As an English major, I have always been fascinated with the concept that there are really only 7 main story structures from which all others are created. One plot that is quite familiar to most readers is the classic story of transformation, and probably the most recognizable example of this is Pygmalion. Tracing the story structure to its origins takes us back long before George Bernard Shaw to ancient Greek mythology.
In Shaw's play, the professor of phonetics, Henry Higgins, wagers that he can turn a ragged flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a lady by teaching her to speak in a genteel manner. Even though it was written to mock the English class system of his day, Shaw's work has been revisited many times since, most popularly as the musical, My Fair Lady.
The theme of transformation is at the heart of PK Corey's newest book, Cal's Law. In a manner of speaking, the author herself was undergoing a transformation since this newest book of hers was such a departure from her beloved (by me, especially) Cassie series.
Title: Cal's Law
Author: PK Corey
Number of Pages: 124
Themes: Transformation, Societal and Class Division
- Cal Bennett - the sheriff of a small college town and only in his late 20's. He has long suffered under a barrage of rowdy behaviors exhibited by the rich and privileged college students. The sheriff is a hard-working and honest man who tests a theory about changing the values of one student in particular.
- Jenny Anderson - a 19 year old, rich college girl who is really more interested in becoming a member of a snooty sorority than in getting an education. Her disregard for responsible conduct in her interactions with other people and her studies brings her to a showdown with Sheriff Cal Bennett.
- Kyle Gilbert - the preeminent "frat boy." Kyle's shallow outlook on life is that money will buy him his life opportunities. He shirks any responsibility and hopes to convince Jenny that her only goal should be to have fun.
Setting: a small college town in the low country of North Carolina.
We are all familiar with the plot of a story slowly building toward a climax. In Cal's Law, however, the author begins the book with a bold originating event. The 2 central characters meet for the first time in such a novel way. Cal catches Jenny after she breaks into his house as a sorority prank. This is such a strong confrontation, and both characters reveal much about themselves and their values during this unique initial introduction.
The premise of the story is set in the very first chapters when Cal decides to offer Jenny an alternative to arrest and jail for her irresponsible behavior. He lays down his own laws so that she understands from the get go that she will work for Cal, she will study for her classes, and she will be spanked. He even refers to it as "parole." And so the theme of transformation begins. In Pygmalion , it is a bath for Eliza that begins her training - her rebirth as a lady. In this book, it is Jenny's first spanking that symbolizes the start of her journey toward a new life and a new set of values.
Even though Jenny is certainly spoiled, I liked her immediately. Something changes for her even with that very first spanking. Someone has cared enough to call her on the carpet, and it really feels right. She begins to question her own behaviors and to recognize that working toward a goal, especially with Cal alongside her, fills an emptiness in her heart.
I loved listening to her wonder,
"How could it be that being spanked
and knowing that a spanking was a very real consequence
if she messed up, could make her feel
more like a real woman than anything else in her life?"
PK, this was a brilliant thought and a quote with which most ttwd wives would heartily agree!
Cal is a deep character with a clear picture of right and wrong, honesty, and work ethic. He is almost ten years older than Jenny, and although he is very attracted to her, doubts that a relationship is possible. Besides brooding about his age, he sees Jenny as part of a societal class that would look down on his job in law enforcement and a much smaller income. This is also a common theme in stories of transformation. Luckily he continues to provide Jenny with the structure to learn responsibility.
Jenny stumbles along this path, but Cal is steadfast and confident even when he spanks her. "Jenny felt her body was a study in contrast. She hurt so bad and felt so good in his arms." Jenny grows to love his easy encouragement and complete forgiveness. It seems that with each encounter over his knee, the attraction between the two of them grows stronger.
The character of Kyle has a presence through most of the book. Like a little devil whispering in her ear, Kyle cajoles Jenny to stray from the bargain she has struck with Cal. When she worries that Cal will ever care for her the way she wants, Kyle becomes a weapon to make Cal jealous. As much as she wants Cal to see her as a woman, a distance grows between the sheriff and the girl, and Jenny is frustrated. "They were still doing the same things but there was a wall between them. She didn't know how to fix what had been broken."
The author has created another strong couple that rival Cassie and Tom. There are plenty of opportunitys for further adventures and for Cal to lay down the law to Jenny. Just as Eliza Doolittle emerges as a lady, not only in her speech but in her heart, Jenny is transformed into a young woman capable of loving both Cal and finally herself.