Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fictional Heros

OK, I know I implied I was done with the Jane Austen conversations. But alas, my husband and other things have given me reason to revisit the subject. But there are several different aspects of my life and literary interests that have come together recently, so bear with me while I try to tie it all together for you.

Because I am a fan of Stephanie Plum, I frequent the Janet Evanovich web site. Her daughter, Alex, does a fun Q&A with subjects ranging from writing tips to information about future books to extra details on the lives of Evanovich's fictional characters. A fan asked recently which classical music selections might be enjoyed by the fictional Ranger. The answer given was Bach's Suite for Solo Cello No.1 in G Major. When I downloaded that on youtube to hear what piece it was, I found out it is one that my husband, Joe, enjoys playing on his classical guitar. Joe then specified that the Yo-Yo Ma version is the best. On the most recent Evanovich Q&A, Alex specifies that Ranger also prefers that version. So see, Joe is just like Ranger. What a guy!

Now we need to segue to my overnight road trip. Yesterday I loaded up my seven youngest kids to take a quick trip to visit my parents-in-law and my oldest son, Jeremy, who is living with them. The occasion was the annual Carnival at Jeremy's school, Echo Charter School. I thought it would be a good time to meet some of Jeremy's friends and teachers. And it was. I did not officially meet many of his friends, since the carnival is a fund raiser for the school and the students all were busy helping. But his friend, Peter, was helping Jeremy run the bowling game, and Jeremy pointed out several otherfrieinds to me when I asked. And I got a chance to meet his favorite teacher, Mrs. L.

So I had ten hours of driving with seven children in the last two days. I periodically found myself day-dreaming about some of my recent reading. Specifically I was trying to figure out what some of my favorite fictional characters would be like in real life. Would I like them? Now, in my defense, I have not read or re-read any Stephanie Plum books for about a month. I have forced myself to move on a bit to some of the other reading I was getting behind on. But of course, the Plum characters did eventually come into my internal dialog.

I have done this before, always with the same results. I probably would not become good friends with Stephanie or Morelli; they are fun to read about. But I have them pigeon holed as "pop culture" characters and much to my daughters' chagrin, I am kind of the antithesis of pop culture. I have boring clothes; I never shop; I don't watch TV; I don't keep up with sports; I try to be thrifty; and although I love take out food, I would have to be pretty wealthy to be in a position to waste as much money on take-out and convenience foods as do these two characters, not to mention the health aspects of indulging in a diet such as theirs. I am just too practical to allow myself to live like that. As much as I enjoy reading about them, I just can't see myself having anything in common with Stephanie and Morelli.

But Ranger has some noble character traits. I could imagine becoming friends with him, as much as anyone is able to be friends with him. I can imagine engaging him in arguments about his quasi-spirituality and the conflicts that I perceive in his life choices. I would like to pick his brain about his sense of right and wrong and the gray area of legality within which he operates. But of course, since he is Ranger, he would not allow himself to become engaged in any such conversation and so there's the rub. I suppose that is also why he can be portrayed as noble; because by virtue of his silently-mysterious persona, one can never really know him.

And so on down my list of favorite characters.

Imagine my surprise when arriving home I found waiting a web site Joe had pulled up for me to read. He saw a link to it on Drudge while skimming headlines and he thought I'd have fun with it. The author of this little article lists several literary heroes and using their fictional personalities, describes their good points, the reasons women love them. But then the author also goes on to sketch a bit of what a woman who marries such a hero might really expect in a marriage. Included in her list are Emily Bronte's Heathcliffe, Rhett Butler of Gone with the Wind fame, and naturally, Mr. Darcy, among others. Notably missing are the Plum men, Joe Morelli and Ricardo Carlos Manosa aka Ranger.

When later this evening my real life hero, Joe, returned home he asked whether I had seen the article he had saved for me. From the piano at which I was trying to rid myself of some built up car tension, I responded in the affirmative. Ironically, the pieces I was then playing: The Dreame, and Weep You No More Sad Fountains, (Marianne's vocal numbers in Sense and Sensibility), followed by the aria from The Marriage of Figaro that Lizzy sings at Pemberley.

In case anyone is interested, here and here are piano books with music from the various Jane Austen movies. Although I don't usually take time for the Jane Austen fan site stuff on the internet, while researching music in the various movies I did find this Republic of Pemberley site a helpful resource. They appear to have information on every JA novel and all the movies and even on the knock-off Jane Austen stuff. I have referred to it on occasion when curious about a historic detail or if I wanted to check on something from one of the books. It appears to be a very extensive web site and I have not had reason to do more than scratch the surface. But I can say that the lists of music used in the various movies and where it is available is comprehensive.

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