Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Celebrating with Fiction

As the holidays wind down, perhaps you are already starting to miss the excitement of all the parties and get togethers? Why not keep the good times going a little longer with some great party-themed fiction.

The roaring twenties were characterized by new freedom, flappers, dancing and jazz. The party atmosphere has been captured for us by books like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh. In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby throws lavish parties in his Long Island mansion. Gatsby is a mysterious fellow. No one really knows him but all are happy to partake of his hospitality. Life was one long self-indulgent party in Waugh's Vile Bodies. Satirizing the "Bright Young Things" in 1920's London, these socialites and aristocrats partied their way through the decade exhausting themselves with their self-destructive behaviour.

As Clarissa Dalloway spends a day preparing for a part in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, she reflects on choices she has made throughout her life. The party is attended by most of the people she reflects on during the day. Mrs Dalloway is not only considered to be Woolf's best novel, but also one of the best of the twentieth century. Is there something about party preparations that inspires reflection?

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler features party planner and caterer Rebecca Davitch, who at age 53 begins to question her life. The novel opens with the line, "Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person." Feeling she has lost herself, she sets about resurrecting the person she once was.

The Order of Good Cheer by Bill Gaston takes us back and forth in time. A celebration in 17th century Nova Scotia mirrors a party in present day Prince Rupert. Champlain's good cheer was a effort to feed his people fresh food and save them from scurvy and to lift their spirits. Contemporary Andy prepares a feast of unusual food to relieve the loneliness and uncertainty of his life.

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