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February 28, 2018

More Explanations of the Sources of My More Obscure Couples

I intentionally mentioned a lot of obscure couples for my posts for Cordy’s Lovely Blog Party because I wanted to share some new books (I LOVE finding new books to read on blogs, in fact it’s how I found some of these). I thought I’d give more explanations for the more obscure sources (i.e.not the lesser known works from well-known authors).

1. Marcus and Cottia from The Eagle of the Ninth, Aquila and Nell from Lantern Bearers, and Owain and Regina from Dawn Wind. All these books are part of a loose series by Rosemary Sutcliff. The series is The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, Frontier Wolf, The Lantern Bearers, (#5 is blank because it is an adult one with content and little to do with Marcus’ descendants, it only occasionally mentions Aquila and Flavian), Dawn Wind, Sword Song, and The Shield Ring. The series traces the line of an Italian soldier in Roman Britain all the way to his Norse descendants in the last Viking stronghold in Norman England. I just love the obscure time period and the lovely understated prose, and Sutcliff uses such lovely descriptive languages, for example, colors aren’t merely red or tan or yellow but crimson and tawny and saffron. I adore much of Sutcliff’s other historical fiction as well but be sure to check Wikipedia and make sure you are only reading those novels marked for children, the ones for adults can have some graphic issues.

2. Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. This is a fantasy novel that includes a melodramatic, spoilt-childish wizard; a girl stuck in an old woman’s body; the titular wonky moving castle; a quirky tone; travel between worlds; and of course, romance. If that doesn’t sound fun, I don’t know what does. This is book one of a trilogy, but I didn’t much like the other two.

3. Spiller and Arietty are from The Borrowers series by Mary Norton. This series is about teeny, tiny people that live under the floor boards. They live off and create their homes from food scraps and objects “borrowed” from “human beans.” They live in fear of being “SEEN” by said “human beans” and if “SEEN” feel compelled to move immediately. I grew up on these charming stories and re-read them a couple years ago. They end rather abruptly though, almost as if there was supposed to have been at least one more book.

4. Azalea and Lord Bradford are from Entwined by Heather Dixon which is a re-telling of the fairytale “Twelve Dancing Princesses.” The tone of the book is spooky and mysterious, closer in this respect to older fairytales than Disney retellings (if you prefer a more Disney-esque re-telling, I also enjoyed Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George). I loved this retelling and the three romances, but Azalea and Lord Bradford are my favorite couple.

5. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane are from Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. This couple doesn’t exactly have mutual feelings from their first extremely unromantic meeting (she is being tried for a murder that he decides to investigate). But Wimsey persistently, obstinately, provokingly, and hilariously pursues her through several years and novels until she discovers that she loves him back. Lord Peter is what makes these novels for me, I couldn’t speak as to the quality of the mysteries, they are quite different from Agatha Christie mysteries, and rather dark I think (although so are some of Christie’s).

6. Jamie and Molly are from Keeper of the Bees and Philip and Elnora are from Girl of the Limberlost by Gene(va) Stratton-Porter. She was a naturalist who imbued her novels with a rich wealth of flora and fauna. Freckles is the prequel to Girl of the Limberlost although both can stand alone. I’m set to re-read both novels which are romances set in a forest called the Limberlost (a real place in Indiana although I don’t know how much is left). Keeper of the Bees is about a (seemingly) mortally ill WWI soldier who runs away from the military sanitarium and takes on a job as a beekeeper from a man he meets by chance. He then impulsively weds a girl to save her character and befriends a wild child. Things are not as they seem, and chaos ensues. I’d also recommend Laddie and The Harvester by Stratton-Porter.

7. Martin and Ivy are from Swift and Nomad and Rob and Linden from Rebel by R. J. Anderson. The Faery Rebels are Knife (Spell Hunter in the U.S.), Rebel (Wayfarer in the U.S.), and Arrow. These are followed by the duology of Swift and Nomad. The first two are the only ones available in the U.S. (I borrowed the first four from an acquaintance), but I bought all of them through Amazon.uk, so they would all match. These novels are about faeries (the ancient mythology type, not the cutesy Victorian or Disney type, and you can read more about Celtic mythology in Faeries of the Celtic Lands by Nigel Suckling) in the modern U.K. This concept of faeries and this type of story was new to me, and I found it mesmerizing. There are about four romances in these books, but my favorite couple is Martin and Ivy followed by Rob and Linden.

8. Creel and Luka are from Jessica Day George’s Dragon Slippers Trilogy. These are middle grade fantasies, and I found them adorable when I read them years ago (I’m probably due for a re-read), and I loved that the heroine made magnificent embroideries for a living.

A Miniature Review of The Ordinary Princess

I’m posting this review as part of Cordy’s Lovely Blog Party.

The Ordinary Princess is a sweet little story that is part a blend of fairy-tales and part a fairytale in its own right. I don’t want to have too many spoilers, so I will keep it short, sweet, and general. The basic plot is this: Princess Amethyst receives an odd gift at her christening and goes on an adventure under an assumed name and meets a young man. Of course the story has tons of delightful details, but like I said, I don’t want to spoil things in my synopsis (although there are spoilers at the end of the post relating to my comparison of this book with Cinderella (2015) which you can avoid).

This princess story has some similarities with a few fairytale re-tellings including the basic Sleeping Beauty story and the 2015 live action Cinderella. It has of course, the proper fairytale elements which includes everything from obscure kingdoms to woodland wanderings to animal friends. This fairytale elements are sometimes exaggerated for comedic effect. This story also has an intentional overlay of the modern and mundane that, when juxtaposed with the exaggerated fairytale extravagances, makes for a quirky, humorous, tone. For example, an absurd amount of bureaucracy is involved in inviting fairies to a christening . . . who would have thought of the words “fairy” and “committee” in conjunction?!

***********SPOILER WARNING***********

Because of a few noticeable similarities I have The Ordinary Princess and Cinderella (2015) together in my mind. Both stories include:

~The leitmotif of the folk song Lavender’s Blue

~The couple meeting under assumed names and positions

~Said positions are the same or similar: Cinderella and Amy are servants, and Kit and Peregrine are an apprentice and man-of-all-work, respectively

~The genuine sweetness and candidness of the members of the couple

~Quaint, tiny, happy kingdoms

~An overall magical loveliness, brightness, and joy

And I just know that Phantasmagoria is as beautiful and charming and quaint as Kit and Cinderella’s kingdom in the movie