Monday, January 25, 2010

Reader's Diary #570- Nicola Slade: My Dear Miss Fairfax

A couple weeks ago, Nan over at Letters From a Hill Farm reviewed Nicola Slade's short story "My Dear Miss Fairfax." Her review caught the eye of a few of us short story aficionados. Perhaps it was Nan's enthusiasm, perhaps it was that it was Slade's story is in epistolary form and that's not something you come across that often in a short story. Whatever the initial attraction, Teddy Rose decided to have her say on the story last week and now I'm getting in on the action.

In Teddy's review, she refers to Slade's story as "charming." That made me nervous. "Charming" is one of those words that makes me think of doilies, and tea cozies, and Jane Austen. Please, if you're a doily and tea cozy person who loves Jane Austen, don't bother writing me angry letters, it's nothing personal. I live in a double wide trailer-- I'm really not being a snob (except to those single wides--- pffft). It's just a personal preference thing, I like a bit more edge in my stories than "charming" would describe.

So was "My Dear Miss Fairfax" charming? Absolutely. But I'll give Slade credit for pulling off the epistolary form in such a limited space. And it did hold my attention. It is the story of Ambrose Rogers, a British plantation owner living in the West Indies. He writes to a lady friend named Selina Steyne, living back in London, asking to be paired up with a lady, any lady in fact, to be his wife. Turns out that Selina knows just the woman and has them meet through letters of their own before meeting in person. It's charming, so you know it has a happy ending (and for what it's worth, my issue is with "charming" not with "happy.")

I found myself comparing it to modern day romances that have developed over the Internet and how Slade's tale could just as easily be told today, only with a huge overhaul of the language.

Lady Steyne has painted a most agreeable picture of you= My BFF Steyne told me that ur hawt! LOL ;)

Yeah, at least charming isn't nauseating.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Nan said...

So glad you took the time to read it, and that you even liked it, oh edgy one! Loved your 'new' version. :<) And fyi(!) I don't like tea or Jane A. My short story this week is by Virginia Woolf:

John Mutford said...

Nan: Yes, I guess a guy who runs a book blog has no edgy bragging rights. But I did once eat some yogurt that was a day past the expiration date-- that's pretty rebellious, don't you think?

JoAnn said...

I do like Jane Austen, but am neutral to negative on tea cozies and doilies. The idea of an epistolary short story is so intriguing... maybe I shoud review it next week ;-)
Eudora Welty's "Why I Live at the P.O." was my choice today.

Teddy Rose said...

John, I'm so glad you didn't gag on it. LOL! I rarely like romances myself but I did enjoy this one. I must admit I have never read Jane Austin, though I do enjoy the film version of her books. I just started watching a new adaption of "Emma" last night. However, I don't see myself devoting much time to reading her books.

After your review last week, I had to read "Ghost". Here is my review:

John Mutford said...

JoAnn: Come now, no one can be neutral on tea cozies and doilies!

Teddy: Honestly, I've never seen an Austen adaptation, though I realize there are thousands.Looking forward to reading your review-- looks like we traded stories this week.

JoAnn said...

LOL...definitely negative on the doilies, but can't say as I've ever given tea cozies much thought!

B.Kienapple said...

I enjoy charming books, stories etc. but whenever I find myself applying that adjective I realize I've just ingested the literary equivalent of no-fat Kool Whip. Delicious but it makes you a bit ill thinking about what's in it.

Margot said...

I remember that story when Nan posted it. I have it in my list to find and read.

I reviewed a short story today. You can find it at Joyfully Retired

Loni said...

I like edge and I also like Jane Austen. Here's my first review for Short Story Monday. I hope to keep contributing. As Birds Bring Forth The Sun by Alistair MacLeod.

Nicola Slade said...

Love the updated version! And thank you, John, for such a great review.(For the record, I drink tea all the time, I'm English, after all, and a teacosy is an essential part of my armoury. I'm not big on doilies, but AM a Jane Austen fan).

I know what you mean about 'charming' but in mitigation, I should point out that the stories on my website were originally written for a UK women's magazine, where charming is fine!

(I've now turned to crime in my novel-writing so I'm not sure how the charm will hold up!)

John Mutford said...

B. Kienapple: I'd never thought of KoolWhip as charming before. Now meringue, on the other hand...

Margot: Yes, the story is getting around!

Loni: I guess Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was right up your alley then.

Nicola: Well, being a Newfoundlander, I drink my share of tea, too. I just don't like dressing up my teapot.

Always good to hear from an author! Especially ones I haven't offended.