Thursday, August 20, 2015

Living on in my heart. . .

WARNING: If you want to read about glamorous, exotic, naughty-but-nice, not-so-nice, or similar characters--they aren’t here. Also, the characters I’m writing about don’t come from my own books, so this blog isn’t a sales pitch! I’m just sharing some folks you may or may not have read about for one simple reason: I love them.

Margaret McLaren (The Christmas Bride, Grace Livingston Hill)
I grew up on GLH’s romances. Yes, they were “sweet”. Yes, they were repetitive.  Yes, the heroes and heroines were the same people with different names. So Margaret McLaren is simply representative of GLH’s female protagonists who lived, struggled, and loved from the early 1900s through WW II. Margaret works in the city and sends money home to her grandparents. In fact, she almost starves herself to do it! (This is during the Great Depression, you understand.) Enter Gregory Sterling--rich, handsome, and head-over-heels in love with the young woman he saw tumble from her park bench into the snow! You get the picture, and I’ll tie things up in just a minute. . .

Rose Campbell (Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott)
While not as well known as the March sisters in Little Women, orphaned Rose Campbell finds herself plunked down in the Aunt-Hill with seven cousins, all boys, and an uncle she’s never met as her guardian. A whole new life opens up for her. . .despite all her efforts to avoid it.

Blue Bonnet Ashe (The Blue Bonnet Series, multiple authors, out of print)
A friend of my grandmother’s gave me 3 of these books (they had been hers as a girl, and I promptly fell in love with Elizabeth Ashe of the Blue Bonnet ranch in Texas. Transplanted by choice to Boston to live with her mother’s family, she finds out exactly what her guardian (Uncle Cliff) means by being straight and true as an Ashe. Over the years I’ve searched for, found, and paid big bucks for the remaining books in the series, and I can’t wait to pass them on to my granddaughters. And, feeling that Blue Bonnet’s story needed a final touch, I wrote Blue Bonnet’s Legacy NOT for publication but for my granddaughters to read someday.

Rachel Jackson (The President’s Lady, Irving Stone)
She is, of course, the wife of President Andrew Jackson, and their romance and marriage scandalized the country--and provided excellent fodder for AJ’s political enemies. Their story, presented as fiction in Stone’s novel, is also a movie by the same name with Susan Hayward and Charlton Heston in the main roles. A tragic figure in many respects, she also knew the greatest love and devotion from a man destined for the history books.

Susan Dunne (The White Cliffs of Dover, Alice Duer Miller)
She came to England for a week and stayed for a lifetime. This short, delightful story-poem (made into a movie starring Irene Dunne in the title role) is full of short-lived joy, wartime romance, and heart-wrenching loss. I heard part of it from a record played in high school English my junior year, and on my 17th birthday found the small volume on my breakfast plate. I cherish it still. 

So, about the promise to tie all these characters together. . .I loved them because they kept on keeping on. They found joy despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. They discovered strength within themselves. They lived every shining moment of their lives.

In short, they were survivors--as am I.

Monday: More on character development

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