Archives: History

Party Like It’s 1787

Constitution Day came and went last week and I’m bummed that we didn’t celebrate – - What? No way, you missed it too?

Alright. I’m offering you another chance to re-group and party like it’s 1787. Wigs are optional.

Why the weird interest in Constitution Day?

Hmmm. . .you see, my current manuscript uses the Constitutional Convention as a backdrop. So with all the research I’ve done, I am freakishly well-informed on the writing of that document.

Don’t believe me? Go ahead. Test my trivia.

crickets chirping

Okay, I’ll get you started.

What were the delegates sent to Philadelphia to do?

Pick me! {waving hand wildly}

The delegates were to improve the established Articles of Confederation, not create a new constitution. (Which is what a lot of folks feared they would do. You give a mouse a cookie. . .) 

What delegate was such a bore that he put the other men to sleep?

I know! I know! {waving hand harder}

Luther Martin. (Not to be confused with the Reformation’s Martin Luther.) Apparently this Maryland delegate was such a bore that another delegate described it like this, “We prepared to slumber when Martin rose to speak.”

As I said, I really know way too much about this stuff.

Maybe this little jingle from Schoolhouse Rock is a better party starter.  Enjoy!

First Boyfriends: Neglecting Miss Austen’s Clues

Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorite Jane Austen books. It has all the wonderful, and awful, experiences about Girls Who Love – secrets, love-sickness, cattiness, anxiousness, disappointment, and camaraderie.

This year Sense and Sensibility celebrates its 200th anniversary and I couldn’t wait to re-read it.

If you’ve forgotten Sense and Sensibility then here’s a brief reminder: two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, appear to be cast off by the young men they love. One sister responds stoically, and the other, is an emotional mess.

(I did say brief.)

So as I’m re-reading this story, I noticed I wasn’t seeing the story through Elinor’s eyes (she’s the one with Sense) or through Marianne’s (she’s the drama queen).

No, this time I was reading the book while looking over their mother’s shoulder, Mrs. Dashwood, and noticing, with a lot of frustration, all the clues she missed about her daughter’s love interests.

Here are some clues Jane Austen gave Mrs. Dashwood that her daughters’ first boyfriends didn’t pass the whiff test.

  1. Your daughter fills in the blanks. Edward, Elinor’s chosen young man, is mysteriously quiet on a number of details about his past. Mrs. Dashwood, Marianne and Elinor decide this is shyness. Nope. He’s hiding a fiancée.
  2. She blows off her friends. Marianne and Willoughby decide to ride off in the carriage by themselves. The rest of the crew are left by the side of the road whistling Dixie. Okay, it’s the English countryside and Dixie wasn’t a tune yet, but you get the idea. Always a bad move when your daughter abandons her friends for the boy.
  3. She makes excuses for him. Marianne’s beau, Willoughby, is in London while she is visiting with the elderly Mrs. Jennings. However, Willoughby is not coming over to see Marianne. She blames the weather, his friends, and the messenger. Although Mama Dashwood is getting her updates via letters from Elinor, she really should have been on high alert at this point.
  4. She hangs around the house in case he stops over. Again, Marianne just can’t help herself. She hovers at the window waiting to see either Willoughby or a messenger. I won’t blame Mrs. Dashwood for this one, but her stand-in, Mrs. Jennings, pooh-poohs Marianne’s obsession instead of hosting an intervention.
  5. The boyfriend has a name like . . . Willoughby. Helloooooo

Of course, I shouldn’t be too harsh on Mrs. Dashwood - the lady was newly widowed. However, I do think I’ll wait for another re-reading. Maybe the next time around, I’ll see the story through Mrs. Jenning’s eyes and we can be in agreement that heartbreak is cured with “sweetmeats and olives”.

What about you? Have you ever re-read a favorite book and been surprised to see the story through a different perspective?