Andrea/Cara here, seeing as August is a lazy month with people here in the northern hemisphere making the most of the last few weeks of summer by kicking back and just hanging out with friends and family—and good books (and you where it's still winter are curling up by the fire) I thought I'd have a little fun by throwing out this question to the Wenches about what author from history they'd like to hang out with:
If you could sit down for tea and a comfortable tell-all “coze" with one author from history, who would it be? And what questions would you want to ask? (Or want things would you want to talk about.)
Forget tea with Jane Austen! I'd like to have a ride with Lawrence of Arabia, both of us ambling along on camels and admiring the scenery. I'd ask him about being a love child whose father abandoned his wife and children in Ireland to live with Lawrence's mother, a governess. And what was it like being an archeologist in Syria before WWI, and his dashing activities in the war, and the Arab Revolt. And what did he think of Peter O'Toole playing him in the classic movie, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. I thought O'Toole did a very good job, other than being about a foot taller than the real Lawrence. <G>
I think there is always a danger in meeting your heroes in case they aren’t as you imagine them to be, so I’m going to decline the opportunity to chat with Shakespeare, Jane Austen or Daphne Du Maurier, for example, and choose Anne Bronte instead. She is the Bronte sister who has always intrigued me; her writing is as shrewd and observant as Charlotte’s and I prefer her quieter style to Emily’s more melodramatic prose. Plus she has such clear-sighted and interesting insights into the status of women in Victorian society, and as a writer she shows how characters change and grow. Oh, and she was apparently an animal-lover so I’m sure we will get on!
We’ll go to the Yorkshire seaside together and eat ice cream on the promenade (let’s not go to the moors!) and I’ll ask her whether she, Emily and Charlotte fulfilled the roles of responsible eldest, difficult middle and spoilt youngest child (although the fact that Branwell was around and seemed to be both difficult and spoilt probably confuses the stereotype!) I’ll also ask her how she feels about being the most overlooked of the three of them and how she feels about the endless remakes of her sisters’ books in film and TV!
Hmm, I’m not much of a person for asking people questions. I was taught it was rude. And being the heavy duty introvert that I am, I’m much more likely to listen than ask. I mean, do I really want to sit down with Joseph Heller or Ken Kesey and ask them what possessed them to write Catch 22 and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest? I don’t think so. And I see Austen and the Brontes as being as cautious about speaking as I am. What about Carolyn Keene? Could I ask her how she knew how to connect with millions of kids over the years with her Nancy Drew stories? Even if she explained in detail, I could never do what she did. And even if I could breach the language barrier, I don’t know that I could handle the passionate dialogue of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy, although I’m guessing I could sit back and listen for a long time! So I’ll just hope the wenches invite me to tea, and I’ll happily listen as they talk.
I would give anything to have a chance to sit down for a glass of Scotch with the late Nevil Shute. After I’d made an idiot of myself telling him how much his book A Town Like Alice meant to me, and how it played a subtle hand in steering me towards twin-stranded storylines in my own novels, I would want to simply sit and listen to him talk about his travels and experiences, not only as an engineer, a pilot, and a military man, but as a quiet, keen observer of his fellow humans. I think any afternoon spent in his company would have been one to savour and remember.
Such an easy choice! I'd give anything for an invitation from Sir Walter Scott to Abbotsford, where we could have tea in his library and chat about Scottish history, his books and stories, and his role in helping create the romantic historic Scotland that so many of us love today. I would tell him how much I love his house (each time I've visited there, I have to be dragged out), and how I've collected very old editions of many of his books. I'd ask about his research, his collections, his love of Scotland, and about some of his theories regarding certain episodes in Scottish history–especially some areas of history that I'm researching at the moment… It would be a great little coze with my secret author crush!
Okay, well unlike Mary Jo and Nicola, I won’t shy away from Jane Austen. I’d love to spend the afternoon sitting at a café in the Pump House at Bath, listening to her pithy commentary on the people parading through the halls. I’d just like to hear the sound of her voice and how impressions pop into her head. But most of all, I’d like to talk with her about Love—not only the many ways it weaves through her stories, but how she felt personally about its power. For me, Persuasion has such a poignant ring concerning second chances. It’s hard to believe it wasn’t written from somewhere deep in her heart. Yes, we’ve all read about her short-lived engagement (one day!) to Harris Bigg-Wither. Her relationship with Tom Lefroy (which is the basis for the movie, Becoming Jane) seems a little more complicated but nobody really knows for sure about her innermost feelings. So I’d love to know if she ever met her own Mr. Darcy. I’d like to think she did. She wrote so beautifully about the human heart and all its complexities—it seems only right that she had the chance to experience that elemental joy in her all-too-short life.
But then, again, maybe she’d simply deflect my probing with one of her sly quips. After all, Elizabeth Bennet and Anne Eliot didn’t wear their hearts on their sleeve.
Now it's your turn, Dear Readers! Please share YOUR answer to the same question. (I can't wait to see all your choices!)