Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Character Showcase - Justina Penny

Well, it's finally Jussy's turn and she's been waiting impatiently to meet you all! As the first leading lady in my Book Club Belles Society series, Justina Penny is one of the youngest and most wayward of all my heroines.
For the year 1815 she is definitely ahead of her time in some ways. She knows (or thinks she knows) what she does and does not want in her life, and her hopes for the future do not include the usual expectations of a young lady in the Regency era. Fortunately for her, no one else in her family holds out much hope for Jussy in that regard either. As the sister with the fewest expectations placed upon her, she makes the most of her freedom.

But, of course, even though she thinks she has the world sewn up, she has some growing up to do. At nineteen she is an independent, plucky spirit and while that has its good points, it also has it's drawbacks.
Her bravery also makes her reckless and gets her into sticky situations.
Her quick mind can also be stubborn and cause her to be so sure she's right that everyone else must always be wrong.
That bright imagination can also blind her to reality.

I know that for me, part of Justina's charm is that she isn't perfect. Far from it, in fact. She's not a mature, wise, all-knowing, flawless young woman who never puts a foot wrong. She begins her story in the preview short BEFORE THE KISS, when, during a trip to Bath, she meets Mr. Darius Wainwright and immediately decides he's the most stuck-up gentleman she's ever known. From that beginning it's clear she has a journey of discovery yet to make.
By the end of ONCE UPON A KISS she has learned a lot more about Darius, and also about herself.

And Jussy is not just the naughty girl bent on rebellion. She also has many good points - including a kind heart, devotion to her family, loyalty to her friends and a desire to bring a smile to a certain grumpy fellow's lips.
Yes, she leaps first and asks questions later, but one day, perhaps, she'll be mature enough (or so her elder sister Cathy hopes) to consider the consequences for once, before her feet leave the ground. By the end of ONCE UPON A KISS there are signs that this might one day come to pass. After all, miracles can't happen overnight.

I'll leave you with an excerpt from Miss Justina Penny's diary -

August 29th, 1815 A.D.

Today I splashed Mrs. Dockley from head to toe, broke a china plate, and failed to heed Mama. Thrice. All these things, but for the last, were quite accidental. I was quarrelsome on four occasions and fibbed regarding the china plate, pieces of which will one day be found buried in the herb garden and not in the possession of a wild-eyed, knife-wielding gypsy with a wart and a wooden foot. Although I think my version of events is better.

Sometimes real life is very dull, or simply incon­venient, and things never turn out quite the way one expects or hopes. I have heard it said that challenges are sent to try us. I would like to know who is sending so many to me, for I believe they have been misad­dressed. I am quite tried enough, and I suspect that someone, somewhere, is completely light since I have all their calamities as well as my own. Speaking of which, today I thought of the Wrong Man again.

I know not why he continues to plague me, unless it is a developing, chronic case of Maiden’s Palsy. It has been over a year. All I can say is, the blasted town of Bath has a great deal to answer for and I would not go there again for ten thousand pounds and a life supply of hot chocolate.

I cursed inventively when I caught my skirt in the kitchen door and again when I found a splinter in my finger. At approximately ten o’clock, when I saw Lucy in her new scarlet cloak, I was wracked with envy. But it lasted only until a quarter past, at which time she shared a jam tart with me and lamented the fact that her hair will never hold a curl so well as mine. Ah, vanity—one is hounded by it relentlessly when one has so little to be vain about.

Yesterday we sat in the hayloft and watched Major Sherringham’s hired harvest hands at work. Briefly I lusted. That is when I thought of the Wrong Man again. But even I do not suffer the Maiden’s Palsy as often as Lucy, who will confess—when pressed—that she is seized by wicked desires at least twice daily, even with no militia encamped nearby. I suspect this may be due to the fact that she was once a sickly child. I shall advise her to eat nettle soup. And a quantity of it.



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