Elizabeth: F is for Family

The Grey's Anatomy famly

The Grey’s Anatomy family

This past weekend was Father’s Day and we celebrated at a gathering with good food, cool drinks, and, of course, copious gifts.   The usual suspects were there, some related, some not, a group that has evolved over time. Not strictly family by precise definition, but a family in reality.

The day naturally got me to thinking about story.

My favourite stories are those where there is a strong element of family. There may be a cast of disparate characters in the beginning, but by the end they’ve formed a cohesive unit that works together to solve the mystery or ensure the happily-ever-after or whatever the end goal is.

In my own story, I’m trying to build that same sense of family. My hero is very much a loner and not so good at being part of a team at the beginning of the story. As things progress, however, he slowly adds people to his circle and learns to rely on them until he’s got a strong family behind him, helping trap the antagonist and ensure everything works out for the best.

The book is the first in a series and some of the characters in this story make appearances in the others.   Those are the kinds of stories I like best – where I know when I’ve finished a book there is a very good chance I’ll get a glimpse of the characters in a later story so I can see how they’re doing , like catching up with old friends.  Jo Beverley’s Company of Rogues stories fall into this category, as do Jenny Crusie’s What the Lady Wants and Strange Bedpersons.

Family plays a part in the shows I watch on television as well. Lately it has been Grey’s Anatomy (when I’m not working or writing, of course). It’s not the blood and gore and hospital drama that has caught my interest, but rather all the characters and how they go from being strangers at the beginning of the series to a kind of family (in some cases, real family) as the show progresses. Members come and go, they get together and break up, but through it all they’re family. Messy and dysfunctional at times, but family nonetheless.

Sadly, I’ve just finished the last episode of Grey’s so until the season recommences this fall I’m without a “fictional family.” Any suggestions for books, movies, or shows to help me bridge the gap?

6 thoughts on “Elizabeth: F is for Family

  1. I love that kind of story, where strangers become family. And I’m pretty much drawing a blank on anything. Possibly, Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows trilogy would be a good rec because she does a great job of building a family out of a bunch of students (students of magic, of music and of healing, IIRC). The kids come from many, many different backgrounds, and then grow up to support and save and grieve for one another.

    It’s kind of funny that so many coming-of-age stories are about people in their teens, but I think there’s definitely another coming-of-age — midlife crisis in men and women without kids, or the time when women finish raising their kids and start thinking about what the next stage of life is going to be. There’s a good 20 years coming up. I think a lot of people choose to make new families of the heart during that time.

    • Michaeline – interesting point about the other coming-of-age area later in life. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of stories/shows that focus on that. Seems like that would be an interesting area to read about / write about.

      • In many ways, *How to Bake a Perfect Life* by Barbara O’Neal was about that sandwich generation creating a new community and way of life. (-: Also, I can’t go a week without mentioning Bujold — *Paladin of Souls* is about a middle-aged woman in a medieval fantasy setting who decides to go on a journey to clear her mind. She winds up finding a profession and a love, and saving the world, of course.

        Maybe RED (the movie with Bruce Willis) could also fit in that category — it’s not about forming new community, exactly. But it’s about finding old friends, and learning new things about them. When I first watched that movie, I thought, “Oh, the Baby Boomer Generation is now officially old.” But it’s a great story, and I think it’s important for all of us to think about what we are going to do with the next stage of our lives.

        • I had forgotten about “How to Bake A Perfect Life* and RED, but those do both fit the bill. Now I know what I’ll be reading/watching this weekend 🙂

  2. Of course you’ve watched Leverage, right? Other chestnuts: Burn Notice, Buffy, Firefly, White Collar, Entourage. Those are all community shows with some people related and others chosen to be part of the “family” group. Here’s hoping you survive the summer drought!

    • Actually Kay, I haven’t watched Leverage yet, despite all the great analysis of it over on Jenny’s blog. Sounds like this is a great time for me to remedy that 🙂

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