I had two choices. I could either make her a near illiterate writer (which to me is similar to writing in dialect, and I hate reading dialect and therefore don't write it), or I could come up with an explanation of how Juliet got her literary skills.
I opted for Number 2, and wrote a nifty flashback scene (I'm trying very very very hard to limit flashback scenes, and I think this is the only one I've written and may well be the only one in the book once it's finished which it will be in time for its absurd September 1 deadline) to explain it.
It seems (cover your eyes ye spoiler hating readers) there was a library in the town where Juliet grew up and the library was closed and everyone in the town was allowed to keep one book. So Mom decided to get as many books as she could and connived accordingly and the family ended up with a fair sized number, which were then used to educate and enlighten Juliet and her half-niece Meggie.
We'll get back to this in a moment, but I want to interrupt myself to say I came up with a wonderful exchange of dialogue this morning (I think I was exercycling at the time).
Mom: I'm not afraid of dying.
Another character retorts: You want to live long enough to be able to say I told you so.
At first I had Alex saying that, and then I had Syl saying it, and then I had Miranda saying it. And the great thing is, Mom reacts completely differently based on who says it.
Also, to interrupt my interruption, I have the greatest end line for the book (which isn't going to get used, but I love it).
Mom (striking her forehead with the palm of her hand): What a fool I've been. The President was right all along!
Okay. Back to the library (I typed that as bake to the library; my typos are worth an entire blog all their own). It was up to me (on account of Juliet and Mom and all the others not really existing) to figure out what books Mom would decide should be taken to provide an educational base for Juliet and Meggie.
Here's what Juliet says:
We ended up with 31 books, a volume of all of Shakespeare’s plays, and a dictionary and a Columbia Viking 2 volume desk encyclopedia (I took one volume, Meggie took the other) and the complete works of Jane Austen, and The History Of World Art and Little Women and a World Almanac from the last year in the time before. 31 books. Only 1 made Mom cry. Miranda was supposed to take Alice In Wonderland, but instead she found a book Mom had written and took that instead.
The books were my school. I learned spelling and the meaning of words from the dictionary, and history and science from the encyclopedia and geography from the World Almanac. Shakespeare taught me about the beauty of language. Little Women taught me what families were supposed to be like. The History Of World Art gave me a way of escaping the dark ugly reality I lived in every day.
I told this to my friend Christy (aka St. Christy, since she listens to all my ramblings about The Shade Of The Moon), and she said she loved World Atlases. I'm not a big Atlas (just typed as Atlast- I told you my typos were fabulous) person, which is why I went with World Almanacs (I loved the Almanac as a kid, and it has maps). But her comment got me thinking (always a dangerous thing) and that's why I've invented the following game:
You have a library to choose from, and can take a half dozen or so books, in a desperate effort to educate the young and keep alive the memory of civilization. What books do you take?
Remember (as Mom and I did) that the longer the book, the better. That's why she took the complete plays of Shakespeare and novels of Jane Austen. Although I do have a scene later on where Mom is reading The Great Gatsby, which is nothing if not short.
Let me know what you choices are. If one pops up repeatedly, or if one strikes my fancy, and therefore Mom's, I'll put it in The Shade Of The Moon.
I should have enough time to do that before the absurd September 1 deadline!