Wednesday, September 26, 2012

THE GIRLY BOOK BLOG HOP


SENSATIONAL SECONDARY CHARACTERS -
WHAT'S AUSTEN GOT TO DO WITH IT?
Recently, I released my second Chick Lit novel, In Need of Therapy.  The heroine of this story is Pilar Alvarez, a 29-year-old, Miami-based psychologist who I envisioned as being the calm, sane center of a perpetually swirling storm; the storm being her needy patients and her mercurial, high-maintenance family. I've received a lot of great feedback from readers on the book, and Pilar's mother, Luisa, aka Mamá, seems to be a favorite. Several people have pointed out that Mamá is like a Latina Mrs. Bennet (from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.) I hadn't thought to make that comparison myself, but there are definitely some similarities between these two very colorful and memorable ladies:


[Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet and Raquel Welch as Luisa Alvarez]

- Both characters provide comic relief. Unintentionally, of course, because these women take themselves and their martyr complexes very seriously. Mrs. Bennet talks about her "poor nerves" frequently, and Mamá is referred to as a "drama queen" by Pilar. Anytime things don't go their way or they receive what is perceived to be a slight, hysterics, tears, and threats of disowning their daughters are sure to follow.

- Both characters were beauties in their youth. That's how Mrs. B ensnared an easily beguiled Mr. Bennet and how Luisa ended up with several beauty pageant titles. In middle age, Mrs. Bennet likes to downplay her looks, "I certainly have had my share of beauty, but I do not pretend to be anything extraordinary now," while Luisa does her best to fight back time by lying about her age and using a plethora of expensive skincare products that do everything from erase fine lines to remove cellulite. I fancy that if Mrs. Bennet were to be  transported to the 21st century, she'd be just as intrigued by Botox and plastic surgery as her modern-day counterpart is.

- Both characters are obsessed with seeing their daughters married, preferably to wealthy men. At the beginning of P&P, Mrs. Bennet has her hands full with five unwed daughters. Luisa only has three girls, and her eldest has already snagged a lawyer, so her matchmaking efforts are all directed towards her still-single middle child. Mamá champions Pilar's ex, restaurant owner Victor, and cannot understand Pilar's aversion to him.

"Victor was perfect! So charming, so handsome, such good manners . . . and he doted on you. But no, that wasn't good enough for you. You're too picky. You think that rich, attractive men just grow on trees . . ." --Mamá           

Mrs. Bennet was similarly miffed when Elizabeth rejected Mr. Collins' proposal.

"Aye, there she comes, looking as unconcerned as may be, and caring no more for us than if we were at York, provided she can have her own way. --But I tell you what, Miss Lizzy-- if you take it into your head to go on refusing every offer of marriage in this way, you will never get a husband at all." --Mrs. Bennet


[David Bamber as Mr. Collins and Adam Rodriguez as Victor Liscano]

Although Victor is "tiresome, relentless, and purposely dense" just like the Bennets' cousin, I like to think that he's not quite as odious as Mr. Collins. At least, he's handsome and has family money! 

- Both characters are perpetually exasperated by their intelligent, independent second-born children and have trouble relating to them.

"I'll tell you what your problem is. You think too much. You always have. I don't know how I ever ended up with a daughter who has such a big brain." --Mamá

"Lizzy shall be brought to reason. I will speak to her about it directly myself. She is a very headstrong, foolish girl, and does not know her own interest; but I will make her know it." --Mrs. Bennet

Neither woman fares much better with their youngest daughters. Although Mrs. B finds nothing wrong with Lydia's selfish, willful behavior, she comes to rue not disciplining the girl when Lydia disgraces the family by running off with the caddish Wickham. Mamá is always at odds with her "Oops!" child, Izzy, an unrepentant rule-breaker who pulls stunts that would put Miss Lydia to shame (None of which I can repeat here without spoiling the book!)


[Julia Sawalha as Lydia Bennet and Naya Rivera as Izzy Alvarez]

The bottom line is that mothers haven't changed much in the last 200 years. They will always want the best for their daughters, and there will be friction when their children don't fall in line with their maternal master plan! The mother/daughter dynamic is a complex and endlessly entertaining one that I'm sure writers will continue to explore for many centuries to come!  

Thanks so much for stopping by Books by Banister for The Girly Book Blog Hop! Don't forget to visit all of the wonderful sites participating in the blog hop, which are listed at the bottom of this post. To celebrate this great event, I am giving away a $10 Starbucks e-gift card! This is the perfect time of year to curl up with a Pumpkin Spice Latte (or two) and reread your favorite book or maybe try a new author or title! So, please enter using Rafflecopter below.


  • Giveaway will run from Thursday, Sept. 27th until midnight on Monday, October 1st.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age to enter. 
  • A winner will be chosen using Random.org.
  • The winner will be announced here and notified by e-mail. 
  • Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.



Book blurb (In Need of Therapy):  Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be:  warm, compassionate, supportive.  She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?

While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can't stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.”  Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim.  Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her.  A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes.  And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.

When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she's left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt.  With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart. 

Purchase In Need of Therapy at:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

21 comments:

  1. Excellent comparison! I hadn't thought of this either when I read In Need of Therapy, but now reading your fab article, it's true. And Rachel Welch as the mother, genius! Not sure I saw Victor quite like that - not sure that good looking guy is smarmy enough looking! But, love all the photos you have put and the parallels drawn. Izzy was a total minx and Luisa, a total hypochondriac and drama queen. Yes, I think she would have been having face peels and botox shots. Sooz

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  2. What a great post! And you know I loved In Need of Therapy. I highly recommend

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  3. Tracie,
    Pride & Prejudice is one of my favorites, the only one I like better is Persuasion, I have a thing for officers and the high seas. Any way just stopping by to support you and In Need of Therapy.
    E

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  4. Love the idea of your novel! Adding it to my TBR stack! :)

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  5. I love, Love, LOVE our local coffee house but shhhh don't tell them that Starbucks has better Pumpkin Lattes!

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  6. Very, very interesting. There are (so the experts claim) a finite number of plots and characters who can be combined in infinite ways. All of us could benefit from comparisons of our writings with those of other authors. Thank you for the post.

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  7. I love your casting choices!! Especially Adam Rodriguez--I totally see him as Victor. I loved In Need of Therapy!! :) Such a great read.

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  8. I get a kick out of martyr mothers, since mine was the complete opposite. I can't imagine how that must be for a poor girl! What a riot!

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  9. Brilliant post, Tracie! I can't wait to read In Need of Therapy. As a mother to a little girl, this post was so interesting.

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  10. Hi from further down the list. I love the comparison of P&P characters with your own from In Need of Therapy, which sounds like a great read! I love the description 'beauty queen turned drama queen' :D

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  11. Hola, Chica! Sun is shining here in Miami! Thank you for getting me set up on this blog! Almost didn't do it, but you walked me through it. THANKS! LOVE YOUR COVER!!!!! SINGS MIAMI!!!! xoxoxo cindy

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  12. Wow, what a cool post and that's so wild about all those similarities. Your subconscious must have been working for you! :-) I can't wait to read this one.

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  13. What a cool comparison!!!! Looking forward to reading your book!

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  14. As you know, I never read P&P (ducking for cover)... But I did enjoy INOT as well as this post :)

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  15. What a fun comparison! Loved it.

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  16. How great to be compared to Jane! Love this post! And what a great cast you've picked.

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  17. Ha! I feel like I have ESP or maybe Sherlock's deducing powers. Even before INOT came out and I read the blurb, I felt Mrs. A was the modern day latina version of Mrs. B! so I"m going to take full credit for that, thank you very much!!!! LOL
    but I do see the other parallels between the rest of the supporting cast of the 2 books!
    Loved INOT and cannot wait for your 3rd act! :-)

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  18. Fun post, Tracie! I have both your books on my kindle and can't wait to read them!

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  19. Ahhhh Austen - no one does mothers and daughters better. Great post! Just started INOT and am hooked!

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  20. Great post! I'm reading your novel and really enjoying it. :)

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  21. Great post Tracie! I always go back to Austen when writing secondary characters. She was the master.

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