Monday, March 11, 2024

Laura McNeal's "The Swan's Nest," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Swan's Nest: A Novel by Laura McNeal.

The entry begins:
My novel, The Swan’s Nest, is about an impossible thing. A 32-year-old man wrote to a 38-year-old invalid he’d never seen and said he loved her. They corresponded for five months. What happened when they met is still being written about in universities around the world and celebrated in Valentine’s Day cards. The London door through which the man’s eloquent letters were pushed was saved from demolition in 1937 and carried across the Atlantic to Wellesley College. It stands in the college library as a monument to faithful, blind love.

The romance happened in the mid-19th century, before photographs of people began to be common. Elizabeth Barrett, the poet, had a sketch of Robert Browning’s face, but Robert had no likeness of Elizabeth at all. He didn’t know her age or the nature of the illness that kept her confined in her room. And yet, when he wrote his first letter to her, he said he loved her verses with all his heart and he loved her, too. This is the kind of thing that a romantic person (or a maniac) might say, and that’s how Elizabeth treated it—as a fictional notion he must dismiss. As time went on and he persisted, she believed that a little light on her “ghastly face” would be enough to discourage him.

For me, the problem of a movie based in fact, especially historical fiction, is the dilemma of how people and places actually looked. If the heroine was plain or short or disfigured or old, and if they lived in small, dingy rooms, the truth of that ought to be visible, or you’re not telling the same story at all. The one inescapable tyranny, I think, is not race or wealth but beauty. We accept attractive people of every race and class; those we do not find beautiful never get the same treatment.

The two actresses who remind me of Elizabeth Barrett are Bel Powley and...[read on]
Visit Laura McNeal's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Laura McNeal & Link.

The Page 69 Test: The Incident on the Bridge.

Writers Read: Laura McNeal (May 2016).

My Book, The Movie: The Incident on the Bridge.

My Book, The Movie: The Swan's Nest.

--Marshal Zeringue