Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On Re-reading S&S

I’ve decided that, starting now, when I re-read a Jane Austen novel I’ll write a post in which I can ramble on about my thoughts: things that have particularly caught my attention this time around, etc. And quotes. Preferably ones I haven't already gone over in the past, but I’m sure it’s possible that a few of those could wheedle their way in.

Now, I already read Emma a second time for school last year, so I’ll have to hit that one on the third re-read. But I have just finished reading Sense and Sensibility for the second time. I realized that my reading list this year did not have one single thing by Jane Austen, and that is unheard of. So I fixed that. And now I am going to start talking about it—quite unsystematically: you are forewarned. (It is also assumed that if you read this post you already know the story. If you don't, you can read my original post about it.)

The first several chapters of the book seem to rush events along (much faster, say, than the movies do), and I’ve noticed that you can’t really get to know Edward Ferrars until much later in the book. All you know is that Elinor thinks very highly of him, greatly esteems him, likes him, etc. and that Marianne does not quite approve of him as a lover, but you learn by and by that she has a very high regard for him despite his not being animated by Cowper.

I noticed this last time too—if there could be only one heroine in S&S, it would be Elinor. The narrative always stays with her, and you get much more of her thoughts than Marianne’s. You know a lot of Marianne just because they’re sisters, it would seem. (Although the same doesn’t hold true for poor Margaret—you know hardly anything of her. But at least she is there. At LEAST she is THERE, people who made the 1971 and 1981 mini-series…) Then I wondered, is Jane Bennet just as much of a Jane Austen heroine as Marianne Dashwood? I did not like this idea one whit. It was dreadful. I love Marianne and want desperately for her to be one of the heroines. Jane… no, Miss Bennet just can’t be one of the heroines. She’s the older sister of the heroine, and that’s that. But then I remembered that first version, the epistolary novel started by Miss Austen when she was around twenty, was called Elinor and Marianne and that soothed me a great deal. If she called it that, it is obviously about both of them. Still, it does focus more on Elinor than Marianne.

My favorite quote of the novel, and at least in the top three of my favorite Jane Austen quotes in general, is Marianne’s—
“[T]he more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!”
It has always suited my own sentiments so well, it may as well be something I wrote myself… but delightful that it’s not, because it’s so marvelous to express exactly what you mean by quoting Jane Austen. (I was thinking the other day, wouldn’t it be terribly amusing to be in a Jane Austen Quote Bee, or competition of some sort? I would probably fail and be kicking myself for ages afterwards at not being able to pull the right quote to the front of my head in time, but I think it would be great fun.)

Another thing this time around—Marianne might be a lot less like me than I thought she was before. I think that the movies change her quite a bit…and really, you don’t get as much of a chance to get to know her as you do Elinor. (Um, sorry if I seem to be repeating myself.) I can’t really explain how she’s unlike me—that’s a lot harder than explaining how she is—but there were times where I’d be thinking “Really, Marianne? You should not have said that. No, no, don’t do that, silly girl!” know what I mean. Well, maybe you don’t. But anyways.

And then there were other times that feel like “Hahaha, that is me, right there…” At the end of chapter five, for instance. I can see myself doing this.
“Dear, dear Norland!” said Marianne, as she wandered alone before the house, on the last evening of their being there; “when shall I cease to regret you!—when learn to feel at home elsewhere!—Oh! happy house, could you know what I suffer in now viewing you from this spot, from whence perhaps I may view you no more!”
Of course, not quite in that language and all, but… ;-)

And then there are those conversations she’s in that just make me laugh.
    “Aye, aye, I see how it will be,” said Sir John, “I see how it will be. You will be setting your cap at him now, and never think of poor Brandon.”
    “That is an expression, Sir John,” said Marianne, warmly, “which I particularly dislike. I abhor every common-place phrase by which wit is intended; and ‘setting one’s cap at a man,’ or ‘making a conquest,’ are the most odious of all. Their tendency is gross and illiberal; and if their construction could ever be deemed clever, time has long ago destroyed all its ingenuity.”
    Sir John did not much understand this reproof; but he laughed as heartily as if he did, and then replied,
    “Ay, you will make conquests enough, I dare say, one way or other. Poor Brandon! he is quite smitten already, and he is very well worth setting your cap at,”—I can just see Marianne’s face there—“I can tell you, in spite all this tumbling about and spraining of ankles.”

And the delightful Elinor-and-Marianne-ness.

    “I do not attempt to deny,” said [Elinor], “that I think very highly of him—that I greatly esteem him, that I like him.”
    Marianne here burst forth with indignation:
    “Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh! worse than cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise. Use those words again, and I will leave the room this moment.”
    Elinor could not help laughing. “Excuse me,” said she; “and be assured that I meant no offence to you, by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings.”

    “But how is your acquaintance to be long supported, under such extraordinary dispatch of every subject for discourse? You will soon have exhausted each favourite topic. Another meeting will suffice to explain his sentiments on picturesque beauty, and second marriages, and then you can have nothing further to ask.”
    “Elinor,” cried Marianne, “is that fair? is that just? are my ideas so scanty? But I see what you mean. I have been too much at my ease, to happy, too frank. I have erred against every common-place notion of decorum; I have been open and sincere where I ought to have been reserved, spiritless, dull and deceitful—had I talked only of the weather and the roads, and had I spoken only once in ten minutes, this reproach would have been spared.”

    “And how does dear, dear Norland look?” cried Marianne.
    “Dear, dear Norland,” said Elinor, “probably looks much as it always does at this time of year. The woods and walks thickly covered with dead leaves.”
    “Oh,” cried Marianne, “with what transporting sensation have I formerly seen them fall! How I have delighted, as I walked, to see them driven in showers about me by the wind! What feelings have they, the season, the air altogether inspired! Now there is no one to regard them. They are seen only as a nuisance, swept hastily off, and driven as much as possible from the sight.”
    “It is not every one,” said Elinor, “who has your passion for dead leaves.”

Margaret, as I said, is a great deal ignored. When she has any part in the story is usually because she is divulging something about her sisters’ romances. My favorite has to be this… it’s dreadful, but funny:
    “Oh! pray Miss Margaret, let us know all about it,” said Mrs. Jennings. “What is the gentleman’s name?”
     “I must not tell, ma’am. But I know very well what it is; and I know where he is too.”
    “Yes, yes, we can all guess where he is; at his own house at Norland to be sure. He is the curate of the parish I dare say.”
    “No, that he is not. He is of no profession at all.”
    “Margaret,” said Marianne with great warmth, “you know that all this is an invention of your own, and that there is no such person in existence.”
    “Well, then, he is lately dead, Marianne, for I am sure there was such a man once, and his name begins with an F.”

Edward Ferrars. I like him. He is NOT boring. No indeed. I sometimes get annoyed with him when he acts mope-ish, but at least he had a reason. And he has a sense of humor. People who think he is boring have only to understand one thing: Edward Ferrars is not Hugh Grant.
Do you know, my favorite Edward moments are, interestingly enough, when he is conversing with Marianne.
    “It is a beautiful country,” [Edward] replied; “but these bottoms must be dirty in winter.”
    “How can you think of dirt, with such objects before you?”
    “Because,” replied he, smiling, “among the rest of the objects before me, I see a very dirty lane.”
    “How strange!” said Marianne to herself as she walked on.

And then the general favorite of Edward’s defenders…
    “And yet two thousand a-year is a very moderate income,” said Marianne. “A family cannot well be maintained on a smaller. I am sure I am not extravagant in my demands. A proper establishment of servants, a carriage, perhaps two, and hunters, cannot be supported on less." ...
    “Hunters!” repeated Edward, “but why must you have hunters?” (It is a certain breed of horses.) “Every body does not hunt.”
    Marianne coloured as she replied, “But most people do.”
Then, another evening after Edward hears about Willoughby, he brings the conversation back up—
    “I have been guessing. Shall I tell you my guess?”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Shall I tell you?”
    “Well then; I guess that Mr. Willoughby hunts.”

Now for something I rarely touch when discussing anything to do with Jane Austen—Things That Annoyed Me.
One is Elinor, after Willoughby comes to “apologize.” She is WAY too sympathetic. It Drives Me Nuts. And get this:
But her promise of relating it to her sister was invariably painful. She dreaded the performance of it, dreaded what its effect on Marianne might be; doubted whether after such an explanation she could ever be happy with another; and for a moment wished Willoughby a widower.
Really? Really, Elinor? EERRMMM. How could you even THINK such a thing? After Willoughby’s horrible past, that thought should never have crossed your mind. It is your duty to detest the fellow. DO IT.

And then the thing that disturbed me. I hate to admit that anything Jane Austen could disturb me, but so it is.
Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her own conduct, her most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in life as seventeen, and with no sentiments superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntarily give her hand to another!”
No. No, no, no. That simply cannot mean that Marianne was not in love with Colonel Brandon when she married him. It CAN’T mean that. It just means… um… that she didn’t feel the head-over-heels-in-love, burning passion she always imagined? Which, of course, passes away. That she loved Col. Brandon more maturely. That must be it.

It must be.

This bit soothed me a little—“Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.”
But it still says “in time”… bah. I prefer to draw my own conclusions, since a great deal of their relationship is left up to the imagination anyhow.

Moving on. Actually, I haven’t much more to say. Except that I've recently enjoyed listening to some songs from the S&S Musical. I rather thought I would disapprove of any Jane Austen musical, but I did enjoy several of the songs, and have come to the conclusion that that one seems to be an interesting interpretation. Not a representation, of course. Just for people who already know the story, and preferably have read the book. My favorite song was in the spot where Marianne is ill, sung by Elinor. It was so delightfully heart-wrenching. Heehee.

I’m done rambling now, so I’ll just finish this off with a quote.

“[T]hough a very few hours spent in the hard labor of incessant talking will dispatch more subjects than can really be in common between to rational creatures, yet with lovers it is different. Between THEM no subject is finished, no communication is even made, till it has been made at least twenty times over.”

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Very First Author Interview

It gives me much delight, ladies and--er--girls, to bring you an interview with the beloved author Amy Dashwood. (Usually "beloved author" refers more to an author's work than the author themselves, and in this case I mean more of the latter, since the former is at this time unknown to most. But I would definitely say it's accurate either way.) I had the very great pleasure of proudly seeing this young lady through a good portion the writing of her novel, and now that it's actually published I've been so excited one might think it was mine or something. So I can only imagine how excited she must have been. :D Okay, I'm going off on a rabbit trail there. Forgive me. Anyways, when my dearest Miss Dashwood announced that she was planning a "blog tour" for Only a Novel, I never even considered the option of not hosting her on my blog. Unless she refused my invitation. Which, of course, she did not. So here we are, and now that I've talked your head off, we can proceed!

What was the most difficult/trying thing about writing your novel?
Gack.  There were a lot of those.  Um... probably the biggest one was description.  I have a really hard time with description, and as you may have noticed, OAN doesn't have a whole lot of it.  Another difficult thing, odd as it may seem, was figuring out where to put the chapter breaks. :P

And since I do occasionally touch the optimistic side--what was the most enjoyable thing about it?
Writing dialogue.  I adore writing dialogue.  Especially when Lavinia was around--that was swellissimus.  And writing Elizabeth and Lavinia's letters to each other was fun too.

Tell us about your pseudonym.
Well, my real name is actually Amelia ----.  (Did you really think I was going to put my real last name up here?  :P) I was nicknamed Amy when I was a baby, and that's what most people call me.  When I first started blogging, I chose the name "Miss Dashwood" as a pseudonym because I didn't want my real name on the Internet.  (I had originally intended to use "Miss Elizabeth Bennet", but lo and behold, that one was already taken.  Hi, Miss Elizabeth, if you're reading this!)  Then, later, my parents gave me permission to reveal my first name, and most of the people who read my blog started just calling me Amy.  When I was preparing OAN for publication, I decided to use my blogging pseudonym as the name that would appear on the book, because you suggested it.  :D And plus, I knew there was a chance some of my blog readers would buy the book, and I wanted to be able to promote it on my blog without revealing that my last name is really Wigglewump.  (Oops.)

Well, Miss Wigglewump, what made you choose the particular time era of your book (early 1880s)?
Heehee.  Funny story here.  I knew that my heroine, Elizabeth, had to have some reason for being left destitute after her grandmother died (because she had to have some reason for getting a job as a governess, you know).  It didn't seem very practical to say that her grandparents just spent all their fortune on bubble gum and left Elizabeth with no inheritance.  So I did a little research and found that there had been an economic depression in the mid-to-late 1870's, following the collapse of the Vienna Stock Exchange in 1873.  Bingo-- I set my story eight years after the Exchange collapse, and Elizabeth had a perfect reason to be penniless.

Delightful! I never did know that. Something else I've been wondering: did you see the actress Romola Garai as your character Lavinia before or after you started writing her?
They were almost simultaneous occurrences, really.  I wanted to create a friend for Elizabeth, someone who could help her get settled in England and give her a taste of society, so to speak.  So I invented Lavinia Solange Vivian Bancroft on a day when I had very little time to write and a lot of words to accomplish.  I was writing as fast as I could, and dashed out Lavinia's first scene like the hounds were after me.  As I was writing, I kept seeing in my mind a picture of Romola Garai in costume as Gwendolen Harleth (from Daniel Deronda 2002), and it just seemed to fit Lavinia so perfectly that I decided to cast Miss Garai as Lavinia from that day forward.

Did any of your characters change at all after you'd found actors to suit your idea of what they should look like?
Rodney did, in fact.  :D Originally, he was supposed to be JJ Feild (who played Henry Tilney in the 2007 NA adaptation).  But that face didn't seem quite right, and I was racking my brains for someone else when I hit upon Anthony Howell, who played Roger Hamley in Wives and Daughters.  After that, Rodney stopped being a goofball and started just being... a nice, funny person.  I'll admit, I rewrote all those early scenes he was in.  :D  No one saw those but myself, and I'd like to keep it that way.  He was AWFUL in the beginning.  Incredibly annoying.

Ha! Now I am curious about the original Rodney. So, a bit of spontaneity here--which minor character in your book is the minorest of all? That is, who appears the least or has the littlest significance?
Probably Mr. Poplar, a guest at Mrs. Crimp's dinner party in chapter nine.  We know nothing of him except that he was educated at Eton and looks like a sleepy walrus.  I stuck him in so that there would be other guests at the dinner party beside the principal characters. :P

Ah yes, I remember him! I also remember picturing this old guy from Our Mutual Friend (1998). ;-) Now, what about your heroine is the most unlike yourself?
The fact that she was very good at geometry.  :D

That made me laugh. A lot. Do you plan on participating in National Novel Writing Month in the future? If so, when?
I don't think I'll be participating this year, because it interfered with school too much last year.  But hopefully I'll be able to do it in 2013, once I've graduated (eeeep!).

I'm hoping to do that one of these years. What are you currently writing? "Does genius burn," as they ask Jo in Little Women?
Genius doesn't burn, but inspiration does. For me, that is. :D  I'm currently scribbling out ideas for three stories: a happy-feely summertime tale of a girl who goes to spend her vacation with her rather unusual cousins (The Rochesters), a slightly off-the-wall mystery set in a boardinghouse populated with hilarious people who don't get along too well (The Butterwick Boardinghouse Detectives) and the story of a girl caring for her blind sister and getting tangled up with a group of oddly heretical tinker-travelers in the countryside of 13th century France (The Color of the Sky).  The Rochesters and The Color of the Sky are very tentative titles right now... I haven't yet hit upon just the right names.

What is your favorite writing quote? Wait, I know how much you adore quotes. Favorite three, then. Oh fine, you can list up to five, if you like.
Thank you muchly for not limiting it to one.  You know me well, m'dear. :D I'm going to cheat and kind of list six-- that is, I'll give you five and then provide you with a link to my blog (ta-da!) where you can read one of my favorites in the header.  :D
As for the other five (and I'm not quoting Jane Austen here, because her quotes are ALL my favorites)...
  • Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.
~Louis L'Amour
  • Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
    ~Anton Chekhov
  • The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.
    ~Agatha Christie
  • When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: "House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day."
    ~Neil Gaiman
  • But this I know; the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master--something that at times strangely wills and works for itself. He may lay down rules and devise principles, and to rules and principles it will perhaps for years lie in subjection; and then, haply without any warning of revolt, there comes a time when it will no longer consent.
~Charlotte Brontë

Oh, I love that Agatha Christie one. On to the next--what time of the day is your best, writing-wise?
Evenings.  Sometimes mornings, before breakfast, too.  But mostly evenings, because in the mornings I have so many other things that need to be done.  The only problem is that I'll often get on a roll in the evenings and not want to stop and go to bed.  Then when I finally do go to bed, I have trouble going to sleep because my mind's still racing over whatever I was writing about.  Ah well, such is the life of a writer.  "A writer never has a vacation.  For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing."  (Eugene Ionesco)  Oops.  There was another quote, and you didn't even say I could.  Oh well, "if I am a wild Beast I cannot help it.  It is not my own fault."  Accck, there I go again.  I'll shut up now.  I promise.

I know what you mean about writing before bed. ;-) Have you ever entered any (fictional) writing competitions?
Well, Rachel over at The Inkpen Authoress hosted a Valentine-themed short story contest back in February of this year.  I entered that (and won! What fun!), but other than that haven't entered any other fiction contests that I can remember.  :D

What has surprised you the most, or been the most unexpected, during your "crazy-wild road trip," as you put it in a post on your writing blog?
Hmmm.  That's a toughie.  Well, I'm always surprised by the ease or difficulty with which my writing flows.  I never know when it's going to love me or hate me.  Sometimes the words just pour out and I sit back afterwards and think, "Wow, did I write THAT?" and sometimes it's like drilling concrete with a toothpick.  And the worst of it is that I never know which one will come each day.  :D


Thank you very much, dearest Miss Dashwood, for gracing us today with your illustrious presence! Everyone, be sure to check out her book! I highly recommend it. :)
Yet Another Period Drama Blog
"Miss Amy Dashwood is a daughter of the King of Kings, a homeschooled seventeen-year-old and a lover of books, period dramas, chocolate, long bike rides, babies, teacups, historical costumes and fiddle music.  Only a Novel, her first full-length work of fiction, chronicles a year in the life of Elizabeth Markette, a young woman with a head full of books who takes on a job as a governess after the death of her grandmother.  Only a Novel is available for purchase on Amazon, and you can find Amy at either of her two blogs, Yet Another Period Drama Blog and The Quest for Stories."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Last Week's Riddle Game

Well, all thirteen of you who guessed were quite right! 'Twould seem the riddle was not very difficult. Well, maybe I'll think up something difficult for next time. ;)

The answer to the riddle was the 'favorite things' in the song "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music. I would put a picture of the scene, but I'm afraid I don't want to bother. Horrid, aren't I?
Hmm, perhaps I should have been more cryptic and put pictures of the things Maria mentioned before she started singing...

A Daughter of the King
Miss Dashwood
Miss Woodhouse
Maria Elisabeth
Payton Wilson
Lily of the Valley
Scullery Maid
Margaret Hale
Miss Laurie

Many thanks to everyone who played!! Now I must know, were there any of you out there who saw the riddle and couldn't figure it out?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Game: A Riddle In Pictures

The inspiration for this came to me a while back, and I thought about suggesting it to Miss Laurie for her weekly games, but then thought, why not do it on my own blog? Because I've never done anything like this, that's why.

But there's always a first time. Besides, people evidently like "random" things. They certainly use the word enough.

So anyways. This is to be a Wordless Riddle. I'm going to have a sequence of pictures here, and you have to Figure It Out. What, exactly, you're supposed to be figuring out, will remain a mystery unless and until you do. And until the Answer post.

To play: Look at the pictures... I'm not saying to what they are related. Then leave your guess in a comment, which I won't publish yet, but will answer to let you know whether or not you're right.

I'll have the riddle up until July 15th, when I will post either the answers and winners or another post with a hint or two. I have no idea how easy or hard this will be for you all, but I'm curious to find out! I'm thinking a lot of you will get it, but we'll see.

I do not wish to be labeled a pirate (although according to Margaret Dashwood in the 1995 version of S&S, piracy is our only option), so after the answer has been revealed, I will link here to where I got all the pictures from, in order from first to last.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

7-15-12: View answer here.

Would you rather hear the story...

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