Seven Quick Takes: Mr. Darcy Goes to Lawn Guy Land

1.  I just wrote my writing vocation story.  Part One, Part Two.

2.  Now I need to finish Jack’s baptism gown!

Oh, and MOVE to Michigan.  Right-o.

3.  A friend recommended I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Verdict:  Enjoyable!

I liked it for two reasons:

a) The protagonist’s spunky personality jumped off the page from the very beginning.  No wading through sighs and moans and angst and blah-dee-blah-boring in order to like and care about the character.  The authors introduced the character and the premise without resorting to moping (can I get an amen?).  Therefore, I plan to make a study of this book’s opening, to see what, exactly, makes the personality jump off the page. (What’s that you say, Noah Lukeman?  The first five pages?)

b) It was a nod to Pride and PrejudiceIt’s subtle, but then I thought about it, and ding-dong! Duh. The (SPOILER ALERT) eventual intended’s name is Dawsey.  Think Mr. Darcy…

… getting a big crane and moving Pemberley…

…and plopping down here:

“Aw, Mista Dawsey! Oh my Gawd, I looowwwve Mista Dawsey! Mista Dawsey with the ten-thowsand smahckers!

But instead of Lawn Guy Land, it’s Guernsey…

…and instead of Mista Darcy and his ten-thowsand smahckers, it’s a pig farmer who reads Charles Lamb.

4.  (The Long Island accent and joke is courtesy of my native New Yorker, son-of-Long-Islanders husband. Yes, his relatives talk like this. From all accounts, everyone on Long Island talks like this.  Do Long Islanders know they talk like this?  What do Long Islanders think of us Oregonians, if they ever think of us at all?  Deep questions for the ages…)

5.  There are other reasons why The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society gives a lovely subtle (despite my joking, it really is subtle) nod to Pride and Prejudice The “spirit” of the book is a character named Elizabeth.  Whose best friend is Jane.  And there’s a female Mr. Collins, too!  (Oh my Gawd, I lowve me some Mista Cowllins!)

The book has other lovely qualities – it’s written in epistolary form, which the authors executed with success.  The character’s voices shine through their letters, and the writing styles shift consistently with each character.  The setting was interesting – England following World War II, and the Channel Islands recovering from German Occupation.  Book lovers will love the book references, but book references without being stuffy.  Many scenes were laugh-out-loud funny.

Crticisms?  A few awkward transitions, the token he’s-my-best-friend-but-he’s-gay character (come on, folks, it’s become a cliché!), and a little bit of the old Deus ex machina.

Otherwise, liked it overall.  Will read it again.  Recommend it to you.

6.  Speaking of Pride and Prejudice… I’m sure some academic out there has studied this, but I’m more and more convinced that modern fiction involving a romance story (note that I’m not limiting these to romances) can’t get out from under the shadow of Pride and Prejudice.  

Think about it. How many female protagonists with a temperament like Elizabeth Bennet were there before Jane Austen conceived and wrote Elizabeth?

That’s right, crickets.  Chirp away.

And, after Pride and Prejudice?

I’d say, 75% of female leading characters in novels from then on out, and especially in contemporary novels, have the Elizabeth aura.

Every woman nowadays either thinks she’s Elizabeth Bennet or wishes she could be Elizabeth Bennet.  And it has very little to do with Mr. Darcy.  It has everything to do with Elizabeth Bennet being the model of a intelligent, fun, stand-on-her-own-dang-two-feet kind of woman.  She appeals.   We love her.

Of course, Jane Austen herself knew what she had made.  Someone All Too Powerful.   Austen’s next heroine was the temperamental inverse of Elizabeth – Fanny Price.  Her next antagonist the temperamental copycat but moral inverse of Elizabeth – Mary Crawford.  Mary Crawford is a sort of warning bell.  Très confusing to our sensibilities.  And no wonder nobody nowadays likes Mansfield Park except a few weirdos like me.

The Elizabeth Theory.  Go on, someone prove me wrong.

7.  That’s all for me.  Head over to Jen’s place for some more Quick Takes.


  1. says

    I think your Elizabeth theory might be right.:)
    I also recently read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and loved it. I added it to my list of ‘Comfort Reads’ – books that make me feel good, like I’ve just eaten a block of chocolate good.

  2. says

    Long Islanders–totally true, all of it. I’m not from NYC myself, but my husband is, and he has a whole branch of family from Long Island. Seriously, the accent is something else.

    • says

      I’ll admit it, I love the accent. I mentioned that I’m from Oregon, and we have our own stereotypes (crack-pot-smoking-hippies-Prius-driving-city-composting-yuppie-liberals – plus the people who live outside of Portlandia/Eugene), but I have so much affection for everything NY (except the Yankees), having married into the family.

      The hardest thing for me is understanding his relatives when they get together – my MIL’s extended family also hails from Brooklyn, plus there’s the Italian-American lingo thing. Occasionally I have to ask for explanations. :)

  3. Haus Frau says

    I absolutely love “Mansfield Park.” I finish reading it, turn back to the beginning, and start again. I go out on a limb and proclaim that the 1983 BBC version is the only movie that got it right. There’s just one complaint about MP that will always disappoint me. Edmund didn’t nearly suffer enough for his extreme lack of discernment. He needed to feel he had to earn Fanny, sorry, Jane Austen. ;)

    • says

      I can agree with that! The ending is too pat. But I suppose that the real conflict of the book is not whether or not Fanny and Edmund marry, but rather if Edmund and Mary marry, which is why JA breezes through the end. That’s a thought, at least. What do you think?

      • Haus Frau says

        You’re very correct. Once the Crawfords are out of the picture, it was a given that Edmund and Fanny would marry. However, I sometimes fancy a chapter in between Edmund regretting his last meeting with Mary and the final chapter wherein Fanny is shown coming into her own as the new daughter of the house, taking on a lot of Aunt Norris’ responsibilities without the affectation. Edmund meanwhile realizes his growing attachment and then reflects on his past behavior (especially in light of his father’s description of a proper clergyman!) and at least has a paragraph or two of his self-conflict and doubts of his own worthiness of her. Oh, that would be so satisfying to me. ;) But, as I said, I read and reread MP many times a year so I can get by… ;)