For the inaugural column, I have a special guest Janeite - Diana Peterfreund, author of a number of awesome YA books, most recently one with an Austen-bent: a sci-fi/dystopic retelling of Persuasion called For Darkness Shows the Stars!
Make sure you stop by the AiA giveaway of For Darkness, and check out my review when it goes up this weekend!
And thanks to everyone who submitted a question for Dear Janeite! If you have questions of your own (serious or silly) make sure to leave the in the comments (for bonus points in the FD giveaway!) or on the form!
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I simply loved the relationship between Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park. I love when childhood best friends becoming husband and wife.
However, I have come into a bit of a dilemma. I have entered into what I consider a serious relationship with a great man. It has only been a month, but there is definitely chemistry there and it is as if we have been best friends since childhood. The only problem is: my father found out that we are related. Our great, great grandfather is the same man.
My sister is very opposed to the relationship because of the awkwardness of being "related". It causes me some doubts about continuing the relationship. But when I remember Fanny and Edmund's relationship they were cousins and saw nothing wrong with the match.
Please, help me decide if this relationship should be severed or if I should trust in the power of love.
Dear Cousinly Affection,
Were the gentlemen in question in truth your first cousin, as Fanny and Edmund are, my answer might be different, as you live in quite a different time and different world than I do. However, this man is not your first cousin. He is your third cousin, a connection so distant that it is not unusual for such relations to never know one another at all. There is not a state in the country that outlaws such unions, and should the relationship continue, from a legal and biological standpoint, the best advice I can give is to seek genetic counseling should you wish to have children.
Your letter, however, is unclear on a vital point. You claim your dream is not of cousins, but of "childhood best friends" becoming husband and wife. But your description of your current connection with this man is not one of a childhood best friend. You say you have only been in the relationship for a month -- was he a friend prior to this time? Additionally, you say your father "found out" that you were distantly related. If you knew this young man from childhood, surely your father would have long known about your family connection. Your sister's distaste would then be more rational, since you would have thought of him as family all your life. Indeed, this is the argument Fanny's aunt makes when Fanny first moves to Mansfield Park-- that Fanny living there and growing up with the boys as a cousin would make her a less likely romantic object to the Bertram sons.
But this does not seem to be the case.
This relationship is very young, and though you feel a strong bond with this young man, do not mistake the fact that he is a third cousin for the dream that he is your imagined Edmund Bertram. Tom Bertram was also a cousin. Take it slow; decide what future you really have with this man. If you are truly happy, then your family will come around, as Fanny's uncle does.
~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~Diana Peterfreund has been a costume designer, a cover model, and a food critic. Her travels have taken her from the cloud forests of Costa Rica to the underground caverns of New Zealand (and as far as she’s concerned, she’s just getting started).
Diana graduated from Yale University in 2001 with dual degrees in Literature and Geology, which her family claimed would only come in handy if she wrote books about rocks. Now, this Florida girl lives with her husband and their puppy in Washington D.C., and writes books that rock.
Inspired by Jane Austen's "Persuasion", "For Darkness Shows the Stars" is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.
*** Note to those leaving Dear Janeite questions: The original Dear Janeite post explains more fully, but the questions are not necessarily "to" Jane Austen, but to a Janeite or a Jane character, who will answer with Janely wisdom; they are advice column questions, like the one above, so if you want +5 for the giveaway... make it worth it. =)