You can often find Penelope Lumley, the plucky young governess of Maryrose Wood’s The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, asking herself: What Would Agatha Swanburn Do? (Agatha Swanburne, of course, being the founder of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope’s Alma Mater.) Lucky for Penelope, Agatha Swanburne was a woman of timeless good sense, which she then encapsulated in her many, many pithy pearls of wisdom (truly there is a Swanburne saying for every occasion). For those not familiar with this delightful series, I give you one such Swanburne-ism: “It is easier to change one’s boots than to change one’s mind, but it is far easier to change one’s mind about whether or not to wear boots than it is to change the weather.”
Maryrose Wood, of course, is the author behind all this tongue-in-cheek fun, and today she joins us to muse on a timeless saying from the one and only Agatha Swanburne. Take it away Maryrose!
“New boots never fit as well as the old.” — Agatha Swanburne
I’ve always been a reluctant clothes shopper. I just don’t like it. I hate browsing the racks looking for something in my size. I hate trying things on. Most of all, I hate spending money on clothes that could be spent so much more enjoyably on books and theater tickets! After all, I’m not the one who has to watch me walk around in whatever I’m wearing. That’s everybody else’s problem. It’s hard for me to give it much priority.
I so admire those people who have a signature “look” — a few basic variations on color scheme and silhouette that seem to work for every occasion, year in and year out. Alas, I am not one of those people. At home I’m often found in yoga pants and a t-shirt, also know as “the writing costume.” When I venture out into the world, I rotate through a handful of familiar outfits that feel comfortable and haven’t gotten me thrown out of places in the past.
Despite my aversion to shopping, clothes do somehow accumulate. When it’s time to purge my closet, it tends to be the newer stuff that I toss: the “what was I thinking when I bought this?” blouse that needs three safety pins to stay buttoned, the unflattering pants that I ordered online and never got around to returning. “New boots never fit as well as the old,” says Agatha Swanburne. Clearly I agree!
I find it to be true of more than wardrobe items, too. New habits take time to break in. New friends take time and effort to get to know. Usually the rewards are worth it. Don’t get me wrong: I like to travel to new places, and I love learning new things. But I count my dearest friendships in decades, and I’ve lived in or around the same city for my whole life. Yet I don’t think of myself as risk-averse. Quite the contrary. Maybe the life of a writer is high-wire act enough for me!
How about you? The comfort of the familiar, or the excitement of the new: which do you prefer, and why?
Of especially naughty children it is sometimes said, “They must have been raised by wolves.”
The Incorrigible children actually were.
Since returning from London, the three Incorrigible children and their plucky governess, Miss Penelope Lumley, have been exceedingly busy. When Lord Fredrick’s long-absent mother arrives with the noted explorer Admiral Faucet, gruesome secrets tumble out of the Ashton family tree. And when the admiral’s prized racing ostrich gets loose in the forest, it will take all the Incorrigibles’ skills to find her. But once back in the wild, will the children forget about books and poetry and go back to their howling, wolfish ways?
You can read an excerpt here.