Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On writing romances

Woman Writing a Letter, by Gerard ter Borch

‘You should write a novel. The regular resource of people who don’t go enough into the world to live a novel is to write one.'

‘I have done it,' said Elfride, looking dubiously at Mrs. Swancourt, as if in doubt whether she would meet with ridicule there.

‘That’s right. Now, then, what is it about, dear?'

‘About—well, it is a romance of the Middle Ages.'

‘Knowing nothing of the present age, which everybody knows about, for safety you chose an age known neither to you nor other people. That’s it, eh? No, no; I don’t mean it, dear.'

~Thomas Hardy, A Pair of Blue Eyes


I laughed when I read that. It is a very accurate summary of my own novel-writing adventures, I am ashamed to say. And Mrs. Swancourt! Who would have thought to find such an Austenian/Heyer-esque character in a Thomas Hardy book! Then again, she might turn out to be a "baddie" - I've only just met her character.

A Pair of Blue Eyes is my first Hardy novel, and I'm quite enjoying it - so far. I might have to take back my words on Thomas Hardy.


Ana Smith said...

Yes, Thomas Hardy does have a bad habit of torturing his females. I've never read any of his novels but I have watched Mayor of Casterbridge (which was interesting but tragic), Return of the Native (which I hated-just weird!), and part of Tess (we decided to just skip most of that one "ahem").

He even couldn't help torturing the main character in Under the Greenwood Tree, but thankfully it had a great ending. I'm glad to hear more of his books do. :-)

The Editrix said...

Well, I haven't reached the end of this one yet, but I understand that it doesn't have a happy ending, either.

Far From the Madding Crowd has a happy ending, if you're looking for another Hardy that isn't woefully depressing. The 1998 miniseries is pretty good.