You get what you pay for ...

You get what you pay for …

I had a conversation with my daughter yesterday that focused on a free tattoo and what a disaster it had turned out to be. (For an acquaintance, not her.) We decided that if you speak to someone and tell them about a desire or a need you have, if their next words are, “I know a guy,” it’s best to end the conversation and move away very fast.

Nasty reviews come in lots of guises. Amazon isn’t the only place human blisters frequent.

One of the best episodes of The Big Bang Theory last season was one in which Sheldon Cooper_P&Pintroduces Amy to the Indiana Jones franchise. In turn, she points out the walloping plot flaw in Raiders of the Lost Ark: the Nazis would have found the ark and been just as fried if Indiana Jones had stayed home washing his socks. Indy makes no difference to the story at all. Yeah, I really didn’t notice this either, but I chalk it up to the fact that I don’t like Indiana Jones in any of his incarnations.

Anyway, there is a similar, superfluous character in Persuasion. Just not one of the main ones, thankfully. The character of Mrs. Smith serves to give Anne an escape from the confines of Camden Place. Austen uses her to show us Anne’s compassion to a down-and-out friend. Smith makes little trifles that are sold to Nurse Rook’s wealthy patients, and the money given to needy neighbors. In doing this Austen  shows us a person who, though suffering herself, is mindful of the suffering of others. Her presence in Anne’s schedule makes Sir Walter angry, and that can’t be bad. She also lets Anne know what a horrible person William Elliot is. Too bad dishing the dirt comes after Anne already made her mind up about Elliot and the prospect of becoming the next Lady Elliot.  Anne and Frederick would have ended up together whether Mrs. Smith had spilled the beans or not.

If Austen were a modern author, she might have been encouraged to delete Mrs. Smith all together. I think I like the story with her. Even if she’s less a “hero” than I might have thought earlier.

Take care


6 thoughts on “Potpourri

  1. Robin Helm

    Actually, I had thought the same things about Mrs. Smith. Since she didn’t tell Anne about William Elliot until after Anne had decided against him, she was useful only to irritate Sir Walter and show a good side of both Anne and Frederick. He did help her when he found out that her financial difficulties were largely due to William Elliot.


    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      As I said to Jackie, I don’t trust Mrs. Smith. I’m always wary of those who can simply stop evil and don’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if FW found out some interesting things about Mrs. Smith when he started to help unravel the estate of Mr. Smith.


  2. Jackie

    I’d much rather that Anne make up her own mind, as Austen wrote it. Isn’t that the point, that, with maturity, Anne is no longer subject to persuasion? Mrs. Smith serves to reinforce Anne’s good judgment, and new backbone.


    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      I agree, Jackie. Seeing Anne take some action and present herself open to him first at Molland’s and then the concert is just what you want from the story. IMO, Mrs Smith’s deluge of facts about William Elliot is to cover her conscience. She was going to allow her “dear” friend to marry him until Anne, again standing up for herself, said she would never do so. Mrs Smith covers her own duplicity by exposing his.

      Thanks for dropping by, Jackie.


  3. Laura Hile

    A free tattoo?
    I suppose every great tattoo artist needs to start somewhere. But man, is it rough to be the guinea pig.

    These days I am editing my very first Austen fiction “book” (Love Suffers Long and is Kind). Oh, the overwriting I inflicted on my loyal readers! 🙂

    What can I say? We learn by doing.

    So one time I asked my dentist how he learned to give shots of novocaine. “Um,” he said, smiling sheepishly, “we practiced on one another—fellow dental students—using very small doses.”

    Same answer from the chiropractor. “We students took turns.” Apparently if you did a bad job, well, there was always the risk of payback.

    Pricked gums or misaligned vertebrae pale in comparison to a poorly done tattoo. Love the picture!



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