Friday, July 18, 2008

Room With A View--Film

So I got the Merchant Ivory version from Netflix. It was every bit as good as I remembered. I love it! I'm not sure why. The only thing that kind of bugs me is George. I like the actor enough, but I just don't think he's exactly right like the other ones.

**To skip the nudity, when Freddy and Mr. Beebe invite George for a bathe, watch them walk to the lake, then hit skip. You'll go right to the "troublesome boiler" chapter.

Some things I love about this movie. The story, see book review for details. I think Mrs. Honeychurch and the Miss Alans are even more charming than their characters come off in the book. After Charlotte goes inside to get change, Mrs. Honeychurch laughs and it is so great!

I loved the way George kind of scissor jumps over the tennis net and then lays next to Cecil and Lucy. I LOVE the scene where Charlotte is sitting on the ground, then clears her throat and says, "Oh I've had this cough for weeks, it has nothing to do with sitting on the ground."

I guess since its been at least 10 years and probably more like 15 since I've watched the movie, Lucy would seem really young to me. She seemed like a teenager almost. Her posture was so great, and her little pouts. Helena Bonham Carter does a great job. I think all the actors and actresses are so good in this movie. Daniel Day-Lewis~hilarious!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Austenland by Shannon Hale

I enjoyed reading this book! I recommend it if you are looking for something light and fast.
I think this book is pretty predictable, but it was still fun to read. I couldn't put it down once I started, and it is short.
I'm not the hugest Austen buff, but I've read enough and seen enough movies to follow along. I need to watch that BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, so I can really be cool. Reading this you feel like it was written by someone you know. That's how I felt. It almost seemed like she could have said, I had this funny idea the other day....But it was a creative frame for a romantic comedy.
I think the type of place was believable considering the disposable income and fantasys of certain middle aged women. Plus SO many people are obsessed with Jane Austen.
I love that the great-aunt gave her the trip, and the whole opening scene with her mom and aunt was a great nod to Austen, Forester, all those British authors.

Some lines I liked:
"Like drinking a cold glass of water after too much sugary punch."

"He was so cute and funny and so-not-Mr. Darcy....and so-not-typical-Jane."

BUT the best one was,
"Why was the judgement of the disapproving so valuable?"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts

I recommend this book!

What an interesting read! This book is about just what the title suggests, "The Women who Raised our Nation." Most of the information presented is from letters between women and their husbands and friends. Martha Washington, Abagail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Kitty Greene are just a few of the central women.

I loved getting a little different historic perspective. I'm overwhelmed by what these women sacrificed to make the work of their husbands and sons possible. It is also so sad to realize that these mothers lost so many of their children. They basically had babies then got pregnant again over and over. Both moms and babies died in childbirth, and children died often from whooping cough, small pox, all kinds of things. I guess I knew all this stuff but to see the pattern in real women's lives was very humbling. It makes me so grateful for modern medicine!

I enjoyed reading this book, I wish I had kept better notes, because some of the stories overlap and begin to blur in my mind. I'm not sure I could recall to you specific chronological details. I did learn at book club that there is an alphabetized index in the back, so you could easily look up and flip back if you forgot who someone was. But I didn't know it in time.

I didn't even know that Ben Franklin was married. He wrote a nice thing about his wife posthumously, "I always discovered that she knew what I did not know."

Some other cool quotes:

Abagail Adams, "If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women."

"We have done evil or our enemies would be at peace with us. The sin of slavery as well as many others is not washed away."

"I can hear of the brilliant accomplishment of any of my sex with pleasure....At the same time I regret the trifling narrow contracted education of the females of my own country."

Martha Washington, "The greater part of our happiness or misery depends up on our dispositions, and not up on our circumstances."

I was a little surprised at how readily these women left their children to be with their husbands. I guess I don't entirely understand their reasoning. But several children were left with aunts, grandparents, even sent away to school. Because these were mostly more affluent families, I'm guessing that a lot of the child rearing was being done by servants, nurses or slaves. So maybe it wouldn't be as different. The women seem to take a lot of pride in their children, and heartache when they lost them. It just seemed weird to me that they didn't always raise them.

This book took me awhile to read because it is so packed with information. The narrative does jump around people and forward and backward in time. Sometimes this is distracting, but I think it's unavoidable with the information she is trying to present. You can't really cruise through it, but it is a worthwhile read!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

I really liked this book. (Thanks Betsy for the recommendation and the loan!) I haven't seen the movie yet, but reading the book makes me want to now.

It took me a few pages to get into the book. I'm not usually a fan of fairytales and fantasy beyond children's books, so the whole Ogres, gnomes, fairies, giants talk was a little off-putting at first. But like a good book, once the story developed, I was hooked.

I think that the take on the Cinderella story was good. Original, but it kept enough similarities to make it clever. It's a sweet romantic story, with a spunky Ella. I think she was a fun character, pretty original in that she wanted to be funny, and was strong-willed about her curse.

I also liked the way the curse was resolved. In case the book is different than the movie, or in case I'm not the only one who hasn't seen it, I won't go into detail. But I liked that Ella was a strong character without feeling like feminism was being thrust out a as a central theme.

This is a fun young adult story. Probably even intermediate. I don't think my boys would read it, but I think it would be age appropriate for them.

Was it this movie that made the name Ella so popular a few years later?