Thanks for all the wonderful comments following last week’s post. There was so much food for thought, it seems appropriate to carry the topic over into this week. I’m particularly intrigued by Sharon’s comment:
I so agree with you and Pam Rosenthal that in addition to contrasting unconventional characters with conventional characters, the interplay of conventionality and unconventionality within a character also makes interesting and compelling reading. I think this is true to Charles & Mélanie, too. Somehow, given the exchange between her and Charles toward the end of Secrets of a Lady, I have wondered perhaps Mélanie’s theory of the husband-wife relationship is a bit conventional, although she may never behave as a conventional wife herself.
This is a wonderful example of how comments by readers can make a writer step back and think about her or his characters in a whole new way. I’ll have to think more about the scene in question. Mélanie may see marriage in a bit of a conventional light, but I think perhaps it’s more that she (at least at that point) thinks Charles sees it that way. Or that in order to be a wife she has to conform to her idea of the sort of perfect political/diplomatic wife role she’s been playing all these years. Definitely need to ponder it more. I’d love to hear the take of others who’ve read the books.
Talking of characters who defy convention, Simon and David (as Simon would be quick to say) defy convention every day of their lives. And yet David, as JMM has pointed out, is in many days a conventional English gentleman to his bones (much more so than Charles, though Mel sometimes claims the same about Charles). Which brings me to another video clip, about writing David and Simon, the challenges of making them true to their time period and at the same time true to themselves.
What you do think about how David and Simon are portrayed in their historical context? What about other same sex couples in historical fiction? Is David an example of Sharon’s point about the interplay of conventionality and unconventionality within a character? And do you think Mélanie has a conventional view of marriage despite her own defiance of conventions?