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Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

So Carolyn talked this week about the fashion difference between East and West Coasts in terms of boot wearage, and the day she posted this–before I had even read it–I went and bought a pair of knee-high black boots (these are the VERY ONES I got).

Because, as Carolyn so astutely points out, that is how we roll on this side of the country.

Earlier this week, I sent my agent the novella I’ve been working on FOR EVER, the one I did a short excerpt of a few weeks back. And since then have done no fiction writing, but am THINKING awfully hard about it. Not that that counts.

The Thanksgiving holiday arrives next week, which means that I won’t have to cook for a few days! That is likely what I am most thankful for. I hope to catch up on sleep and hanging out with my husband, too, during those few days off.

One thing that will definitely happen on Thanksgiving is listening to Arlo Guthrie‘s “Alice’s Restaurant;” it’s a Thanksgiving tradition my family and I used to have, and now my husband has taken it up, which is so sweet. So we’ll listen to “the circles and arrows on the back of each one” and laugh on our drive down to South Jersey for turkey.

Of course the food is lovely, too, but I think the annual listening is my favorite part. What does your family do special at Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for?

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No, not an early post for Thanksgiving according to the Mayan calendar.

I finished, sort of, my book called … well, it doesn’t actually have a name yet but it’s about Jane Austen in Bath, vampires and a French invasion, with guest appearances by the Prince of Wales (later the Prince Regent), Beau Brummell, and Colonel Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington). Guess which one is a vampire. Coming from HarperCollins in fall (?) 2010.

So on Monday night I left work early and went home with my head stuffed full of the last three thousand words or so and started to write.

First phone call: from a worthy organization I told to take my name off their call list.

Phone call #2: daughter wanted to borrow my pretty pie dish (she is the official Thanksgiving pie maker) and I told her it was cracked, probably not a good idea.

Phone call #3: the person who had kindly invited me to attend the local Jane Austen Society birthday event as her guest. This necessitated me making a call to find out what day a possibly conflicting event was on–I am such a social butterfly–and finding out that I could attend neither the Austen event or event #3 that I really wanted to go to.

Phone call #4: from a worthy organization who hung up before I answered.

Phone call #5: my daughter again, asking if it was ok to ask our hosts if she could bring the office Thanksgiving orphan (there’s always one) and I said yes, good idea.

Somehow, fielding more phone calls than I usually get in a week, I got to the point where I typed THE END. Yeehah.

Frantic editing and fact checking will follow and then straight into the next book. But I celebrated the end the next day by going to see the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center, a last minute invite from my daughter the pie baker. Lots of fun!

Happy Thanksgiving, Risky friends (US) and happy Thursday to Risky friends elsewhere!

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Or, why Daniel Deronda is like Thanksgiving Dinner.

Yes, it’s Thanksgiving and it’s also the birthday of George Eliot (born 1819), to whom I would like to give thanks today. Highly literate and educated despite being born into the sort of provincial society she depicts in her novels, she left England at the age of thirty after the death of her parents and traveled in Europe, returning to become a writer for the Westminster Review. Her life was unconventional (she lived out of wedlock with a married man, George Henry Lewes, for years–as she grew in fame and fortune Victorian society accepted the liaison. After Lewes’ death she married a man twenty years her junior; go, girl. And she earned a living as a writer, “coming out” as George Eliot, a name she adopted early in her career.). Interestingly Eliot’s books rarely turn up on lists of “my favorite romance novels” in the company of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

Why? Here’s a reason, in her own words:

Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, is still a great beginning, as it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in Eden, but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness. It is still the beginning of the home epic – the gradual conquest or irremediable loss of that complete union which makes the advancing years as a climax, and age the harvest of sweet memories in common.

Consider Middlemarch, possibly her greatest work, where the emphasis is on the community itself and the burgeoning romances are only part of the big picture. She subverts the marriage of true minds–Lydgate and Dorothea, two peas in a pod of innocence and idealism–and instead pairs them with partners who, in Lydgate’s case, are far their inferior. And Dorothea and Rufus Sewell, oops, Will Ladislaw–well, I can only conclude that he’s great in the sack and has the right sort of politics, certainly nothing to turn up one’s nose at, yet I digress–I’m left feeling that she sacrifices herself to romance. And I certainly think Mary Garth could have done better than Fred Vincy. Of course Eliot was smart enough to know that if she paired up Lydgate and Dorothea, there would be no book; that the troubling and imperfect relationships and their uncertain outcomes makes the book a brilliant masterpiece.

Now I love Daniel Deronda for similar reasons–the relationships aren’t what you think they’re going to be–and there’s no overt happy ending but a huge amount of interwoven complexity. She took the risk of trying to write about a truly good hero–Daniel, making a journey of discovery into his origins, forging his own destiny–and even she couldn’t quite do it. Daniel is really only interesting when he’s suffering, upon rare occasions, some sort of negative feelings–when he acknowledges his own snobbishness in becoming associated with a family of Jewish shopkeepers (oh, the vulgarity! How embarrassingly materialistic they are!). So Daniel is the turkey at the Thanksgiving dinner, handsome to look at, but a bit bland and occasionally dry. The rest of the book–the gravy and yams and cranberries and the rest of the delicious accompaniments, the fabulous secondary characters and their love interests and concerns–is Eliot’s unconventional triumph.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone.

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