Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Keit

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I took a detour with Julia Quinn - The Bridgertons, which I wasn't able to put down. Even though Julia Quinn does cover simple understandings in quite a mesmerizing way, at this stage I found it easier to read than some of Elisa Braden's stories.

As for Bridgerton series, right now on a second audiobook ("The Viscount who loved me"), and it is a charming enough story. Rosalyn Landor's narration does make it very entertaining.

I finished listening to "The Viscount who loved me", and liked it very much. Without giving away spoilers, it dealt with traumas on both male and female sides. What was also interesting, that the author described a bit about these particular traumas in the afternote. It showed that writers of romance novels do make research into various issues, something that on one hand isn't really surprising, but on the other shows why they can be a valuable source of working on self or healing these particular traumas.

Reading a narrative, a story line, where a particular trauma is being slowly presented, then expressed, and then worked through until reaching a happy ending and resolution, is a very effective healing modality. In fact, if I am not mistaken, there are cognitive therapies that do exactly that. Totally fascinating!

And I started listening to the third Brigenton book: "An offer from a Gentleman". This time beside a good narration there is also a background music, which is very fitting and makes the listening even more engaging and emotional. Also, and this is a spoiler, but those who read it....

...probably recognized that the story is a rewrite or a version of Cinderella! At first I was somewhat cautious and thought that it is probably a sort of cheating, and wasn't sure if it would work. But it does work so far, and the way Sophie was treated certainly produced a strong response from me, despite being very familiar with Cinderella's narrative.
 

Persej

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Two articles that may help us to come closer in our understanding about how reading novels can make brain changes:

Reading Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Function

Neuroscientists have discovered that reading a novel can improve brain function on a variety of levels. The recent study on the brain benefits of reading fiction was conducted at Emory University. The study titled, “Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain," was recently published in the journal Brain Connectivity.

The researchers found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. Interestingly, reading fiction was found to improve the reader's ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that is similar to the visualization of a muscle memory in sports.

"People are interested in escape," says Carol Fitzgerald of the Book Report Network. "In a number of pages, the story will open, evolve and close, and a lot of what's going on in the world today is not like that. You've got this encapsulated escape that you can enjoy."

When Was the Last Time You Read a Good Novel?

Are you someone who likes to read novels? Surprisingly, 42% of college graduates will never read a book again after graduating college. A 2012 “Pew Internet and American Life Project” survey found that people who like to read fiction are driven by personal enrichment and described what they liked about reading saying things like: “I love being exposed to ideas and being able to experience so many times, places, and events.” Another person was quoted as saying, “I look at it as a mind stimulant, and it is relaxing.” Others expressed the pleasure of living vicariously through a character and having another “life of the mind.”

According to the study, reading is a lifestyle choice that is also driven by a desire to unplug from a constant stream of visual information. Readers said things like: “It’s better for me to imagine things in my head than watch them on TV ... It’s an alternate to TV that beats TV every time ... Reading is better than anything electronic.” One respondent captured the general sentiment of avid fiction readers by saying, "I love being able to get outside myself.”

One of the benefits of getting outside yourself by putting yourself in someone else's shoes through a novel is that it improves theory of mind. As the father of a 6-year-old, I realize the imaginative and cognitive benefits of children losing themselves in a good story and learning to empathize with a fictional character. Although lots of people are still reading fiction, this new study confirms that people of all ages should be encouraged to increase reading time while striving to reduce TV time.

The average American home has 2.86 TV sets, which is roughly 18% higher than in the year 2000 (2.43 sets per home), and 43% higher than in 1990 (2.0 sets). In America, there are currently more televisions per home than human beings. On average, children under the age of 8 spend over 90 minutes a day watching television or DVDs.

Nearly 33% of American children live in a household where the television is on all or most of the time. Children between the ages 8-18 years old watch an average of three hours of television a day. On average, 61% of children under 2 use some type of screen technology and 43% watch television every day. This is disturbing to me.

One of the problems of watching television is that it reduces theory of mind. Theory of mind (often abbreviated "ToM") is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one's own.

Unfortunately, television is the least interactive of any new media and is the one most likely to reduce theory of mind. A paper titled “The Relation Between Television Exposure and Theory of Mind Among Preschoolers” was published in November 2013 in the Journal of Communication. The researchers found that preschoolers who have a TV in their bedroom and are exposed to more background TV have a weaker understanding of other people's beliefs and desires, and reduced cognitive development.

Reading Improves Brain Connectivity

The changes caused by reading a novel were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the primary sensorimotor region of the brain. Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded or embodied cognition.

An example of embodied cognition is similar to visualization in sports — just thinking about playing basketball can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of playing basketball.

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Professor Gregory S. Berns, lead author of the study. The ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes improves theory of mind.

“Stories shape our lives and in some cases help define a person,” said Dr. Berns, director of Emory University's Center for Neuropolicy in Atlanta. He added, “We want to understand how stories get into your brain, and what they do to it.”

The storytelling aspect of a novel is a multi-faceted form of communication that engages a broad range of brain regions. Although several linguistic and literary theories describe what constitutes a story, neurobiological research has just begun to identify the brain networks that are active when processing stories.

To determine a time frame of which connectivity in the brain lasted the longest, the researchers measured changes in resting-state connectivity before and after reading a novel. The researchers chose a novel over a short story because the length and depth of the novel would allow them to a set of repeated engagements with associated, unique stimuli (sections of the novel) set in a broader, controlled stimulus context that could be consumed between several periods in a brain scan.

The researchers took fMRI scans of the brains of 21 undergraduate students while they rested. Then the students were asked to read sections of the 2003 thriller novel “Pompeii” by Robert Harris over nine nights. The students' brains were scanned each morning following the nightly reading assignment, and then again daily for five days after they had finished the book.

Conclusion: Reading Improves Embodied Cognition and Theory of Mind

The scans revealed heightened connectivity within the students' brains on the mornings following the reading assignments. The areas with enhanced connectivity included the students' left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with language comprehension, as well as in the brain's central sulcus, which is associated with sensations and movement.

"The anterior (front) bank of the sulcus contains neurons that control movement of parts of the body," Berns noted. Adding, "The posterior (rear) bank contains neurons that receive sensory input from the parts of the body. Enhanced connectivity here was a surprise finding, but it implies that, perhaps, the act of reading puts the reader in the body of the protagonist."

The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes through embodied cognition is key to improving theory of mind and also the ability to be compassionate. Although this study does not directly draw these conclusions, it seems like common sense that if we encourage our children to read—as opposed to tuning out through television — theory of mind and the ability to be compassionate to another person's suffering will improve.

Reading a good novel allows your imagination to take flight. Novels allow you to forget about your day-to-day troubles and to transport yourself to a fantasy world that becomes a reality in your mind’s eye. Rarely is the movie adaptation of a book ever quite as good as the original novel. Even the most advanced special effects will always fall short of the visual power of your own imagination.

Berns concluded, "At a minimum, we can say that reading stories — especially those with strong narrative arcs — reconfigures brain networks for at least a few days. It shows how stories can stay with us. This may have profound implications for children and the role of reading in shaping their brains."


Can fiction stories make us more empathetic?

Empathy is important for navigating complex social situations, and is considered a highly desirable trait. Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, discussed how exposure to narrative fiction may improve our ability to understand what other people are thinking or feeling in his session at the American Psychological Association's 122nd Annual Convention.

Exposure to stories

Many stories are about people--their mental states, their relationships--even stories with inanimate objects, may have human-like characteristics. Mar explains that we understand stories using basic cognitive functions, and there is not a special module in the brain that allows us to do this. Understanding stories is similar to the way we understand the real world. "When people read stories we invoke personal experiences. We're relying not just on words on a page, but also our own past experiences," Mar says. We often have thoughts and emotions that are consistent with what's going on in a story.

According to Mar, social outcomes that could come out of being exposed to narrative fiction can include exposure to social content, reflecting on past social interactions, or imagining future interactions. We may gain insight into things that have happened in the past that relates to a character in a story, and resonates with our experiences.
"Even though fiction is fabricated, it can communicate truths about human psychology and relationships," Mar explains.

Available research on narrative fiction

According to one study, over 75 percent of books typically read to preschoolers frequently reference mental states, and include very complex things such as false-belief or situational irony. "Children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old acquire a theory-of-mind, in other words, an understanding that other people have thoughts, beliefs and desires that may differ from their own...Around the same ages, children also begin to understand what characters in stories are feeling and thinking," Mar says.

In 2010, Mar and colleagues published a study which found that parents that were able to recognize children's authors and book titles predicted their child's performance on theory-of-mind tests. Theory-of-mind tests included testing if a child is able to understand that someone may prefer broccoli over a cookie, and how that is unique from their own desire for the cookie. Parental recognition of adult book titles or author's had no effect on their child's performance-- the result was very specific to children's books. Mar cautions that the studies available are correlations, which do not provide an explanation of causation, and more research is necessary to understand why these correlations exist.

Mar's study also illustrates that exposure to movies predicted better theory-of-mind test performance in children. But the more television a child was exposed to, the worse they performed on theory-of-mind tests. There have not been studies to determine the reason this correlation occurred, but there are a few theories. Mar explains that it's possible parents may engage more in discussions of mental states during a movie versus a television show, or possibly the fact that children may have difficulty following a television show broken up by commercial breaks.

There are aspects of joint-reading between parents and children seems to be important to the process, Mar adds. There may be discussions of mental states, and more discussions during joint-reading than throughout other moments of daily life between a parent and child. These discussions may play a significant role in the development process of the child. A recent study Mar highlights shows that reading a child a tale about honesty led the child to act more honestly when presented with an opportunity to lie or cheat.

There is some evidence that adults who process stories deeply and are highly engaged in the story report more empathy, but the results have been inconsistent. Mar's study in 2006 illustrated that fiction predicts individual's ability to infer mental states from photographs, and the result has been replicated by a number of other studies. Studies have shown that narrative fiction correlates with better mental-inference ability and more liberal social attitudes. "Experiences that we have in our life shape our understanding of the world...and imagined experiences through narrative fiction stories are also likely to shape or change us. But with a caveat--it's not a magic bullet--it's an opportunity for change and growth," Mar says.

 

Mari

Jedi Council Member
Also, and this is a spoiler, but those who read it....
About your spoiler, yes, it was quite irritating (for the lack of better word) at first, but once I stopped thinking about it and put that overthinking aside, Quinn does really good job in her books.
If you´ve read the prequels, you can also see some amount of story recycling in the saga, but again when I´ve put the story in terms of a family karma (again, lack of better word) one might see those events as "runs in the family" kind of stuff...

Again, I´ve generally noticed that when I stop overthinking (and that sometimes really requires a big effort on my side) and just follow the story, I get much better experience.
That´s why I plan to re-read (one day) i.e. "The Huxtable Quintet" and "The Courting Julia Trilogy" to see what I missed.
 

Persej

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Here are two more quotes from Mouravieff. It's interesting that he basically predicted the current state where the women are quite advanced in their development and men are in big cultural crisis. He also predicted how the modern feminism can destroy the women and the rise of "neutral sex" people.

Contemporary man focuses his efforts on the development and formation of his intellectual centre. Everything is organized with a view to perfecting this centre methodically, sector by sector. Elementary teaching whose aim is to provide man with a working tool applies especially to the motory sector of the intellectual centre. Secondary schooling which tries to impart to the student the substance of a general culture lays special stress on the development of the emotive sector of the intellectual centre, whose action is then added to that of the motory sector of the same centre. The purpose of higher education is to give the student a specialized knowledge, which is acquired primarily by developing the intellectual sector of the intellectual centre. As a consequence, man becomes what we call an intellectual. Yet, the resources of the intellectual centre -which enable man to perform miracles in the field of positive science -whether pure or applied -remain within these limits. Kant and Virchow have demonstrated in their works that the field of activity open to human intellect is so to speak surrounded by an impenetrable barrier.

We shall now briefly examine the position of the emotive centre. Curiously enough, we see that in our civilization, both its growth and development are left to chance. Emotive life -deprived of a methodical education -is for man a source of unforeseeable events, rarely agreeable, even more rarely happy and whose consequences in general weigh heavily upon him. Owing to the absence of a compulsory emotive formation, as is the case in the intellectual sphere, the emotive formation of the man without, underdeveloped and neglected, undergoes the influence of the other centres: motory, intellectual, and lastly sexual. It would be no exaggeration to say that the position of the emotive centre in man's psychic life is tantamount to that of a poor relation. Yet it is only an appropriate development of that centre that will provide man with a new source from which to draw the moral energy he so badly needs. To achieve this, mastery over the sexual centre and training the emotive centre are among the main objectives of esoteric work.

Mouravieff, Gnosis I

The advantages enjoyed by man 2 in the period of Transition in which we find ourselves are now clearly apparent. His upbringing and the present conditions of his entourage in which, at least in the West, the emphasis is on intellect, and only, to a less extent, on sport make it easier for man 2 to balance his psychic organism. In our highly, intellectualized society, man 2 is extremely vulnerable and is rarely found among those who achieve the highest honours. On the other hand, if he succeeds in weakening in himself the effects of the "A" influences —particularly strong nowadays —by "clutching" more and more at the "B" influences, his emotive nature will enable him to balance more quickly and more easily his lower centres. For man 3, living in a "world 3" this is much more difficult to achieve. For his psychic make-up, reinforced by an intellectual education, instruction and atmosphere, turns him in the end into an utterly unilateral being. This is the real cause of the weakness demonstrated by the present ruling class, which has failed to stabilize and balance the wayof life in human society–although technical progress offers all the material and necessary means for this purpose.

Similarly woman, endowed with a refined emotivity, is placed in conditions which enable her to accomplish, in the contemporary world, rapid progress in the esoteric domain. For the stress laid in our civilization on the development of the intellectual faculties fosters the equilibrium of her centres on condition, however, that she does not lose her feminine emotivity and does not become too "calculating". To preserve her womanhood is a stumbling-block, a test upon which selection automatically depends. Above all, she must beware of acquiring a masculine mentality and of identifying herself with it. For this sort of mind in a feminine body excludes the possibility of esoteric development. Such a type of woman is unfortunately widespread nowadays, as well as the type of the womanish man; these are called by the Tradition the neutral sex. Unions between persons having thus deviated from the normal are in opposition to the state of Androgynous - the summit of the divinized human power. They shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Mouravieff, Gnosis I
 

Laura

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Again, I´ve generally noticed that when I stop overthinking (and that sometimes really requires a big effort on my side) and just follow the story, I get much better experience.
That´s why I plan to re-read (one day) i.e. "The Huxtable Quintet" and "The Courting Julia Trilogy" to see what I missed.

Yup. I need to do some re-reading because I'm sure I missed a lot due to my "history OCD" thing. I was also reading through books pretty fast trying to get a big enough selection to ensure something for everyone here. Only afterward did I realize that reading a LOT of "cases" was very helpful for getting so many angles on what are basically similar issues with variations.

At this point, I'm spending some time on research and gearing up for the Caesar book, but I'm still needing downtime with my romances!
 

Vic

Jedi Council Member
In for a penny, in for a pound. Never read a romance novel in my life. Haven't read any fiction at all since I discovered Forex trading four years ago. Until now that is. I began reading 'The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie' last night in bed. Put it down when my eyes wouldn't stay open any longer. Resumed it this morning and am third of the way through. What a page turner!

"It was later when I was pondering the emotional engagement that I made the connection with “hyperkinetic sensate” which was how the C’s described the Wave’s effects on human beings. I began to wonder what if people were engaged in stimulating the RIGHT emotions during this process?" (Laura - post 1)

It will be another step in the right direction for me if my emotional system is improved by reading this sort of literature
 

Beorn

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I've finished reading the Merridew series and now onto the second book of Mary Balogh's Westcott series, Someone to Hold. I was a little lost at first with all the aunts, uncles, cousins, half-sisters and brothers and so on but Anna Snow was a bit lost when she met them too so I figured it didn't matter and kept reading.

The first story, Someone to Love, was really enjoyable although I can't say I had any major reactions or insights. I did identify with Avery and his Kung Fu lessons. Growing up I used basketball and martial arts to keep my distance from other people. In hindsight it is useful to be able keep your distance at times, especially in this world, but we need to be open to love and acceptance as well.

The Merridew series was almost as good as the Marriage of Convenience. I liked book 2, The Perfect Waltz, the best. Chapter 10 had me in tears for the entire chapter. There was something about the pain of Sebastian mixed with the sweetness of Hope that really hit a nerve. The whole scene with the singing, the warm fire and Hope facilitating the reconnecting of Sebastian with his sisters was really quite beautiful.
 

genero81

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At this point, I'm spending some time on research and gearing up for the Caesar book, but I'm still needing downtime with my romances!

When I finally got From Paul to Mark, I also had another book I was supposed to be reading for ISGN. So I decided I would put aside the romance novels for a couple weeks to concentrate on those two books. But I found after doing some reading in FPTM, I needed the break I get from reading the romance novels! So I ended up reading those instead whenever I needed a break from your book. They're so easy to read and pleasant. Almost as easy as watching a favorite show.
 

ramaj

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Yup. I need to do some re-reading because I'm sure I missed a lot due to my "history OCD" thing. I was also reading through books pretty fast trying to get a big enough selection to ensure something for everyone here. Only afterward did I realize that reading a LOT of "cases" was very helpful for getting so many angles on what are basically similar issues with variations.

At this point, I'm spending some time on research and gearing up for the Caesar book, but I'm still needing downtime with my romances!
Looking forward to your Ceasar book Laura!!!
 

Mari

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I´ve finished "Tangled" by M.Balogh.

I completely agree with every word @Laurs said here and have nothing to add to her post.

What is written below in the spoiler, was written as I was reading the book, so there will be some mood swings and my renting about the book.
I just modified the text a bit (removed cursing i.e.) and here´s all in the spoiler.
Maybe I´ll see the bigger picture after I calm down.

David was really a tragic hero. I felt for him every single page of the book but I was also VERY angry at him.
There is nothing much to say, I mean, what to say about him?
I could strangle this Julian fellow and slap David senseless for not telling the whole truth, but yeah - Julian was dead and David has to live with the consequences of his actions.

Maybe "The Obedient Bride" novel has softened the "obedient blow" in my head, but I could put myself in Rebecca´s position. At least first ~60% of the book.

I was with her for the most part - concerning how she was leading an extremely sheltered life and how she was deaf and blind in relation to her (now dead) husband, I could see and understand her resentment for David and her state of mind.
And when she was thinking to herself, one could see that she wasn't a bad person and things that were directed at David were the same stuff people tell when they are hurt and ignorant.
I could also feel her obsession with Julian, him being her great love and her being completely oblivious of the entire story around him, one can understand her thoughts.
She wasn´t stupid, but she was totally and utterly trained/programmed into the role and couldn´t see past that.
I accepted the fact she entered marriage in convenience with David - it was nothing new for that time period, so I moved on from that topic in my head (on why she married David).
Yeah, I was irritated at some points, but nothing terrible.

I was deeply shocked and got goosebumps about her reactions to sex. Poor messed up woman... And she didn't even know what she was doing wrong!!!
The woman was programmed almost into frigidity!!!
If David didn´t love her or had he not been the person he is, she would suffer the whole life by being the second woman to her potential other husband - same like it was with Julian.

I was generally interested in how this would end, because how the novel started, I couldn't see how she would turn around. But ok, there is a fine line between love and hate, so they say...

So it all went, more or less calmly, both tiptoeing around each other for the first half of the book.

In the other half of the book, when Rebecca learned the "truth" about Julian´s death, I was totally pissed at David!!!!
She is who she is, but he - he STILL didn't tell her about her beloved Julian!!!!!
He should have told her right then! I was so angry at him that I wanted to eat my phone!
Julian was dead and buried! Why in hell is he still protecting him? He's not protecting her for sure with his lies!
Ooooo I was so pissed!!!!
I was pissed at her as well; fine she loved Julian - but how would she feel if David was mentioning and whining about his ex-lovers all the freakin´ time!? But no! Poor me, all the time!
AAAAAA

And then - oh, come on!!!! Julian was raised from the dead!!!!
And soooo in love that he waited 3 years (!!!) to come back to his beloved Becka! All changed and reformed!!!
Jeeez... I laughed and cursed....

And then the stupid cow left her son!!!! To go with Julian!!! That’s not obedient, that's pure selfish, self centered bs!!!
I mean I get that she was programmed to be a good wife, but - it's her son!!!!
I was again extremely angry and my "putting in someone else's shoes" went down the drain.

And after he admitted all his adulteries, she still stayed with him knowing that he would do that again.
I don’t understand! She loved another. Even if she didn´t, she had a child waiting for her!!! How could she think of going away from her child!?
This is not obedience, this is über-self-righteous and über-moralizing, and I can't believe it‘s programming only that is in work here!

I could argue if Julian´s sacrifice was out of "love" as the couple concluded, but it did bring the couple together in the end, and her moral highness didn't have to get a divorce and all is roses and sunshine.


Interesting is that "The Obedient Bride" was published on June 6th 1989 and "Tangled" was published on March 1st 1994
Those are pretty much Balogh´s early works; what tempted her to write 2 so "obedient" novels in such a short time, god knows....

What I do know is that I'm now going to find one stand-alone book (preferably this-century Balogh or some other author) to wash this book from my system and finish Laura´s book.
Won´t be touching last-century Balogh for some time for sure...

Oooh, I'm still pissed....
And I´m sorry for any bad language in the spoiler....
 

thorbiorn

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Won´t be touching last-century Balogh for some time for sure...
Tangled has a particular setting, I wonder what it would be like to reread the book?

Recently I finished two other early books by Mary Balogh, A Chance Encounter from 1985, and The Wood Nymph from 1987 (author links). The Amazon links are A Chance Encounter and The Wood Nymph.

Together, they make up a duo since the two main male characters of the first book each have a story. In both books, there are relationships in deep trouble that are healed. Sometimes during the reading of the later parts of the books, I wondered if the conflicts could realistically continue for so long, though one could say that also in real life, some conflicts go beyond all reason because karma, attacks, and attachments are involved. Could one put that in a book if not by making it appear equally unreasonable?

The series is on the list called "Mainwaring". Mainwaring is an introverted man who has grown up as a lonely child and in spite of being around 30 years has never had few close relationships and none with women. Over the course of the books, he grows in life experience, even if he is not the main male protagonist in the first volume. He enters the second book with a broken heart from his first love and then meets an introverted, artistic, idealistic, and also temperamental young woman, who in the course of the troubled relationship that follows eventually matures. Her behavior at times appeared like that of a 16-17-year-old teenager. It is not often one has a book that explores protagonists that are so inexperienced. For me, that is actually a strong point of this duo because I can relate to that.
 

Alejo

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Just finished Someone to Care by Mary Balogh very good read, not as moving as the previous one on the series but enjoyable and touching indeed. I'll be discussing a few ideas in the spoiler section below, so far I am enjoying the Wescott Series very much.

This story was an interesting change of pace from all the other books I've gotten through by her, the stories usually follow a young couple, this time it followed Viola Kingsley and Marcel LeMar, two in their 40's parents that have had more life experience.

Themes clearly explored, and expanded as part of the series, are things like family, love and acceptance, honesty and so on.

But this one specifically has a theme of running away, partly, as it also could be understood as stepping outside of your comfort zone, or even both.

Viola has been dealing with the fallout of her marriage being illegitimate and all the trauma that this has caused in her life and that of her children, whom she loves, but not only that, her biggest regret is having spent so much time with someone who did not care for her, did not know her and for whom all she represented was a good dutiful wife and access to some funds.

This is the crisis that propels her to run away from her family, to push love away and isolate herself, in the path to escape her life she runs into Marcel, someone she had fallen in love 14 years prior, who was also running away from his own life due to his guilt for having caused the accident that killed his late wife, abandoning his children and living a life of shallow pleasure.

The story plays a bit differently as some of the innocence of other stories isn't there, they arrange running away together as a contract of sorts, but funny enough, while looking to run away from all known order, they find themselves creating a different type of order and realizing that this is what they both wanted.

So, on the one hand the book does an amazing job showing that, you may run away from your problems, but you will always bring them with you, because they're inside of you. Ignoring them will only perpetuate their existence and their effect in your life. Marcel needed to deal with his guilt by sharing his story and being honest with his children, and choosing to be part of their lives, it was also the best way to honor is late wife.

Viola needed to admit that she had been hurt, ignored and sacrificed so much in vain, and she was angry, and felt alone but that she was wrong about it, she needed to admit to deserving what she had earned not because of who she thought she was, a countess, but because she was Viola.

On the other, that sometimes one needs to take a leap of faith and dare to do something one hasn't tried in order to find one's way, stepping outside of your comfort zone might be difficult, and terrifying but there's always something to be found out there, something about yourself and that I thought was a very interesting idea.

In terms of dissociation and how much we ignore or attempt to shut down what we feel or think, stopping and breaking the routine might be the best way to finally admit these things, allowing us material to work on them, and decide upon them. And what this is for everyone, is different, some of us need to ask for help, some of us need to stop seeking outside validation, some of us need to admit being wrong and yet some others need to admit how it feels to have been wronged, hurt, lied to, cheated on, etc.. This won't happen unless you dare to stop your coping mechanisms for a while.

Paradoxically, not doing this, much like it happened with Viola and Marcel, living an artificial life of pretense of being ok and functional for the sake of looking tough on the outside, or simply fear or shame or guilt or what have you, keeps you in your daily routine but prevents you from actually participating in life, actually living it.

Both Viola and Marcel hurt their loved ones by running away because they both felt unworthy of the love they were being offered.

Another interesting aspect of their interaction is how defense mechanisms, unconscious ones jump in to sabotage a relationship, any relationship. And it takes a physical toll on both of them.

Their story ends by Marcel showing Viola that he cares for her, not for the labels she thought she needed to uphold, and she showing him that he needn't convince her of this because she had accepted who she was and with that his care for her and that of her and his family. Which made me think, no one can truly care about you if you don't allow yourself to be known, and I mean the real you that is under all the layers of whatever life made you concoct as a personality to remain functional. It was both a sad and hopeful thought.

Now on to Someone to Trust :)
 

Andrian

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I've finished reading One night for love, a prequel to the Bedwyn Saga.

The only thing I can say is that this is one of the most touching novels written by Balogh that I've read so far.

One of the main characters of the novel is facing one of the hardest journeys during her life and despite the cruelties she had to face she remained true to her true nature and feared almost nothing. The beautiful thing in the novel is that by her choices in life despite the hardships of her journey in the end the DCM has helped and rewarded her with a happy ending through the assistance of like minded souls that saw her for who she really was, that is, a beautiful and humble soul who faced the darkness and the unknown with her eyes wide open without blinking even once.

Next book i'm about to read is A Summer To Remember, the second one from the Bedwyn saga prequel.
 

trytofly

Jedi
If the love between a man and a woman is always right for the quest for happiness through these books, "Simply perfect" by Mary Balogh also shows the power of love for her own children, even illegitimate ones.
Once again very intense emotions in this last opus of the series which magnificently ends the entire Bedwyn saga (Prequel, Bedwyn, Simply Quartet). A large and vast extended family who only respect the rules of propriety if they do not infringe on true love!
 
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