Literary Heroine Blog Party

AnneLHBP2013I am so thrilled to be a part of Accordion to Kellie’s Literary Heroine Blog Party and I can’t wait to meet and talk with all my fellow book lovers!  (Want to join the fun? Here’s all the information)

Introduce yourself!  Divulge your life’s vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!

Hi! I’m Ciarrai, a tea-sipping, yarn-knitting, show tune singing, book-obsessed jewelry designer of literary jewelry. *Waves hello!*

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? 

A sense of self that guides and sustains her throughout the story or that she discovers and develops as the story unfolds.

Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to. 

  • Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Molly Grue from The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
  • Anne Eliot from Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Meg March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott,

Honorable Mentions:

  • Menolley from the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffery,
  • Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
  • and Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne (aka Princess Amy) from The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye

Five of your favorite historical novels? 

  • Red Branch by Morgan Llywelyn
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley

Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why? 

Cuchulain from Red Branch. I love how Morgan Llwelyn takes a legendary Irish hero and balances both the human and the superhuman parts of the character. Cuchulain may be a larger than life, epic hero but Llywelyn also gave him a sense of vulnerability that made the character so much easier to love and empathize with.

Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why? 

Marian from Outlaws of Sherwood. McKinley has a great take on the character and I love the way the story got flipped around.

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to – and what would you plan to do there? 

Ireland. My grandfather – who was the son of two Irish immigrants – instilled a love of everything Celtic in me (This is where I got my name, Ciarrai. It’s the Gaelic version of my actual name, Kerry) so I have always wanted to go. Among the many things that I would love to do, I would need to listen to some great Irish music and find a pretty lake where I can sit and read some Yeats poetry out-loud.

I would also love to go to England and visit all the great literary sites there related to some of my favorite authors and poets, particularly Jane Austen.

What is your favorite time period and culture to read about? 

I love early Celtic stories (almost anything by Morgan Llywelyn), Arthurian legends and Tudor era England

You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation – what is your act comprised of? 

I used to play the violin but I have problems with my wrists which means that I can’t play anymore so most likely, I would be singing.

If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? 

Elinor Dashwood – Regency era clothing is just so pretty!

What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate? 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the only thing lacking in a day spent with a good book and a cup of tea is some really good milk chocolate.

Favorite author(s)? 

Jane Austen, Peter Beagle, Lucy Maud Montgomery

Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land? 

I would say books and knitting – but these are clearly essentials so I guess I would have to say my camera and plenty of money for purchasing souvenir books and yarn.

In which century were most of the books you read written? 

19th Century

In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is…  Samwise Gamgee

Thatched Roof Cottage at Old Westbury Gardens Arboretum

Thatched Roof Cottage at Old Westbury Gardens Arboretum

Describe your ideal dwelling place. 

My own little House o’ Dreams that I have filled with love, and friendship, creativity,  music and lots and lots (and lots) of books, yarn and tea!
Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence. 

Simple and feminine with a shabby chic / romantic sensibility.

Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name? 

Yes. When my husband and I were taking turns reading Watership Down out loud to each other, I would have loved to change some of the more challenging-to-pronounce rabbit names.

In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is… 

I am not sure I would use the word dastardly to describe her but Lucy Steele from Sense and Sensibility is one character that I love to hate! It’s one thing to compete with another lady for a gentleman’s affections but she was just so nasty to Elinor, mainly for the sake of gloating and being cruel!

Three favorite Non-fiction books? 

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? 

  • Curled up in a comfy spot, reading a great book and/or knitting
  • Having high tea and discussing books at my favorite tea room
  • Going into NYC to visit a museum (most like the Met or the Cloisters) and then seeing a Broadway musical

    Maryland Renn Faire Joust

    Maryland Renn Faire Joust

  • Spending a day at the Maryland Renaissance Fair
  • Taking photos at my favorite arboretum
  • Playing board games with friends,
  • Hanging out while listening to – and singing along with – friends and family members while they are playing songs on acoustic guitars
  • Spoiling my nieces and nephews

Create a verbal sketch of your dream that – in such a way as will best portray your true character. 

I want to learn things and  make beautiful things and teach / share my favorite books, poems, and stories with others and then come home to spend my evenings with kindred spirits and loved ones. I want to open my door and say, in the words of Shel Silverstein:

If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

Edited to Add: It has come to my attention that the question was actually asking about a dream HAT. But I really like my answer so I am not going to take it down.

I will say that one of the few knitted items that I have made that didn’t get adopted by someone else is a tam that I made from undyed alpaca yarn. It’s all soft and pretty and is the color of a baby deer. And whenever I wear it, I think of Lucy Pevensie stepping through the wardrobe and looking at wonder at a lamp post in a snowy wood. It’s not that I made it with Narnia in mind but it reminds me of something she would wear and the fawn color – faun color connection is not lost on my pun-loving mind.

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year. 

The biggest part of this past year has been watching my Etsy shop grow. This past year was marked my first full year as a business owner. !) I have so much to learn and figure out and there is still so much that I need to do but this year, I have started to feel like I am gaining momentum. And my shop has allowed me to connect with fellow artists and book lovers in a way that is so amazingly rewarding.

And I had the opportunity to have my work sold at two different Jane Austen themed events – which was just amazing – and to take part in a local expo for women entrepreneurs. I was even selected to be one of the featured shops in a newspaper article about the event! (So exciting!)

Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.

Ecclesiastes 3:3 To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven


About Ciarrai

Hi. My name is Kerry but here online I tend to go by the Gaelic version of my name, Ciarrai. I am a woman in my mid-30's who lives on Long Island, NY, with my husband, Rob, several guitars, a Nikon D40, more yarn, beads and books than I care to admit to and a cat who has a million nicknames and quite a few theme songs. I have a B.A. in Psychology and have recently returned to college to pursue a teaching degree so that I can eventually get a job as a High School English teacher. In addition to my major obsessions (Reading, Beading, Knitting, Music and Photography), I also enjoy playing Board Games, going to Renaissance Faires, Museums and Broadway Musicals.
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28 Responses to Literary Heroine Blog Party

  1. Mabel says:

    Congratulations on returning to college to learn to teach. x My great grandmother Maggie was Irish. I also have a yearning to see Ireland. And Anne Shirley is one of my favorites. 🙂

    • Ciarrai says:

      The college thing is slow going since I can only take classes as I can afford them but I will get there someday!

      I can’t image Anne Shirley not being someone’s favorite! She is so awesome. (Although I almost put Emily Byrd Star down instead of Anne just because she doesn’t get nearly enough love!)

  2. Eva says:

    Lovely answers and Ciarrai is such a beautiful name. Oh, and your Etsy shop is gorgeous! I’ve been taking Irish Step dancing for years now, but I know so little about the culture. You’re very lucky to be of Irish descent 🙂

    • Ciarrai says:

      Thank you Eva! I have always loved my Irish heritage but I am so uncoordinated that I think I would hurt someone if I attempted Irish Step Dancing. (Although I love watching it and am very jealous of people who can do it!)

      My status as a Celtophile (as my husband calls me) has mostly revolved around books and music. Now that I am getting more and more into poetry, I have become completely obsessed with Yeats. Not only is he an amazing poet but he was very active in the Irish nationalist movement and the Celtic Renaissance, writing about Celtic myths and trying to create a literary movement that was purely Irish rather than English. So if you want to learn more about Irish culture, I would start with him and with Morgan Llywelyn (although her books are historic fantasy, they still give you a great sense of the place and time!)

  3. Congrats on your Etsy shop’s success! I have a shop too, and I know how much work goes into getting one off the ground. Well done!

    I soooooo love that you chose Samwise Gamgee as your ultimate hero. I’m rereading LOTR right now, and every time I read it, I appreciate Sam even more than I did before. What an amazing character.

  4. Joanna says:

    Ohmygoodness, the spelling of your name is beautiful. I was trying to pronounce it like “Sarai” but “Kerry” makes MUCH more sense. I read your “dream hat” answer twice trying to figure out what you meant…and then I literally laughed out loud reading your explanation. 🙂

    • Ciarrai says:

      Thanks Joanna. The Gaelic version of my name is a little confusing to people who don’t speak Gaelic and don’t know that there is no soft “c” sound in that language. All c’s in Gaelic are pronounced like k’s. I don’t speak Gaelic myself – much as I intend to learn someday – but from what I have been told, Ciarrai sounds something like Kira and so that is how I pronounce it.

      As for the hat answer, I didn’t realize that I had added a T to the question so it came out “Describe your dream that… ” instead of dream hat but after reading a few other posts in the blog party, I realized my mistake. I blame it on the fact that I am from NY. If my grandmother’s genes had had more of their way with me I might not have made that particular error. (she was from TN and Southern ladies know how to rock a fabulous hat)

      • Joanna says:

        Shoot, yeah, Southern ladies know how to rock a hat. I guess we have them to thank for making the Kentucky Derby so fabulous, huh? 🙂

  5. Kristin H. says:

    I can’t believe that I didn’t think of putting To Kill a Mockingbird in my top five list! Of course, it’s a historical novel, but all I could think of was 1800s ones. I love TKaM so, so much.

    Also, Samwise Gamgee is such a hero. I’ve only read the trilogy through once (hoping to read them again this year), but I’ve seen the movies multiple times and maybe I’m too hard on him, but I always think that Frodo is seriously such a wimp. Sam is the real hero in that story, by far. =)

    • Ciarrai says:

      I agree. I have really noticed a tendency for me to fall in love with characters like Sam. He isn’t the official hero. He doesn’t get the glory or the credit. He isn’t burdened with a great destiny or glorious purpose. He is just a regular guy who steps up and does the right thing. (It’s the reason why Neville Longbottom is my favorite Harry Potter character). I think there is so much more nobility and heroism in the idea of just being the guy who doesn’t need to be a “hero” to do the right thing. And the fact that, for Sam, the right thing is mostly to nurture, protect, and be there for a friend who is going through hell, rather than physical violence is just a beautiful thing.

  6. Yours has been the most interesting answers I’ve read from Kellie’s list of blogs. First off: Anne Elliot is one of my favorite heroines. She’s often overshadowed by Lizzy Bennet but I love her quietness. Have you seen Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing? I recommend it; it’s all in black and white.

    ROBIN MCKINLEY IS THE GREATEST!!!!! I’ve been reading her books for so so long! Beauty, The Blue Sword, Spindle’s End, Sunshine. I love her!!! And yet I don’t… because I have not read The Outlaws of Sherwood! I must rectify that soon. I’m Irish on my both sides of my family (through Fitzgerald and McIntosh) but I haven’t heard of Morgan Llywelyn. I’ll have to check her out as well.

    I love that you love Samwise. He really is the hero of the trilogy. The steadfast one who never leaves his friend behind. He’s a great hero.

    Everytime I open Where the Sidewalk Ends the first poem on the first page that invites you to enjoy the book is my favorite poem of the book. And you quoted it in your post. I think we just became best friends. 🙂

    • Ciarrai says:

      Oh my! Thank you! That is very nice of you to say. It does seem as if we are kindred spirits with a lot in common. Do you have a blog that I can follow so we can stay in touch and geek out about books together?

      I totally agree that Anne Eliot is an amazing character. I love her quiet strength and dignity in the face of not only heartbreak and bleak prospects for the future but just under the weight of the indignities and disrespect she gets from her family.

      I have seen (and loved) Joss’ Much Ado About Nothing. It is my favorite Shakespeare play so I love seeing different versions. I also love the Kenneth Branah / Emma Thompson one. The two versions have very different focuses and tones. Joss really seemed to be zeroing in on the psychology of why the characters act the way they do, while the Branagh / Thompson version seems to be reveling in the wit and banter of the piece. There is a David Tennant / Catherine Tate version that I am DYING to see. From what I hear, it’s hilarious.

      As for Robin McKinley, you are in for a treat! The Outlaws of Sherwood is my favorite version of the Robin Hood story which, along with Celtic mythology and Arthurian legend, has been one of my life-long favorite things. I love Beauty and the Blue Sword and so much of her work but The Outlaws of Sherwood is my hands-down favorite of hers. Also, if you like Robin McKinley, you should definitely check out Sharon Shinn. Her Angels of Samaria series is amazing but I love some of her stand alone stuff too like the Shape Shifter’s Wife, which reminded me a lot of The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle (which is also a must read for anyone who likes fantasy even a little!)

      • I just started up a new blog and you can find that here:

        You’re right about the Kenneth/Emma Much Ado. They are really focused on the banter and Joss’ is much more about the psychology. My favorite part is when Benedict is jogging up and down the stairs monologuing to himself. Lol. I did not know that the Doctor and Donna starred in a version!!??!! I must find that!! How could it not be funny?!!

        Thanks for the list of authors to check out! I recently graduated college and am building up a list of books I can read for fun now that it’s not an assignment. 🙂

      • Ciarrai says:

        I think I successfully signed up to follow your blog. I am not as familiar with Blogspot as I am with WordPress so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I was able to subscribe.

        From everything I can see in this preview ( the Tennant / Tate Much Ado is pure, broad comedy which is good because I am going to need something to get me past the idea of the Doctor and Donna being into each other. I mean, they have the sass of B&B but one of the great things about Miss Noble as a companion is that she didn’t fall in love with the mad man with a box.

        BTW, while I was looking through my (amazingly full of Doctor Who) Pinterest folders to find the link to the Much Ado video, I also found this little tidbit from David Tennant’s turn in Macbeth.

        (You’re welcome!)

        Congrats on finishing your degree. Are you going on to grad school or are you done with college?

  7. jessierae26 says:

    That’s what I love about Donna Noble as a companion. She’s just his best mate, traveling together. She never tries to kiss him and doesn’t love him romantically. Thanks so much for those videos!! Quite awesome!

    I’m not sure about grad school. I don’t know if I want to continue in English or study something new. I’d also like to lower the debt from my first round of student loans before I take on more. I’m just not sure what I want to be when I grow up. 🙂

    • Ciarrai says:

      Yeah, Donna was great and I miss her. I would have loved to see her hanging around during the Pond years (even if just once in a while). Could you imagine the Doctor, Amy, Rory, River, and Donna hanging out? It would have been epic!

      I can definitely understand taking some time before you make a decision. I finished my BA in Psychology ages ago but here I am, trying to figure out how to swing a Masters in Education to become an English teacher. Of course by the time I get back to school on a full-time basis, it is completely possible that my life will have shifted again and I will need to figure out what I want to be all over again. *sigh*

      • jessierae26 says:

        It would’ve been nice for Stpehen Moffat to acknowledge Donna when the Doctor was with the Ponds. I think Amy and Rory are Donna split into two people. 🙂 I named my kitten after the Ponds. Well her name’s Oswin Pond because I loved Oswin Oswald aka Souffle Girl. She was such a breath of fresh air during her episode.

        I thought about teaching English. I think it could be fun at a small college or a community college. There were a few professors I had that had amazing teaching styles but it’s not the direction I want to go right now. I think I’d like to start my own business of some sort but not sure what. I think I’d really enjoy owning a shop all my own. Maybe a bookstore if people would keep reading physical books.

  8. Ciarrai says:

    It seems Doctor Who is a great source for kitty names! My sister had a foster kitty that she named Amelia and my sister in laws adopted two kittens, one named Nerys after Donna’s frenemy and one named Jack after Captain Jack. I sometimes think it is a good thing that my cat came with a name already or I would have been dangerous picking one out. I love the idea of naming a cat Bartleby after the Melville short story. ( I can just see it now.

    Me: Bartleby, get off the couch!
    Cat: I would prefer not to.

    I would love to teach college someday but I have to admit that i toyed with owning a shop too. In my case, it was the yarn shop where I learned to knit (and practically lived at after that). The owners offered to sell it to me when they decided to move on but I couldn’t make the logistics work. That’s why I ended up on Etsy because I could focus my resources on producing my product without having to worry about maintaining a physical brick and mortar store. Good luck finding something you love! I am sure you will figure out something awesome!

    • Thanks! I’m hoping to job shadow a couple of event planners to see if that’s something I might want to steer my strengths towards. I wouldn’t need to keep a store front – – it could all be done online. It’s an option.

      I adopted a second cat two weeks ago tomorrow: I named her Pemberley Darcy. Sometimes I call her Pem. Her and Oswin are still feeling each other out but I can rest assured that I have two of the best cat names out there. Lol

  9. Hmm, The Ordinary Princess sounds fun!
    And, oh, Sam! Now I got reminded that I should include a Tolkien hero…

  10. Ciarrai says:

    Pemberley Darcy! What a great name!! Congrats on the new addition to the family!

  11. Kellie says:

    I’m so, so thrilled that you joined us, Ciarrai! (And I loved reading that you go by the Gaelic version of your name… absolutely beautiful.)
    High-five on To Kill a Mockingbird – definitely a favorite. And I have to go read something by Morgan Llywelyn now… intrigued!
    I loved your original answer to #22… both of them:)

    Accordion to Kellie

    • Ciarrai says:

      Thanks Kellie,
      I am glad and grateful that you invited me to take part in such a lovely event. I definitely look forward to participating year after year! I have really, really enjoyed chatting with the other blog party goers and talking about my favorite books with other book lovers.

      If you do read some Morgan Llywelyn, you have to let me know which one you picked up and what you thought. I recommend starting out with either Red Branch, Finn MacCool or Grania (a book about an female Irish pirate during Elizabethan times – very cool!)

      Thanks again!
      Kerry (Ciarrai)

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