Inside Winning the Wallflower
Warning! In describing relations between characters, I may wreck a book for you by making it clear who someone marries, or the outcome of a book. Please do not read about The Inside Take if you're wary of knowing who is paired with whom!
- When I was in middle school, I was a wallflower, though we didn’t use the word. At that point there were only two or three boys taller than me in the class, and I was mortified. It was actually quite cathartic to give my mortification to Lucy, and then bestow her with a fortune (and some wisdom as regards men who care about trivialities like height).
- Lucy’s best friend, Miss Olivia Mayfield Lytton, is the heroine of The Duke is Mine. And Rupert Forrest G. Blakemore, Marquess of Montsurrey, heir to the Duchy of Canterwick, is something of a hero in that book…though not the romantic hero.
- My favorite exchange in the story is the moment when Lucy (gently) snubs her oh-so-gorgeous former fiancé:
Cyrus stopped, a look of agonized embarrassment on his face. “I sound like a pompous ass.”
Lucy laughed, genuinely amused. “Didn’t it ever occur to you that you are a pompous ass?”
“That terrible?” He sounded shocked.
She arched an eyebrow. “You chose a plain girl with the right bloodlines because you thought it would be easier for you, and that she would be so grateful that you wouldn’t have to bore yourself by wooing her.” There was something a little savage in her tone, but she didn’t choke it back. “Yes, Mr. Ravensthorpe, I do think you’re a pompous ass. Wouldn’t you agree?”
- The story of Beata’s death, in which Lucy’s mother did not come out of her room for a year and a day comes from the true story of what happened to J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. His brother (though not his twin) died, and his mother retired to her room. When he tried to coax her out, she told him that although James would grow up, his brother David would always be a boy (a fascinating basis for the story of Peter Pan, obviously).
- Cyrus tells Lucy that lovely poem by the ancient Greek poet Sappho because the poem (which is just a fragment—almost all Sappho’s poetry was lost) is about the intermeshing of appearance and desire: “the loveliest sight on this dark earth is whatever one most desires.” Lucy needed to hear that because Cyrus is so beautiful. She had to understand that she is the “loveliest sight” to him.