contrived romantic pairings(Was Re: DWJ's Faults

Venkarel venkarel.geo at
Mon Mar 11 19:21:28 EST 2002

--- Elizabeth Parks <mep3 at> wrote:

> To build on a discussion--my friend just im'd me
> with the line "DWJ can't
> write relationships, I've noticed."  AFter I stopped

Nooooo...that's what I like about her books, the
understated romances.


> "I've read about eight of the books and every
> relationship is contrived
> and
> thrown together in the last quarter of the book." 
> Example: "Blade and
> that Empire chick from Year of the Griffin"
> "Right now I'm reading Deep Secrets, and I'm having
> problems with the
> Rupert/Maree thing. ;-). . .  He picks her up and
> it's "the most sexual
> experience" he's
> ever had?" (right after she gets split)
> "It seems highly, highly contrived."

I see the romance as being woven so deeply in the book
while not being the focus of it, that if you took it
out, it wouldn't be the same book and I wouldn't want
to read it.  Other books with a high romance factor is
Howl's Moving Castle.  And Hexwood.  If you'd thrown
out the romance, I wouldn't have cared as much about
the characters or what happened to them.  And the
characters would've acted differently if they hadn't
had those feelings.  I don't have the same feeling
about Castle in the Air because I'm still reading for
Howl and Sophie.  Even though Abdullah is very nice
and I wish him the best with Flower in the Night.  


> me: But it's not meant to be the focus of the book.
> her: Exactly.  Which makes me wonder why she feels
> compelled to
> throw them into every single one when they're so
> tangential and bad.
> "I dislike how her characters seem to reach page 98%
> and look at the male
> character standing next to them at that point and
> say "Wow.... you're so
> cool... let's get married.  I like the boks in
> general, it's just... that
> aspect of them bothers me."

About the only one I'd say that happened with was Aunt
Maria/Black Maria.  Because the thing with Mig's mom
and Anthony Green just seemed to come out of nowhere. 
I liked it that Mig's mom was happy, but...Anthony
Green wasn't around long enough for me to get to know
him.  I'd have liked to, though.

And I admit that I see Crown of Dalemark as being very
improbable in the romance department, though I still
really like the pairing.  (I adore Mitt.)  But there
weren't any pairings in the other Dalemark books, were

But there are many books where there isn't that type
of pairing.  In Dogsbody, that Sirius wanted Kathleen
to be his companion was not in the same way as asking
her to marry him.  I didn't see a romantic aspect in
that--just Sirius wanting someone he could care for
and trust.  And with the Chrestomanci books, the kids
are too young for you to know if there will be
anything significant in their relationships, not to
mention that kids can develop friendships with members
of the opposite sex without it being a "romance." 
That Christopher ended up with Millie is a
Chrestomanci story DWJ hasn't written yet.  It doesn't
necessarily have anything to do with the events in

Fire and Hemlock rather bothered me in this respect,
even though I can understand it.  Thomas meets Polly
when she's nine years old and we can't see anything
romantic about that.  But they've had years to get to
know each other and Polly reaches an age where she can
see Thomas as attractive and have all those confusing
feelings of jealousy and possessiveness.  But then all
her memories are wiped out until that fateful day,
when she's nineteen, when it all starts coming back to
her.  And it's been a while since I read F&H so I
can't decide whether she's rescuing Thomas out of
love, a sense of responsibility, or just because he's
her friend.  Or whether that sense of them being a
romantic couple is wishful thinking on my part.

> "It just doesn't seem to be okay with her for
> opposite sex main characters
> not to end up together.... and considering how
> independent she makes
> everyone everywhere else, I find it very
> troublesome."

This does not happen that often, emphasizing the part
about *main* characters.  Of course, most of them are
children's books about children where you don't expect
to see a pairing like this anyway, nor would there be
any significance if the boy and girl were friends. 
(Didn't people expect to see Mitt and Hildy together
after Drowned Ammet?  Didn't happen.)  

> Which made me feel sort of like someone had just
> said that Santa Claus
> wasn't real.  Silly but true.  So I've been
> thinking--about Hexwood
> especially--and wondered what you all had to say.
> lizzie, off to find some really good arguments to
> CRUSH her friend (aren't
> I nice?)

Try feeding her a list of books where that doesn't
happen.  And imagine what the other books would be
like if you'd taken the "contrived romance" out.

I don't think DWJ is flawless and I don't like all her
books.  I found Spell Coats extremely boring, and
while I liked Crown of Dalemark by itself, it also
fits very unevenly with the rest of the quartet, IMHO.
 It's like coming back from summer vacation to find
your best friend had turned into a bitch and no longer
has anything in common with you.  And I had a lot of
problems with A Sudden Wild Magic.  I'd read Deep
Secret first so ASWM seemed like the first draft of

(who disliked and was disappointed by many of the ASWM
characters, particularly Mark and Zillah.)

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