There’s been some wonderful discussion last week and the week before about the Fraser Correspondence. I’ve been having a lot of fun exploring Charles and Mélanie’s marriage and Mel’s relationship with Raoul at the time of Waterloo. I’ve always thought that this was the time when the strain of her marriage and her work against her husband’s side and against many of the friends she’d made during her marriage became almost unbearable for Mel. It’s fascinating for me as the author to have that play out in real time both in my Waterloo book and in the Fraser Correspondence.
And I love getting readers’ takes on seeing those years dramatized. In the discussion two weeks ago, Jeanne said, “This is the first time, that I can recall, that we read Mélanie passing detailed information about troops and generals to Raoul. Before this, it has seemed more like gossip that might be easily picked up by any attentive servant. This new information seems to come directly from Charles’ confidences to Mélanie. For the first time, it really feels like a betrayal – of the English and of Charles. It feels as if Charles shares his conversations with Wellington and the Prince with Mélanie out of respect for her intelligence and her opinions while her response is to pass it on to the French through Raoul.
“Mélanie is one of my top favorite Romanceland heroines because of her adherence to principles and ideals above and beyond her marriage and love for her husband. Its unsettling to watch the resulting betrayal as it takes place in real time.”
Sharon commented, “Mélanie’s letter doesn’t change the way I feel about her, the character, but it does compel me, the reader, to acknowledge the difficulties of passing judgments and to consider the possibility of my either judging too harshly or brushing off the transgressions too lightly at the first time. In other words, the uneasiness I felt reading her letter was caused as much by her actions as by the re-examination of my preconceived notions.”
It’s also interesting for me to explore different characters’ reactions to the war against Bonaparte. Because as I’ve learned from my research it wasn’t as simple as everyone in Britain immediately believing war was inevitable the moment they heard of Napoleon’s escape from Elba. There was a sizable Whig and Radical contingent against war. This week’s Fraser Correspondence letter explores Simon’s attitudes (and through him David’s) in a letter to Mélanie.
How do you feel about seeing Charles and Mel’s past played out in real time? Any surprises about what happened or who felt what when? About the state of Mel’s relationship to Raoul at the time and Raoul’s attitude toward Charles? Does it change the way you feel about the characters? What other books have back stories you’d like to see dramatized? Authors, do you like going back in time to explore your characters’ pasts?
Finally, who else would you like to hear from in the Fraser Correspondence, talking about what? The letter from Simon was a request from Jeanne. I love input as I try to figure out what to write each week.