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Monday, August 23, 2010

In Which Nick and I Have A Discussion About Our Respective Draculas

With Nick and I both reading Dracula based novels, we thought it would be an excellent idea if we did a compare and contrast type discussion. In doing so we learned quite a bit about each other’s books and I came away with a better understanding of some of the things that happened in Dracula in Love because of it. Without further adieu – we hope you come away with a better appreciation of both novels.

How does your novel reflect the expectations of women in Victorian England?

Heather: At this time in England, society expected women to be sexually repressed creatures, while women themselves seemed to secretly want to explore something more. To have any sexual interest on the part of women was seen as a mental disease. In Dracula in Love, Mina really embodies the expectations of society in the beginning, but you can really see her grow into a different, more aware of herself, type of person as the novel progresses. There is a lot of sexual desire and sexual encounters that take place in this book, and I think that it really tries to show this new Victorian woman emerging.

Nick: I would say that the portrayals of women and the culture of Victorian England in Dracula are very different from your book. Sex is almost never mentioned or alluded to in Dracula, and Mina seems to be a very different person. For example, the group of men decide to not tell Mina about the specifics of vampires, and Mina, in her OWN diary, writes things to the effect of “I am so glad that the men have decided to not tell me everything, as I am a woman and it might weigh heavy on my heart.”

Heather: In my opinion, the more repressed viewpoint of Dracula represents the male perspective of the time, while the more sexually explicit viewpoint of Dracula in Love possibly represents the female viewpoint. I think the fact that the author of Dracula is a man and Dracula in Love is a woman, really strengthens that as well.

How is your story told, and how does that contribute to the overall feeling of the novel?

Nick: Dracula is written in first person perspective in the form of diary entries. Almost all of the main characters contribute diary entries, and there are also clippings from the local newspapers of the time. This method gives the reader a feeling of the book being one big “scrapbook”, a conglomeration of individual smaller voices into a larger and more visible reality. It makes one feel as though they know more than any one character at a given time, because they know all of the character’s secrets and feelings.

Heather: My story couldn’t be more different! Dracula in Love is told entirely from the perspective of Mina, but still in diary format. This serves to delve deeply into one character;s understanding of the events and really get to know the heart of the character. How well did you get to know your characters?

Nick: Now that you mention it, I must say that the characters of Dracula felt like the weakest part of the novel to me. They were very two-dimensional, and it almost seemed as though they were simply going through the motions.

Besides Mina Harker, which character in Dracula in Love was your most favorite to read about, and why?

Heather: I really enjoyed reading about Lucy Westenra, Mina’s friend. She got into all kinds of trouble and dragged Mina around with her. She was the epitome of the best friend. She was quite a hoot! How about you?

Nick: I think my favorite character overall of Dracula was Jonathan Seward, the doctor of the mental institute and the best friend of Professor Van Helsing. There were many times when Seward showed some great emotion and his relationships with the inmates of the institution were a lot of fun to read about.

How did the representation of Dracula in your novel compare to what you expected from the character?

Heather: Dracula in Dracula in Love was not nearly at all what I expected him to be. The buildup of movies and popular media led me to expect a more sinister creature, a lot of blood and gore, and to just be scary. What I got was a more humanized version – there were feelings behind actions and you could understand where he was coming from – don’t get me wrong, he could still be scary.

Nick: When it comes to Dracula, the king of the vampires was depicted in two very different ways. In the beginning, Dracula seemed like a very kind and wise gentleman. Throughout the novel, however, he became more and more vicious. However, neither of these were what I was expecting. The recent culture of vampires suggests that they are suave and sophisticated individuals, and this was not the case.

I hope that you have all enjoyed this discussion and can’t wait to read these two novels. You can also check out Nick’s post about Vlad the Impaler today over at Lions and Men.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. This is wonderful! I love your idea of comparing he two novels and you both made some very good points that showed me how the new novel differs from the original.

  2. This was an interesting conversation! I read Dracula years ago and really enjoyed it. I have Dracula in Love on my stack to read and review. I'm participating in a read-a-thon starting tomorrow. Hopefully, I will get to it this weekend! Regarding that both books are in diary format, that is one of my favorite formats in a novel.

  3. It was great to read the comparison between the two books. I think knowing the differences will add to the reads. I am very curious as to which one I will like better, I am thinking it will be Dracula in Love but maybe I will be surprised. Now the question for me is, which one to read first. Any thoughts on that?

    Oh yeah, I read Nick's post on Vlad; he is horror for sure!!

  4. Thanks for the great comments everyone. Glad you liked the conversation.

    Ibeeeg - I haven't read Dracula myself (and to be honest, I was never that interested) - but if you are planning to read both anyway - I would probably start with Dracula and that way you can appreciate the changes in Dracula in Love more.

  5. Ineresting conversation and I must admit that before this post I was a little interested in reading Dracula in Love and now I'm not all that inclinded to do so.

    I like the character of Dracula because he is so inhuman and not like us at all. I've never been a big fan of this notion of making vampire more "normal" less "other". I've been trying to avoid the more recent versions of that idea and I think Dracula In Love just continues that train of thought.

    I want to thank you both for a intriguing compare/contrast of the two books.

  6. Ryan - in Dracula in Love he wasn't depicted the same as everyone. He is still quite different and has all the qualities of a vampire - I just didn't find him to be quite the scary creature that I pictured (which even from the sound of his depiction in the original novel, it isn't like I pictured). I'm not a huge fan of vampires to begin with, but I really enjoyed this novel.

  7. Heather, The older I get I want my vampires to be scary. They can still be alluring and sexy, but I want to be scared by them. the whole notion of nice, misunterstood, or conflicted vampires thing was interesting when it first started happening but it seems as if it's being done to death. It could just be the fact that as I get older I want vampires to be like what they were when I was a kid, blood thirsty monsters would didn't fall in love with mortals.

    I don't know, I still may give this one a try sometime down the road. Who knows, I might like it afterall.

  8. Ryan - I can understand that - and after you grow up it takes much more to be scared than when you were a kid. I do think that Karen Essex does a great job with her depiction tho. It you read it you will have to let us know what you think!

  9. Heather, Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a thousand needles in my eye :-)

    Though I'm not sure I would be able to get past the first needle.

  10. Good post. Nice to have a comparison of books by two different people. I have not yet read either book, but am certainly interested in doing so.


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