My kids’ school has been closed for almost two weeks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We’ve been using this time to garden, bake, write, and read together.*
With my eight-year-old, I’m reading Pages & Co: The Bookwanderers by Anna James. It features an eleven-year-old bibliophile whose favorite characters, Alice in Wonderland and Anne of Green Gables, start showing up in real life.
Fictional friends are the only people we are allowed to hang out with while practicing social distancing. Today, on my birthday, I’ve been thinking about which characters I’d invite to a party. This is my list:
- Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. As anyone familiar with my blog already knows, I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen’s books, and I’ve written two books inspired by her work (Amelia Elkins Elkins and A Case of First Impression). I’m weighing whether to add Lydia Bennet to the list too. She’s immature and annoying, but she enjoys parties, and I have a lot of sympathy for her. She’s just a kid by modern standards. I might as well invite all the Bennets, even if that means Mary will insist on performing.
- Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series. Obviously.
- Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. I loved this play when I was a kid, and I recently saw a wonderful performance of it at my local high school. Beatrice is smart, sarcastic, and funny.
- Miss Lambe from Sanditon by Jane Austen. We have only twelve chapters of this unfinished novel, and Miss Lambe, “a young West Indian of large fortune,” is one of the characters. I wonder what Austen had in mind for her. I suspect it would’ve been quite different from the plot Andrew Davies started (but also didn’t finish) in his TV adaptation, as enjoyable as it is. I’d ask for her thoughts on that subject at the party.
So, that’s my list. I’ve enjoyed many contemporary novels over the years, but my favorite characters, the ones who are the most comforting in times of crisis, are the ones I met when I was young. My childhood bookshelves were full of classics.
As for my birthday, I’m going to take a page from Anne Shirley’s book and celebrate in a more traditional manner on a future date.
Stay safe, everyone.
*I’m also working remotely and cooking what feels like a thousand meals a day.