It has been years since I wrote my last blog post about books. I haven’t stopped reading or writing, but I did switch my focus quite a bit. Two years ago my last living grandparent passed. I know that seems so unconnected to my book blogging, but there is a connection. I piled my four children into our minivan and took off for Utah. My poor husband had to travel for work so I was basically on my own for the two day drive. That’s a long time to stay awake, and I started to struggle. Eventually I started thinking about something I’d heard years ago that I thought could be made into a story. I spent the four days of driving creating a story in my head. When I finally got home I spent the next months (maybe a year, but who’s counting) writing that story. I submitted the manuscript to a publisher this month.
I have spent countless hours writing for the last two years. I wake up, get the kids to school, and write until I have to pick them up. I’ve submitted the first book. I’m in the process of editing the second. The third is about 33% written, and yesterday I had a great idea for the fourth while mowing the back yard. I’m loving it so much I just want to plunge in headfirst. Before I can do that, though I have to do some research. It’s going to be fun. I’m going to reread all of Austen’s books.
You might remember that I am a huge Jane Austen fan. I have loved her works for more than twenty years. One of the first books I ever bought myself was Pride and Prejudice, and it remains my personal favorite. Mr. Darcy isn’t the reason that I love Pride and Prejudice. There, I admitted that out loud. Please don’t hang me in effigy. I like him just fine, but I love Elizabeth and admire Jane. I even have a soft spot for poor plain Mary.
There are so many Austen men. Mr. Darcy, Wickham, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Knightley, Edward Ferrars, Colonel Brandon, Captain Wentworth, Edmund Bertram, Mr. Rushworth, Mr. Crawford, Willoughby, Mr. Collins, and so many more. Some are good upstanding citizens. Some are patently ridiculous, while others are complete scoundrels. There are many who are a mixture of good and bad, and I find it fascinating that most of these men tend to lean toward dishonorable by the end of their story. I don’t know if Austen was trying to make a statement about bad habits getting the better of people, or if she simply wanted to make it clear that the hero was the best choice after all.
All of us who have read Austen’s works have our favorite male character, and I suspect we also have our favorite to hate as well. My absolute favorite is Mr. Knightley. I like his steady character. I like that he cares about people’s feelings. I like his capacity to endure the ridiculous without making fun of it. He is a thoroughly good guy. As for my favorite to hate, that is a lot harder for me to choose. I don’t like Wickham, but I do appreciate that he gets stuck with the flighty Lydia. You know life with her wasn’t fun. I am sure she turned out worse than her mother when she got older. If I had to pick, I might have to say Willoughby. He sucks you in with his charm, his good looks, and free manners, but when push came to shove he chose himself every time. He chose his wife for money. He chose to keep up his infatuation with Marianne over honoring his marriage vows. I really don’t like that. Selfish jerk describes him pretty well, in my opinion.
I have a question for all of you. Who is your favorite character? Who can’t you stand? Why do you feel that way?