Saturday, May 14, 2011

100 Years Later: James Durbin speaks for my hero

I hope that got your attention, because it's true.

A Bed of Thorns and Roses is set in 1895, during what has been labeled America's "Gilded Age," a time of ridiculous wealth and extravagance, when the so-called robber barons amassed incredible fortunes. My hero, Jonathan, was heir to one of the wealthiest of them all. He had everything money could buy until, at age 13 and on the brink of manhood, a tragic fire disfigured him horribly.

The story begins thirteen years later, when he has spent half his life living a hermit's existence, avoiding the world and the inevitable revulsion others cannot--or will not--hide at the sight of him. Then, quite against his will, a beautiful young woman comes to live at his isolated country mansion. To his astonishment, she refuses to view him as the monster he is; to his dismay, he realizes he is falling in love with her.

You no doubt recognize this as the classic theme of Beauty and the Beast. I'm slightly obsessed with the story. To tell the truth, I'm more than a little obsessed, but I'm in good company. There have been many versions written by diverse authors. The one that incited my own fascination was Robin McKinley's debut novel, Beauty, which is a lovely retelling that closely follows the original tale.

You're probably asking, what does all this have to do with James Durbin? Other than the fact that America broke my heart by voting him off Idol. (That's okay, James, we haven't heard the last from you). Before he left, he performed two songs that could be the soundtrack for my novel if I'd set it in 1995 and not 1895. The first is his rendition of Carole King's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. My hero Jonathan cannot believe that Isabelle could continue to love him once she knows his hidden shame. James captures the wonder and the poignancy of his emotions. Check it out.

And of course, just as in the classic tale, Isabelle decides to leave Jonathan for reasons that seem completely right to her. She promises to return, but he believes otherwise. When James sang this second song, his emotions got the better of him, but I prefer this version to the perfect studio one.
Maybe his tears lost him votes, I don't know, but as any Romance reader will tell you, we are suckers for a man who isn't afraid to cry.

James wasn't afraid to let his love show. We could all take a lesson from his openness and his courage.
Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. Loved the way you connected this to your story! Loved the videos, too.