (36 pages)
  • Best of All Ways (not in the 1995 edition, added for the 2002 edition, was published as a separate zine in 2004)

About

"Ex-policeman and now writer Ray Doyle moves from London to Larton, an undistinguished Gloucestershire village. While slowly becoming immersed in village life, he has various brushes with his nearest neighbour, a "horse-mad mick" called Bodie. Bodie falls immediately in love with Doyle, but bides his time. They grow close. Doyle discovers gardening. Against his will, Doyle is sucked into deepening association with Bodie's many and varied relatives, including the unspeakable Charles and the dozy brother-in-law, Jack, the local earl. Accidents and tiffs happen. Love happens. They buy a farm together and get an Aga. Five lovely connected stories to date." [1]

Prior to the series being published in zine format in 2002, the first story "One Bright Morning" was part of the circuit library.

The zine sometimes appears on fan's Desert Island lists.[1]

Slash You Can Give Your Grandmother

Due to its bucolic setting and non-explicit romance, some fans have jokingly referred to The Larton Chronicles as "Slash you could give your grandmother to read." In 1998, one fan did just that - although it was her mother, not her grandmother.
"I gave the first 3 stories to my mother, when she tried to pin me down about what I was reading at the time. We both read mysteries, but have large areas of disagreement as to what constitutes a readable mystery..... We usually exchange information about our recreational reading, but when I was new to Pros and totally absorbed in the fan fiction I did not have anything I wanted to tell her about. Anyway, I gave her the first 3 Larton stories to read; she gave them back to me a month later without comment. I probed her; she said she enjoyed the stories and thought they were well written. She agreed with my suggestion that they resembled Miss Read crossed with Somerville and Ross, but clearly did not want to talk about them any more."[2]

The Audio Cassettes

The first three stories in the series ("One Bright Morning," "Second Round" and "In The Deep Midwinter") were also released by the publisher on separately sold audio-cassettes, read by Jill R. They were very similar to tapezines and comparable to modern podfic or podcasts. "One Bright Morning" (recorded in 1999) consisted of three 60-minute tapes in a boxed set and the combined "Second Round" and "In The Deep Midwinter" (recorded in 2001) consisted of four tapes in a boxed set.

"The... cassettes are contained in a plastic box with a cover with echoes the cover of the zine The Larton Chronicles. The recording was made in Suffolk, duplicated professionally in Buckingham and is complete and unabridged." [3]

Later Published as Original Fiction

This fanwork was published as original fiction in 2001.

cover of the later original fiction publication
In 2012, Sharon Wheeler wrote in Transformative Works and Cultures:
The Professionals is one of the shows for which novelized versions of fan fiction have been produced commercially, but with the characters' names changed and "the serial numbers filed off." The stories that comprise The Larton Chronicles appeared from the specialist slash publisher Wayward Books under the title The Larton Chronicles and the pseudonym James Anson (itself a fan in-joke, as 3.2 "Backtrack" includes a CI5 agent named Anson). Doyle and Bodie become Robert March and Michael Faulkner. The book otherwise differs little from the zine in which the stories first appeared, but as a defanned version it appears to be an amusing but rather bemusing in-joke that doesn't quite survive the "search and replace" performed on the lead characters' names. A whole level of intertextuality is missing. [4]
It was the original fiction version of "The Larton Chronicles" that made at least one fan a fan of The Professionals:
Back in 2002 I was searching for gay romantic fiction on Amazon and I came across 'The Larton Chronicles', published by Wayward Books. I ordered the book, absolutely adored it, and promptly ordered more titles from Wayward and loved all those as well. Having noticed certain similarities between the main protagonists in several of the books I contacted the owner of Wayward, told her how much I'd enjoyed the books and asked whether some of them might actually have been written by the same author under different names. It was then that I discovered that the majority of Wayward's titles had in fact started life as Pros fic! [5]

Reactions and Reviews: Acafans

See How a Professionals slash writer disrupts readers' expectations, 2012 at Transformative Works and Cultures.

Some excerpts from that article:

At face value, The Larton Chronicles is a pleasant, cozy AU that bears only a token resemblance to the show that inspired it. On closer examination, though, it disrupts a number of the themes that thread through The Professionals, including those of sexuality, race, and class, using the lightest of light touches. The author's use of fan shorthand ensures that readers never lose sight of the show and of their favorite characters in the transition from the mean streets of London to a rural utopia.
Nostalgia is a strong component of fandom and fan fiction, particularly when it comes to the TV shows we remember from our youth. This is evidenced by the success of shows such as Life on Mars where music, Curly Wurly chocolate bars, kipper ties, and real men produce a warm glow when seen through rose-tinted specs. But the village we all dream of moving to when we win the lottery, as evidenced by O. Yardley's Pros story "A Lovesome Thing," isn't the safe retreat we assume it to be. There appear to be as many dangers in the countryside around Larton as on the mean streets policed by CI5.

On the surface, Larton may appear to be a pastiche of a number of films and books where the lord and lady of the manor rule benevolently over their minions, the vicar preaches to packed pews, the village bobby patrols his insular empire on foot and knows everyone within it, and the fox hunt look ever so handsome in their red outfits.

But Larton has a twist, as it hints strongly at the bleakness behind rural life in the UK. Rhiannon's rural idyll is no tourist trap; this is a working village, complete with rural poverty and bored youths who race cars down country lanes at breakneck speeds.
Larton is an idiosyncratic invention, and it is perhaps significant that it was created nearly two decades ago by an older fan and is seen through the prism of a seemingly timeless rural setting and a highly individual take on the world of media fandom. Pros doesn't seem to lend itself to humorous stories, set as it is in the gritty world of urban terrorism. So the transfer of Bodie and Doyle to an English village where CI5 doesn't exist is very much an oddity in the fandom—you either get it or you don't. In fact, a glossary to explain many of the uniquely British expressions has thoughtfully been provided for what Rhiannon might call the terminally bewildered.

Reactions and Reviews: Fans

For the first dozen pages, I was decidedly bemused- Then I was completely smitten. The setting's mad, the characters completely barking, but somehow it's incredibly loyal to the spirit of Bodie and Doyle. And I'm a sucker for snappy dialogue and off-the-wall throwaway comments. [6]
... I'lI be truthful with you - I love this series of stories by Rhiannon. This is a world I would like to be a part of and from an anti-hunt person like me, that's saying a lot. I agree with the Doyle of these stories about both hunting and hunters in general; though I hope I'm not as irritating as he can sometimes be! So I was over the moon when Gryphon Press brought out the first three stories, plus a new fourth part, in fanzine form. Doyle as a grumpy author and Bodie as a horse-mad 'mick' fir surprisingly well together, even if neither seem to be rarely away from hospital for long. Bodie is very tolerant of Doyle's temperament, only putting his foot down as a last resort Doyle, in his own way, is also tolerant of his partner; who wouldn't recognise VAT unless it had '69' after it. The four stories cover a number of years and introduce you to many likeable characters, from Bodies' touched relatives to Doyle's literary agent, Halliwell. Village life is the underpinning of all the stories, giving them a lovely continuity. All that I can really add is that I hope part five will soon be available (hint hint). [7]
It never ceases to amaze me how so many people of such diverse and opposing opinions can yet meld together into a cohesive Pros fandom. The Larton Chronicles is a case in point. Many people rave about them and I found them, dare I say it, fairly boring. I'm not saying they were badly written, poorly plotted or anything, far from it. But I cannot understand the enjoyment others get from them - I'm not, never was, into horses, I didn't like the B or D characters, and couldn't stand the lack of sex, I don't mean every story (at least short ones) has to have explicit sex, but a story that goes on and on with nothing at all very soon loses my attention. [8]
Horses -I don't know them at all. Know even less about the world in which Larton is set. But I was trapped and enthralled from the start. Stopped seeing the words after a while and 'read in pictures'. Every time I read it, I discover new favourite pieces. Doesn't matter what mood I'm in, there is always great pleasure generated by it. As for the lack of explicit sex, I never missed it It simply did not seem necessary to dwell on something which was so obviously happening in the background. [9]
This is one of those rare and wonderful ***** ratings usually reserved for Sebastian so don't expect anything particularly objective here, though I think I can think up a few honest negative comments. But don't take them seriously. This is a delight to read, as few novels are in any genre or venue. - Why was I so enchanted? There's a whole new world in here. Not the Bodie and Doyle of the TV show, though they have much in common with them - the same souls, as it were. But shaped by different motives and events and living in a very different environment, these characters have their own reality that was a delight to wander in. It isn't the world of Pros... It's more as if the tough CI 5 agents had wandered into an episode of 'All Creatures Great and Small' and decided to settle there. In the horse barns, of course.

This Bodie and Doyie weren't shaped by a world of violence and a desire to set the world to rights. This Bodie wants - well, first he wanted horses, alcohol and plenty of fornication, probably in that order. Then he met Ray Doyle and he wanted Ray Doyle. This Ray Doyle wants... mostly he doesn't know what he wants but he'd probably describe it as peace and quiet, with enough rain for the garden but not enough to disrupt his walks in the countryside. Then he comes to want Bodie in his life as well. But 'Bodie' and 'peace and quiet' are not a likely mix. Hence the many ups and downs in the relationship.

In discussing genre, someone described this as a 'slice of life' novel. I disagree. I think it is classic romance. We get to skip through Bodie and Doyle's life like a rock skipping over water. A conversation here and there, an occasional incident, a bit of interaction, a crisis with the Vicar or the horses or the publishers. Each triviality is revealing and though we only see the surface, we get very complete views of these men's lives and their psyches. They aren't trivialized, but there's a touch of affectionate humour to the view. Before I read this, several people told me there was no sex, no doubt trying to stave off any disappointment I might feel on reading it They needn't have worried. Certainly there is no graphic sex. No body parts more private than hands are directly mentioned, and what they do with those hands on each other is never described even when they touch- There are few overt signs of affection or desire, and those discreet. Nevertheless, I thought this was one of the sexiest things I'd read in ages because Bodie and Doyle themselves were so sexy, masculine and attractive; because we were looking at their psyches as a whole; because the love between them was so delightful; because the interaction between them was so convincing. There was more power to a casual touch here, or a vague reference, than long descriptions of fucking in other stories. Hot? I thought so. From the moment Bodie tells Doyie, at a writers' reception, that a woman novelist he has been chatting to thinks he's Doyle's boyfriend. "I hope you disabused her of that notion,' says Doyle. "No, I think it's a good idea,' replies Bodie. "We're made for each other.' And later, when Doyle says he doesn't want him, Bodie says. That's all right I can be patient' This all made me smile and think 'oooh!'...

Okay the first thing that engrossed me was the originality of the concept and style. Originality may not be the best word here, as there are styles and authors of which this book is evocative, but I know of no other fan fiction that sets out to turn the premise, the mood and the genre of the show its based on totally upside down, and which still manages to be entirely successful both as fan fiction and as a story. Part of its success is that despite its 180-degree turn, Bodie and Doyie are so totally themselves. The second thing was the characterization- The third thing was the beautiful deceptive simplicity of it all. We only see the tip of the iceberg but I felt I knew the ice below and the fish around it. The scene, for example, where Bodie tries to kill himself - it's downplayed and brief; but I was in total anguish. (And there was nothing contrived about his motives or his rescue or his recovery). The fourth thing was the sense of humour, and the way humour was mingled with other feelings, leavening them but not weakening them. Strengthening them, usually. (Creating the effect of smiling through tears. Or light through a rainy window.)

... [the reviewer lists many, many scenes and why she likes them]...

I would stop here but I did promise to say something negative, didn't I? Well, okay, I thought the structure left something to be desired. I'd have liked stronger climaxes and more conclusive endings. It wasn't that there was any artistic ambiguity, it was just that things came to an end because there weren't any more words on the page. Presumably Rhiannon had come to the end of what she wanted to say. I also noticed (and then hastily, politely, deliberately forgot) some uses of improper grammar and clumsy sentence structure. Too many paragraphs began with the two words, "Doyle glared ...' But he did glare rather beautifully. Usually at Bodie. [10]
"(Gryphon Press) has put Rhiannon's "Larton" chronicles out in zine format; previously they had been put out on the circuit. "One Bright Morning" is the first story in the series. I read it last night(circuit copy) and here's what I thought about it:

An easy story to read, very light, very breezy. An AU in which Doyle has been invalided out of the police and taken up the life of a crime novelist. He leaves the bustle of London to buy a place in the country, where his nearest neighbor is Bodie, a horse-mad Army man (soon to be ex-Army, as he's also invalided out). The story simply details their developing friendship and their life, with a large cast of fellow country folk who have the usual quirks and foibles. The whole confection is what I would call "charming."

It's certainly not explicit--the relationship is there, but so underplayed you could miss it if you sneezed at the right moment. Rhiannon is obviously not aiming for emotional depth here, and she definitely fails to hit it. The emotional lives of the characters consist mainly of moaning and griping--Doyle has some truly lovely moments of caustic behavior among his literary circle. Even the story's "big moment", which I shan't detail for fear of spoiling things, is so downplayed that it's akin to, say, Tolstoy choosing to narrate Prince Andrei's death scene as if it were a tea party. Everything in the story, including the very few dramatic bits, is written in that same light tone. I kept hoping that the author would enter into the character's interior lives in more detail, but was disappointed. So much of the story is told on the surface level that I began to wonder if the characters even had emotional lives, yet every once in a while she would drop a hint, just enough to keep me going. Yet I couldn't restrain the feeling that this could have had so much more feeling to it than it did. Sigh.

Anyway, I *did* enjoy reading the story, for what it was--fluffy entertainment. I even put up with the presence of a child in the story, not something I normally do. He kept popping up left and right, and the only thing that kept me from hurling the story across the room was the fact thata his appearances were mercifully brief. Fortunately, Rhiannon keeps Bodie and Doyle center-stage throughout, and focuses firmly on their relationship as friends, which is quite an interesting relationship. Even though this is AU, the characterizations feel right, and she keeps up that bantering/teasing mode that made the original TV show so enjoyable. I will certainly give the next stories in the "chronicles" a go.

I think I'll get them from the circuit, though."[11]
Rhiannon can move me to laughter and tears in the space of a couple of sentences. I don't know why. but for me Larton is never quite contemporary in spite of all the references to helicopters, etc. It has the same wonderful qualities as the black-and-white wartime movies and I love it to bits... [12]
This A/U series of four long stories has Ray Doyle, cop-turned-successful-writer, moving to the country to escape London; there he meets Bodie, a hard-drinking, horse-mad Irish soldier and youngest son of the local landed-but-destitute gentry. (Warning: only read these in public if you're prepared to make a total ass of yourself by giggling uncontrollably.) I loved these tales. They may not be to everyone's taste — there's no overt romance whatsoever, everything's so understated that it's practically unspoken, and the characterization isn't quite pure Bodie and Doyle — but I got quite a kick out of them. I thought that they had a lot of the humor of the Georgette Heyer 1930s murder mysteries (i.e., insanity among the eccentrics in the English countryside). Great OCs and plenty of bickering, all liberally laced with wit. (I loved the arguments between the lads, not to mention those between Doyle and his long-suffering agent. And the image of Bodie stuffing the bills behind the clock killed me.) If you're looking for a very romantic tale of Bodie/Doyle, or one with lots of open displays of strong emotion, these are not the stories for you. If you're in the mood for a British countryside version of The Odd Couple, however, these are just the ticket. Plus, they're exceptionally well written. [13]
Gargh! I can't believe I came to the final page of these! I so don't know what else to do with my life... Oh, okay, I do. But - well. And also - weird. Cos, it wasn't quite my B/D and yet it was... And there was just way an excess of fade-to-black, and I can't believe that not only did they have separate bedrooms but they used them. But on the other hand I just loved being in that particular universe, and no matter what problems I had with various things I want more. Where is the fifth installment?

No, I have no idea what dialect I was channeling in that last paragraph.

But again I was kind of conflicted by these. Partly by the very old-ladies-on-bicycles-in-the-morning-mist thing. Exactly which world are they inhabiting? And the whole Bodie being Irish thing? And the Irish Army thing? (try googling it and see how much past the IRA you can get - it requires much patience!) Actually I do know that this hunting-y not-with-the-rest-of-us world exists, but I have to say that it surprised hell out of me to find Bodie and Doyle there. I thought Larton was gonna be historical! But on the other hand I want to be the Doyle of Larton (yeah yeah, including the sleeping-with-Bodie bit *g*) How nice to be so snug in your own world, cared about by Bodie, your community, your career, your public, your...

But on the other (octapus-type) hand I can't decide whether the characters are fairly true to our B/D and just written really well into another universe, or whether they're just two characters that I end up liking, given the names Bodie and Doyle...

And does anyone know where Rhiannon is from - cos she tried to have Doyle signing papers when he was injured in hospital, and that was just all wrong? I cannot believe that with their financial issues, or Doyle's beliefs - or Bodie's lack of beliefs! - they would have gone private... [14]
I'm very fond of The Larton Chronicles, as I've said before, and I've been meaning to direct you more specifically to the discussion that took place last February on Pros-Lit about it. (Two of my more relevent posts are #10908 and #10936)....

Anyway, to address one of your points re private hospitalization, Rhiannon specifically shows Doyle deciding that he will go private because of the pressing nature of Bodie's head injury and the danger that he could stroke out at any time. At least, I'm assuming that's the hospitalization you're thinking about?

I've always assumed that Rhiannon is British, or at least from the UK: Gryphon Press publishes her and they tend to publish British writers, and I've not found any obvious Americanisms (or Aussie-isms *g*) in her writing. But most of all, because The Larton Chronicles is a quintessential example of a British country manners satire.

To quote from a post of mine on Pros-Lit: The Larton Chronicles is very much a character driven story, and it is also a wonderful comedy of manners. It is a satire, taking aim at certain British novel conventions, publishing, and certain Pros story characterizations of Bodie and Doyle. In that regard, I think the zine works slightly better for most Pros fans than the book, since some of the satire that derives from playing against an acknowledged Bodie and Doyle template is lost in the book. The book, however, can certainly stand alone as a satire, a well-written comedy of English country manners, and an absorbing character study.... [another post]: Much of The Larton Chronicle's appeal for me is the clever way that it plays off both the conventions of a British country manners novel and the fanon convention of Pros, while still remaining true to the core characteristics of Bodie and Doyle. Rhiannon has so many touches that delight me; I think she's created an engaging AU that is closer to the essence of Bodie and Doyle than many - if not most - Pros stories set in the CI5 universe. And I love the sly jabs at the publishing industry, the Country Set, impoverished minor royals, the Hunting Set, the village archetypes... So many characters could end up as caricatures in lesser hands, but Rhiannon brings even the minor characters to vibrant life.

The fade-to-black approach to sex scenes in Larton doesn't bother me at all. In fact, explicit sex scenes would have felt very jarring to me - and horribly out of synch with the novel's style. Bodie and Doyle's relationship is at the heart of Larton, and it's rendered in so many ways that I don't need to see Tab A inserted into Slot B to be convinced that they are in a relationship, nor that it's also very physical and sexual. (Bodie buys Ray a horse! Linement as an aphrodisiac! Ray puts up with Bodie's relatives, and actually likes several - well, all but Charles! Ray understands Bodie's Equine Language of Love!) [15]
Larton is beautifully presented, but...

There is no Bodie and Doyle for me. It's so much an original fic that I don't even bother trying to find them any longer. I found on first read I couldn't even read this fic because it has nothing to do with our boys. Neither has that spark that I love from watching them and in this fic, I don't "hear" them at all nor do I see them when I read. I decided to give the novel a second chance as original fic with no expectations of Pros at all and guess what? I loved it. It's a fun read and easy on the brain. I found the lack of any spark of passion between these two men a bit off putting but overall, it's a beautiful story that is well worth a read.

I think the biggest thing that took me out of the story the first time is Bodie's passion for horses. Given that he avoided them in canon and seemed uncomfortable around them, I think that Doyle would have been the perfect horse master.

But honestly it's definitely an entertaining novel. The story scenes came to life as I read and I have a love of horses myself that makes this story work as a gentle read after a hard day.

What would be fun is to actually list canon traits of the boys that seem to have been transferred to Larton since I don't see any. Maybe a list will spark some recognition in my old brain. [16]
I think you've found little things that relate to canon lads if you squint hard enough. However, the hardness, the violence buried under the surface, the grit, the reality of life being erased instantly, none of that is there, and that's what makes Pros what it is. I suppose that's why I find the novel about the barge living (O Yardley's) isn't my cuppa either. Now that one I didn't find nearly as entertaining to read as Larton. I actually thought I'd love O Yardley's more since I prefer her writing style and have many favourite novels by her. [17]
I have grown to truly enjoy Larton, but they are not Bodie and Doyle in an AU world, they aren't Bodie and Doyle period. Aside from that, the story is charming, the village a place that I wish I could visit.

But I can hardly find the romance or love. . . .I have to squint sideways upside down on a two by four. When I finish I look for a passioned filled story to balance my reading. I understand that in that day it would have to be hidden, but not from the reader as well. And as sc_fossil said no real spark burns between them.

Just because we can find similar traits in the story lads still doesn't made them anywhere close to my Bodie and Doyle (now in Walking by Owl Light, I did see my Bodie and Doyle. . .go figure)

Yet, this is still an enjoyable read. I kept the zine and have reread, and will again, just not in my top ten. [18]
but they are not Bodie and Doyle in an AU world, they aren't Bodie and Doyle period

Well, they may not be your Bodie and Doyle but they are absolutely and totally my Bodie and Doyle! And that's something that's interesting to me, as I said above - we each bring our own experiences and readings to the lads, even in the eps, because we translate them through our own worlds, and that's fascinating. To me, Larton is absolutely filled with passion - not the big noisy kind, but not a hidden kind either. It is, perhaps, a very British kind, and the kind I grew up with in books and on the television (it was quite an Australian kind back then too, I rather think... *g*), so it might partly be a familiarity thing.

I agree that finding similar "traits" in characters doesn't make them one and the same - but there are some Pros stories where there would perhaps be many more overtly recognisable "traits" in B/D, and yet the story wouldn't ring nearly as B/D true to me as Larton does (trying to think of an example, but it's a bit too close to my bedtime - I'll have to try and think tomorrow!). Rhiannon captures something of their essence that is far more than just those external traits - as I was saying to Sc_fossil up above, it's more to do with their philosophy and outlook on life and the way they react to things... [19]
I have seen and read plenty of British work and found lots of passion within. I always felt that this author was a bit afraid of putting the passion and the emotional down on paper and just hoped folk would read between the lines. I don't want to work that hard . . . a lot - not all - of this author's work bypasses what I want to read. . . she jumps by the intimate moments and I am forced to squint and believe that the love and passion is there, but she never proved it to me. The joy of reading world is no one has to see the stuff the same way. [20]
Maybe this particular author is not comfortable with love and passion, so she leaves it to each reader to guess. My guess is that they aren't at all passionate, but merely with each other just because they both happen to end up in the same place at the same time. They like each other, share some interests, so why not, seems to be the reason their together. Hey, a lot of marriages survive for decades on that premise. It's better to be good friends with your partner than burn hot and cool off too quickly. As I said, Larton works for an original fic. It's one of those stories I feel where an author uses the canon characters' names to have a built-in audience. Nothing wrong with it. I've read plenty of stories in my other fandoms where I felt the author did the same thing. Not a big deal in doing that but it does run the risk of people who are interested in the canon characters to not be quite as excited about a story as people who are good with just the barest touch of the canon brush that one would need a microscope to find. [21]
You have captured perfectly just why I adore Larton and why, if I could only save one zine, it would be that one. I remember the first time someone mentioned the premise to me, and I was going: "OK, riiiight . . " And then I bought it and was hooked, and bought a second copy for best because the first one, which sits by my bed, is so dog-eared from constant re-reading. If I'm feeling miserable, I open it at random and start reading! I quote bits constantly -- I was on a training course yesterday and heard myself saying: "I have my hat on and am awaiting my instructions!"

A lot of it is very generation-specific, which is why I love the glossary, which is almost as entertaining as the story itself *g*.

The writing is lovely -- capturing vivid images in a few words, and hilarious throwaway lines which I howl with laughter at every time I read. And the fade to blacks are really rather hot *g*.

The supporting cast is great fun. In many fandoms, OCs are dismissed as superfluous. But every time I read Larton, I enjoy Jack and Agnes and Miranda and Toby and the Irish showjumping lads. Again, we have immaculate pen portraits told in a few words.

My feeling with Larton is you either 'get' it or you don't. Few people sit on the fence and think it was OK! [22]
It's absolutely my desert island zine as well! And it is hot and subtle and vivid, and... and yes! The original characters are real people, aren't they! They're not more important than the lads, but they're there because the lads are there, and they help show us how gorgeous B/D are... From what I've seen/heard from people, I agree with you about the "get it or don't" factor with Larton. I'm guessing that's because of the setting - you have to know why the lads would be that way in the Aga-saga setting of it all, to be able to make the connection between them and their surroundings, so you have to be fairly familiar with that generation/lifestyle/way of thinking (whether or not you've actually experienced it)... [23]
Ah, The Larton Chronicles! I have to ration my reading of it, you know. I don't want to memorize it, although I've come awfully close. *g* And also when I read it, I have such longing to be there, and to stay in that world. It's actually rather painful to have it end. *g* It was such a joy when Best of All Ways actually came out.

I'm in the camp that see the essences of Bodie and Doyle in the characters. They aren't "Bodie and Doyle" in the sense that they didn't lead the lives the Bodie and Doyle did. There are differences (even beyond the obvious of backgrounds). But the essence is there, and the stories work for me beautifully as an AU.

I also love the "less is more" writing style. It means that I can reread and, each time, find something new, even if it's just the deeper meaning of a half sentence that I blipped over before. *g* And you're right, with that marmalade example in the comments--it says so much, and resonates because it's showing and not telling.

Oh, and the humour! So much humour in this! And fabulous supporting characters who are interesting in their own right.

The Larton Chronicles just cheers me up every time I read it--except for the whole black depression then when it's over. *g*[24]
I could sit and read it over and over again, and then I'd lose the joy of spotting the little things that you forget - or "blip" over... *g* I've just finished re-reading it now, and I'm still in that lovely cozy place of adoring the Larton lads and wanting them back - I want mooooore! [25]
I think their characterisation is spot on, what they say, how they act, how they express their feelings to each other. It's all so comforting, even when they quarrel and are separated for a while. There is so much love here without the word ever spoken (At least I don't remember it was ever spoken out loud between them.) The parish meeting you quoted was hilarious, btw. I really could imagine Doyle sitting there and thinking these things. Perfect! :-)[26]
Part Two starts very nicely. Bodie returns home, all is bright morning sun and singing birds and happy cats and dogs, and Bodie enjoying all this, not wanting to wake up Ray. Very nice again!

I was full of hope. Would I get my long missed 'together moments'? No way...

The dialogues are nearly painful uninspired. Where is the banter, the caring, the loving? And the rest of the second chapter is just bad and boring. What do I care about the management of that Irish team of Bodie?

– So I gave up in the middle of the second part.

For me the worst thing is the lack of really intense moments between Bodie and Doyle. OK – they are there! But it never could reach me, I never was happy or smiling or 'just lost'. It's more like an impersonal description of some accidentally chosen spots in their life. Like an unwanted school essay after the holidays.

What a pity! [27]
That's the thing about Larton - it's not big, in your face slash (or humour) - it's slower paced, it's gentler, it's subtle and underspoken, and it's absolutely a reflection of the community/sub-culture in which it's set. This is partly where ideas like the "British stiff upper lip" and "No sex please, we're British!" come from - because this is what Britain was (and in some places, surely, still is!). The humour is often in the understatement itelf, you see... If you get that understated kind of writing, then Larton is gorgeous and infused through with love and humour! [28]
I'm not generally a lover of AU and I didn't care for it much the first time I read a borrowed copy, but it nagged at my mind, and I went back and borrowed it again... and bought it... *g* (Well, I'm fond of agasaga anyway.)

One of my major problems with the first book is that, even after many readings, I just don't see any evidence that D is sexually attracted to B. I always wonder if there's a hint I'm stupidly overlooking.

Once the loving relationship is established I'm content with the fade to black.[29]
Ah, Larton.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

I know I've banged on ad nauseam about how much Larton means to me - it was the very first slash story I ever read (even before I'd even heard the term 'slash', let alone knew that such a thing existed) and it was the first time in my life that I finished a story and went straight back to the beginning and read it all over again. And it was because of Larton that I discovered the Pros fandom and everything that goes along with it, so it's probably obvious why Larton holds such a special place in my heart.

So, I definitely come down on the side of those who "get it." Agreed, this Bodie and Doyle aren't exactly the same as those we see on the screen - but how could they be when their lives have taken such a different direction to those of the canon lads? But that's what an AU is all about, surely? As others have said, it's capturing the essence of the lads that's important and Rhiannon does it perfectly IMHO.

Her other big achievement to my mind is her depiction of life in Larton itself and all the wonderful characters who live there. I'm sure that anybody who's the least bit familiar with English village life will recognise Larton and its inhabitants.

Anybody who's looking for sizzling sex won't find it in this zine, but that's all part of its charm for me. As someone once said to me about the lack of sex "We never see it, but we know they're at it like minks!" There's actually nothing about the story that's overt or 'in-yer-face'; everything's done very subtly and quietly, and there are no hearts-and-flowers declarations of true love. But that doesn't mean that it isn't true love!

I was interested to see that for some people the Wayward Books version of the zine didn't work. For me the opposite was true, the Wayward book was my first introduction to Larton and I had some trouble getting into the zine version at first. I think this was mainly because I was completely unaware of the Pros connection during my first few readings of the story and consequently I had two completely different images of the lads in my head for a long time. (If anybody's interested I'd 'cast' Colin Firth as Mike (Bodie) and Jeremy Northam as Rob (Doyle)!!)

There is one thing about the story that leaves me wanting more (apart from just wanting more that is...) - I'd love to know more of the lads' back-story as far as relationships with other men is concerned. Doyle has been married and divorced, and has fathered a child, and Bodie has reputedly bedded half the women in the county, and yet neither of them appear at all surprised at their attraction to each other and remain completely unfazed as their relationship develops. I'm not saying that this doesn't work for me, I'd just love to know why!

So that's it for me - Larton is my number one feel-good zine, and my idea of heaven is just to immerse myself in it and wrap it around me. [30]
I adore Larton! Bodie and Doyle are certainly not the characters we see on screen, but they feel true to me nonetheless. As several folks noted, their backgrounds and experiences are different enough from the canon characters that they couldn't be exactly the same. And I love the subtlety of the writing -- I have no problem believing that these two men love each other and are committed to making a life together, even if each occasionally wants to thump their beloved. In truth, I really admire Rhiannon's ability to tall a story through short vignettes and have considered trying that technique sometime. In all of her stories, there is lots of missing time (and occasionally odd lapses in the accounting of time that make me crazy), yet the story is complete and we know all we need to know, It took me a while to get past the staccato nature of her text, but now I relax and appreciate each tiny window onto the story she's telling.


Larton is the 'zine I reach for when I need some comfort -- like others I have many passages almost memorized -- but I only have the four chapter version. Obviously I need to order the full, five chapters. What bliss to be able to live in Larton again for the first time! [31]
I'm another one who totally "gets" it. Larton is definitely one of my 3 fave Pros zines. I love it for all the reasons you cite. What's interesting to me is that to me Rhiannon's other stories are completely insipid, boring, and downright frustrating because of the huge lapses of time they contain. Some friends and I were trying to work out the timeline for Rhiannon's writing but didn't get very far. It seems to me that she achieved near perfection with Larton and sadly missed with Veils of Morning, To Walk By Owl Light, and Prelude and Answer, and yet some of them must have been written after some of Larton. Very curious.[32]
I adore Larton. I love everything about it. I agree that Larton is sort of the pinnacle of Rhiannon's earlier experiments with that old-fashioned minimalist style and her favorite themes. Her love of art, music, gardening, animals, Anglo-Irish...these things show up in most of her work, but in Larton it's as though she finally perfected it all.

As much as I love her work (and I am strongly in the Rhiannon camp), in some of her earlier stories I do find gaps of continuity -- both emotional and plot-related. Sometimes enormous gaps. Not so here. In fact, the fic stands with just about any mainstream gay romance novel I can think of. I've recommended it in its James Anson incarnation to many, many readers outside of fandom -- and by en large they too have the same response. It is a charming and heartwarming story.

What is especially wonderful to me in these days where m/m fiction seems to be synonymous with sex is that so many readers really embrace the old-fashioned romantic technique of passion in the subtext. Glancing very briefly through the comments here I noticed there seemed to be some thought as to whether this was a uniquely British approach to romance, but no. Not at all. This is the way, once upon a time, ALL romance novels were written. The sex was all in the sizzling asterisks. And while that might not work for a lot of stories and readers today, I think it works perfectly for Larton -- which has a quaint, whimsical feel to it.

The Irish RM meets Angela Thirkell -- that's how I always think of it.

For me, there are recognizable traits of Bodie and Doyle in there -- enough -- although I can see that that's certainly debatable for many Pros fans. [33]
And on it goes. I'm sorry, to include so much but it's just--that's humor and love and everything I read Rhiannon for!

I would agree that those things are all there -- but I do feel those earlier works are weaker, less cohesive, less polished, and do have disconnects in plot and romantic arc. Rhiannon learning her craft, polishing her technique.

Some of it, granted, is simply authorial choice. She chooses to skip over months or conversations that we -- some of us -- as readers would have wished to see (I'm not talking about sex or anything that would typically happen between closed doors). Perhaps she chose deliberately, perhaps she was simply refining her storytelling methods. It's difficult to know. We all grow into our craft. No one is born the perfect writer and generally we all look back at our earlier works and wince.

Speaking of which, Rhiannon is a writer I'd have loved to hear from regarding her writing process. She was doing something so very different than anyone else in Pros. That's always intriguing to me. [34]
I have to admit that the premise gave me pause when I first came across it - how on earth could two such different characters really be Bodie and Doyle? But they are - Rhiannon has absolutely captured the essence of our lads, and written perhaps the truest AU story I've ever read. If the lads had come from the world Rhiannon has set up (just as other AUs set up historic or SF or alternate-CI5 worlds) then this is exactly how they'd be! And that's absolutely part of the joy, for me, in reading Larton - all those moments where I smile along the way because yes, iin this world that's exactly how our Bodie and/or Doyle would react to that situation!...

I've had conversations with people who disagree vehemently about the B/D characterisation in Larton, and can't see our lads at all - as happens, of course, between people over any Pros story, but is perhaps complicated here by the setting Rhiannon has used. I'm absolutely fascinated by the whole thing, because it highlights to me the way that we do all take very specific things from canon Bodie and Doyle, in order to create the characters that we individually love - and although there's often alot of cross-over between us, there are also huge differences. I suppose it's all to do with the little things that we recognise in the show, the things that mean something to us individually, but might imply something completely different to someone else. Whatever it is that Rhiannon has taken as the essence of Bodie/Doyle, it absolutely matches up with mine so that the story works for me.

Another complication is perhaps that Rhiannon has used a very specific sub-culture of England/Ireland - the Aga saga and the "County set", and even Doyle had a grandfather who taught him to ride when he was young, with all that implies. I'm fairly familiar with various parts of the Larton world, others I know I'll never really know, and I wonder what nuances and references I might be missing. Did the hotel used by the "County set" ever really exist in London? And I've never heard the term "panel" to describe the doctors at a GP practice (which is what I assume Doyle is referring to, when he's not sure how he feels about the GP "on his panel" being a hunting man)? And does Bodie's uniform cap badge really read "Sons of Fianna"? How does that fit in with the wiki description of FF - Fianna Fáil meaning "Sons of Destiny" (or "Warriors of Fál" if you keep tracing the translation) for example - Larton presumably using an older and perhaps more traditional way of referring to things? Or...? Fascinating stuff, if you're at all interested in digging further!

I love Rhiannon's writing style as well - her ability to use just a few words and an evocative image to make you feel the grass under your feet, and the pancake in your hand as you walk the show field with Doyle and Ashley; or the idea that "Jess in the kitchen jamming" helps to leave the stables free for Doyle to finally put his arms around Bodie; or that endless feeling of sitting in a meeting while the minutes are gone through - Why minutes? Seem to have been reading things for hours (to paraphrase Larton, as I don't have my copy here at work!) Even when she fades to black you can somehow feel what's going on between the lads, and lovely lines such as "You know, that's very good marmalade" when Bodie's stolen a kiss from a grumpy Doyle at breakfast make it all mean so much more... *g*

I could go on and on, and pull out a thousand parts that I adore, but I won't... *g* This is a cuddle of a book, and finishing Larton is always, for me, a complete tragedy, because I want it to go on forever - and I can't think of a better compliment for a story. [35]

External Links

References

  1. Close Quarters, Desert Island Episode/Zine/Fic] dated July 18, 2009; reference link.
  2. Anonymous fan, quoted with permission.
  3. from the flyer in DIAL #11
  4. How a Professionals slash writer disrupts readers' expectations
  5. 2011 comments at How did you get into Pros fandom?
  6. from DIAL #7
  7. from DIAL #5
  8. from DIAL #7
  9. from DIAL #8
  10. from DIAL #6
  11. Alexfandra posting to the Virgule-L mailing list, July 1995, quoted with permission.
  12. from DIAL #11
  13. from This is Katya
  14. by byslantedlight at Cowley/- fic, Kate McLean, Larton and of course - the weather., posted February 2006
  15. by TaVeryMate at Cowley/- fic, Kate McLean, Larton and of course - the weather., posted February 2006
  16. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  17. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  18. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  19. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  20. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  21. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  22. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  23. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  24. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  25. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  26. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  27. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  28. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  29. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  30. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  31. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  32. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  33. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  34. 2010 comments at CI5hq
  35. 2010 comments at CI5hq; archive is