Unusual points of view
Some notes on point-of-view handling in works by three authors:
One idiosyncrasy of H. Beam Piper's writing, at least in the Fuzzy books, is his pronoun handling for viewpoint characters. He establishes whose point of view a given scene is in at the start of the scene (usually by using the character's name--this part is quite standard, of course), and then he uses a third-person pronoun to refer to that person throughout the rest of the scene, often not mentioning the person's name again in that scene.
In other words, the word he in any given sentence might refer to a male character whose name appeared prominently and recently (as one would expect); or it might refer to the PoV character for that scene, who may not have been mentioned at all in the previous couple of paragraphs.
For example, there's a scene late in the book (but I'll avoid spoilers) that starts with the phrase "Max Fane met them at the [...] door[....]" That's the only hint that this scene is from Fane's PoV. In the next five paragraphs (half a page), the PoV could just as easily be omniscient or fly-on-the-wall. Fane isn't mentioned at all, even indirectly, in the fifth paragraph or most of the (long) sixth paragraph, until near the end of the sixth paragraph comes the phrase "The last time he had seen Kellogg"--and the "he" there is Fane. And then the seventh paragraph starts out "Coombes glanced toward the table where he and Brannhard were sitting"--and again "he" refers to Fane, who by this point hasn't been mentioned by name for almost a full page. (All this on p. 145 of the 1962 Ace paperback edition.)
It's an odd technique. It must be intentional, because Piper does it over and over again throughout the two books, but I keep stumbling over it.
I enjoyed Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club, and some day I may even write an entry about it. But for now I just wanted to comment on one particular interesting aspect:
The point of view in the book is something I might call first-person indeterminate collective.
Almost the entire book uses we as the viewpoint pronoun, referring to the five women in the six-person club. That collective "we" knows things about each of them that the others don't know; and "we" doesn't usually include whichever of them is being discussed at any given moment. That is, each individual woman is referred to as "she," but the others at that moment are always "we" or "us." (In some contexts, the "we" probably also includes the man in the group, but not always.)
Some examples, from chapter one:
"Just listen to the frogs," Jocelyn said. We listened.
Most of what we knew about Jocelyn came from Sylvia.
[Prudie has just referred to Austen by first name.] None of the rest of us called her Jane, even though we were older and had been reading her years longer than Prudie.
Bernadette gave us all a stern look.
We had just begun to suspect that Allegra might not like Austen as much as the rest of us.
I wondered all the way through the book whether it was really a group PoV or whether it was really one of the five women narrating from a faux-external PoV. That question isn't answered, though there are hints in both directions.
(According to a Penguin UK interview with Karen, the most common question interviewers ask her is whose PoV the book is written from. In answer to that question, Karen suggests "think[ing] of the book club as a kind of seventh character.")
The main reason I thought the narrator of Book Club might actually be one of the five is that the indeterminate PoV put me in mind of a Zenna Henderson story, "One of Them," which can be found in her 1971 collection Holding Wonder. From near the beginning of the story:
I don't know who I am. Oh, it's no amnesia--no sudden losing of my total self. I just don't know who I am. But I'm not lost entirely. There are five of us--and I am one of them.
Five women, co-workers in a government office, live in the same dorm, and the protagonist is one of them, but she's not sure which one. She discusses them all as if she's an outside observer. Later in the story, one of them dies, and the protagonist isn't sure whether she (protag) killed the other woman or not. The plot isn't anything special, but the PoV is something I've never seen anyone else do until now. Kinda neat.
I've seen collective PoVs in sf before, of course; but that's almost always a group mind, or a being with multiple personas, or a unitary person composed of multiple bodies, or a set of clone siblings, or something along those lines. Fowler and Henderson are the only authors I've seen do a collective PoV that's a set of distinct normal humans in a modern-day setting.