Monday, February 17, 2014

The Literary Heroine Blog Party -- 2014

It's that time of year again!  Kellie Falconer is once again hosting her delightful Literary Heroine Blog Party.  I'm particularly excited for this event because, last year, this is the blog party that led me out of my blogging shell, as it were, and introduced me to so many blogs and bloggers that I'm so very fond of now.  (Look!  I used the word 'blog' or a variant four times in that sentence!)

I'm going to try to answer the questions differently where I can -- you can read my answers from last year here.  And if you haven't joined the party already, but want to, click on the banner above to do so.  Kellie is offering so many lovely prizes for the giveaway again!  

Anyway, here are The Questions:

Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!

Well, I'm Hamlette.  I'm 33, I'm a writer, I've been married for almost 12 years, and I'm a stay-at-home and home-schooling mommy.  My son is six, one daughter is nearly 4, and my younger daughter is 2.  My house is full of light, laughter, and Legos.  Lots and lots of Legos.  And books.  And movies.  

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine?

Hmm.  I think a true heroine puts others' needs before her own, while not neglecting her own spiritual and physical well-being either.  Jane Eyre and Anne Shirley come to mind as characters who achieved this.  This is something I'm striving for all the time, to be honest.

Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.

I'm trying to be different from last year's answers, so I'm going to choose these four:

Lucy Honeychurch from A Room with a View by E.M. Forster.  I just read this for the first (and second) time(s) last year, and I related so much with how she struggled with getting to know her own self, much less those around her.  It reminded me a lot of myself in my first two years of college, figuring out  was -- and wasn't.

Elizabeth Robinson from The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss.  She's probably my ideal when it comes to resourceful and courageous mothering.  She can cook anything, sew anything, care for animals, keep up the spirits of her entire family, and she rarely complains.

Mary Morstan Watson from The Sign of the Four and other Sherlock Holmes stories by A. Conan Doyle.  Sure, she agrees to marry Dr. Watson after they've known each other for only a week or two, and that might seem hasty.  But she is such a wonderfully supporting wife -- whenever Holmes summons Watson to go on an adventure, she says, "Of course you must go!  Have fun and be careful!" and sends him off without even thinking of complaining.  

Anne Elliot from Persuasion by Jane Austen.  I think a lot of readers kind of shake their heads at Anne Elliot -- that silly girl who let herself be talked out of True Love.  But whatever you may think of Lady Russell, she was basically Anne's adoptive mother, and Anne obeyed the Commandment to honor your father and mother when she broke off her engagement with Frederick Wentworth.  Significantly, that's the only Commandment that has a promise attached to it:  "it will be well with you, and you will live long on the earth."  And sure enough, Anne's obedience to God's will over her own is eventually rewarded.

Five of your favorite historical novels?

I'm again going to assume that "historical novel" means novels set in a time prior to our present day.  So to choose five I didn't mention last year, I'll say:  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, and The Hound of the Baskervilles by A. Conan Doyle.

Out of those five books, who is your favorite major character and why?

Sherlock Holmes.  There are five characters who, over the course of my life, have become infinitely more dear to me than the word "favorite" can imply, and Sherlock Holmes is one of them.  I'm talking the Sherlock Holmes of the canon here, by the way, not of any particular TV or movie version, though I do enjoy a lot of those too.  I actually just finished re-reading the entire canon (the novels and stories by A. Conan Doyle, not other things written about the characters by other people) in twelve months, and my affection and esteem for this character has only grown.  I think one of the things I like best about him is his dogged determination to find answers.  He's concerned with higher concepts like justice and truth and right vs. wrong, but his focus is really on finding answers.  Solving problems.  I admire that level of focus, which I rarely can attain myself.  Plus, he's one of those hard-on-the-outside-but-sweet-on-the-inside types that I can never resist.

Out of those five books, who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Alan Breck Stewart from Kidnapped.  He'ssuch a fun character, with a quick temper and quicker wits, and again, lots of determination.  He makes me laugh, he makes me want to hug him, and he almost makes me cry sometimes.  Plus, he's based on an actual person of the same name.

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there?

This year, I pick going to England and visiting all sorts of places connected to my favorite books.  I'd find that statue of Sherlock Holmes near Baker Street, visit the Shakespeare stuff in Stratford-on-Avon, attend a play at the Globe, visit the Jane Austen house, stop by Tolkien's grave... I would probably need a year.

What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?

I love the WWII era, all the various cultures involved.  Some of my favorite books that take place during that time included The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin, and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of?

This year, I'll get some of my college friends back together and perform another Monty Python comedy sketch like we did our freshman year.  We performed "Buying a Bed" that time, but I think the one about the penguins on the TV set might be awesome too.

If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?

I chose Anne of Green Gables last year, so this year I'll say Jane Eyre.  I'm fairly plain, and I could make my husband dress up as Rochester :-D

What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate?

Favorite author(s)?

I'm going to limit this to ten of the authors I've read in the past year this time.  So I'll say Raymond Chandler, Laurie R. King, Ernest Hemingway, Rex Stout, Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.R.R. Tolkien, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jan Burke, and Amanda Grange.

Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land?

All my cameras, plenty of paper and pens, and books.

In which century were most of the books you read written?


In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is…

Helpful and kind.  You want one specific person?  I'll go with Henry Tilney this year.

Describe your ideal dwelling place.

Our house, Tir Asleen.  Though if it had built-in bookshelves in every single room, it would be even more ideal.

Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence.

If it's not comfortable, I won't wear it.

Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name?

Only while reading Dickens.

In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is...

Well, "dastardly" to me connotes tricksy and conniving, mean and evil and low-down, so I'm going to go with Rebecca de Winter from Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.

Three favorite Non-fiction books?

Three different from last year:  On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, I Never Had it Made by Jackie Robinson, and John Gielgud Directs Richard Burton in Hamlet by Richard L. Sterne.

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon?

Sitting outside Starbucks with a Mocha Light Frappucino, working on my novel.

Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character.

A cowboy hat of indistinct color, well-worn and sweat-stained, that fits like I've worn it for years.

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.

My grandma died last summer, at the age of 94.  She was a lovely Christian lady, filled with unexpectedly feisty humor and a seemingly endless reservoir of patience.  We all miss her.

Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you."  (John 14:27a)


  1. Hi! I'm Ciarrai from the Literary Heroines Blog Party.

    I think you are right that Lady Russell is like a mother to Anne and that Anne does honor and respect her but I think the Anne wouldn't haven allowed herself to be persuaded if Lady Russell hadn't been right to point out that a marriage (even one entered into with love) doesn't need the added challenge not having the means for a basic standard of living. Anne honors Lady Russel by hearing her out and considering what she said but when Lady Russels' judgement isn't sound (as in her opinion of Mr. Eliot), Anne is firm enough in her own mind to respectfully disagree with her and do what she (Anne) knows is correct.

    (Sorry - I have a lot of opinions about Persuasion because Anne is one of the characters that I identify with very strongly)

    Nice to meet another Monty Python fan. I would go with the Penguin skit. Although I wouldn't be able to promise that I wouldn't shout "BURMA!" from the audience.

    I LOVE that chocolate quote poster! You are too right! Chocolate DOES understand!

    1. I think part of the difference between Anne deferring to Lady Russell in the past versus now is age. The second time around, she is a mature adult, no longer at all a child. While she still respects her father and pseudo-mother, she no longer has to obey their every dictate or bow before their disapproval.

      And you're right -- Lady Russell had a valid point that rushing into marriage with someone who had no real money to support her while he was off at sea for years at a time was not a wise decision.

      (Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel too, and I identify strongly with Anne as well!)

      I insist you shout "BURMA!" from the audience! When we actually did perform "Buying a Bed" back in college, we made the audience sing our school song to get Mr. Lampert to take the bucket off.

      Isn't that a fun poster? Found it on Pinterest a while ago.

  2. Yes, Anne Elliot - a woman worthy of admiration. Obedience is not necessarily a sign of weakness, but rather of honor and reverence. And in the end, she exercised her own good sense.

    Also, I do need to read Catch-22.

    1. Ohhhhh, Catch-22. It made me laugh aloud so often. But I would have to read a page or two to get into the rhythm of it each time I picked the book up before it would strike my funny bone. And it's told so interestingly, kind of in widening circles.

  3. Great points on Anne! :-) She was one of my selections for the "Literary Heroines", too. ;-) I think she really has the perfect balance of "yielding-ness" (for lack of a better word) and strength of character...or rather she shows how real strength is in yielding (at the right times).

    1. She's so fascinating, because especially in the first book, she's so eager to please and will do almost anything to gain affection and approval... except she also has outbursts of temper where she lashes out instantly if you hit one of her sensitivities. And then as she matures, she learns which battles are worth fighting, almost, and also when to stay true to herself instead of trying to please all the time.

    2. Hee! :-) I was actually referring to Anne Elliott :-), but no worries... I love Anne Shirley, too. (My error in not being clear enough. :-) )

    3. Hahaha! No, that would mostly be my fault for mixing up who I wrote about last year and this year, lol.

  4. BTW, I'm your newest happy follower... :-)

    1. Sweet! I look forward to getting to know you :-) I hope you find lots to enjoy! Because I'm doing this Lord of the Rings Read-Along right now, it's a little Tolkien-centric around here, but I do read a wide variety, honest!

    2. I'm looking forward to it! And I neglected to mention that I thoroughly like your blog name! I think it really captures the essence of living.

      (And Tolkien-centric is just fine with me. ;-) )

    3. Well, I just posted about another chapter today. Feel free to comment on any of the posts, whether you decide to read it along with us or not! I have I think 3 or 4 other people who have been reading it with me from the beginning, and then two others just joined about a month ago and I know one has caught up already. But you're welcome to join the discussions either way!

      (Yay! A Tolkien fan! I'm totally planning to throw another blog party in September for Tolkien Week, just like last year. Kind of like this Literary Heroine blog party in some ways, only Tolkien-centric, runs only for one week, and involves games too.)

    4. The party sounds fun! And I might join in on the discussions at that. ;-) I have actually, of late, been reading them aloud to one of my sisters. If I remember correctly, we're nearing the siege of Gondor.

    5. Ooh, you're a ways ahead of me, then. I'm about half done with TTT.

    6. That's just fine. I'm more than happy to join in anywhere... :-)

  5. I haven't read Kidnapped, actually I haven't even finished Treasure Island. I read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (one of my sisters has called on of our cats Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde . . . I think somebody did that in a story, was it Rilla of Ingleside maybe) and Black Arrow.
    I still need to read Rebecca. I watched the film with friends, not so fun. I don't really do thriller sort of movies.
    Sherlock Holmes, the original is THE BEST.
    I hate Lady Russell. I have to disagree about the mother issue a bit too. From what I can gather of the books once girls came out into society they were considered adult and on equal footing judged by rank rather than age (Knightly's rebuke to Emma was regarding her superior position to Miss Bates and not Miss Bates years). Also, she broke an engagement, she didn't refuse him, she jilted him, so I think that is also a point of honor.

    1. And I haven't read Jekyll & Hyde yet! It's on my to-read list.

      If you don't like thrillers, you might not like Rebecca the book either. It's definitely thrilling!

      Once a girl came out in society, that meant she had been presented at court to the king/queen, was an official member of "society," and was eligible to be married. She could attend balls and dances, as well as formal dinner parties, and be courted. But she still lived with her parents or guardians and was still subject to their wishes regarding to she could and could not marry. Unless she wanted to elope, like Lydia Bennet.

      Breaking an engagement was a VERY serious thing -- the person who had been dumped could actually sue you for breach of contract. Especially if they were going to lose monetarily by not marrying you and getting your dowry (if you were a woman) or title (if you were a man). However, it was not so much a question of honor if a woman broke the engagement as it would be if a man did so. Women, it seemed, were allowed to change their minds then as now :-)

      I'm actually reading a fascinating book about 19th century society and its rules right now -- it's called "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew" by Daniel Pool. If you want to know all the little rules about etiquette and protocol in that time, read it! The author relates everything back to various characters in books by Austen, Dickens, Hardy, and others of that time.

  6. I hosted my last book club meeting and I had them read A Study in Scarlet and five additional short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. I also asked them to watch both the Guy Ritchie movie and the BBC show so we could compare all the Sherlocks and Watsons to the canon pair.

    I've been to London and you can't get around on the tube without going through Baker Street Station: it's a central hub that all the lines have a stop at. The Holmes statue is right outside the station and the walls are lined with tiles that have the Sherlock silhouette on them. And once you get to the platform, you have a giant silhouette to look at. I loved it.

    1. That's so cool about London!

      I'm actually kind of thinking of starting a book club with some friends of mine -- that's a great idea to pair the shorter novel with a few of the short stories!

    2. With my book club, I found that we could get a sense of Doyle's long-story style and also learn more about Sherlock and Watson as characters through the short stores. All in all it ended up being about 200 pages which is no more than your average novel.

      I also had them read the stories I assigned chronologically so we could see Sherlock especially, grow with each story. Since Doyle didn't publish the stories in chronological order of Sherlock's beginning as a consultant detective, you could assign the readings either way: by published date or in chronological order.

    3. That's a very cool idea, to read them chronologically as they occur. I just finished reading the whole canon, but in publication order because that's how my collection has them arranged. Next time I decide to read them, I'll try chronological -- would be quite fun!

  7. Great answers! Love that picture about chocolate :-)

    1. Thanks! I found that pic on Pinterest ages ago and just love it.

  8. Oh my word, I never realized that Alan Breck Stuart was a real person! (Here we are talking about this same character once again this year, haha! ;)

    So your house is named Tir Asleen? That's very pretty! How did you come to call it that?

    Mr. Tilney rocks, and so does Monty Python! One of my faves is the Argument Clinic... Buying a Bed is hilarious, too! :D

    And I love Little Men! Do you like it better than Little Women?

    1. What? Us? REALLY love Alan Breck Stuart? Nooooooooooooooo :-D Actually, I didn't know that until I was reading the forward to this new copy I picked up a few months ago.

      Yes, we named our house Tir Asleen, which is the name of a castle in the movie Willow. There's a line where one character says, "Everything will be all right once we get to Tir Asleen!" Before we bought our house, we lived in a terrible dive, and so whenever we'd get a fresh mouse or roach invasion, we'd say things like, "Oh, at least we're moving soon! Everything will be better when we're in our house!" And it reminded us so much of that line from Willow that we named our house that :-) (The good news is, everything really WAS alright once we got to Tir Asleen.)

      I like Little Men better than Little Women because um... I've read it more often? It's not as sad? I really love the character of Dan? I'm not sure why.

    2. Haha, noooo, we don't like Alan one bit. ;-D
      Ooh, I love the story behind that name! Hmmm, I may have to steal that someday... So I guess that would mean it would be doubly-stolen. ;D

  9. Hamelette! Hooray! Your blog, your tastes, your enthusiastic commentary on my favorite subjects always makes my day.

    Rebecca de Winter... I'm convinced.
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was a highlight in my 2013 reading list!
    And Monty Python... YES. That would be awesome;D My dearest friends and I just got together a few weeks ago at my bro's house for a Holy Grail laugh-fest, guzzling jelly beans out of wine glasses and laughing ourselves sick. Favorite.

    Accordion to Kellie

    1. Hee hee! Glad to amuse :-)

      Oh man, we watched Holy Grail once a month one year in college. "On second thought, let's not go there. It's a silly place." :-D


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