Top Ten Tuesday: Literary “Fanfiction”

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

This week’s topic was:

February 1: Books with Names/Character Names In the Titles (Submitted by BookLoversBlog and Lucy @ Bookworm Blogger)

But that didn’t really grab me, so I decided to go in my own direction.

This week I decided to do books about other books: minor characters, pretend sequels, reimaginings, “what ifs” and the like. I love seeing the different ways that authors write into an existing work of literature. It’s almost like the author having a conversation with the original book:

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – This Jane Eyre prequel imagines the pre-attic life of the first Mrs. Rochester. It’s a fascinating post-colonial response to Jane Eyre. In only about 150 pages, Rhys touches on race, class, sex, gender, philosophy and psychology. I wish I could know what Bronte would have thought if she’d had the opportunity to read it.

Longbourn by Jo BakerPride and Prejudice fanfiction is a cottage industry in itself (here are just a few!). They range from very good, to…not so good. But Longbourn stands out to me because it looks at the people who are just barely visible to Austen readers – the servants. While the Bennets worried about marrying off their daughters, things were going on below stairs. It can get rather icky and crude, but such is the life of a servant!

On Beauty by Zadie Smith – Smith calls this novel an “homage” to EM Forster’s Howard’s End. There are a number of parallels throughout. Though it’s set roughly a century after Forster’s novel On Beauty deals with the bequeathing of a valuable inheritance to a nonfamily member, as well as the overall plot about two families with very different backgrounds and values slowly becoming linked and intertwined.

March by Geraldine Brooks – In the first part of Little Women, the March family patriarch is absent from the family, fighting in the Civil War. In this novel we see exactly what he was up to. Actually, part of the novel is also told from Marmee’s (his wife’s) point of view when see is caring for him, and then it switches back to his perspective again. Mr. March was based on Louisa May Alcott’s father, Bronson Alcott. It gives a vision of the March family that’s very different from what we see in Little Women.

Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin – In Dr. Jekyll’s house, Mary Reilly works as a maid. She begins to bond with her employer, but is asked to run errands for him and his associate Mr. Hyde that take her to dark places. She begins to have horrible suspicions of both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Ahab’s Wife: The Star Gazer” by Sena Jeter Naslund – This novel was inspired by a mere passage in Moby Dick mentioning such a character. While most of the action of the novel is outside of Moby Dick totally, the sea is a constant presence in this novel. I haven’t read Moby Dick yet, but this book made me want to give it a try!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller– I was actually torn between this and Circe by the same author, but I decided on this one because it comes “first” (though both books work as stand alones.) This book reimagines The Iliad from the perspective of Patroclus, who loved Achilles. Circe imagines the life of the witch who turned Odysseus’ men to pigs in The Odyssey (in this we learn here she had a good reason.)

Foe by JM Coetzee – This reimagines the story of Robinson Crusoe and makes us question everything we thought we knew. In 1920 writer, Daniel Foe is approached by Susan Barton, formerly a castaway on a desert island. She tells him the story of Cruso, a fellow castaway. But Foe turns the story into something of his own invention.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye – I suppose I would call a “Jane Eyre adjacent” book. The story begins with orphaned Jane Steele’s immortal words “Reader, I murdered him,” in reference to her cruel, predatory cousin. She is sent to a horrible boarding school and then makes her way to London and finally Highgate House, home of her new employer Mr. Charles Thornfield. At every stop she leaves a few bodies behind her. This is primarily just a lot of fun.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham – This novel imagines Virginia Woolf as she writes Mrs. Dalloway. In separate timelines, it also imagines a woman reading the novel who is deeply affected by it, and a sort of modern day reincarnation of the main character.

Jack Maggs by Peter Carey– In Great Expectations, the main character is impacted by an early encounter with the convict, Magwitch. In this novel we get to know who Magwitch really is. Maggs returns to England from the prison island of Australia with vengeance on his mind. His journey takes him across London society.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations for Classic Lit Based on Your Favorite TV Show

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

November 16: Books to Read If You Love/Loved X (X can be a genre, specific book, author, movie/TV show, etc.) For this one I’m recommending classic literature on the basis of TV shows. But I’m not recommending the book if it’s a direct (or not so direct) literary adaptation (too easy!). I’m recommending classics that remind me in some way of these TV shows. Just to be clear, these aren’t always read/watch alikes, but they have something similar in terms of subject, theme, characters, or tone.

image source: wikipedia

1. Squid Game- I’m tempted to say The Hunger Games as a recommendation here, but I don’t know if I’d call that “classic.” I’ll say Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Twisted games that turn into a survival match, though at least in this one, the people involved are children. I know it’s a short story, but I’ll also shout out Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery here: another game of chance with deadly consequences

2. Game of Thrones- I feel like Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien is sort of a no-brainer here. They’re both epic fantasies. I mean, there are even articles out there about how they’re similar!

3. Bridgeton– The obvious recommendation here is the novels of Jane Austen. Yes, I’m aware that Jane Austen is great literature, and Bridgeton is fun TV. But fans of the regency romance in Bridgerton will probably find something to love in Austen. If you want to get away from the obvious, check out Fanny Burney, whose work influenced Austen. Yes, maybe I’m cheating by mentioning authors here rather than single books, but I don’t care!

4. Downton Abbey– For this one I went with Howard’s End by EM Forester. Both deal with the British aristocracy in the early 20th century. Like Downton, Howard’s End has strong themes about class and foreshadows that worldwide change is imminent, and an era is ending in terms of upper class way of life.

5. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel– I had a tie for this one: The Group by Mary McCarthy and The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. Both deal with women’s experiences in work and love. Both are set in New York City, too.

image credit: wikipedia

6. You– Actually now that I think of it, Dexter can also be a good show to pair with Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. All involve a murderer as the protagonist.

7. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend- This might seem kind of weird, but go along with me for a moment. Crazy Ex- Girlfriend is about a mentally fragile woman who is obsessively in love with a man. So is Passion by IU Tarchetti (it’s been published under both titles). Plus, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show with strong connections to musical theatre. Passion became a Tony winning musical by Stephen Sondheim.

8. The Good PlaceThe Divine Comedy by Dante. I feel like this is sort of self explanatory too. Both deal with what happens after we die, if we’re good, bad, or somewhere in between. But actually as I write this, it strikes me that Sartre’s No Exit could also work as a pairing.

9. Stranger Things Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury- Both are about kids (about 13ish years old) fighting evil. Both also have strong nostalgic tones for their era (1980’s and 1930’s respectively).

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters That Remind Me of Me

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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May 7: Characters That Remind Me of Myself

I did something like this a while back, but I think I may be able to come up with a few other books….

91s0lx2enl._ac_ul436_1. Sonja in Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorothe Nors– Actually while in some ways I have a lot in common with Sonja (like a fear of driving!) in other ways we’re very different. But we are both single women, living and working in a big city and trying to stay connected: to our friends and our families and our lives in general. That effort, and the anxiety around it, as something I definitely related to hen reading this book.

51iosghk0l-_ac_us218_2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling– I’m definitely the bookish, sensible one in almost any group! I don’t make friends quickly or easily but when I do, I’m also fiercely loyal. I guess I can deal with some of the awkwardness involved in being like Hermione as long as I have some of her good qualities too.

 

811ptptqf4l._ac_ul436_3. Olivia Curtis in Invitation To the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann– I haven’t (yet) read The Weather in the Streets, which is this books sequel, so I don’t yet know what becomes of Olivia but at 17 she was much like me at that age: simultaneously eager for growth and change, and afraid of it. She’s very sensitive to the feelings of others, but often she projects her own thoughts and ideas onto them, without much basis. That’s something I also related to.

71-frikc1l._ac_ul436_4. Cassandra Mortmain in I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith- Like me, Cassandra feels everything very deeply and she replays it for herself after the fact. Her musings on what she should have said/done in different situations definitely rang true, as does her dedication to try to capture something real and concrete, even as things seem to slip through her fingers.

51mssp4enl._ac_ul436_5. Margaret Schlegel in Howard’s End  by EM Forester– She’s practical but she still has high ideals that she holds dear. She’s imaginative and loving.  She is very much the caretaker for her family and she embraces the role, she doesn’t resent it. Obviously her circumstances are very different to mind, but I’ve always found her an admirable, classy character.

 

31yhicomrpl-_ac_us218_6. Miss Pettigrew in Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day by Winifred Watson– I’m not as bad as Miss Pettigrew but I definitely have a tendency to be a bit of a straitlaced wallflower. That’s why I try to keep company with the Delysia LaFosses of the world: I would wouldn’t want to only live for a day, and they remind me that there’s a whole world out there.

 

41ufepph-wl-_ac_us218_7. The Second Mrs. DeWinter from Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier– I can definitely understand what it’s like to feel like you can never live up to some ideal- regardless of how real that actually ideal actually is. I think I’m definitely stronger than this character but she speaks to many of my insecurities and the fear of not being good enough.

 

51z5jz2frjl-_ac_us218_8. Peter Pan from Peter Pan by JM Barrie– Again this isn’t a literal “OMG we have so much in common! Who could possibly tell us apart?” connection. Rather it’s a sense of recognition and sympathy.  When I was a kid I never wanted to grow up either. Adulthood looked like it was difficult, boring, expensive and exhausting. But unlike Peter, I didn’t have a choice in the matter. In some ways I am grateful for the wisdom that’s come with age, and the things I’m able to do now that I couldn’t as a child. But I sometimes have a wish for some pixie dust and a chance to run off to Never Neverland…

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Literary Married Couples

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

February 12: Favorite Couples In Books

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Since so many romances roll the credits when the central couple gets married, I decided to do a favorite married couples list. These characters keep the romance (and/or major drama!) going strong long after the wedding.

51dxbewzuil-_ac_us218_1. Anne and Gilbert in The “Anne” series by LM Montgomery- These were sort of a  given for me.  They’ve been my idea of a great fictional couple since I was a kid. They grow up together, they grow apart and come back together again. They give each other space to thrive and they’re always there for each other if things go wrong. They tied the knot in Anne’s House of Dreams, book 5 (out of an 8 book series). Even though the last two books in the series focus more on their children, there’s plenty of Anne and Gilbert drama post marriage in book 6, Anne of Ingleside.

517zcqxmvll-_ac_us218_2. Valency and Barney in The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery- This stand alone novel features Valency, a spinster who gets some bad news from the doctor. In an attempt to seize the day, she asks Barney to marry her. It’ll make her happy and, and it’ll only last for about a year… But Barney finds happiness with Valency and soon the terms of their marriage aren’t acceptable to him. He wants more time… But there are indications even before the wedding that there might be something special between these two. I missed them on first read, but I picked up on a few after a recent reread.

51ozv7qacul-_sx260_3. Claire and Jamie in the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon- These two really make each other better. Jamie’s a smart fellow and being with a woman from the future opens his mind to new ways of thinking. Claire is challenged by sexist thinking whether she’s in the 20th century or the 18th but being with someone who believes in her absolutely encourages her to challenge those systems right back. They get married about halfway through the first book and the series is currently 8 books and they’re still going strong.

51vxh2jgv8l-_ac_us218_4. Scarlet and Rhett in Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell- Scarlet may have her eyes elsewhere for most of the book, but if she’d been married to Ashley Wilkes she’d have walked all over him to the point where he’d have been a slip of paper on the floor in about a week. She and Rhett get married around midway through the book. Rhett is someone who can match her wit for wit,  manipulation for manipulation. Scarlet is used to having the upper hand but Rhett challenges her for it and sometimes claims it for himself. For other partners, they’d be toxic. But for each other they’re pretty perfect, which is why I maintain that they’ll eventually work it out.

41ufepph-wl-_ac_us218_5. Maxim DeWinter and his second wife in Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier- I don’t think it’s a good sign when we don’t know the second wife’s first name, but the first wife is the title of the book! But the unnamed narrator this novel feels tormented by her husband’s beautiful, beloved late wife.  I think that’s probably a common experience to some extent (albeit with less Gothic twists than this novel!). Marrying a widow or widower means accepting their previous spouse and whatever feelings may linger.

51pclzvhwel-_ac_us218_6. Henry and Claire in The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger– These two definitely have a weird relationship thanks to Henry’s Chrono-Displacement Disorder. It means that Henry (who unintentionally time travels) occasionally meets his wife as a kid, and sometimes runs into her after she’s widowed… But they make it work! It’s not always what I’d call healthy but it’s certainly a marriage that faces some unique challenges.

 

51bumg7jwll-_ac_us218_7. Ruth and Quin in The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson– Ruth is separated from her family when they’re immigrating to England after Hitler invades Austria. Now the Austrian-Jewish Berger family is safe in London except for Ruth. Family friend Quinton Sommerville is a British citizen and he offers to help: he and Ruth will get married. They can get into England together and once there, they can get the marriage annulled. But the best laid plans often go awry… An annulment turns out to be more complicated than expected and when Quin and Ruth start to fall in love, things get even more unpredictable.

51mssp4enl._ac_ul436_ 8. Henry and Margaret in Howard’s End by EM Forester– In a lot of ways these two are an odd couple. Henry is a wealthy industrialist with three children from a previous marriage. Margaret is a spinster with progressive politics and intellectual passions. But they legitimately like one another. The marriage faces challenges from day one, ranging from Margaret’s good hearted but flighty sister, to Henry’s checkered past and his  hostile children. But the biggest challenges come from their different ways of seeing and responding to the world.

71a-uqdbfwl._ac_ul436_9. Sir Percy Blackney and Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy– It’s the French Revolution and aristocrats are falling prey to Madame Guillotine. Their only hope is The Scarlet Pimpernel who rescues them from their fate with the aid of daring disguises. Lady Marguerite Blackney is married to Sir Percy, a man who seemed to love her during their courtship only to reveal himself to be a rather dim witted fop.  When her beloved brother is arrested and facing execution, she’s told that she might save him if she helps the French Republic find the Scarlet Pimpernel. Most readers will be able to guess the Scarlet Pimpernel’s true identity based on that synopsis, but it’s still a lot of fun.

51nbhw4ql8l-_ac_us218_10. Carl and Annie in Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith– This book looks and Carl and Annie’s first year of marriage. They got married against the wishes of their parents in 1927 and left their native Brooklyn so that Carl could attend law school in the Midwest. They face challenges ranging from loneliness to poverty.  But they push through with loyalty and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: “Fall-ish” Books

For The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday:

October 10: Ten Books With Fall/Autumn Covers/Themes (If the cover screams fall to you, or the books give off a feeling of being Fallish)

Actually this week it’s more like top 8…

When I think about Fall I think about the end of the year. The end of the summer. I think about the leaves turning bright colors before turning brown and disappearing. I love fall, but there’s a melancholy to it. To me these books have a similar sense of melancholy.

51jkmsmns9l-_ac_us218_1. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro– This is about Stevens, an English butler in the mid-twentieth century. He was raised to be a “Gentleman’s gentleman.” He served the same family for decades. He gave up the woman that he loved in order to do it. Now, nearing the later part of his life, he takes a drive through the country. As he dives he thinks about the past, and tries to reassure himself that he spent his life serving a “great gentleman” and thereby served humanity at large. But as we travel through his thoughts we come to realize that he harbors doubts about the true greatness of the family he served, and even stronger doubts about his own life and choices. This is a book that is greater than the sum of its parts. Ostensibly it’s about an old man out for a drive. But it’s really about his life and his world. His doubts about how he spent his life come too late, once most of his life is gone. This book evokes a strong sense of melancholy that I think is very fall-like.

“But what is the sense in forever speculating what might have happened had such and such a moment turned out differently? One could presumably drive oneself to distraction in this way. In any case, while it is all very well to talk of ‘turning points’, one can surely only recognize such moments in retrospect. Naturally, when one looks back to such instances today, they may indeed take the appearance of being crucial, precious moments in one’s life; but of course, at the time, this was not the impression one had. Rather, it was as though one had available a never-ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one’s relationship with Miss Kenton; an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable.”

41migzs6vxl-_ac_us218_2. Howard’s End by EM Forster– This book explores the various intricacies surrounding British class relations at the turn of the twentieth century. It centers around three families; one representing the working class, one the middle class, and one the elite. The nature of their class status affects the characters social relationships for better and for worse. But we, as the reader know something that neither the characters, nor the author (who published the book in 1910) do: that two world wars are just around the corner. They will decimate the class system that had previously prevailed. While Forster couldn’t have known in 1910 that WWI was around the corner, he did clearly sense a coming end to the the British empire and the the rigid class structure. It’s no accident that the house around which much of the action takes place is called Howard’s End!  This sense of one era ending and something new lurking is very… autumnal to me.

“Some leave our life with tears, others with an insane frigidity; Mrs. Wilcox had taken the middle course, which only rarer natures can pursue. She had kept proportion. She had told a little of her grim secret to her friends, but not too much; she had shut up her heart–almost, but not entirely. It is thus, if there is any rule, that we ought to die–neither as victim nor as fanatic, but as the seafarer who can greet with an equal eye the deep that he is entering, and the shore that he must leave.”

512xmuzxkzl-_ac_us218_3. The Cider House Rules by John Irving– It has the word “cider” in the title for goodness sakes! There’s an orchard, and apple picking! Actually this story is  set over the course of about 30 years (from the 1920’s to the 1950’s) Dr. Larch founds an orphanage in St. Cloud, Maine. His favorite orphan is Homer, who eventually follows in his footsteps and becomes a doctor. During the years that the book takes place, abortion was illegal in the US. Having seen the result of illegal, back alley abortions (a dead woman and a dead fetus) Dr. Larch performs abortions in a safe, sterile environment. When Homer learns of Dr. Larch’s side business he is horrified and leaves St. Cloud. He joins his friends in a cider making business. He types up a list of rules for the apple pickers who come to work for them for the season. All of that makes it very fall-y.

“That was when Angel Wells became a fiction writer, whether he knew it or not. That’s when he learned how to make the make-believe matter to him more than real life mattered to him; that’s when he learned how to paint a picture that was not real and never would be real, but in order to be believed at all- even on a sunny Indian summer day- it had to be better made and seem more real than real; it had to sound at least possible.”

51dtol9n8al-_ac_us218_4. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder- This one is more literal. A lot of the book deals with a pioneer family preparing for winter. We get descriptions of harvesting sap, and making maple syrup, and candy. And of course in the evenings Laura and her family are safe and warm in bed, listening to Pa play the fiddle…. OK so those aren’t really my fall activities. But they are activities that scream “fall” to me!

“She thought to herself, “This is now.” She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.”

41azoatsy3l-_ac_us160_5. Persuasion by Jane Austen More so than any other Jane Austen I see this one as being about endings and renewals. We’re told early in the book that Anne has lost her youthful “bloom”. Much of the conflict centers around what happened when Anne and Captain Wentworth were young. Their failed romance provides the groundwork for the novel. So essentially we go into a story beginning with an ending, a failed love affair. This was the defining event of Anne Elliot’s youth (or springtime, if you will) over the next decade she removed herself from the marriage market and lost that “bloom”. When we meet in Persuasion she appears to be at the end of something. The end of her youth, the end of her marriageable days. In other words, even though she’s still young (27) she’s prematurely entered the “fall” of her life. But against the odds she manages to turn back the clock a bit and regain some spring and summer.

“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness–that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.”

51sskkgyvgl-_ac_us218_6. First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen- This is another semi-literal pick. It takes place in the fall. It’s a sort of stand alone sequel to Allen’s Garden Spells. You don’t have to read Garden Spells to read this one. The Waverly sisters, Claire and Sydney live in Bascom NC with their husbands and children. The family home has a spirited apple tree in the backyard and all of the Waverly women have a bit of magic.  Claire’s nine year old daughter, Mariah, has made a mysterious friend, whom no one else can see. Sydney’s fifteen year old daughter, Bay, has proclaimed her love for a boy who doesn’t return her feelings. There are issues with the older Waverly’s too. Sydney is heartbroken over her seeming inability to get pregnant again, and Claire’s candy making business is taking over her life. A mysterious stranger has turned up in town bringing secrets that could destroy the Waverly family. And with the first frost coming, a lot of things are going to change.

“On the day the tree bloomed in the fall, when its white apple blossoms fell and covered the ground like snow, it was tradition for the Waverleys to gather in the garden like survivors of some great catastrophe, hugging one another, laughing as they touched faces and arms, making sure they were all okay, grateful to have gotten through it.”

41yn-xblul-_ac_us218_7. Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne DuMaurier– This is a great Halloween read because it’s spooky but it also has a shadow of death hanging over it. A married couple visit Venice to recover after the death of their daughter. But they encounter mysterious twin sisters, one of whom is a blind psychic. She tells them that their daughter is sending a warning: the must leave Venice. If that weren’t enough there is also a serial killer stalking the city. As the husband, a psychic who hasn’t accepted his gifts, chases the figure of a child around the city, things that seem like back story move slowly forward. The Venetian atmosphere is palpable, it’s gloomy, damp and strangely beautiful (like a certain season…). Death has followed the central couple on their trip, and there’s only one way for it to end.

And he saw the vaporetto with Laura and the two sisters steaming down the Grand Canal, not today, not tomorrow, but the day after that, and he knew why they were together and for what sad purpose they had come. The creature was gibbering in its corner. The hammering and the voices and the barking dog grew fainter, and, ‘Oh God,’ he thought, ‘what a bloody silly way to die…’

51f91e7cxql-_ac_us218_8. Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan-Eben Adams is an artist. He sketches a schoolgirl, Jennie, in Central Park and talks to her a bit. The resulting sketch conveys more emotion than any of his previous work. When Eben next meets Jennie, she seems to have grown a few years older. The same thing happens again. Jennie is now fully grown, and as Eben paints her portrait he realizes that when  he finishes, Jennie will disappear as mysteriously as she appeared. Jennie brings a sense of mystery with her. Aside from her rapid aging, she seems to talk as if she’s from another time. Is she a ghost? A time traveller? What is the strong song she sings? With the shadow of Jennie’s upcoming disappearance looming over them, her and Eban’s story is Autumn. Brightly colorful, just before the end.

I had one clear day of happiness, and I shall never forget it. Even the miserable ending to it cannot change its quality in my memory; for everything that Jennie and I did was good, and unhappiness came only from the outside. Not many—lovers or friends—can say as much. For friends and lovers are quick to wound, quicker than strangers, even; the heart that opens itself to the world, opens itself to sorrow. I

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Literary Houses

The Broke and the Bookish are taking a break from their Top Ten Tuesday for the summer, but there’s no reason that I have to do the same. This week, I decided to give a shout out to some of my favorite literary houses. A great setting can be like a character, and these houses are very much a part of their respective worlds.

1. Thornfield Hall from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte– A large, grand mansion on the moors, with a great library, a cute kid, a loving master, lots of servants, and something very strange happening in the attic….

The hall-door, which was half of glass, stood open; I stepped over the threshold. It was a fine autumn morning; the early sun shone serenely on embrowned groves and still green fields; advancing on to the lawn, I looked up and surveyed the front of the mansion. It was three storeys high, of proportions not vast, though considerable: a gentleman’s manor-house, not a nobleman’s seat: battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look. Its grey front stood out well from the background of a rookery…

North Lees Hall

North Lees Hall is said to be Charlotte Bronte’s inspiration for Thornfield Hall

2. Manderley from Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier– I consider Rebecca and Jane Eyre to be sort of literary cousins; both feature a heroine arriving at a large house full of servants and a master with Bluebeard-ish tendencies. But Manderley is in Cornwall. Our unnamed heroine marries it’s master Maxim De Winter only to discover that Manderley is haunted by the memory of Maxim’s late wife, Rebecca. A memory that is faithfully kept alive by one of the creepiest literary housekeeper’s ever.

The peace of Manderley. The quietude and the grace. Whoever lived within its walls, whatever trouble there was and strife, however much uneasiness and pain, no matter what tears were shed, what sorrows borne, the peace of Manderley could not be broken or the loveliness destroyed. The flowers that died would bloom again another year, the same birds build their nests, the same trees blossom. That old quiet moss smell would linger in the air, and the bees would come, and crickets, the herons build their nests in the deep dark woods. The butterflies would dance their merry jug across the lawns, and spiders spin foggy webs, and small startled rabbits who had no business to come trespassing poke their faces through the crowded shrubs. There would be lilac, and honeysuckle still, and the white magnolia buds unfolding slow and tight beneath the dining-room window. No one would ever hurt Manderley. It would lie always in its hollow like an enchanted thing, guarded by the woods, safe, secure, while the sea broke and ran and came again in the little shingle bays below.

3. Wuthering Heights from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte– The action of Wuthering Heights takes places at two houses, Wuthering Heights, and Thrushcross Grange. Thrushcross Grange is polite and civilized. Wuthering Heights embodies everything that is wild and dangerous about the moors. Most dangerous, perhaps, is Heathcliff, a character who can’t comfortably be classified as a “hero” or a “villain”.

Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling, “wuthering” being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed. One may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house, and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.

thtopwithenspast

Top Withens; an abandoned farm thought to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights.

4. Green Gables from Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery– Taking a break from the gothic, this pastoral house in the fictional town of Avonlea, on Prince Edward Island, is home to the plucky red headed orphan, Anne. It’s a place of learning and hard work, but also of laughter and love.

“I came to the conclusion, Marilla, that I wasn’t born for city life and that I was glad of it. It’s nice to be eating ice cream at brilliant restaurants at eleven o’clock at night once in a while; but as a regular thing I’d rather be in east gable at eleven, sound asleep, but kind of knowing even in my sleep that the stars were shining outside and the wind was blowing in the firs across the brook.”

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Green Gables as seen in the 1985 television miniseries.

5. Tara in Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell– When the civil war takes southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara’s, familiar world away, she clings to her family home and plantation, Tara, with an iron grasp. Almost everything she does is to protect Tara and to keep it in her possession. Whenever she feels like all is lost, she goes to Tara.

Spring had come early that year, with warm quick rains and sudden frothing of pink peach blossoms and dogwood dappling with white stars the dark river swamp and far-off hills. Already the plowing was nearly finished, and the bloody glory of the sunset colored the fresh-cut furrows of red Georgia clay to even redder hues. The moist hungry earth, waiting upturned for the cotton seeds, showed pinkish on the sandy tops of furrows, vermilion and scarlet and maroon where shadows lay along the sides of the trenches. The whitewashed brick plantation house seemed an island set in a wild red sea, a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified suddenly at the moment when the pink-tipped waves were breaking into surf. For here were no long, straight furrows, such as could be seen in the yellow clay fields of the flat middle Georgia country or in the lush black earth of the coastal plantations. The rolling foothill country of north Georgia was plowed in a million curves to keep the rich earth from washing down into the river bottoms.

It was a savagely red land, blood-colored after rains, brick dust in droughts, the best cotton land in the world. It was a pleasant land of white houses, peaceful plowed fields and sluggish yellow rivers, but a land of contrasts, of brightest sun glare and densest shade. The plantation clearings and miles of cotton fields smiled up to a warm sun, placid, complacent. At their edges rose the virgin forests, dark and cool even in the hottest noons, mysterious, a little sinister, the soughing pines seeming to wait with an age-old patience, to threaten with soft sighs: “Be careful! Be careful! We had you once. We can take you back again.”

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Tara, as seen the the 1939 film

6. Misselthwaite Manor from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgsen Burnett– Yes, the garden is the main attraction for readers, but you can’t have a secret garden without a creepy old manor. Misselthwaite has over 100 rooms filled with secrets, a heartbroken master, and the hidden promise of life somewhere outdoors.

All she thought about the key was that if it was the key to the closed garden, and she could find out where the door was, she could perhaps open it and see what was inside the walls, and what had happened to the old rose-trees. […] Besides that, if she liked it she could go into it every day and shut the door behind her, and she could make up some play of her own and play it quite alone, because nobody would ever know where she was, but would think the door was still locked and the key buried in the earth. The thought of that pleased her very much.

7. Satis House in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens–  Long ago, Satis House was done up for the wedding of it’s mistress, the young Miss Havisham. Unfortunately she was left at the alter. Since then nothing has changed. The tables are still set, the rooms are still decorated. Miss Havisham has never left and can still be seen lurking around the wreckage in her wedding dress.

So unchanging was the dull old house, the yellow light in the darkened room, the faded spectre in the chair by the dressing-table glass, that I felt as if the stopping of the clocks had stopped Time in that mysterious place, and, while I and everything else outside it grew older, it stood still.

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Dickens (who lived nearby) used aspects of Restoration House in South East England, when describing Satis house.

8. Dragonwyck from Dragonwyck by Anya Seton– This lesser known novel by Anya Seton has a lot in common with Jane Eyre and Rebecca, in terms of character and plot. But Dragonwyck is a patroonship (click for more info on what that is) and that informs the mentality and motivations of one of the main characters in this book. Just how twisted can the “lord of the manor” be, and still get away with it? When his wife is awakened to the injustice of the system, she’s no longer blinded by love for her husband and the beauty of his estate.

Yes,” Nicholas replied, in a bored voice. “The name is Dutch. Dragonwyck, meaning place of the dragon. It derives from an Indian legend about a flying serpent whose eyes were fire and whose flaming breath withered the corn.” “Heavens!” With a light laugh, Miranda asked her new employer if the red men had sent forth a champion to do battle with the dragon.The patroon’s face was dark, unsmiling. “To appease him the wise men of the tribe sacrificed a pure maiden on the rocky bluff you see above you.”Miranda’s laughter died. Something in Nicholas Van Ryn’s cruel, handsome features made her imagine herself in the Indian maiden’s place.

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Dragonwyck as imagined in the 1946 film adaptation of the novel.

9.  Howards End in Howards End by EM Forester– The fate of this Hertfordshire country house represents the future of the British empire and class divides of England. The fact that it’s called Howards End should be a clue as to what the predictions are for the future.  The fate of this house is tied up in the dynamics of three families. The Schlegels are middle class, intellectual and impractical; the Wilcox’s are upper class, materialistic, and pragmatic; and the working class Basts are deprived but  hopeful.

Why did we settle that their house would be all gables and wiggles, and their garden all gamboge-coloured paths? I believe simply because we associate them with expensive hotels–Mrs. Wilcox trailing in beautiful dresses down long corridors, Mr. Wilcox bullying porters, etc. We females are that unjust.

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Preppard Cottage was used as the house in the 1992 film adaptation of Howard’s End.

10.  Villa Villekulla from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren– This was my dream house when I was about eight years old. I think it would be most kid’s dream home. Pippi lives there with no parents, or relatives (but with a pet monkey and a horse….). The kids next door, Tommy and Annika, come over the play a lot, and the tree outside the house grows soda. What’s not to love?

“But first I must introduce you to Mr. Nilsson,” said Pippi, and the little monkey took off his cap and bowed politely.
Then they all went in through Villa Villekulla’s tumbledown garden gate, along the gravel path, bordered with old moss-covered trees–really good climbing trees they seemed to be–up to the house, and onto the porch. There stood the horse, munching oats out of a soup bowl

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This house, on the Swedish island, Gotland, was used for Villa Villakula in the 1969 film, Pippi Longstocking, and the TV series of the early 1970’s.