This week we are going to continue with the theme started last week and go even further exploring our favorite book characters.Many of us have had an opportunity to interview an author, mostly through email, but perhaps even on the phone or in person. In fact, many of you have become experts at author interviews.
So this week, let's pretend that we can get in contact with one of our favorite characters and interview them. What would you ask Mr. Darcy if you could send him an email. What would his answers be like? What would you say if you could just call up Liesel or Rudy from The Book Thief and ask them anything? How would they answer your questions? What if you could invite Jo March or Anne Shirley to lunch, what would the conversation be like?
I'm currently reading a children's book that explores the idea that all eventualities are possible and that events in time are not fixed. With this in mind I managed to secure an interview with Tess Durbeyfield, age 62, immediately after the death of her husband of over 40 years, Angel Clare! And as a word of warning if you haven't read this and intend to at any point,this does kind of give the plot away!
So Tess, before we start I'd just like to offer my condolences on your loss.
Thank you. But we had a good marriage and many happy times together. I am just grateful for the time we had. It could have been so different.
What makes you say that? If it's not too personal to ask?
No, it's not personal at all. I did promise to be very open and frank with you. I kept a secret from Angel my whole life because I was frightened to tell him in case it changed the way he felt about me. That secret was that I had a baby resulting from a rape when I was seventeen.
That's a big secret to keep. Why did you feel that he wouldn't understand, or that his feelings would change?
I wasn't sure and there were numerous times I would like to have told him but I lost the courage. I did write him a letter just before we were married but he never received it. He was quite an enlightened man so I think he would have been ok with it, but I couldn't risk losing him.
Apart from when you wrote the letter, when did you come closest to confessing your secret to him?
I think it would have been on our honeymoon. He had just confessed a similar indiscretion to me and since I felt it was the same I felt it would be ok to tell him. But I was so happy at that time, and I felt I should tell him, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I almost wish I had, but I don't know what I would have done if he'd decided he couldn't live with me anymore.
OK, hypothetically speaking, what was the worst that could have happened if you had told him?
He could have left me. And then where would I have been? I wouldn't have been able to go home, at least not for long because of the shame I would bring on my family. They were already seen as a dubious family due to my illegitimate child, so I would have had to find whatever work I could, which at that time of year wouldn't have been pleasant work. I may never have seen him again, and I loved him so much I would have never been happy again.
You talk about being happy. When were you most happy in your life?
That's an easy one. I was happy when Angel and myself were courting at Talbothays. At this point I never considered that I could have married him, I just enjoyed the attention and his company. I was happy during my marriage but I always felt like it wasn't quite real because I was holding something back from him.
Why do you not think you could have married him?
I had promised myself that I would never be anyone's wife. It truly felt like it wouldn't have been fair on any man because I was not a pure woman. When I told my mother I was going to marry Angel, she told me in very emphatic terms not to tell him of my past. She always said it would do no good.
So, do you ever see the man whose child you had?
No, I have never seen him since the day I left his house. I have heard that he has since taken up religion and is a preacher now. That disgusts me really because he was a despicable, self-serving man. It cannot be that he truly believes, it must be for his own purpose somehow. I am glad I have never had to see him.
Did he know about the child?
No, I never told him. There was, and is, no need for him to know. The child died in infancy so he has no responsibility there. He was a devious and manipulative man and he would have used the child to win me back to him, perhaps even bestowing gifts on my family in an attempt to make me feel obligated towards him. He has no scruples, that man.
Do you not feel that he would just have been doing what he thought was right, under the circumstances?
No! I repeat I am glad I have never seen him again. I do have a recurring dream though that I told Angel about my past and that he rejected me and left. In this dream Alec does exactly what I have described above and eventually wins me back to him by offering my family a place to live, security and work. I return to him, although as a meek and obliging shell of my former self. This is the point at which my beloved Angel finally returns to me. I hate that dream. It seems so prophetic somehow.
Is that where the dream ends?
Yes that is where it ends. I always wake up at that point. I don't like to think about what would happen next. I think I would kill Alec. I don't think I could control myself. I can just imagine how Alec would react to the return of Angel. It is such a horrible thought I think I wake myself up purposely. It would be so disastrous to the lives of everyone I care about.
Well, at least that's only a dream. Are you glad you kept your secret?
Yes and No. I will never know what angel would have done, but also I've never had to deal with the consequences of him possibly reacting badly to it. I sometimes wonder about the mayday dance though. I wonder whether my life would have been different if he had danced with me then. I may have had no secret to keep. But I've had a good life with Angel and that's what I'm going to focus on now.
I think that's a good idea. I hope you manage to deal with your grief and enjoy the rest of your life. And thank you for your honesty.