I'm not sure if I blogged about homes and emigration before, but I certainly blogged ten months ago about moving, and here we go again. We move into our new house next week after about 4 years of being wandering renters -- yay! -- so I thought I'd blog a bit about houses and homes. (BTW, that's Charlie 2 and friend, taken at my son's house in Ottawa. Which is another kind of home.)
I care about homes, and thus, so do my characters. in An Unlikely Countess, Cate longs for the home he could never have because he was a second son. Prudence wants any home that's decent, but as she learns about herself she realizes she's always grieved the loss of her girlhood home. I didn't even notice that Paradise Lost was a running theme until well into the book!
In A Scandalous Countess, which I'm polishing now (out next February) Georgia, Countess of Maybury has lost her homes by being widowed. Because she didn't bear an heir, her cherished homes now belong to the new earl. Lord Dracy, her destiny, joined the navy at thirteen, so his homes have been his ships, but now he's inherited a title and estate he's unwillingly drawn into its preservation. That picture is one I sent to my publisher as a suggestion for Georgia, who's not yet twenty-one. It's from the movie Perfume, and exactly the right look and period.
In The Demon's Mistress, a novella out again now as an e-book, Lord Vandeiman is the end of his line and desperately wants to save the house that's all that's left of his family, but he's penniless -- until a rich widow offers him a fortune to pose as her betrothed for a while. The picture is Van from the cover of the Three Heroes omnibus.
The Dragon's Bride, to be reissued soon in print, is a little different in that Con has inherited a title and estate he doesn't want, which takes him away from his family home. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that of course at the end he's back in the home he wants. That trilogy, which includes The Demon's Mistress and The Devil's Heiress is all about a place, Hawk in the Vale, beloved to the three heroes born there.
And so it goes. I can't seem to help writing about ancient, rooted homes. Of course it comes with writing about the aristocracy, as aristocratic heroes usually have estates and houses which mean something to them, even if only as a burden of duty to preserve their heritage for future generations.
That is an important aspect of many aristocratic cultures sometimes underestimated by North American writers. It's not unfair for nearly everything to go to the eldest son (though we could easily argue it should be eldest son or daughter!) Looked at over centuries or even millennia, it's the only rational way to go. Cultures that have traditionally divided land between the children have not fared well. Soon no piece of land can support a family.
However, I think my often unconscious focus on home is triggered by being an emigrant. We left England to live in Canada, and lived in four places across that wide country. Emigration is almost always a very dislocating experience. Sometimes it works out well, but when I started reading on line boards for emigrants who want to return home, I realized how distressing many, perhaps most, people find it.
As we stayed in Canada for over 30 years, it wasn't traumatic for me, but the subconscious message of my books seems to be that home matters to me. I'm the same as a reader. I can't stand it when a happy ending doesn't involve a settled home, preferably one where one or more characters have old roots. Perhaps I've always chosen to write aristocratic romances because home has always had power.
Even in my SF story, The Trouble With Heroes.... the completion of that phrase comes at the end -- "...that they want to come home." That's the only reward Dan wants for saving the world, but societies are often uncomfortable with the returning hero, permanently changed by what he or she has had to become to win the fight.
(I apologize for the fact that a lot of my web page needs updating. This buying and renovating a house takes a lot of organizational energy, it would seem!)
How about you? Do you care whether the happy couple have a rooted home at the end of a romance?
Or do you enjoy seeing them head off in search of it, or even on a rootless adventure? ::shudder::
How important is home to you in general?
I'll send a copy of the anthology Irresistible Forces to one commenter. That contains The Trouble With Heroes.... I'll make a random pick from among the most interesting.
Here's a picture of our new living room, waiting for us. And what we started with.