Tuesday, 27 April 2010

I have equipped myself properly for Bath already, you see...

I didn't think I could geek out on Jane Austen anymore - then I spent a weekend in Bath!

From the moment I got there (reading Persuasion on the train of course!), I imagined what Bath would have looked like to Jane Austen. Along the way from the train station to my hotel, I saw things that I had read about hundreds of times. From Cheap Street to the Pump Room, I could find references from Northanger Abbey and Persuasion everywhere.

I picked up a leaflet for the Jane Austen Centre, and saw that they were doing a Jane Austen walking tour. We got to walk around Bath city centre seeing places that Jane Austen herself lived in the few years that she was in Bath, and where her fictional characters resided and socialised. The Royal Crescent, The Circus and the Assembly Rooms are all so grand and exactly the kinds of places I imagine Anne Elliot and Catherine Morland wandering around.

After that we headed to the Jane Austen centre to listen to a little talk, take a look around the exhibition and then indulge in a cream tea in the Regency Tea Room, followed by an open top bus tour around the city.

I can honestly say that I have absorbed more knowledge this weekend than I have in a really long time, not only about Jane, but about Bath as a city. I've never really considered myself as someone who is interested in history, but I found it really interesting learning about how Bath grew from a small market town to one of the most fashionable cities.

When I wasn't being a geek, I was lying in the sun on the green in front of the Royal Crescent, daydreaming of finding my own Captain Wentworth or Henry Tilney...

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Half agony, half hope...

As I'm off to Bath next weekend, to wander the Georgian streets imagining that I'm Anne Elliot, I've decided to read Persuasion for the 100th time.

I mentioned Wentworth's (or Wenty as I like to call him) letter to Anne in my last post, so for those of you who haven't read Persuasion, here's the letter:

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in

F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.

Isn't it just the most amazing letter? If you haven't read the book - go now! Read!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Mad, bad and dangerous to know...

Yesterday a friend mentioned to me how earlier that day her lecturer had been talking about Byronic heroes, listing some as Rochester, Heathcliff and... Edward Cullen! I've never really given much thought to the Byronic hero, but when she said that, it set me to thinking.

More often than I'd ever care to admit, I fall in love with characters in a book. It's the reason I can read the same stories over and over again; why the page that has Captain Wentworth's beautiful letter to Anne Elliot in my copy of Persuasion is so battered and why I'm not ashamed to admit that I've read the Twilight series five times (well, maybe I am a little). There's something about these stories that draws me in time and time again. And yes, I wish I was the heroine and that I could meet someone like the hero, who I would fall madly in love with. But I know I'm not the only one!

How many great stories about love are there in the world? Hundreds! How many romantic heroes are there? Thousands! And yet it's the same ones that pop up time and time again.

Rochester, Heathcliff, and yes, I am going to agree with my friend's lecturer... Edward Cullen. They are men who have captured the hearts of millions of adoring women, all over the world. And they are all Byronic heroes.

According to wikipedia, the definition of a Byronic hero, or an anti-hero, is someone who is "an idealised but flawed character . . . mad, bad and dangerous to know". A Byronic hero shows a mixture of the following characterstics: a strong sense of arrogance, a troubled past, power of seduction and sexual attraction, mysterious, magnetic and charasmatic, self-destructive behaviour and of course, a good heart in the end.

All of these men have these traits, and I've finally realised that it is exactly this type of man that suckers women in. If we were ever to meet one of these men in modern day life, we'd consider them a "bad boy" and yet when they're in literature, they're a tortured romantic. So, it's exactly why we DO always go for the bad boy in life and can't understand it. We sigh and say " why can't Dave be like Mr Darcy?" When in fact, if we knew Mr Darcy, we might think he was a bit of a prick.

So let's take a look at them...
Rochester is a favourite of mine. I love that he falls head over heels for plain Jane Eyre. Let's face it, he's a bastard. He has no qualms about committing bigamy and ruining Jane's reputation, but he's forgiven when his crazy wife conveniently burns to death and he goes blind, karma's a bitch hey. Jane takes care of him and they live happily ever after. Byronic hero behaviour? Check.

Heathcliff, I have a few issues with. Not only was he an arse, but I'm pretty certain he was more than a little unhinged. Yes, he loved Cathy with all his heart, but I always found him a little extreme. Mind you, Edgar Linton was far too pathetic for my liking. I always wish Heathcliff had just stayed to hear what Cathy really thought about him, but that's just me and my need for people in love to be together. He's the epitome of the Byronic hero.

Edward Cullen, not your typical romantic hero due to being undead. I genuinely fell a little bit in love with him when I read Twilight though. I can't understand how anyone could be Team Jacob, but anyway... He has the ultimate bad boy danger, he could quite literally kill the love of his life at any moment. He also has great brooding skills, if a tad too overprotective for my liking. He couldn't be any more of a Byronic hero than if he were Byron himself.

Captain Wentworth, possibly my favourite ever fictional hero. I always think of him as being so sweet and wonderful, but having given it some thought, he is a tad Byronic. He has spent 8 years missing the love of his life, but when he sees her again he flirts with some floozy in front of her, and acts like a bit of an arse. Yet Anne still digs him and they finally get their act together after he tells her how he feels (swoon!).

I'd also say the same of Darcy, he has the pride, some obvious issues with the whole Wickham/Georgiana sitch and is constantly rude to Lizzie, but he's possibly the most famous hero in the world. Go figure.

No matter how awfully these men have behaved throughout their respective storylines, they are all entangled in some of the greatest love stories ever written, and they are all completely in love with someone who accepts them and loves them back equally. The proof of this love is what shows us that they all have a good heart. Love is their most redeeming quality.

So, after a ridiculously long ramble, I have come to the conclusion that I certainly have a type when it comes to reading a book. And now I know what it is.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

It's love, it's not Santa Claus.

Last night I finally got to watch (500) Days of Summer. Now, I had been waiting to watch it for over a year. I'd first heard about it as I wrote a piece on Zooey Deschanel for my dissertation and saw that she had just made that quirky little film, but when it came out at the cinema, for one reason or another, I never got to see it. So, excitedly, I put it on last night and sat down to watch it.

I had been forewarned that I probably wouldn't like the storyline very much - me, the hopeless romantic, watching a film about a relationship that had an expiry date in the title. But I was pleasantly surprised.

For those of you who haven't seen it, I may possibly ruin it for you so stop reading now if you don't want to know what happens. Tom, who has always believed in destiny and finding your soulmate, meets Summer, who doesn't believe in love at all and states outright that she doesn't want a boyfriend. He then falls head over heels in love with her, and we see their relationship evolve, but also see flashes of it disintegrating as it flickers backwards and forwards through time.

After Summer breaks up with him, we then see that she has gone off and gotten herself engaged. Shocking behaviour for someone who didn't even want to be in a relationship, and obviously poor Tom is devastated.

Now, I've heard people describe Summer as a bitch in this film, but I have to disagree. I actually quite like the fact that it wasn't a Hollywood cop-out and that she didn't change her mind for Tom, but when she did meet the right person she fell in love and married him. That's real life (or an extreme version of it maybe)!

I know so many people (myself included) who have been infatuated with someone, only to have them tell them that they're not looking for a relationship right now. What happens next? A month later these people end up in relationships. It's horrible, but it happens, and sadly it means that you obviously just weren't right for each other. But then you can move on to greater things. You'll find that person who does want to be in a relationship with you.

Anyway, that was my take on the film. Tonight I shall be watching something far more sentimental and soppy - The Time Travelers Wife. I cried for about the last half an hour in the cinema when I watched this, but I'm a cryer! Sometimes it's good to stick on a weepie and just go with it.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

And here's what I did earlier...

This blog is inspired by my column for Cellardoor magazine. Check it out here...

Head to page 44 of the Spring Fling issue...

Enjoy!! x

'He is just what a young man ought to be,' said she, 'sensible, good-humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners!'

After sitting and whinging about my love life to anyone who would listen, a friend suggested I turn my Cellardoor column into a blog in order to help vent my frustration and keep busy.

Now the way my life is going, I'm certainly no heroine. I'm terminally single and get attached to fictional characters far more than I ever get attached to real people. Until recently that is. After a long vacation from having feelings for anyone, I've finally gotten to know someone I really like.

What I had forgotten is just how crazy liking someone makes you. Or maybe it's just me? I find myself going out more in the hopes of seeing him, constantly looking around for him when I'm out and getting paranoid that he's in love with another girl if he so much as looks at her for a second too long. It's exhausting.

And then there's the constant "does he like me?" analysis, letting him know that you like him and figuring out what your next move is going to be, all the while spending near enough all day unwillingly thinking about them. Wow, I sound even crazier when I write it down.

I'm forever comparing my life to those of Jane's girls, and I'm currently relating to Jane Bennet. She met Mr Bingley and he was sweet and caring - one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, and you can't help but like him - just like the guy I like, who I'll call... Mr E (ha, like mystery!). She plays it cool and a few people think perhaps she's not that into him, but just when she feels comfortable he disappears and she's left heartbroken and wondering what she's done wrong.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not heartbroken, just a tad confused. How do I know if Mr E likes me, or just considers me a friend? I mean there's been flirting, a little hand holding and some other "signs" but then there are ignored messages, a lack of contact and another 100 negative things to cancel out the positive. The other day I put myself pretty out there, more than I've done with anyone in a long time, to no avail. And this is a nice guy - the bad guys are 1000 times worse.

I always think things were much simpler in the days of Jane Austen, if somebody liked you, they proposed. She even led us to believe that if they really loved you, it wouldn't matter if your family were embarassing and you had no money. It's much more complicated now, and with all these new ways of contacting people, such as Facebook, not only are there more ways of finding out about them (borderline stalking in some cases), but there are more ways of getting ignored. It's great!

Wow, I've written a lot for my very first blog post. I should probably stop with the rambling now. I'm not going to lie, I'm probably going to go and put Pride and Prejudice on and watch the scene where Bingley proposes!