Sorcery and Cecilia (thoughts)
I simply must tell you about the most delightful correspondence I recently stumbled across. The year 1817 was a dramatic one for British cousins Kate and Cecy. Seperated by the whims of aunts, who have decided that Kate may have her first London Season while Cecy must stay in the Essex countryside home (a decision stemming from an unfortunate goat escapade), the two get tangled up in a magical battle between the Mysterious (and rather Odious) Marquis on one side and Sir Hilary and Miranda on the other. While Cecy runs around the countryside, sewing charm bags and stumbling upon James, a most inept spy, in seemingly every bush, Kate must balance the demands of the Ton with an attempt to outwit some powerful, but corrupt, sorcerers.
Fortunately for all of us, their letters have been published in a book fully entitled: Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: being the correspondence of two Young Ladies of Quality regarding various Magical Scandals in London and the Country. While your correspondent usually finds epistolatory novels somewhat flat, this one seemed to sparkle with vivacity and wit. The dedication alone alerted me to something special:
The authors wish to dedicate this book to Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ellen Kushner, all of whom, in their several ways, inspired us to create it.
The book has a charming Afterword detailing how a simple Letter Game between the authors seemed to take on a life of its own. The result is this fabulous book, and a sequel, The Grand Tour, that your correspondent will be rushing to her library for immediately.
In sum, your correspondent must thank Children’s Book Week, which inspired her to visit her library’s Teen Reading section and discover this delicious chocolate souffle of a book. Here are some examples of the humour contained within
“You won’t lack for partners now. I’ve made Sally Jersey give me a waltz with you. Everyone will be agog to find out why.”
“Don’t you want to know what I’m going to tell them?” I asked.
“Oh, they won’t ask, don’t think it. No, they’ll dance with you and then say I am justly called mysterious,” he said.
“You are odious.”
“Quite so, but admit you’ve never danced better than these last few moments when you were too angry to think about it.” (33)When Mr. Tarleton and Iwere quite finished snubbing each oher with magnificent unconern, Mrs. Porter escorted us to the side door. (60)
Cecy, I do think it is unfair. People in novels are fainting all the time, and I never can, no matter how badly I need to. Instead, I stared at him for what seemed like years, with the stupidest expression on my face, I’m sure, beacuse I felt stupid. For I couldn’t imagine why he would say such an extraordinary thing. Finally I realized he was waiting for me to say something.
I said, “I can’t imagine why you should say such an extraordinary thing.” (86)
There is nothing quite so reassuring in an awkward situation as knowing that one is well turned-out, and whileI hope I am no so fainthearted as to require such strategems, I am not so foolish as to overlook their value, (290)
Your Very Impressed Correspondent,