Tke Two Characters. Cass Grafton Chooses Two of Her Favourite Fictional People.

Posted on 18th January, 2019

Today I welcome to my blog my good friend and fellow Sister Scribe, Cass Grafton, to share the latest in the Take Two Characters series, in which authors choose a favourite character of their own, and a favourite of someone else's, to tell us about.

 

Take it away, Cass!

 

* * * * *

 

I’m delighted to be participating in Take Two Characters on Susanna’s blog, despite the stress I endured trying to pick only two characters to write about (something I share with Jen Gilroy, Susanna’s previous guest on this new feature)! I’ve been a bookworm for all my life - how was I to pick just two I found memorable?

 

In the end, I let circumstance be my guide. We live in Switzerland at the moment, and I had to leave many boxes of books behind in storage in the UK. The books on my shelves here are the ones I felt I just couldn’t live without for a few years, the ones I love to browse or re-read.

 

My eyes drifted over books by JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, Daphne du Maurier, Jilly Cooper, Marian Keyes and Jane Austen before falling on Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and I knew it was the answer.

 

For a character from one of my own books, I turned to a novel co-written with Ada Bright, one of my best friends, namely The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen. Who knew, of all the characters I could have chosen, both would share a common first name?

 

When we first started to brainstorm the plot for The Particular Charm, one thing Ada and I were clear on was that Jane would not be a main character. Writing her was going to be too difficult! How could we ever make her believable, capture the right tone of wit? Yes, we’d let the two female leads of the story take centre stage, and Jane would just be there, in the background... except Jane Austen didn’t agree.

 

She grabbed the plot with two hands and in the end became quite the star of the show, so much so, we had readers telling us they missed her when she wasn’t in scenes!

Photo by Steve Scheidler

 

 

In the story, Jane has slipped through time from 1803, when she was living in Bath, to the present day just as the annual Jane Austen Festival kicks off, only to become trapped here. Having left the past before any of her books were published, everything to do with her is wiped from history. Jane Austen is nothing more than an unsolved missing person case from early 19th century Bath!

 

Relishing being freed from the restraints of her life 200 years away, Jane begins to enjoy the 21st century and everything it offers to a single young woman of 27, but what about her lost literary legacy? How can it be restored?

 

It was important we did all we could to make Jane appealing to readers, credible in her incredible situation, and also ensuring she would be ‘familiar’ to readers who knew a lot about her life and background. In the end, it was great fun writing her, and she was a joy to be around.

 

As much as Jane Austen in our book was ‘ahead’ in time, Jane Eyre was, for me, a heroine very much ahead of her time.

 

I studied Jane Eyre at school and since then have re-read the novel umpteen times.

 

As an insecure teen when I first met her, I was taken by her inner strength and her sense of self-worth. She was an orphan, abused by the relatives raising her, yet she wasn’t afraid to speak up, to stand up for herself and for others - even as a child. Criticised for being passionate of nature, Jane refused to be intimidated and stood firmly by her principles. Despite the Victorian prejudices against women and the poor, Jane believed in gender and social equality. She also had a deep faith, which guided her actions.

 

I’ve never lost my admiration for her, and I’m still in awe of her courage, her fierce determination in the face of adversity and her quest for freedom and the future she deserves, despite all the challenges placed before her - ones which tested both her heart and her faith.

 

Susanna, thank you so much for the chance to visit your blog and participate in this feature. It really made me think about what makes a character memorable!

 

* * * *

 

 

Make A Comment

Characters left: 2000

Comments (11)

So glad you enjoyed the blog post, Jen!

I hope you find a second read of Jane Eyre more rewarding than you did at school. It's such a shame the experience can put us off certain books or writers, isn't it?

I'm looking forward to whoever is next on Susanna's feature!
Glad you enjoyed the blog, Jen. I can recommend 'Charm.' It is great fun to read. It is a real celebration of the friendship between the main character and her friend, and Jane Austen is a hoot. Just wait till you get to the bit with the post-it notes.
Such an interesting post about two 'Janes,' Cass. 'The Particular Charm' is now on my TBR list.

I also appreciate you sharing my angst about having to choose only two favourite characters! In the nicest possible way, Susanna has much to answer for!

I'm now off to reread 'Jane Eyre.' I first read it at school and (possibly thanks to a less than stellar English teacher) haven't revisited it since.
Hi, Tara Lovely to hear from you, as always. Glad you enjoyed Cass's blog.
Thank you so much, Tara! So glad you enjoyed!
Fascinating blog post. I enjoyed reading it so much, Cass and Susanna.
I understand where you are coming from, Louise. We did some Thomas Hardy back then, and I didn't enjoy it at all. I don't know why, because I had a great English Lit teacher. Perhaps I just leaned more towards women writers at the time?

I love Haworth, it's just so atmospheric, especially on a rainy day in winter!

I've sometimes found that I need to see a good adaptation of a classic to enjoy reading the book itself. Dickens is very like this for me. Aside from A Christmas Carol, which is a short book, I struggled for years to get my head around his vast cast of characters, but I've returned to them if I've enjoyed a film or TV series (Little Dorrit and Our Mutual Friend are two of my favourites now).

Thank you so much for commenting!

It's a shame you didn't get on with Jane Eyre when you were at school, Louise, but I imagine you're not the only one. I think it's important to read the right book at the right time. Maybe now is the right time for you. I hope so.
Like many others of my age, I remember 'Jane Eyre' as one of the books we 'did' at school. I can't say I have happy memories of reading it, though I did enjoy a day trip to Haworth with the rest of my year group(!). But after reading Cass Grafton's assessment of Jane Eyre as a character, maybe I will give the book another go. It wouldn't be the first time that a book that had been killed stone dead for me by 'doing' it at school, turned out in adult life to be a good read.
Thanks for contributing to what is proving to be a fascinating series, Cass - though I do feel I ought to apologise to all the guest bloggers for causing them such angst. Choosing just two characters is obviously a lot harder than I had anticipated.
Thank you so much for inviting me to participate, Sue. This was a lot of fun but also thought-provoking. I look forward to reading posts from your upcoming guests. In the meantime, I'm off to re-read my well-thumbed copy of Jane Eyre!