from The Essential Paradise

Doc. 0.00.011.

The prodigal maiden is a thematic trope used by author Jonnie Comet in the Two Paradises fantasy/fiction realm. Edit

The trope involves a young girl who advances into a sphere of responsibility or authority that most would consider too mature for her chronological age, such as dating or marriage, sexual activity, professional employment, or motherhood.

Archetype Edit

The archetype for this trope in Jonnie Comet’s fiction is the character of Wendy in the novel Best Friends; aka: The Babysitter (1988), the story of a 15-year-old girl from an unhappy New Jersey home who runs away with Jay, the 22-year-old young man who once served as her babysitter. After a long, eventful voyage down the Intra-Coastal Waterway, the couple settle in Stuart, Florida, where the optimistic, indefatigable heroine, now 16, takes on the role of devoted housemistress and secondary breadwinner. Eventually the two return to New Jersey to contest for emancipated-minor status for Wendy, which she receives and thus the two are permitted to be married. The story is notable for the authentic detail with which the couple’s travel arrangements, living arrangements and dubious legal status are represented.

Examples from the stories Edit

The trope is a common one in the longer story arcs of the Two Paradises series

Janine Hewlett - Janine, of Paradise, story arc Edit

Janine may be the best example of a prodigal maiden within the Two Paradises realm, being an essentially normal, almost unexceptional girl growing up in Devon Township, perhaps the most unexceptional municipality in the east end of Eden Island. Yet, through a sequence of events that could very easily be presented to anyone, she becomes sexually active at age 13, works an office job at 14, gets engaged in the middle of her 4th-form year and is married when just 16 days past her 15th birthday, becoming probably the youngest-possible bride under Paradisian law.

Following her engagement, effected during the Valentines’ dance, she adopts Greenlea, the house her boyfriend’s supervisor has offered them, as a premarital home, painting, cleaning, cooking, entertaining and seeing to the duties of mistress of the house, all before she has turned 15. During her first year of marriage she learns to drive, finishes 5th form, becomes pregnant and flies off to New Zealand to join her husband on a professional internship, during which her pregnancy proceeds in secret from all her Paradisian acquaintance and represents a surprise to them all upon her return to Greenlea. Their child is born in February, when Janine is still 16; and by her 17th birthday she is settled quite nicely into conjugal bliss, pushing a pram with her baby to midweek Mass, pursuing a mutually satisfying sex life with her husband, and enjoying the respect and admiration of the whole community.

Janine encounters numerous troubles along the way but is able to surmount them with a combination of youthful optimism, Charlie’s support, and a native intelligence and common sense which many others, including her own mother, believe would serve her better in a university education and professional occupation. Though she has only a 5th-form (O-level) education, Janine is content, seeing no reason to seek self-aggrandisement through greater accolades than of being a happy wife, mother, neighbour and churchgoer. Told in the first person, her story is authentically that of a teenager, albeit one willingly facing adult-level challenges with optimist and aplomb.

See also the eager ingenue and the masterful mother. Edit

Gwendolyn Dahl - The Love of Gwendolyn Dahl, story arc Edit

Only 12 when she meets Lord Jonathan, Gwendolyn readily adopts the role of a dutiful girlfriend, taking on the household responsibilities at his oceanview cottage with the enthusiasm of a child playing house. But she is at least as much a mature young lady, as evident by her repeated successes at formal balls and receptions which her boyfriend must attend because of his title and place in the territorial peerage. Consequently she becomes known in Paradisian society as ‘the little countess’, an allusion to her future as wife to Lord Paradise’s heir-apparent. Even at 18-1/2, when she marries, she still seems overly young to be setting up house, a situation which, with the help of half a dozen household servants, must be easier for her than it would be for a girl marrying a commoner of less-substantial means.

Gwendolyn also may be considered the eager ingenue.

Carissa Flagg - Kissing Cousins, story arc Edit

Anthony and Carissa, having realised that she is pregnant, marry in the September just after she turns 15 and take a small house in Ipping, Rum Island, for which Carissa is meant to be housemistress. Carissa may be much more authentic a teenager than any of the above (perhaps given that she is not native to Paradise, coming from New Zealand only after she was 12) as she is often petulant, whiny, needy and slovenly, much but not all of which might be excused by her pregnancy, and takes only very reluctantly to her adult-level responsibilities.

See also the closeted hussy. Edit

Other examples Edit

Jonnie Comet has allegedly begun, though probably also abandoned, several other story arcs focusing on the same trope, including Free, about two teenaged runaways from Maryland who sail to The Bahamas to start a life together.

Within the Tobasco Beach fantasy/fiction realm, the character of not-yet-18-year-old Stephanie Bailey, in moving in with and keeping house for Christopher Kite, may be considered an example.

The entire series of Deirdre, the Wanderer is founded on the concept of a prodigal maiden.

The novel Sylvia; or: The Revenge of The Slave (2012) may also be considered, in part, as including the trope of the prodigal maiden.

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Doc. 0.00.011 b. 2015.0918. Original content ©Jonnie Comet Productions. All rights reserved