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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


No, not the book kind of proposal that you write up for non-fiction. The marriage kind... found in books. Okay, so there is some book involved.

I like to collect bad proposals. Why?

1) They're hilarious!
2) They stand out.

Here are some of my favorites...

1. By Honor Betray'd by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
In the middle of a war, two medics on the landing field, she's just predicted that the pilot taking off will return safe and wishing she'd stop seeing the future....
"I can't help you there either."
"You do help," she said, "be being here, and being you...I need someone who doesn't have trouble remembering what's real."
Llannat heard his breath catch a little. "If your telling me lies in order to be kind..."
"Then I'll stay. For as long as the Magelords and the Space Force let me. Longer, if you ask."
She laughed unsteadily. "Coming from you, Ari Rosselin-Metadi, that's practically a proposal of marriage."
"If you'd like to take it that way."
"Yes," she said. "And yes."

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Telling the girl you love her against your better judgment is really the all time low.

"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

Elizabeth's astonishment was beyond expression…

3. Crime Fighting Zoo Keeper by Spartezda
He's a cop, she's hiding secrets...

“I would give my firstborn child to hear you say that to my father,” said Caya.
“Invite me to Summergold dinner this year, lordling, and I will.”
Caya chuckled. “Sworn and heard.”

Lesson learned? If those proposals had been written according to some romantic script with candlelight, blushing brides, and flowers they wouldn't stand out. Mr. Darcy's proposal in Pride and Prejudice is one of the all time worst proposals ever, the romantic equivalent of someone walking on stage to shoot the heroine mid-sentence.

But it works because it gives the reader a sudden shock. There is no lead up. There is no hint Mr. Darcy admires Elizabeth at all let alone ardently.

Sometimes you have to get things wrong to make the scene right.


  1. I'm going to be a DA and say the first time I read P&P I didn't find anything wrong with Darcy's proposal. He was flustered, spoke poorly, but his attentions were obvious through the book up to then. Thanks to the omniscient pov of the book, Jane Austen showed the reader.


    Worst proposal from the Austen books would probably be from Persuasion, where he did it by letter. <- Always ANNOYS me when they do it by letter.

  2. Catherine- My first exposure to P&P was the audio book while driving around Florida looking at colleges. We finished the trip, were dropping off the car, and Mr. Darcy proposed.

    Needless to say, I had to run home and buy the book because I was flummoxed beyond all reason. I kind of expected courtship before proposal, but that seems to be a slightly more modern concept.

  3. But in his way, he had courted E.

    He paid attention to her, attended her conversations, sat silently staring fixedly at her, hung over her piano while she played, took daily walks with her in the park. He let her tease him. And on two occasions he'd offered his hand in dance to her, though she only danced the second time.

    And to his mind, she had encouraged him and seemed intent on snagging him. She kept showing up whereever he went, for one thing. He considered himself sought and won.

  4. So this is the Sparky bribery. I love it! %-)

  5. *sometimes you have to get things wrong to make the scene right*
    haha :) truer words never spoken.