LOCUS FOCUS: Take Nine!
Welcome to our first Themed Challenge! If you have anything to say about a Family Home, today is the day to link up or forever hold your peace.
(I've noticed lately how many readers I have who love to hold their peace. Odd, that . . .)
Next month's theme is Nature Settings. In other words: no walls, no roofs, no air of civilisation. How does 7 August 2010 sound to everyone? (Want it sooner? Later? Themes every other week instead of every month? No themes at all? Don't hold your peace on this one, folks.)
Mine Till Midnight
by Lisa Kleypas
Win . . . had been reading from a thick tome about Hampshire and its environs. . . "The history of Ramsay House is impressive."
"Our house is in a history book?" Beatrix asked in delight.
"It's only a small paragraph," Win said from behind the book, "'Ramsay House . . . stands in a small park populated with stately oaks and beeches, coverts of bracken, and surrounds of deer-cropped turf. Originally an Elizabethan manor house completed in 1594, the building boasts of many long galleries representative of the period. Alterations and additions to the house have resulted in the grafting of a Jacobean ballroom and a Gregorian wing."
"We have a ballroom!" Poppy exclaimed.
"We have deer!" Beatrix said gleefully.
Leo settled deeper into his corner. "God, I hope we have a privy."
While reading this novel, I was struck at how perfectly Ramsay House matches the Hathaway family, who have just moved in. In the same way that people and their pets can grow to resemble each other, I think that people and their houses can age in similar patterns. But this is when they meet when one party is young. In this story, both the home and the family are relatively old when the death of a distant relative turns Leo Hathaway into the new Lord Ramsay. And yet the house fits!
When the work to clean and restore it begins in earnest, our heroine muses that it is "a charming place, really, with eccentricities, secret corners and unique features that only needed some polish and attention," and makes an explicit comparison between the home and its new inhabitants. (For the benefit of less subtle readers, you know. =P)
But Ramsay House isn't quirky for the sake of being quirky: all its unusual features also serve the plot. There is "the bee room," to name one--an upstairs parlour left unused for so long that about two hundred thousand bees were able to turn it into a hive. And then there's the fact that the place is haunted--by a ghost that doesn't come with the old structure but with the new occupants! Oh, and a mysterious fire nearly burns the old place down, making a painful parallel to the dissension in a once-happy family. But the best part of all is that Ramsay House is Catholic!!! Yes, it is as Catholic as old English houses come, even though the Hathaways are solid, simple Church of England folk--excepting (I suppose) the gypsy foster brother. It would have been nice to have a Catholic family move into a Catholic house . . . but I can't have all my literary fantasies, can I?
Last week, I read the fourth book in the Hathaways series, Married by Morning. It is Lord Ramsay's story and the only other story in which plot, character and setting come together so perfectly. Which is just right, I think, as his redemption in Mine Till Midnight parallels the restoration of his new home. Leo as a character and Ramsay House as a setting are tied together so tightly that there was simply no way for him to have his own romance without the house coming into play.
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D
EDIT: Here are quick links to all the Family Homes linked up for our first Theme Challenge . . .
Books before Breakfast, Elinor's House (Inkheart by Cornelia Funke)
Breaking the Curve, Jelaza Kazone (Liadan Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller)
Birdie's Nest, Penshurst (To Penshurst by John Donne)
Spike Is Best, Ithaca (The Odyssey by Homer)
Null Epistolary, The Burrow (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)
Image Source: Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas