What’s Real: Poems, Books, and Movies


David Copperfield
This is the Dickens novel that Addy is referring to in Chapter 1 when she is wondering how to begin her story. David Copperfield begins like this:

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life I record that I was born . . .”

Such a wonderful beginning of a book, I just had to reference it in my own. Although I always remember these words not from reading the novel, but because these are the lines that Melanie reads aloud during a tense moment in Gone With The Wind (the movie).

The Last Will and Testament of Mrs. Harriet J. Goodrich
This play was written (and directed and starred-in) by Olivia Barton, which means that it is entirely fictional.  It also never makes it to the last act.

And Then There Were None
This is an Agatha Christie Whodunit, which Olivia uses as inspiration to write her masterpiece.  In THE VEIL, Addy recalls how she, Olivia and Nate all watched this movie in Olivia’s basement instead of attending the Homecoming dance.  In my head, they were watching the 1974 version of this film, but only because I was assuming that all three of them had already read the book (which is much better than the movie).

Arsenic and Old Lace
In Chapter 2, Addy tells Nate that for Olivia’s play they will be borrowing the living room set that College of Marin used when they did Arsenic and Old Lace last fall.  Arsenic and Old Lace is a hysterical play by Joseph Kesselring and an even more hysterical movie, directed by Frank Capra (in 1944) and starring Cary Grant.

His Girl Friday
Yet another Cary Grant movie (I watched a lot of these when I was little, my Mom and my Gram are big fans!).  When I was trying to figure out what name Addy’s Gran would have chosen for her “alias,” I asked my Gram about movie stars she liked from the 1940’s.  She came up with Rosalind Russell, who played Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday.  I was so excited about this idea that I very nearly changed Addy’s name to “Hildy,” (although I eventually just decided to use “Russell” as Addy’s “alias” last name).  This movie also lends its name to Chapter 4.

This is a 1962 John Wayne film about a group of people who catch animals in Africa to sell to zoos.  It is not actually referenced in the book, but Sonya got her name from the tame leopard in the movie, who lives on the compound with the hunters and terrifies Elsa Martinelli in a very funny bathroom scene.

Arthurian Legend
I do not mention a specific version of the legend in THE VEIL, but the general story serves as a backdrop for Addy’s musings regarding what her fate will be at the hands of the Council.  Addy was probably thinking of the very dramatic rescue-from-the stake scene in the musical Camelot on the night before her trial.

Evening Solace
Chapter 7 gets its name from a line in a Charlotte Bronte poem called Evening Solace.  The line, and the poem as a whole, is very evocative of Addy’s thoughts and feelings about her parents after she speaks with Luc at the lake.  Here is the poem in its entirety:

The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;–
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.
And days may pass in gay confusion,
And nights in rosy riot fly,
While, lost in Fame’s or Wealth’s illusion,
The memory of the Past may die.
But there are hours of lonely musing,
Such as in evening silence come,
When, soft as birds their pinions closing,
The heart’s best feelings gather home.
Then in our souls there seems to languish
A tender grief that is not woe;
And thoughts that once wrung groans of anguish
Now cause but some mild tears to flow.
And feelings, once as strong as passions,
Float softly back–a faded dream;
Our own sharp griefs and wild sensations,
The tale of others’ sufferings seem.
Oh! when the heart is freshly bleeding,
How longs it for that time to be,
When, through the mist of years receding,
Its woes but live in reverie!
And it can dwell on moonlight glimmer,
On evening shade and loneliness;
And, while the sky grows dim and dimmer,
Feel no untold and strange distress–
Only a deeper impulse given
By lonely hour and darkened room,
To solemn thoughts that soar to heaven
Seeking a life and world to come.