Friday, April 27, 2012

Defending Sir Percy

The Scarlet Pimpernel did not take it upon himself to punish the guilty; his care was solely of the helpless and of the innocent. For this aim he risked his life every time that he set foot on French soil, for it he sacrificed his fortune, and even his personal happiness, and to it he devoted his entire existence. [...] The Scarlet Pimpernel was a personality of whom an entire nation might be justly proud.
~El Dorado by Baroness Orczy

Being the unashamed word geek that I am, I find puns hilarious (even those that cause everyone around me to groan and roll their eyes) and take great delight in oxymorons.  If you don't know what an oxymoron is, let me enlighten you: it's a phrase that contradicts itself, like "jumbo shrimp", "chilled hot chocolate," "boring Jane Austen" or "defending Sir Percy".

Because, you know, Sir Percy doesn't need anyone to defend him.  Seriously.  If there's going to be any defending going on here, Percy's the one who does the defending.  Are we clear on this?

All that said, it has come to the attention of one Miss Amy Dashwood that Sir Percy Blakeney, Baronet, has been getting a bad rap lately.  There seem to be two kinds of people in this world: those who appreciate the Scarlet Pimpernel (spoiler alert: Percy is the Scarlet Pimpernel. All my apologies in advance) and those who don't know what they're missing.  The ones who appreciate Percy as he is meant to be appreciated go by many names, but my favorite term is one coined by the staunchest of them all: the Leaguettes.   The Leaguettes (female members of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel) are faithful fans of the books, the movie, and the man himself (and his lovely wife, but unfortunately she gets forgotten occasionally, especially when we're being jealous of her. Ahem).  Then there is the other camp, the people who think Sir Percy is nice enough and even heroic, but nothing to write home about.  They seem to be laboring under the mistaken delusion that Percy is humorous and even gallant, but unrealistic.  (Technically there's a third group: those who know nothing about The Scarlet Pimpernel [TSP], but we can only hope that they will come out from under their rocks as soon as possible.)

In case you couldn't tell, I'm a Leaguette.  Anne-girl has declared today the Official Percy Day of Hero Week, and so I'm going to take this opportunity to refute the unfounded accusations against poor misunderstood Sir Percy.  (Disclaimer: I'm a huge TSP fan, but I'm not the Fan to End All Fans and therefore am not the ultimate authority on His Awesomeness.  If you want to read an explanation of Percy's greatness by the Greatest Fan herself, go here.)

First of all, I'd like to combat the theory that Percy is a goofball.  Ladies, puh-leeze.  Look, he's a hero in disguise.  And in this case, Mr. Darcy's famous quote about disguise of every kind being his abhorrence doesn't fit, because Percy's disguises have a heroic reason behind them.  He's putting his life on the line for the sake of helpless innocents.  For those of you who don't know, Percy's story takes place during the French Revolution, when Robespierre's Reign of Terror was sending hundreds of people to the guillotine every day.  Sir Percy Blakeney, Baronet, and his band of nineteen brave men pledged themselves to rescue as many French aristocrats as they could, working under the mysterious name of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  Since Percy would be immediately arrested if the French authorities knew who the Scarlet Pimpernel really was, it was necessary for his "public personality" to be as far removed from his real identity as possible, so that no one would ever know that the brainless fop was truly the bravest of heroes.  

Percy is a consummate actor, and his foppish (I do like that word, it's such fun), dandified alter ego succeeded in fooling nearly everyone.  Obviously, it's fooled some of you too.  A dear friend who shall remain anonymous to protect her identity (heehee, shall I refer to her as Madame Pimpernel?) said that she felt his funny way of acting annoys her too much.  "Okay, so, in the movie it's funny... but first time is funny, second time is silly, and third time is a spanking, y'know? He seems to act that way much more than he really needs to."  Now, I'm of the firm opinion that everyone is entitled to her own opinion (just as long as it's the same as mine--- KIDDING, I'm KIDDING) but I have to respectfully disagree with Madame here.  Since I would never be able to say it half so well in my own phraseology, I'll just give you a few words from the man himself.
If we are to succeed, we must maintain our anonymity, mask our identities, even if it means suffering the mockery of others. Being taken for fools, fops, nitwits, even cowards. (from the 1982 movie)

I'm trying my hardest not to just quote Alexandra for this entire post :D but I can't resist it here.  In her recent guest post on Scribblings, she said:
It takes a lot of guts to sacrifice your reputation when with one flick of the eyeglass you could declare that you are The Scarlet Pimpernel and instantly have a nation falling at your feet. A Real Hero doesn’t do his good deeds to get a pat on the back. He often works behind the scenes so as to not get credit. Because credit isn’t the point for him. It’s doing what is right.   
Are you convinced yet? In this day and age, a man's reputation is not what it once was.  Years ago, a man's honor and good name were his most precious possessions.  As Shakespeare famously said, "Who steals my purse steals trash... but he who filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed."  (Be proud of me, Anne-girl-- I wrote that entire quote from memory.)  Sir Percy, like any other respectable gentleman, puts great stock in his honor... yet he's willing to give it up for the sake of something far more important.  If others want to think that he truly is an idiot, he's willing to let that slide because there's something so much greater at stake.

If you still aren't convinced, then listen very closely to what I'm about to say:

Go read El Dorado.

It's unquestionably the best TSP novel ever written, and I firmly believe that I didn't know how much of a hero Sir Percy was until I read that book.  (At the risk of my life at the hands of the other Leaguettes, I should mention here that I heartily disliked Sir Percy at the beginning of the first book.  *ducks broadswords*  Needless to say, I'd changed my tune by the end, once I'd realized that the idiocy was only a mask.)

Brief El Dorado synopsis: Percy and his men are on a mission to rescue the young Dauphin of France, but a series of insanely stupid acts of disobedience on the part of Marguerite's unworthy brother Armand (pardon me while I do a Mr. Knightley-esque ERRRRMMM!) land Percy in prison, captured by his archenemy Citizen Chauvelin.  Chauvelin is seriously one of the worst villains in literature, and I guess you could say that he gets his finest hour in El Dorado. Percy is in his hands, and Chauvelin literally stops at nothing--not even torture--to get Percy to give up the Dauphin.  I could go into a long discourse about the merits of this wonderful book, but I'll save that for an e-mail to Ally and instead just provide you with one of the most beautiful passages in the novel.  Marguerite has just come to  visit Percy in prison (he's being starved to death and deprived of sleep, peoples) and begged him to do what Chauvelin asks, but he refuses.
She understood that long ago he had mapped out the course of his life, and now that that course happened to lead up a Calvary of humiliation and of suffering he was not likely to turn back, even though, on the summit, death already was waiting and beckoning with no uncertain hand; not until he could murmur, in the wake of the great and divine sacrifice itself, the sublime words: "It is accomplished."
Kleenex, please.  Also smelling salts, if you happen to have any handy.  (Why does no one carry smelling salts anymore?  Let's bring back smelling salts!)

Naturally, it all turns out okay in the end (oops, I just spoiled THAT for you) but trust me, this is a book you should not miss.  (Yes, Melody, I'm talking to you.)

One last point before I wrap this up: Percy and Marguerite's relationship at first struck me as being sappy and overdone.  You must remember that I was only twelve when I read TSP, and so excuses must be made.  By the time I saw the movie, however (at sixteen) I was completely won over.  See, the true romance in the Blakeneys' relationship doesn't really come into effect until after the honeymoon.  And for a girl who always wanted to know what came after the happily ever after, that's the best part of the love story.  I firmly believe that Marguerite and Percy were in love when they got married-- but not completely, not yet.  Soon after the wedding, they both began to have (not unfounded) doubts about the other that led to a huge rift in their marriage.  It wasn't until they'd been through various fiery trials that showed each of them just how worthy the other was that they really and truly realized their love for each other.

In my humble opinion, that is.

I should like to also take this time, while I still have your attention (you are paying attention, right? Right?  Hey! Wake up!) to point out some other important elements of Sir Percy's character; namely, his fashion sense (for though clothes are not really his only waking thought, he does know how to dress and who doesn't appreciate that?), his gift for poetry (if a rhyme rhymes, it makes a poem, if you follow me), his inexhaustible wit (sink me, your tailors have betrayed you), his ultimate adherence to fair play (m'dear chap, never would have dreamt of depriving you of your moment of pleasure) and last but not least, his monocle-eyeglass-thingie.

Sink me, if I haven't come to the end.  Are you convinced yet?  If not... *tosses copy of El Dorado* Yours, I believe.

PS: For more about Sir Percy, check out The Day Dream, a blog devoted to this hero and his stories.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Defending Mr. Darcy

I've decided that instead of writing an ongoing series for my top ten literary/period drama heroes the way I did for my top ten heroines (eep, I need to actually finish that thing), I'm just going to write hero posts when I feel like it.  I've also decided that the posts are probably all going to follow the same general format: that of "defending such-and-such".  Because a lot of my favorite heroes get a bad rap, and I want to set about correcting that.  I am only one, but I am one, and though I cannot convince everyone, I may be able to convince someone.

Since this week happens to be Hero Week, it seems a perfect time to write my post in defense of *drumroll please*...

...Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Hero of Pride and Prejudice, owner of that gorgeous estate known as Pemberley, brother to Georgiana, nephew to Lady Catherine, enemy to George Wickham (boooo), husband to Elizabeth Bennet, Prince-Charming-alternate to many, yawn-inducer to others.

"Something I've noticed about [Mr. Darcy]," my dear friend Melody said recently, "is that you either 'get it' or you don't."  There are, in my humble opinion, three kinds of people where Mr. Darcy is concerned.  There are the staunch Mr. Darcy fans (of which I am one-- but not of the most rabid sort), there are those who honestly don't care about Jane Austen (they don't know what they're missing) and finally there is the apathetic, eh-Mr.-Darcy's-kinda-boring-but-I-don't-hate-him crowd.  (And if you're a member of the crowd that only likes Pride and Prejudice because of Colin Firth in a wet shirt, please take your business elsewhere.  Not to be rude, but... um... that's not what this is about.)  I congratulate the first group on their excellent taste, pity the second group and am aiming this post right at the third group.  Listen up, Third Group.

In the course of my extensive blog reading (I have to improve my mind, you know), I have come across several major misconceptions concerning one Fitzwilliam Darcy, and with your kind permission (or without it) I will now refute each one to the best of my ability in my best higgledy-piggledy fashion (i.e., with neither rhyme nor reason, and in no real order whatsoever).

First of all, Mr. Darcy is not some idle rich guy who does nothing but sit around in his fancy house and go swimming in his fancy lake and give orders to the servants and go to balls to glare at people.  He's one of the most responsible gentleman to be found in literature.  He's not the type to twiddle his thumbs and let everyone else do what needs to be done, nor is he afraid to do unpleasant business.  He obeys his father's posthumous instructions pertaining to Mr. Wickham, even though he can't stand the sight of Not-Gorgeous George.  And when Wickham the Wicked tries to elope with his little sister Georgiana, he steps in and takes things in hand... and then does the same thing all over again for Elizabeth's wayward sister Lydia, putting his own reputation on the line for the sake of the woman he loves.

Second, Mr. Darcy is not incapable of smiling.  Now, I am as much of a fan of the A&E Pride and Prejudice miniseries as anyone (P&P95Forever!) but though that adaptation was practically perfect in every way, Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy was lacking in just one teeny respect: his smile.  In the book, Mr. Darcy smiles.  Repeatedly.  See chapter eleven:
"And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody," [said Elizabeth.]
"And yours," he replied, with a smile, "is wilfully to misunderstand them." 
Colin Firth doesn't smile until the end-- that's the movie's fault. The book has no such defect.

That reminds me of another misconception.  It seems to me that there is a wild idea flying around the blogosphere, something about a fellow by the name of Matthew Macfadyen?  Has anybody heard of this?  He's an extremely talented actor and did a fabulous portrayal of Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit, but he is not Mr. Darcy.  If you want to see an accurate representation of the character Jane Austen created (not the character created by Focus Features), bearing in mind that no actor can do a perfectly perfect job of interpreting such an iconic character, then by all means watch P&P 1995.  I'm no drooling Colin Firth fan, but I do think he does a fantastic job.

Moving on to the all-important sense of humor.  Sadly, Mr. Darcy does not possess as much of this quality as some other Jane Austen heroes (think Henry Tilney or Mr. Knightley) but he does have a sense of humor.  Really.  You just have to look for it.  He's not, perhaps, as hilarious as Mr. Tilney, but he has a dry wit that jumps off the page at you at the most unexpected moments.  "A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment."  (True? True.)  Mr. Darcy also knows how to put Miss Bingley in her place (with all of us cheering him on, naturally.  Boo to Caroline Binglebop.)  "Yes, but that was only when I first knew her, for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance."  And really, nothing can match the amazing-ness of his "WHAT?!" in P&P95.  'Nuff said.

I also really love Darcy's interaction with his sister Georgiana.  Their relationship inspired two principal characters in the novel I'm writing right now, but of course that's not the only reason I like them.  It's evident that Georgiana adores her big brother-- and she has good reason.  He may be cold and unfriendly to people he has never met before (after all, he has not that talent of conversing easily with strangers) but with his sister, he's gentle, caring, affectionate and generous.  

I abhor awkward moments in real life, but I get a fiendish delight out of awkward moments in books or movies (the poor characters in my novel... how they do suffer...).  I'm not always a fan of superfluous movie scenes (generally being the first one to squawk, "THAT WASN'T IN THE BOOK!") but I have to applaud Andrew Davies for his wonderful addition to Elizabeth's Pemberley visit, commonly known as The Famous Lake Scene.  I'm not talking about the swimming sequence here--don't quite understand all the hype about that--but instead I'm referring to Darcy and Elizabeth's unexpected meeting after Darcy's impromptu bath.  (My comments are italicized, in brackets.)

"Mr. Darcy!"
"Miss Bennet! Uh..." [My brother loves to quote those lines]
"I did not expect to see you, sir. We understood all the family were from home, or we should never have presumed..."
"Er, I returned a day early. Excuse me; your parents are in good health?"
"Er, yes. They are very well. I thank you, sir."
"I'm, um, glad to hear it... how long have you been in this part of the country?"

"But two days, sir."
"And where are you staying?"
"At the inn at Lambton."
"Ohyesocourse. [This is spoken as one word, haha.] Um, well, I've just arrived myself. [You said that before...] Um... and your parents are in good health? And... and ALL your sisters?" [You said THAT before too...]

This is the part of the movie where you really begin to like Mr. Darcy, I think. You can't help liking someone you feel sorry for, and I definitely feel sorry for him in that scene.  (I feel sorry for Lizzy, too, but I liked her from the beginning.)

Lest you begin to think that this guy is some angelic being who never does anything wrong, let me enlighten you.  Mr. Darcy is proud.  (See title of novel.)  He's arrogant.  He's prejudiced (see title again) against people he believes are beneath him.  He's also socially awkward and often misunderstood, but let's not make him out to be some poor pitiful version of Bashful.  Mr. Darcy has issues. He's not perfect.  But in all honesty, who wants a perfect hero?  Not this far-from-perfect girl, that's for sure.  

What I really love about Mr. Darcy is his character transformation.  The theme song from Beauty and the Beast comes to mind when I think of his relationship with Elizabeth.  "Bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong..."  Mr. Darcy may have begun as a selfish being who rudely snubbed young women without dancing partners (she is tolerable, I suppose...) but he changes drastically... and we get to know him a little better.

Now, for all those of you who say that Darcy's first proposal was unromantic-- well, I agree with you.  "In vain I have struggled, it will not do, my feelings will not be repressed, you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you" sounds quite nice, but not when it's followed up by, "In declaring myself thus, I am fully aware that I will be going expressly against the wishes of my family, my friends, and, I hardly need add, my own better judgment."  Um, yes.  That's the way to any girl's heart: tell her that you know you're making a mistake by proposing to her.  Indubitably.

But for all those of you who say that the second proposal was also unromantic... well, there I have to disagree.  Strongly.  "Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! … You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased."

Perhaps I've convinced you by now, perhaps I haven't.  In the end, it really doesn't matter to me, because writing this post has served its purpose for me-- reminding me all over again how much I like and admire Mr. Darcy, and that Pride and Prejudice is the best book ever.

Oh, and also?  His name is not Fitzwilliam.  Okay, the book might say his name is Fitzwilliam, but we do not call him that.  Nor do we call him Fitzy or Will.  The name is Darcy, gals.  With or without the Mr., whatever floats your boat, but not Fitzwilliam.  Actually, now that I think about it, I have a better idea-- who's in favor of changing his name to Cordelius? It's so much more romantical, you know.

Guest Post

I'm guest posting over at my sister's lovely blog today for Hero Week! Please do hop on over there to read about Hero No. 24601, and leave a comment if you're so inclined.  And don't forget to vote in Anne-girl's Hero Polls-- please, please, please don't let Jean Valjean lose in this tournament!

Monday, April 23, 2012

In Which I Offend Everybody

Ahem.  I do like attention-grabbing titles.

This post might be more aptly named "All About My Two Favorite Heroes And Why They Are Equal In My Book", but I prefer to startle y'all, and besides, I probably WILL offend pretty much everybody in this post.  And do you know what?  I'm okay with that.   Are you ready?  Here comes The Big Statement.

Mr. George Knightley (from Emma by Jane Austen) and Sir Percy Blakeney (from The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy) are my two favorite literary heroes, and I don't prefer one above the other.

Now, I can just see the Janeites rising up in wrath over my saying that some guy from the French Revolution is just as good as any character created by the beloved Miss Austen.  I can also imagine the Leaguettes sharpening their guillotines and preparing to come at me for saying that anyone at all is a match for the Scarlet Pimpernel. I, however, consider myself to be both a Leaguette AND a Janeite, and I consider Sir Percy and Mr. Knightley to be equal.  They share the top spot on my list of favorite heroes, okay?  They're both quite wonderful, and neither is better than the other.

(By the by, however, I do think that overall, Jane Austen trumps Baroness Orczy-- and I'm not going to defend that position right now because I already did in the 70+ comment war over at Miss Georgiana Darcy's blog.)

One thing more.  I suggest you get this piano tuned.  When I sit down to an instrument, I like to have it in tune.  (Whoops, I think I quote Mary Poppins a little too much...)  What I meant to say was that currently Mr. Knightley and Sir Percy are sharing the top spot in my list of heroes because I really don't have one specific number one hero yet.  Because I haven't met him yet, you see.  Someday, when I get married, my husband will zoom right to the top spot.  I'll let you know when that happens. (This idea may or may not have been stolen from a blogging friend. :P)

I hope that made some semblance of sense.  A line from Anne of Avonlea (the book) that seems to be rather unfortunately appropriate is niggling at the back of my mind right now, however.
Gilbert, having tried to please both sides, succeeded, as is usual and eminently right, in pleasing neither. (ch. 4, "Different Opinions")
Moving on.

My dear sister Anne-girl is currently hosting Hero Week over at her lovely blog, and today the challenge is to list your top ten literary heroes.  I'm happy to oblige, but first I had to get that Big Statement out in the open.  Just so y'all know where I'm coming from, you know.

Hero Week
She hasn't made one for Mr. Knightley... sigh.  Actually, she didn't make any JA buttons.  Bah, humbug.
Without further ado, my top ten literary heroes, in some sort of order-- and if you are the kind of person who keeps tabs, you might notice that I have in actual fact listed eleven heroes, since I have two in the number one spot.  But hey, who's counting (except you)?  And please, as you read this list, keep in mind that I had a terrifically hard time assigning spots for heroes 2-9.  Terrifically.  I like them all so very much, it was quite difficult to say "this guy is better than this guy" and "well, I like him, but I like him even more".   

Sir Percy Blakeney and Mr. George Knightley (please, no comments about which goes first, 'kay? Blogger won't let me put their pictures side-by-side, and Blakeney comes first alphabetically).

Anthony Andrews as the One and Only Scarlet Pimpernel.  The End.
"Ceased? I shall love her 'til the day I die.  That is the tragedy."
~Sir Percy Blakeney, The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

Sir Percy is the epitome of the Self-Sacrificing Hero.  He's brave, he's loyal, he's compassionate, he's funny, he's romantic and he's willing to fight for the right without question or pause, to march into hell for a heavenly cause.  In short (hmm, echoes of Mr. Micawber) he goes into the fire to make impossible dreams possible.  Also, he wears capes.  And eyeglass-thingies.  Sink me.

Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley in Emma 2009.  (In this case I will acknowledge other versions.)
"I cannot make speeches, Emma.  If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."
~Mr. Knightley, Emma (chapter 49)

Mr. Knightley is the kind of man I want to marry someday.  He's caring, kind, morally strong, responsible, intelligent, witty and just plain nice.  (Uh-oh, Henry Tilney's going to get me for that one...)  He never sacrifices truth on the altar of politeness, but at the same time he's thoughtful of the feelings of others.  He's also the perfect gentleman--a Knightley in Shining Armor.  (And for the record, folks: it's KnightlEy, with an E, not Knightly.  Just think of Anne Shirley, okay?)

(I may be going into greater detail about why these two are my favorites later in the week, so stay tuned.)

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice 1995
"In vain I have struggled; it will not do.  My feelings cannot be repressed.  You must allow me to tell me how ardently I admire and... love you."
~Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Mr. Darcy, in my opinion, is thoroughly misunderstood.  (And yes, I realize that I sound like a snobby Janeite, but the truth of the mattuh is that I am, in general, a bit of a snob where my beloved JA is concerned.  Soary.) Some people think he's boring and has few (or zero) hero qualities.  I strongly disagree.  Some people think he's amazing simply because he's portrayed by Colin Firth.  I strongly disagree.  Look here, Mr. Darcy is great because he is a sympathetic character created by Jane Austen, who has issues at the beginning of the story but overcomes them in a truly admirable way.  And all those of you who say he doesn't smile?  Read the book.  Please, please, please.

Gilbert Blythe

Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables (1985)
"There would never be anybody for me but you."
~Gilbert Blythe, Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987)

Gilbert's so wonderfully down-to-earth, as my dear friend Rachel put it.  He might not be the first one to pop into your mind when you think of a dragon-slayer, but he's an absolutely wonderful guy.  Read this post (in which I went into much more detail) if you don't believe me.

Colonel Christopher Brandon

Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility 1995
"Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad."
~Colonel Brandon, Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Colonel Brandon was never christened Christopher by Jane Austen---presumably, if he was indeed christened Christopher, his parents did it.  Obviously.  Um, anyways, what I mean is that Jane Austen never mentions the Colonel's first name in S&S.  That's a liberty taken by the filmmakers, and I'm okay with that.  The name seems to fit him.  Colonel Brandon is one of my mom's favorite Austen heroes, and he's well-deserving of the title.  He might not be the charismatic, sweep-you-off-your-feet type, but whoever said that was what made a hero?  The Colonel is wise, caring, romantic (yes he is) and full of true character and integrity.

John Chivery
Russell Tovey as John Chivery in Little Dorrit (2008)
"All that time I was breaking my heart over her, she was breaking hers over you."
~John Chivery, Little Dorrit (2008)

John Chivery's story makes me cry every time I see the movie (much more so than in the book) and since I take a morbid delight in crying over stories, I really like John.  That is not, of course, the only reason.  There are others: for instance, John SPOILER ALERT completely sacrifices his own feelings so that the woman he loves can be happy with the man she loves.  Who is not him.  That was grammatically incorrect, but I'm too tired to fix it.  END OF SPOILER.  John may be a bit melodramatic at times, but in the end he displays tremendous selflessness.  Also, whenever he says, "It's you, Amy," in an adorable British accent, I melt a little bit because I am Very Silly Indeed.  (Because, you know, it's my name... anyways.  Moving on.)

Edward Ferrars
Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars in S&S 1995

"My heart is... and always will be... yours."
~Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Edward is one of the most honorable literary men I have ever read about, and though I'm afraid he sometimes gets a bad rap, I am staunchly Team Edward.  (Edward FERRARS, people.  Ferrars.)  I elaborated on this topic here.
Arthur Clennam
Matthew Macfadyen as Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit (2008)
"What a blind idiot you must have thought me."
~Arthur Clennam, Little Dorrit (2008)

Arthur, my sister and I have agreed, is the ultimate Mr. Nice Guy of period drama.  He would, I believe, do anything for anybody, no matter how little they deserved it.  He always thinks of others before himself, and though he might not always be the most perceptive person ("I don't know why I'm telling you all this, Amy!") he makes up for it with his heart of gold.  Besides all the wonderful things he does for the ungrateful Dorrit family, just think how he stood up as best man in Pet's wedding, even though Pet, the girl he thought he loved, was marrying a guy he detested.  Well, "a guy he detested" is a relative term-- I'm not sure Arthur could really truly detest anyone.
Jean Valjean

Colm Wilkinson, who IS Jean Valjean
"If I die... let ME die... let him live... bring him home."
~Jean Valjean, Les Miserables (the musical) 

Jean Valjean's story is one of the most powerful I've ever read, and it is The Best Ever to be portrayed on stage.  "I will brook no argument."  Forgiveness and self-sacrifice are the themes of Valjean's life, and he displays them over and over and over again.  He reveals his true identity when another man is falsely accused in his place... he bears no grudge against the policeman who chased him down and hated him for years... he puts his own life in danger to protect the boy who loves his daughter... he eventually allows his daughter to leave him and be married, even though it breaks his heart.  (Tissues, anyone?)

Henry Tilney

"And this is a very nice day, and a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies.  Oh! it is a very nice word indeed.  It does for every thing."
~Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey (ch. 14)

Henry is hilariously witty-- definitely the funniest hero Miss Austen ever created, and therefore has to rank on my top ten list.  Naturally.  He also may or may not have been part of the inspiration for the hero in the novel I'm currently scribbling.  Henry is humorous, definitely, but he is also responsible, moral, fair and an excellent judge of muslin.  And, following Mr. Darcy's advice, he improves his mind with extensive reading--his hair standing on end the whole time, mind you.

Atticus Finch
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."
~Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

I discovered Harper Lee's classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird last summer, and though I've only read it once so far, I intend to read over again many, many times.  Atticus Finch exemplifies moral courage to me, and his integrity, sense of justice and willingness to fight for the right left me awed at the end of the book.  I realize that this character is a bit different from the other Classic Literature Club members ranking on my list, but I simply couldn't leave him out of the top ten.

And of course, I can't close this post without giving honorable mention to such literary greats as Roger Hamley, Johnny Tremain, Enjolras Whodoesn'thavealastname, Tommy Beresford, John Jarndyce, Nicholas Nickleby, Reginald Jeeves... shall I go on?  No, I'll spare you.   But now it's your turn-- head over to my sister's blog and leave her a link with your list of favorite heroes!

Note:  Please give due appreciation to the pictures in this post-- you have no idea how long it took me to get them all properly dragged into their proper places.  Blogger, I have decided, just plain hates me.

Keep Calm, I've Selected The Finalists

The Keep Calm contest has closed its doors to entries, and after much debate and delay and dillydallying, I've chosen five six finalists.  (I couldn't choose only five, I just couldn't.)  Thanks so much to everyone who entered, and a big shout-out to birdienl for providing a link to a Keep Calm image generator! Two of the finalist submissions were not made into images, so I used the image generator to create posters for those entries.  Thanks so much for the link, birdienl!

And now, the finalists are (in no particular order...)

Made by Jemimah C.

Created by Payton

Made by Maria Elisabeth

Created by Eowyn

Made by Rhoswen Faerie Wrose

Made by Jessica (Safirewriter)
Please vote in the poll on the right sidebar for your favorite!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I Have Just Met You, Now Let's Get Married

My favorite animated movie, hands down, would have to be Disney-Pixar's Up.  It's one of the sweetest stories ever, it's hilarious, the animation is stupendous, it's full of quotable lines and the characters are so very memorable.  Dug, the Talking Dog, ("but it's a TALKING DOG!") is probably my favorite character, and some of his lines are just plain hysterical.  Take this one for instance:

"I have just met you, and I love you."

Hmm.  You know, that line rings a bell with me somewhere.  It reminds me of several other Disney films, in fact. Cinderella, for instance, or Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Snow White... they're all stories about a prince and a princess (or a girl who eventually becomes a princess) who meet each other unexpectedly, gaze into each others' eyes, and fall in love just like that.  Bada-bing-bada-boom.

Wow.  That's incredibly romantic.  Amazingly so.  (You can decide for yourself whether I'm being sarcastic or not-- you'll know for sure by the time you reach the end of the post.)

And believe me, Disney isn't the only perpetrator of the whole love-at-first-sight thing.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a huge fan of musical theater, and a bordering-on-obsessive fan of the show based on Victor Hugo's classic Les Miserables.   Les Miz is not, strictly speaking, a romance story-- the main plot revolves around the life of a convict who was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread.  However, there is one major love triangle in the play, one that involves Marius Pontmercy, Cosette Fauchelevent, and Eponine Thenardier.  In brief, Eponine's in love with Marius, who has no idea that she's alive (well, okay, he knows she's alive, but it's an expression, y'all) and who falls in love with Cosette after bumping into her on a crowded street.

This is for Petie.  :D
You see what I mean about the hair, dear.
Yes, you read that right.  Bumping into her on a crowded street.  His first thrillingly romantic words to her? "I did not see you there... forgive me."  Her first thrillingly romantic words to him?  Well, they don't show up in that scene because she doesn't say anything.  Yep.  The first meeting of this star-struck (and I'm using that in the most literal sense) couple lasts about thirty seconds (if that!) and leaves them mooning and gooning their separate ways like a pair of... um... lovebirds.

When they finally do meet each other For Real, the ensuing song ("A Heart Full of Love") is quite romantic, but it leaves me feeling unaccountably giggly.  Marius sings, "...For shame, I do not even know your name! Dear mademoiselle, won't you say? Will you tell?"  Dude, if you're head-over-ears in love with her and THAT'S the first question you ask, you're doing something wrong.

Of course, Cosette and Marius do eventually end up together, and I may or may not have shed happy tears during the wedding scene, but all of that is beside the point.  Irrelevant.

And this one is for Anne Shirley-- take a look at those sleeves!
Then there's another of my recent musical-theater-discoveries, West Side Story.  Now, I have never been a fan of the Romeo and Juliet story (that is, until I saw the ballet, but that's another story for another time) and though I thoroughly enjoyed WSS and took some morbid pleasure in the tragically romantic ending, Maria and Tony bugged me to no end.  As a couple, that is.  Individually, they weren't so bad. But together?  This is how they met-- and please, if y'all would put on your Credibility Hats, it would make my explanation so much easier.

There was this dance, held at a gym in New York, which is irrelevant, and there were these feuding groups of Americans and Puerto Ricans, which IS relevant. There was this Puerto Rican girl named Maria who had never been to a dance before, which is irrelevant, and an Italian-American boy named Tony (or was he Polish-American? Irrelevant) who may or may not have been to a dance before, which is also irrelevant.  The Americans and the Puerto Ricans all attended the dance but refused to dance with each other, which is very relevant, and the long and short of it is that Tony and Maria bumped into each other during One Of Those Slow Dances, and by the time the music ended and the lights went up, they were kissing right there in the middle of the dance floor.  (And Maria's brother and Tony's best friend didn't exactly find this cute but that is irrelevant.)

Look! It's Rab Silsbee!
Oh, wait, wrong movie...
Actually, it's irrelevant that Bernardo and Riff didn't find it cute, but it's not at all irrelevant that *I* didn't find it cute, because that's my point in writing this post.  (This is where you decide that I am, in fact, not in favor of the whole love-at-first-glance deal.)  Here was a couple who literally knew nothing about each other yet decided that it was totally okay to "fall in love" and start kissing--I wish I were kidding, but I'm not--without even a proper introduction.  On what, may I ask, were they basing this so-called love?  On each other's character and integrity and personality?  Or on each other's looks?

Well, I ask you-- what can you learn about a person from looking at him or her for thirty seconds?  Not.  Very.  Much.  Except, perhaps, the fact that the person is or is not good-looking (which is a completely subjective thing, I might add).

Now, I'm no expert, but I say that that is not enough to base a romance upon.  I'm not a cynic.  I'm not saying that there is no such thing as love at first sight.  Well, okay, I am.  I'll rephrase that-- in the words of my dear blogging friend Alexandra, I believe in attraction at first sight in some (even many!) cases, but I do not think that it's possible or reasonable for any two people to really, truly fall in love based solely on outward appearances.

As my dear blogging friend Petie put it in her recent amazing post
"Listen, if you find a guy who loves the Lord with everything he has, loves you with unspeakable passion, and can blow you away not with his looks, but with his character and integrity, then the love you and he share will be far and above anything Hollywood can come up with."
And this, people, this is why I love Jane Austen's stories so very, very much.  (You knew I had to drag her in here somewhere, didn't you?  Didn't you?)  I am so much more pleased by a beautiful story like that of Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley (a slow process of learning from one's mistakes and coming to realize who truly matters to you) or that of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy (ditto) than I am by a silly tale of an unnamed guy who meets a girl by a wishing well and later saves her life by kissing her when he thinks she's dead. (Um, is it just me or is that a little bit creepy?)

I could go into another harangue about another couple whose romance does indeed begin with attraction at first sight but then develops into something much more beautiful, but I'll save that story for a post of its own.

(And for the record, I'm not bashing Disney-- in fact, their version of Beauty and the Beast has a message that's completely different from most of their trademark stories.  "Barely even friends, then somebody bends unexpectedly... bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong...")

But I am crrrrriticizing Marius and Cosette and Tony and Maria, even though crrrrrrriticizing isn't Chrrrrrristian.  Because I've become acquainted with far better stories than theirs, and if you don't believe me, go read Pride and Prejudice.  And you hereby have my permission to fall in love on the first page.

Because, you know, people and books are not at all the same thing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Keep Calm and Enter This Contest

I'm sure you all have seen some of the hilarious (and some of the not-so-hilarious) "Keep Calm And Do Such-And-Such" posters floating around the Internet in recent months.  For those of you who have been living under a rock (tell me, what's that like?) the Keep Calm posters are a spoof on a speech Winston Churchill made during WWII, in which he encouraged the people of Britain to "keep calm and carry on".  
There are dozens of funny spoofs on the Keep Calm and Carry On slogan out there right now, as I said, and recently I discovered a whole slew of Les-Miserables-related posters that had me in stitches.  Excellent advice there on the right, no?

And then of course there's the one I began the post with-- and then this one, below on the left. 

Frankly, I'm quite disappointed that there was nothing urging people to "Keep Calm and Wear a Red Vest Of Power" or "Keep Calm and Hold the Barricade" or "Keep Calm and Lift That Vegetable Cart" or even "Keep Calm and Hear the Distant Drums", but oh well.  

You can see the collection on this Tumblr page.

Oh, and for those of you who know your 10th Anniversary Dream Cast, you have my permission to squeal with delight over this one here on the right. :D Not that you need my permission to squeal with delight, but it sounds nice, right? (I don't have space to post all that I would like to share with you, but I can at least link to just one more-- if you're looking forward to the movie as much as I am, you'll get a kick out of it.)

At any rate, there are lots and lots of these Keep Calm posters with many different themes out there, but as I searched around I found a sad, sad lack of Jane Austen themed Keep Calms.  And that, my friends, is what has prompted the latest contest hosted by Yet Another Period Drama Blog.

You've all seen the poster below, I presume, but I hereby challenge you to think outside the box and come up with something a little more creative than this one.   

Think of your favorite lines from Sense and Sensibility, funny themes in Northanger Abbey, hilarious situations in Emma. And then hie thee to Picnik or FotoFlexer and make thyself a Keep Calm button! (If you do not know how to make a button, you may simply leave your Keep Calm phrase in the comments and I will duly enter it.) Need some examples?

  • Keep Calm and Restrict Your Remarks to the Weather
  • Keep Calm and Hop In The Pemberley Pond 
  • Keep Calm and Look Behind the Black Veil
  • Keep Calm and Play in F Major
  • Keep Calm and Don't Call Him Knightley
Extra kudos if you can identify all the Jane Austen books that those jokes come from.  The contest will close on Saturday at midnight, and on Monday I will put up a poll with the top five entries so you can all vote for your favorite.  Limit two entries per customer, please.  Either make yourself a button and leave me a link to the image URL, or simply leave your Keep Calm slogan in the comments as aforementioned.  (Be sure to say which Jane Austen book or film your joke comes from.)  I'm eagerly awaiting your hilarity! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

In Which Your 'Satiable Curiosity is Satiated

(Yes, random reference to Rudyard Kipling's The Elephant's Child in the title...)

This question thingy has been super-fun! Without ado (I haven't really ado'ed at all yet, so I can't say "without further ado"), here are the answers you've been waiting on tenterhooks for.  (Oh, and I have a question for you: what are tenterhooks?)

Ashley asked...

Outside of period drama, what are some of your loves?

Reading, writing, cooking/baking/cake decorating and bike riding are some of my favorite things to do.  And talking with friends is another favorite.  Singing with my siblings, also.  Loudly. :D

Top 5 favorite blogs?

(I'm not including my sister's blog on here because y'all know I love that one, and so that gives me an excuse to technically list six instead of five, since I just mentioned her blog. :D)

Regency Delight
Old-Fashioned Charm
Miss Georgiana Darcy
Of Trims and Frills and Furbelows
The Inkpen Authoress

(and there are tons and tons of other blogs that I absolutely love-- I just couldn't fit them all in a list of five!)

What are you currently reading?

I'm on the last chapter of David Copperfield, but it's been kinda on hold for the past month or so, so I really couldn't say I'm "currently reading" it.  So what I'm currently enjoying would be Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence series.  And I read my first Hercule Poirot novel this week and loved it.  I'm also currently dabbling in Northanger Abbey.  Sigh of pure happiness...

What movies have you yet to see, but wish to?

The Young Victoria, Sense and Sensibility 08, Night at the Museum, North and South and Cars.  (Yes, I happen to like Pixar movies.  Your point?) Oh, and of course Les Miserables 2012.

Have you ever been to a period drama ball, or some other gala affair that requires dressing up?

Ha, ha.  I wish! Nope, sorry, never have.

Rose M. asked...

Was there anything/anyone in particular that inspired you to blog?

Writing is my passion, so that was a given, and I really liked the idea of connecting with a community of like-minded people who enjoyed the same kinds of things that I enjoy.  And it just kinda... went from there.

What's your favorite thing to blog about?

Characters in books and movies.  I love studying people, and have been known to go into long-winded discourses about why I love or hate or have no sympathy for such-and-such character in such-and-such book/movie.

Where do you wish you lived?

I would love to live in a lighthouse on Prince Edward Island.  Pipe dream there.  Or else... the English countryside.  Yes.

In writing stories, what is the hardest part for you (introducing characters, etc.)?

Plot, definitely.  I have the most tremendous fun creating characters and writing dialogue for said characters, but when it comes to actually moving the story along... "it's a total mystery to me."  (Edmund Sparkler)

What do you say about the common advice about writing about what you know very well (the time you live in, where you live, etc.)?

Well, in actual fact, I'll be addressing this very topic quite soon at my brand-new writing blog, The Quest for Stories.  So why don't you all hop over there and start following (not like that's a hint or anything) so that you'll know right away when I write a post on that subject?

Charity asked...

Have you read Jane Eyre? Seen any movie versions? Read anything else by the Brontes?

I have indeed read Jane Eyre, and it's one of my favorite classic novels.  I haven't seen any movie versions yet, but I'd like to see the 2011 adaptation with Mia Ican'tspellherlastname and Michael Fassbender.  I've also read Wuthering Heights, which I despised (do not speak to me of that dreadful Heathcliff at this time) and I started Agnes Grey, but got bored with it.  I would like to read Villette at some point, though.

Why Miss Dashwood and not Miss Woodhouse or Bennet?

Because I identify more with Elinor Dashwood than any other Austen heroine, even Elizabeth Bennet (though I love Lizzy) and also because I wanted a username that wasn't already taken.  From the limited perusing I'd done of other period drama related blogs before I started my own, I knew that there were already a couple of Elizabeth Bennets and at least one Elinor Dashwood out there, so I decided to become the ambiguous Miss Dashwood.  Originally I had intended the name to apply to either Elinor or Marianne, but it didn't take me long to decide that I was Elinor after all.

Elinor Dashwood or Anne Elliot?

Elinor Dashwood, definitely.

"Favorite" villain? (yes, you're getting some of Miss Georgiana's questions -- I'm curious!)

I have a real soft spot for Frank Churchill of Emma, despite his bad qualities. And Inspector Javert from Les Miserables would probably have to be my very favorite-est villain ever.

Favorite period drama actors (up to three)?

Alun Armstrong, Romola Garai and Anthony Andrews.

Some favorite not Jane Austen books?

Wives and Daughters, Jane Eyre, Little Dorrit, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Not My Will, The Hiding Place, Two Are Better Than One, The Scarlet Pimpernel, El Dorado, The Elusive Pimpernel, Johnny Tremain, The Star of Kazan, The Penderwicks, The Secret Adversary, At Home in Mitford, North and South, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Eight Cousins, The Secret Garden... shall I go on? :D

Anne Shirley or Emma Woodhouse?

Anne Shirley.  Without a doubt.  Sorry, Emmer.

Somersaulting Through Life asked...

Which is your least favourite period drama adaptation ever?

I didn't care for Mansfield Park (1983), but I don't think there are any period dramas out there that I really truly dislike.  This is probably because I pick and choose my movies super-carefully, and don't like to watch anything unless I'm positive I'll like it! Persuasion (2007) was a real disappointment, too, but I don't know if I'd classify it as least favorite ever.

Are there any film/tv adaptations out there which you found more enjoyable than the original book? (likely to spark off a bit of controversy!)

Little Dorrit is better than the book.  And The Scarlet Pimpernel is better than the original book (the first one), simply because it combines elements of the two best books in the series. :D  And I would say that I enjoyed watching Emma (2009) more than I enjoyed reading the book, but I'm feeling the need to read the book again, so my opinion may change drastically in that respect.

Maria Elisabeth asked...

What are your opinions on poetry?

I'm really not much of a one for poetry.  There are some poems I like-- I was on a big poetry-memorizing kick in sixth and seventh grade, so classics like The Spider and the Fly, Barbara Frietchie and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere will always be close to my heart, but I'm not a romantic poetry gal.  Except for the classic  Sonnet 116, of course.  "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds..."  And The Highwayman.  "And he lay... in his blood on the highway... with a bunch of lace... at his throat."

Do you start your stories with knowing the plot pretty well, or do you find it out as you write?

Well, it depends... but I usually find it out as I write.  I generally begin with a premise and a few characters, and it goes from there... or doesn't go.  Depending. ;)  I'm horrible at plots.  I'm working on that.

What's your least favorite school subject?

Science.  Without a doubt.  Literature and history fascinate me, but science and math are not my strong points.  (Math isn't always as bad as science, though.  But of course once you get into chemistry, it's both combined.  Which is not fun.)

What's your candid opinion of Edmund Bertram?

He's boring, doesn't deserve Fanny and isn't really worthy of being an Austen hero.
Well, you did ask for my candid opinion.
(Oh boy, am I ever in for it now.)

Do you quote as much in real life as you do on your blog?

Heehee.  Well, you see, in our house we have a rule about not quoting movies at the table.  This is because dinner conversations would consist of nothing BUT movie quotes otherwise.  But the rule isn't very strictly enforced (except when someone remembers and virtuously reminds the others) so we quote... a lot.  But hey, don't worry about it-- because now I know about Buzz's Spanish mode!

Melody asked...

Would you rather marry Mr. Darcy or Mr. Tilney?

I think Henry Tilney and I would get along better than Mr. Darcy and I would... so I'll go with Mr. Tilney.  Besides, I shouldn't like to be mistress of Pemberley.  It's too big.
(I notice Mr. Knightley never even entered the question, but I guess that's because Melody already knows my opinion of him.)

If you had to write a sequel to a Jane Austen novel, which one would you choose?

Sense and Sensibility, I think.  Or Northanger Abbey.

Who do you consider yourself more like: Elinor Dashwood or Anne Shirley?

I'm probably more like Elinor-- I identify with Anne, but not as much as my sister does.

Will you be good enough to list the Jane Austen heroines from favorite to not-so-favorite? (Because really, none of them can be called "least favorite," right?)

(Well, I have a really hard time deciding between Lizzy and Elinor for the top spot, so I'll just put them there together.)
  • Elizabeth Bennet and Elinor Dashwood
  • Emma Woodhouse
  • Marianne Dashwood
  • Catherine Morland
  • Fanny Price
  • Anne Elliot
(And no offense to poor Anne-- as Melody said, I don't think any of them could be called "least favorite".)

Are there any particular phrases you come across in books that you find just plain irksome?

I hate it when an author talks about a hero's strong arms.  I don't know why, but this just annoys me to no end.  If you must mention his arms, fine, but do you need to keep reminding us how strong they are? Does it really matter?  It does not, unless he's actually in the act of wrestling a bear.   Someday I'm going to write a book with a hero who can't lift a toothpick.  And wrestles bears anyway.  Just to be different.

Abby asked...

What colour is your bedroom?

Pale pink, a shade that the paint store calls Fragrant Rose.

How tall are you?

Five feet, six inches.  If I stand up absolutely straight and breathe deeply.

What is your favourite chore? (or the one you dislike the least, anyway!)

I really enjoy vacuuming.  It's fun and it's a good opportunity to sing at the top of my lungs without anyone pounding on the wall in the next room because they can't hear themselves think.  And the roar of the vacuum masks any squeakiness in the end cadenza of Think of Me. :D

Do you have a favourite artist? If so, who is it?

I'm not much for art, but I really enjoy Norman Rockwell's paintings because they always seem to tell a story.  This one, this one and this one (I can identify with that experience) are some of my favorites.  I have this one hanging in my bedroom.

Which invention from the last 100 years do you think is the most brilliant?

The Internet's pretty amazing. :D

Eowyn asked...

How many siblings do you have?

Four--three sisters and one brother, all younger than I.  They are not all shorter than I, however.  'Nuff said.

Have you ever actually finished anything you've written (e.g. short stories, novels, etc)?

I've finished several short stories and a medium-length nonfiction book, but as yet I have never finished a novel.

Are you homeschooled?

I am indeed, and have been since I can remember.  I'm finishing eleventh grade right now, and I wouldn't trade the experience of being homeschooled for anything.

Eowyn and Lydia both asked...

Where do you live (in the US or someplace else)?

I live in the eastern United States, but I'm not going to get any more detailed than that for security reasons. :D

Charity and Eowyn both asked...

Any favorite not-period-drama movies? Unheard of question, I know...

Well, I really love musicals, but I'm not sure if they apply in this case, as I think you might have been referring to more modern-day films, but the fact is that I have seen very, very few movies that take place in present-day.  (Excluding animated films, of course---which I do love.)  I really enjoy Roman Holiday--does that count?

Charity and Maria Elisabeth both asked...

What inspired your blog name? What made you call this blog 'Yet Another Period Drama Blog' instead of, well, anything else?

You would not believe how many names I considered and rejected when starting this blog... but finally, after what seemed like eons of staring at the Blogger page and mindlessly tapping my fingers on my desk, I decided to simply call it "yet another period drama blog" simply because I knew there were already so many blogs in this genre.  I was originally going to call it "yet another Jane Austen blog", actually, but I decided to change Jane Austen to period drama because this blog isn't exclusively made up of Janeite material.  It isn't exclusively period drama material, either, but hey, poetic blogger license here.

Whew! That was a lot of questions, but I had a lot of fun doing that.  If there was anything I skipped over or missed, shout out in the comments, please.  And don't forget to check out my writing blog.  No, I'm not hinting.  I'm not.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April Snippets of Story

Time for Snippets of Story again.  I'm getting way too much fun out of this--and I can't wait to read all of your snippets too! Don't forget to stop by Katie's blog, Whisperings of the Pen, to link up.

(The Very Astute among you may guess that the last three snippets, all from my currently untitled Work In Progress, all come from the same scene.  This is because that scene is one of only two that I've written so far for that story, and the said scene amuses me so immensely that I couldn't help sharing, well, a lot of it.)

“I have never been employed before,” said Elizabeth.
“No?” Mrs. Leopold’s caterpillar-like eyebrows drew together in a disapproving frown. “Dear Eloise recommended you highly. I had thought perhaps you had previously been dear Lavinia’s governess. Though I must admit your extreme youth has caused me to retract THAT opinion.”
Elizabeth did not feel that her youth was extreme, or that any measure of youth was a monstrous crime against humanity, but she prudently said nothing.
~Only a Novel

Elizabeth cast about in her mind as to whether it would be simpler to sit upon the dress to hide it or put the nearby bowl of potatoes on top of it. Neither seemed a practical solution, and besides Rodney must have noticed the dress by now. Indeed, he looked as if he were on the point of making a remark about it. She could only hope that he could be prevailed upon not to mention the dress to Mercy.
“Much obliged. What’s this on the table? Hmmm. I should have known what would happen if Mrs. Ingle left you in charge of supper, Jenny. This—” he lifted one sleeve—“will be delicious with buttered potatoes. Indubitably.”
~Only a Novel

The dress looked even lovelier when she spread it out on the bed. In Lavinia’s gorgeously decorated bedroom it had been just another conglomeration of velvet and lace, but here in the starkness of Elizabeth’s room it fairly shone in contrast. The crimson of the skirt was such a comforting color that Elizabeth thought it might almost be warm to the touch. She touched it. It wasn’t.
~Only a Novel

“When you cook with onions, it’s like using a silent E,” said Maeve. “You know it’s there, but it doesn’t assert itself. It just strengthens the sound—or the taste—and gives the word—uh, dish—a new… a new… taste.”
“Poetic,” said Ismelda.
“Thank you.”
~It's Thursday Again

“Piffle,” said Lavinia. “It will do you no harm to have a few nice dresses. And I beg you, Lizzie, don’t talk of such vulgar things as cost. I care not how much I pay for a dress, so long as it is good quality, and if I choose to make you a present of a dress, what business is it of yours?”
But Elizabeth won in the end, and Lavinia sighed. “I do not know what to do with you,” she said. “You are certainly the most trying friend I have ever known. If I didn’t think you were the dearest girl in the world, I would have nothing to do with you, you know, Lizzie.”
Elizabeth knew.
“Ah, well,” said Lavinia. “How do you think this color would look on me? If I cannot make you a present out of this dress, I am resolved not to be cheated out of the pleasure of buying it for myself, at least.”
~Only a Novel

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.
~Only a Novel

“I have never been to a ball,” said Elizabeth. She was not sure if she would like it or not, but she could not help being excited. Grandmother had never let her go to balls.
“Hush,” scolded Lavinia. “My dear Lizzie, you must not speak so loudly of your misfortunes. People will think you are no better than a guttersnipe.”
“My dearest creature, of course I do not think you are a guttersnipe, but Lady Judith Meriwether Fagles may if you do not take care. Now, as it is nearly eight and we are requested to come at eight, we must be on our way.”
~Only a Novel

“What’s wrong with you?” Maeve demanded.
“Everything,” said Ismelda, kicking at a harmless rock.
“What do you mean, everything?”
“Well, to say that every thing is wrong is just as much a lie as to say that nothing is wrong. And you may as well be hung for an everything as a nothing.”
“I think it’s going to rain,” said Freddie, who had stopped listening five minutes ago.
~It's Thursday Again

“Heartless villains are so run-of-the-mill,” said Phoebe, chewing the end of her pencil the way she always told Freddie not to.
~It's Thursday Again

Where Lady Fagles was all harrumphing and supercilious camel-like expressions of the face, Mrs. Wakenshaw was all chirping and twittering and fluttering feathers.
 “Miss Bancroft, don’t you think Miss Markette will like Lieutenant Scarborough? He is quite distinguished—soon to be promoted, we hope—and he is not married,” she hastened to add.
 Lavinia gave Elizabeth another eloquent look. Apparently these ladies were not at all subtle in their attempts to marry off this Lieutenant Scarborough.
 “I am sure Miss Markette will like Lieutenant Scarborough,” Mrs. Wakenshaw persisted hopefully.
~Only a Novel

“Well, then, why, please?” Emily was not to be distracted by string beans.
Mr. Rochester handed Alice the pepper. “Because I see absolutely no purpose in teenage girls going out on so-called dates with teenage boys. Especially when neither party is old enough to drive or possess a car. Which, I might add, is the case with you and Frank Whittaker. Moreover, teenage boys are, in general, idiots and I do not care to have my daughter keeping company with an idiot. Which, I might add—but shall not for fear of offending—might be an apt way to describe the young man in question—i.e., Frank Whittaker.”
“Why Daddy, you said just last week that you thought Frank was a very nice boy.”
“I do not deny it. However, idiocy and niceness are not necessarily isolated characteristics—as life will teach you all too quickly, I fear.” Mr. Rochester gave a sad, solemn shake of his head. He was enjoying himself immensely.
~Untitled W.I.P.

“Daddy, do you mean that I need to wait four years to go to the movies with Frank? I’ll be nineteen!”
“Movies will be obsolete by the time Em’s nineteen,” put in Mark, snickering. “We’ll all be going to supersonic atom-blasting theaters that project the story right into viewers’ heads.”
Emily kicked him under the table and looked to her father.
“A fine and sensible age,” said Mr. Rochester, ignoring Mark’s comment. “Yes, nineteen is a splendid age. Almost out of the danger zone, though of course not quite. Your Uncle Ned broke his right arm at the age of nineteen after riding his bicycle backward down our driveway with his eyes shut. An excellent example of my previous point regarding the mental capacity of teenage boys. Alice, these mashed potatoes are superb. Are these our own chives?”
~Untitled W.I.P.

“Then I suppose I’ll have to tell Frank I can’t go.” Emily, who was (as aforementioned) not the drippy type, was also not the type to bewail her losses. She took a pragmatic sip of milk.
“I suppose you shall,” agreed Mr. Rochester, “but if you care to pull a Bartleby the Scrivener and would prefer not to, I will be happy to perform the hated task myself. Do you think that I might look more harsh and forbidding and properly like a stern guardian if I wore my horn-rimmed spectacles during my little chat with Frank, the hopeful suitor? I believe they’re in the attic somewhere—I can easily fish them out if you think they’ll aid me in the part.”
~Untitled W.I.P.