Although I’m planning to dismiss arguing about Bellevere for the time being, I will post on Faye a bit, because I think people were surprised by the way I showed this character. Not as different from Jane Austen’s Fanny Price, because remakes often try to make her less shy and less forgiving. But because I showed her in a particular way.
There is no hidden story beneath what I did in Bellevere House. Faye is not intended to support a subversive, disobedient attitude that pretends friendliness, but is actually hostile. (In contrast to the original Fanny Price. And to the rest of the VJA, in which authority and older people were always obeyed and shown very favorably.) I felt that what makes Fanny Price different from Austen’s other heroines is not her dependent social position—more than any of them have—but her approach to it. She is loyal, passive, and accepting of most things in her life. I wanted to make Fanny like the rest of her heroines and show the social situation wasn’t what caused the blip of Fanny Price—it was the author’s decision to show a specific personality. Fanny could easily have been just like her other heroines.
But a lot of people come to Mansfield Park with issues of authority in mind. They believe Fanny is a person who lives under authority of her aunt and uncle and that Sir Thomas is an authoritarian, landowning man who also treats his children this way. In contrast, Faye is always very detached and clearly views herself as superior to those around her, so much so she is actually tolerant of them. Readers who are interested in Mansfield Park because they think it upholds a staid, authority-driven local structure—being inroaded by the Crawfords' sexual honesty--might imagine I was attacking authority and using Faye to do it. Faye doesn’t care about that at all. She is intelligent, can be cutting or cynical at times, enjoys socializing but keeps aloof in a way—like most of Austen’s heroines. And the story I wrote is nothing but a bubbly surface of fun, a little cynicism, and a party of shallow young people that we’re all too cheerful to hate. A formula that isn’t entirely unfamiliar either when speaking of Jane Austen.
So perhaps Bellevere wasn’t a remake or a retelling. It became its own story, a different book from Mansfield Park. It deserves to be read as that, for what it is, rather than through a lens of seeing nonexistent undercurrents from the original book or the several movie adaptations. But it wasn’t read that way and by now I don’t care if it was. I just want to clarify what I believed was in the story.
And there will be more updates.
I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I get most of my ideas while drifting innocuously around my house and some of those ideas get into print.