Friday, November 13, 2009

What's In a Name?

Upon first glance, Ruth Axtell Morren's A Bride of Honor seems like many other romance novels with a "traditional values" spin--having watched Love's Enduring Promise on the Hallmark channel one rainy afternoon, I think I have a pretty good idea what to expect as far as plot devices and themes goes.

The back cover--the location of the "blurb"--is where things get a little more interesting:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a lady of rank and distinction is no match for an impoverished preacher. Yet Damian Hathaway is entranced from the moment he spies Miss Lindsay Phillips entering his church. She doesn't appear any different from the other pampered society ladies—and she's betrothed to a gentleman of the ton. But Damian is determined to find the pure heart he's sure exists underneath all the ruffles and lace. The unlikely friendship formed by Damian and Lindsay is a revelation to them both, but is frowned upon by her parents—and Damian's parishioners. Torn between two worlds, the pair must trust that their love can bridge the divide—and conquer all.
Huh.  I'm not sure I could make it all the way through a book which features a character with the same name as me.  Even books where the main character has only the same first name as me reminds me a little too much of that eternal classic Click for Love.  Such books immediately seem like a joke because I'm incapable of separating myself from the name every time it appears on the page.  In the case of A Bride of Honor, the joke is even more pronounced, as Lindsay wasn't even a woman's name in the general "back in the day" setting for which Morren seems to be reaching... it was a man's name. 

Research helps.  I'm just saying.

The reason I bring this up, however, (other than fanning my narcissism with a post that is indirectly all about me) is that it makes me wonder if people with more common names suffer from the same problem.  "Back in the day," after all, everyone seems to have either been named John or Mary or to have known someone named John or Mary.  Would it be distracting for such a person to read a book (Middlemarch, for example), which prominently features characters that share the same name?  Or is the name so common that such a person casn successfully separate him/herself from the name on the page and read the book uninhibited?

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