How many of your remember this commercial? How many of you would quote it and apply it to all sort of odd situations? 🙂 How many of you are wondering what this has to do with Austen? And why are we talking about breakfast cereal ads on Valentine’s Day? Trust me. I have a tie in. But first, take a minute to watch the commercial.
Source: FM1156. “Life Cereal Mikey Likes It Commercial HD.” YouTube. YouTube, 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
Did you know that the three boys in this commercial were all brothers? I hadn’t really thought about whether they were related or not. I suppose, in my young mind as I watched this commercial on Saturday mornings, I just assumed they were. I am certain as an adult viewing the commercial, you, like I, can see the similarities in features and such; therefore, the revelation that the boys are brothers is just confirmation of what we already suspected.
Let’s begin tying this in with Austen, shall we?
In Pride and Prejudice there are five sisters. I would imagine that if you lined up all the sisters from Jane to Lydia to take a picture, you would see similar features and know that the ladies were all related. You might even find when browsing through a family photo album that Baby Jane and Baby Kitty are hard to tell apart especially since the dress and bonnet they are wearing are exactly the same ones. Perhaps there are even character traits that the two share. Maybe both preferred sucking their right thumb or would not sleep without a favourite blanket or story.
I know these things are true in my family. If you line up my four sisters and me for a picture, there will be no mistaking we are related. And if you browse through a family photo album, you might confuse Sarah for Rebekah when they were the same age. Without exception, you will find that all five of us are fairly independent, hard working, caring people with opinions and beliefs that we hold to rather firmly at times.
“You met her?” Marcus asked.
Mary Ellen turned to her brother. “I did, briefly. From what I could gather, she is very different from her sisters. Very different.”
(Chapter 5, So Very Unexpected)
However, having similar characteristics does not mean being the same. The boys in the commercial probably had a pecking order and various roles they fulfilled in their family — just as my sisters and I have/had. There is the brother that knows what is going on and tries to offload the “healthy” cereal on his brother, who is close enough of a companion to be able to refuse. And then, there is Mikey, the low man on the totem pole, the one they know they can get to try the cereal. And Mikey plays his part by scooping up that spoonful and giving it a go. Now, did Mikey eat the cereal simply because his brothers gave it to him or did he so because he wanted to be braver than his older brothers?
We all tend to have roles in our families. Sometimes these roles are ones we have carved out for ourselves, but often they are roles that are, to some extent, placed on us. The eldest might be expected to be “in charge” while the youngest might be brushed off as too young to know better and the middle child might struggle to find any sort of footing that doesn’t make her invisible. Because of this, we may struggle as we grow to find our own unique identity. It is this idea of interrelations within a family that worked its way into my latest book, So Very Unexpected.
“She has found something of interest,” said Elizabeth, “and forgotten all else. It would not be the first time.”
(Chapter 17, So Very Unexpected)
Prejudice can abound in families. You can hear it in comments such as “Oh, that’s the way she’s always been.” In the commercial, the older brothers say, “He won’t eat it. He hates everything.” These prejudices may be well founded in our minds, but they are prejudices just the same and can have a limiting effect on a person.
In So Very Unexpected, Lydia sees herself based on the things she has heard from her mother, father, and sisters as well as others outside of her family such as the gentlemen who flirt with her. Elizabeth, Jane, and Mr. Bennet see her as foolish and selfish. Her mother sees her as beautiful and worthy of making a good match. There are bits of truth in these viewpoints. Lydia is self-centered. She does act foolishly at times. She is beautiful. She is a flirt. But she is more — so very much more than just those things. And there are reasons for her actions that her father and sisters don’t realize. There is hurt. There is jealousy. There is untapped intelligence.
She felt it to be true, of course, but it is so hard to know if one is accurate in assumptions about one’s self unless it is confirmed by the words of another.
(Chapter 12, So Very Unexpected)
As is often the case, it is the new people Lydia meets, who, having very few prejudices about her, see her for what she truly is and what she can be. That is the essence of So Very Unexpected. In this story, both love and Lydia are unexpected. It is the story of a spirited young lady who captures the heart of a man who sees her for her nonsensical, brilliant, lively self, and finds he does not wish to live without her.
It is a great, sweet romance — perfect for a Valentine’s Day read! (Ah, see another tie-in. 😉 )
But you know what? (Get ready for yet another tie-in ) There will be some like Mikey’s brothers who will push the story away because “I mean, it is Lydia!” and they will miss out on something very special. And then, there will be those brave readers who will take that spoonful and find they like this Lydia. Who will you be? The brothers? or Mikey? I really hope that you will be the ones saying “I like it! Hey! Leenie!” 🙂
If you would like a spoonful — a taste, I have included an excerpt below (a rather long one).
The sitting room was full at Willow Hall. The searchers, who had left early that morning as soon as it was discovered that Lydia was missing, had returned some time ago. Plans to continue searching were being formed. Mr. Bennet wavered between relief that Lydia had not gone to Scotland and distress because she had gone somewhere — somewhere unknown to them at present. Tea was being shared by one and all. Those who were not involved immediately in discussions of strategy, which was everyone, save Colonel Fitzwilliam, Captain Harris, and Mr. Gardiner, were conducting their own conversations on more mundane items. It was into this lot of people that Marcus attempted to direct Lydia. However, upon being announced and stepping nearly into the room, he found his arm empty of his companion.
He shook his head and sighed. “One moment if you please. Miss Lydia will be with you directly.” He nodded to the occupants of the room and then, turning on his heel, ran after her.
Within the room, there was a great deal of exclamation over Marcus having found Lydia and speculation as to where she had been. A few crowded to the window to watch the chase. Elizabeth moved to follow Marcus, but the restraining hand of Darcy kept her from it. He assured her that Marcus was not a man to be thwarted in his objective, and if Marcus said Lydia would be joining them, then Lydia would be joining them.
It was true. Marcus Dobney was not the sort of man who backed away from a challenge nor was he the sort of man who gave his word and reneged. Over the course of his life, these traits had been both an asset in helping him solve problems and a liability when a hasty promise was made, and the fulfilling of that promise came at great personal cost ? it was one of the many dangers of having an impulsive tongue.
Marcus was thankful that his legs were longer than Lydia’s and that he was not hampered by petticoats and skirts, for though her feet hurt, she ran quickly. Having had a lead of a few moments, she was nearly at the gate before he grabbed her arm and stopped her.
“Let go of me!” She twisted to get her arm free of his grasp. “You are hurting my arm,” she snapped as he tightened his grip.
“If you would stop struggling, I would not have to hold your arm so tightly.” He attempted to keep his voice even despite his wishing to yell. Yelling had never worked in a positive way with Mary Ellen or Philip. They had always just dug in their heels and held more firmly to their position whenever he had attempted to sway them with the volume of his voice.
“My father.” Lydia shook her head and blinked against the gathering tears. “I cannot go in there.”
She had stopped struggling, so Marcus relaxed his grip on her arm but did not release it. Patiently, he waited for her to continue.
“He never listens to me. He only listens to Jane and Lizzy and sometimes Mary. Mama must always plead my case, and then he only surrenders to be rid of the distraction.” She brushed a tear from her cheek. “He says I am the silliest girl in all of England.” She lifted her chin and glared in the direction of Willow Hall.
“At the moment, I might be inclined to agree.” He smiled as she turned her glare on him. “But, that might be my tired legs speaking.” Why did seeing her small smile at that delight him? She really was a very vexing girl and, he suspected, would be a rather difficult one to convince that returning to Willow Hall was what she needed to do. He was not wrong. They argued over the issue for the next five minutes. He repeating that a solution could be found, and she insisting that it was impossible.
“I am returning you to your family,” he said at last as he realized that there would be no swaying of her opinion.
She shook her head. “I will not go.”
He clamped his teeth firmly shut and shook his head at her stubbornness. “You will. Either on your own two feet, walking in as the lady you insist you are or flung over my shoulder like a child. Which will it be? I will not allow you to go gallivanting about the countryside throwing yourself into harm’s way at every turn. Most of which, I assume, would be in the wrong direction.”
Lydia could tell by his eyes that he was angry, and for a brief moment, she felt something very like remorse before the fear of facing her father chased it away. She shook her head. “I cannot go in there.”
Lydia gasped as he hoisted her so that her head was hanging over his back and his arms were wrapped around her legs. She beat on his back and begged him to release her.
Marcus did his best to ignore both her pleas and the fact that she was rather pleasingly formed. Perhaps carrying her in such a fashion was not one of his better ideas, but it was effective. They covered the ground to the front of the house quickly. Once inside the front door, he placed her on her feet. After a moment of catching his breath, he turned her face so that she was forced to look at him. Her cheeks were flushed, of course, he had expected that. However, he had not counted on her tears. In a moment, his frustration faded and compassion for the fear she must be feeling rose within him. “I will speak for you.” He brushed a tear away with his thumb. “I will speak honestly, but perhaps your father might listen to me. We cannot have you marrying Wickham,” he gave her a small teasing smile, “no matter how foolish you have been.”
One more “behind the book” note:
I drew on personal experience and observation and teased that out to get the inner thoughts of Lydia in this book. She is not gentle in her thinking about Elizabeth, a point my eldest sister made after reading the book. However, as we discussed it, we agreed, it might be a little harsh, but it is not unrealistic. And just to put a bit of a cap on its authenticity, she asked me “were you thinking about this when you wrote this particular part?” And you know what? I was.
And now for a giveaway.
Leave a comment on this post, and you will be entered for your chance to win one ebook copy of So Very Unexpected. Contest is open internationally and closes at 11:59 PM EST, Friday, February 17, 2017.