Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Did It!

Okay, so technically I didn't actually finish my novel yet.  That's still in the future.  But I'm more than three-quarters of the way done, and I made it to 50,000 words (and beyond).

And that is what counts.

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo Excerpt #2

This is the proposal scene I struggled over so agonizingly.  Okay, perhaps I didn't quite agonize, but I did struggle.  Please give me your honest opinion and don't be afraid to tell me if you think it is rotten. :)  I tried to make it sweet, but only succeeded in making it awkward, and finally decided that awkwardness was the way to go.  


It was Mercy who all but shoved the two of them outside to the garden bench.  “Do it,” she said to Rodney, and disappeared back into the carriage house. 

Elizabeth and Rodney looked at each other.

“Elizabeth,” said Rodney, shoving his hands in his pockets, taking them out and then shoving them back in again, “I… ah… have something I need to say, and I have to warn you beforehand that I won’t say it very well.  Er, I mean I won’t ask it very well.  Because it’s a question, you see.  I had it all written out, what I was going to say—I mean ask—and now of course I’ve forgotten most of it.  But, ah, I simply have to ask it and I would like you to say yes.  Just so you know beforehand, I’d like you to say yes.”

Intelligent thoughts, followed by intelligent speeches, tumbled through Elizabeth’s mind, but alas, they were just out of reach.  She succeeded only in saying, “Ah…”

“I shall take that as a signal to begin,” said Rodney.  He took his hands out of his pockets and put them on his knees.  Then he folded them.  Then he put them back in his pockets.  If Elizabeth had not been quite so apprehensive, she might have been amused.

Rodney evidently was amused. “What shall I do with my hands?” he inquired, grinning.

“I do not mind if you put them in your pockets,” said Elizabeth helpfully.  She was quite sure she knew what was coming, but she was not quite allowing herself to think about it.  It was much better that way.  She clenched her own hands together and held them still in her lap.  It would not be appropriate for her to put them in her pockets, even if her dress had had pockets.

Rodney slid off the bench, obviously intending to kneel on the rather muddy ground, but his shoe caught on the wrought-iron leg of the bench and he landed rather ungracefully.  “Hardly an auspicious beginning, don’t you think?”

“Hardly,” said Elizabeth, giving him a hand up.

“Thank you.  Now for what I was going to say.”

Suddenly everything was quiet.  Rodney obviously was a little uncomfortable standing over Elizabeth, so he knelt back down on the ground again, regardless of the muddy grass.  Elizabeth swallowed.  Twice.

“Elizabeth, I can’t do this the way Mr. Darcy did it, or the way Mr. Knightley did it—that is, I mean, the way Jane Austen did it.  I considered that—I mean, I thought you might appreciate a proposal that came straight out of one of your favorite books.  But that didn’t quite seem right, and… uh…”
There was a pause and Elizabeth wanted to help him out, but her tongue seemed glued to her teeth.

“Mmm, ha, this is wonderful.  Now I’m floundering like a fish in a, in an empty fishbowl, I guess.  All right, perhaps I should just say it.  Elizabeth Sophia Markette, will you marry me?  Even if I did not call you ‘dearest, loveliest Elizabeth’, since I have the feeling that that one has been used a time or two before?  I do like to be original.  Please do say yes, because frankly I don’t want to go on any longer not knowing.  Remember you practically promised me before.”

This was almost unromantic, and certainly rather undeserving of Jane Austen’s attention, and yet it seemed so right that there was really nothing more to be said.

“I do not remember practically promising anything,” Elizabeth found herself saying, with a smile that was so wide it nearly hurt, “but I… I can’t imagine saying anything but yes.”

“Really?” Rodney’s face lit up with a smile even wider.

“Really?” Mercy’s face popped into view as she stuck her head out of the carriage house window.
“Mercy!” said Rodney.  “You weren’t listening?  Stupid question, of course you were.”  He was not angry.
“I couldn’t miss it,” said Mercy, with only the tiniest hint of shame, “and now I get to be the first to say that it took you much too long to finally ask her.”
“No, it didn’t,” said Elizabeth.
“Yes, it did,” said Rodney.
“Just engaged,” said Mercy, sighing dramatically, “and arguing already.”

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Can We Do This? Yes, We Can!

Scene from The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)
Pardon my extremely cheesy title (stolen from that incurable optimist, Bob the Builder himself).

I beg all of your pardon, but I'm afraid my blog posts will mainly revolve around NaNoWriMo until November is over.  I hesitated to write this one, fearing that you were bored with the topic already, but it simply had to be written, "and when genius calls, I must answer."  (Paraphrase of Jo March.)

I read Rachel's post about writing those scenes that intimidate and strike fear into one's heart, and it inspired me.  Yes, there are those scenes (and entire chapters...).  But they need to be written, because, hello, we only have until Wednesday.  NaNoWriMo ends November 30th, and I MUST REACH 50,000 WORDS.

So, courage! Just write.  Write the hard stuff, write the difficult parts, write whatever comes flowing into your little head.  (Yes, that head I see there on your shoulders.)  Write something to make yourself laugh, and if you're brave enough, write something to jerk some tears.  Reread what you've written (procrastination does wonders for one's sanity) and be proud of what you've accomplished.  Brainstorm a little.  Ask your creative sisters for suggestions.  Put in something zany, just for kicks.  Write a chapter consisting of nothing but dialogue--or stick in a random poem, composed by a child (I did).  Count down the hours until 12:00 PM on November 30th, and then incorporate that number into your plot if you really want to take a dare.

Whatever you write, just do it.  Sink me, the end is in sight.

Now if you'll excuse me, 1800 words await before I go to bed tonight...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quote of the Week 8

The quote I've chosen for this week seemed particularly fitting, considering the question that's been spinning around frantically in my little brain the last few days.  The question is, how on earth does one write a good literary proposal?

At the end of my NaNoWriMo story, two characters (whose identities I will not reveal) are going to get married.  I'm not sure if I'm actually going to "show" the wedding, or just leave them engaged, but at any rate I'm worried about the proposal scene.  I honestly don't know what to say.  Everything I think of sounds silly, cheesy, or cliched--and I have a horror of cheesy, silly, cliched romance novels.  

Any thoughts?  What makes a proposal good in your opinion?  Jane Austen rarely wrote the actual words of her characters' proposals.  Is that a good approach?

The following quote is, by the way, the antithesis to all mushy, gushy "dearest-loveliest-Elizabeth-will-you-marry-me?"'s. 

Oh, and happy Thanksgiving!

Perchik: There's a question... A certain question I want to discuss with you.
Hodel: Yes?
Perchik: It's a political question.
Hodel: What is it?
Perchik: The question of... marriage.
Hodel: Is that a... political question?
Perchik: Well, yes. Yes, everything's political. Like everything else, the relationship between a man and a woman has a socioeconomic base. Marriage must be founded on mutual beliefs. A common attitude and philosophy towards society...
Hodel: - And affection?
Perchik: Well, yes, of course. That is also necessary. Such a relationship can have positive social values. When two people face the world with unity and solidarity...
Hodel: And affection?
Perchik: Yes, that is an important element! At any rate, I... I personally am in favour of such a socioeconomic relationship.
Hodel: I think... you are asking me to marry you.
Perchik: Well... in a theoretical sense... yes. I am.
Hodel: I was hoping you were.
~Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm Thankful To...

This is the time of year at which people everywhere are making "I am thankful for..." lists--written, mental and verbal. I made a few of those when I was in first and second grade, when I was assigned to do them for pre-Thanksgiving schoolwork. (I still do them, when I'm feeling blue or discontented!) I always loved doing schoolwork right before Thanksgiving, because it meant studying the Pilgrims, making leaf crafts, and making charts and lists comparing the first Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving today.  It was a time when most of my academic energies were focused on being grateful.

But is it true that the thankfulness and gratitude is kept only for the fourth week in November?

Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays (it may be the only holiday!) that has not been greatly commercialized by the secular world we live in. I have no idea how long this will last, but for now it's very nice. :) For now at least, Thanksgiving is a time for the United States of America to remember its many, many blessings.

Or is it?

So many people in our world today are caught up in the "more, more, more" attitude. The fad of
"keeping up with the Joneses" did not die out after the 1950's. It's still around, and it's a lot more prominent than it was before.

Americans have a very easy, affluent lifestyle...and yet I think many of us take this for granted and consider Thanksgiving to be a day of turkey, football, once-a-year heirloom dishes, pumpkins, and family gatherings. Don't get me wrong. I love all of those things I just listed (except football), but they are not the reason for Thanksgiving.

Many people, I think, are under the impression that the first Thanksgiving was a feast that the Pilgrims held to thank the Indians for their help during that first year at Plymouth. This is partly true. The Pilgrims were very grateful to the Indians. But the real reason for their celebration was gratitude to the One who had made them, brought them safely to Plymouth, protected them from the sickness that killed so many, and blessed them with a bountiful harvest. The Pilgrims' Thanksgiving feast was a time of praise to God.

Is this what America is forgetting? Sure, we stand up and take a turn saying "what I am thankful for", but who exactly are we thanking? (Look, I have absolutely nothing against "I am thankful for..." lists. Please don't misinterpret this!) God has blessed us with everything that we have--both material and spiritual. Are we giving praise to Him, or are we merely appreciating our friends and family? Are we giving credit to God, or being proud of ourselves for having "earned" all of our material goods?

This year I have many things for which to be thankful. I have friends, family, a beautiful old house to live in, transportation, clothes, food, books, amazing blogging friends... the list goes on. But if I didn't have a Savior who came down from heaven 2,000 years ago to live and die for me, I wouldn't have any of those other blessings.

Jesus Christ is the one to whom my thanks are given, and he is the one that gave my many blessings to me in the first place.  I'm thankful for Him.  I'm thankful to Him.

Are you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Would Elizabeth Bennet Do? (NaNoWriMo tag)

I was tagged for a NaNoWriMo thingy by my dear sister the Anne-girl!

1) Write the title of your novel in the title bar.
2) Nominate two other people you know who are doing Nano.  Comment on their blogs to let them know you've tagged them.
3) Answer all the questions below.

I nominate Abby of Newly Impassioned Soul and Jemimah of Beautiful Blank Pages (I would nominate Miss Georgiana, too, but Anne already did).

What is your current word count?
34, 564.  MUST REACH 3,666 BY TONIGHT.

What would you consider is best about your novel: plot, characters, dialogue, or description?
Plot is *cough cough* not my strong point.  The characters and dialogue are my favorites to write, so I guess that is what's best.

Which of the above would you consider your weakest point?
Plot.  :) I am sooo bad at making an actual outline.  I'm full of story premises, but not many true story lines.

Of all your characters who do you like the best?
Rodney Eugene Burke, also known as Mr. Toad.  Second best, Lavinia Solange Vivian Bancroft (because she's SO much fun to write about!) My poor forgotten heroine, Elizabeth Sophia Markette, has to take third place.

What was the inspiration for your novel?
Oh please don't ask this...
I honestly don't know.  The name "What Would Elizabeth Bennet Do?" popped into my head as good novel title one day when I was out walking, and the rest of it just.... came.

How long have you been doing NaNo?
This is my first year.

What other writing projects/ books have you completed or are in the process of writing?
I wrote a book two years ago about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and I've written several short stories and embarrassingly cringe-worthy beginnings of novels over my sixteen and a half years.

What would you consider the funniest line in your novel?
Um... there are a lot that have made me laugh as I wrote them, but that may be because I am far too easily amused.  This one is one of my favorites: "Mrs. Poplar eyed Mortimer with disdain and munched her soup.  How anyone could munch soup was beyond Elizabeth’s powers of comprehension, but Mrs. Poplar did." ~chapter 9

Go to the 28th page of your novel and paste the last paragraph here. (This question originally called for page 11, but I already posted that in my excerpt a few days ago, so I substituted the 28th.)

“I tried to engage in conversation.”  Elizabeth tried to think of something pleasant to say.  “[Lieutenant Scarborough] did not tread on my feet,” she added hopefully.  That, at least, raised him above Mr. Collins in her estimation.   “And he did not talk about matters that did not interest me.”
“You are perfectly suited to one another then!” cried Lavinia. “I shall talk to Mrs. Wakenshaw and arrange a marriage at once, since you seem to find no fault with her promising nephew.  What other fascinating topics did you talk about?”
“We are not suited to one another at all,” replied Elizabeth in some distress.  “We talked of nothing whatsoever—indeed, his vocabulary seems to be quite limited.  Lavinia, I beg you do not speak to Mrs. Wakenshaw.”

Is there any romance in your novel?
Haha, yes there is... a little, at least.  But there are no mushy gushy parts, simply because I don't know how to write them and would feel uncomfortable doing so. :)

What time period is your novel set in?

Please also paste here the paragraph you consider the best.

“Did you bring us a little lunch?” asked Rodney, peering into the bowl.
“No, you goose, this is for the horses.” Mercy fed a lump of sugar to Virgil, then one to Opus, then another to Virgil again.
Rodney announced pompously, “Someone very wise and learned has frequently told me that it is a waste of money to feed sugar to horses.”
“I know,” said Mercy blithely, “but you got a raise in your salary last week, you know, and I have just today acquired a new client.”
“And this is the way you spend my hard-earned money, gained by the sweat of my brow and ceaseless toil on long, dark, cold nights?”
“Don’t be silly,” said Mercy. “Besides, horses love sugar. Someone very wise and learned has frequently told me that.” ~chapter 10

What are you planning to do when your novel is all written and edited? Writing wise that is.
Not sure at all. I may start another story if one comes waltzing into my head.  I may decide to write the nutrition facts on ketchup labels and demand money in return from ketchup companies.  Who knows?

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Bloggie Buttons

Here are some of the blog buttons I have made. I've created a page to house these buttons as well (see the top bar), which I'll be updating from time to time, so feel free to check it often! You are free to use any of these buttons on your own blog, as long as you link to me when you do so. (Although, if you use one of my Yet Another Period Drama Blog buttons, you don't have to link to me because... the buttons already do.)

I had a lot of fun making these, by the way. The Scarlet Pimpernel ones are currently my favorites, closely followed by the Edmund Sparkler one and the Mary Poppins one and pretty much all the fashion ones...

Okay, stop rambling and get down to business.

Yet Another Period Drama Blog Buttons: (in other words, Shameless Self-Advertising Buttons)

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

I Am, I Do and I Like Buttons:

(Anyone can use this one, but I made it extra-specially with NaNo-ers in mind)

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

'Nuff said.

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Mr. Darcy said this, and as we all know he is never wrong.

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Okay, so maybe there's a little bit...
Yet Another Period Drama Blog


Yet Another Period Drama Blog

I snagged this picture from Hayden's blog... and the idea for it, too. :P

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Fashion Buttons:

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Buttons That Defy Categorization:

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

This one is actually part of a Dr. Seuss quote. :)
Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Okay, so this one is kinda a repeat of the Edmund Sparkler one...

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

My personal favorite, m'dears.
Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Scarlet Pimpernel Review

"The Scarlet Pimpernel. By Sir Percival Blakeney, Baronet."
*thunderous applause*
"No, no, no, that's just the title!"

How do I love this movie? Let me count the ways...

Well, sink me, I really don't know where to begin. Odd's fish, m'dears, this film truly does defy explanation. If you haven't seen it, get thee to the library or video rental store (or YouTube). If you have seen it, sit back and enjoy what I have to say. That is, if you watched the movie AND LIKED IT. Because if you didn't like it, just go away. We don't want you.

Kidding. Everyone's welcome here. (As long as you love the Scarlet Pimpernel.) I do half like people who don't like Sir Percy. But only half, right Melody?

I will warn you that this review probably won't make much sense if you haven't seen the movie (or at least read the book). If you want a clear and concise synopsis of the story, go to IMDB. (Spoilers will abound in this post, just so ya know.)

I suppose I'll begin with the Baronet himself, Sir Percival Blakeney. (Here's hoping I'll get through the review without sounding like a gushy swoony fangirl.)

I can't remember exactly, but I may have mentioned before that I'm a Sir Percy fan.

Anthony Andrews IS Sir Percy. Leslie Howard and whatever-the-dude's-name-is who played Percy in the miniseries just don't cut it. Okay, so I've never actually seen any other version of TSP, but neither do I want to. Anthony Andrews perfectly captures Sir Percy's appearance, manner of speaking, wit, foppishness, valor, et cetera et cetera et cetera. Plus, no one else can say "Sink meeeeh!" the way he does. Or do any of those hilarious facial expressions.

His rapport with Chauvelin is even funnier than in the book. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't include the famous pepper-in-the-snuff scene, much to my disappointment, but The Great Cravat Debate more than makes up for it. "And the disgraceful state of these cuffs! Tsk, tsk, tsk. Oh no no no. Such sleeves would not be tolerated in London for one tiny instant."

Ian McKellen makes an amazing villain as Paul Chauvelin. (He didn't have a first name in the book, btw.) In the book, Chauvelin resembles a weasel. He's rather old, very tiny, speaks in a nasal voice and has greasy hair. In the movie, he's much closer to Marguerite's age and was actually her love interest for a while. I was a bit shocked when I first found out that Chauvelin liked Marguerite, but I got used to it pretty fast. It adds an interesting element to the story. Chauvelin was a lot more likable in the movie--I felt sorry for him on more than one occasion. He seemed to be a man who started out with good intentions, and was quickly sucked into the evil of the Revolution. What began as a dream ended as a nightmare. Some causes can become warped and twisted, like some men....

So anyway, I felt that Chauvelin was made to be a more sympathetic character, but that wasn't a bad thing. Even during the (absolutely epic) sword fighting scene, I kept thinking, "Poor guy, he has NO IDEA what he's up against." I mean, seriously, he was fighting Sir Percy. Winning was not an option. "Oh, the English and their stupid sense of fair play!"

I'm forced to admit that Jane Seymour didn't fit my mental image of Marguerite St. Just, but she grew on me. I actually ended up liking her a little better in the movie than I did in the book. I liked how they changed the whole business with the Count and his family. Marguerite was much more... I don't know... likable, I guess. In the book, Baroness Orczy spent so much time telling us how beautiful Marguerite was, it got a little annoying.

But that's where the magic of the movies step in. Jane Seymour is beautiful and we can see that without having to be whapped over the head with it every other page. (Until TSP, the only movie I'd seen her in was the 1980-something version of Heidi, in which she played mean Miss Rottenmeier. It was interesting to see her as the heroine for a change. :P) Some of her dresses were just a little (okay, a lot) too low-cut for my taste, and her hair at times resembled that of Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus, but on the whole I thought she captured Marguerite's air, if not the way she's supposed to look in the book. (This hat is one of my favorites!)

This brings me to another point in my oh-so-beautifully-structured narrative. TSP, the movie, is at the same time like and unlike TSP, the book. I'm really trying my hardest not to put too many spoilers in this post, but y'all know Sir Percy is the Scarlet Pimpernel, right? (And if you didn't... you do now.) In the book, the audience doesn't know this until about halfway through the novel. In the movie, we know right away. And to tell you the truth, I like it better that way. True, it took away a little of the mystery surrounding the enigma that is the Scarlet Pimpernel, but it also gave the audience a chance to really get to know (and like) Sir Percy. When I read the book for the first time, I was a little perturbed to discover that "that stupid guy I didn't like" was actually the Scarlet Pimpernel himself.

Yes, I, erm, didn't like Sir Percy at first when I read the book. *ducks to avoid rotten tomatoes*

I also liked how Marguerite and Percy's relationship was shown from the beginning. It gave you a real sense of what Marguerite was going through: "I have lost my husband's love and I don't know why."

The book is told entirely from Marguerite's perspective, but the movie gave us a lot of glimpses into Percy's take on things, and I liked that. "Ceased? I will love her to the day I die. That is the tragedy." Oh, and his various disguises were hilarious--my favorite was the old woman with the knitting (reminiscent of Madame Defarge?)

Also, the entire last ten or fifteen minutes of the movie were Absolutely Amazing.

So yes, the movie departed from the book. Especially at the end. But I found out that the ending scene with the fencing and the capture of Sir Percy was actually taken from another book by Baroness O, entitled "El Dorado". So it's all good. Note to self: lay hands on a copy of this book immediately.

In short, I liked that they made the movie a little different. I'm usually a stickler for sticking to the book, but in this case it was a good choice to change a few things. The movie gave us the story while keeping the characters real, and THAT is what makes a good adaptation. In letter, it wasn't all that faithful to the novel, but in spirit it was and that's good enough for me. (This viewer was enchanted, in case you couldn't tell.)

Sir Percy and Marguerite's romance is one of the sweetest in cinema history (if we're not counting anything by Jane Austen, that is.) I'm not really a big fan of the whole "love at first sight" thing that's been made cliche in Disney movies, but in this movie it didn't seem weird. Frankly, I think Percy and Marguerite's relationship didn't really develop fully until the end, when they each finally realized just what the other one was. Marguerite had always heard of this amazing superman who rescued aristocrats and risked his life daily so that other people could be safe--but she never dreamed he might be right there in her drawing room. So few movies show what comes after the wedding, and I liked how this one portrayed the struggles the Blakeneys went through "when the honeymoon was over", so to speak.

What can I say? I'm a hopeless romantic. This movie touched me in a way that only very special films do. Pride and Prejudice was one of those, Anne of Green Gables was another. Yes, it's a 1980's TV flick with not-so-great lighting and so-so costumes. To some, it might seem cheesy. To me, it's amazing.

In Anne's House of Dreams, the fifth book in the Anne of Green Gables series, a character named Miss Cornelia Bryant speaks often of "the race that knows Joseph". If a person sees eye to eye with you and has pretty much the same ideas about things, and the same taste in jokes--why, that person is of the race that knows Joseph. Anne Shirley speaks of people like that as "kindred spirits".

For me, a kindred spirit--one of the race that knows Joseph--is one of the race that knows Sir Percy. That is to say, someone who is in the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.

So. If you haven't seen this epic-ly outstanding film, do so at once. Perhaps the trailers below will whet your appetite. (Word of warning: there are two brief scenes that you may wish to fast-forward.) If you have seen it, enjoy the trailers and be inspired to watch the movie again.

You know me--I couldn't pick just one trailer! The first one is more exciting, but I love the music in the second one.

Conclusion: The Scarlet Pimpernel is a movie done well. What is it you Frenchies say? Tou-che? You see I'm a poet, and you didn't know it, what? Well, the pretty thing rhymes in two places, don't you see? And if a rhyme rhymes, it makes a poem, if you follow me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quote of the Week 7

Miss Deborah Jenkyns: Jem Hearne has had nothing but jelly and egg wine for a week. If the bones are to knit, some solid food is needed.
Mary Smith: Does rice pudding count as solid food?
Miss Deborah Jenkyns: Martha made this - it could be eaten with a fork!
~Cranford (2007)

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo Excerpt #1

The following excerpts are from chapters two and three of my NaNoWriMo novel, What Would Elizabeth Bennet Do?

Elizabeth carried just one bag as she went up the gangplank of the S.S. Catagonia. Her favorite books, Bible and drawing materials were stowed in it, as was a shawl in case she became chilled on deck. For she intended to spend as much time up on deck, breathing the sea air, as possible. A shiver of excitement danced its way up her spine and tingled through the roots of her hair. She was embarking on a journey, alone, on what might be the most fascinating adventure of her life.

She was going to England.

A middle-aged steward with a dry face met her on deck. “Miss Elizabeth Markette? May I show you to your stateroom?” Elizabeth followed him through a heavy oak door and down through narrow corridors, all the while wondering how he knew exactly who she was. Modern travel was indeed a marvel. And while she was on the subject of marvelous things, the interior of this ship was a sight to behold. A floating hotel! She supposed it was not quite so grand in the lower parts, where the second-class and steerage passengers rode. Or could it be possible that the entire ship was a floating palace?

Mr. Howe had purchased her a first-class ticket; perhaps he was under the impression that she possessed a well-filled bank account in addition to her one hundred and fifty. If that was his notion, he was quite mistaken, but of course Elizabeth could not bring herself to tell him that his client’s granddaughter was practically penniless. Certainly, there were people in the world to whom one hundred and fifty dollars would seem a fortune, but she now retained far less than one hundred and fifty dollars. Her one-way steamship fare, her train ticket to New York and her overnight stay in the New York hotel had left her with little more than twenty dollars to her name.

The steward opened a door and Elizabeth found herself in a well-furnished stateroom with one small porthole looking out at the very deep, very wet, very cold water. She straightened her shoulders and tore her gaze away from the porthole. “Miss Markette, this will be your room for the duration of your journey,” the steward was saying. “My name is Elijah, and I shall be attending to your needs. Is there anything you require at the moment?”

Elizabeth looked around the stateroom. There was a bed, firmly attached to the wall. There was a table, firmly secured to the floor. There were a washbasin and pitcher, which were not attached to anything at all. Elizabeth imagined a stormy night, the wind-tossed ship, the bowl and pitcher clattering off the table and onto her head as she lay shivering in the bed—

“Is there a great deal of—er, motion during storms?” she asked in a small voice. Then she reproached herself for asking such a childish question. Of course the ship would toss about in a gale. She was not in a solid building, after all.

Elijah seemed accustomed to dealing with passengers’ silly fears. His expression did not change as he said, “No, madam, the first-class staterooms are positioned as near to the middle of the ship as possible, to be within the ship’s center of gravity. Our passengers complain of very little discomfort during storms. And, madam, may I add that we do not expect to see many storms during this journey. The weather appears to be quite calm.”

Elizabeth was reassured. She nodded her head regally and pretended that she had known that all along. Inwardly she wished she had not asked such a foolish question.

“Your trunk, madam,” Elijah continued, “will be delivered to your stateroom later today. I trust you will find everything in order. Please do not hesitate to alert a steward if there is anything you require.” He bowed and left the room. Elizabeth wished he would stay, even if was the most boring person she had ever met. She suddenly felt very much alone.

The room was too quiet. All she could hear was the chug of the ship’s engines. The blank walls stared her out of countenance, and the uncarpeted floor was unfriendly to her foot. She decided then and there to go up on deck and watch New York fade into the distance. At least on deck there would be plenty of fresh air and sunshine.

Of course, if she wanted fresh air in her stateroom, she needed only to open her porthole, but seeing the vast expanse of water through such a tiny glass made her feel very odd inside—very odd indeed.


Someone bumped Elizabeth from the side, but she was so interested in watching the horizon fade that she hardly noticed. She thought she should feel more regret at watching her homeland disappear, but the only emotion she could conjure up was excitement.

“I beg your pardon,” said an elegant, lemon-like voice at Elizabeth’s elbow. Elizabeth turned to see a tall young lady with regal blonde hair, dressed like a fashion plate, smiling in a stiff way that did not convey any kind of friendliness. “I did not mean to jostle you,” the lady continued. “You must, however, realize that you are taking up a great portion of the rail.” She adjusted her hat with an immaculately gloved hand and turned pointedly away from Elizabeth.

Startled, Elizabeth jerked herself upright. Leaning on the rail with elbows extended was not at all a ladylike position. She began to apologize and then stopped herself. Who, after all, was this woman, reproving her for her stance at a ship’s rail? She drew her mouth into its haughtiest expression. “I do beg your pardon,” she said in her most arctic tones. “I had no idea I was inconveniencing those around me so grossly. Forgive me.”

The young woman’s head revolved back to face Elizabeth. Her dark brown eyes regarded Elizabeth with a mixture of surprise, disdain and amusement. “I don’t believe we’ve met before,” she said.

Of course they had never met before. They had been on the ship for only an hour, Elizabeth thought. Nevertheless she said civilly, “No, I don’t believe so.” She considered introducing herself, but decided that this young woman was not someone with whom she wished to be acquainted. Haughty creature! So, she too, began to turn away, but the young lady stopped her.

“As we have no mutual friend to introduce us,” said the young lady, her eyes suddenly sparkling, “I suppose we shall have to do it ourselves. It is quite a bore, but Mamma is watching me from her chair over there and will think me abominably rude if I walk away from you without a proper greeting. To be sure, I believe Mamma is sleeping at the moment, but I am convinced that she can see with her eyes shut. I am Lavinia Solange Vivian Bancroft, en route to my home in London, and I am charmed to make your acquaintance.”

“Elizabeth Markette of Philadelphia,” Elizabeth said stiffly. She still harbored no desire to strike up a conversation with Miss Lavinia Solange Vivian Bancroft. Nor would she say that she was “chahmed” to make Miss Bancroft’s acquaintance.

Miss Bancroft smiled, this time with far more affability than before. “Now we are friends,” she said, “or, at the very least, acquaintances. I am very glad, for this is to be a horribly long voyage and I don’t fancy spending it entirely alone. Mamma will be seasick half the time, and Papa is in London waiting for us. There is nothing for me to do but sit on a wicker chair and stare at the water, perhaps occasionally twirling my parasol. It will be a great pleasure to have someone of my own age to talk to. For you must know that I will be likely to do nearly all the talking if we are to spend much time together.”

Elizabeth hardly knew what to say. She did not think she could like Miss Bancroft, but Miss Bancroft—the same who had been so rude only moments before—seemed determined to like her. She could not just turn on her heel and leave. Grandmother would never have done something so ill mannered. The only thing to do was to stay and listen to Miss Bancroft—who seemed quite ready to natter on about everything under the sun—until a convenient diversion arose.

“Do walk a little with me,” Miss Bancroft was saying, lifting Elizabeth’s surprised arm and tucking it into the crook of her own silk-clad one. “There is nothing to see from this point but a dirty smudge below the skyline, and we may as well walk a little. I am a great believer in frequent exercise. I do not care to sit idle on a couch.”

They made their way around a multitude of other well-dressed passengers, who took not the least notice of them. “I was sure you must be an American,” said Miss Bancroft, hooking her parasol over the crook of her other arm. “Naturally your dreadful accent would give you away in a moment, but I knew from the moment I saw you draped across the railing that you must be a vulgar Yankee.”

Elizabeth’s throat constricted and her eyes widened.

“Oh, don’t mind me,” said Miss Bancroft, before Elizabeth could express her horror. “You must think me terribly rude, I know, but it is only my way. You will become accustomed to it in time. I mean no disrespect to Americans, you understand. I just think them vulgar. New money, as Mamma says. But of course I do not say that you yourself are vulgar. I feel sure that we shall be the closest of friends, my dear creature.”

Elizabeth reflected that Miss Bancroft must be of the habit of forming hasty and unfounded opinions. She tried to recollect if she had said anything thus far to endear herself to Miss Bancroft, but could think of nothing. And yet here she was Miss Bancroft’s “dear creature”, whether she liked to be or not.

“Who is traveling with you?” Miss Bancroft inquired. “I should dearly love to meet your family or friends. I shall have to introduce you to Mamma as soon as she wakes up. She will love to meet you.”

Elizabeth hesitated. “I have no family or friends with me,” she said at last. “I am traveling alone.” She hated to admit such a thing, but at the same time a spark of impishness, deep down, eagerly awaited Miss Bancroft’s reply. For the reply was sure to be very interesting.

Miss Bancroft did not disappoint her. “You cannot be serious!” she squeaked, stopping abruptly and dropping Elizabeth’s arm. In her haste, she dropped her parasol as well, but did not seem to notice. “You surely are teasing me, Miss Markette. How very horrifying! No, no, you cannot be traveling alone. That is not proper. It is just not right.”

She sounded truly distressed. Elizabeth was embarrassed. “I assure you that it is true,” she said. “I am going to England alone. I have recently lost my grandmother, who had been my guardian since I was a baby.”

“Your guardian? But surely you are of age! You seem quite as old as I am. Of course,” Miss Bancroft conceded, “I should not like to ask your age, as it is not at all the proper—”

“I am just one and twenty,” said Elizabeth, smiling to herself. “So yes, I am of age. I am quite capable of taking care of myself, Miss Bancroft. I wish my grandmother could be with me, but she is not, and I have no one else in the world. So I am traveling alone; indeed, that is why I am traveling. If I had a maid—”

“Do you mean to tell me you have not even a maid?” Miss Bancroft seemed to be the kind of person whose voice was never raised to an unmannerly level, but now it seemed to coming dangerously close to such a level. “Miss Markette, I am deeply shocked.”

“Are you really?” inquired Elizabeth, feeling very much as though she were at Rosings Park, under the interrogation of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Her embarrassment was nearly all gone and she was beginning to enjoy herself. Perhaps this would be an excellent time to interject something witty. “Please don’t be shocked, my dear Miss Bancroft. I have never traveled with a maid before and, ah, do not intend to. Fuss and bother, maids.”

“But surely you cannot be without a chaperone!” cried Miss Bancroft. A lady on a deck chair nearby turned to look at them with an accusing and quizzical eye, and Miss Bancroft hastily lowered her voice. “Then you truly are alone, Miss Markette. How very disagreeable. You must stay with my family for the duration of your journey. I simply insist upon it. It is not right for a young lady to make a sea voyage without even a maid to attend her. You may share my maid, Catherine—she will be happy to dress your hair and put away your gowns, I am sure.”

“Oh, I—”

“Where is your stateroom? I shall send Catherine down immediately to help you press your gowns for dinner tonight. You must of course dine with my family. I will not take no for an answer, Miss Markette. When you get to know me well, you will know that without being told. It is hopeless to argue with me.”

“I see that clearly,” said Elizabeth. She was entrapped in a friendship, whether she liked it or not. And she was not sure which were her feelings.


Dinner was a stately meal, long white-clothed tables lined with well-dressed passengers. Friends of the captain sat at his own table, along with those of high rank. The Bancrofts and Elizabeth fit into neither category, so they sat a little away from the captain’s table. Elizabeth was glad, for she would not know what to do in such lofty company. Under Grandmother’s austere eye, she had not attended many balls or social gatherings, and hardly knew how to behave herself among people of importance. Of course the Markettes of Philadelphia descended from the Founding Fathers, but they were not People of Consequence in Society. At least, this was what Elizabeth surmised after hearing Miss Bancroft rattle on about her associations with Lord This and Lady That and Sir Periwinkle Snodgrass Flopbottom. (Naturally there was no person with such an outlandish name, but Elizabeth was fond of creating eccentric titles for people whose names she could not remember.)

Mrs. Bancroft was genuinely delighted to meet Elizabeth, just as Miss Bancroft had said she would be. But, like her daughter, she was distressed at the idea of Elizabeth traveling alone. “Surely your parents would not consent to such a thing,” she kept saying.

“My parents lost their lives in a train wreck when I was an infant,” said Elizabeth.

“Oh!” Mrs. Bancroft put a plump hand to her mouth. “I’m so sorry, Miss Markette.”

Miss Bancroft took a delicate mouthful of soup. “And so you are going to England for the first time?” she interjected.

Miss Bancroft had tact. Elizabeth was grateful for that. She, too, took some soup. It was not very good. “Yes, I have never been out of the United States,” she replied. “I am—” She stopped, considering whether it would be wise to tell these people her entire story. They seemed friendly enough—Miss Bancroft perhaps a bit too friendly—and quite respectable. She needed to talk about her plans to someone, after all.

She took a deep breath. “My grandparents served as my guardians,” she began. “My grandfather passed on when I was twelve, and my grandmother invested his money in the Vienna Stock Exchange.”

Mrs. Bancroft’s eyes widened.

“And when it collapsed in 1873,” Elizabeth continued, hardly noticing the waiter as he set down a plate of roast beef before her, “my grandmother’s money was almost completely lost. She had some savings in the bank, and we lived off of those until her death last month. She left me just one hundred and fifty dollars, all that remained of her fortune. Because, you see, after the Exchange collapsed, she never trusted another investment.” Elizabeth knew perfectly well that it was not polite to discuss matters of finance, especially at the table, but the Bancrofts seemed very interested. Miss Bancroft’s clear dark eyes were focused on Elizabeth’s face. She seemed to be hanging on every word, and had not even touched the dinner before her.

Elizabeth carefully cut off a piece of beef, chewed it, and swallowed it. It was underdone. “My uncle Rushworth was the only other relation I had, to the best of my knowledge,” she said hastily, setting down her knife and fork. “But we lost him five years ago, and now I am alone in the world.”

Mrs. Bancroft made a small sympathetic noise around a mouthful of cabbage. Miss Bancroft took a tiny sip of water, her eyes still fixed steadily on Elizabeth’s face. Elizabeth took a deep breath, for she did not know what kind of a reaction her next words might produce. “And so I am on my way to England to seek a position as a governess,” she said. “I have always wanted to visit England, and I had just enough money for my fare. And so here I am.”

Miss Bancroft had not said a single word since they had sat down to table, prompting Elizabeth to wonder if she was feeling ill. Now she spoke up, with no little vehemence. Her perfectly formed mouth had dropped open into a most unladylike gape. “Miss Markette!” she cried. “You cannot be serious!”

Elizabeth smiled impishly. “I seem to recall you saying that earlier.”

Mrs. Bancroft looked at her daughter. Miss Bancroft’s upper lip was raised just enough to bring an expression of disgust to her lovely face. “To be a governess is to be a servant,” she said. “Clearly you have not thought this through, Miss Markette.”

“Oh, but I have,” Elizabeth shot back. Any liking she had harbored towards Miss Bancroft was fast slipping away. “I have to earn my living, Miss Bancroft. I am not left with a choice. I have had an excellent education and am fully qualified to tutor young children. I need only to find a position, and then I shall be a full-fledged governess.”

She sat back in her chair.

Now it was Mrs. Bancroft’s turn to speak. “Lavinia, you cannot condemn Miss Markette for what has befallen her,” she said unexpectedly. “Miss Markette, I admire your spirit. There is no disgrace in earning one’s living.”

“Mamma!” said Miss Bancroft. “She is going to be a servant. How perfectly horrid. Miss Markette, you have not even a position waiting for you. You have no place to go. You would do much better to come with us to London and meet some eligible young man with a great fortune.”

“I have no desire to throw myself at eligible young men, Miss Bancroft,” said Elizabeth, thinking of Jane Bennet. “I would rather do anything than marry without affection.”

“Those are your own sentiments, you know, Lavinia,” said Mrs. Bancroft.

Miss Bancroft looked abashed for a moment. She sat in deep thought, then lifted her head and smiled dazzlingly. “Mamma is right—I hate being presented to rich, arrogant fops as if I were an apple they could just pick up if they chose. When I marry, I shall marry for love. Or at least for interest. I couldn’t bear a dull husband.”

Elizabeth’s eyebrows furrowed.

“And now it is your turn to be shocked,” said Miss Bancroft merrily, all her disgust completely gone. “You don’t know what to make of me, I think.”

“No, I don’t,” said Elizabeth slowly.

“Then don’t worry,” said Miss Bancroft, reaching across the table to give Elizabeth’s hand a squeeze. “You don’t need to make anything of me, because I am perfectly perfect as I am. Am I not, Mamma?”

Mrs. Bancroft looked heavenward and Miss Bancroft’s laugh bubbled up like water in a fountain. “Why, Miss Markette—no, I think I shall call you Elizabeth and you must call me Lavinia—you shall come and stay with us when we arrive in Liverpool. We live in London, you know, and you may taste the delights of the Season; it is just beginning. You should not want to stay in a boarding house—they are ghastly places. I’ve never been in one, of course, but I feel in my bones that a boarding house must be simply ghastly. Do say yes, and we shall have such a time together.”

“Yes, Miss Markette,” Mrs. Bancroft added cordially, not at all alarmed by her daughter’s haphazard invitation. “We shall be delighted to have you for as long as you wish to stay with us.”

“Mrs. Bancroft, Miss Bancroft, I—” Elizabeth knew not what to say. She did not wish to offend these kind people by refusing their invitation, yet she did not feel quite right imposing in that way. And she was not at all sure that she wanted to pay an extended visit to Miss Lavinia Solange Vivian Bancroft.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Miss Bancroft interjected. “I shall not talk your ear off completely, I promise. And I shall be nothing but sweetness and light. I promise that as well. You will find out in time that I am not very good at keeping my promises, but I promise you will like me nevertheless. We shall have such a good time together. But I have already said that, have I not? I’m afraid I have a very bad habit of repeating myself. You will get used to it in time. What do you like to do to amuse yourself, Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth hardly knew which remark she should answer; Miss Bancroft had thrown at least six different topics into the conversation. “I enjoy reading,” she began.

“I do not,” said Miss Bancroft cheerfully. “But I hold no grudge against those who do. What do you like to read?”

“Novels,” said Elizabeth, warming to her subject. “That is, the novels of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. And Charles Dickens—a few of his. Why do you not like reading, Miss Bancroft? It is one of the best habits I’ve ever formed.”

“It is far too dull,” said Miss Bancroft, forking a bit of asparagus into her mouth. “I much prefer going out into town and meeting people. And you must not call me Miss Bancroft; I’m Lavinia to you. If we are to be under the same roof, we must be friends and not merely acquaintances.”

The matter was, apparently, decided.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaNoWriMo Characters

My novel for NaNoWriMo is entitled "What Would Elizabeth Bennet Do?", and you can find out more about it here. After reading a character interview on Rachel's blog and Maria Elisabeth's blog, I decided it would be a great way to get better acquainted with the main characters of my novel. I'm going to post it here, but I thought it might be a good idea to give you a little background on each person first. I also chose a picture for each character, depicting them as they appear in my mind.

My protagonist (aka Female Main Character or FMC): Elizabeth Blank Markette. No, her middle name isn't Blank (are you trying to be funny?)--it's just that I can't think of a good middle name for her. Suggestions? I need something that sounds Victorian, since the story is set in that era--no Madisons or Natalies or Kendalls, please.

Elizabeth is sensible, thoughtful, romantic and self-conscious. She's a little bit clumsy (well, at least not as graceful as she'd like to be) and acutely aware of her social ineptitude. (She's working on it.) However, she prides herself on handling sticky situations in the way Elizabeth Bennet would. Whether she actually does or not is for the reader to decide. Elizabeth's family lost their money when the Vienna Stock Exchange collapsed in 1873--it's now 1881, and Elizabeth is working as a governess for the Crimp family to earn her living. She's determined to rise above her less-than-desirable situation, however. (Does this picture explain why I chose the header that's on my blog right now? This is also currently the background on my computer. It keeps NaNoWriMo in the forefront of my brain.)

Rodney Eugene Burke is the gardener slash cab driver slash stable boy for the Crimp family. He's funny, tenderhearted, good with animals, good with children, a terrible tease, well-read and a lover of books, and the worst singer in the world. He's the sole guardian of his little sister Mercy, although in his own words, "I don't take care of Mercy, she takes care of me. I'm the breadwinner, but she's the bread baker. That is, she attempts to be the bread baker. I wouldn’t quite call what she does 'baking'. 'Grilling' might be a more appropriate word. When she finally learns not to make charcoal out of our daily fare, we shall get on capitally. In the meantime, I suffer in silence."

Lavinia Solange Vivian Bancroft is a wealthy young socialite, living in the snootiest section of London and being pointedly rude to foppish young gentlemen at balls. Lavinia is sweet and loving, passionate and tenderhearted--she's also stuck-up, rather narrow-minded, a bit conceited and inclined to gush over clothes. Yeah, she's kind of complex.

Mercy Frances Burke is Rodney's thirteen-year-old sister, and their relationship rather resembles that of Mr. Darcy and Georgiana--only with much less formality. Plus Rodney doesn't have the money to buy Mercy a piano (though he would if he had the money, and if she knew how to play). Mercy is a little bossy, but very sweet.

Mortimer Jefferson Pendleton is the most annoying, self-centered character I've ever created. He's the younger brother of Elizabeth's employer (Mrs. Crimp) and spends most of his time sponging off his sister and brother-in-law. When he isn't having meals at their house and riding their horses, he's off playing poker and smoking foul-smelling cigars.

I don't like Mortimer, in case you couldn't tell.

Okay, so without further ado: my character interview. (I've made some remarks here and there--all the lines labeled "Me", obviously.)

Do you want a hug?
Elizabeth: Well, if you happen to be offering one. Yes, thank you.
Lavinia: My gracious, no!
Mercy: I suppose so.
Rodney: Depends. How hard do you hug? I do like my ribs, you know.
Mortimer: Absolutely not.

Do you have any kids?
Elizabeth: None at all, but I do take care of three, ah, sweet children.
Lavinia: Naturally I do not. What an impertinent question.
Mercy: No, I’m not married.
Rodney: Unless you count my little sister Mercy, nope.
Mortimer: I should say not.

Have you killed anyone?
Elizabeth: How horrid! Of course not.
Lavinia: I hardly think so.
Mercy: I wouldn’t!
Rodney: Well, I stepped on a caterpillar yesterday—poor little thing, may it rest in peace. Take your hat off, please, and show some respect for the dead.
Mortimer: No.

Love anyone?
Elizabeth: I would like to. But I’m not sure if I do… yet.
Lavinia: Not in the least. Though there are several ridiculous young men who fancy themselves in love with me.
Elizabeth: Lavinia, everyone will think you’re a horrible flirt!
Me: Don’t worry, Lavinia only says things like that to shock people.
Mercy: My brother Rodney, who is the best person in the world, no matter what he may tell you to the contrary.
Rodney: My sister Mercy, of course. And… uh, yes, Mercy. And my uncle Zachariah.
Mortimer: Love, what rot.

What is your job?
Elizabeth: I am a governess in the Crimp household.
Lavinia: I occupy no paid position—society is my pastime!
Mercy: I take in sewing, but I don't have many customers.
Rodney: Cab driver for the Crimps—I take care of the horses a bit as well—especially Virgil, the one with rheumatism in his left hind hoof. Horses suffer just as much as people do, you know.
Mortimer: Work? Bore.

What are you going to do when this tag is over?
Elizabeth: Reread Persuasion. I’m almost finished.
Lavinia: Try on one of my new hats. Perhaps I’ll write to Elizabeth.
Mercy: Finish trimming a bonnet for a client.
Rodney: Brush and curry Virgil and Opus.
Mortimer: Smoke a cigar.
Me: Eww!
Mortimer: Every young gentleman does it, miss, don’t be so easily offended.
Me: Rodney doesn't!
Mortimer: And who cares whether that idiot carriage driver smokes or not?

What is your greatest fear?
Elizabeth: Losing my position, perhaps—or falling from a great height. Oh, and I'm terrified of Mr. Crimp's French parrot.
Lavinia: Not being able to go to Lord and Lady Fagles’ ball on Saturday.
Mercy: I'm not afraid of anything.
Me: No, you aren't, are you?
Rodney: Being bitten by the ferocious toad in the back garden. He continues to refuse my offers of friendship--or at least a truce.
Mortimer: Losing at poker.
Me: You know, Mortimer, I’m liking you less and less. Not that I liked you to begin with.
Mortimer: Why should I care for your opinion, miss? [yawns]

What do you think of your parents?
Elizabeth: I hardly remember them. I wish I did.
Lavinia: They’re dear. I couldn’t imagine life without them.
Me: You’re being serious for once!
Lavinia: I can be, when the mood strikes me.
Mercy: Unfortunately I don't remember them.
Rodney: I loved them very much.
Mortimer: What a dull question. I’m bored to death with this rot. Are we finished?

Any siblings?
Elizabeth: I had a brother who died as a baby.
Lavinia: An elder sister, who is already married.
Mercy: Rodney, my older brother.
Rodney: Just one sister, Mercy.
Mortimer: Juliet. She’s all right. Her boneheaded husband has quite a fortune, which is highly convenient.

Eye color?
Elizabeth: Brown.
Lavinia: Dark brown.
Mercy: Light brown.
Rodney: Brown. I like to fit in with those around me, and everyone else seems to be wearing brown eyes this season.
Mortimer: Dark brown.

Are you good or bad?
Elizabeth: Not as good as I'd like to be. Only God is perfectly good.
Lavinia: I am a perfect angel.
Elizabeth: Lavinia!!
Lavinia: I have to tease you sometimes, you know, Lizzie.
Elizabeth: Don't call me Lizzie.
Mercy: I try to be good, but Rodney will tell you I'm far from perfect.
Rodney: I'm a sinner. But by God's grace, I'm slowly becoming more like Him. I'm far from perfect.
Me: So you CAN be serious.
Rodney: If I wasn't serious sometimes, I wouldn't be the hero of your story. And if I wasn't funny sometimes, I'd be the dullest hero anyone ever met.
Mortimer: I'm not as bad as some fellows I know.

Favorite season?
Elizabeth: Late spring, early summer.
Lavinia: Spring, of course, when the London Season begins!
Mercy: Summer.
Rodney: Mud.
Me: There's no such season as mud.
Rodney: Mademoiselle, you obviously have never been out of doors in the country.
Mortimer: Who cares?

Who's your best friend?
Elizabeth: Lavinia. She's really not half as shallow as she would lead you to believe.
Lavinia: Me? Shallow? How sweet of you to say that. Lizzie is my best friend, though she does persist in working as a servant.
Mercy: Maggie, the downstairs maid at the Crimps'.
Rodney: That toad in the back garden. I'm taming him and teaching him to read. Tomorrow he'll be studying his lesson on "Why It Is Rude to Bite People Who Are Only Trying To Get a Closer Look at You".
Mortimer: Whoever just "gave" me all his money at poker last night.
Me: I'm considering banning you from this interview.
Mortimer: Charmed, I'm sure.

Elizabeth: Reading.
Lavinia: Talking. Driving. Attending balls. Making myself beautiful.
Mercy: I love tending flowers when I get the chance.
Me: Really? Hmm, I could stick that in somewhere.
Rodney: Teaching dumb animals their ABC's. Spending time with the horses. Talking to interesting people. Reading.
Mortimer: Smoking, playing cards, putting my feet on my sister's sofa.

Do you care what others think of you?
Elizabeth: Very much.
Lavinia: Not in the least. As long as I have behaved myself with perfect decorum and ladylike behavior, what should it matter?
Mercy: Not particularly.
Rodney: Nope.
Mortimer: Blah.

Was this interview fun?
Elizabeth: It was indeed!
Lavinia: Excessively diverting. Be proud of me, Lizzie, I'm quoting your favorite book.
Elizabeth: Yes, I noticed.
Mercy: Yes, I enjoyed it.
Rodney: It was very interesting, though if I had written the questions they would have been much more amusing.
Mortimer: Whatever.

What's your species?
Elizabeth: Human; specifically, American young lady.
Lavinia: Human. Are you suggesting I'm something else? How dare you?
Elizabeth: Lavinia, stop it.
Mercy: Human.
Rodney: Carriage driver. Human, if you want to be technical.
Mortimer: A bored-to-death Homo sapien. I do hope this thing is finished, I have a poker game in twenty minutes.

That was way too much fun--hope you enjoyed reading it half as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Defending Edward Ferrars

Miss Georgiana Darcy

"Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good opinion by any peculiar graces of person or address. He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome, his behavior gave every indication of an open, affectionate heart."
~Sense and Sensibility, chapter 3

Though he's not at the top of my Favorite Jane Austen Heroes list, I believe that Edward Ferrars is a greatly under-appreciated character. I think it's a real shame that many people find him boring and bland. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Edward is a wonderful person with character, integrity, kindness, a sense of humor, blah blah blah, and, yes, a great deal of awkwardness. But he's not inanimate, nor is he "un-heroic". I realize that many people do believe that he's boring, and I do hope I won't offend anyone by contradicting them in this post. I respect all your opinions, but I'm going to freely state my own. Besides, if no one ever wrote anything controversial, we'd never have anything interesting to talk about, would we? Blog posts would be dull and predictable, and the comments would consist merely of "How true!" and "Yes, I agree entirely!" and we blogging ladies would kill each other with boredom.

Ahem. Back to my point.

Jane Austen describes Edward better than I ever could--see the quote at the top of this post. Edward Ferrars is not the kind of guy who leaps off the page. He's quiet. He's not strikingly handsome. (No, I am NOT going to digress into a litany about the respective appearances of Hugh Grant and Dan Stevens. Sorreeee.)

But Edward, though his manners "require intimacy to make them pleasing" is a kind and tenderhearted person. He thinks primarily of making other people happy, and isn't focused on impressing those around him. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Edward honestly doesn't care what people think of him. I like this little thing he says in the '95 movie: "All I want, all I've ever wanted, is the quiet of a private life, but my mother wants me distinguished." Edward doesn't care about pomp and splendor. He's not a knight on a white horse. (I didn't say anything about a black horse, though...)

Edward's rapport with Margaret Dashwood exemplifies this. Okay, so he and Margaret didn't have much interaction in the book, but the movies really do a good job of showing their relationship. Think about it--most young men from Respectable Families in those days didn't go around playing pirates with little girls. It simply wasn't Proper. Edward, however, is more interested in making Margaret happy than in being Proper and Stuffy and sitting on an Uncomfortable Chair in a dark and gloomy Parlor.

Plus, Edward is FUNNY. Yes, he is. Maybe he's not laugh-out-loud hilarious like Henry Tilney, but he does have a sense of humor. When he and Margaret are discussing what the Dashwoods would do if they had "a fortune a-piece", he suggests that Marianne would buy up every copy of her favorite books "to prevent their falling into unworthy hands; and she would have every book that tells her how to admire an old twisted tree. Should not you, Marianne? Forgive me, if I am very saucy." (ch. 17)

(Love this scene. Just sayin'.)

But when I say Edward isn't interested in being Proper, I'm referring to endless rules and regulations about Polite Society. I'm not talking about good manners, character and integrity. Because Edward has all those, without a doubt. Now, when he was younger he might not have had much sense. I don't dispute that. I mean, seriously, who falls in love with a moron like Lucy Steele? There are a thousand reasons: he was young, she was pretty, her uncle encouraged the match, he didn't want to marry some other goofy girl his mother was trying to force him on, etc. etc. etc. (Et cetera, according to a friend of mine, stands for End of Thinking Capacity. This struck me as being highly amusing, and though it has nothing to do with this post, I thought I'd stick it in there.)

Anyway, though we don't know why Edward proposed to Lucy Steele in the first place, we do know that he is much too honorable to break off the engagement. He made a promise, he's going to stick to it. I admire that. Too many romance stories involve someone promising to marry someone else, then meeting their soulmate and snapping off the engagement without another thought. Look, that may sound romantic, but it's not. Think about it. How do you know that the said person isn't going to break off THIS engagement?

Hmmm, I seem to be going off on a lot of irrelevant tangerines tangents today. My apologies.

Let me also add something here on that topic. I've heard it said that Edward had no business "leading Elinor on" when he was engaged to Lucy, and that he should have told Elinor exactly what was up with him and Miss Stingy Steele. I don't agree. Edward promised Lucy that their engagement would be kept secret, and he kept his word. Lucy didn't keep hers, but what else would you expect from a girl like her? (Oh, and Edward did not lead Elinor on, for the record. It wasn't his fault that Marianne and Mrs. Dashwood read too much into his friendship with her.)

Well, Edward might be much too honorable to break off his engagement with Lucy, but we have to be glad that Lucy wasn't that honorable. "I'll marry Edward! He'll have lots of money when his mother dies. Oops! His mother found out that he's going to marry me. I need to get some duct tape for my sister Nancy's mouth... Where was I? Oh, yes, Edward isn't rich anymore. Ooh, but his younger brother IS... Hi Robert! Want to dance?"

So we can all give Lucy a round of applause. (Why? Because now the E's can get together, that's why!) Whether or not you are armed with rotten tomatoes as you "applaud" Lucy is your business and I will not be held liable.

And so Mr. F and Elinor were married. And Edward's mother's sister came to live with them soon after, and was known as Mr. F's Aunt. Okay, not really, but I had to stick that in.

And they lived happily ever after.