I've moved bookishwhimsy.com to tumblr! This blog is now an archive of my past posts.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Suspense Sundays (38)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  



"The Hitchhiker"
Air date: June 2, 1946
Starring Orson Welles
A man driving cross country sees the same creepy hitchhiker turning up in unexpected places.  And gradually the man starts to lose his mind.

Orson Welles introduces this episode because it was first performed on his radio show "Mercury Theater" but the episode was so popular, they decided to perform it again for "Suspense".  Just think of that.  There were no re-runs in 1946, and if you missed something, you just missed it.  And what if you loved something and wanted to hear it again?  Nope.  You just have to relive it in memory.  What a scary world that was.

The thing about hitchhikers are they are pretty scary in and of themselves.  They are so good for stories, because they are an unknown danger a person willingly takes on.  And it can be so easy to subvert the expectations of the dangerous hitchhiker as well.  This Suspense episode does of course more than subvert expectations in a fantastic twist ending.  Orson Welles' confident acting carries this episode so well, and brings out the right touch of paranoia.  This is one of those must-listen episodes!
Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Paranormalcy

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Paramormalcy
by Kiersten White

Plot Summary:

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

Review:

I was so surprised by how delightful this YA paranormal novel is!  The story moves very quickly, with an involved world-building that takes a rather different view on paranormals.  All kinds of paranormals exist, and I love how Evie strips away the glamor from them - within the logic of the story, and with reader's expectations of vampires, werewolves and fairies.  Evie is such a bright personality and she really carries this story very well.  I was impressed by how involving a narrator she is.  The story also took several unexpected twists and turns, and there were many times I though I had figured something out, when I was shocked by how wrong I was.  The novel is full of the unexpected.

The romance between Evie and Lend was very well drawn and not the insta-kind which I was so happy to read.  Evie and Lend seem to fit together so well - and it felt like a very believable romance.  The other side of the novel - the commentary on what it's like to be a teenager was very interesting as well, and added a lot of depth to the story.  Evie never led a normal life, and the way she saw school and having a driver's license added a fun dimension to her character.  I also have to commend the building of the faerie world - it is so complex and the faerie nature is so well built into the narrative.  The suspicion that hangs over them drives the drama of in the story.  Overall, I really enjoyed this story and I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Post: Writing a Boy's Book

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Please enjoy this guest post/book excerpt by Ben Woodard, about his new book A Stairway to Danger.


I grew up almost living in the local library. Reading was my escape and the library was my portal. I loved boys adventure stories and have been amazed at the reports that say boys don't read. So I decided to write the kind of stories I remembered. The result is A Stairway To Danger. More edgy than what I read, maybe The Hardy Boys on steroids. It's probably PG. Some mild cursing and violence. Nothing too terrible, but there are guns and dead bodies.

The setting is a small town in Kentucky that is now a preserved village. In 1923, when the story takes place, it would have been a rural community with houses built in the early 1800s, now in a run-down condition. The book sprang from stories family members told me about growing up in this town called Shakertown. Tales of lost gold and river caves, and of adventure. And of a friendship that endures through adversity and danger. This is a book that doesn’t whitewash the racism and sexism of its time, but focuses on two boys and their adventures.

Writers can't fool kids—of any age. The writing has to be authentic. Children, especially teens, can easily tell when authors are writing down to them. And my audience, boys, are tough customers. The stories not only have to be real, but they have to be fast, exciting, and make sense, or the author will lose the boy reader. The writer might be able to get away with a few mistakes in grammar with a kid, but never will they get away with mistakes in the story. Writing for children takes different skills than writing for adults. It is more difficult, and more fun.

I sincerely hope boys like my stories.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:

Will used his boot to roll the body over. An arm flopped in the water and the face pointed directly at Tom. A face with no eyes. Tom sucked in a breath and staggered back. He slumped to his knees staring at the ground.

“Fish ate em,” Will said, toeing the body.

Tom raised his eyes to see Will studying him, his head cocked. Tom’s stomach rolled like the back of a hay wagon, and the taste of bile filled his mouth. His breath came in short gasps as his mind went back to that narrow staircase four years ago. He felt those walls closing in again. Sweat rolled down the nape of his neck. He bent over, gagged, and threw up. Not just because of the eyeless body. He wanted to empty out all his guilt and self-loathing onto the rocky hillside.

“Never seen a dead body before, huh?”

Tom glared. “No. Not that.”

A flash of remembrance crossed Will's face. His head dropped and he turned back to the body. “You reckon that’s the Deputy?” Will asked. “He's been missing a couple of days. We better tell the Sheriff.”

Tom didn’t answer. His only thought was running. Running and not stopping. Running north until he collapsed somewhere on the way to Cincinnati. He had to get away. And not later. Now.

Will slipped his arm under Tom's armpit and hefted him up like a sack of potatoes. “Let's get outta here. I'm getting kinda sick myself. We’ll follow the river back. That’s the quickest way.”

The yellow sky darkened to purple as they edged around the body and moved along the bank back toward Shakertown. Tom looked away from the bloated corpse and tried not to breathe. The stench filled the night air suffocating the musty smells of the river and forest. Will first said the smell was a dead cow until they spotted the body. Tom didn’t recognize the Deputy, but he recognized death. He had hoped coming to the farm would help him forget what happened at Grandfather’s. But reminders were everywhere.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (31) - Bonanza "The Far Far Better Thing"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An Awesome Dickensian Adaptation
Title: Bonanza "The Far Far Better Thing"
Adapted from: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Yay, another opportunity to talk about my favorite TV show growing up, Bonanza.  It was a 60's Western that centered around the Cartwright family and sometimes seemed more like a soap opera then a Western.  In this episode from Season 6, Little Joe and his friend, Tuck compete for Lucy's attentions.  She's bookish, romantic, and naive, and manages to sneak away to see a tragic spot called Indian's Grief, even though Indian renegades have been seen in the area. When the Indians catch up and kidnap her, Tuck and Joe come to her rescue.  The leader of the Indian renegades was once Joe's friend so he lets him and Lucy go but Joe volunteers to take Tuck's place.  In a little sport where he has to run before the Indians catch up and try to kill him.  Sydney Carton anyone?

Although Little Joe scoffs at Sydney Carton's sacrifice in an earlier scene of the episode, he makes the same decision out of duty to his friend in the show.  The story's light inspiration by A Tale of Two Cities, gives Little Joe a chance to become a hero and his climactic run and fight with the leader is definitely the best part of the episode.  So exciting!  Of course I sympathize with poor romantic Lucy because she is book smart and really loves the stories she reads.  But it is an interesting insight into how books don't always reflect reality.  And in the end of the episode, the romance doesn't quite work out.  I guess Little Joe wouldn't want such a silly girl anyways.  I loved it when Bonanza drew inspiration from a book or story, and I thought this episode did a great job re-imagining Dicken's classic novel.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Favorite reads of my childhood

Book blogger Paper Cuts had a post a while back about books that she enjoyed before blogging, and that inspired me to have a post like that too!  There have been many I have adored over the years and I wanted to spotlight a few, starting with the ones I loved to read in elementary school.  The library was (and still is) my friend, and I loved to go browsing there yet always seemed to leave with an unread book from one of the following series. When I was young though, mystery stories really appealed to me, and they were the genre I would most often check out.

Nancy Drew series
by Carolyn Keene

I had a teacher in fourth grade with shoulder length strawberry blonde hair, and I always kind of thought of her as a grown up Nancy Drew.  And she was a fantastic teacher.  But anyways.  I devoured this series when I was young - I so wanted to go solving mysteries with my friends and a boyfriend in a nice car.  Nancy is just so logical and brave and curious, and that really appealed to me as a kid.  I haven't read Nancy Drew mysteries in a while, and in a way I am afraid to. They were so perfect to me when I was young, that I fear some magic will be missing when I re-read them.  The things I enjoyed about this series, really stemmed from the mystery, and I don't want to find the mysteries too easy now that I'm older.



The Three Investigators series
by Robert Arthur

"The Three Investigators" series first caught my eye because they used Alfred Hitchcock's name on the cover.  Not sure why he was included, but because my Mom is a Hitchcock fan and made me watch some of his films (for the longest time though we were too afraid to watch Psycho), I was attracted to reading this series.  And what an awesome premise!  Jupiter, boy genius, has an Uncle who owns a scrapyard, and he has created a headquarters in the middle with it completely covered with all the junk.  But with secret passages in and out.  So cool!  This book also inspired me to try to learn Morse code (with indifferent results) and also carry a bit of chalk around with me. You know, in case I get kidnapped and have to make markers.  The adventures these three boys went on were so much fun, and Jupiter was such a great detective.

The Boxcar Children series
by Gertrude Chandler Warner

When I think of these books, I don't remember the mystery aspect as much as the idea of children living in their own little home.  Growing up I didn't have my own room, so having a secretive boxcar to sleep and arrange the way I wanted would have been heaven.  The characters of the Boxcar children were also especially vivid to me, and they worked so well together.  I think just those two aspects make this story immediately appealing to children.  And the author would create such descriptive passages about their lives that it was easy to really believe in this world.  And for some reason it made me crave bread and milk.  And I don't even like milk.




Encyclopedia Brown series
by Donald J. Sobol

I still like to read these stories!  Encyclopedia Brown was another boy genius who was always able to solve a mystery within a few pages.  And the best part was the opportunity given for the reader to solve the mystery as well!  I was never very good at solving the mystery when I was young - partly because I wasn't patient enough to really sit there and think over the details, but flipping to the back and reading how Encyclopedia solved the mystery was always such a highlight for me.  I think I just preferred to have him tell me than to try to guess.  (Now, if I reread these stories,  I need to figure out how they were solved, because I can't be beat by a 10 year old boy!  I still am though.... sometimes...)  Another fun part of this series is the recurring cast of characters - Encyclopedia's friend and body guard Sally, the ever mischievous Bugs Meany and a whole slew of well meaning and less well meaning kids that inhabited the small town of Idaville.  The stories are so clever and inventive, and great for quick entertainment.
Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Palace of Stone

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2)
by Shannon Hale

Plot Summary:

Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city is a thrill to Miri. She and her princess academy friends have been brought to Asland to help the future princess Britta prepare for her wedding.There, Miri also has a chance to attend school-at the Queen's Castle. But as Miri befriends students who seem sophisticated and exciting she also learns that they have some frightening plans. Torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city, Miri looks to find her own way in this new place.

Picking up where "Princess Academy" left off, and celebrating the joys of friendship, romance and the fate of fairy tale kingdoms, this new book delivers the completely delightful new story that fans have been waiting for.

Review:

It's been awhile since I read the first book in this series "Princess Academy"and I think to really appreciate this book, it would have been better to reread the first, but the author does a great job of giving out necessary reminder details while keeping the pace of the plot going.  The story does feel more like a sequel in that it isn't very substantial as it's own story.  The plot moves so quickly, that the choices Miri makes seems a little abrupt, perhaps because it was set up more in the first book.  The romance is sweet and continues where the first book left off, with the addition of another possible love interest but his character feels a little one - sided, and I thought it was he was less of the third part of a love triangle, and more of a plot device.

The high point of this book came near the end though, because I teared up at some parts - not because they were sad, but because they were so emotionally satisfying.  I think Shannon Hale has this knack for capturing poignant, emotional moments that highlight character and important decisions and it makes for some beautiful scenes in this book.  Overall, I felt like this book was a very good read, especially for fans of "Princess Academy" because it gives more dimension to that story and more to admire in Miri's character.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Elfhunter

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Elfhunter
by C.S. Marks

Plot Summary:

This is the tale of Gorgon Elfhunter, a monstrous, mysterious creature who has sworn to destroy all the Elves of Alterra—until none remain. It is the story of Wood-elven heroine Gaelen Taldin, who has sworn to rid her world of the Elfhunter even as she is hunted by him. The conflict between them creates a tangled web that blurs the line between Light and Darkness, love and obsession, free will and fate. Filled with moments both tender and terrifying, thrilling yet thought-provoking, it is a timeless epic fantasy suitable for readers of all ages. Join the Company of Elves, dwarves, mortal men, and delightfully intelligent horses. Come to Alterra—the “World that Is”.

Newly remastered by Parthian Press, with illustrations by the incomparable Hope Hoover, this second edition will intrigue and delight fans of the series as well as those who have yet to discover it.

Review:

I was drawn into this book by the promise of a new epic fantasy, and I was very happy to immerse myself in this new world.  It's very rich with detail and characters with complex backstories.  The novel gradually reveals each character's hidden secrets and desires in a way that makes the whole story compelling.  The Elfhunter is pretty sinister as well, and finding out more about his vendetta was very interesting.

Although I enjoy the characters and the worldbuilding, there are times when I feel the story is not very fresh.  There are elements of it that remind me a little too strongly of Lord of the Rings.  And the writing is not as lyrical.  It's good, but sometimes I just feel it is too straightforward and unremarkable.  And there are times when the author goes on asides that I feel slowed down the pace of the story too much.  There are many exciting scenes, but they are sometimes broken up by some bland scenes.

Ultimately, although the story is very richly detailed, and sometimes exciting, with great character building, I think the writing was the most disappointing aspect.  It often felt flat emotionally because the author chose to emphasize emotions by stating them, instead of letting the descriptions of characters actions tell the story.  Parts of this book stood out, but the whole didn't come together very well for me.

review copy kindly provided by the publisher


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Books to Music: 8 Femmes

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
8 Femmes (or 8 Women) is a French comedy drama mystery musical movie.  Yeah.  It's based on a 1958 play by Robert Thomas, but the film was made in 2002.  I was on a French film kick for a bit, and saw this film listed as one of the best so I of course picked it up and loved it!  It stars some pretty amazing French actresses - Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, and Fanny Ardant - but all of the actresses in this film are fantastic really.  It's very stylized - reminiscent of 50s films with a Hitchcock/Agatha Christie type vibe.  Even though I found many things very surprising in this movie (mainly the twists and turns in the plot!) I was entirely unaware it was a musical when I first decided to watch it, and I was very surprised when the first actress broke into song.

There are eight songs in the film - one song for each actress that gives some background into their character. It's funny because with some of the songs, there is a ton of subtext behind the choice that is not entirely clear until the end of the movie.  The songs were not specifically written for the film - they were hand picked from among the French pop oeuvre to advance the story as the film explores the secrets these eight women are hiding as they are trapped in a house with the knowledge that one of them is a murderer.  Some songs stand out more for me than others, but I think that is a personal preference, as each song is beautifully worked into the story and reveal so much about each character.  I loved that aspect of the film so much - for such a beautiful, stylized, emotional film, it makes sense that the characters burst into song when their feelings can be expressed in no other way.  There is a fantasy aspect as well, for when the actresses break into song, the lighting changes, or the other actresses dance as backup. It's such a fun film, but a little dark and disturbing which makes it a very eclectic mix of a movie, and so entertaining!

Song Spotlight: Papa t'es plus dans l'coup
Translates to Dad You're Out of Touch, and is the first song in the film so not too much of a spoiler ...  The link is to a youtube video of the scene from the movie, but unfortunately I couldn't find one with subtitles.  It's a fun song sung by the youngest daughter and again, totally caught me off guard when the movie randomly seemed to take a song and dance break.  Since the songs were not written for the movie, they don't all have the same sound, which makes it easier to make each song distinctive to each character.  And the vibe of this one is so full of fun and youth, it captures Catherine perfectly - at least the way her family likes to view her.  Lots of layers in this film, and I wouldn't want to talk about it too much, because it's so great to have all the drama unfold before you!
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (30) - Jane Eyre (1973)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An Awesome Mini-Series Adaptation
Title: Jane Eyre (1973)
Adapted from: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

So the last time I talked about a Jane Eyre adaptation, it was the 2011 film, which I loved, but this is my favorite version.  Because it is a mini-series it gets to adapt much more of the novel, and it is very faithful to the story and the characters and the spirit of the story.  I first watched this version 8 years ago and it changed many things about how I viewed the original novel and other adaptations.  In regards to the novel, I started hearing the actors voices when I read the book (especially Michael Jayston as Rochester) and the nuance and line readings the actors gave to the script made the novel seem much more realistic when I read it again. The actress who played Blanche Ingram (Stephanie Beacham) comes to mind as I type this.  When Blanche calls the footman, Sam, a blockhead in the novel - it seems a little bit over the top, but Stephanie Beacham sold that one line so well, it now seems like the most normal thing for Blanche to say!

This adaptation is so immersive for me because the acting is just quality.  Set design and directing is much like the set of a play (unfortunately), and although it is nice to see gorgeous cinematography, and to hear a great soundtrack, this adaptation is so powerful to me because the actors make the characters live, and the script is much closer to the novel than any other adaptation.  I mean Charlotte Bronte's words are so beautiful!  And although I do love Sorcha Cusack and Jane, I have to fairly say, that it is Michael Jayston as Rochester that really captured his character the best, and it is this mini-series that made me such a big fan of his work.  I think nuance is the key word for this adaptation - the actors deliver so much more than just their lines, with their body language and that slight, but important emphasis on certain words that makes the emotion behind it so clear.  For an adaptation to take what is on the page, and just realize the heart of what is there without theatrics and unnecessary trappings is refreshing and watching this adaptation is like slipping into the pages of the novel.  It's a completely awesome adaptation.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
A Conspiracy of Alchemists
by Liesel Schwarz

Plot Summary:

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—the intrepid heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

In a Golden Age where spark reactors power the airways, and creatures of Light and Shadow walk openly among us, a deadly game of Alchemists and Warlocks has begun.

When an unusual cargo drags airship-pilot Elle Chance into the affairs of the mysterious Mr. Marsh, she must confront her destiny and do everything in her power to stop the Alchemists from unleashing a magical apocalypse.

Review:

This novel sets up a very compelling new world - with the battle between the light and shadow and Elle Chance in the middle of it.  The action starts pretty quickly as Elle is thrown into the conspiracy, and gradually uncovers things about herself and her past that reveals she has a very important power.  Most of the story is spent though in Elle denying that power and her destiny which got a little tiresome as I read further.  I felt that it made the story drag a little as Elle and Mr. Marsh clashed so much in their own little power struggle.  Although the romance that bloomed up between them was sweet, it felt a little forced, and a little confusing given the stakes that Mr. Marsh was very much aware of.  The characters could have used a little more development I think, as I sometimes felt distanced from them, and a little disbelieving of the motives for their actions.

This story was a very entertaining read however, and even though I was not completely charmed by the characters or the romance, the mystery and the world building - especially the way things came together in the end was very exciting and such a page-turner.  The different elements of urban fantasy and steampunk were a great mixture to bring this world to life, and I loved the historical detail of the story and the different settings.  It's a very rich novel that perhaps has too much going for it, so that some things seemed too rushed or unexplored, but it's a great, quick read that fans of the genre should enjoy.

review copy kindly provided by the publisher through TLC Book Tours


Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: The Nightmare Affair

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Nightmare Affair
by Mindee Arnett

Plot Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Review:

This story starts off very quickly - with information behind the magickind community dropped in along the way.  And though it did keep the story moving, my initial thoughts on the world-building was that it didn't seem very believable.  That did change as I kept reading though! The power of the Nightmares was gradually revealed, and I loved that this features such a new and different paranormal being. I think this is one of the great draws of this story, because it is a such an original take on paranormal YA.  Dusty does have a great snarky side to her and some very funny lines, but I didn't feel a great connection to her character or even to the sort of love triangle romance.  The story moves fast, and does not really delve deep enough into the characters I think to make the story more dynamic.  Even with the unique angle to the world building, the actual construction of it seemed flat.

The school aspect, with all the petty jealousies and school dances, was fun to read about, and really the whole story is fun, and definitely a page turner. I was curious to see how everything would be resolved, and I was happy to learn more about Nightmares. The mystery aspect of the story was a little labored, especially as I didn't seriously consider the people that seemed suspicious to be the actual culprit.  I could have used a little more suspicious, believable evidence.  Though the story is very readable, in some ways it is not memorable, so if you are interested in a fun quick read, this is a great story for you.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Books to Music: Romeo et Juliette "Le Poison"

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Roméo il nous faut jouer à ce jeu
Pour ne pas mourir
Je dois mourir un peu
Ce poison-là nous sauve
Je reviendrai à l'aube

Romeo we must play this game
To not die
I must die a little
This poison saves us
I'll return at dawn.

I love listening to foreign language soundtracks (it's preferable I'm familiar with the story though, so I know what is going on) and European musicals in general seem to emphasize spectacle and the abstract.  I've heard a couple soundtracks based on this musical version of Romeo and Juliet, but I like the French one the best.

Judging from the youtube video (below) this production definitely has an abstract side to it, but I think this song is especially an interesting twist on the scene.  It has this ethereal, eerie and very romantic melody - an interesting counterpoint to the seriousness of the scene.  And Juliet's lyrics are so plaintive and despairing even though the poison is supposed to give her hope.  Although we know how it all ends, so it kinda tips the tragedy of the scene.  It's just a gorgeous, haunting song, that captures Juliet's desperation to be with Romeo.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (29) - Titus

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An Awesome Shakespearian Adaptation
Title: Titus
Adapted from: Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

So I usually don't like violent, disturbing films and I would normally never have watched this movie, if I had not been on an Alan Cumming kick and had to watch all his films.  Even though there are so many parts of this movie that are definitely very disturbing, I can't help liking all the crazy.  It's not a film for everyone because it's highly stylized, graphic and apparently since it's one of Shakespeare's early works, it's not such a great play, but it is a very powerful story of revenge.

So about the highly stylized part. Director Julie Taymor does several interesting things in this adaptation, by showing how modern Shakespeare's Roman tale of love and hate is. If you immediately realize that the story is timeless, it doesn't matter that the film doesn't seem set in a specific place and time.  There are many anachronistic elements such as cars and arcades, yet Roman pillars and buildings, while in the very beginning of the film, a modern young boy is playing with toy soldiers, when real Roman soldiers blow up the room and take him into their world. It's a highly fascinating, visual style that can sometimes keep your mind off the violence... almost.

The actors in this film are just superb - the action mostly revolves around Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Harry Lennix's characters, but the supporting cast are equally talented at bringing this dark story to life.  I think the other reason I am so impressed by this movie is because the actors make the emotion of it so real.  It's so disturbing and awful (I'm talking rape and torture and cannibalism here), and yet the message of the story is so powerful and thought-provoking.  Despite best intentions, people do terrible things, and in this film almost every one indulges in their baser nature and pays for it. But thankfully there is hope in the end.

This film isn't for everyone, but if you feel like taking a chance on something that will make you feel uncomfortable and emotional and will make you think, and you like Shakespeare, I think you should check this movie out!
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Favorite Story - Jane Eyre (22 November 1947)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Hosted by Ronald Colman, "Favorite Story" asked someone 'in the business' to pick a favorite story to dramatize.  Someone random picked "Jane Eyre" (a guy! I know I probably shouldn't be, but I'm always a bit surprised when a guy says it's his favorite book) and here we are.  

The story begins with a 'Last night I came back to Thornfield Hall' - Rebecca?  Peggy Webber and William Conrad star in this adaptation and although the script is decent (and just covers the Thornfield sections of the story) I thought Rochester was a little too stilted in his delivery, and not very emotional.  There was one part in the wedding when it is interrupted and he says "Huh?" which just sounds so funny.  It's almost like he wasn't paying attention.  Jane was too timid and retiring - she always sounded a little bit scared.  It was weird. 

But again the script is decent, especially for a half hour adaptation, and the final scenes where Jane is reunited with Rochester are probably one of the best parts of the adaptation.  Just because it is so cheesy! Jane comes back and Rochester pretends to not care and once Jane leaves, his monologue of sorrow as he contemplates his sacrifice of giving up Jane so she can have a better man, is interrupted by ... you guessed it, Jane! She was there the whole time! And now all of Rochester's logic has been wiped away because Jane knows Rochester really wants her to stay.  It's sweet, but a little too sweet.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: The Scarecrow and His Servant

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The Scarecrow and His Servant
by Philip Pullman

Plot Summary:

A tattered scarecrow stands in the middle of a muddy field, taking no notice of the violent thunderstorm around him. But when a bolt of lightning strikes him, fizzing its way through his turnip head and down his broomstick, the Scarecrow blinks with surprise–and comes to life.

So begins the story of the Scarecrow, a courteous but pea-brained fellow with grand ideas. He meets a boy, Jack, who becomes his faithful servant. Leaving behind his bird-scaring duties, the Scarecrow sets out for Spring Valley, with Jack at his side. As the valiant Scarecrow plunges them into terrifying dangers–battles, brigands, broken hearts, and treasure islands–he never realizes he’s being followed by the one family who desperately wishes he’d never sprung to life. Will the Scarecrow discover the secret to his past before the crooked Buffalonis close in on him?
Review:
This is a very entertaining Middle Grade read.  I really enjoyed Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series and "Sally Lockhart" books, so I do like his writing style and his inventive storytelling.  The Scarecrow and His Servant is a mix of a fairy tale and an homage to Don Quixote with a sinister streak in the unknown motivations of the powerful Buffaloni family.  Although the adventures the Scarecrow takes Jack on are rather sedate and sometimes just silly, Jack and the Scarecrow's schemes are very entertaining and unexpected.  The characterizations of the main characters are pretty broad and easy, and while the action in the story moves along at a comfortable pace, it does come together nicely in the climax scenes in the courtroom.  And in the final scenes I saw that philosophical edge that Philip Pullman likes to add to his novels and which I always find very interesting.  In this case it was the nature of identity.

Although the story seems to focus on the Scarecrow, I found his simple minded sincerity a little tiring after awhile, and thought that earnest and sensible Jack was  a great counterpoint, and much more sympathetic.  The other standout character was crusty Granny Raven who has some great scenes near the end of the story.  This book is a witty, light, easy read - perfect for children or adults who love whimsical reads.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Suspense Sundays (37)

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"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  



"Wet Saturday"
Air date: June 24, 1942
Starring Charles Derwent
Unfortunately the nice curate got himself killed in front of the Princey home.  Why?  Because he didn't want to marry Millicent Princey and she got mad.  And she had a croquet mallet.  But Millicent's father, Frederick is intent on making sure Millicent gets away with it.  Only Captain Smollet overheard them talking about it, so Frederick decides to incriminate Smollet.

This story starts a little slow as the Princey family discuss what to do about the murder.  But there is a dry humor to the scene because of how matter of fact Frederick Princey approaches the rather awful reality that his daughter is a murderer.  And then Captain Smollet's ingenious way of getting out of being framed for the murder is very well done, as well as the twist ending, which was all the more surprising because it's so not fair!
Saturday, March 9, 2013

Books to Music: Pride and Prejudice

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Girls beware, ladies do take care
If a man is proud, if he's vain.
If allowed he'll look down on all that you do
With contempt and disdain.
If you're wise, if you're smart
You'll refrain from the start
From affairs of the heart
With a man who is proud

This is another Bernard J. Taylor musical (last week I looked at his Wuthering Heights) and I think this musical fares a little better then WH.  It benefits from having five Bennett sisters so there can be some wonderful harmonies in their songs, and with Mrs. Bennett and Mr. Collins for comedy, their songs are pretty entertaining.  Especially Mr. Collins pigheaded, self-absorbed ramblings.  I think the music is a little repetitive though (which is something I had a problem with in Wuthering Heights) and the use of synthesizers (I think?) doesn't help the sound much.

The musical as a whole is a bit staid and bland again, especially in what is musicalized.  The songs tell the story too much I think, where it would be more entertaining to hear songs that comment on the emotion of the character or give some insight into character, instead of purely advancing the story.  They say (who's they? I don't know!) that every musical should have an "I want" song. Let's say Wicked for example, I would say that song is "The Wizard and I". Or The Little Mermaid it would be "Part of Your World."  The Producers would be "I Wanna be a Producer" (they really made that easy). I couldn't find an "I want" song in this musical, and I think it's because it doesn't delve deep enough into the characters.  So although this musical is very listenable, it's not very memorable.  I wonder why there has never been a big Broadway musical of Pride and Prejudice, it seems like a property that people would be excited to develop.

Song Spotlight: Don't Ask Me Why
Yay, this song is on youtube! Check out the fan video someone made for the song by clicking on the song name.  I think this song is far and away the best one on the soundtrack, and so different musically to the rest of the recording.  I wouldn't be surprised if this was the first song written for the show, it's so distinct.  Mr. Darcy is singing about his confused feelings for Elizabeth, and I would guess he's actually singing it to her in the show, instead of it being a monologue, so even though it isn't terribly romantic to be told you are loved against better judgement, this song's wistful, romantic melody, and Peter Karrie's sentimental vocals makes it pretty swoon-worthy I think.  There's a latent passion in the words, especially as the song modulates upward, and it ends on a poignant, appealing high note as Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth to marry him.  YES I'LL MARRY YOU MR. DARCY.
Friday, March 8, 2013

Family Theater - Jane Eyre (25 October 1950)

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Donna Reed as Jane and Vincent Price as Rochester.  Yup. Vincent Price. I admit I have a slight infatuation with Vincent Price, and it started with this radio adaptation.

Family Theater's main purpose was to encourage families to pray.  It's a little odd that they put on radio plays for that purpose, but I guess they had to get their message heard somehow.  In this adaptation, the gruff and severe side to Rochester is downplayed, but the radio play is surprising faithful to the novel - well only to the Thornfield section.  This is only half an hour. Most of it is focused on Jane and Rochester's conversations, beginning with their meeting in Hay Lane. After a pretty polite beginning:
Jane: "Can I help you?"
Rochester: "Hmm? No, no thank you."

Something changes after that.  They have great conversational banter - sometimes in these radio adaptations, I feel like the actors don't really feel the meaning of the words, they just say them, and I didn't feel that way while listening to this.  And while other scenes are related in a few words by Jane's voiceovers (the party at the house for instance), they took the time to include the Gypsy scene.  In this half hour adaptation!  "Hello, Maurice Zinn?  You're the adapter for this radio version of Jane Eyre right?  Here, I've got ALL the awards to give you."  I know there are some people who don't care for cross-dressing Rochester, but I love a little whimsy, and that scene in the book has such a great emotional, tension-filled undercurrent.  And I love how it reveals so much of what Mr. Rochester is thinking.  Of course the Gypsy scene in this radio adaptation isn't quite the same as in the book, but it's a great reveal moment when you are listening to the show.

Although this short adaptation can't capture the whole novel, I found the focus on Jane and Rochester's interactions, and the great vocal performances of Donna Reed and Vincent Price to be a fabulous way to recreate the story.  Instead of trying to adapt as much story as possible, they took key scenes and worked on recreating the emotional connection between Jane and Rochester.  Donna Reed is very good as Jane - sensible and proper, but I think Vincent Price's teasing, commanding and tender performance steals the show.  And because of all that, this is my favorite of the American old time radio adaptations.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Review: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

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Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm
by Philip Pullman

Plot Summary:

Two hundred years ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now, at a veritable fairy-tale moment—witness the popular television shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time and this year’s two movie adaptations of “Snow White”—Philip Pullman, one of the most popular authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.

From much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “Briar-Rose,” “Thousandfurs,” and “The Girl with No Hands,” Pullman retells his fifty favorites, paying homage to the tales that inspired his unique creative vision—and that continue to cast their spell on the Western imagination.

Review:

Philip Pullman's compilation of fifty Brothers Grimm fairy tales, includes many of the popular tales, but more interesting to me, includes a few that I was not at all familiar with.  And some of those tales were very different from what I think of as the traditional fairy tale.  Some were moral tales or ghost stories which made me interested in what other types of stories the Brothers Grimm collected.  Because Philip Pullman also includes commentary and annotations after each fairy tale in this book, the reader can understand the background and influence of the text, as well as the author's opinions of it.  This was probably the best part of reading this book, because I enjoyed getting a perspective on each story and how and why it was changed or altered from it's original version.

Philip Pullman makes each tale more accessible by modernizing the speech and sometimes giving a little more back story or shades of character to each tale.  And from his commentary, he also takes a little from different versions of the tale to give the story more depth.  I liked Philip Pullman's storytelling, but I did miss the old world speech of usual fairy tale translations. This book is certainly a great gift for children, but I relish the archaic language and speech because it gives the tale more of an atmosphere, and I missed that in this book.  For fans of the genre, I'd recommend picking up Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm as an addition to your collection for the interesting comments and annotations, and the inclusion of several lesser known tales.

a review copy was kindly provided through NetGalley


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (28) - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An Awesome Fantasy Adaptation
Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Adapted from: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

The fourth book in the Harry Potter series is my favorite of the HP books.  I remember freshman year of college, Thanksgiving break, I was staying in the dorms, and I borrowed my friend's Harry Potter books - finally I was going to check out what the hype was all about - and four days, four books later, I knew. I'm not sure if it's because I ended that magical vacation with this book, or if the combination of action-packed competitions and the real return of Lord Voldemort is what made me love this book so much.  But I do love it.  And I felt the film delivered in bringing the book to life in many ways.

First, going back to the first film, the casting of the three leads was just inspired!  Daniel, Rupert and Emma continue to translate their characters so well to the big screen, and carry the film perfectly.  The teen angst increases in this film as well, and seeing our heroes struggle with romantic interests is pretty cute.  There are some great new characters introduced in this story that again are fantastically realized on film, with some actors we were soon to see a lot more of (Robert Pattinson and David Tennant!).

There are a few interesting visuals that had to be explored in this movie - a dragon fight and the undersea challenge that really worked well for me. I thought it was nail-bitingly exciting (even though I knew what was going to happen!)  And though the final challenge in the maze isn't quite the same as it is in the book, I was impressed by how well it was done, and by the scenes with Harry's confrontation with Voldemort.  And geez, is Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort creepy as heck!  I just loved his interpretation of the character!   And since Dumbledore has always been a favorite character, I really enjoyed seeing him getting angry and taking control in some of the final scenes of the movie.

I love all the Harry Potter films, and don't feel like I could fairly say this is the best of the series, but I do find it the most entertaining, and I like how, as the tagline says, everything starts to change - the danger and darkness is just beginning to hit in the series and I think the film manages to temper that shift very well in addition to being a wonderfully suspenseful, exciting, and emotional adaptation.  
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: The Raven Boys

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The Raven Boys
by Maggie Stiefvater

Plot Summary:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Review:

The premise of this book is really intriguing, and I love the cover, but I was a little disappointed by the story.  I think personally Maggie Stiefvater's writing style isn't suited to me, as most of the book moved at too slow a pace, and although she does a great job setting up vivid, complex characters, I sometimes didn't understand their motivations or felt very frustrated by their actions.  It is hinted that Gansey will be Blue's love interest, but their connection is very slight in this book (but this novel felt more like a set-up for the next in the series) while I felt Adam's involvement with Blue a little sad, since their relationship wasn't going anywhere.  The romance aspect of this novel is not at all the focus of the story.  It's more about the mythology Blue and the boys are trying to uncover which makes the plot summary a little bit misleading, especially since Blue is not really the main character in my opinion.  The relationship between the Raven Boys is great to read about, and their camaraderie and dynamic are so varied.  I felt bad for Gansey though since people seemed to judge him so easily and so harshly for his upbringing.  It really didn't seem fair.

The novel seemed to flit between romance, paranormal aspects and mythology while also having a thriller and murder mystery element.  I don't generally mind books juggling many different genres, but in this story, I felt there was a lack of cohesiveness and it made the book hard to get into because the changes in tone affected the pace.  For me, the strongest aspect is the mythology, and the scenes where the Raven boys and Blue find the ley line, were the most interesting part of the book.  It's a great set-up for the rest of the series, as I really want to learn more about what the characters are awakening.  And the time-traveling aspect is very intriguing.

And to be fair there is a twist in the middle of the book, that had me pretty gleeful, because it's a such an awesome twist.  But it couldn't carry the whole book for me.  I feel like the story would have appealed to me more if the writing felt less rambling, and the ending answered a few more questions about the mysteries.  There are a few great moments in this book, but overall, I had to push myself to listen to the audiobook every day.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: Shadow and Bone

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Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo

Plot Summary:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

Review:

Why did it take me so long to read this book?!! It's one of those fab unputdownable stories, that immediately grab you and force you to keep reading late into the night, even when you are longingly looking forward to sleep.  But needing to know what happens next is more important!  I found Leigh Bardugo's writing so crisp and concise and wonderful, and the main character, Alina, was such an engaging narrator.  Alina's journey in this story was very exciting and full of interesting character self-discoveries.  And the cast of characters were all equally engaging, from her fellow Grisha who were jealous and awed by Alina's power, to Alina's main teachers who were colorful and eccentric.  And then there was the Darkling who was surprising in his own way, and such an intriguing character!  I was very surprised by the role he played in this story, and by what I feel are unexplored depths to his character that will be great fun to discover in the next book.  The romance is very sweet, and surprising as well - not quite as conventional as romances in YA fantasies tend to go, and I appreciated the depth to it.

The world-building was very unique - there were complex elements, that the author was able to convey without slowing down the pace, and indeed I felt like the backstories of characters and the history of the Ravka were given in a way that kept the plot going while meaning behind the characters actions were crystal clear.   Although with so much richness to the worldbuilding I felt like this book was toned down a little to fit YA when it could have easily become more high fantasy - focus was deliberately pulled back to the characters when more could have been given about the country.  This is not a criticism though, I mean it more as a compliment to the richness of the storytelling.  There are hints of this story becoming much more epic, and I really look forward to seeing how it all develops.

I only had a tiny problem with one part of the resolution which I don't want to spoil for anyone, but I felt like the solution to Alina's problem was a little too easy, but then the predicament she was in was pretty dire so it would have been difficult to get out of it.  But it's not too big a deal because there were parts of the ending that I absolutely adored and thought it felt so right for the story.  Because of the down-to-earth, compassionate Alina, the enigmatic Darkling, and the fast-paced narrative that combines so many aspects of stories that I like (new-found powers, special school, forbidden romance, quest and magical battles) I highly recommend this book and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one!


And unrelated to the review, I just found out that voting ends for the first round of the Book Blogger Twitter Con Awards on March 8th, so I just wanted to say that I would so appreciate a vote for Bookish Whimsy (Bookish Whymsy as it is mispelled on the site) for best new blog!  Thank you so much! (/end self-promotion :D)  Link to the voting form
Sunday, March 3, 2013

Suspense Sundays (36)

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"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  



"The Night Reveals"
Air date: April 18, 1946
Starring Robert Young and Margo
A Fire inspector begins to suspect that his wife may be an arsonist.  The summary of this particular episode is super easy. :)

Robert Young's character vacillates in his suspicions, but his wife's behavior continues to become more and more furtive and fearful until the only solution seems to be her guilt.  But of course that is not the only solution.  And once you hear it, it's fun to think back through the episode to see what points to that conclusion.  This is a classic character driven suspense story with a great performance especially from Robert Young.  I believe "Suspense" did this story several times with different casts, so I look forward to hearing the different versions and hearing what each of the actors brought to this tale of sinister suspense.
Saturday, March 2, 2013

Books to Music: Wuthering Heights

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It's been a long long road
But now my quest is through
There's no where else to go
There's no one else but you
I'm racing with the tide
To have you by my side
Only this time it will be forever

So.  This musical isn't terrible.  It's just terribly bland.  It might work better live, but listening to the soundtrack, my mind wanders.  The music is repetitive, and not very inspiring.  There are some phrases in this dramatic score that are very pretty - mainly the ones that recur throughout the musical. But because they recur a little too often, it feels like padding.  The lyrics aren't very inspiring either.  They don't really capture the powerful and concise prose of the novel.

The musical only adapts the first half of the book, as usual for Wuthering Heights adaptations.  And it may be that Heathcliff is rendered a little more sympathetically in the story, as his songs are rather soft, and appealing and dramatic instead of angry and vengeful.  It seems to be equally sympathetic to both Cathy and Heathcliff though, even though I've always thought Cathy was more to blame for the tragedy of the story.  I think what would work best for a musical version of Wuthering Heights is something a little hard-edged and not so traditional sounding.  There's very little warmth in this story, and I feel like it should be reflected more in the music.  The singers are all fantastic though, with the bonus of Bonnie Langford as Isabella (Classic Doctor Who fans anyone?)

Song Spotlight: Coming Home To You
I like this song the best (although I have to say that "I Belong To The Earth" is another good one).  Heathcliff is happy to be coming home to see Cathy (his joy is soon to be cut short of course).  And it's not a side of Heathcliff one would normally see, as he is so hopeful.  The song builds in a way that is both sweeping and driving and a touch haunting as Heathcliff sings about his hopes now that he has worked so hard to become independent and can now marry Cathy.  When I listen to this song, I feel the buoyant hope of Heathcliff, but there is this tragic sense underlying it which may be more me reading into the song.  But it does feature one of the more catchier musical phrases.
Friday, March 1, 2013

Lux Theater - Jane Eyre (14 June 1948)

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The Lux radio show produced a couple radio adaptations of Jane Eyre, and this is the second one starring Ingrid Bergman and Robert Young.  I haven't had a chance to compare it to the earlier version from 1944, but listening to this, I'm struck by the similarities to the 1943 film starring Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles.  Lux usually adapted well known movies for their radio series, so I'm thinking that is the case for this adaptation as well.

All of my problems with the 1943 film are pretty much in evidence here.  Shortened script (the Lowood scenes are of course much shorter), Doctor Rivers replaces St. John, and is the doctor who helps Mr. Rochester out when Bertha attacks Mason.  There is also that scene where Mr. Rochester basically tells Blanche that she is a gold-digger and I suppose that it is an entertaining moment to listen to, but I would have rather had the gypsy scene!

Ingrid Bergman is a... different choice to play Jane.  Obviously she is a fabulous actress, but she does have a rather prominent accent, although it isn't terribly jarring I suppose.  I just wonder how older Jane developed it, when younger Jane did not have it (or rather when younger Jane had an American accent).  Although Ingrid did sound a bit too demure when she was talking to Rochester, her voiceovers had that touch of defiance that I like to hear and made her a better Jane in my opinion.  Robert Young as Rochester is alright I suppose, his way of conveying gruff and brusque seemed to speak in a low monotone.  I would have liked to hear more in his voice, for him to savor the words more, so in that I was disappointed.

The adaptation overall is really lighter than the original novel and even the 1943 film (which had the brooding lighting and cinematography - and Orson Welles' eyes! - to make it more Gothic).  The music used kind of reminded me of "Gone With the Wind", which didn't help evoke the tone of Jane Eyre.  As an adaptation it lacks a little, but the fact that Ingrid Bergman and Robert Young are even playing the roles kind of make up for it.

Listen to the adaptation

And on a completely different note - check out the nominations for the Book Blogger Twitter Con Awards on Parajunkee!  I'm up for best Noob Blogger so if just one person would vote for me, I'd be so much less mortified. :D  Thanks, and congrats to all the nominees!