The Cultural Gutter

building a better robot builder

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Hot For Teacher

Chris Szego
Posted September 1, 2011

I always get a boost of industrious energy this time of year, and a renewed sense of purpose.  All those years of back-to-school excitement have left me with a nigh-Pavlovian response to Labour Day.  I’m one of those (apparently rare) few who actually liked school from kindergarten onwards, so the beginning of a new school year tends to fill me with a sense of adventure and discovery, no matter how many years have passed since I was in a classroom (far more than I care to think about, some days). And what better way to honour of that sense of discovery than with a column about Romances with educational elements?

(No, don’t answer that.  And please hold all questions until the end)

I’ve read countless Romance titles in which one of the main characters, usually the heroine, is a teacher.  If the teaching takes place at the college level or higher, the hero might be a teacher, but it’s much more common to see a woman in the role.   It’s kind of an odd place to find that gender stereotype, but there you have it.  And it certainly makes sense if the story is historical in nature:  for centuries, teaching was the only way – the only respectable way – a woman could earn a living.  But there is more to ‘educational elements’ than teachers.  There’s also learning.

Learning is a powerful act.  Acquiring new knowledge or a new skill, no matter how humble it might seem, changes you.  Makes you more than you were.  Transformation like that is the core of many Romance archetypes, so it makes sense that learning works well in Romances.  Here’s to education, and all those folks who help us get it!

 

HISTORICAL

A Summer To Remember, Mary Balogh

Many of Balogh’s books feature teachers.  In fact, she wrote an entire, excellent Regency series centered around a small girl’s school, each book centered one of the teachers. Balogh herself was a teacher for many years, and she obviously thoroughly understands and respects the profession.  But A Summer to Remember is about the kind of learning one cannot find in the classroom.  It’s the story of Lauren Edgeworth, who is beginning to realize that there must be more to life than just rigid propriety   Enter Kit Butler, Viscount Ravensberg.  A former soldier and current scandal, he needs a proper bride, fast.  Lauren agrees to act the part of his intended if in return he will show her how to enjoy her life, rather than just endure it.  A moving and wonderful book.

The Unknown Ajax, Georgette Heyer

Another Regency, but this one is more light-hearted in tone.  From the woman who practically created the subgenre, it contains all the wit, slang, and attention to detail that is the Heyer hallmark.  Hugo Darracott is a Major in the British Army, and the son of man disowned by his family for marrying a woman far below his own social sphere (from Yorkshire, no less).  But to the rage of his high-stickler grandfather, he is also the heir to Darracott Place.  Hugo, finding himself surrounded by family utterly determined to mold him into an acceptable scion, obligingly pretends to be an unlettered rustic with a broad Yorkshire accent to give them something to do while he quietly goes about acquainting himself with his new holdings… and with the lovely and spirited Anthea.  A delightful romp of a book, which charmed me so much that I’d re-read it several times before realizing that Anthea was, in fact, Hugo’s first cousin.  Um.  Those wacky British aristocrats, eh?

CONTEMPORARY

Prince Joe, Suzanne Brockman

Lt. Joe Catalanotto is a Navy SEAL:  a highly trained, immensely competent soldier.  But his new assignment requires he learn how to play the part of European royalty, with all the attendant mannerism, speech patterns, and behaviour that entails.  Media consultant Veronica St. John, who spent much of her life in diplomatic and royal circles, is brought in to help him polish his image.  Joe is tough, streetwise, and deadly.  Veronica is upper class and highly refined.  Naturally, they fall in love… and that’s when the danger starts.   Fun, fast-paced, and full of adventure, this is the first in the ‘Tall, Dark & Dangerous’ series that made Brockman a major success, and made Navy SEAL heroes practically a subgenre of their own.

The Cinderella Deal, Jennifer Crusie

Lincoln Blais is a tightly-wound history professor who’s about to land his dream job (a tenured position at a small but prestigious college) if he can just swing the final requirement:  a wife.  Daisy Flattery, his artistic and disorganized neighbor, agrees to play the part.  She fills his life with colour;  he teaches her that a little discipline can only make her a better artist.  I loved this book for the many transformations it holds:  Linc relaxes out of rigidity;  Daisy learns to create a little order out of chaos, and their house goes from run-down to warm, happy, and full of Linc’s seminar students all the time.  The house full of people reminds me of some of the best of my own university days.   Good times.

Nine Coaches Waiting, Mary Stewart

Linda Martin is hired to look after young Phillipe de Valmy.  Phillipe is the heir to an enormous estate in the Savoy region, and his guardians, Leon and Heloise de Valmy, want him to have an English governess.  So Linda hides the fact that she speaks fluent French.  She becomes very fond of the quiet Phillipe, and just as fond, though in a very different way, of Leon’s adult son Raoul.  But Linda discovers that all is not what it seems in the tranquil French countryside.  Phillipe is in serious danger, and Linda is the only one who can save him.   Any book by Mary Stewart is going to be compulsively readable, but I particularly loved Linda’s growing relationship with young Phillipe.  He may be a Count, but he is also a child:  smart, funny, clumsy, and occasionally maddening.  First published in 1958, Nine Coaches Waiting definitely counts as a contemporary, even though aspects of it feel deliciously historical.

 Are there any questions?  Chris Szego wants you to remember that participation is a large part of your mark.

Comments

One Response to “Hot For Teacher”

  1. Anne
    September 19th, 2011 @ 7:52 am

    Read all of these (some multiple times) except Prince Joe which is on my library reserve list. Thanks Chris…

Leave a Reply





  • Support The Gutter

  • The Book!

  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims talk abouts the art of lettering in comics. “Comic book lettering is up there with inking and coloring in the holy trinity of underrated comic book skills, but it’s also one of those things that, once you start paying attention to it, you’ll never be able to not notice it again. I’m not exaggerating even a little bit when I say that it’s one of those things that can absolutely ruin a comic if it’s done wrong, even if everything else is perfect. But to be honest, of those three elements, lettering is still probably the most underrated. The thing is, when it’s good, it can be absolutely gorgeous in its own right. And fortunately for us, there are a lot of people who do it very, very well.”

    ~

    Comics Alliance suggests seven Star Wars comics to read before Disney makes them disappear. (Including a comic by one of Comics Editor Carol’s favorite creative teams–Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman). “Starting in 2015, Disney’s handing the publishing of any and all new Star Wars comics over to Marvel Comics, with an all new, optimized-for-corporate-synergy canon that will spread across all their media platforms. Anything that’s not a movie (especially one of the Original Trilogy movies), or a Clone Wars cartoon, will be unceremoniously Order 66-ed out of existence, giving future filmmakers a clean-ish slate to make movies (and money) on. But what about all those Dark Horse comics? That’s where we come in with 7 Dark Horse Star Wars comics you should track down before they disappear.”

    ~

    At the New York Observer, Ashley Steves writes about Craig Ferguson’s The Late, Late Show. “No one could ever prepare you for watching an episode of Ferguson’s Late Late Show. A friend could not sit you down and explain it (“Well, it’s really meta and deconstructive and there’s a horse”). There was really no good way to recommend it. It was something you discovered and became a part of. You had to stumble upon it on your own, perhaps restless or bored or simply curious while flipping through channels when your eye quickly caught some of the madness. And that’s the best part. It was an unexpected gift. At its worst, it could still send you to bed grinning and comforted. At its best, it was art. It was silly and fun and truly not like any other late night show.”

    ~

    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).

    ~

    At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip.  Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident.  If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”

    ~

    The Smithsonian Magazine has a gallery of US spy satellite launches. “Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, [National Reconnaissance Office] follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.”

    ~

  • Spilling into Twitter

  • Obsessive?

    Then you might be interested in knowing you can subscribe to our RSS feed, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or Tumblr.

    -------

  • Weekly Notifications

  • What We’re Talking About

  • Thanks To

    No Media Kings hosts this site, and Wordpress autoconstructs it.

  • %d bloggers like this: