In Every Gesture Dignity And Love

"Grace was in all her steps,
heaven in her eye,
in every gesture dignity and love." 
- Paradise Lost, John Milton

About the beginning of this month, with an inward sigh of relief I accomplished the final edits for A Love that Never Fails. I am finally done with this short story! Oh yes, I might extend it into a novel sometime and I quite look forward to knowing how that will go, but for now... this little short story is completed. So now I am back to working on The Crown of Life again, with lots of excitement, a bit of trepidation but altogether in quite a delighted frame of mind. I feel quite thrilled about "coming back to it" so to speak and my hands are itching to reacquaint myself with my old friends and rediscover the lives and events of the people living in the story. 

One of those characters that I really want to "get into" further and understand more, is Claudia, the daughter of a Roman Legate and the sponsa (betrothed wife) of Tribune Valerius Gallus. She is perhaps the character dearest to my heart. As I've delved more into her part of the story, I see clearly a life of tragic beauty, fear and hope, pain and love all mingled into this one young woman.  It is hard to write such a character. In some earlier scenes of The Crown of Life, some of her actions or dialogue contradict my present understanding of her character. So, naturally, this round of Beautiful People by Sky and Gerogie is about her. To understand her more.

1. Is there someone that she can open up to? 

Claudia's deepest confident has always been her father, Legate Albinus. There is a special bond of understanding and openness between them that allows for them to share their deepest fears and longings to each other. Besides her father, Claudia is a good listener of all of Anthea's "outbursts", though she is usually shy of sharing her own with her. Slowly as they get to know each other better, Claudia starts opening up her thoughts and dreams to Valerius, as he in turn does the same to her.

2. Is there something she is afraid of? 

Claudia is not one to be naturally afraid. She is, in more ways than one, her father's daughter.  Nevertheless, like a violet tinged sky, is her fear of losing those dearest to her through an untimely or tragic death, and having a father, brother and husband-to-be who are soldiers makes it all the harder for her for she never knew when some war or a military commission  might take them away beyond recall from her. Above that too, she most fears becoming a pawn and victim of court and imperial intrigue through the scheming of wicked men. For her, such a fate would make life not worth the living.

3. Favorite writing utensil?

A writing method common during Roman times was the wax tablet and stylus, and that is generally Claudia's favourite. However, her handwriting is mostly always elegant and neat to perfection, so that even if it is a lot more strenuous, she will just as readily write with a quill and ink on parchment and scroll as any other way. 

4. What type of laugh does she have? 

Valerius thought the sound of her laughter was like the joyful bubbling of a singing fountain or like the spontaneous gushing of a spring. - The Crown of Life

5. Who is her best friend?

Definitely Anthea Gallus.

If she was not with Rosa learning the womanly arts, about the habits of good society, or working to fill her carved wooden chest with linens and tapestries for her future home, she was in the company of Anthea. The two were as inseparable as twins, even though they differed as the warm glow of summer differs to the crystal hands of ice in winter. Anthea was interested in gossip, clothes, parties and social events... Claudia loathed all that. But despite how different they both seemed, Claudia loved Anthea for her energy and sense of fun. She always made her feel young and it was with her that she found it easiest to laugh. - The Crown of Life

6. Any enemies?

Claudia is not one to make needless enmity with people if she can help it, but being of fair countenance, she is faced with one or two unwanted admirers and stalkers. Tribune Serigus Apicius, the loathsome half-brother of Flavius, who is dead-set on marrying her, is on the top list.... there are others.

7. What would she do if she discovered she was dying?

At this stage in Claudia's life, she would be saddened. It is not so much the loss of life that would cause her to be heart-broken as much as that she would be leaving behind those dearest to her. If she found she were dying, she would have spent her life without having really found her place or the purpose of her existence. But after the initial shock, Claudia would try to meet it with as much fortitude as was in her and comfort those around her, and try to make as much use of the time left to her as possible. As yet, she does not know the hope of eternal life that is in Christ, or the strength that comes from knowing Him who has conquered sin and death. Not yet.

8. If your character’s house burned down, and they were left with nothing but the clothes on their back, what would they do? Where would they go? 

Right into Valerius' arms! (that is supposing that he is within reach, and is able to battle the fires to rescue her of course). If Claudia were alone, she would compose herself, and flee the place of the fire without lingering unless some great heartache accompanied the fire itself and had robbed her of someone dear. But if her family and loved ones were safe, then she'd not grieve the loss of her belongings. All those things would not really matter in the end. She would try to seek some refuge or make contact with a friend and try to rebuild her life from there. If possible.

9. What is her station in life? 

Claudia is the daughter of a Roman Legate, a Roman patrician and part of the aristocracy of Rome. Her mother was a great-granddaughter of Emperor Tiberius... But to Claudia, her station in life often feels more like a cage, a death trap of all her dreams and longings.

10. Does she play a musical instrument? If so, what?

When Claudia was but a young child of three, her mother, Lady Helena, taught her the skill of playing on the lyre. She learnt quickly and loved fingering the strings of her mother's harp, playing a sweat tune on it. Just before the Lady Helena's death, she gave Claudia her harp as a gift, knowing how her young daughter had a talent for it. The harp becomes one of Claudia's most treasured possessions, a wood-carved instrument of exquisite beauty that brings forth an even fairer and sweater timber between the silver strings and gems studded on its gilded pillar.

11, What colour are her eyes? Hair? 

The colour of her eyes are the brown of hazels, gleaming almost golden in the sunlight or when she's laughing/crying. In the shade, when she is solemn, her eyes can take on a slightly darker shade. Claudia has a long cascade of jet black hair, dark as a ravine, and wavy. 

12. What is her life dream? 

Claudia longs to be happily married to the man she loves, and to bare a son for Valerius and own a happy little family of her own. But beyond that, Claudia longs to find a place, to find "home" and a hope in the midst of the darkness of her life; she has a wistful feeling that it can never be found within the confines of earth or the world she's living in...

13. What is her biggest secret? 

Having always confided in her father, Claudia feels a twinge of guilt when she secretly starts attending the meetings of the Christians at Lady Pomponaea's house once a week and fears that he would be displeased if he found out, thus she tries to keep her visits a secret for as long as possible. Besides this, at this time, Claudia's biggest secret would be her own self... the struggles of her own heart that she allows very few to see or notice.

14. What is one of her strongest childhood memories? 

Some of Claudia's vividest memories as a child are simply the "ordinary" days with her family during her "growing up years" and she carries a tender memory of her mother before her death...

She remembered her mother’s soft sing-song voice, whispering beautiful stories into Claudia’s ear, about when she was little herself. She could still feel her mother’s gentle, smooth hand fondle her cheeks and rock her to sleep when she had been a little child. Claudia could recall her glee as she wriggled into her lap, enjoying everything about her dear mother: her perfumed fragrance, her starlike eyes that always sparkled with youthful joy and enthusiasm. But what she most remembered, was her tender motherly love. "Love is stronger then death," her mother used to tell her. Only now, she understood, for her mother's love lived on. - The Crown of Life

Perhaps, though, her strongest memory was the birth of her young brother, Antony. It was also the day her mother died, so the emotions and memories of that day are strong and mingled between terrible grief and a quiet joy, both as dominant as the other.

15. What are her thoughts on politics? 

Claudia abhors political intrigue and how politics affects people and hurts them without repair, but she is by no means ignorant of what happens at the Palace, the Senate and the Army. In the words of her father, she is "a shrewd politician in her own right, one to be reckoned with!" But if I were to describe the ins-and-outs of her thoughts on politics it would demand an essay to sufficiently do so.

16. What languages does she speak? 

Claudia speaks Latin as her mother-tongue and almost as fluently she can speak Greek as well, which she often does. 

17. How old is she? 

When you first meet Claudia, she is sixteen

18. What does she do with her spare time? 

Claudia loves to create and play music (playing the lyre/harp and singing songs that she's made up) and would write in her journal or letters to her father or Valerius in her free hours, pouring her soul into her writing. Since she was seven years old, she had been tutored by an old priest, Mater Glaucus, who taught her how to write poetry, gave her advanced music lessons (as her nurse Rosa knew only the basics of music) and nurtured in her a love for reading the classics. Now that she's older, Claudia helps the old priest in making up melodies and poetry, who in turn gives her a more advanced education in law, arts and politics. However, she does not spend all her time in study and learning! She also likes to do needlework and when Rosa is not looking sneaks up to the kitchen to help the household slaves in preparing the evening meal. Besides these things, she loves to spend time with her father, helping Antony with his studies, enjoying a lesuiraly walk in the gardens or spending some time with her friends.

19. Does she see the big picture or live in the moment? 

Claudia tries to live in the big picture, but most times, she finds herself imprisoned within the narrow confines of the present moment.

20. What is her full name? 

Claudia Helena Albinus

By the way, most of those questions have been taken from the old "Beautiful People" archives :). And as a side thing, I posted on Not An Average Girl today a little post.


  1. This is lovely, Joy! I am getting more and more interested in 'The Crown of Life' the more you speak of it. I do hope you get it published one day!

    On a side note, how long is 'A Love That Never Fails'? :)

  2. I must ask, Joy...

    Are you going to share "The Love That Never Fails" with us? :)

    Lovely post, I enjoyed all your little character snippets!


  3. Thank you, Emily. I am glad you liked it. Lord willing, I hope it gets published one day too :)... one day!

    Good question! 'A Love that Never Fails' is a short story constituting of 3,755 words in length. Lord willing, once I finish the final draft of 'The Crown of Life' I hope to extend 'A Love that Never Fails' into a novel... at least, that is the plan :).

  4. Hi Schuyler, thank you for asking this question... I am glad it has piqued your interest enough for such a question :). I'd love to share it with you as well as all my other blog readers very much. Nonetheless, I won't be able to do this for a number of reasons.

    1. as much as I have great faith in my dear followers and blog-readers, there are some stalkers out on the internet that won't be as gracious and nice to what I share as I am sure you would be! The World Wide Web can be a scary place you know, and there is always the danger of having your writings stolen or plagiarized etc... not that I can imagine that such a thing will happen, but it has been a sort of policy with me not to share really large sections of writing on my blog besides some snippets or paragraphs now and again to be on the safe side. Does that make sense? The other reason I am not going to post 'A Love that Never Fails' on Fullness of Joy blog is because it is actually going to go to be published in a special edition anthology with other teen writers in our local area. Earlier this year, I entered a short story competition at my local library and with God's help, was shortlisted with ten other teens. We got to attend two writer's workshops where we got to have our manuscripts critiqued by a couple of published authors who also helped us with the editing. So, Lord willing, the anthology will be in print by next month along with my little story--which is quite exciting! However, it being a local thing it won't be really available for sale for those outside my area I believe:(.

    But having said this, it doesn't mean that you won't get a chance to read the story! Lord willing, once I finish 'The Crown of Life', I plan on expanding the short-story into a full-length novel and try getting it traditionally published. So... one day, I hope you can still read the story! I am definitely praying that it can happen :).

    I am glad you enjoyed these snippets, Schuyler; thank you for your sweet comment too.

  5. Oh, that makes total sense, Joy! I think you are very wise to protect it like that. Wow, it's fun that you get to have it published in an anthology! And I shall look forward to seeing it in novel form one day....

    Blessings! :)


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