Are You Elizabeth Bennet?

What do Pride and Prejudice, honesty and beta reading have in common? Read on to find out!

Imagine a sliding scale of tact. At one end, total blunt honesty with complete disregard for feelings. At the other, spineless appeasing sugar-coated honeydrops. Where do you fit on the scale? This handy quiz will tell you.

Question 1: do I look fat in this?

a) Darling, you look lovely!
b) Is that you? I thought it was an elephant.
c) I’m afraid it doesn’t flatter your figure.

Question 2: have I offended you?

a) No… I’m not offended.
b) Of course you *%^#& have!
c) Yes – can we talk about it?

Question 3: does this colour suit me?

a) You look wonderful in everything!
b) You look like you’re dying of some grotesque disease.
c) I think […..] might be a better look.

Question 4: wouldn’t you agree?

a) Oh, definitely.
b) No, because I’m not a brain-dead moron!
c) No, actually. I think….

Question 5: do you like my new boyfriend/girlfriend?

a) I’m delighted for you – I’m sure you’ll be so happy!
b) S/he is the most repellent person I’ve ever met – you are literally insane, you know that?
c) I don’t know that this is the best relationship for you.

And now to the scoring! Give yourself:
3 points for every time you answered A;
1 point for every time you answered B;
and 2 points for every time you answered C.

If your total is 5-8 points: you are Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

Lady Catherine de BourgRemember, truth is like a stick: you can use it to support someone, or hit them over the head (and sore heads don’t take much in). Sometimes you have to choose between making a point and making a difference.

If your score is 13-15 points: you are Mr Collins.
Insincerity devalues your contribution, as people have no idea what you are really thinking. It’s nice to want people to feel good, but when it comes down to it, people won’t believe you if they can’t trust you to be honest.

If your total rests between 9-12 points: you are Elizabeth Bennet, who goes to the effort of uniting civility and truth. Just the friend we all want, in fact: someone who will tell it like it is without unnecessarily hurting our feelings.

Thomson-PP-Ch36So to you Elizabeths, I have a proposal to make (blush). Might I interest you in being a beta reader for my WIP? The task is not onerous: it consists of reading the text and telling me what you liked and what you didn’t like, if you got bored and where, and any other ways you think the book could be improved.

If you’re interested, put your hand up in the comment section and I’ll get in touch. The text should be ready in a couple of weeks, and you’ll have about a month to read and reply. In return, you get the first look at the novel (pre-publication) and your name in the acknowledgements (post-publication) – plus of course my undying gratitude, goodwill etc (firstborn child not included).

Restoration Day

Lily has been raised to be the perfect fairytale princess, in her enchanted castle on the edge of a magical land. But when the chance for a quest arises and she descends from her castle, she finds that all is far from perfect in her fairytale kingdom.
Before she knows it she is running for her life (princesses never run) and learning that being a princess is a far cry from being the queen her land so desperately needs. Her quest is deadly serious now: if she doesn’t find the regalia in time for Restoration Day, the land will be lost forever – and so will she.

The Awkward Conversations of Great Literature

Warning: potential spoilers lie ahead!

We can probably all remember Awkward Conversations we’ve been part of, but what about the ones we weren’t even there for? Conversations that technically never even happened, because they are fictional, but can make us squirm with sympathetic embarrassment nonetheless.

Mr Collins’ proposal to Miss Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, for example. We, like Miss Elizabeth, want to get the unpleasant necessity over with as quickly as possible, but he drones on and on, pontificating about his two favourite subjects, viz. Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mr Collins.


A word of advice to any young lady readers: if you are proposed to by a man who mentions another woman more often during his proposal than he mentions you, refuse him. We know he doesn’t stand a chance with Lizzy, but he’s so certain of his own desirability he doesn’t even need her answer to start congratulating himself.
Full credit to David Bamber for truly conveying the depths of awfulness in this Pilbeam among parsons.

Agatha Christie’s Lady Bundle Brent, on receiving a similar proposal in The Seven Dials Mystery, opts to leg it out the window herself, not being burdened with a mother who will insist on her seeing it through. If anyone knows of a book in which the pompous proposer is defenestrated, please do let me know.

I’m currently half-way through Anna Karenina – for the first time – and I have already grimaced through some very awkward conversations. This one’s a prize-winner, though: Oblonsky comes to ask his brother-in-law (in town on business) to dinner.

Piotr Petrovich Karataev by I Turgenev Illustration by P Sokolov
It goes something like this:

Oblonsky: Come to dinner!
Karenin: I can’t.
Oblonsky: Why not?
Karenin: Because I am about to sever the ties between us by divorcing your sister, my wife.
Oblonsky: Oh! Well, come to dinner anyway…

What are your favourite Awkward Conversations? Tell all! Unless they’re in the second half of Anna Karenina, in which case please wait a few weeks before commenting…
Awkward silences also welcomed, although please include the context as well as the silence 🙂