Thursday Quotables: Karen Memory


Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

Karen Memory

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
(published 2015)

I’m at about the halfway point in this steampunk-western whose main characters are the working girls (“seamstresses”) at Madame Damnable’s fine house. It took me a few chapters to get into Karen’s speech patterns, but by now, I’m totally charmed:

I could feel Priya watching. When I looked at her, she gave me a flicker of a smile. I wondered if she was figuring out how, in this house, we lived together mostly by doing one another favors. I mean, I know there’s houses where it’s every girl for herself, and constant knives in the back. But Madame won’t cotton to that, and any girl who tries to import that sort of behavior and don’t take a warning or two winds up plying her trade elsewhere. Madame’s even less keen on mean than she is on drunk. She might forgive a girl who miscalculates how much liquor she can hold, as long as she don’t do it regular.

Another moment of unabashed Karen:

I liked to have turned my head and spat, but I remembered at the last minute that I was out on the street and ought to comport myself as a lady. Cussing aside, but it was too late to rein that wagon.

And finally, a little passage giving a flavor of life in the city — what to do before heading out for a day of errands:

Then we checked the barometer, which was uncharacteristically heartening, and I flipped open the morning paper to check the Mad Science Report. No experiments were scheduled, and no duels had been announced — at least among the Licensed Scientists — but you never knowed when a giant automaton was going to run rogue unscheduled. Mostly the city makes the inventors keep to the edge of town. Mostly.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (, if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

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