Literary Love…

In honour of Valentine’s Day lets take a look at some literary lovers. Love, as a mysterious thing, so hard to describe is widely pondered throughout literature. There is a wealth of it to be found in, unrequited love, tragic love, young love, perfect love, confusing love, indescribable love. So here is a look at some romantic couplings, some obvious but hey…all you need is love!

sunset-hands-love-woman

1. Romeo and Juliet

A classic to begin, what is left to be said about Shakespeare’s ultimate star crossed lovers? Households at war, naive love, tragedy, and loss. Still as beautiful and tragic as it was when it was written, there is a reason they are still held up as the pinnacle of romantic love. Even if their being teenagers makes it a bit creepy to the modern mind!

Best moment –  A long one!
Juliet. Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
Romeo. It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east:
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.
Juliet. Yon light is not day-light, I know it, I:
It is some meteor that the sun exhales,
To be to thee this night a torch-bearer,
And light thee on thy way to Mantua:
Therefore stay yet; thou need’st not to be gone.
Romeo. Let me be ta’en, let me be put to death;
I am content, so thou wilt have it so.
I’ll say yon grey is not the morning’s eye,
‘Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow;
Nor that is not the lark, whose notes do beat
The vaulty heaven so high above our heads:
I have more care to stay than will to go:
Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so.
How is’t, my soul? let’s talk; it is not day.

2. Catherine Barkley and Lieutenant Frederic Henry

Ernest Hemingway might not be the obvious choice when it comes to love, but Frederic and Catherine’s war torn romance, another tragedy (what does this say about me that so far all my choices are tragedies?!) is so beautifully sad and desperate. The need to cling to something, anything, just to make it through the utter annihilation of WWI is utterly heartbreaking. And try getting to the ending and not sobbing your eyes out.

Best moment – a moment which epitomizes the clinging desperation of their love

“Will you be away a long time?” Catherine asked. She looked lovely in bed. “Would you hand me the brush?”

I watched her brushing her hair, holding her head so the weight of her hair all came on one side. It was dark outside and the light over the head of the bed shone on her hair and her neck and her shoulders. I went over and kissed her and held her hand with the brush and her head fell back on the pillow. I kissed her neck and shoulders. I felt faint with loving her so much.

“I don’t want to go away.”

“I don’t want you to go away.”

“I won’t go then.”

“Yes. Go. It’s only for a little while and then you’ll come back.”

“We’ll have dinner up here.”

“Hurry and come back.”

3. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy

Another classic but Austen’s literary lovers in Pride and Prejudice and their journey to love is wonderful. The errors, the pride, the prejudice, and of course, the happy ending.

Best moment – Darcy declares his love (doesn’t hurt to picture Colin Firth saying it either!)

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement; and the avowal of all that he felt, and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority — of its being a degradation — of the family obstacles which judgement had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

4. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester

I know, I know, another classic, I am obviously a complete sap for the classics, sigh! Jane overcomes so much, and despite her utter heartbreak at the hand of Rochester, eventually returns to him, blinded in the rotting corpse of what once was Thornfield Hall. But she returns to him and they live happily ever after…well it is Bronte after all, it isn’t going to be all sunshine and roses!

Best moment 

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel. I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you, and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”

5. Wesley and Buttercup 

Fairytale romance, utterly hilarious, and a cast of fantastic characters rounding out the wonderful The Princess Bride.

Best moment – there really can be only one, Wesley’s coded declaration of love

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“As you wish.”

That was all he ever answered. “As you wish.” Fetch that, Farm Boy. “As you wish.” Dry this, Farm Boy. “As you wish.”

6. Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar

A forbidden love set among the vast sweeping landscapes of Wyoming’s Brokeback Mountain. Tragic, raw, and beautiful, another one to read if you don’t mind shedding a tear or a thousand. A moment has never broken my heart like this one can…a final act of love, when it is already too late.

Best moment

The shirt seemed heavy until he saw there was another shirt inside it, the sleeve’s carefully worked down into Jack’s sleeves. It was his own plaid shirt, lost, he’d thought, long ago in some damn laundry, his dirty shirt, the pocket ripped, buttons missing, stolen by Jack and hidden here inside Jack’s own, two skins, one inside the other, the pair like two in one. He pressed his face into the fabric and breathed in slowly through his mouth and nose, hoping for the faintest smoke and mountain sage and salty sweet stink of Jack but there was no real scent, only the memory of it, the imagined power of Brokeback Mountain of which nothing was left but what he held in his hands.

 

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Broken Promises.

Look I know we’ve been here before, I won’t deny it, we’ve all made mistakes, words were forgotten and promises broken.  But I swear this time things will be different…I promise?!


 

So I know, I know, I know I said this time would be different, I’d keep on top of posting and for a little while there it really looked like I was going to.  But who knew completing my MA, moving across the globe, and starting a new career would be so tiring! I started writing and editing for Life in the Bay a great expat blog which I am hugely enjoying, as well as starting a new job which actually involves writing and editorial work! It has been a good and busy few months.

But this has all meant of course, less reading, and less writing. I have a million and one half written posts, and even more ideas. So now that I am settling into more of a rhythm in my new life I am going to try to get back to it.


Currently reading: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

harry_potter_and_the_philosophers_stone_book_cover

This has been an interesting experience. I read these first time round, and only time so far, as they came out. So there is a strange bittersweet nostalgia to re-reading them. It’s not that they have lost any of their magic, but I remember the total love and astonishment and amazement I felt first time around. And whilst I still love them, knowing what is coming, and all the hype which surrounds the now far too vast franchise does take something away from them. I remember enjoying the later entries in the series more anyway, so perhaps when I get there I will find some more of that magic and sparkle.

Don’t get me wrong, I am really enjoying finally giving it a second go, I just guess I wish it was all still new to me.

 

Insomnia Alphabet

I have huge trouble switching off and getting to sleep. It was suggested to me that I play a game in my head. The objective is, that you do something with your mind that is just taxing enough to keep it occupied (ie not thinking things along the lines of…must write blog post, make an appointment at the dentist, pay the electricity bill etc…etc…etc) but not so taxing that it keeps you awake.

The first suggestion was to count backwards from 100…though I always needed to start at 200!

Then, I read about a very similar theory, but an alphabet version, you go through the alphabet in your head and try to name a country for each letter. I started doing this, then branched out into all sorts of categories each night, as I had done the countries so much they became automatic…and thus no longer engaged my brain enough!

Categories included film titles, female solo singers, authors, children’s books etc etc. But my favourite one became 8 letter plus words, sometimes any words, sometimes on a theme. And it works really well for me…Do you have trouble sleeping? Try out a game in your head and see if it helps you out!

And just for fun…a word alphabet!!

A – Antagonistic

B – Beatification 

C – Clandestine

D – Degradation

E – Exuberant

F – Fortuitous 

G – Gluttonous

H – Homogenous

I – Idiosyncrasy

J – Juxtaposition

K – Kleptomaniac 

L – Lugubrious 

M – Monomaniac

N – Neurological 

O – Obsequious 

P – Phrenology

Q – Quintessential 

R – Ruminations

S – Simulacrum

T – Transmogrified

U – Ubiquitous 

V – Vehemently 

W – Witheringly 

X – Xenolithic

Y – Yammering

Z – Zygodactyl

Literary Transformations: From the page to the screen

What are your thoughts when a book you love is being adapted for film or TV?

Trepidation? Excitement? Terror? Exhilaration?

I am not a snob, in fact I absolutely love film and probably watch too much TV. And I probably also watch things which are literary adaptations without even being aware of it/really caring.

However, for me when a beloved book is announced as being adapted, I normally feel pretty worried.

So with that in mind, which have I loved/hated? And which am I anticipating with nothing but a vague feeling of nausea.


Loved

Pride and Prejudice (BBC)

Oh where to begin!?

Colin Firth, obviously, oh you beautiful man, but of course looks are not everything. He just perfectly embodies Darcy to me, no one else will ever come close to his portrayal. In fact overall casting was perfect, it was pretty damn faithful to the source, and let’s face it the source remains as great today as the day it was published!

2016-02-22

Mrs. Bennett, Mr. Collins, Wickham, I really cannot think of someone who was not entirely perfectly cast, of course this is my opinion, but to me they were exactly what I has always imagined them to be.

And, Elizabeth, the linchpin which holds it all together, perfectly portraying the prejudice’s she feels, and the emotions she experiences as she learns the errors of these judgments…on her way to her very own happy ending.


Hated

The Golden Compass 

This was an absolute, complete, and utter travesty of a film. I have made no secret of the fact that I utterly adore Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and I was genuinely excited it was getting a cinematic outing.

I think that this film is single-handedly the reason that I am now terrified whenever I hear of a book adaptation in the pipe-line. I am a lover of words, but I cannot put into words how strong the hatred I feel for this abomination is.

Lyra, beloved wonderful Lyra, now I do not hold the young actress to blame, child actor’s are rarely great (looking at you Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint in HP 1-3, dire!!). But, she wasn’t Lyra.

But for me I think it was all about casting. I admit I was already definitely not a fan but Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter, ARE YOU KIDDING ME! No. Just. No. And whilst I had no preconceived notions of his acting Daniel Craig most definitely was not right as Lord Asriel either.

Maybe, I was just too excited, or maybe it really was as awful as I remember? I’ve avoided it ever since. Perhaps I am being too harsh.

But the biggest problem, and I do understand that they need to change things, but it entirely lost the feel of the books for me. Content and feel were just not there. There was no magic. It was all lost.

Positives? Can I say none?! I guess it was pretty!

Fifty Shades of Grey

So, I mean, it isn’t as though the source material was so strong that it was ever going to be an oscar winner, but I mean, dear lord it is poor!

Firstly, I DID read it, I read all three, (what a confession). Sadly, I most definitely suffer FOMO (that’s the fear of missing out) with regard to books. And, eventually gave in and had to read them. They were awful. So awful. The dialogue and inner monologue of the lead character are absolutely shockingly bad.

But I felt there was hope, Bret Easton Ellis expressed interest in producing the screenplay, wow this could be OK after all! But it was not to be. E.L.James held tight on the reigns of her material (which is of course her prerogative) but that meant she insisted the abysmal dialogue be lifted, verbatim, into the the screenplay. With a strong writer, I think the story might have had potential but alas we will never know what could have been!

In 3 sessions, attempted watching, I got a full 3rd of the way through. If reading the dialogue was horrid, watching some poor (not normally particularly bad) actors saying it, was excruciating!

Fifty.gif

Positives? Again…struggling…maybe the positives come later in the film.


Somewhere in between

Harry Potter film series

As previously mentioned, the lead trio in the first 3 films were not what you would call great actors, but they were young so this was forgivable. I enjoy these films, and have seen all 8 multiple times, but there are things I both love and hate.

There is a lot missing from the books, which I understand in film is to keep the story moving, but there are characters and plot-lines I’d have loved to have seen. Rik Mayall filmed scenes as Peeves, and I personally think his character, whether played by the glorious Mayall (I basically imagine Drop Dead Fred as a ghost) or someone else, would have been a welcome addition to the films.

Also, again I know it wasn’t key, but Hermione and the S.P.E.W storyline is definitely something I would have loved to see.

Things I loved, Alan Rickman and Gary Oldman. These are two of my favourite actors ever, and I will watch anything at all should they be starring in it. They were exactly as I’d imagined they would be, and made the characters come to life. Others were close (David Thewlis, Robbie Coltrane) and definitely in this category, but these two will forever be my favourites.

I could go on forever with both positives and negatives throughout the series, so this is definitely an in between, for me!

Oh, wait! One more for the things I loved. Dame Maggie Smith. Perfection. No more can be said on that.


PANIC STRICKEN!

The Rivers of London

If you have read any of my previous posts it is likely you might have seen mention of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London urban fantasy series. I cannot quite say why, but I adore this series of books.

Rivers_of_London

Whether it will happen or not I am not sure, but there have most definitely rumors about a television adaptation. And I am horrified. They may do it well, they may do it wonderfully. But I have such vivid images of these characters in my head, and am so attached to them, that no matter how good they are, they won’t be good enough for me. They will not match the visions in my head.

Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, would be of particular worry for me, old, very old, wise, but looking young. Some of the names I have seen touted (admittedly by hopeful fans not casting directors!) have in no way come up to scratch on what I have pictured!

And PC Lesley May – How would they deal with that after say…the first book!? It would need careful handling…


There are of course, many more I could put into all categories, where do you land? Would you prefer it to stay on the page? Are you happy to hear your favourite is making its way to the screen…? Which have you loved/hated?

Entering a Brave New World…sharing my fiction, for the first time ever. Eek.

So this is is…time to be brave. For the first time ever. Sharing my writing. Sharing some fiction.

This is the roughest of rough drafts, and a very small excerpt from the beginning of what I intend to be a much longer piece.

I’d love feedback, any and all, it has been a long time since I have written and this is very scary, so I am very happy to be criticised, as long as it is constructive, and it possible at all nice.


 

The In Between Forest

“Oh God. No. Not now.” Of course, I hadn’t planned for this shit, not today, well at least not now, but I had clearly fallen asleep on the sofa. If I had known I was going to nod off I would have changed my clothes. I’d had a shower when I got in and settled into some pj’s to watch some TV for the evening. And now I am in the fucking woods, wearing pink shorts, a ratty old t-shirt and fluffy Christmas socks. Wonderful. Normally I get into some outdoor clothes before sleep. Yes that’s right, I sleep in a t-shirt, sweater, camo trousers, wool socks and hiking boots, holding a wax jacket in one hand, with the strap of a backpack wrapped around the other arm. It is quite a feat that I sleep at all really.

Do you ever get that deep falling sensation, dragging your insides to the depths when you’re unconscious with sleep. You wake. A wave of nausea grasping your insides, you’re covered in goosebumps, your heart is racing, you can feel the pressure of your pulse in your throat, close to asphyxiating you, sweat drips down the nape of your neck and you can barely breathe, and you begin to wonder where you are?  You’re momentarily confused as you re-acclimatise to the real world, leaving the dream world’s you have visited far behind, just a shadow on the edge of your consciousness. Have you really been anywhere? Was it real? Are you still in the same place that you were when you fell asleep? You’re unsure what is real, and what is not anymore.

Well not for the first time, I actually had woken up somewhere entirely different to where I had gone to sleep. I am still trying to find out why, why this happened to me, did I cause it? was I always like this? When I fall into a deep sleep, and that falling sensation begins to grip my insides and attempt to tear them from me, I know I am leaving my world. Not my physical world, but my time and place in the world.

This is the third time it has happened, the first, I was positive it was a dream, I curled up under the roots of a tree in the forest in which I had awakened, closed my eyes and returned to sleep, this took me home. I awoke, positive that it had all been a dream, I found some dried brown leaves stuck to my sleep socks, but it was late autumn, they blew in almost constantly when I left or entered my apartment, and could easily become stuck to the wool. I thought nothing of it. Then it happened again, I arrived to the exact spot as before, of course I again believed it to be unreal, I explored a little in the lush dream forest, and again I eventually settled to sleep and awoke, sweating and breathing audibly but in my own bed.

Then I had gotten up to go to the bathroom, I always had to go to the bathroom if I awoke in the early hours, I looked in the mirror as I washed my hands and saw a small cut across my cheek, below my eye. It was deep, and still bleeding a little but nothing to worry about, but it had not been there when I had fallen asleep. And I remembered, I’d caught it, on a branch, in my dream?! I had really been there? In a forest? But where, why… oh no, acid began to pool in my throat, and I expelled vast luminous bile across the mirror, not even making it to the toilet basin.

I stood bewildered, staring at the gash across my cheek, the mirror streaking my face a putrid green, trying to understand, I was obviously mistaken, still asleep, or not fully awake yet, or unwell, something, anything. Insane? I must have passed out or collapsed I’m not really sure, but I awoke, in a pool of my own vomit, on the bathroom floor, sometime later. I reached up, the cut was still there, and sore, clearly a little bruised, it was real, it was all real. I looked down at my socks, caked in mud, the forest had been damp this time. My mind began to spin and spiral, the acid was rising again, “breathe!” Deep breath, deep breath, holding my head against the cold porcelain wall tiles. And it passed, the wave of nausea calmed. “Clean up, clean up, and think.”

I thought, for days I thought, thinking, wondering, turning it over, thinking, over thinking.

And what did I come up with, nothing, nothing. This was all a week or two ago and I have been almost entirely afraid to sleep since, permanently sporting the aforementioned outfit in bed in preparation, the backpack filled with essentials I may require. Because next time I went there, I was determined to find out why, or where, or when, anything. But of course, after a rare day out of my home office, researching and in meetings, I had arrived home exhausted and fallen asleep with no preparation. And now I was here, unready. To sleep and return with my prepared belongings, to risk not finding my way back. Or to attempt to find what I could now, in case this was my last chance.

So, this is where you find me, in the woods. The dream forest, the real dream forest, the in between forest, in my pyjamas.

 

Guilty Pleasure? Nah! Maybe not quite so guilty after all…

I have been thinking about the question, ‘What is your reading guilty pleasure?’ And I am not sure I have one, mostly because I know some of the things I read are not great and I know that some may be considered by others to be pure and utter trash, but if I enjoy reading them why should I feel guilty about it?

Throughout semester time I read a LOT of ‘proper’ Literature (with a capital L see? Let’s not even get started on proper literature versus not!!), sometimes 4 or 5 hardcore novels a week. And that is without all the critical reading and theory to go with each one, which can easily be another few hundred pages per book. I sit and analyse single words, single sentences, Hemingway and Shakespeare, read up on critical theories, discuss the minutiae of grammar and lexical choices, until my head feels as though it may just explode! So maybe, when I get home, or have some down time, I want to read something, easy, or silly, or just plain fun, and I definitely do not feel guilty about it.

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Some of this semester’s reading!!

When I was a teenager it was silly rom com novels, Talking to Addison, is one which particularly sticks in my memory, not because it was particularly special, it was just one of the first, and I read it repeatedly at that point, a dreamy teenager with no clue about love.

Now, it tends to be silly crime novels. Over the summer I sped my way through multiple.

First of all I re-read The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, the urban fantasy, magical crime procedural, but I have written about those and my love for them before. Plus, they aren’t silly, they’re wonderful! How could the wizarding branch of the met ever be silly?!

So onto something new. I seem to have spent the summer reading rip-offs, retellings and odes to Sherlock Holmes. The first was M.R.C Kasasian’s The Gower Street Detective series – centred around Sidney Grice a detective (who does grotesque things with his glass eye!) and his progeny/ward as they solve crimes.

Set in Victorian London, March (the ward) the daughter and former assistant of an army doctor, Grice an awkward, socially inept but highly clever detective, a ‘bumbling’ police sergeant, they’re all here in one guise or another.

Kasasian

They are certainly not what many would consider ‘proper’ Literature, but I enjoyed them, they are silly and fun and they wear their influence on their sleeve. At one point March even meets a Dr. Conan Doyle, an aspiring writer, who tells her that her mentor would make a wonderful character in a novel.

‘What sort of story?’ I asked…

‘I am not sure,’ he said… ‘but your guardian is an interesting subject.’

‘I think he has probably been written about enough by now,’ I said…

‘Thank you for your help, Dr Conan Doyle’

Silly? Yes. Fun? Yes. Guilty Pleasure? Definitely not!

The next discovery, again very Holmes influenced (perhaps more subtly though) were the Aloysius Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I was overjoyed to discover them, as I was burning through novels in no time, and there are 15 in the series, I am currently reading my 7th/8th I believe (I’ve momentarily lost count!).

I love these books, again they are rather silly, giant cave dwelling man child, mole men, even a fabulous pastiche of Count Fosco from Wilkie Collins The Woman in White, but they are well told, and I love the characters. Again, they wear their influence on their sleeve, Agent Pendergast, of the (modern day) FBI, a super intellect, who uses a mind crossing to access long passed memories, and has a brother called Diogenes, all point to Doyle’s work. 

Pendergast

The stories vary in quality, some I love, some I read to stick with chronological order, but again, fun, silly, crime novels but a little wacky and out there with regard to the crimes themselves, there is always a somewhat ‘logical’ explanation to it, if you’re willing to suspend a bit of disbelief!

Guilty Pleasure? Still no!

Anyway, back to my point, why should they be guilty pleasures? I love trashy, silly, crime novels, I do not pretend they are the next Joyce, or Dickens, but I love them and I do not feel guilty about that!

What are your not so guilty pleasures when it comes to books? Or your guilty ones? Go on…I’ll never tell!

 

 

Days 19 – 21 – Literary Quotes Challenge

Day 19 – A book that you read after seeing the movie

This is a difficult one as it is something I really try not to do.  If I see a film I tend not to read the book after as it has normally ruined the plot for me.  Not one I particularly like either film or book but the only example I can think of right now.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him-and I didn’t know how potent that part might be-that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

A book in which a young girl is surveilled by every man in her life and seems to take no issue with it, her vampire lover, her father, her father’s friend and his son, all constantly interfere and monitor her to the point of watching her sleep.  Very odd.  The film makes it all slightly less creepy but the book is just disturbing!!
Day 20 – The book you are reading now

The Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

So I have just started this, the first of 14 books in the Pendergast series, I’ve only just begun it is a bit different to what I normally read, it’s a thriller series and being set in the mid 90’s and about technology makes it rather hilarious.  So even though it isn’t a funny book this made me laugh….

GenLab was an enormous international DNA database – two hundred gigs and growing.

Just made me marvel at how quickly technology advances but so far I am enjoying it.

Day 21 – The next book you plan on reading.

Hmmmm…I have a few on my list, but obviously having not read it yet I do not have a quote.  Possibly Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant or Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere as it is something I feel that I should have read.