Posts tagged ‘#theydoitwithmirrors #names #identity #kim’

April 27, 2020

The Name Game


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I love to learn about names. What they mean, why they’re chosen, it all fascinates me. My name is Kimberly, chosen by my mom because she had never known of anyone named Kim except for the actress Kim Novak. That was up until she met her room mate in the maternity ward at Bon Secours Hospital. It had been decided my name would be Ann Elizabeth, but Mom changed her mind and when it came time to fill out the birth certificate I became Kimberly Anne, much to my dad’s surprise. At least it wasn’t Robin, another of Mom’s choices. “She won’t be named after no damned bird,” said Dad. And he was right, instead I was named for a woman Mom never saw again.

My mom’s name is Frances, she’s named after her aunt, my grandmother’s sister. Mom always said she felt fortunate she had been born in the parlor at Aunt Frances’s house and not one of her other aunts. Elsie, Lottie, and Desi were not names that appealed to Mom, though both my sister and I considered the name Lottie for our own children. My daughter ended up with the name Monica, but the protagonist in my supernatural stories is named Lottie, a nickname for Charlotte.

Naming characters in stories is fun. I think Agatha Christie found great enjoyment in this process. Many times she uses names to keep the reader on their toes, such as in A Murder is Announced with the names Lottie [who knew it was so popular?] and Lettie. Was this merely a slip of the tongue or were Lottie and Lettie two different people? I hope by now you’ve read that book and know the answer.

In They Do It With Mirrors, Miss Marple agrees to stay with her old friend Carrie Louise Serrocold. When she arrives at Stoneygates, she soon learns that she is the only person who refers to her friend as Carrie Louise. Mr. Serrocold, her friend’s husband, calls her Carolyn, while the secretary says Cara, and to Gina, the granddaughter she is Grandmam. Miss Marple makes note of this, but nothing more is mentioned about it throughout the book. I wonder was there a point for the names originally that just got lost or if it was a commentary by Christie on how we are seen by others.

I am mostly called Kim by just about everyone except for my financial adviser who insists on calling me Kimberly.  My mom never called me Kimberly even when I was in trouble. My cousins call me Kimmy, which is not my favorite. When my sister was a toddler and just learning to talk she called me Day because my grandfather would call me Kimmy Kay. She had a habit of only saying the end parts of words and that’s how it came out for her, Kay was Day. That was pretty cute.

Our names are important, they’re our identity and, many times, say a lot about us. For example, the name Kim means chief of war. It also written that people [because Kim can be used for both girls and boys] named Kim tend to be sensitive, eager to please and outgoing. It also says they can be perfectionist, strong-willed, and artistic.  I think I was named appropriately.

Think back to some of your favorite characters in books. Their names conjure up a certain image. Would James Bond be as dynamic if he were called Ralph Thomas? You’d expect Dorothy Gale {get it?} to be swept away in a mighty wind, but maybe not Patty Jones. Jane Marple is a plain, unassuming name. We can visualize her at once and believe that she is an elderly spinster. Hercule Poirot also tells us what we can expect from this character. Hercule, which is much like Hercules, means strong and refined. Hercule Poirot’s strength is in his little gray cells.

Are you named for anyone in particular? Do you know the story behind your name and why it was chosen? I would really like to hear your stories.

In the meantime, I have begun to read A Pocket Full of Rye, the next novel in the Miss Marple series. What are you reading? Let me know.

Stay well and have a lovely week!