Friday, 7 July 2017

Guest Post - Why I Love Symbolism, the Weather and Setting in Fiction by Helena Fairfax

I absolutely love all forms of symbolism in writing and art. Even when the symbolism isn’t subtle, I still love it. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as OTT with symbolism, and I especially love spotting it in films – the good guy riding a white horse and the bad guy dressed in black, the bird flying away as a symbol of freedom, the rainbow symbolising hope, a woman dressed in red to symbolise danger, and a candle guttering out when hope is gone.

The title of my latest novel is Felicity at the Cross Hotel. Now you know how much I love symbolism, you'll probably have guessed even the title of my new romance is symbolic. Felicity is the name of my heroine, and felicity also means happiness. (I did toy for a while with the idea of calling the book Happiness at the Cross Hotel.) And the hero's name is Patrick Cross – you can see where I'm going with this! Through no fault of Patrick's, the Cross Hotel is an unhappy (cross) place when Felicity arrives – but she's determined to change all that!

I first discovered writers could use the weather and setting as symbols in their stories when I was at school. The book we were studying was A Handful of Dust, by Evelyn Waugh, and I was struck by how the author used the weather to mirror what was going on for the protagonist. This was when I first learned the term “pathetic fallacy”. Pathetic fallacy actually means giving human abilities to the weather or nature – eg “the sun was smiling”, or “the daffodils danced”. Of course the sun doesn’t really smile and flowers can’t dance – that’s why it’s a “fallacy”- but writers often use pathetic fallacy to reflect what’s happening to their characters. Even if the symbolism is so subtle the reader doesn’t directly notice, it can still subconsciously affect their mood and the way they react to what’s happening.

Felicity at the Cross Hotel is set in the Lake District – a part of England whose stunning scenery and changeable weather make it the perfect setting for someone who loves symbolism as much as I do. The very first sentence of my book, as Felicity is driving up the fellside towards the hotel, is symbolic: 

At last it had stopped raining.

The rain symbolises the unhappiness and tragedy that's dogged the hotel, and as Felicity approaches, the rain finally stops. The sun is still shining only weakly, but as my story progresses – and Felicity and Patrick begin to fall in love – the sun begins to beat down more and more strongly, until by the final chapters the hotel is basking in a heatwave. 

Of course there are also lots of thunderstorms along the way…but the course of true love never did run smooth!

Thank you so much Helena for sharing this interesting post with us.

A quaint hotel in a romantic landscape. The Lake District is the perfect getaway. Or is it?

Felicity Everdene needs a break from the family business. Driving through the Lake District to the Cross Hotel, past the shining lake and the mountains, everything seems perfect. But Felicity soon discovers all is not well at the Cross Hotel …

Patrick Cross left the village of Emmside years ago never intending to return, but his father has left him the family’s hotel in his will, and now he's forced to come back. With a missing barmaid, a grumpy chef, and the hotel losing money, the arrival of Felicity Everdene from the notorious Everdene family only adds to Patrick’s troubles.

With so much to overcome, can Felicity and Patrick bring happiness to the Cross Hotel … and find happiness for themselves?

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Author Biography
Helena Fairfax is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now which is just as well, since these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. Helena walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings. Subscribers to Helena's newsletter receive news of free stuff, competitions with prizes, gossip, and links to cool websites she's been looking at when she should have been writing.

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