Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

trytofly

Jedi
Here are the French titles of the Bedwyn saga :

Slightly married ****** Un mariage en blanc
Slightly wicked ****** Rêve éveillé
Slightly scandalous ****** Fausses fiancailles
Slightly tempted ****** L'amour ou la guerre
Slightly sinful ****** L'inconnu de la forêt
Slightly dangerous ****** Le mystérieux duc de bewcastle


Except error on my part, I do not see the existence of the French titles which are indicated on the sheet :

The further observations of lady whistledown - Novella *** Les nouveaux potins potins de Lady Wistledown
Lady whisteldown strikes back - Novella *** Lady Wistledown récidive (tome 1-2-3-4)


The next releases of books in French from the list will be :

Anne Gracie (Marriage of Convenience)
Marry in secret ****** Mon amoureux (sortie le 05 mai 2021)
Marry in scarlet ******* La mariée était en rouge (sortie le 07 juillet 2021)

Eloisa James (The Wiles of Lindon Castle)
Say Yes to the Duke ****** Le dernier amour du duc (sortie le 02 juin 2021)
 

jess

Jedi Master
I've had a strong reaction as well while reading it, if I may suggest, if you still are feeling "heavy" after reading the book take a break for a couple of days just to let flow the effects of the emotions you may be feeling currently.

After that if you'd be interested and willing i'd suggest to read (if you didn't read it yet off course) the following novel from the series, A Silent Melody. It's a very beautiful story with it's own emotional roller-coaster that is worth experiencing if one is ready and willing to do so.

Personally I take the reading as an adventure and as a personal challenge, the heavier the stories, emotionally speaking, the better, since i'm aware of my own emotional garbage/blockage and strongly feel that in order to get rid of it I have to keep reading the novels especially the heavy ones.

Off course that's me, everyone has their own cross to carry and knows better for themselves how to proceed with the reading project. :-)
thank you very much Andrian for commenting, yes, I have felt very intense in my emotions, at the same time a little liberated too, for a month ago and until now I have been dreaming almost every night, seeing myself how I had interacted with different people from my childhood -now, that is to say I have been able to see myself, my feelings maybe that I always keep or ignore, so this together with the reading makes it more powerful, I feel extremely sensitive... as you comment, maybe give some time relax, could heal the heaviness...
thanks :-)
 

Gaby

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
I don't know if I'm doing something wrong, or why in this story it affected me physically, my stomach hurt and I got nauseous, a bit of a headache, I also feel a bit depressed. It makes me wonder, It could be a very internal unblocking, I don't feel very strong in my stomach when I read about psychopathy. Maybe, Does that mean I should dig deeper, dig out whatever I have buried, or should I stop and look for other stories?
This story for me was not like a "roller coaster", it was more like jumping out of a plane without a parachute and landing on feather pillows
Heartless touches a very deep wound in the collective psyche:
Being helpless in the face of the trespassing of your ultimate boundary by having your body taken by force.
Reintegrating a past life experience of that type is problematical to say the least.
It can make anyone feel crazy when there's not such violence committed in the present life, yet the soul struggles with the memories from a nameless past.
I think this romance novel is a masterpiece in the way it was constructed and in the way it allows for healing from such past for the characters involved and the readers. It also mimics the journey of discovery where the truth is known only after many toils and dangers, reaching the point where healing finally has its chance.

Having said that, I agree with Andrian's suggestion though. After I read Silent Melody, I took a break from Balogh. I particularly enjoyed Julia Quinn whose romance novels were lighter, yet still able to go very deeply. Her writing style is such that it makes it easier to dwell upon various issues while finding it easier to do so in a safe environment. Or to quote the polyvagal theory, "in a social engagement environment". She can be very funny, and it's good to find mirth here and there while you explore deep psychological subjects.
 

jess

Jedi Master
Heartless touches a very deep wound in the collective psyche:
Being helpless in the face of the trespassing of your ultimate boundary by having your body taken by force.
Reintegrating a past life experience of that type is problematical to say the least.
It can make anyone feel crazy when there's not such violence committed in the present life, yet the soul struggles with the memories from a nameless past.
I think this romance novel is a masterpiece in the way it was constructed and in the way it allows for healing from such past for the characters involved and the readers. It also mimics the journey of discovery where the truth is known only after many toils and dangers, reaching the point where healing finally has its chance.

Having said that, I agree with Andrian's suggestion though. After I read Silent Melody, I took a break from Balogh. I particularly enjoyed Julia Quinn whose romance novels were lighter, yet still able to go very deeply. Her writing style is such that it makes it easier to dwell upon various issues while finding it easier to do so in a safe environment. Or to quote the polyvagal theory, "in a social engagement environment". She can be very funny, and it's good to find mirth here and there while you explore deep psychological subjects.
Thanks Gaby for your comments, are very enlightening, yes it is very helpful to know more, to understand. Yes, it is very crazy to have all the emotions and feelings without being able to fully understand them and to feel them in a very persistent way without being able to control it.
Yes I am going to switch to the suggestions towards these other novels. Thank you very much again:-)
 

Turgon

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Reading the Westcott Saga now and there is something about some of the books in this series and characters that has affected me.

The conversation Camille had with Winnifred near the end of the Someone to Hold was something that everyone, in a perfect world, should hear growing up and here I am, a grown man, balling my eyes out while reading it. Although there were a mix of emotions, including sorrow, envy and jealousy. The latter being the most difficult to accept when it came up. But I really resonated with and liked Joel's character a lot, especially since he wasn't an aristocrat and bound to the same rules of etiquette and manners that a lot of the other characters growing up in the ton are, although it seems an almost integral part of Balogh's character's development, the ton, being shaped or influenced by the norms and pressures of the time, but having to find creative and unique ways of navigating this fickle world while learning to break free and finding out who they are in the process through love.

Someone to Trust with Elizabeth and Colin was another great book, one that I enjoyed reading the most so far because all throughout the series as she made appearances in many of the previous books, Elizabeth had a certain way about her that I found so appealing and attractive even before getting to the book that revolved around her character. The way she was written, her sense of humour, the very air about her and ability to make anyone feel welcome and comfortable around her, all the while exemplifying this inner strength and beauty. Most, if not all the characters have that inner strength and resolve, but I kind of ‘fell in love with her’ in particular.

But there are often certain sentences, paragraphs or words of wisdom related to one or more of the characters that really strikes a chord. I've written those down and visit them periodically although am trying not to 'intellectualize' it too much. These books are like the wisdom of the heart, and if I'm reading them 'through' my head, miss out on a lot of the richness and depth of the characters and story that I seem to pick up on and appreciate a lot more if I'm emotionally engaged with it.

Although that brings with it all sorts of other issues related to vulnerability and trust that sits like an elephant on my heart and has stirred up all kinds of stuff for me. I yearn for what I'm reading in these books but at the same time tremble at the thought of baring my soul the way some of the characters do with one another. The characters Balogh creates are exceptionally courageous and even though some of the books have a tendency of bringing stirring the pot and bringing things more to the surface, there's also the fact that if I'm stressed out or 'stuck' in some way, angry or upset, that if I sit down to read and absorb myself in this other world, it has this effect of lifting my spirits and transforming the negative emotions.

With 85 books to go before reaching 100, maybe that'll be a permanent fixture?! We'll see. No anticipation. I'm sitting back and enjoying the books for what they are. I'm not rushing through them and after this series I plan on moving onto other authors although I'm glad there are so many of these books. I could read them for years and decades to come.
 

placematt

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I'm midway through The Arrangement by Balogh. Second book in the survivors club series. A couple of points to note that have stirred me.

Im really enjoying the camaraderie of the survivor club members. I get the same feeling with them as i did with the Mckenzie brothers. Now i had a pretty significant emotional reaction to the Mckenzie brothers and although i felt a warm sense of closeness between the survivor club members, i didn't react in a negative way. It was more like a welcoming, joyful acceptance. And it really took me back to times in my life when i did have this level of connection with a group of men. was really quite pleasant.

Also, the character of Sophie. I could see you programs at work, especially when she refused help, as a way of avoiding being vulnerable and being raised in Overt narcissistic families. It became so obvious to me and i know these are issues i have myself, so its been great to feel like i could catch that in the characters in these books. This also makes me feel its a little more ingrained in my own psyche, the awareness in regards to this particular program.

lastly, Laura mentioned in the latest session thread that this was a great way to build empathy. I have struggled to understand Empathy for a long time. More so conceptually, i feel i do and have had much before in the past but never on a broader scope. I have also had friends say they where an empath, and then go on to ridicule or denigrate someone and i could see the schism with their own words and actions. I have heard it used as imagining you're in the shoes of someone else. Well, I'm finding that these books are producing this effect on me. But i'm not sure if its being put into their shoes, but seeing the grander scope of every characters makeup and see how everyone is just as challenged in their own thinking, programs, I's and the potential for chaos this creates in their interactions.

I started wondering is empathy imagining you're in someone else's shoes, or is empathy the world view that everyone suffers from the human condition. Anyhow, i may be off the beaten track here, but i think it was interesting to contemplate. Is there a higher aspect of empathy that isn't singling out a specific person. Can one walk through the world with these views and have the interaction with others based on the over arching lense that people are just people and it's maybe the right thing to do which is to extend grace, understanding, compassion.

Im getting some interesting ideas about my own thinking in these books.
 

Beorn

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
I read Seven Nights in a Rogues Bed and then went on to the Marriage of Convenience series. I'm now on the second book of the Merridew series. I absolutely loved the Marriage of Convenience books and would have read them all again if there wasn't such a long list of other books to read.

The first thing I noticed was that something stirred within me when Jonas (Seven Nights in a Rogues Bed) asked if it was possible that someone could love a bastard like him. I instinctively asked the same question of myself and I felt a tingling warmth around my heart area. It was like a little candle had been lit after having gone out years ago. Then came the tears whenever there was some declaration of love or commitment.

Once when our "heroes" were sharing stories of their suffering with each other it became too much for me and I had to put the book down. The suffering was fine but suffering while being alone, that was too much. One can go through all kinds of suffering if there is love, but without it existence seems futile.

I've purchased the audio version of The Perfect Waltz (Merridew series book 2) and I'm finding that it's drawing me in even more to the story. I fell asleep listing to it and took on the role of Sebastian. In my dream I was saying "No, no, no..." as he continued to woo the wrong lady.

Today I couldn't stop crying when the narrator was giving the lines of dialogue between Sebastian and Hope. I can't really even say why but it's definitely having some effect on me.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. I'm still catching up but it has been very interesting reading about people's reactions to the books and about all the extra tidbits of information about that era.
 

Gabriela

Padawan Learner
Hello! I started a few days with Mary Balogh's "Irresistible" which I recently discovered it is the third book of the series :umm:... But as I have it in Spanish the name is different and nowhere in the book says it is the third book.. ( I know it is recommended to read in English but I had this one as a present)

Anyway, I started a few days ago and found it really hard to connect to the characters.. It took me a couple of chapters to feel something. I felt like a robot reading at first.... is this a bad sign?

I kept reading and got connected eventually with the story and characters and really can't wait to see what happens but I wonder why at first I just couldn't.
 

nicklebleu

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
When I am writing a story, I find over and over again that I have to stop, go back, find out just who this character is, and rewrite certain episodes because I have learned more about her or him and need to adjust the story accordingly. Certain things I wanted them to do can no longer happen because they are no longer the people I thought they were. And never tell me that as the writer I am in control of who my characters are. Not true!

That’s a lovely description by Balogh about how she writes her books. And it seems to me that the process she describes is what Laura was talking about - how the writer is kind of a vehicle and taps into a realm and downloads characters that she then weaves into an appropriate story. As if those persons are real - and on some level, I think that they really are real, maybe in an archetypical way.

The first thing I noticed was that something stirred within me when Jonas (Seven Nights in a Rogues Bed) asked if it was possible that someone could love a bastard like him. I instinctively asked the same question of myself and I felt a tingling warmth around my heart area. It was like a little candle had been lit after having gone out years ago. Then came the tears whenever there was some declaration of love or commitment.

Same here - one of my hangups from childhood, that comes up often in the novels, and has come up in romantic relationships I’ve had over the years. How can someone even love me? I know this may sound a bit crazy, but it always left me a bit baffled, like I didn’t really believe the other that this was true, could be true, and not just some sort of scheme.

And reading the novels has brought this point to the fore. I can see (and on some level always have), that I have some really nice sides, and some not so nice ones, too. As does the counterpart as well. And the job we face is to bring those opposing facets together and make it work - the glue being the passion, the attraction and I guess, the sex, too (although this was always a bit of an issue for me, given the poor view I had of myself as a man).

And as you have, Beorn, whenever this come up in a romance novel, I start to cry - like I start to entertain the possibility, that maybe, maybe I can be loved as the figures are in those novels. And that has been quite liberating.
 

iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
I don't know if I'm doing something wrong, or why in this story it affected me physically, my stomach hurt and I got nauseous, a bit of a headache, I also feel a bit depressed. It makes me wonder, It could be a very internal unblocking, I don't feel very strong in my stomach when I read about psychopathy. Maybe, Does that mean I should dig deeper, dig out whatever I have buried, or should I stop and look for other stories?
This story for me was not like a "roller coaster", it was more like jumping out of a plane without a parachute and landing on feather pillows :-/

In the end what made me think a lot was that although our circumstances may be terrible, we have the possibility if we put our hearts and will to learn, to decide for happiness and the common good.

Based on what others have posted here about how the novels have affected them, and my own experiences with this project, I think you're doing just fine. It could be that the depression has been there a long time, buried deep down in the folds of the subconscious. When you opened yourself to the novel, and with the novel, you finally allowed yourself to feel it, and make in conscious. That's one of the beautiful things about these novels - the authors are giving us these finely crafted keys to our chests, and as such we're being given an amazing opportunity to unlock some of the hidden pain we've been carrying for years, decades, lifetimes, in our hearts.

This session below indicates that the suffering of depression may be a good sign that we're learning.

9 June 1996 said:
Q: (L) This recent 'awakening' or period of seeing things
with such clarity, as they really were, and the whole
picture of the interactions between people and how truly
ugly it can be. I plunged into a terrible depression. I
needed to get my balance from seeing so much all at once.
Can you explain to me what was going on?

A: Growth.

Q: (L) I tried to share this perception with other people,
and almost without exception, when I said to people that I
was finally seeing things in their true state and it was
NOT a pretty picture, they all said "well, you are
obviously seeing this through the eyes of some major
spirit possession!" Why would they say this?

A: First of all, it is not correct to perceive "everything in
such darkness and gloom, etc." That is merely the result
of a cocoon of falsehood being removed. Celebrate the
balance. Don't mourn the death of an illusion of an
imbalance.

Q: (L) Where do I go from here? Where do we all go?

A: Everywhere.
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I finished the main 4 books of the Sons of Sin series by Anna Campbell. The writing is a lot more visual than Mary Balogh, but I felt like there was some plot or character depth missing. For example in each of the novels there are some dire situations when characters are in danger, but the writing never really seemed to convey that depth of fear and high stakes.. which made me feel like the characters themselves were not in much actual danger. I'm still really blown away by the last of the Survivor's Club, which has a dangerous situation in it as well.

As for the lessons themselves, you learn all about "stubborn fools" especially in the first. The second and forth books are somewhat similar in teaching you to trust your instincts about people, in spite of what you may have heard about someone. The subplot in two was a little bit of a stretch, but it held together in the end.

The third book in the series (What a Duke Dares) is my favorite of the four. The B plot in the novel surrounds a starstruck couple whose dynamics just made my heart swell. It was a very interesting foil to Penelope and Cam's dynamics and baggage, and all the hangups they had about whether she could meet his expectations for a "prim and proper wife" and his own fear of her wilder and more passionate nature.

Four's protagonist was the antagonist in three, but in some ways this individual seemed like a different person from one novel to the next, although by the end of the third there are attempts to cast a sympathetic light to set the stage for four. I also felt the tension between he and the earlier protagonists of the series were sewn up a little to quickly and tidily... it seems like there could have been a more interesting story there.

Anyway after that I sailed back to Mary Balogh, and I crashed thereupon the Siren rocks of her Gilded Web Series.
Just finished the first and second ones and each of these novels is packed with interesting characters and dynamics. It seems like in this series love triangles play a larger role than in other series of Balogh I've read (Courting Julia and Survivor's Club). That's probably at least partly where the "web" motif came from.

In the first book there was an obvious triangle, and I was genuinely wondering which man the female protagonist was going to pick. My favorite exchange from the denoument was how Alexandra felt like she was choosing between two forced choices of men who were to protect her and coddle her (in spite of Edmund's best promises not to impose his will on her in any way), but what ultimately allowed her to make a choice about going through with the marriage was realizing that what she truly needed was to feel needed herself in the relationship. So there was a striving for a true interdependence, rather than just a shift from one state of dependency to another. I identified a lot with Dominic as well in the novel, and the realization that he had to follow his destiny and not merely put that on hold for the sake of his family (his dream was to join the military); it was about taking ownership of your life and choices, even if that did strain relationships that were important to you for reasons you can't reasonably control.

In the second book there's themes surrounding love after loss, and the question of if you could ever truly love someone after you've already been deeply in love with someone. The protagonist ended up concluding that we can love people in different ways, but that does not in any way remove the fact that it is love we are experiencing. I had particularly strong emotional reactions to the slowly healing relationship Ellen had with her estranged father over the course of the novel.

In each of these novels I encounter these sullen characters who are jaded about love and go, "gee I wonder who Mary's going to pair this one with?" Then eventually we come around to some innocuous exchange between them and someone of the opposite sex in the corner of a social gathering or outing which flares up into an argument and then I go, "Oho! There s/he is!" The second book also explores the Nightengale Effect, in which caregivers can risk falling in love with patients of theirs. There was one extremely naive instance of this which had me shouting through laughter at the character "noooooooo Madeline don't do it! STAHP!" Sometimes a happy ending can mean the dissolution of a relationship that's not serving the participants - not just the formation of new ones that do (although there's plenty in the latter category to go around).
 

jhonny

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Anyway, I started a few days ago and found it really hard to connect to the characters.. It took me a couple of chapters to feel something. I felt like a robot reading at first.... is this a bad sign?

I kept reading and got connected eventually with the story and characters and really can't wait to see what happens but I wonder why at first I just couldn't.
Hi Gabriela,

In my opinion, this is not a bad sign. What I think is that we don't need to anticipate what we may feel doing this reading project. I would say, go with the flow; just keep reading and reading. Rather, try to enjoy the stories told in the books. At least this is my approach, and I have to tell you that for me, it has been a profound experience since I had never been used to this kind of reading before.

So, enjoy the reading, and keep sharing your own experiences here if you wish to do so. ;-)
 

KTC

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
Well, I would really appreciate feedback about it.

I started listening to "The Stolen Princess" (Anne Gracie's Devil Riders series) using "Balabolka" software. It is one of the text-to-speech softwares, and it is going ok, beside the fact that the text is in Russian (the software is also Russian), and the auto-narrator is sometimes misplacing accents of the words. It actually sounds funny, as if the narrator is a foreigner that speaks Russian. 😅

So I tried looking for better solutions, and Yandex Alisa (Alice) makes a better job, and there are also other services, like Yandex SpeechKit, where in my personal opinion the text-to-speech sounds even more "naturalized".

But the issue is that it is still far from the quality of the real audiobooks, like Audible, and it definitely can't replace the experience of reading. The reason that I decided to also listen to the books this way, is because I am a slow reader, and since I have up to two hours of reading before bed, I manage to cover up to 4 chapters. And listening gives an opportunity to listen while doing other things, but primarily while sitting in front the computer. My work at the moment does allow me to divide attention this way, because in many cases it is already almost automatic.

It was brought to my attention that this kind of listening doesn't invoke the necessary level of emotions, like it would while reading or listening to Audible. It is certainly true, but even while listening to the basic text-to-speech software (I listened to five chapters so far), I already chuckled in places, and was able to empathize with what Callie and Nicky went though, or specifically their reactions and responses.

So I wonder if there is still value in such listening, or perhaps it is indeed best to concentrate on the reading, and perhaps listen to Audible recording if possible.
Hey @Keit I have been reading and listened to 2 Audibles. I haven't tried the script to speech for the very reason you mentioned. I have used a program for work and personally I find it boring to listen to. Audible is pretty good when you get a good reader and is a great way to continue to expand on the list when you're on the move. This week I went on a road trip and had to sit in the car for 20 hours so was able to get through 2 audible books. It wasn't quite the same as immersing myself in a book because I only had one ear piece in so that I could still chat w my family when they wanted to but on the whole it was enjoyable and if you are a slow reader it may be a good option for sure.

Personally I recommend a mix of both if you're going to use audible even if it does take longer. I did find that the audios didn't invoke as much emotion and I would struggle to give a decent report on the audibles, whereas the book reading really does leave an impression and gives food for thought.

I will continue to listen to Audibles when I'm commuting - to some extent all exposure must count and maybe everyone is different, that's just my experience.
 

Chu

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Anyway, I started a few days ago and found it really hard to connect to the characters.. It took me a couple of chapters to feel something. I felt like a robot reading at first.... is this a bad sign?

In my opinion, this is not a bad sign. What I think is that we don't need to anticipate what we may feel doing this reading project. I would say, go with the flow; just keep reading and reading. Rather, try to enjoy the stories told in the books. At least this is my approach, and I have to tell you that for me, it has been a profound experience since I had never been used to this kind of reading before.

So, enjoy the reading, and keep sharing your own experiences here if you wish to do so.

I agree. Also, some books won't have much of an effect, then you read another one, and it's complete different. So, that's why we need to read a lot. :-)

By the way, that's book 3 of the Horsemen Trilogy. Did you skip the others? If so, it may be better to read them in order. Although in that particular series, it's not a big deal because the stories aren't that interconnected, you may miss some details about the friendship between the male characters.
 

Nienna

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Anyway, I started a few days ago and found it really hard to connect to the characters.. It took me a couple of chapters to feel something. I felt like a robot reading at first.... is this a bad sign?
I don't see this as a bad sign at all, Gabriela. I think, at least for me, what may be happening is that you are just starting to get to know the characters. I cannot put myself in the place of the character until I get to know a little bit about them first, become familiar with them. Once that's done, my memory goes back and puts all I have read in place and integrates that with what is now happening.

If you read the series of books in order, you should find that when characters you have read about in previous books are already known and you can place yourself in their shoes in the following books. We become the whole family of characters!

Happy reading! :lkj:
 
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