Friday, June 20, 2014

Literary Blog Party-time!!!

Blogger Joy Chalaby is throwing a literary blog party this week, and I joined in today! This is the link to her blog if you are interested in joining the celebration of great books.

Here is Joy's intro to the book party:

Today's literary theme for the tag is: "Historical Classics". Please join in! Here is how you can join in and have fun with this party: copy the tag questions and respond to the questions on your own blog, making it all uniquely your own! Then, to add to the life of things, via the linky pool in each tag post, have fun mingling, visiting each other's blogs and getting to know one another better! The first few questions are a bit introductory, and then we will dig right in into the topic of historical/period drama classics. It will be a lot of stimulating, literary fun. . .

And here are my answers to her questions:
"Historical Classics" Tag
Q--Tell us  a little bit about yourself, your tastes, and the little hobbies and things that your readers probably don't know about you!

A--Have I ever mentioned that I've been an animal fanatic since the time I could walk and talk? Currently I have three spoiled cats, but I have owned and loved many other pets. I used to raise Peruvian guinea pigs and show them at our county fair. Somewhere I have a collection of faded ribbons . . .

I also love history and enjoy antiquing--although these days I prefer just-looking over buying. Our house is filled with enough pretty things already from our years in England! I inherited several antique quilt tops pieced by my great-grandmother and am attempting to hand-quilt them. I finished the oldest one a few years ago and am currently laboring on the second, a bow-tie quilt from the 1930's.

Q--Books! We really do love them. . . but we all have preferences of what kind of books we love best. What is your favourite genre to read from (and to write in, if you happen to be a writer too)? Could you tell us why?

A--I must give two answers here. My favorite genre to read is fantasy, particularly YA fantasy. I have loved fairy tales for as long as I can remember, and I fell in love with Aslan (and therefore with Jesus) at age 8. My favorite genre to write is historical fiction. I love bringing the past to life by portraying ordinary people living during extraordinary times.

Q--Are you fond of classic literature or do you generally find them too "dry" and hard-going for your tastes? Alternately, how much of your reading diet consists of books written by authors of the 21st century? Are you more fond of the old books or the new. . . or maybe a little bit of both?

A--My enjoyment of classic literature depends entirely on the author and book. I enjoy some Dickens but not all. I loved The Count of Monte Cristo but found The Man in the Iron Mask appalling, so Dumas is also hit-or-miss. I admire Dostoyevsky but wouldn't care for a steady diet of his work! I would say about a third of my reading diet consists of 21st-century authors, mainly books written by friends or acquaintances. And regarding fondness, a little bit of both.

Q--What is your favourite historical time period and setting? How did you come to be especially interested in it? Would you be happy to live in that time-period or era? 

A--I find it hard to choose a favorite historical time period or setting. At present I am most interested in late-18th-century France, but I have written several books and novellas set in England, Scotland, and the U.S. from the 1500's through the late 1800's. My first attempt at writing fiction was set during the 1920's. We shall see if I ever attempt to retake that idea! Many things spark my interest in a setting, particularly traveling there. I can honestly say that I am content to live in the age of indoor plumbing and have done. :-D

Q--List three of your favourite classic authors (authors from the 1500s and up to the very early 1900s such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain etc. . . )? What makes you love them so much?

A--Edith Nesbit's children's fantasy books are favorites--they delight my soul. I enjoy L.M. Montgomery--her characterizations are marvelous. May I choose Rafael Sabatini? The 1920's are maybe not early-1900's enough . . . but he buckles my swash like none other.

Q--What type of "Historical classic" is your favourite: Adventure and exploration, romance, mystery, social, memoir, or political?

A--My favorites are adventure/political with a touch of romance.

Q--Share some of your most well-loved heroines from historical novels in literature, and why you love them so much! What virtues/traits in them would you like to attain yourself? 

A--I greatly admire Jane Eyre's courage in living her faith and can relate to her struggles with inferiority. I admire Anne Elliot's servant heart in Persuasion, and I can relate to her indecisiveness. I love Emma Woodhouse because she is such a flawed busybody (like me) but matures into greater wisdom.

Q--Who are your favourite heroes from historical literature? (You may share up to five). What makes them stand out among the rest as special?

A--I love Mr. Knightley because he loves Emma enough to confront her honestly, and he treats his tenants with respect. I love Captain Wentworth because he is resentful and petty, but also honorable and faithful to Anne. I love Sydney Carton because he is so terribly flawed yet has a hero's heart. You can probably tell that my favorite literary characters are those most like real people. 

Q--List your favourite "classic" novels. . . (as this is a painful question, you may list more than one!)

A--A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I could go on and on, but I'll stop with two. You're welcome. :-)

Q--Which period-drama movies, (adaptions from historical classic works of fiction), fall under your favourite pile? Do you prefer the more modern adaptions or the old ones? Faithful renditions, or the more exciting ones?

A--I have seen several excellent adaptions of Jane Eyre over the years. I love North and South and Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. And the 1990's BBC rendition of Pride & Prejudice is the best ever. I also like the BBC adaption of Emma with Kate Beckinsale. The old Ronald Coleman version of A Tale of Two Cities is still a favorite. And the most recent adaption of The Count of Monte Cristo was good--but the book is better. I wish someone would do an update and faithful version of Scaramouche.

Q--Which historical classic has inspired and influenced you the most?

A--Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Q--Give a list (preferably with pictures!) of your favourite period drama costumes (hats, hoops, gloves, parasols, etc) and from which movie/character they come from.

A--Sorry--but I don't have time to research pictures for this one! Maybe I'll do it another day. I love the costumes in The Scarlet Pimpernel movie with Anthony Andrews. They are awesome. And the BBC Austen movies are also marvelous.

Q--How accurate do you think classic authors were about depicting history and accuracy of different cultures? Were they sometimes prejudiced or melodramatic in their descriptions, or do you think they often had a point to make? 

A--Since many of them wrote about the era and setting they lived in, I would imagine they were accurate yet biased in their views, just like we are now. And every author writes from his/her personal worldview and has something to say about the world and the meaning of life.
Q--Think of the funniest "scene" in either a book or movie from classic literature, and share the quote/picture below (Gifs and animations allowed!)

A--The Austen movies are full of them! I do love the dynamic between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett in the BBC P&P--and Mr. Collins's proposal scene is classic. 

Q--Which villain of historical literature strikes the most dread and loathing in you?
A--Probably Javert from Les Miserables. He was tragic and terrifying in his adherence to the letter of the law.

Q--How many Charles Dickens novels have you read? Do you enthusiastically love his stories, or sob in misery over them, or worse get bored by them?

A--Three that I can think of at the moment. I adore A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol. However, Bleak House was often a chore, and I haven't been eager to pick up another. Most of his stories are too rambling for my taste. 

Q--Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, or Elizabeth Gaskall?

A--Jane Austen, because she wrote several of my favorites.

Q--Favourite French Revolution novel?

A--Easy! A Tale of Two Cities.

Q--North and South or Pride and Prejudice? Mr. Darcy or Mr. Thornton? 

A--Pride and Prejudice, although I possibly prefer Mr. Thornton as a hero.

Q--Which historical classic struck you with the most sense and depth of faith and the author's perception of morality, ethics and the Christian walk? Can you share a little bit about it?

A--Jane Eyre. I recently studied it in depth for a literature class I taught and was blown away by the depth of symbolism in the novel. I had read it twice before and never realized its depth.

Q--Who is your favourite side-kick (secondary character) in literature of this genre?

A--Um. Wow. I am drawing a blank. Maybe Harriet Smith? She made me laugh.

Q--List five "Historical Classics" you are especially looking forward and eager to read in the near future.

A--This is easy, since I am teaching a World Literature class this year. I am going to cheat by including one book I just finished yesterday:
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
The Iliad by Homer
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini (this one is just for fun!)

Q--What was the first historical classic novel you ever read and how did it strike you?

A--I'm not altogether sure--it's been a while!  I adored Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, and they are still my favorite Louisa May Alcott novels. Does she count?

Q--What would inspire you to pick up a historical piece of literature - namely a "classic"? Do you believe it is important for our generation to get back to reading the classics? What do you believe are both the benefits, negatives and overall effects of treasuring historical stories written by authors of the past?

A--My most frequent "inspiration" in recent years has been teaching literature classes for our local home school co-op. This has kicked me back into reading quality literature, and I know the deep study of style, symbolism, and characterization has affected my own writing ability. I teach this class because I strongly believe that reading classic literature increases understanding of humanity and history. We can better understand the present through knowledge of the past. As a believer, I have gained through fiction a deeper understanding of beliefs and societies outside my immediate life experience.

Thank you for this fun Q & A, Joy!


  1. I remember Mum reading "Eight Cousins" to me when I was a fair bit younger. I really enjoyed that one. I must say, I have never liked "Heart Of Darkness" - I have had to read it twice for school... gorgeous language in it though. I really enjoyed "The Great Gatsby" for the beautiful language, even though the content is absolute rubbish! :)

    1. Hello Emily!
      If you enjoyed Eight Cousins, you really ought to pick up Rose in Bloom. It is rather strange yet still fun. I don't expect to "enjoy" Heart of Darkness either . . . It's not exactly a "for pleasure" book. The Great Gatsby is one of those books that is useful for pointing out the emptiness of life without God. And I agree about the gorgeous language in both--the mastery of the English language in these classic novels leaves me in awe. And for Conrad it wasn't even his native language!
      Thanks so much for dropping by my blog. :-)