I am reading two novels about really interesting women, different lives, different situations and different eras but maybe not entirely different perspectives. As unlike both of them I am, I still find quite a lot that is similar. I have to laugh sometimes at Eleanor Oliphant and mentally nod my head in agreement with F.M. Mayor's Mary. So, I thought today I'd share a few excerpts, which I think may well be very relatable to many of us.
I am really enjoying Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and am really looking forward to the movie adaptation. I am curious who will be playing Eleanor and Raymond. Sometimes I feel like I should not be laughing at the things she says, but I can't help it. Actual guffaws and in public. But she is quite wise and introspective and sharp (actually very sharp most of the time) as well. In the novel she has this crush/fixation on a handsome singer.
"I thought about all those paintings; voluptuous maidens reclining in curvaceous splendor, waif-like ballerinas with huge limpid eyes, drowned beauties in clinging white gowns surrounded by floating blossoms. I was neither curvaceous nor waif-like. I was normal-sized and normal-faced (on one side, anyway). Did men ever look in the mirror, I wondered, and find themselves wanting in deeply fundamental ways? When they opened a newspaper or watched a film, were they presented with nothing but exceptionally handsome young men, and did this make them feel intimidated, inferior, because they were not as young, not as handsome? Did they then read newspaper articles ridiculing those same men if they gained weight or wore something unflattering?"
Yes. Spot on. I wonder the very same thing myself.
And then there is Mary of F.M. Mayor's The Rector's Daughter. A motherless daughter with a father who is more interested in his own worries and preoccupations rather than those of a young woman. Stuck in a situation not of her making or maybe her desire, but she manages to get on well nonetheless, but she asks not nor needs anyone's pity.
"Mary liked the long Dedmayne winter evenings. In October, as regularly as the leaves fell, she began the winter habit of reading her favorite novels for an hour before dinner, finding in Trollope, Miss Yonge, Miss Austen, and Mrs. Gaskell friends so dear and familiar they they peopled her loneliness."
"Such was Mary's life. As the years passed on, the invalid's room became more and more her world. Sometimes she felt the neighborhood, the village, even her father, becoming like shadows. On the whole she was happy. She did not question the destiny life brought her. People spoke pityingly of her, but she did not feel she required pity."
I think things are about to change for Mary, however. A day of vacation tomorrow. I will be spending time with both Eleanor and Mary for a nice chunk of time, I hope.