Archive for the ‘Victorian Literature’ Category


I’ll confess, I don’t read much of Other People’s Fiction these days.  I watch some movies, but I rarely sit down and read because if I have the choice between OPF and MOF (My Own Fiction), MOF wins.

Woman Reading (Kuroda Seiki)

Woman Reading (Kuroda Seiki) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, I love my Kindle and the ability to download samples.  So when I’m in the doctor’s office or somewhere else where I have ten minutes to sit, I scroll through my list of OPF and skim.  Most samples are entertaining for 5 to 10 pages, but I have no desire to finish the book.

Yesterday I came across What You Wish For by Catherine Winchester.  It was a Lost- in- Austen-esque version of North and South with a modern girl meeting Mr. Thornton.  What’s not to like about that?  As with Lost in Austen, there were a few things that I would have written differently, but that’s the case with most books I read.  I continually edit in my mind.  However, it was a fun escape and I thought she captured the essence of many of the characters in the original novel, but also made them her own creations.   Fun.

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From richardarmitagenet.com

I’ve been reading some fun blogs about the difference between love in fiction and love in real life.

Since I’m working on a novel right now in which the main character (like me) likes Darcy, Thornton and Rochester a little too much, it has been on my mind.

In my not so humble opinion, a good romance is realistic.  There are enough “men are from mars” type insights in Pride and Prejudice, North and South, and Jane Eyre to make those male characters ring true emotionally.  Of course, they may be richer and better looking than the men at the grocery store, at church, or at work but underneath the fictional glitz, they really are men — and that’s why those books are so popular today.

Or am I just deluding myself?

One of the interesting blogs:



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English: Detail of C. E. Brock illustration fo...

English: Detail of C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Chapter 56) showing Elizabeth Bennet outdoors in “walking dress”, with bonnet and parasol. Français : Détail d’une illustration de C. E. Brock pour l’édition de 1885 de Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Women in Jane Austen‘s time took walks.   Elizabeth Bennett walks to Netherfield and her muddy skirt provides an interesting topic of conversation.  I particularly enjoy the A&E film version of Pride and Prejudice because it emphasizes Elizabeth walking.

Jane Fairfax also walks — to get away from an awkward social situation and have time to think — by herself.  I love the BBC Emma with the wonderful Olivia Williams  saying something about the joys of being alone.

Margaret Hale in the BBC North and South is a stalwart walker, although her surroundings are grim — all those tombstones!  Also, I worry about her lungs and wonder how long any of them will live in that polluted environment.  And then there is John Thornton’s walk before he proposes.   Richard Armitage does a great job of expressing his character’s angst, while walking.

Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Georgette Heyer‘s Venetia walks — without a chaperone — and has the good misfortune to run into the hero.

Maria in Sound of Music has one of the most beautiful walking scenes at the beginning of the movie.

I love to walk and if I can’t walk outside, I’ve been known to pace around my house.  But outside is best, and I realize that lately I’ve been cooped up too much.  I need to walk.  Walking helps me to work out my problems and be at peace.

And here’s the quote that prompted this blog post.

“I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.”  — Noel Coward.

Related articles

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Dancing can be incredibly romantic.

Today I was thinking about the sweet scene in the movie Miss Potter when the heroine dances with her book editor/publisher and everyone knows that they are falling in love.

And that made me think about Anna and the King of Siam in THE KING AND I.  What an incredible romantic rush their dance was.

Many of the Jane Austen adaptations include dance sequences as well (because they’re in the novels).   This works dramatically because the characters are in a confined social setting (the dance) where they are touching for a certain length of time.  And if they actually talk, their conversation can be more emotionally vulnerable because of that physical closeness.  I particularly liked the dance scene in the newer Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightley.

In books, I love the Richard Armitage narration of Sylvester by Georgette Heyer and the description of a particularly tense scene on a dance floor.  Richard Armitage did such a lovely job of narrating, it was easy to imagine the characters in my mind, as if I were watching a film.

What is your favorite romantic dance?

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English: Wedding cake

English: Wedding cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is something wonderfully romantic about weddings.  Two people making a serious, legal commitment to love each other and take care of each other.  I’m in the middle of a manuscript that has a wedding (no big surprise there) and I’m thinking about some of my favorite weddings in books and film.   Many spoilers below….

♫ 'How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria?' ♫

♫ ‘How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria?’ ♫ (Photo credit: marragem)

Sound of Music.  Beautiful wedding scene — great dress, great church — until they sing, “How do you solve a problem like Maria??? ” I always thought that was weird.  And funny.

Pride and PrejudiceColin Firth finally kissing Jennifer Ehle after the minister marries the two couples and the camera cuts to a sour faced Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  Great stuff.

It’s a Wonderful Life.  George Bailey getting married in the rain.  Mary’s grumpy mother watching it all and crying because she doesn’t want Mary to marry George.

Runaway Bride.  Although I’m not sure all those fantastically overdone almost-weddings count.  But they’re fun.  I loved her escaping in the FedEx truck.

Jane Eyre.   The absolute best almost-wedding, ever.  Great in the book and all the film versions.

Scarlet Pimpernel (Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour version)  Great scene when Percy discovers on his wedding day that his wonderful wife sent people to the guillotine.   My favorite scene with Anthony Andrews.  Give me a heartbroken, angsty handsome man who must hide his feelings.  I love it.

Cropped screenshot of Myrna Loy from the trail...

Cropped screenshot of Myrna Loy from the trailer for the film The Best Years of Our Lives. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Best Years of Our Lives.  Sweet, sweet wedding, which reminds us of what true love is.  And I will say again that I want to be Myrna Loy when I grow up.

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I know what I’m doing.

I’m going to be watching North and South with everyone else this weekend.  I don’t know how to tweet yet, but I am going to escape into one of my favorite worlds.   To misquote one of my favorite movies (Sabrina 1995), “Thornton is always a good idea.”

If you don’t own it already, you can watch it on Netflix.

To read more about it, check out www.rafrenzy.com

Source: richardarmitagenet.com

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10.  John Thornton.  John Thornton is a fascinating, romantic character.  He is a wise business man, who has overcome poverty through his hard work and now wants to improve himself through education.  I admire his practicality in hiring the Irish workers, and I admire his stand against the strikers.  He accepts responsibility for his actions and lives within his own moral code.

He has a loving, respectful relationship with his mother.  They are open and honest about how they feel, the troubles with the business, and Thornton’s growing attraction for Margaret.  I like the sense of humor they share. 

Thornton loves Margaret, even when he thinks that she will never love him.  He proposes, believing that she will refuse him.  And after she has refused him, he still brings fruit to her mother, and shows up at the funeral, asking if he can help.  And best of all, he helps in the criminal investigation, when he thinks that she has been foolish.  He just won’t give up his love, even when she gives him no hope. 

I also liked his relationship with Higgins.  He goes from distrusting Higgins, to listening to him, to apologizing, to working with him.  This character arc shows that Thornton is a decent man who is willing to change his mind about someone.  By the end of the series, Thornton and Higgins truly respect each other.

Overall, I think Thornton’s greatest attraction is that we know him.  Thornton’s emotions and thoughts are transparent — the viewer never has to guess at what he is thinking or feeling.  That is very appealing.

After watching the miniseries, I read the novel.   I do wish the screenplay had included the scene where Thornton carries Margaret into his house after she’s been wounded, but I won’t complain.  Sandy Welch wrote an ending that was even more romantic than the one in the novel, which was very romantic for its day.

As I read the novel, I was amazed by the depth of the characterization.  The beauty of BBC North and South was not just a talented screenwriter and an amazing actor augmenting a great story.  Elizabeth Gaskell gave them the information they needed.  She describes more thoughts and emotions of her male lead than any other Victorian author that I recall. Rochester, is fascinating, but he is an enigma through most of Jane Eyre.  I haven’t read enough Dickens recently to discuss what he did, but I don’t remember him describing male and female thoughts with the same depth as Gaskell.  Interestingly, in the extra interview with Richard Armitage on the dvd, he mentions that he read the novel to prepare for the audition and to help him as he was performing the part.

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