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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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 Martian

I just watched this film in 3D.

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I must say it was the greatest 3D movie I have ever watched, not that I have watched many, but my husband, who has seen plenty, agreed with me.

Classic Hollywood drama/adventure/sci-fi, this film thrilled me to bits. Matt Damon played a remarkable character, a botanist left on Mars, believed dead. He has to provide food for himself in order to survive until the next mission arrives on Mars. How will he grow food on a dead planet? How will he contact those who left him?

It was original, detailing one man’s struggle to survive on an inhibitable planet.

It didn’t reek completely  of that well-known, shameless Hollywood ‘cheesiness’ you always find in stories of man’s triumph over nature.

The force of nature and space represented in this movie was mind blowing. It was explosive and phenomenal and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. It was longer than two hours but it certainly didn’t feel that way to me. I was captivated.

If you enjoyed Gravity, you will definitely enjoy this film. Both stories run on more or less the same pattern, but they are also both hugely different.

The Martian was incredible. Go watch it. Now I’m off to bed because my eyeballs are burning.

September in Review

I bought a second hand car last month. It is rickety, and the clutch is one of those old ones where it will stall the car if you don’t give a lot of gas whilst simultaneously pulling up the clutch. It has scuff marks all over it and the wheels are slightly bubbly with rust. But it is so clean and gorgeous and silver and it’s an adorable little 2005 Nissan Micra!

I left it with my parents this week so that they could make use of it before my father goes back to where he works abroad.

This is also the month where Aston Martin told my husband he might not have a job by October.

We had planned to go away in October but now it doesn’t seem like such a good idea given that we will be needing every penny that we have.

It doesn’t feel like such bad news, though. Because whatever happens, we will find a way. It’s sad news, of course. It would be the end of an era, in a way. It would have been an epoch in our lives.

In a way though, the change could be a good thing. A way to expand certain ideas. A pathway paved for new opportunities. The day is young, the sky is blue, and we are ever hopeful.

I am working now, of course. I tutor children. They pay me peanuts because I was green and asked for peanuts. I am still building myself up though. We will manage.

September was the month that leaves finally started falling from trees. She shrugged her shoulders amid the gusts of wind that signify a change in season, and golden leaves danced and twirled on the currents, sailing through deep blue skies, glinting in the fading summer sun.

September was the month that my doctors finally accepted that my hair loss was a real thing, and are starting to do something about it.

I read six books this month. I meant to read more but there it is!

September was beautiful this year. Her sunny days outnumbered her rainy ones. Her rain smelled earthy and fresh, and she showed us our first foggy morning of winter. It spread it’s soggy, smoky tendrils through the blades of grass and the branches of trees, and then fled when the sun beamed, leaving behind a dripping wetness, the world beaming with colour.

Was your September any good?

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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The Dream Thieves

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Normally, sequels are a huge splash of disappointment and and a tangled web of unfulfilled fantasies.

The same cannot be said of The Dream Thieves, the sequel to The Raven Boys. The Raven Boys was good enough, but The Dream Thieves surpassed it by leagues and leagues and left it dwindling behind like one of those coal ravaged cities old Dombey mourned over. It was brilliant and sparky and had me on the verge of falling off my seat (well, bed) with excitement at 6am in the morning. When I turned the last page my heart sank in pitiful desolation because I had no idea when the third book was going to be released, and I felt as though I couldn’t brave this taunting anonymity. I still do not know when it will be released, which is very daunting, considering that I gave up on reading Inheritance because the gap between it and Brisingr was too long.

This book started off being very confusing but as I have learnt from Maggie Stiefvater, her confusion is just a pathway to glorious clarity. So whenever I didn’t understand anything, I just carried on reading. Sure enough, my befuddlement lifted and my curiosity was satiated in a most beautiful manner.

Maggie explored her characters in greater depth in her sequel. Suddenly they all had separate lives, and feelings, and opinions which clashed, as opinions are wont to do. They all suddenly made so much sense. You started off the book thinking, gosh what a rambling mess this all is, and finished it thinking, DAYUM, MAGGIE, YOU SORCERESS.

So anyway, yes I fully recommend this book. One hundred percent. I am very hard to please, you see. Roll on book the third!

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Anxieties on Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks has, for a long time (in my sights at least), peppered the conversations of chick flicks and chicks who like flicks, and for the greatest time, I also was not aware of who this critically acclaimed man was.

Hmm, thought I, well I know about John Green now, given that I have read four of his books in the span of a week. I know John Green is an author, and Steven Spielberg is a director. I don’t quite know who Steven Moffat is, but I know a lot of people hang on to his words. So who is this Sparks fellow?

By the by, my sister is in another country speeding her way to a hospital because of severe abdominal pain and I am very worried about her, even though she told me in a ragged tone that it was okay, I am just a worry wart and she knows it and I am so worried about my little sister so worried I can’t even do any of my duties this morning oh God I hope she is okay, anyway this is a distraction while I wait to hear from my father who is driving her there.

So, yes, who IS this Sparks person? I already knew that chicks in flicks like him, and that people quote him in relation to notebooks. A quick search on google told me that he was indeed an author, and he did indeed write something called The Notebook, and also something called The Lucky One, which turned into a film, the trailer of which was shown once before I watched The Hunger Games, a lifetime ago considering that I watched it at the time when I thought Catching Fire’s release was a lifetime away, and hey ho look where we are now, a lifetime away!

Anyroad so I reserved The Notebook at the local library, thinking okay this cannot be too bad, everybody is banging on about it. Give a man some credit before you read him. Benefit of the doubt and whatnot.

My sister my sister why have they not rung me yet and why has my mother fallen asleep on the sofa omg.

It turns out that The Notebook was actually a pretty lame story. I felt as though it was rather excessive, you know, when

SPOILER ALERT. 

she gets sorted eventually and whatnot, and I did watch the film also because I cannot seem to recall whether or not they died together in the book as well as in the film.

well what did I tell you.

Either way, I really don’t see how this could have been a bestseller. But then again, look at 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight. Romance is terribly popular with humans, so I guess it comes as no surprise, really. Except that this wasn’t your average teenage-infatuation-with-a-manipulative-control-freak situation, it was a genuine story about two teenagers who fell in love, got separated, became reunited in undesirable circumstances, still found a way around it anyways, grew old together, blah blah, so on, so forth. What I really didn’t like about it was it’s unrealistic, happy happy joy joy the sun shines out of our bootlaces optimism. Life is never such a symphony and a melody. Never. And while the IDEA is beautiful and sweet, I, as a person, feel like putting such an idea down on paper perhaps wasn’t the best idea.

Then, I watched the film. Now the film was definitely a coast on the happy waves of life. It was so much more realistic, and the acting of the lady involved was pretty brilliant. She was definitely not your average picture perfect weak female; she was strong and had a mind of her own, which I relished, of course. And, the lead male character was played by none other than Ryan Gosling himself, something which my heart, of course, warmed to, given that if Ryan Gosling was a reachable human and I was completely shackle-less, I would marry the damn fellow. Somehow the film moved at a faster pace and had a sparkle which the book didn’t, which is somewhat wry considering it was written by a Sparks, of all humans.

The film is certainly recommendable, although the book, not so much. I also didn’t think a sex scene was necessary, in light of the fact that this was supposed to be a beautiful love story. The notion of sex scenes on first meetings gives the impression of infatuation and lust, rather than love, and defeats the purpose in some inexplicable way. I was actually enjoying the novel until I happened on that scene. I also seem to recall a lot of sexual references, which is something that, if it was a story told by an old man to his wife, seems terribly far fetched. An old man would be recalling the good memories, methinks, and not the sexual ones, considering that they have been married years and years and one’s memory of the vivid details of one such encounter would be distorted, to say the least.

Either way, the whole debacle made me think, well this is the last of my dabbles with the world of adult romance. I shall stick to what I know for a little longer, and explore the realms of the youth, before I venture out again into the minds of older humans. Needless to say, I did not heed my own words and borrowed The Lucky One from the library because it was lying on an empty shelf staring at me, and I thought, well one mustn’t judge a genre by an author, or an author by one bookt. However I am only twenty pages in, and the thought of struggling through anymore of it is intensely gloomy. I also watched the film and I thought it was rubbish, and laughed a little bit, and threw the book across the room, because it’s yet another conventional mess of a romance, and frankly I am done with romance.

Speaking of books, here’s a gem. The Raven Boys. It explores the world of the dead, and the seers, and it is, so far in the series (I think it might be made into a series of four) brilliant, and awaiting the sequel is proving to be very hard. I shan’t say any more on the matter, considering not all four books are out yet. However, once they are, and once I have read them, I shall of course be writing another pretentious review, altouhg

Oh my God the phone the phone the phone.

Although I shall try to make it not pretentious.

Right so. Here is the news: She is okay, and I can breathe again.