What do Cyrano de Bergerac and Cinderella have in common? Both are love stories built on deception.
Now, I’m sure you’re going, “Whoa, now! Love and Deception? How can they exist together?” If you look both stories, though, they involve a character pretending to be someone else to trick their object of their affection into love. Cinderella, a simple maid, dresses up and pretends to be a “lady of mystery” at a royal ball and ends up attracting the attention of a handsome prince. Cyrano writes eloquent love letters to Roxanne for the handsome (but stupid) Christian, forging a romance between the two young lovers while his own heart burns for her. One of these stories has a happy ending; the other does not.
Of course, these are just two examples. Some of my other favorite stories of love built on deception include modern movies like Roxanne (starring Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah) and The Truth About Cats and Dogs (starring Janeane Garofalo).
Why do I like these stories? Because in all of them, there is a character that rises above their fears, their hesitations, their short-comings, to find true love. All of these characters have something they think is holding them back from finding true love, be it a big nose or a low social status or a figure that is less than supermodel-perfect. And all of them discover something about themselves that earns the love of someone else.
Because I love these kind of stories so much, I decided to write my own version of love built on deception. In “A Waltz at Midnight”, we have two lovers who feel they are undeserving of love. Teddy not only resents his father forcing him to court a perfect stranger, but also to give up his dreams to take his place in the company. Susanna agrees to write letters for Charlotte to earn some extra money, never expecting to fall for him in the process. Love blossoms behind the disguise of paper, but when it comes time for the two of them to meet, they both wonder if their romance wilt under the light of the truth.
What are some of your favorite stories of love that is initially built on deception? Why do you like them?
“A Waltz at Midnight”
New York, 1866
When her mistress receives an utterly unromantic letter from a potential suitor, servant Susanna Parkwell is asked to craft an appropriate response. Though hesitant to take part in the deception, Susanna agrees, never dreaming the scorned suitor will write back.
Theodore Blakely abhors being pressured by his family to marry, but he’s intrigued by the witty refusal he receives from “Charlotte”. After exchanging more letters, Ted believes he’s found a soul mate in his thoughtful and understanding correspondent, and asks permission to formally court her.
Though racked with guilt over her lies, Susanna can’t resist the opportunity to meet Ted in person. So she poses as Charlotte at a holiday ball, where she vows to tell him the truth. But when the clock strikes midnight, will Susanna have the courage to reveal her identity and risk losing the man she loves?