Bellevere House is a reworking of a classic novel (Mansfield Park) and the source material has a sizable influence on what plots and characters appear in the book. The original book is a soap opera in which the characters run a pretty big gamut of situations. Like all Jane Austen's novels, knotted family situations and complex romantic character development are given free rein to grow, and Mansfield Park is by nature a complicated type of story. Austen's fearlessness encouraged me to examine situations I hadn't written about before and took me out of my usual storytelling to broaden my writing.
After I worked with them, these Central Five Characters became a little bit mine as well as Austen’s. But you can definitely still recognize that they were once hers.
Uncle Warren is the head of the Haverton family. He is unusually wealthy for the Depression era and is sometimes a threatening figure to others, since he is rather self-centered and motivated by what he feels is a “bigger picture” instead of individual feelings. While far from the world's best dad, he does genuinely try to be involved with his children's lives—like Sir Thomas, who is an imperfect but often misunderstood Austen father.
Aunt Cora is the middle-aged sister of Uncle Warren’s wife. She lives with the Haverton family and spends all her time doing—well, basically nothing. In the past, she was a devious and active woman who got situated around her rich relatives. She was also very much full of herself and now she doesn't quite know when to stop getting on people's nerves, which makes her a really funny character.
Horace was inspired by Henry Crawford, one of Austen’s most dashing and frustrating characters. It’s understandable why the talented young Henry has wowed whole generations of fans, but he has real limitations that contribute to his demise. In Bellevere, Horace Carter embraces religion as a path to gain social acceptance after moral transgressions, sharing Henry’s inability to quite understand those he wishes to be near.
Faye is Uncle Warren’s niece. A quiet young woman, she comes from a poor family and while she's not angsty about it, she acknowledges the social reality of her position and gains from being useful to those around her. Otherwise, she has few opinions on the lives of others, simply trying to deal with opportunities or challenges as they present themselves. But you certainly shouldn't make her mad, as her cousin Ed finds out when awkward efforts to flirt with her by being rude backfire.
Jane Watson appears as a thread in all the VJA retellings. She’s a concept of what Austen might have been like had she lived in the 1930s and although she only appears for a couple of scenes in Bellevere, she is very meaningful. The variations on her differ from book to book, but all agree that she is a strong person and keenly observant without being petty. Family, community, and feminism are all important qualities to her and her work as a journalist makes her objective.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write peaceful stories with happy endings. When I started writing, I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. I wanted them to be upbeat and friendly books that make you feel like you're being whisked off on an adventure with friends. And there's also a purposefulness in that because many stories already written miss out on a great deal of what people experience every day.
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Bellevere House has been featured on Ezvid Wiki video "10 Wonderfully Inventive Retellings That Interpret Classic Stories in a New Way." Click to see the video.