Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Guest Post: Handsome is as handsome does by Mary Hoffman
I have the greatest pleasure in being the latest stop in the blog tour for David, the latest fabulous YA historical novel by Mary Hoffman! David is an exciting and interesting look at what the model for Michaelangelo's David might be like, the political intrigue and his complicated love life. It's really good and I can highly recommend it.
Mary Hoffman is the author of many wonderful historical novels. If you'd like to know more about Mary Hoffman or about David, please do visit the following sites:
Over to you Mary...
Gabriele is a handsome eighteen-year-old when he leaves his village and comes to seek his fortune in the nearby city of Florence. He looks like David in fact. As soon as I thought about that, I knew his main problem was going to be the large numbers of women – and men – who would find him attractive and want him for themselves. It wasn’t feasible that he would be unattached so I gave him a girlfriend, pretty Rosalia from the village, two years younger than him and devoted to him.
Also bear in mind that he is the youngest child and only son in a doting family. All his life people have told him how good-looking he is; it’s bound to go to his head.
So what will he do? Gabriele is basically a decent person but he is subjected to enormous temptations in Florence and he doesn’t always resist. ‘Handsome is as handsome does’ was a phrase I heard a lot when I was growing up and I always thought it was an excuse to console people who thought they couldn’t get the best-looking partners: “so-and-so is a very nice person – it doesn’t matter that he is short or has a squint or a wonky nose.”
And of course it doesn’t ultimately matter what people look like; how they behave is much more important. Once you know them, you hardly notice what they look like any more. But we can’t deny how much appearance does affect our view of other people. ‘Love at first sight’ does exist and that’s what it’s about.
But there can’t be many people who haven’t had the experience of being attracted to someone who turned out not to be a very nice person. What happens then? Do their actions kill the “love” or perhaps the crush you have on them?
I wanted to make it clear that Gabriele was not a handsome swine but that he was very young and naive and very easily influenced. It’s not just his complicated love life either. He becomes first a spy and then a double agent, putting his life at risk and pretending to believe things he doesn’t.
In other words, he deceives friends as well as enemies, men as well as women, himself as well as others. And yet he is essentially a good person.
He IS handsome but he doesn’t always DO handsome and that is what makes the character interesting to me. I believe in his essential decency and that he will get through all his adventures essentially unchanged, except for scars both physical and mental.