Shopping with Character: Diana Corbett
It’s been a while since I wrote my first “Shopping with Character” post, so it’s definitely time for another one. Today, I want to talk about Diana Corbett, who is the female protagonist in Bayou Fire.
Diana has to travel a lot for her job, so her Seattle condominium is fairly spartan. She doesn’t have plants or pets, and we learn that she doesn’t even have much in the way of art on the walls. She sees herself as a practical person; if she’s not around often enough to take care of the plants, let alone a pet, or enjoy the art, she doesn’t see the need to have it.
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t like those things; in the course of the book, we see how much she enjoys spending times with peoples’ pets, looking at photographs, and visiting museums.
We also learn about a few things that she buys. Early on in her assignment in New Orleans, she visits the Hové Parfumeur on Chartres Street. Even though it’s unnamed in the text, this is the place where she buys a perfume that is so distinctive that Amos Boudreaux recognizes it when they’re sitting next to each other in Preservation Hall.
Diana doesn’t buy many groceries, we learn, because she doesn’t have an automobile in New Orleans and is expected to review restaurants anyway. Amos teases her about having nothing but condiments and pop in the fridge when he comes over to make her lunch while she’s under the weather with her Hashimoto’s disease.
Which brings me to my next point: Diana has to choose clothes that accommodate her disease state. I live with Hashimoto’s myself, and when I made the decision to put this disease into one of my characters’ lives, it was not done lightly. I don’t do self-inserts, and certainly didn’t in this case … but I wanted to have readers see that not all characters are flawless and in perfect health. There are a whole lot of people out there with thyroid conditions, and seeing someone who faces the same challenge can be empowering.
Anyway, we learn that sometimes Diana has to choose softer clothes because of pain or texture issues, and that she makes sure there are blankets or sweaters nearby in case she’s too cold. One of the common elements of thyroid disorders is that one’s body temperature is hard to regulate.
Finally, we see that when it comes to special occasion dressing, Diana prefers to find something vintage and unusual rather than going to a department store. Her purple dress from a St. Charles Avenue vintage shop is a great example.
So, what do we learn from Diana’s shopping habits? She’s very much unafraid to stand out in a crowd, but tends toward the practical most of the time. She also likes to treat herself well with little luxuries that are easy to carry and use rather than leaving them at home where they’re seldom seen and enjoyed. We also learn that her practicality extends to not buying a lot of groceries that would be a challenge to haul because of her physical symptoms. She does the best she can to exercise valuable self-care, which can be a lesson to all of us.