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
rejected Mr. Collins' proposal. Elizabeth
"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
'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!) Lydia
[Julia Sawalha as
Bennet and Naya Rivera as Izzy Alvarez] Lydia
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 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.
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