Ebullient

Well isn’t my Monday-Friday daily posting schedule going well! (not)

Fridays are supposed to be my ‘review’ days, and last week I posted a book review. I have not read nor watched anything particularly enticing recently, so I will review this week.

This week was an event. It was an event I will call ‘Ebullient’, which means ‘bubbling over’. This word can have positive connotations; to be in an ebullient mood is to be excited and enthusiastic about something. However, I like to think that it can also have negative connotations! Bubbling over means danger, heat, suspense. It can translate to anxiety, worry and fear.

Excited and enthusiastic I certainly was about this week, but I was also anxious and worrisome and dreading of it. Is that correct English?

So I geared myself up for it in good cheer, talked myself into a great mood, and plunged myself full swing into some hard work and lots of smiling.

I had two days of training, which was to take place at the golf club next to my workplace. Fear not, we did no golfing. We listened to lectures, saw presentations and participated in ‘exercises’. We were encouraged to ‘network, network, network’ and because I am antisocial and socially awkward, I found this particularly challenging. I like watching people and talking to people, but I think I don’t know how to.

They served a delicious dinner, the highlight of which was a massive tureen of profiteroles and oozing, hot, chocolate sauce.

Both days I returned home late, exhausted and zombie-like. How on earth did I survive university?

After this there was a company team-building day, followed by an evening event.

That was exhausting. I learnt a great deal, I like to think I participated well, but it was exhausting. Every laugh I laughed was forced and fake and eventually it began to hurt my brain.

There were some great highlights, some lovely people, and some excellent food.

But my heart raced, my palms sweated, and I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I was so tempted to go home, but I forced myself to attend an evening of socialising. It was difficult. But I was ebullient, in appearance at the very least.

I am twenty three years old, and it might be time to accept that while I am confident, I might just not be the funny, capable, social person I used to think I was.

That was back when I had a firm group of friends, you see. Now I am a nomad and my network of security (of family and friends) is spread over several continents.

Now I am drifting alone, sort of on a little bit of driftwood, following in the wake of the mad backwash created by a magnificent cruise-ship. I can hear the laughter, but never be a part of it. I can see the joy, but can’t feel it. I can sense the warmth, but cannot touch it.

I can be on the fringes, but never in the middle.

I can dance through the dance floor, but my arms will be cold.

I can flit from one group to another, but shoulders will get ever closer together.

I can smile my widest smile, but eventually it will fade, leaving a forced ache in my cheeks.

Today was a crap day. Like a hangover, but a social one. I don’t feel like being nice to anybody, I just want to curl up and be alone for a while. I feel like I’ve had too much socialising with far too many people and I need a break!

Good job it’s the weekend! Time to recuperate!

How was your week? Do you enjoy ‘networking’ and socialising, or does it tire you out and make you desire solitude?

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Amy and Isabelle

I bought this book as an afterthought, selected out of a range of pickings offered to me on Amazon after I’d purchased a book already. It stood out because of its simple, no-nonsense title; I wanted to know more.

The New York Times Book Review daubed it “one of those rare, invigorating books that take an apparently familiar world and peer into it with ruthless intimacy, revealing a strange and startling place”.

Set in a baking town in the middle of an intensely hot summer, the vivid imagery of a rotting green river snaking through the heart of the town makes for a stunning metaphor of the rotting sickness underlying the relationship between mother and daughter. Not that its long-term, of course. The story explores the complicated relationship between a girl on the cusp of adulthood, and a mother who has made many sacrifices in order to lead, at least in her own mind, a ‘respectable’ life.

At the heart of this story is a tale of two minds, formed and influenced by unfortunate circumstances. It speaks of loneliness, desperation for human contact, and highlights the way your own mind can form a barrier between you and your basic human desire to be social. In a way this novel spoke to me directly, because I related on a very personal level with the loneliness felt by Isabelle, the construction of social events in her mind. I was terribly lonely when I moved to a different city, leaving all my friends behind. Gradually we lost contact, and I found it immensely difficult to make new friends. It got to a point so severe that I did something incredibly stupid – for want of human contact. It’s sad and pathetic, but so real. Elizabeth Stout painted this in such a raw, open way. It was quite tough subject matter to navigate through.

Despite loneliness being the driving force behind the main characters’ actions, there were many more complex themes driving the plot forward. Amy’s burgeoning sexuality, Isabelle’s anxious, overprotective and even jealous tendencies towards her daughter, feelings of inadequacy, lack of communication and even Amy feeling a little embarrassed of her mother, were just some aspects explored by Stout, and which made for often uncomfortable reading.

I didn’t particularly enjoy reading this book. It was difficult, at times revolting. Despite this, I couldn’t put it down. The narrative was compelling; with Strout interweaving the minds of the two protagonists, combining two very separate outlooks on the same world (which I suppose is the reality of our lives, viewing the world through a million different perspectives), and setting them amidst vivid descriptions of the town, the slow, almost zombie-like townsfolk who, as it happened, had very real, very raw lives of their own.

This book was brilliantly written, the exposition foreshadowed almost poetically, and the emergence into truth almost like a blossoming of understanding, which I felt fitted in marvellously with the subject-matter. The novel ‘came of age’ beautifully, in a way which is wistfully reminiscent of much of our growth and understanding. This novel is about learning to love, learning to let go, and learning to ‘live’.

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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

I just watched this film and didn’t quite know what to make of it.

I usually enjoy films like this; sweet and romantic, with vivid imagery and significant conversations.

This one fell a little flat, somehow. Maybe it was because I grew up in the Middle East. One of my closest friends at school was Yemeni. I was submerged in the Arabian culture, and even met plenty of bedouins.

The thing that stands out about these people is that they are intrinsically tough, but a lifestyle of riches and ease has made them softer. Their natures are harsh, but they are the most generous, warm and hospitable people I have ever met. The desert folk are certainly not as affectionate as, say, the Lebanese or the Syrians, or even the Moroccans. However, they have a charm of their own, a charm which is years of strife in the heat and strong family connections and a deep sense of self-less generosity.

Salmon fishing in the Yemen is a story about a sheikh who wants to bring salmon fishing to his people in Yemen, a scientist who strongly opposes the absurd notion of taking British salmon to a torrid country, and the young woman who works for the sheikh, and plays a large part in persuading the scientist (Dr. Alfred Jones) to help make the project happen.

Essentially, this is a love story. The story of a scientist in a dead-end marriage, a young woman who has promised herself to a British soldier whom she barely knows, and a sheikh intent on changing his homeland to make it better for his people and join the tribes together.

Growing up in the Middle-East, the whole tribe thing was very much a real situation. My husband, who also grew up there, bore the brunt of it. He went to an all-boys government school, populated by the sons of bedouins, and if you looked a certain way, or talked differently, you were bullied. If you were friends with a boy with that particular surname, then the boys of another surname would harass you and attack you. He was called ‘Bush’ because he was white, and came from England, and the boys hated ‘Bush’ because Bush bombed other countries. He had to survive by mocking them and their ways, and learning how to fight. Only when he fought them, was he accepted as their equal. It was ultimately tribal, and small boys learned from older boys who learned from their parents.

On the girls side, it was less violent and more catty. It was more bragging about how many princesses they know and who’s mother was friends with which princess. If a girl was from a revered tribe, the other girls would treat her royally. For me, it was disgusting, and I wanted no part of it. For that, I was made to feel like a ratty little girl from the slums who sweats. Ugh, how could she sweat?! How undignified. Look at her, let’s ignore her because she is not as pretty as us and her hair is not straight. Look at her uniform, and my goodness, she uses the same school bag every year?! That was honestly the reason why a lot of girls shunned me or looked down on me. They all followed fashion trends when it came to accessories and because my parents were British and working class, they didn’t see fit to waste money on a new bag when I already had a perfectly useful one. So while all the other girls had their gleaming, satin trim Lulu Catty bags, I walked in with my square pattern, solid bag coloured a drab brown.

Of course, as I grew older, and my little enemies became my very close friends, because bags no longer mattered and deep down, these girls were wonderful and had deep, understanding personalities. I am still in contact with a few of them and they are some of the truest friends I have ever had. I learned that tribal feuds were very real, but also not as nuanced as the days of yore because everybody’s lifestyle had changed.

The point is, of course, that Salmon Fishing in the Yemen portrayed a glorified and unrealistic Arab sheikh. Even when they were speaking with each other, I had to laugh. Every man had a different dialect, and some were speaking Standard Arabic, which is like Shakespeare to desert-folk. They only use it for poetry and when they recite the Qur-an. Literally nobody, ESPECIALLY not a bedouin, speaks like that. I know I am nitpicking. I know. But for me, it dimmed the magic of the story somewhat.

Then we move on to the story itself. The plot was actually wonderful. It was a story of survival, faith, a merging of cultures, acceptance and ultimately, of course, love. If you took the love equation out of it all, the story would have been magnificent. However I think the filmmakers tried way too hard. They romanticised the sheikh to an absurd level. I found it hard to buy his character, namely because it was a version designed to fit the Western ideals of good and bad. It wasn’t true to Yemen or the Arabs.

I felt there was no chemistry between the lead actor (Obi Wan in the prequel series! Ewan McGregor) and actress (Emily Blunt, who is brilliantly beautiful, I have to say). I didn’t see why they had to fall in love, they basically had nothing in common and certainly nothing real to talk about. Blunt’s character was grieving for her army boyfriend throughout their ‘courtship’, so falling for Dr. Jones seemed vastly inappropriate and exceedingly uncomfortable, especially when her boyfriend was miraculously found alive. Dr. Jones said some dubious things to him, and it really didn’t go down well for me or add to his character. Not to mention that he was already married!? I didn’t like how he left his wife, sending her a text saying ‘it’s for the best.’ That was cruel and harsh. If there had been a real reason to be so horrid, it would have made sense, but to me, marriage is sacred, and one could at least make a show of trying, rather than scarpering at the call of the first attractive young woman. It was ridiculous and cheap.

To be honest, I didn’t feel invested in the story. The dialogue was dry and tried too hard to appeal to emotions, ultimately failing to convince me of anything.

I heard this film was based on a book, but frankly I have no interest in reading it. Who knows, it might be brilliant, but I just didn’t buy it. I hate that sometimes other cultures are ‘Westernised’ to fit into the Western ideal or understanding. They are romanticised and made to seem ethereal and magical, when in reality they are just other people living their lives just like we are.

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Anne with an E.

I started watching the recently released Netflix show, with high hopes because of how beloved Anne of Green Gables is to me. The previous TV film and spin off series was captivating and mostly true to the books, if you disregard ‘The Continuing Story’.

I understand that all TV shows and productions are adaptations of original sources, and are to be seen as interpretations, not ‘real life versions of written work,’ no matter how desperately we want them to be. I don’t like watching an adaptation which has been changed drastically to demonstrate another person’s interpretation, merely because I love an original piece of work and don’t like to see that work marred by another, more morbid piece, masquerading as the original source. Do you understand me? I loved Montgomery’s Anne because she was Montgomery’s Anne, and I didn’t like Moira Walley-Beckett’s Anne because it is a fan fiction Anne. Moira would have been better off creating an entirely different character with a similar story, but I guess that is not how adaptation works.

Anyway. I began watching the show, and from the opening scenes I decided that actually, I was peeved and irritated and this was not for me. What first got me was the speech. Anne spoke very much like Megan Follows did, in terms of language applied, however her intonation and expression was highly modern, reeking of the millennial generation and its snarky, questioning lilt. I disliked that so I began to skip through the whole series.

Anne with an E is extremely morbid. People have said it is a good show because it dealt with ‘PTSD, rape and gender equality in the first few episodes’ (reference). Anne appears in this show to deal with her new life as a victim of abuse, suffering extreme PTSD and shrouding all her previously lighthearted ‘scrapes’ in a darkness only alluded to in the books.

This bothers me because this generation seems to be fixated on darkness and illness and pain, thinking that these things and social issues need to be represented on TV shows and films. While that makes sense, it also is worthy to note that not everything needs to be about social justice. One can enjoy the vitality of Anne of Green Gables, and learn some wonderful morals, without being reminded that she suffered in her past.

The greatest thing about Anne was that she never let her suffering determine who she was. She overcame it with positivity and love, she grew and transformed into a sensible and wonderfully strong and able young woman because she was loved when she came to Green Gables. She found a home, and solace, and the books were very much focused on the vibrant characters she encountered and who, essentially, made her eventually who she was; a brilliant mother and a wise and accomplished woman. Completely different from the homely, carroty chatterbox with an overly fanciful nature with a knack of getting into trouble that she was when she first arrived on the scene.

I don’t see anything wrong in viewing Anne as a survivor of mental and physical abuse, because, ultimately, that is exactly what she was. I know that this series is meant to allow the viewer into the deeper, darker recesses of Anne’s brain, because in the books we only ever saw Anne in the third person.

Montgomery wrote about Emily Starr, through Emily’s own eyes and words, in Emily of New Moon and the sequels, and in there we do see some darkness and hints of abuse and more adult themes, I suppose. However, Anne, for me, was a focus on the love, light and beauty in the world. I want it to remain so, and for that reason I will not be watching the new Netflix adaptation. Anne is the voice of my childhood, and there are some things that shouldn’t be tainted through adult eyes, and Anne is the ultimate of these things for me.

If you do watch it, I hope you enjoy it, as it seems to be well-made with love for Montgomery’s original work.

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Girls is an Abhorrent TV Show

Girls is a TV show which debuted in April 2012, and became critically acclaimed for its raw nature, ‘refreshing tone’ and original, if dry humour, as it explored a group of young girls in their twenties, trying to make something of their lives in New York city and making a tremendous amount of mistakes along the way.

I came across the show in 2015 and honestly, I was shocked into watching it. It was different from other TV shows, it was addicting in a way for me because it not only explored experiences but delved into the raw feelings and emotions people work so hard to keep hidden, but which add dimension to motives. I didn’t find the jokes humorous at all, but I generally don’t find mirth in dark comedy. The first two seasons expressed this very well. There were some genuinely excellent plot points, and the characters, although abhorrent, had redeeming ‘human’ qualities.

Well, once I’d watched the first season I was hooked of course, so I carried on watching all the way through to season 6. It was like watching a train wreck. I finished each episode feeling more and more depressed as the seasons progressed. The show, which started off as a mocking satire, became downright meaningless. I was watching for the sake of watching, not caring if these self-sabotaging characters sabotaged their way to hell.

I really don’t see how this show is innovative, sure, it challenges the norms of TV and our expectations from the programs we watch, but the only way it does this is by grossly exaggerating the deepest, sickest human notions ever. Everybody is disgusting. People rape each other. Best friends sleep with each others’ lovers, and they do it the in the dingiest, darkest settings imaginable, and it almost ALWAYS boils down to sex. It is as if to say that the most nefarious of human intentions is always, inherently sexual.

I feel like the show reeks of STDs and unwashed humans. A lot of characters are just so explicit about matters regular people would just keep to themselves to create even a semblance of dignity. The small, supposedly humorous mentions of the creepy openness between Elijah (Hannah’s ex-boyfriend and gay roommate) and Hannah is not funny, it is disgusting. Why does a show have to be so sexually explicit and feature nude women and men to be appealing? Why does it have to make its characters make the same old mistakes at every turn, and never learn anything from them, except perhaps to be even more disgusting and revolting and self absorbed? Are people in the real world really like this? Or is this show an exposé on the darkest aspects of daily humanity just bled out in the open for the world to see? This show strips characters of all dignity they might have, whilst allowing them to think they still maintain it. It’s like a dirty form of dramatic irony. I don’t want to see people having sex, thinking they are doing it in private. People having sex is ugly, and I don’t think it’s something others need to watch. I don’t want to see people masturbating. If you wanna do that, do it in private. It literally adds NOTHING to the plot, and if a point needs to be made, surely there are a billion more creative ways to do so?

I just think the creators of the show had nothing to offer except shock factor.

I don’t know why I carried on watching. I felt honestly like I had to flush my soul to get rid of all the black filth my eyes were seared with. I don’t think this show is innovative, I think the writer of the show took some of her own life experiences, dramatised them with some shocking nudity, sex scenes and ‘raw’ revelations about characters suggesting outlandish and ALWAYS sexually deviant things to other characters, whilst disguising this laziness under the pretext of feminism and freedom of expression. I admired the way the writers flouted their flaws, but each of the four main characters gave up on every endeavour they attempted.

The cinematography of the show is mediocre at best. None of the characters are redeemable, nor am I able to empathise with them because they all just seem to be little devils biting at one another and trying their best to hurt each other.

An example of how ridiculously this ‘feminism’ and sexual harassment is portrayed can be seen in one of the episodes in season 6, when Hannah visits a writer she wrote a bad review about. The writer invites her into his room, she lies down on his bed, and he pulls his penis out. Just flops it out like nobody’s business.

I am sure this has happened to people in the past. But I honestly felt like Hannah put herself in a dodgy situation where this, clearly, to anybody, could be a likely outcome. Why would a woman lie down on a strange man’s bed without even knowing the man? I’m sorry, but any sane woman not intoxicated would not do that – everybody knows you shouldn’t lie down on strange mens’ beds if you don’t want to be sexually harassed. And for all the people saying ‘a woman should be able to lie on a man’s bed without being harassed’ – YEAH, IN AN IDEAL WORLD SHE SHOULD. But this is the REAL world, and people rape each other, so in the name of self preservation one would avoid situations where such attacks will be likely! It is unrealistic.

Hannah is a blob of body she takes pleasure in exposing, and whenever I look at her I think she is riddled with unhealthy ailments. What was the point of showing her naked with her legs spread basking in the sunshine? Literally, how did that add anything to the plot? She is completely self absorbed and selfish and her parents are a goddamn mess. In fact, all their parents are goddamn messes. I don’t think in real life that ALL PARENTS are messes. She gives up on everything she ever tries to do and blames everybody else for her failures, disguising it as concern for her friends; which, coincidentally, is what all the others characters do as well.

If this were a story about people navigating their twenties, it would be less about the sex and more about the character development. We all know people have sex, we don’t need it shoved in our faces every other scene. I don’t even know how these people make money, how do they pay the extortionate NY rent rates, when all they do is backstab one another and sit around with their legs wide open (literally). All their conversations are melodramatic and self absorbed, and they always find a way to revert the conversations back to themselves. I really don’t see how that is innovative in any way. Each season follows the same format and eventually it just became a string of sex scenes and selfish actions which none of the characters ever learnt anything from because they were all just too busy attacking each other and being absorbed within their own depressing selves.

The show only serves to show young people that it is okay to accept the lowest forms of achievement and to not have any passion for anything. To wallow, to flop around like a fish and to have no human dignity or self respect. The characters deserved to be slapped silly.

Bill Persky of Time magazine makes a refreshing point when he says “You would think that a young female talent like Lena Dunham would be showing her generation a way up, rather than reinforcing the idea that it’s cool to be down.” (Time, 2013).

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Flowers from the Storm

I hate love stories. I hate stories written purposely because there will be a romance in the end, and all we get are a string of sex scenes punctuated by poor dialogue and a laughable plot. I don’t mind a bit of romance sprinkled into a plot otherwise meant to be something different. I don’t mind a coming of age novel with a blossoming romance between its pages.

But let me make it so very clear thatI hate erotic novels with a passion. They are sleazy and make me roll my eyes. Sex scenes are just porn, really, cheap and designed to enthral.

However, this book was not an ‘erotic novel’. I was duped into this ‘historical romance’. I was offered the title on a Kindle buying spree. Flowers from the StormLaura Kinsale.

It was £1.99 and the ratings were high, so I thought, who cares for a blurb and bought it anyway. I started reading the first page on Saturday night.

Oh, some arrogant rich man is having sex with another man’s wife. Classy.

Then the man began to have a pounding headache. You know an author does not insert a pounding headache, one that makes one incapable of performing basic needs, for no reason. I was intrigued, but also tired, so I put the kindle away and closed my eyes to sleep.

I didn’t touch it again until Sunday night, when it ensnared me in a vortex of mathematical equations, and a headache that morphed suddenly into lunacy. What. 

I desperately wanted to stay awake that night reading but the husband was getting irritated with the light of my kindle and I was tired.

I lay like a foetus all Monday, folks. I read eight hours straight, I only stopped once because a woman called me about a job interview and another called about a gym membership. I did not eat and did not drink. I was lost in this world.

This world of mathematicians and Quakers and dukes and it sounds so silly and frivolous but there was something so tangible and real about it. I was ensnared, I tell you, bewitched by someone’s hand. Drawn by characters on a page into a world I did not want to leave, and was not ready to leave at 1:10am last night when I turned the last digital page and felt an ache of loss in my heart.

I didn’t expect to love this romance the way I did. So I thought about it. I desperately wanted these two characters to be together by the halfway point. I was on tenterhooks throughout the book, and upon glancing down at see how much I’d read, realised that even at 19% my heart was beating furiously. At 30% I felt nauseous with anticipation. At 50% I felt dread and my nerves were clanging.

Not halfway through the book and already we were being taken on a roller coaster of small literary climaxes. Of fiends and cold baths to cure ailments of the mind and human apes. A field day of all emotions readily available to man, inspired by the actions of people who do not even exist.

The story was compelling. The premise rich and intriguing. The plot vibrant, never ending.

A rogue duke with a pounding headache pronounced a lunatic and put in an asylum. His mother thinks it is a punishment from God for his waywardness. He had some sort of stroke which rendered him incapable of communication, but to medical practitioners, who didn’t know this, he appeared a lunatic. I felt I was being exposed to the depths and layers of nineteenth century thought and medicine, of notions of ‘propriety’, of religion, and this made the story so plausible. Nothing like the crudely assembled plots of other romances I have tried and hated. I was reading about the treatment of ‘lunatics’ – in this case a man with temporal loss of some cognitive part of his brain due to an accident, but also the ‘lunatics’ around him – the stigma with which mental illnesses were viewed, the class system; I was reading about all this and more, and not just a historical love story.

The characters did not fall in love upon their first meeting. There was too much between them, and too many differences in who they were and where they came from for this to be even a passing thought in their heads. After the ‘accident’, and the lunatic asylum, there was a beautiful, gradual build up. Slow, progressing character development, mind development, and after the halfway point, a strong sense of duty deteriorating and blossoming into something richer, stronger, more passionate. There was rich pain, all the characters’ misgivings, their drawbacks, their fears and their hopes painted so richly. Their pain was my pain, literally, I loved it!

That is why it satisfied beyond belief. It was satisfying as ‘romantic literature’ – something I previously despised. However I genuinely feel as though something is now missing from my life. And I know this feeling very well. I had it first at the tender age of nine after reading a book so rich my entire existence paled in comparison. Of course my existence hasn’t paled, but doing daily things now feels irritating. I feel like I need to go back into that world, and I can’t, and I want to be severely upset, but I can’t because the book had a happy ending. See? Why do I react this way if the book ends on a good note? Why do I feel so incredibly dissatisfied, even though I honestly loved reading it? My gut feels wrenched, folks. Perhaps this book awoke in me something I didn’t know I wanted? I want –  I don’t know what I want – and it’s all this book’s fault.

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The Age of Miracles

This is a review.

The Age of Miracles is a coming of age debut novel by Karen Thompson Walker.

As debut novels go, this one was outstanding. Walker did not waste a single moment getting to the point, which I found refreshing and mesmerising.

The tale followed the story of an eleven year old girl ascending slowly and painfully into adolescence, chronicling all the awkwardness of the age, in an apocalyptic time when the earth begins to slow, rendering the days longer. With each cycle around the sun, more minutes are added to the day, and this phenomenon is called the ‘Slowing’.

It was a new idea, and what made it plausible was that it was backed by scientific theory – which gave life to the events unfolding.

I loved how Walker combined the coming of age with this almost sic-fi plot line, and wove them together seamlessly. This was a girl, growing up, going to school, experiencing what we have all experienced with friends and parents and troubles that might seem insignificant to an adult but could make or break a child struggling to make sense of their rapidly changing world – and to have that world very literally change around her too, is remarkable.

Walker, I felt, took a great idea and delivered it excellently. I did not feel as though I was reading words. I felt submerged in the tale and when I was jerked out of it at one point because it had got so dark out that I literally could not see the words on the page anymore, I felt as though I had resurfaced from another world.

It takes a great deal of skill in writing to make you feel like that, and I think Walker has delivered this very well. I would say it was the defining factor of this book. It is a beautiful tale, tragic and extraordinary. I had me thinking about it days after I had turned the last page, and I found myself wanting a bit more.

I would give this book five stars out of five, and would love to read more from Karen Walker.

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Tom Hardy as Heathcliff

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Is bloody brilliant.

It’s not just because he is a handsome man. He is terribly handsome, yes, but I never saw Heathcliff as handsome. I saw him as a dangerous man full of bitter anger and passion and revenge but he also had a tremendous amount of presence. He was exploding with emotion, he loved to hate.

I felt that this came to life in many of the scenes in the 2009 film with Tom Hardy. His voice is wonderful and resounding and allows him to maintain authority as well as instil fear. His tendency to enunciate his ts as ds is terribly compelling. This is also why he did excellently as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

His emotions translated strongly throughout the film, and I found myself crying with him when Cathy died, as opposed to cringing when I watched the Ralph Fiennes version. Tom Hardy also had great chemistry with Charlotte Riley who played Catherine Earnshaw in this version.

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It’s interesting, though, to see these emotions played out on screen because in the book I had a tendency to sympathise with Nelly, the narrator of Heathcliff’s story, as opposed to Heathcliff himself, the living and breathing soul of his own story. Seeing him actually experiencing the cruelty he experienced, and being cast aside by the one person who he thought really saw him for the vulnerable human he was, made all his later actions make a lot more sense. Yes, I don’t empathise with how he treated Isabella Linton and his son and the poor animals, but I understand it more because I could see the character actually go through his harrowing experiences as a child, and see how they affected him directly, rather than be told by a rather biased servant that he had gone through them. A child (for he was a child) is impressionable and if all he has known is hatred and cruelty, and being second place (to Edgar Linton of all people) he is bound to grow up compassion-less. I think that made all the difference to me, and will definitely influence my analogy of the subject and the character.

I’m studying Wuthering Heights in great detail at the moment at university so have watched all the possible versions of Wuthering Heights and I must say, to me, the 2009 mini series did Heathcliff the most justice.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

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I must admit I thought this book would be a boring read when I first opened it, despite it’s magnificent title. The first page was a letter. So was the second and third and, in fact, flicking through the book I found it comprised entirely of letters to people!

How tiresome, I thought. How terribly lazy. But then I remembered that some of the most beautiful books I had ever read were comprised of letters. Letters do not hinder a plot if they are properly written.

I also learnt a new word in the reading of this book, although not gleaned from the book itself! It is ‘epistolary’, meaning ‘contained in, or carried on by letters’.

This book was captivating. The character development was excellent, and through the letters one could see exactly what everybody thought of each other, and how their relationships developed through the stories of hardship and moments of laughter during the war. Characters who didn’t even exist in the novel, their voices created by other characters, were so vibrant and alive, that it was quite an unfortunate disappointment to find they never made an entrance at all.

The story follows the tales of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a covert group formed  in the Guernsey Islands during the second world war. Books were scarce in Guernsey, and so was food and luxuries, but they never lacked for love. The story is told through the multiple perspectives of the Islanders, the majority of whom had emerged from the war unscathed. The letters are sent to a certain Juliet, a writer herself, who, in undertaking a literary project, found herself drawn into the lives of these islanders. What happens next I will let you find out yourself.

I am so glad I own this book now, it is one I would recommend recommend recommend. It’s sad and sweet and also surprisingly informative.

What I loved most about this story was that it was centred around, and celebrated books in a most familial and cosy way. It is not very often that you will come across a book that fits so perfectly in your hands, that sits so comfortably in your soul, that promises to stay with you forever and ever, it’s words a nostalgic echo through the passages of time. So, that being said, I will end my review with one of my favourite quotes from this classic treasure of a novel:

Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.

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Saving Mister Banks

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I watched this film thousands of miles above ground, above clouds, amid bouts of extremely nauseating turbulence. Everytime the plane lurched downwards or swung sideways my heard thundered like a thousand hammers, and my fingers curled ever tighter around the arm rest.

Glancing at my sister beside me, I saw that she was very much the same way. Only she didn’t let films distract her, she suffered in face-on agony. Nobody else seemed perturbed. The fellow to my left had his head covered with the thin airplane blankets, and the fellow next to him was nodding his head, faint music wafting my way.

And so I watched Saving Mr Banks, pausing every time an especially vicious lurch of the metal cabin took over my senses, my mind drifting to the leagues between my feet and the rocky grounds of the Arabian desert.

Slowly, though, the film began to creep over my fear. I was absorbed into it, and my terror became an underlying itch that was almost entirely ignored.

It was lovely. Emma Thompson never ceases to evoke my admiration. She carries herself with such potent charm. The little quirks about her; her eyebrow thrusts, her scornful looks, her straight back and her flawless irritability made what could have been sombre, mirthful. Tom Hanks slid right into the character of the typically American, typically loud and excessively friendly Walt Disney, as he is wont to do. Thompson and Hanks had a humorous relationship on camera, goaded by Disney’s attempts to please the ever irked Mrs. P L Travers. The combination of old classics and new … abecedarians made for a pleasant watch.

 

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I especially enjoyed how close Ginty kept Mary Poppins to her heart. She loved the woman, much as I did when I first read about her. The film portrays what the producers, the author and Walt Disney himself went through in the making of Mary Poppins, and truly it is a refreshing insight into the old classic.

Not many films are so well made that they capture one’s feelings. Especially one whose feelings are so distraught as mine were during that dreadful, dreadful flight.

I would completely recommend Saving Mr Banks to anybody who sees sentiment as an old comrade, and who cherishes old classics and has a sight for a well made film. It is not for impatient children. I also read a review which said that it was not for people who didn’t like Disney. Personally I find Disney too wishy washy and excessive, and yet I loved this film. It left me in an aura of pleasant thoughtfulness. I also loved Mary Poppins (the book, more than the film). The film attracted me because of Julie Andrews, whom I loved in The Sound of Music. I adored the way Mary Poppins was portrayed; she was just how I imagined she would be! Naturally the film wasn’t entirely in keeping with the book, and I haven’t watched it more than thrice, I imagine. However this whole story about Mrs P L Travers and Walt Disney and waiting twenty years and her absolute correctness and her history.. Oh dear it all combined and exploded in my mind and there I was weeping tears of sadness and sentiment on my seat high up above the clouds, all puffy and white. And I thought to myself, thought I, “Well by gosh, Lenora. You shall be wanting to read Mary Poppins again!”

And so I shall. So I shall.

 

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