Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fanny Dashwood....Secret Saint

I LOVE Jasper Fforde and he has one of my favorite fan fiction scenes of my work ever. Jurisfiction, or the policing agency that takes care of fictional plots and characters, is based at Norland, the Dashwood home in Sense and Sensibility. The house is huge and not much of the story takes place there. So there is this lovely home with very few inhabitants that lays empty for most of the book. Ergo perfect place for Jurisfiction agents to run in and out of for meetings and such.

In Lost in a Good Book, Thursday Next travels to Norland for her first Jurisfiction meeting and Fanny Dashwood welcomes her to her home. Fanny, who knows Thursday is REAL and not fictional asks how the outside world views Fanny. Fanny claims that she really wanted to keep the Dashwood girls at Norland, but couldn't because the story would never have progressed and thus Colonel Brandon and Marianne would not have gotten together and Edward and Elinor's love would not have been tested and proved so strong.

I LOVE this idea. Not that I think Fanny Dashwood is actually a nice person and would want to keep the Dashwood girls. I love the idea that Fanny would care what the outside world thought of her and that she would try to show she had to kick them out for the good of the story. It's totally how Fanny Dashwood would act if she were real. She'd try to justify her actions. So Fanny blames me, Jane Austen, for making her the bad person. Because it is I who made her kick out the Dashwoods. I resigned Elinor and Marianne and Margaret and Mrs. Dashwood to a small cottage. I also made the story progress. I suppose a fan of Marianne's could argue that had Fanny not kicked them out then Marianne would never have been broken hearted and almost died because she would have never met Willoughby. She could have found a nice man near Norland.

And does Fanny justify hating Lucy Steale because she really wanted Edward and Elinor to get together even though Fanny warns Mrs. Dashwood against a match in the first place? How does Fforde's Fanny justify that? Or if you were Fanny how would you justify warning Mrs. Dashwood that Elinor should stay away from Edward?

For those of you who have not read Fforde, I highly recommend it. If you know your literature you will find great fun in side characters like Heathcliff attending anger management classes and Mrs. Havisham having extreme road rage (of course what woman who always has to wear a huge wedding dress wouldn't have road rage?).

If you could pick one of the villains in my novels and have him justify his or her actions to the public at large (i.e. those of us that are non-fictional) what would he or she say? What would be his or her excuse? Is there ever a time when a villain should be a villain?

Is Fanny secretly a saint because she kept the story going? Or is she too worried about her kind facade that she'll justify anything?


  1. This Fforde's book sounds fun, really. It might be a good relaxing summer reading. So the title is "Lost in a Good Book", isn't it?
    As for one of your villains to justify, I've always tried to justify Willoghby, I don't exactly know why. When he goes to Elinore and tries to make her understand he really loved Marianne but the two of them couldn't have a future together since he was penniless...I hate Elinore for being so harsh to him. I couldn't.

  2. The first book in Fforde series is "The Eyre Affair" and then "Lost in a Good Book" followed by "The Well of Lost Plots" and then "Something Rotten". There's also "First Among Sequels" which comes after Something Rotten and has a long lag time between the two books.

    I think I could probably be harsh to Willoughby if I were as close to my sister as Elinor is to Marianne. I think I'd try to justify Mr. Elliot. Yes, he plays the field by tempting Mrs. Clay and Anne, but I like that he chooses Anne even though he knows he could have Elizabeth. Obviously Anne's nature leads her against him, but I like that he didn't choose the easy road with Elizabeth. And in the end he does something good by removing Mrs. Clay from the Elliots. So maybe not all the bad.