Emmeline by Judith Rossner is a sad story of an innocent girl sent away to earn money for her family at a cotton mill in Lowell, Massachusetts. As I read this depressing tale, I compared Emmeline with my main character Ellen Cook in my novel Daughter of the Bride. It is by coincidence that both their names begin with E, and the only similarities between the two girls are their age and that they lived in the 19th century. Other than that, these girls are total opposites.
Emmeline’s story begins in 1839 in Fayette, Maine, whereas Ellen’s begins in 1895 in Texas. Emmeline comes from a large struggling family. Ellen is an only child of Lenore, a woman who lived a privileged life before the death of her husband Frank. Each girl must leave their childhood homes due to economic necessity and embark on a new life. Their relationships with their mothers contrast sharply. Closest to her mother, Emmeline “ loved her mother perhaps beyond a daughter’s usual love, and never questioned her perfection” (4) while Ellen, closer to her father, questions almost all of her mother’s decisions. Ellen’s father Frank treats her and Lenore more like sisters. Henry and Sarah Mosher, Emmeline’s parents who are dependent on her to support the family, treat their eldest daughter as if she were an adult, a surrogate third parent.
Rossner’s character is shy, unassertive; the type of girl who easily becomes a victim. From the beginning, I wanted my character to be strong and assertive—a girl who refuses to be taken advantage of, a girl who fights back. Ellen is wiser, more educated than Emmeline, which are characteristics that will keep her from becoming a victim.
I don’t want to tell you too much about Emmeline’s love life because you might want to read the story yourself. And I don’t want to tell you too much about Ellen’s love life because I hope you will read it one day when I’m finished writing it and it’s published (hopefully). Let’s just say the loves in both girls’ lives result in emotional havoc, but the devastation fails to destroy their love.
Emmeline is a great read, even with its long and slow narratives. I found it somewhat predictable in places, but this didn’t stop me from sobbing at the end. Not sure if my novel will be a tear-jerker; I don’t know how things will turn out for Ellen yet. She is still trying to grow up—like her author!
The SNHU Winter Residency
Filed under Photos, Travel
I recently returned from a wonderful week long winter (adore alliteration) SNHU residency at Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa in Whitefield, NH. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Other more industrious and talented SNHU writers—such as Kelly Gamble, Darren Leo, Charlie Stella, and Tyler Fish, to name a few—have already posted on their blogs their exceptional experiences and probably did so either during the week there or promptly on their return back to reality. I’m a bit slow and now there is not much else I can say about the residency that hasn’t already been said. So, I’ll try to make it short and sweet (Note the word “try”).
The hotel and its surrounding landscape were beautiful beyond belief. Kelly called it her snow globe. A few people reported seeing ghosts. I wish I had. I’ve experienced ghosts in the past, but it would be exciting to see another one. The food was fabulous. I gained a few pounds which makes it harder on me with one of my new year’s resolution being to lose weight.
The peer workshop with Katie Towler (my mentor for this semester) left me eager to get home to incorporate into my manuscript the critiques I received. With such positive feedback, I feel my work is right on track. All the workshops were spectacular, too. Diane Les Becquects’ workshop on writing effective scenes and Katie’s on structure provided the vocabulary and tools needed to analyze my scenes as well as those of other writers. Matt Bondurant’s enlightening lecture provided five methods on building effective action scenes. Ann Garvin’s entertaining “The Synopsis” gave helpful strategies to tackle the daunting task of writing a clear and concise summary. I also enjoyed internationally best-selling author Chris Bohjalian’s Master Class and readings. Sy Montgomery’s reading and lecture were not only entertaining, but also thought-provoking. Hearing these writers discuss their writing and thinking processes gave me encouragement about my own writing.
The new faculty members, authors Wiley Cash and Matt Bondurant, are incredibly talented and friendly; they’re a perfect fit to the other incredibly talented and friendly faculty. And I can say the same for the new first semester students. The camaraderie is phenomenal! It was fun to catch up with fellow students I met last semester. Top that off with making new friends, it’s like having an extended family of muses. It doesn’t get any better than that! Everyone fires each other up so that when we return home, we feel rejuvenated and inspired. I was so fired up that just within a few days of being home I managed to edit ten chapters, write two, and write two blogs, read a tiresome craft book (Why I Write, edited by Will Blythe) and write the responding essay (It wasn’t complimentary either. I’ll post it as a blog someday soon).
Of course, working with fellow writers and developing possible life-long friendships is the proverbial icing on the cake. I left the residency with renewed excitement and vigor to drive me on to another successful and satisfying semester.