"And to this purpose"

"If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person's courage that could sit down on purpose to do it." (In other words: rambling analyses, opinions, ideas, views, and comments from an English major, Essay/paper-writing enthusiastic, Austen-loving Master Librarian on, well, Jane Austen...and a whole lot of other things, too.)

"Celebrated Passages are Quoted"

Heidi's favorite quotes

"What is it really like to be engaged?" asked Anne curiously. "Well, that all depends on who you're engaged to," answered Diana, with that maddening air of superior wisdom always assumed by those who are engaged over those who are not."— L.M. Montgomery

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"My One Weakness"

[from my LDS blog today]

Day 111

-observing interactions and relationships which help me reflect upon and learn from my own
-simplicity in life and knowing what is worthy and worthwhile
-honest, true values shown to be important and worth having
-happiness in marriage portrayed to be important, worth having, and possible
-observing a good example of a strong, happy marriage at work
-spending a lengthy amount of time with people who soon feel as if they're friends--even if they're fictional people
-enjoyable laughter of all kinds
-quotes worthy of application and memorization
-period dramas

Yes--I have been enjoying all of these in the form of Lark Rise to Candleford--my latest period obsession.

(And if you're familiar with the series, you'll know how hilarious and pertinent the post title is.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

On Down to America

Well, I had a marvelous time on Mistawis Island up back in Canadian country. I hope you all did, too. And answering a few questions at a time was perfect! Time-wise, comment-wise, and simply fun-wise.

So, we're going to be off on to our next destination. I was struggling to think of where to go, as all of my favorite fiction books in my collection are no longer where I reside. Not that I can't easily find a copy at work, but just having them looking at me from the bookshelves at home.... Oh well.

Our next book will be....

Tuck Everlasting
by Natalie Babbitt

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blue Castle Questions, Last Part

“You see—I’ve never had any real life,” she said. “I’ve just—breathed. Every door has always been shut to me.”

How do you relate to Valancy?

I'm half and half. Some times or situations I completely understand how she is feeling, or what she is thinking. Times when I feel just as suffocated, hurt, hopeless, sad, angry, passed over, desperate, and much more. But then there are the times or situations when I feel my life is completely under my control, that I am happy, that I have great opportunities and have had great experiences, that, well, that life is marvelous.

“You nice little thing,” said Barney suddenly. “Oh, you nice little thing! Sometimes I feel you’re too nice to be real—that I’m just dreaming you.”

Who is your favorite character?

Uh. Barney. Of course! Though followed quite closely by Valancy.

So these were the people she had always held in reverence and fear. She seemed to see them with new eyes.

Who is your least favorite character?

Probably the Uncle who tells the dumb jokes. He bugs me so much.

She read them all to Cissy, who loved them.

What are your favorite parts of the book?

I think I've been mentioning them as I've answered the questions. But here are my favorite: 1. The Proposal. 2. certain parts of their life together 3. The Portrait Painting 4. The Train Tracks 5. The "Confession"

“Piffle,” said Barney.

What are your least favorite parts of the book?

I get a little bored with the beginning of the book. But only because I'm anxious to get to the parts with Barney! Some parts in Roaring Abel's house are a bit boring. Again, because she and Barney aren't married, yet, and I'm just waiting to get there!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blue Castle Questions, Part 8

“You’re—a good actor, Barney.”

What do you think of Barney’s “confession” scene?

I love reading that. I read it over and over. Well, OK. I might skip a little on the whole Ehtel story--though I do feel like kissing him, too, when he's confessing that sorrowful past. My favorite of that favorite part is near the end when he has confessed and Valancy still can't believe he feels anything but pity for her. I feel like shaking Valancy myself because she can't see how much Barney loves her. But I also completely understand her because I have a hard time believing anyone loves me, and I myself would need to know with absolute surety from my beloved that he loved me. I did find that one swear word (the only one in the whole book!) to be utterly unnecessary. We could have seen his anger, frustration, and disappointment just as fine without it.

Valancy smiled through her tears. She was so happy that her happiness terrified her.

The Blue Castle is supposed to have a far-fetched and unnatural conclusion. Do you think L. M. Montgomery used this twist to give the reader what they wanted from the story? Did the ending detract from the story itself?

Far-fetched? Whatever. I don't think so. I mean, I don't think she created this hard-to-believe ending just to make the readers happy. And if that was the technique she was using, she uses it quite a bit in her short stories! "The Girl in the Photograph" anyone? (Oh--I love that short story!) I think the ending made it just as wonderful as the rest of the book. I love the ending. I felt it was a little rushed and I was so sad to be leaving them, never to return in a sequel but only in my imaginings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blue Castle Questions, Part 7

“I have things I want to hide,” said Barney coolly. “You are not to ask me about them.”

Did you guess any of Barney’s secrets before Valancy learned them?

I confess I did wonder about John Foster, when he expressed such (to me) unreasonable dislike for the guy. I never once believed that Barney was a murderer or doing anything bad. I just couldn't believe that of him. But being the son of Dr. Redfern? Hadn't a clue. That was a very enjoyable twist for me. It gave Barney much more substance having a past that showed he truly could relate to Valancy. And his giving it all up and preferring to live a "poor" life--what a man!

Valancy was not excited. She had absorbed all the shocks and sensations that she could compass for one day. This affected her neither one way nor the other.

How would you have reacted when you discovered the truths about Barney?

Hmmm. Another good author tactic? Because I felt as Valancy did. I was phased only as much as she. I felt overwhelmed by all the news, too. And with it all coming at once, it was harder for me to grasp as I could if it had come little by little. I suppose since I had kind of been guessing about John Foster, it wasn't too huge a surprise for me there. But maybe that was another thing Montgomery had been doing throughout the book so I wouldn't be as surprised. Who knows?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blue Castle Questions, Part 6

“Yes. I noticed that. But I thought it was a mistake.”

Did you notice Dr. Trent’s mistake?

Nope. Not at all. I had to flip back in the book to see that there was a mistake. I guess the editor switch in me had not quite been turned on, yet.

A year of misery!

Did you wonder about Valancy’s condition during her year of marriage?

Again, nope. It seemed like such a background thing and I only thought on it when the narrator mentioned it. At no time did I wonder--oh, wouldn't all that walking around be bad for a heart that could go with any great exertion? Wouldn't living out like that increase stress? Wouldn't the worry over the time Barney was away have been damaging? Wouldn't...? Nope. Didn't think of any of that. I just went with that. Is that another sign of a good author, or just one of a diverted reader? Or an ignorant, not looking beyond the words reader? Hmmm...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Blue Castle Questions, Part 5

Thirty seconds can be very long sometimes.

Describe your feelings when Valancy’s shoe is stuck in the railroad track.

I felt just as frantic as she did--scared, worried for Barney, desperate. I love suspenseful parts in stories like that. And, the first time I read it, it had seemed so unexpected. I don't remember any other L.M. Montgomery work having such a pressing, immediate danger situation. Except perhaps Emily on the bit of cliff overhang. Or Neil's axe life-threat to Eric (which we didn't really know until it was practically over). While those were scary and a bit intense for me, it was nothing like a train around a bend bearing down on Valancy!! And Valancy stuck because of a foolish little heel.

This is one of my favorite parts of the story. My copy doesn't just fall open to that section--it falls out. Yep. A little chunk of one of my 3 most favorite parts to read over and over again. So much happens to me mentally and emotionally when I read those few and well-written words. It's a good author who can make so much happen in so little text.

There was only one thought in her dazed mind—an thought that seemed to burn it as a shaving of fire might burn her body.

What were your immediate thoughts after Barney saved Valancy?

Another good sign of an author--she had me going right along with Valancy's feelings. My first time reading all I could think was "Oh no!! The happiness is gone. What is going to happen? What is Barney thinking? Oh, he really will think she tricked him. Oh, what to do, what to do!" (And, yes, seeing as I was about 13 or 14, I probably was that melodramatic and italicized. I've since calmed down in both...a little.) At no point in my first reading did I think anything else. I love that even when I re-read that part as often as I do, while I now know what Barney is thinking, I can still see why Valancy is so distraught and still feel a little twinge of that again.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blue Castle Questions, Part 4

Valancy looked—and looked—and looked again.

Describe your mental image of The Blue Castle.

That is a tough one. Every girl has her a Blue Castle. Me? I have two. The one I have created from this book and the one I has created in my own life. The one I see in the book was a sweet little cottage set high up on a tiny island. Funny, sometimes I actually see it as blue! And even sometimes see a 2-3 story gabled and turreted home (like a mini Disney Pollyanna house) that still fits on that tiny island. But usually it is a little home made from the surrounding woods, so it looks even more like it belongs. It has trees all about it. And it is the most comfortable, happy looking place one would ever find in the middle of the absolute no-where of Canadian back country. (Not like I've ever been there, but Montgomery does a good job with description!)

The one in my own life? It is a wavering vision that fades with age, although sometimes there are moments of brightness. It is ever-changing--the walls, the furnishings, the landscaping, the setting, and all of it. I have had various glimpses of ideals that have never held permanence. Only one thing has been steady and sure in it: a happy home wherein I reside with my best friend and love of my life. When that one thing comes into being, I know I will have found my Blue Castle, and that if we work together and strengthen our love every day, it will stay with us where ever we go.

“That’s partly why I want to marry you,” said Valancy.

What do you think of living in the wild, tramping in the woods, and being so separated from the world as Valancy and Barney live?

That would be ideal!!!! I would be so, so, so, so happy. Well, as long as I can still easily get to my family in a day's travel by airplane. But ever since I first read The Blue Castle, I have been in love with such a life.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blue Castle Questions, Part 3

Valancy gave him a swift, furtive look as she hurried by.

What were your first impressions of Barney Snaith?

I loved that he was working on his car. I guess the manliness of it all, I don't know. And that he was different from everyone introduced in the story so far. And that there was a mystery about him. And that you knew right off he was his own man. There were definite things attractive about him and I was hoping we'd see him a bit more in the book. I had no idea just how much or simply how he was going to factor into the story! And what a smile I had when Valancy's dreams changed a bit that night. :-)

“You made me apologise to Olive fifteen years ago for something I didn’t do,” said Valancy. “That old apology will do for now.”

In all honesty, how would you rather have had Valancy react to Olive, particularly as the book goes on?

In all honesty? I wanted Valancy to smack Olive! A good hard slap. I know--not very Christlike. But I can't help it. Olive deserved a good come-uppance with a smack-down. Yet all people "receive" their reward. Olive, I am sure, will never be as happy and fulfilled as we Valancy will be at the end of the book. And even though Olive hasn't gained much or come down many degrees, we know that her unwillingness to change for the better will have its results and effects as time goes on.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blue Castle Questions, Part 2

Dr. Trent’s letter was like himself—blunt, abrupt, concise, wasting no words.

How would you have felt if you received Valancy’s diagnosis? What would you have done?

I have a two-part answer to this. When I was younger and I read this, I completely agreed with her. I was so glad she finally found something to make her get a bit more spine and stand up to the unfairness that her family brought into her life. It was a good empowerment and I would hope if I was downtrodden as she, I would have felt empowered instead of despondent.

Part 2: It wasn't until I was re-reading a few of my favorite parts of this book after I finished undergraduate school that I thought it ironic I had some connections to Valancy. One being my heart. But we had opposite results in that my doctor couldn't really find exactly what was wrong, and said to just go on living my life. Knowing how scary the unknown was, it was such a relief to know I could go about my life and just ignore the occasional pain. I laughed when I read that Valancy, too, learned to just endure the pain. Sometimes it was a bit harder than other times, yet she still endured it. I have seen a strong correlation with life. So, in a way, my reaction (though our diagnosis was different...at least, her first diagnosis...) was the same. I felt empowered and went at life with an even greater joy and determination to make it wonderful. Of course, I didn't go propose to any guys, but I've still made a pretty great life for myself in the last few years. There are times I don't even notice the pain!

“Will I do?” said Valancy.

With your personal morals and values, would you have done all of the “scandalous things” that Valancy chooses to do?

Actually, I don't think I would have. At least, not the Roaring Abel part. I mean, I probably would have wanted to help Cissy. But to live in the home of a drunk, who is known for his tantrums. Having read the book, I know now that Roaring Abel was mostly harmless and at least she had Cissy to endure a couple of the tougher times. But not knowing that ahead of time? I don't think I would have had the courage, and I think my prudish nature would have intervened.

And proposing to Barney? Again, hindsight of reading the whole book has me saying "Ab-so-lute-ly!" But if I didn't know that, I don't think I could. Having to trust the unknown, disreputable mysteries? What could be completely against my morals and standards? No wanting to make a great life of what's left of it could make me compromise my standards. Or even marry someone I knew did not love me. That would be so hard, knowing my personality and my desire to feel truly loved. Of course, Montgomery makes sure to put in that deep down Valancy doesn't feel Barney could have done those things. But I would want to be sure. I guess that's one difference of being LDS--it throws risky spontaneous adventure and romance to the wind for me. On a slightly different note, I can't help but thinking of Anne with wanting someone who is good but who could be bad. No, no. I want good all the way through. I'm a Molly like that.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Blue Castle Questions, Part 1

I have decided that it will always be difficult for me to find large chunks of time to devote to the Austen Knows Best Book Club. So I'm going to try smaller chunks. Yes. I am re-doing a bit of the running of the Book Club. But I don't think any of you will really mind.

We'll still read and talk about books. Of course! And there will still be questions to think about and answer. But this time I am going to answer one or two at a time. (Hopefully every one or two days!) That way I can get a little bit done every day, it will be easier for readers to comment on particular things, and it will involve us even more in the books that we're focusing on. I think it's a brilliant idea. Good job, me.

So, here we go!

Valancy wakened early, in the lifeless, hopeless hour just proceeding dawn.

How did you feel about Valancy’s situation at the beginning of the book?

I have definitely known this feeling. Within the last year, I have known it way too much. I am in a much happier, peaceful part of my life. But I have my moments when things are hard and feel hopeless. Luckily, I know that everything is not hopeless. And instead, now I try to find all of the wonderful things that bring me joy and gratitude in my life. I've spent quite some time trying to form a habit on focusing on the positive. Counting my many blessings seems to be an excellent way. So I can totally understand Valancy's situation. But I can also totally be opposite from it.


How do you pronounce Valancy’s name?

Vuh-lance-ee. I've heard various ways of others. This is my preferred. And if my husband ever agrees that we can name one of our daughters this (even if just a middle name), then you can be sure I will make sure it is pronounced the way I prefer it! And no, I don't think it a silly thing that I want to name a daughter after the heroine of my favorite L.M. Montgomery book. She made an impact on my life, and she has pulled me through some interesting times. Her pretty name just happened to make the idea all the more appealing!