from The Essential Paradise, series sourcebook
Doc. 0,24. Edit
The series centres round the title character, a girl living at St Alice, Eden Island, who is victimised by abusive family members until by chance she meets Lord Jonathan Cavaliere, who shows her the respect she merits as a young lady and encourages her to accept academic, social and athletic challenges, through which she begins to achieve her true potential.
The story arc is noteworthy for its treatment of illicit sexual relations and for its depiction of the vast privileges enjoyed by the Cavaliere family, as seen through the eyes of an eager ingenue.
The timeline of the arc is from July 1996 till mid-2004; but not all periods are covered in equal detail.
The series was meant to combine two of Jonnie Comet’s pet interests, gymnastics, in which he participated as a teenager, and ballet, which his daughters studied as young girls. The principal character was initially meant to represent just any normal girl living in Paradise, much as does the Janine, of Paradise story arc; but gradually the character of Gwendolyn was enhanced to include a prodigal intellect and extraordinary talent in both gymnastics and dance. Out of a longtime fascination with the Olympic Games, and seeing an opportunity, and literary need, to further develop the character, the Author altered the intended plotline to feature Gwendolyn’s appearance at the 2000 Sydney Games, including much detail about the formation of the Paradise Islands’ first Olympic team.
Plot highlights Edit
See also The Love of Gwendolyn Dahl, individual volumes. Edit
The first instalment is the novella Serendipity, in which 16-year-old Lord Jonathan hikes home alone after suffering a rare loss in a Strategy match. Along the beach at Cook Landing he encounters 12-year-old Gwendolyn, who is nearly naked and sitting on the beach having had to swim ashore after her abusive brothers have dared her to jump off their boat in the bay. Jonathan regards her as a lady in distress and gallantly offers to assist her, but having no ready money and wary about revealing to a stranger his status as junior baron of Eden Island, he can only escort her on a long walk over the Garden of Eden to a refuge at the apartment above his family’s Knight’s Head Inn outside Upper Somerset. Over the course of two hours’ walk they become acquainted. Rather bluntly Gwendolyn states that her brothers and first cousin have abused her, sexually, since she was 8 or 10. Jonathan is stunned by this information and redoubles his resolve to demonstrate to this unfortunate girl how a young gentleman more properly ought to behave towards a young lady, a status to which Gwendolyn feels entirely unaccustomed.
After showering separately at the apartment, Gwendolyn seduces him, apparently believing it is what he has expected. Jonathan is only surprised, but cannot resist, and from that moment a romantic relationship between them becomes inevitable. The episodes of the first compilation relate the circumstances of their first few dates, an unavoidable separation when the Cavalieres attend the XXVI Olympic Games at Atlanta, and Gwendolyn’s coming to terms with her new status as a girlfriend of a boy both gallantly respectful of her and a titled peer as well.
Gwendolyn’s brothers continue to harass her at home, prompting her to relocate her quarters to the attic of the house, which she makes pleasant for herself. Upon Jonathan’s return from the Games, he presents Hideaway Cottage, an artist’s retreat on the bluff above Dorset beach, to Gwendolyn, intending to provide her with a safe haven from the pressures of being at home. Ultimately they will both make use of the cottage as a lovers’ rendezvous, kept secret from her family for at least two years
Much of the story is given to the various challenges Gwendolyn must face as girlfriend to an exceptionally eligible teenaged baron and heir to an entertainment fortune. Working through 6th form in the office of his father, Lord Paradise, Jonathan often asks her to accompany him to formal events, at which Gwendolyn acquits herself with dignity, grace and charm, earning herself much admiration from the Paradisian upper class. His parents and siblings, especially Lady Kimberley, who as a fellow ballerina and gymnast takes to Gwendolyn like a bosom companion, approve of her as well; and Gwendolyn finds the family much more approachable and hospitable than anyone might ever have imagined. Jonathan is both apologetic for dating a girl so much younger and enthusiastic to find her so naturally graceful, charming, and modest, and begins to imagine her an eminent candidate to become the next Countess of Paradise.
As the time nears for Jonathan to depart for Cambridge, he has mixed feelings about leaving Gwendolyn, who because of her age is in so very different a station of life, back in Paradise with no chance of their seeing each other above half a dozen times a year. In a tearful scene he proposes that they suspend their relationship indefinitely, pending an outcome of his university education. Gwendolyn, unwilling to accept his lack of faith in her, or in himself, responds angrily and walks home without her shoes. The series resumes when he returns for Christmas break and meets her after school to apologise to her. The two reconcile to each other and to the prospect of his returning about every forty days to attend her to the Valentines’ dance, at Easter break, for his birthday and for the six weeks’ recess during high season, a routine that continues till further events intercede with momentous effect.
Plot organisation Edit
The story arc is arranged in compilations, each containing novellae and independent episodes pursuant to a series calendar. Each compilation is titled in the same format, reflecting a stage in Gwendolyn’s maturation as both a young lady and as Lord Jonathan’s girlfriend: The Honour of Gwendolyn Dahl, The Indoctrination of Gwendolyn Dahl, The Fame of Gwendolyn Dahl, and so forth. Each of the earliest volumes covers about forty days of the couple’s shared experiences, typically not including gaps such as that from when Jonathan begins at Cambridge till when they reconcile at Christmas and that during the grinding routine of Gwendolyn’s intensive gymnastics training.
The arc comprises the couple’s history, in varying degrees of detail, from their first serendipitous meeting till Gwendolyn informs her husband that she is pregnant, some 20 months after their wedding in September 2002. Upon this news Gwendolyn suspends her ballet career and they return to Paradise to finish the construction of their own baronial castle, on the hill above Hideaway Cottage at Dorset.
Jonathan, Gwendolyn, or both appear in every episode of the story arc. Their very different family lives and circumstances, as well as their unusual age difference, are frequent challenges which they both nobly endeavour to appreciate rather than to struggle against.
Lord Jonathan Cavaliere Edit
Lord Jonathan appears in many of the Paradise One episodes centring round the game of Strategy, in which his leadership aptitude, sense of fair play, and boyish charm are frequently seen and admired. He is fond of wearing very brief attire, typically either a bikini-style swimsuit or a native wrap (such as he wears at the start of Serendipity). In LOGD he reveals his very attractive gallant side, insisting on behaving as a gentleman and on regarding Gwendolyn as only a respectable young lady from the first moment he sees her. This never changes, not when she reveals to him her history nor when she successfully seduces him, not when he realises he is in love with a girl nearly 4 years his junior, and not when their perhaps ill-advised affair blooms into a close, mutually-pleasant and mutually-beneficial relationship. He is amused by Gwendolyn’s lack of experience in certain social situations, doing his best to gently instruct her and openly admitting his impressions when her own very natural sense of propriety and self-respect surpasses his expectations. He delights in teaching her; whether about cars, surfing, sailing, shooting pellet-guns in Strategy, his family history, art and music, he is always tenderly patient, eager to hear her thought processes, and enthusiastic about her success in achieving mastery.
Jonathan is shown to be fully dedicated to protecting Gwendolyn, both in her reputation and in her person, and whenever needed intercedes, even physically, to ensure her comfort and safety. In The Rapunzel Incident, Geoffrey insults her and Jonathan challenges him to a duel at bo sticks, at which both suffer broken knuckles. In ‘Hillclimb Deshabille’, she loses her Confirmation cross whilst they are hiking, but he searches a mucky stream till he retrieves it. When she is hit on the head by her own surfboard’s fin, he carries her out of the water and the whole way up to the cottage to drive her to a clinic for treatment.
Jonathan willingly compares Gwendolyn to his sister Lady Kimberley, nearly to the point of suggesting a little-sister complex; but in fact he does have great respect for the judgement of his very accomplished younger sister and sees her as an excellent influence on the exceptionally-talented Gwendolyn. Though he does promise to attend both their gymnastics performances alternatively, he capitulates to seeing Gwendolyn’s almost exclusively, especially after Gwendolyn begins consistently outscoring Kimberley, contributing to the Hurricane Hole team’s rise to the 1996-1997 championships.
Gwendolyn Dahl Edit
Gwendolyn does not appear in any storyline prior to her first meeting with Lord Jonathan. She shows herself to be highly articulate and naturally charming; she teases him about having his pellet-gun with him only the second time she ever addresses him. Jonathan’s belief that she is a lady is never ill-placed, and she is consistently polite, genteel, soft-spoken and deferential even as he endeavours to draw a little more familiarity out of her. In time she comes to disregard their age difference and to accept her role as his girlfriend as only a natural part of maturity; he frequently comments that she is more naturally affectionate and more dutifully respectful towards him than any other girl he has dated. Even so she is often witty towards him, playfully teasing him, which at times he finds irresistibly sexy. She develops a habit of thumping his chest with a half-open fist whenever they disagree or whenever he teases her, which he also finds attractive-- though at times she can forget her own strength, which amuses him and embarrasses her.
For her part, Gwendolyn is thrilled that she has been chosen to be anyone’s girlfriend, impressed to the point of rapture to find a boyfriend who is to her the perfect embodiment of Prince Charming. Her love for him grows quickly as she finds him unfailingly reliable for physical, sexual, social, athletic and artistic, emotional, and psychological acceptance and support. At times she is breathless or speechless, overwhelmed with boundless adoration, and can only throw her arms about him with as much devotion as despair. She is prone to making moony eyes at him in public, holding his hand or arm in the car, pressing her whole upon him in a cuddle, and wrapping herself about him in bed. Still she humbly regards herself as unworthy, constantly endeavouring to ‘repay’ him or to merit his attention by fulfilling his every wish or expectation and by offering everything she can to please him.
She is not, however, merely a syrupy sap; and displays great aplomb, articulation and intelligence in all situations. Once meeting Jonathan, Gwendolyn boldly improves her relationships with her family, taking on her mother’s cynicism, her father’s apathy, her brothers’ bullying and her cousin’s cruel possessiveness, simply by exerting her own indomitable will to maintain her own sense of propriety. She moves her room to the attic, fits a deadbolt on the door, and remodels the dingy suite with fresh paint and happy thoughts. She is is essentially unstoppable, facing challenges with determination and optimism, refusing to permit failure, in personal relationships as in her dancing and gymnastics. Shy at first, she nonetheless accepts Kimberley’s guidance in fashion and social deportment that is clearly aimed at cultivating her already eminent eligibility as a potential future countess. In becoming a friend of Kimberley, her competitor at a rival gymnastics team, she innocently facilitates an unprecedented sportsmanlike camaraderie between the girls of North Eden and those of Hurricane Hole.
Dahl brothers Edit
Geoffrey and Gerald, though equally guilty of having abused their little sister, are widely dissimilar in both motive and means. Geoffrey, the elder, is only a weak-willed follower who has succumbed to pressure from his domineering cousin and brother and has cultivated a warped sense of love for his sister to excuse away what he has done. Gerald is the more vicious of the two, stocky and stubborn, holding not even a scrap of respect for Gwendolyn as a sentient or sympathetic human being. Whilst the effete Geoffrey tends to coerce her through pleading, shallow promises and guilt, most often taking advantage of an opportunity, the unintelligent Gerald exerts brute force, typically grabbing and thrusting her to where he wants her and threatening her with extra harm should she attempt to countermand him. Gwendolyn learns to dismiss them, stubbornly refusing to have anything at all to do with them and artfully effecting an agreeable façade whenever in the company of their parents or others, which infuriates both boys.
Mr & Mrs Dahl Edit
John Dahl is seen as an aloof, somewhat stoic father whom Gwendolyn learns to cajole for her own ends, first to have funds with which to remodel the attic and later to expand her curfew and other privileges, much to the bitter resentment of her brothers. His best two moments occur in ‘Sunday Dinner’, when he realises just who Gwendolyn’s boyfriend really is, and in The Rapunzel Incident, when he apologises to Jonathan for his sons’ impolitic behaviour. Subsequently he takes further interest in Gwendolyn’s comings and goings and may be the first to discern the true nature of the relationship she has with the future earl of Paradise.
Phillipa Ruth Dahl is clearly the model on which Geoffrey and Gerald base their own bullishness. She is never wholly pleasant towards Gwendolyn, whom she seems to regard as a disappointment despite the child’s exceptional marks in school and extraordinary accomplishments in dance and gymnastics. She mocks Gwendolyn’s attempts at civility, especially when she insists on being treated as a lady by her own brothers, whom Ruth regards only as paragons of young manliness, and she seems to revere her husband's nephew Lon with almost inappropriate interest. Once she becomes aware of Lord Jonathan’s identity, however, she becomes overly ingratiating, as insincere about hoping for her daughter’s happiness as she is eagerly anticipating some sort of preferment from Lady Paradise. Within two months she is even attending Gwendolyn’s gymnastics meets again, albeit only those at which the North Eden team may be present in hopes of securing a particular introduction to her daughter's boyfriend’s family (which occurs though not on her terms).
As Gwendolyn’s closest friend, Heather is the first she tells of her date with, and amourous inclinations towards, Lord Jonathan. Innocent, inexperienced, intellectual yet romantic, Heather remains Gwendolyn’s confidante throughout the arc, modestly but sincerely contributing her own opinions about situations in which Gwendolyn finds herself, which Gwendolyn prizes above all others’. Till meeting Jonathan, Gwendolyn had always regarded Heather as the only one in whose company she felt happy and at peace; and the two girls make a point of continuing their girllish association even in spite of so many competing influences.
Gwendolyn’s schoolmates Edit
Gwendolyn keeps in close contact with several childhood friends, particularly those living in St Alice (who share a bus with her). Dinah Eaker and Marie Tanner are excellent examples of normal Paradisian girls, impressed and stunned by Gwendolyn’s new association with Lord Jonathan. Jadienne Grainger is more sceptical and frequently posits dissenting opinions for the sake of conversational variety or enhancing her ego. Simone Coe and Katy Baines, both fellow HHHS gymnasts, are less informed about the daily details of Gwendolyn’s romance but serve to support her in their sport and in dance, for which Gwendolyn values them as priceless friends.
In spite of being placed in some upper-level courses, Gwendolyn receives little attention from boys at HHHS until the news of her relationship with Lord Jonathan has become essentially common knowledge, due in part to their being pictured in the local papers several times. The boys’ notice of her may be because of the relationship (Jadienne’s theory), or because by the middle of 2nd form boys have begun to look for signs of sexuality in girls, for most of whom figures have begun to blossom (though this hardly applies to pixieish Gwendolyn herself).
After Jonathan consults with his sister about the propriety of his dating someone even younger than she is (by 12 weeks), Kimberley is rapt with the prospect of meeting his new interest and is overly effusive on the occasion. She at once takes Gwendolyn under her wing, eager to inform her of the family, their society, and their peculiar ways, all the while encouraging Gwendolyn to apply her own sensibilities without feeling intimidated. Kimberley is most impressed to discover Gwendolyn so confident in the company of her brother, Gwendolyn behaving only as an affectionate girlfriend should do without being either overly sappy or overly bossy.
After spending Christmas holidays in Connecticut with the Cavalieres, Gwendolyn does confide in Kimberley about the nature of her relationship with Jonathan, explaining that, at first, it was a consequence of having been abused by her own brothers and cousin. Typically prudish, Kimberley is taken aback; after some time for reflection she assures Gwendolyn that though she does not agree, she shall accept it, a conditional approval which Gwendolyn comes to cherish from one whom she believes is Jonathan’s biggest ally in his intention to see her.
Alonso ‘Lon’ Dahl Edit
Though his presence is a formidable element in his cousin's life, Lon does not appear till The Rapunzel Incident, when he attends the duel as Geoffrey’s second. Jonathan is not intimidated by him and offers to challenge him as soon as he has dispatched Gwendolyn. Lon backs down, scoffing, and uses the furore over Geoffrey’s broken hand to avoid the subject of his own challenge after Jonathan has exacted a yield from Geoffrey (and been injured himself).
Lon’s character is that of a classic bully, entirely confident of his advantage over weaker opponents, such as his petite cousin, and awkwardly wary of facing anyone closer to his own age, size or ability, such as Jonathan. He makes frequent reappearances over the course of the series, rarely passing up any opportunity to importune Gwendolyn, if only verbally in private, with offers to ‘take you away’ from one who ‘does not deserve you’. He is not seen to have an interest in any other girls; the suggestion is that none of them will have him.
After Jonathan goes to Cambridge, Lon propositions Gwendolyn more assertively, even physically cornering her during his birthday party at his family’s house and attempting to grope and disrobe her. She screams, merely because she knows it to be an adequate defence, and in the following weeks Lon resorts to trying gentler approaches such as taking her to tea and pleading from his heart. But still she rejects him; and he fades from the substantive action of the story as a broken man.
Notably, the series depicts certain facets of Paradisian life not as fully shown elsewhere. Lord Paradise’s office staff are enumerated, named and described, as Jonathan is on friendly and official terms with them all. The surfing society at Dorset beach, a popular Eden Island break, is represented. Hurricane Hole High School is shown for the first time in any detail, as are settings in and about St Alice, Hurricane Hole, and the southern end of Eden Island.
In common with other arcs of both Paradise One and Paradise Two, there are bus routes, shopping excursions, afternoon teas, dress-code conventions, and driving experiences described within LOGD.
Gwendolyn’s ballet lessons are also described frequently, showing her relationship with her coaches and teachers, especially Ms Antini, her private instructor, and the kinds of exercises assigned are given in detail. Gwendolyn’s performances in specific shows, notably The Nutcracker, are detailed as well.
Gwendolyn writes a great deal, as a hobby, a means of intimate communication, and for school assignments, and excerpts of her writing, especially love letters and poems to Lord Jonathan, are replicated within the texts.
Gwendolyn is overtly compared, by the narrative as well as by several characters, to Jeanne Banfield Cavaliere, Lady Paradise, as when she was Gwendolyn's age (as described in flashbacks throughout the novel Love Me Do) she looked strikingly similar in terms of hair colour and style, complexion, and figure. Both are slender, slightly-built Nordic blondes; Lady Paradise is of Danish heritage, Gwendolyn of Austrian and Norwegian.
The breakup of Jonathan and Gwendolyn bears deliberate similarities to that of his father and mother at the close of the novel It's Only Love. In both the breakup is socially unnecessary, logistically ill-advised, crushingly heartbreaking, and potentially fatal to further association of the two principals. The couple's reconciliation in each story arc occurs in a public place and with tearful, profuse apologies by the boy towards the girl who has been waiting faithfully, though the boy, who has been de facto faithful despite having had plenty of opportunity to date others, has not expected her to have been.
Gwendolyn’s gymnastics training is perhaps the second most-important element of the story arc and is regularly depicted with detail. Frequently Gwendolyn meditates during practice, mulling over the zen teachings of coach Melanie Quinn, with whom Gwendolyn shares a mutual admiration, respect and affection. The thoughts of her meditation are typically given in italics.
The story arc is the first to describe the British Paradise Islands Olympic Committee, its staff, aims and activities. The committee’s preparations for, and team appearances in, both the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the 2000 Olympic Games are described, and details of the field and score results are given. Originally the author had not meant to have Gwendolyn attend the Olympics at all, due to the difficulty of making a fictitious character perform well against well-known real-life figures; but some licence has been taken and the BPI team’s showing at the event is not detrimental to any real-life history or individuals’ and teams’ reputations and legacies.
The Paradise Inter-Sport Academy, attended by both Lady Kimberley and Gwendolyn, also appears in detail later in the arc.
Romantic activity Edit
Lord Jonathan and Gwendolyn are always shown to be sweetly affectionate with each other, making love often and to their mutual enjoyment. Either of them may initiate; perhaps surprisingly Gwendolyn may do so more often than does Lord Jonathan. They discuss sexual matters openly and frequently, using cute euphemisms rather like children too embarrassed or innocent for more prurient terms. They cuddle often, warmly and rarely briefly, and are rarely anywhere together without holding hands.
The romantic elements of the story arc, whilst presented sweetly, even excessively so, are only symbolic of the more profound matters both characters cannot overlook, especially the likelihood that, should their childlike infatuation with each other blossom more fully into a great love, they shall face a future as man and wife, as baron and baroness, as earl and countess, and as a very wealthy couple into the bargain. Therefore their playfulness, however intensely intimate at times, can be considered a kind of stolen season.
Fan service Edit
LOGD is characterised by numerous depictions of brief attire, nudity and sexual situations, taking on something beyond an ecchi quality. Sex scenes are related often, only respectably, without prurient tone or language, nonetheless explicitly. The age difference between the two principals is often exploited, with the petite immaturity of Gwendolyn’s pubescent figure being juxtaposed with Jonathan’s virile manner and more mature physique; but no context of abuse exists between them.
Private attire Edit
Perhaps due to her history with the boys of her family, Gwendolyn seems unconditionally comfortable in just knickers. She relates that Lon had bought her half a dozen pairs of very brief ones, a wet pair of which she is wearing when she first meets Jonathan. In ‘Punishment’, Jonathan arrives to take her on a date to find her alone at the house, pushing the power mower about the back garden in only knickers and a headband; he finds this so appealing that he watches her for some minutes before stepping in to take over the chore for her.
In The Interloper she is hiking the beach alone, in just knickers, when she encounters a vagrant man sunning nude who attempts to chase her with the intention of molesting her. She outruns him to Dorset and takes a wooded path back to the cottage; the man spends the next week trying to locate her to no avail.
From their first day date to the beach, Gwendolyn shows herself to be one of the many girls of Paradise who prefer to sun without a swimsuit top. As Jonathan teaches her to surf, Gwendolyn adopts the habit of paddling out in only bikini pants, for which many of the local (male) surfers appreciate her.
Often Gwendolyn is also nude, such as when doing chores at Hideaway Cottage, cuddling with Jonathan to watch television, and in bed. Jonathan is just as often without clothes; on the morning he admits he is in love with her, he is standing naked before a window and she sits in bed admiring his form as well as his confidence in willingly being nude before her. The two often bathe together in her attic quarters and at the cottage and become intimately familiar with each other’s body as a consequence of opportunity as well as their love for each other. Gwendolyn takes to referring to him as ‘big and strong’ and to herself as ‘small and cosy’, playing off how they feel to each other when making love.
In Hillclimb Deshabille Gwendolyn is frustrated by her brothers’ standing guard over her clean washing and so defiantly marches out entirely naked to greet Jonathan for their date, a climb up the eastern side of the Ali Wani Range for which she wears only a headband and boots she has left in his car. In The Swelter the two depart the cottage one very hot night and drive to the Knight’s Head Inn apartment, from which they take the underground shuttle over to Camelot and one of the canal boats to Barbie’s Beach cottage, all without any clothes between them.
Jonathan often fawns over her long, wavy blonde hair, calling it 'very sexy', and enjoys looking at her body, defending his preference not as a prurient fascination with a childlike figure but as an aesthetic preference for a 'ballerina body'. Clearly Gwendolyn is, if short, slight and nearly flatchested, extraordinarily beautiful.
Fetishist attire Edit
Over the course of the series Gwendolyn develops an aptitude for walking in heels and amourously greets Jonathan at the cottage wearing only shoes, and sometimes an apron, as though to fulfil a common men’s fantasy. She is fond of Japanese culture (her foreign-language elective at HHHS is Japanese) and frequently appears for him in a yukata or cheongsam, examples of which, surprisingly, she owns at her age.
She is also a perhaps-unintentional proponent of the 'anime look', that of a slender, short girl in a close-fitting top and extraordinarily-short skirt, after the exaggerated style of Japanese schoolgirls in manga and anime media.
She is depicted often in a leotard, which she says she is very used to, having worn one for ballet or gymnastics since she was 4 years old. In Impressionism, she accepts Jonathan’s dare to wear a leotard out from school to meet him for tea in Hurricane Hole; they then shop Bank Street before going over to the cottage for the evening. In Harassment Gwendolyn emerges from ballet lessons in just her sweaty leotard and old slippers attracting the attention of a lusty middleaged man who makes several attempts, over the next few weeks to lure her. The sequence is concluded when Jonathan returns from an assignment with his father and promises her one of the Camelot staff shall drive her, if he cannot, from then on.
Gwendolyn's preference in formal wear is for strapless or spaghetti-strap gowns, typically high-waisted or untailored and cut straight across at the front, at once emphasising and taking advantage of her modest figure. She is universally acclaimed for appearing at once unpretentious and extraordinarily lovely.
Thematic tropes Edit
The series makes use of several major tropes, including those of the closeted hussy, the prodigal maiden, the masterful mother, the eager ingenue, the untouchable bait, the unwelcome admirer, and in part that of Daddy’s good girl.
The first instalment of LOGD, the novella Serendipity, was published as an e-text in early 2014. It has undergone several revisions and as of mid-2015 is available.
A compilation edition called The Hope of Gwendolyn Dahl, containing Serendipity, several subsequent episodes and related addenda, became available in paperback during 2016.
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