Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Phantom of the Opera

I am finally getting to reviewing this book that I REALLY liked. I think it was a great book club pick--thanks Cheryl--especially for October. It is spooky and creepy without being gorey or graphic. A couple of times I braced myself to be horrified or to skip over something, but I didn't need to. Especially IN the ghost's house.

The translation I read was by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, and was the "Borders Classics" version from Borders books.

I read it fast in a couple of days with hopes to finish before book club, but failed. So I didn't take notes like I usually do. Also, I saw a production of Phantom of the Opera when I was in highschool, and listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times in the early 90's. That being said, I only vaguely remembered much of the story.

When I saw the musical, I remember thinking Christine had wronged the Phantom. In the book, I was very into the character of Raoul. I LOVED the back story of he and Christine. I was grateful a lot of the back story of the Ghost was skimmed over. I didn't want to know any more about the rosy hours of Mazenderan.

I loved the phrasing of things like that. "rosy hours." I really enjoyed the writing style throughout. I'm flipping through for more examples, "The famous baritione had hardly finished..." "He kissed her hands and went away, cursing Erik and resolving to be patient." Without knowing a better way to say it, I loved the wording and the voice throughout.

I recommend this book! I think it is an interesting story. I've got to read up more about the Paris Opera House because it fascinated me to find out that so many of the insane things described about it in the book really existed!

I'd love to hear what you think if you read this!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Swim to Me by, Betsy Carter

Yes I recommend this book. But I think it's probably like a 3 out of 5, or rent it kind of recommendation. Maybe I need to invent a more precise system.
I liked this book that is about Weeki Wachee, and the swimming mermaids. It's basically a coming of age book for Delores Walker (Taurus). I liked the story and the characters enough. Nothing wowed me, but nothing drove me crazy either.
I can't remember if I found this on one of your blogs..Amy, Betsy???...or why I put a hold on it, but it was a quick enough read. It takes place in 1972, and had a couple Esther Williams references. I think Esther Williams mentioned Weeki Wachee in her book too. The lady in charge of the mermaids was described in such a way that I couldn't get the picture of the costume designer in The Incredibles out of my head.
I loved this quote, "Delores, startled by her mother's comment, had the impulse to say the meanest thing she could think of."
I know that feeling (not about my mother of course)!
I also hope my children never say this, "When she thought of home, she thought of towels on the bathroom floor, toast crumbs spilled on the kitchen counter from the morning's breakfast, half-finished sentences shouted from room to room." But I guess no one could blame them.......
I like they way the book ended. I liked the magical, mystical elements of the water and animals, and the cute little brother. That all I have to say!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Caldecott Celebration, Six Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal, By Leonard S. Marcus

Yes, check this book out from your library sometime.

This is a fun little book that lives up to its title. The stories about each of the artists are very interesting. I bet my artist friends (you know who you are) would even get more out of it than me.
I thought it was most interesting to hear the artists describe how they came up with ideas and how they practiced drawing. None of them made it look easy. And I LOVED the little "dummy books" that some of them had made. I learned a new term.

I have to admit I hadn't heard of all of the artists. I enjoyed looking at the list of ALL the Caldecott winners on the back, and I was sad that more weren't mentioned in the book. I will definetly use this research to reserve more books for me via the online catalog of my library.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Two literary movies revisited

So I recently watched two more versions of movies of books I like.

The first is the Keira Knightley 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice.

I liked it. I think it was pretty and the music was nice. I thought the casting and acting was very good too. BUT, having watched the BBC version first, I have to say I liked the long one better. It just felt more like a book. I also missed the development of Mr. Wickam and Elizabeth's relationship in the shorter movie. Also, I thought Mrs. Bennett in the long movies was so hilarious, and not as much in the short version.

Second, my friend Aminda loaned me Masterpiece Theater version of Room with a View. I think it was shown in 2008 for the first time. I didn't like it nearly as much as the Merchant Ivy version. I knew I would be biased, so I want to point out what I did like about it. First, Cecil is a bit more charming, so you can understand more why she would be interested in him. I loved the actor from Enchanted that played Mr. Emerson. I think the actors did a good job.

BUT I didn't like the whole return to Italy flashback setting. I think it was cheesy and distracting. I think Freddy plays such a fun role in the book and the first movie, and in this version he is really minor. The MAIN problem I had was how they wrote so many explanations into the script. There is a conversation after the first kiss that is too obvious and wordy. George's speech to Lucy after the second kiss was annoying and overstated. I really prefer the subtlety of the book, which the first movie stayed true too. There were just too many verbal explanations added in. Another unneccessary one was after they are together, and George explains Charlotte's role, when in the first movie, it's just insinuated that she approved and helped them out.

**SPOILER**....the worst part is the ending. WHY oh WHY would you take a happy ending and make it sad? The whole book is a romantic comedy, then to make it a tradgedy. Not for me.

So, the newer version of Pride and Prejudice has merit because it is more condensed and a much more reasonable length. I didn't like PBS's attempt to remake A Room with a View at all. The movie was fine, but I just love the other one and the novel TOO much to like the liberties they took. But I do enjoy comparing different versions of film and lit. So thank you all my good friends for your recommendations.