Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Romance, Jane Austen and My Favorite Teacher

 On vacation this week. See you again on June 11th. Thanks
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My work in progress has a teacher as one of the main characters. That got me thinking about my high school English teacher. I had moved to a new school and didn’t know any of the faculty. I’d have avoided this man had I known he was considered tough and gave lots of homework. Everyone said he had no sense of humor, never smiled and was to be avoided at all cost. But I learned that too late. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. : )
In a day of long haired, casually dressed teachers, he wore his hair in a buzz cut and always dressed in a white dress shirt, bow tie and sports jacket and slacks. His shoes looked military with a spit polish shine that glistened in the overhead electric light. An ageless man, he wasn’t young or old.
During class he rarely looked directly at us. While he lectured, he paced back and forth in front of the room his head down and his hands clasped behind him. That whole year, I don’t remember him smiling. The kids were right about that and he did assign mega homework.
When he spoke about the novels he assigned there was fire in his voice and a depth of enthusiasm that was contagious. He talked about the plot and the feelings of the characters as if they were real. Even kids who didn’t like to read got caught up in the emotion. As we discussed the books he gave us a chance to express our ideas, even unpopular ones. I was surprised that kids who never spoke up in class were taking part by the middle of the year. He never suggested our opinions were wrong or right only that we should respect other opinions.
The two of the books he had us read stick in my mind even today. Cry the Beloved Country by South African author Alan Paton published in New York City in 1948 is a story about Apartheid life in South Africa back in the day. At seventeen I was faced with issues I wasn’t aware existed until that book. I remember it sparked lively uncensored debate in the classroom and I heard the name of Nelson Mandela for the first time.
The other book needs no introduction for any romance reader, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen January 1813. My very male English teacher wanted us to read Jane Austen. He didn’t think of her as a romance writer but as an observer of society of her day and that’s true. Though the love stories in her novels can’t be denied and I could argue that it's the reason her books still sell today. Of course I fell madly in love with her novels and read as many as I could get my hands on. But Pride and Prejudice is still my favorite.
Even now I think it strange that a gruff, unsmiling man would be the person to introduce me to Jane Austen. I wonder if he was as bad-tempered as he seemed. Did he have a softer side he hid from teenagers? Whether he did not, I’m grateful to him. Who knows how long it would have been before I discovered the Jane Austen without him. I hope he knew he made an indelible impression on me and the rest of the class.
Jane Austen’s books are still available. Her other novels include among others:

Sense & Sensibility


Northanger Abbey

Hollywood has made many films about teachers and the school experience. Check out these classics:
Stand and Deliver 1988
Staring Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips, Estelle Harris.
A math teacher inspires his would be dropouts students to lean calculus. This based on a true story.
Up the Down Staircase 1967
Staring Sandy Dennis from a Bel Kaufman best-selling novella. It’s about a new teacher’s first job teaching in a racially mixed school with needy kids and little support from the administration.

Please remember to check out my books on Amazon
Can love win against the odds?
Five star review: " A mystery novel thrill ride.Fast-paced, plot-driven conflicts and characters that you can't tear yourself away lift it from an  ordinary story to a darn good read."  
Why would business woman Kathryn Carlyle poison a man she only met once? Reporter Holt Rand needs a scoop and won’t stop until he gets answers. But when he meets Kathryn, his life is changed forever. Kathryn is drawn to Holt but how can she trust a man who's using her to further his career. Will a killer let her live long enough to find out?

Does love always deserve a second chance? 

Workaholic FBI agent Brick Larson loves his job. He doesn’t need personal relationships. The last thing he wants is to get involved with the younger sister of his ex-fianc√©. But to defend the United States that’s exactly what he’ll do.
When Kelly Shaw was a teenager she secretly loved Brick and would have trusted him with her life. That was years ago. Can she trust him with top secret information now? Will she live long enough to find out?

Hope you will come back again next Wednesday.


  1. It is remarkable how influential our teachers were in our lives. Of course we didn't realize it at the time!

    1. Hi Anna, That's so true! Thank goodness for hindsight.
      So glad you stopped by. : )

  2. Great post, Reggi! Got me thinking about my high school English teacher. He made us read a book (any book, the choice was ours) for the first 10 minutes of every class. It seemed like it was torture for most of the students, but for me it was heaven :) Thanks for inspiring me to take this trip down memory lane, Reggi.

  3. Hi Jacqui, You're welcome! It's odd that kids had to be forced to read a book. I've always loved to read as well. Thanks for taking time to stop by.

  4. Your description of your English teacher was great. It reminded me of my Grade 9 teacher who was also very formal. He had a 'comb-over' style of hair cut, and when he read poetry, he was very passionate and his hair would flop over to one side. I still remember how much he loved words.

    I also read Up the down staircase. I hadn't thought of that book for years. Thanks for the post.

  5. Hi Jodie, Thanks for the comment. I had a science teacher with a 'comb-over hair style. :) I lol thinking of your teacher reading and his hair flopping as he read. Best, Reggi