Be certain to check out the November 30 post for details on how to get your name entered in the weekly giveaways. And feel free to ask me any questions that come to mind, and I will answer them as promptly as I may!
Now, plunging into Part Two . . .
Chapter 1The Baron and Daylily: Two of my favorite characters in this book. In fact, two of my favorite characters in this series, which is odd considering they are both acting the role of pseudo “villains” in this particular novel . . . and later novels too, for that matter.
But you see (The Duke of Shippening from Heartless aside), I have a thing for my villains. I try, as much as possible, to see the story from each villain’s point of view, and to realize that, from their perspectives at least, they are the heroes.
The Baron of Middlecrescent is a particularly unappealing person in his coldhearted drive to achieve his own ends. But ultimately, his ends are the good of Southlands . . . which becomes even more apparent and frightening come Shadow Hand. But I don’t want to give spoilers, so you’ll have to wait on that one.
Daylily is, I think, the more interesting of these two. While many readers perceive her as the typical Bad Girl and the Other Woman to Rose Red in this story, I personally find her much more sympathetic. And I think if we read carefully what is said about her and the few things she reveals about herself, she becomes far more dynamic than a typical Other Woman character.
Dynamic enough to merit her own story even . . .
But let’s dive into the text and see that for ourselves.
The Plan: All right, one thing that should give everyone a little bit of sympathy for Daylily right away is the fact that, from the time she was two years old, her father had a Plan mapped out for her life, a vision for how he can use her—only a daughter—to accomplish his purpose.
Daylily’s coloring: Daylily is a redhead with curly hair and blue eyes. I don’t usually bother with specific physical descriptions. I like the let my characters become distinct personalities with distinct motivations entirely aside from their physical appearance so that that readers form their own mental pictures as they read. (You’ll notice that I never gave Princess Una an eye-color in Heartless. And my editors begged me to give her a hair color, so I relented on that quite late in the drafting process! I’ve become more lenient on physical descriptions since, but they’re a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Too many authors define their characters by looks.)
Anyway, Daylily is presented right away as red-headed and blue-eyed, which is not a normal narrative choice for yours truly. However, I decided to go with this presentation because it’s actually a foreshadowing . . . a foreshadowing that those of you who have read Dragonwitch might be able to guess . . . and which will be come much clearer in Shadow Hand.
Also, I do think it’s interesting to note that other people define Daylily by her beauty. Even the narrator (me) presents her right off the bat as a lovely, eye-catching young woman. If this is how the narrator defines her, how many other people do as well?
And thus, one has to wonder, how many people know the real Daylily behind her beautiful mask?
Veiled Rose is a novel full of veils. And Rosie is not the only person wearing them.
The Baroness: Can I just say that I love her? She was such a random character, appearing unexpectedly in this story as I drafted it (I write by an outline, but there’s always room for surprising twists along the way!). She only has a small role in this book, but I find her hilarious, particularly when thrown in contrast against the baron.
And she goes on to have quite a big role in the upcoming Shadow Hand, so don’t dismiss her!
Impressions: This chapter is full of quite a few first impressions, many of them false. Our first impression of Daylily is quite a strong one (again, Mean Girl/OtherWoman, perhaps?). But is that the truth? Our first impression of the Baroness is not entirely accurate either (though just how inaccurate won’t become apparent until a later book!).
And even Daylily’s stated impression of Leo is not quite the truth. She declares him a “blessed idiot” and insists that she “could never love him.” Is this the truth? After all, the last impression she had of Leo, he was only ten years old . . .
Starflower: Leo’s mother is named Starflower. She is named after the nation’s most famous heroine, Maid Starflower, who features in the legend of the Wolf Lord previously mentioned. Those of you who have read my novel Starflower are familiar with the original bearer of that name.
I wonder if it’s possible to get two women more different than these two Starflowers?
“Have a pleasant summer, darling.” I know she’s a bit conniving. I know she’s a controlling.
But don’t some of you wish that Leo had inherited just a bit more of his mother’s strength?
Because, scary though she is, she’s got some backbone and some smarts. Not that Leo is unintelligent. He’s quite a smart young man. But he doesn’t have that kind of backbone . . . and if he had, things might have turned out differently for him . . .
“Pretty, flouncy, chattery things.” Leo’s impression of all the eligible young ladies at court is not exactly flattering. And really doesn’t match up with what we have seen of Lady Daylily so far! I think our Leo might be in for a bit of a shock . . .
The Geestly Knout! I’d forgotten than this silly little rhyme made an appearance in this novel. This was a rhyme I wrote for an assignment back in college days when I took a class on poetry. The point was to write a Lewis Carol-esque poem. And I am a huge fan of Lewis Carol (I know, not everyone gets him . . . but his work tickles my fancy!), so I really enjoyed this exercise.
For those of you who haven’t read it, the full poem may be found in Heartless. It’s pretty silly. But all of the words are honest-to-goodness English.
Tell me what you want: The Lady of Dreams, who won the dice game for Leo’s soul, has not forgotten him. In fact, she is hard at work in his spirit, wooing him with the promise of dreams come true. But what is Leo’s dream? Truly? He doesn’t even know who he is anymore. He hasn’t since he left Hill House five years ago . . .
Questions on the Text:
1. For those of you who have read Starflower . . .what do you make of the difference between the original Starflower and Leo’s mother? How are they similar, do you think? How are they different? How does the contrast of those two very different women serve to emphasize the character of Leo’s mother?
2. For those who are feeling daring, try to translate the “Gheestly Knout” poem! (And no, it doesn’t make a lot of sense when translated.)
3. Any favorite lines?
Q&A: I'm afraid I'm a bit sick this week, so it might take me a little while to catch up on the questions. But keep asking them, and I'll be sure to get to them by the end of the week!