HAPPY TUESDAY, READING NOOK!
Today's an AWESOME day. Not only are we the second stop on the blog tour for A School for Brides, it's also the official release day of the book!
We have a fabulous guest post from Patrice, and a giveaway that Tom insisted we needed to share with all of you! Read on for more!
A guest post by:
Author of A School for Brides, July 2015
Patrice, congratulations on the impending publication of the second book in your trilogy! I'm very excited to read A School for Brides, and I know other readers are too!
You've mentioned before that you see your books as a homage to Jane Austen's work, especially in how she discusses wealth, and how that relates to the women of today. Could you share a little more on why you think characters like Jane's are still so resonant with today's culture, and what how you applied those themes to Keeping the Castle and A School for Brides?
I first read Jane Austen at about 13 years old. The thing that struck me to begin with was how funny she was. I hadn’t understood that Great Literature was allowed to be funny. And as I worked my way through the novels, I realized that they were as much about money as about love. Which was pretty funny in itself.
Women and men have different reproductive strategies. Men (in general) tend to be attracted by physical beauty – a fairly reliable proof of health and vigor in the prospective mother of their children. Women (again, in general) tend to be attracted by a variety of traits which will ensure a good long-term partner to help raise the children. One of those traits is the ability to help feed and house a family. In prehistory a successful hunter would be a more desirable mate than a guy with bad eyesight. In modern times, money has taken the place of protein.
Men readily admit that beauty is important to them in choosing a mate. Women, on the other hand, are expected to pretend that money is irrelevant, and really too crass to mention. Yet even today, when women are quite capable of earning a living themselves, having a partner who can bring home a steady income while the wife is pregnant, nursing, or otherwise busy supervising small children, is a big advantage. Educating children, increasingly important to their success as adults, requires resources above and beyond day-to-day survival, and having an affluent spouse sure helps. Money matters, but we are not supposed to speak of it.
One source of humor, parenthetically, is to take a subject that we have all agreed not to mention, and then go ahead and mention it.
In the early 1800s, when Miss Austen’s books (and my KEEPING THE CASTLE and A SCHOOL FOR BRIDES) are set, people of both sexes were more open about the effect of money on the marriage market than we are today. It seemed self-evident that money (and also status, a somewhat different quality) represented a major advantage in a partner. I believe that this is one of the reasons modern-day readers enjoy Austen – it is refreshing to see a more open discussion about money and marriage than we have in our age.
Yet even in Austen’s day, there was pretense about it. Her naïve character, Catherine Moreland, believes in the idealistic version of marriage, unlike everyone around her. She is at her most ingenuous when she says: “If there is a good fortune on one side, there can be no occasion for any on the other. No matter which has it, so that there is enough. I hate the idea of one great fortune looking out for another. And to marry for money I think the wickedest thing in existence.” The truth is that an unequal marriage is generally uncomfortable for the person who brings the least to the table, assuming that she or he is a person of conscience. King Cophetua may have been happy in his marriage to the Beggar Maid, but I suspect that the Beggar Maid (who has not even the dignity of a name), while pleased to have food on her golden plate and a palatial roof over her head, sometimes regretted entering an arrangement in which she was required to be permanently grateful.
I wrote KEEPING THE CASTLE in response to the many current historical novels I read in which women were scornful of marriage and spurned it for a career. What career? The only ones available were servant, governess or prostitute. A SCHOOL FOR BRIDES continues the impetus that propelled CASTLE: most of these young women are facing a pretty dark future if they do not marry, and marry well.
Money matters. And the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which it matters are fascinating.