Lovefool 03.26.12 | Away With the Fairies

EarlFairy GN01_headerA "fairy doctor" who has lived life as an outcast finally discovers the joys of being herself in The Earl and the Fairy.



You know, nerdlings, sometimes I wonder if I’m ever going to manage to grow up all the way. I went to a jewelry party yesterday, the sort of thing where ladies sit around and look at shiny things and drink cocktails and giggle, with my friend, Emily. Normally, I’d give her a fake name for the column but Emily is absolutely nothing but an Emily and, besides, she won’t mind. Anyway, Emily comes swanning in with a new haircut and these dangly earrings and looking all thin and, dammit, sophisticated, and stood around making utterly witty remarks that it’s probably a good thing the hostess didn’t hear but made people laugh. She immediately looked like she belonged there and everything looked great on her, even though it, of course, was too overdone for her. I’ve described her as “very British indie film star” and it’s true. I, on the other hand, was wearing a black pleated mini-skirt with pink leggings, slip-on Converse and a Beatles hoodie and trying to look like I was supposed to be there. The hostess, who was having everyone model things, looked at me in despair before making me wear something that made me sad while Emily got to wear a kimono robe thingy that looked like it was tailored for her. Of course, Emily doesn’t work at any of those traits she has, she just is that, much like I’m just an overgrown kid with a mortgage.


I guess, secretly, that’s one of the things that attracts me to romance in all forms – the women portrayed in these books and manga and movies are the polar opposites of me. They’re witty but not snarky and thin and they know how to dress so they don’t look ridiculous. They have great hair that doesn’t turn horrible, dishwater blonde in the winter. They can wear heels without wincing. They’re mostly normal and don’t have a set of interests that make people online wonder if they’re secretly a dude. (Rose Tyler is my favorite Companion and only girls like her SO THERE.) They’re sexy and capable and manage to look good in all situations, even the inevitable one where they give in to their feelings and cry or something. When I cry, I get all blotchy and snotty and end up coughing.


I bet Lydia Carlton, the heroine of Mizue Tani and Ayuko’s The Earl and the Fairy, does, too. And, oh man, she’s as weird as they come. A Fairy Doctor from Scotland, she drifts through life trying to put her skills to good work and fails miserably because, hello, everyone knows fairies aren’t real. Lydia, who lives with one as sort of a familiar, is disinclined to agree. Between keeping her fairy friend in bacon and eggs, getting accused of such things as being a changeling, and being shunned by the villagers,Lydia’s kind of a mess. She meets handsome Edgar Ashenbert, an erstwhile Earl who claims to be descended from an ancient noble fairy, when he kind of kidnaps her but makes it look like he’s rescuing her. He ends up hiring her on as a legitimate employee, and she doesn’t find out that he’s a complete sociopath who wants to be recognized as the Earl in order to escape his sordid past as a slave in the Deep South until much later. He doesn’t really mention that he was trained to be a scary, manipulative sociopath, but does tell her that he led some crazy army of former slaves and taught them how to take all the “dirty money” that was floating around them.


It’s a little Robin Hood, a little Brothers Grimm and it does include the fairy familiar as a not-a-cat named Nico. But, more importantly, it features a heroine in a fabulous period costume and a complete scoundrel who seems to have zero redeeming qualities but is ridiculously intriguing. Honestly, though, everyone in this book comes clean about something. Lydia owns up to the fact that everyone thinks she’s a little weird and that maybe her current life choices aren’t the best she could possibly be making, Edgar goes through his horrible past and admits that he was a criminal for semi-good reasons and Nico drinks whiskey because he’s not a cat, dammit. And then Lydia, after hearing that Edgar is actually John the Scary Guy, sticks around to help him with his quest, because she said she would and because Edgar/John didn’t actually hurt her, or let someone else hurt her, when it looked like both things were going to happen. Because no one else is the actual Fairy Earl and, as far as I can tell, some reckless and foolish part of her brain said “Why the hell not?”


It probably helps that the future faux-Earl is pretty attractive and damaged in a way that Lydia can kind of relate to, being the village outcast who didn’t have a mom to hold her hand or braid her wayward hair. He says the kindest things to her and, for a girl who doesn’t hear that sort of talk, it does things to her fluttery little heart, despite herself. It helps that Nico stays with her, even though he’s a fairy and they do their own thing most of the time. And it might help a little that Lydia is on her first job as a Fairy Doctor and has been promised Grand Adventure. But I like to think it’s because Lydia finally has the opportunity to be herself, crazy talk of fairies and all, and, speaking as a resident weirdo in pink tights, I have to say that’s a pretty compelling thing. | Erin Jameson

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