Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Pamela, Revisited

"This little Book will infallibly be looked upon as the hitherto much-wanted Standard or Pattern for this Kind of Writing. For it abounds with lively Images and Pictures; with Incidents natural, surprising, and perfectly adapted to the Story with Circumstances interesting to Person in common Life, as well as to those in exalted Stations....For as it borrows none of its Excellencies from the romantic Flights of unnatural Fancy, its being founded in Truth and Nature, and built upon Experience..." from the editor, 1740 edition of Pamela

Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela, Or Virtue Rewarded was on my reading list in a course on the early novel back in the 1970s. When I saw the Dover edition based on the 1741 edition of the novel on NetGalley I requested it to see why we should read it today.
Pamela's Story 

Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) was over fifty years old when a bookseller asked him to write sample letters to teach the art of letter writing to the unskilled. Richardson had little formal education, having been born in the working class, but he loved to read.

He created the character of Pamela, a fifteen-year-old girl who writes letters home to her impoverish parents. Pamela is a maidservent to a titled lady. As the book opens the Lady has died and her son is now Master of the house. He realizes that the little girl Pamela has grown into a sixteen-year-old beauty. Pamela has been educated and dressed to pass flawlessly among good society.

The Master is a Rake. He does not believe in marriage, but he believes in the seduction of powerless young women. Pamela is a devote Christian and an obedient child who has been taught that her Virtue must be kept intact. She fends off the Master, even as he turns up the pressure and changes his tactics. Pamela endures a near rape experience, kidnapping, isolation, temptation to commit suicide, an offer of fiscal security for herself and her parents, and even professions of love.

The Master discovers Pamela has been writing about what has been going on between them and insists on reading the letters.
1742 edition of Pamela; Pamela hands over her letter to her parents
After several hundred pages (both in the novel and in his letter reading!) the Master realizes that Pamela is the real thing-- and worthy of becoming his bride. In fact he decides she is the only woman he could marry. She has proven herself to be a better person than the high born ladies he has known: obedient, humble, open, pure, wise, obedient, and virtuous.

Suddenly Pamela realizes she loves the Master, that she always did, and now he is a reformed Rake she can admit it.

Questions arise in the reader: Was Pamela play acting, holding out like Anne Boylan who teased Henry VIII into marriage, or was she honest? How can she forgive the Master for months of terror and hell and marry him? She always said she did not and could not hate him, that if he would only behave properly she could forgive him. But there is a lot to forgive.

Pamela continually thanks God for her good fortune--and her Master for such condescension as to marry so below him.  Because Pamela is aware of the great sacrifice her Master has made in marrying her she retains his old title of her Master.

Pamela's ordeal is not yet over; she has to meet his friends and prove herself all over again to his vengeful sister. Finally even sis has to agree that Pam is not a gold-digger, but is virtuous and pure and worthy of her brother.

"...when you are so good, like the slender Reed, to bend to the Hurricane, rather than, like the sturdy Oak, to resist it, you will always stand firm in my kind Opinion, while a contrary Conduct would uproot you, with all your Excellencies, from my Soul." --the Master to Pamela

All is not yet well. The Master gets mad at Pamela lectures her on how to behave like a proper wife: bend like a reed to his whims. The book ends with a 48-point list of all Pamela has learned about proper behavior and expectations.

Pamela in 1740

Richardson's book had a strong story line and a sympathetic character. The melodrama brought men and women alike to tears as they feared for Pamela's well being. The book flew off the shelves--the first best seller.

The book was a cultural game changer. People marketed Pamela mop caps and tea cups and fans and Richardson playing cards. It was quoted in sermons. The story was turned into plays and operas.

The sexual situations pushed the borders of the acceptable: as Pamela resists her Master's increasingly forceful attentions she finds herself in ever more tenuous situations. Undressed and in bed, her Master in disguise climbs in with her. When Pamela is kept hostage he tries to rape her; she is saved only because she passes out. There was controversy: Is this a book about proper conduct, or was it "thinly veiled pornography"?
Pamela undressed. For a novel about virtue there are a lot of titillating situations.

Literary Influences

Writers satirized and copied the book. Henry Fielding's copycat book stars Shamela Andrews who sets out to seduce the squire to trick him into marriage. (Richardson's squire (a.k.a. the Master) was seduced while at college; the lady immigrated to America and a new life, leaving their child behind for the squire's sister to raise.) Novels about the trials of females in love proliferated; Pamela showed that people wanted to read about the female experience.

Richardson went on to write two more books, Clarissa and the Austen family favorite, Sir Charles Grandison. Richardson's books influenced Jane Austen whose first drafts of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were epistolary. The use of letters is important in Austen's novels.

Richardson's epistolary style allowed Pamela's voice an immediacy that brings the reader into her emotional and mental life. After the failure of Pamela's fake suicide to escape from her Master she is brought to her lowest point, even to considering actually committing suicide. She grapples with the implications of such an act:

 "And wilt thou, for shortening thy transitory Griefs, heavy as they are, and weak as thou fanciest thyself, plunge both Body and Soul into everlasting Misery?...because wicked Men persecute thee, wilt though fly in the Face of the Almighty and bid Defiance to his Grace and Goodness, who can still turn all these Sufferings to thy Benefits? And how do I know, but that God, who sees all the lurking Vileness of my Heart, may not have permitted these Sufferings on that very Score, and to make me rely solely on his Grace and Assistance, who perhaps have too much prided myself in a vain Dependence on my own foolish Contrivances?"

This dramatic scene had to make readers weep for Pamela, even as it instructs readers to a Christian attitude toward suffering: complete reliance upon and trust in God.

Ways to Relate to Pamela

Today's reader can learn about the society of 1740. From coaches to dress to class to coaches to drinks, every aspect of life can be discovered. In a happy scene a drink with a toast and spices is shared, with everybody having a piece of the toast. Now I know where 'toasting' came from.

The book is democratic. Richardson's working class viewpoint is evident. His titled and privileged classes were NOT superior. In fact, in the last part of the story the Master himself confesses that his kind were badly coddled and not taught self restraint.

The subtitle Or Virtue Rewarded could have also been The Reformation of A Rake, as Pamela brings the Master to choose marriage over debauchery and reform his manners and morals. His sister is shocked to hear her brother talking like a 'preacher'!

Pamela faces every instance of abuse against women, all of which continues to this day: kidnapping, rape, pressure for sexual favors from those in power, workplace abuse.

In Pamela we get a foretaste of the Victorian Angel in the House, the female whose presence raises the moral fiber of the entire household.

Class in 1740 is well described: A man raises a wife into his class whereas a woman of rank debases herself by marrying beneath her. Pamela has all the attributes the Master considers primary in a woman to make him happy, including her setting him as her Master to whom she is obedient in all things. Actually, she is the only woman who could fit the bill. No high born lady would tolerate his demands for primacy in all things.

"...I am not perfect myself: No, I am greatly imperfect. yet will I not allow, that my Imperfections shall excuse those of my Wife, or make her thin I ought to bear Faults in her, that she can rectify, because she bears greater from me." said by the squire to Pamela

In that list of rules Pamela has compiled is No. 21: That Love before Marriage is absolutely necessary. A very contemporary idea! Also one Jane Austen professed; that is why she backed out of an accepted proposal of marriage--she knew she didn't love the man.

Other rules, such as "the words Command and Obey shall be blotted out of his Vocabulary" and "a Man should desire nothing of his Wife but what is significant, reasonable, just" are surprisingly humane at a time when women were powerless in marriage.

Did you watch Poldark on Masterpiece Theater this past year? What happened? Poldark bedded then married his scullery maid, who then underwent social ostracism until she proves herself? That is very like the second part of Pamela's story. It was Richardson's book that started a landslide of books about the female experience.

There were times when Pamela's voice and character were strong and moving. And many pages which I couldn't wait to get through; often this happened when Pamela was retelling her story to new people or in the second volume when  Richardson was refreshing readers on events from the first volume. Pamela is heroic in her standing up to adversity with moral fortitude. She is also always humble and non-confrontational, engendering Non-violent resistance. In these ways we can admire her.

I am glad to have read the novel after forty years. I would love to be back in a classroom setting to discuss it. My book club members, especially the women, would hate Pamela for her passivity and acceptance of her rank in the class structure. They would rail at her marriage to the undeserving Master. They would leave the book unfinished. The wish fulfillment ending for the 1740s audience would not appeal to contemporary liberated gals. Those who enjoy the classics and the experience of reading works that established the genre will find much to learn and enjoy from Pamela.

The Dover edition offers exactly what the original readers found in their hands. There are no footnotes or articles about Richardson or the novel.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded
by Samuel Richardson
Dover Publications
$6.00 paper cover
Publication July 15, 2015
ISBN: 9780486796277

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Year With The Fairies: Moon and Stars

The Candle-Lighters

When shadows creep at eventide
And little ones are safe inside,
Bright stars a-twinkling way up high
Are Fairies' candles in the sky.

When shadows creep at eventide
The Fairies take their evening ride;
On flitting fireflies wafted high
They light their candles in the sky.

Jolly Marsh Children

Waters are sparkling where moonbeams are stealing,
Glistening pond lilies blow,
Music is ringing and voices are pealing.
Whispering waters flow.

Will-o'-the wisp retreats and advances,
Mystical Maid of the Mists,
Hither she floats and thither she dances
Whither-so-ever she lists.

from A Year With the Fairies
Anna M. Scott

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Being Rapunzel: Everything, Everything by Nicola Joon

Maddy is eighteen years old. She has spent her life in the safe and sterile 'bubble' home her mother has created. Maddy has never been outdoors, breathed fresh air, touched another human being other than her mother--after her mother has gone through a sterilization process that removes outside containments. Anything foreign could bring on an allergic illness that could kill Maddy. And the family has already lost Maddy's father and brother in a tragic accident. Maddy has SCID, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency.

Maddy has accepted her reality until a new family moves in next door. From her bedroom window she watches them, especially the son Ollie. From their bedroom windows and through instant messaging the teens communicate and fall in love.

Maddy is like Rapunzel in her tower, Ollie thinks. Unattainable, locked away from the world.

Nicola Joon's young adult book Everything, Everything  keeps one's interest and is an enjoyable read. Maddy's voice is charming. I liked her very much. There are cute illustrations of Maddy's thoughts and drawings, keeping things upbeat and funny. Love interest Olly has an interesting back story with his own family secrets and tragedy. Teenage girl readers will love Ollie. My early hunch about the ending proved correct, but teen readers will be surprised by the twist at the end.

(SPOILER ALERT!)* The couple find a way to meet, they run away to Hawaii, discover sex, and Maddy has a near death experience. *(Alert Ended)

The story of young love and impending doom, the interlude together, and the inevitable separation sounds like The Fault in Our Stars by Michael Quick, but with a happier ending. I am sure it was meant for the same market. I don't much care for the message that true love sex is 'everything'. But this book was not meant for me. It's meant for romantic young teenage girls who like wish fulfillment and fairy tale endings and characters that are likable. A story with just enough philosophy, nothing too deep, not too much angst. This book will suit them just fine.

I am interested in the mother's need to protect her daughter from the world and keep her to herself. The theme has a long literary tradition: The girl child forced to remain at home, dependent, protected, and safe, or to be the parent's companion and compensation for other losses. Ollie brings up the image of Maddy as Rapunzel, foreshadowing a reality not yet discovered.

"...she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought: "He will love me more than old Dame Gothel does, and she said yes, and laid her hand in his." 

"Ah! you wicked child,' cried the enchantress. "What do I hear you say! I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me!"

from Rapunzel

The 1844 short story Rapaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is about a daughter kept in a poisonous garden by her father; the daughter will poison anyone who touches her. She meets a man, they fall in love, and he discover's the father's selfish plot to keep the girl for himself. The story of a poisonous girl can be traced back to ancient India.

In Poldark season one Ross's cousin Francis is against his sister Verity marrying an 'unsuitable' man: he is not their kind and he is associated with scandal. After she runs off to marry her man, another reason arises: the family and servants are all ill with 'putrid throat' and Francis bemoans that his sister should have been home to care for their needs. He has kept Verity single and dependent for personal interests.

Sometimes daughters are wanted at home to be servants, to run the household or play hostess. Or to play nurse to aging parents. Sometimes parents desire to protect them from the world. And sometimes they are wanted at home because a parent is afraid of being alone.

Sadly, children, especially girl children, have often been victims of a parent who demands their life time loyalty. As a girl in the 1950s we had a neighbor who never married. Her mother had died, her brother went to war and then out West. Her father demanded she stay home and care for him. She lived in her unchanged childhood home all her life, her last years alone and in worsening poverty. She cleaned houses. She sold off her family heirlooms, which had become valuable antiques, and the land that had been the family farm, even the barn and garden plot surrounding the house. We loved her father, but now I see his old world values had defrauded his daughter of a life.

Maddy's mother undergoes therapy to deal with the trauma of loss and her over-protectiveness of her only surviving family member. Maddy's life began at age eighteen, when she gained everything, everything.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Everything, Everything
by Nicola Joon
Random House Delacourt Press
Publication date September 1, 2015
ISBN 9780553496642
$18.99 hard cover

"Yoon gives readers complex characters and rich dialogue that ranges from humorous to philosophical. This heartwarming story transcends the ordinary by exploring the hopes, dreams, and inherent risks of love in all of its forms."
— Kirkus, Starred Review

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Up the St. Clair River

My completed row CCGS Samuel Risley- Sunrise
Yesterday we took another day trip, Row By Rowing up the St. Clair River. The St. Clair runs from Lake St. Clair to Lake Huron, dividing Michigan and Canada. (The Detroit River from Lake Erie turns into Lake St. Clair along the east side of Metro Detroit.)

First stop was Marine City, right on the shores of the St. Clair River. I recently watched on Netflix an episode of Under the Radar Michigan which featured Marine City. It was as charming in real life as on television. A wedding was taking place along the river near the lighthouse.
Marine City from the water. Our restaurant was the far left brick building.
Quilting Dreams was in an old house across from the lighthouse park. It has a wonderful selection of Reproduction fabrics--and Downtown Abbey for all you fans of the show. Their Row is a Snail's Trail in pale blues and white; the kit has all the pieces cut and ready for paper piecing.

We had lunch on the water at Anita's Restaurant, watching the ferry to Canada, and even spying a small freighter.

Next stop was East China's River Place Quilt & Sew. Their Row is the CCCS Samuel Risley-Sunrise. (This is the Sunrise Side of Michigan after all!) The kit included laser cut pieces for the appliqué. It is based on a photograph by Jenny Terhune of Marine City, taken in winter of 2014. The Risley is a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker.

Risley block detail from River Place website
Next stop was was a shop that is fabled in Michigan--Port Huron's Sew Elegant! Port Huron is where Michiganders often cross into Canada on the Blue Water Bridge. (Which we have been over, but this trip we were UNDER it! Impressive view!)

I picked up their pattern for mama and baby ducklings on the water.
Swimming Lessons from from Sew Elegant's website
The shop has a huge amount of fabric and books galore, many older publications no longer available elsewhere.

It is likely our last Row By Row collecting trip. :( It ends September 8, and next week my husband undergoes cataract surgery. I wish I could have traveled further as there are beautiful rows still out there...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Three More Row By Row

I am getting the rows made. When they are all complete I will arrange them into wall hangings or quilts. Three more completed!

Top: Delphine's Quilt Shop in Gaylord, MI has 'pools' in a pieced block.

Bottom: A Little Quilt Shop in Waterford, MI uses pleated fabric for the waves. My version looks different from the store sample as I made it without the photo.
 The Quilt House in Indian River's pieced fish taught me a new technique.
I had hoped to visit more shops further away, but time is running out and my husband has cataract surgery next week.

Where did the summer go? These past few days in Southeast Michigan it has been overcast and cool, so cool I was tempted to turn on the heat last night! I am not ready to see summer end. When I was younger I didn't mind winter, but now I dread the long gloomy, snowbound days.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

AQS Grand Rapids Guild Challenge Favorites

I have enjoyed the Guild Challenge Contest quilts at the AQS shows I have seen. Participating guilds each have a theme.

I loved the Famous Female Faces quilts from Journeys Thru Art of Martin City, FL.
Pebbles by Kathy Rentz
Diana by Pam Post
Lucy by Karen Marchetti
Carmen Miranda by Marian McCoin
The Oakland County Quilt Guild challenge included this charmer:
Ice Cream at the Detroit Zoo by Cyndi Anderson
West Michigan Quilt Guild's theme was No Matter Where You Roam, Your Heart Still Hangs At Home.
Blanket of Leaves by Nancy Roelfsma
Fiber Art Friends of Eureka, CA based quilts on A Day At Woodley Island.
It Could Have Happened by Jody Rusconi
 Unbounded Imagination was the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild theme.
Green Luna Moth by Lynn Randall
Out of the Box Design Group of Jupiter, FL had the theme of Flowers: Always and All Ways
Sunkissed by Theresa Olson
Flower Seed Packets was the theme for Happy Heart Quilters of Louisville, KY

Heart & Sow by Carla DeSpain
Checker Seed by Godron L. Vogt
Springhill Seed Co by Karen Laundroche

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hawaiian-Inspired, American Themed

In her new book Creating Hawaiian-Inspired Quilts, Judith Sandstrom has adapted traditional, large scale, symmetrical Hawaiian appliqué patterns to paper-cut designs manageable for quilters of all skill levels.

The motifs are 'pure American', including butterflies, tulips, daffodils and bluebirds, Christmas Cactus, and Christmas themes.

She offers a new technique for pattern transfer with step-by-step photographs. Needed supplies and basic directions for making the quilts are included.

Innovations include incorporating more than one color in the appliqué and using several different design elements to make the appliqué. Patterns make wall to twin bed sized quilts. Several of the bed size patterns include pieced blocks.

Sandstrom begins with an overview of traditional quilt making in Hawaii and photographs of the contemporary Hawaiian quilts that are her inspiration.

The 26 patterns included in the book are:

  • Hawaiian Seas four patterns: scallop shell and starfish; Angel Fish and coral; crab and Stingray; turtle and jellyfish
  • Hawaiian Christmas with four blocks including bell and angel; snowman and wreath; candelabra, cane and star; tree gingerbread man, and Holly leaf
  • Christmas Cactus wall hanging 
  • Hibiscus and Tulip Bouquet 57" x 57" quilt
  • May Maze wall hanging
  • Butterfly Trails wall quilt
  • Four Color Tulips 43" x 43"
  • Tahitian Dream twin/full size
  • Exotic Purple Lily twin size
  • Amazing Amaryllis twin size
  • Daffodils and Bluebirds twin size

I made a Hawaiian sampler quilt in my early days of quiltmaking.

I decided to try Sandstrom's method and chose the Christmas angle and bell block. My block is hand appliquéd but Sandstrom notes that one can also machine appliqué. The patterns can also be used with fusible appliqué.

Hand appliqué is traditional and a favorite method of mine.
(Note: The pattern was altered from the original as I forgot to cut out a section in the bell.)

I folded the background fabric as suggested and traced the pattern on the appliqué fabric according to her method.

I used spray starch on the appliquéd red fabric to give it more weight and make it easier to handle.

Using small scissors with a sharp point I cut the fabric on the traced lines.

I situated the appliqué on the fold lines on the background fabric. Small appliqué pins held it down as I basted the appliqué to the fabric, then the pins were removed.

Using thread to match the appliqué piece I needle-turned the fabric, making small clips at inside curves. It took me two evenings, about four hours, to complete.

I had trouble with the very narrow part of the bell clapper. So I would warn to be sure not to skimp when cutting that part; it can always be trimmed later. And be sure not to take too deep a turn when sewing down one side or you will find there is not enough seam allowance on the other side!

The patterns are very original and cute. I wonder if I can make just one?

I thank Schiffer Publications for a free book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Creating Hawaiian-Inspired Quilts
by Judith Sandstrom
Schiffer Publications
ISBN: 9780764348587
$16.99 soft cover
80 pages; 83 color images

See contemporary Hawaiian quilts at Quilt Inspiration