We have been talking regularly here about The Golden Enclaves Trilogy, by Naomi Novik. This is because these books are so clever and brilliant and entertaining. And also because I have been reading them aloud to my dear wife, so they are often on my mind these days.
Which brings me to today's trifling anecdote.
There is a wonderful character in these books named Liesel. She does not appear in the first book, comes increasingly into play in the second book, and is a major character in the third book. She is a strikingly brilliant (first in her class), ambitious, forceful young magic using person from Germany. To act as a complete spoiler, Liesel starts out nearly killing our main character after a sharp exchange of words, and ends up operating as something almost like our hero's First Lieutenant. Liesel is pragmatic, astonishingly and humorously blunt, and the only character, among a somewhat international cast, to whom, when reading aloud, I dare to give an accent.
When I read aloud to my lovely wife, I will try my best to give a certain consistent flavor to the voices of all the characters in the book. But something like giving a constant, terse, German accent to a featured character is pretty challenging for me. I have to concentrate to not let my accent drift into French or Russian for instance. And since I am reading it rather than listening to it, I can't always be sure if I'm hitting Liesel's accent right.
So it was particularly nice this afternoon when a German woman came into my library, approached the front desk, and tersely demanded a string of actions from us here at the library.
And she sounded exactly like Liesel!
Or like me reading as Liesel.
It was uncanny. So uncanny that I was profoundly tempted to respond to her with her same voice!
Though if she was anything like Liesel it is probably for the best that I didn't.