Last week, looking at the family surrounding Megan, I pointed out that the book had a strong female presence, although many of those characters only appeared in the background. I thought this week I'd look at three women who actually appear on the page.
First off has to be my heroine. On the surface Megan is quite reserved, independent and self contained, although the reader sees below that surface and knows her uncertainties. Her cool demeanor is her protective armour. She has adapted to the knowledge that she has no close family, and the discovery that she had an aunt that she might have got to know is distressing and fuels her need to uncover the details of Olwen's life. Her academic qualifications are quite new, and she hasn't yet grown into them, or got used to having them. During the course of the book she develops as her own woman, and understands that this is what she is doing, which is important. She is very clear sighted and analytical, which I attribute to her academic training. Under Gideon's influence a warmer, more relaxed persona gradually appears as she reaches out to him and to make friends in her new home. It was lovely to watch her emerge as she falls in love - although she is careful about admitting that is what is happening. Gideon is the perfect man to bring out the best in her - able to let her unfold into her full potential.
Alcinda - friend to both Gideon and Megan. Where she came from I have no idea. She just walked off the page at me and that was that. She behaved to me exactly like she did to everyone in the book! Exceptionally talented artist, moody drama queen, self confident, opinionated, bossy, volatile, with an unexpectedly perceptive and empathetic side to her nature. Or maybe it's not so unexpected, considering her artistic talent. She's a powerhouse, all surface emotion and a good foil to Megan. When she arrived on the scene I knew she was one of those supporting characters who might be in danger of taking over the book, but she never actually did that. Maybe I'm better at keeping control of my personnel than I realise.
Gabriella - my villainess. There was never any doubt that it would be a villainess, although when I started the book I was not going to identify her, making her one of several possible candidates surrounding Megan. That proved far too complicated and anyway she was not having any of it. She was much too entitled and conscious of her position and importance to let me hide her away. I had a very clear idea of a woman in her fifties, trapped in a time warp of what she considered to be good taste and correct behaviour. She never considers anyone's wishes but her own, but she an isolated and rather lonely figure. Had she succeeded in taking the villa from Megan I'm not sure what would have happened to her, once she lost the driving force of her obsession.
Three very different women. I enjoyed writing all of them.