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Really?...Mma Ramotswe asks in the first pages of the book.. 'What else does a Detective Agency really need?' Redbush Tea? 3 mugs? Herself? A Secretary..?
and of course, a Client always helps..
We find out that her detective skills are somewhat 'questionable' when she ensnares a husband's entreaties by posing as the bait herself. We discover that without cattle you are deemed to be 'naked' and that her father's interest in them bequeaths her the funds to accommodate her dreams. We discover a lost boy, then a boy who wants to be lost by the name of Jack and a snake that finds its way into the tiny white van and scares Mma Ramotswe to near death. There are stories of black magic and boyfriend mechanics and a lost finger that has been claimed for a least twice!
These and more are just some of the delightful twists and turns in the first instalment of this wonderful saga. The books and the writing is completely different to that of what is currently considered to be the 'norm' in fictIonal drama. The writing is quirky to say the least, which has a charm and character that is hard to ignore, where I feel Alexander McCall Smith's personality shines through. It is almost as if one could place him into the persona of Mma Ramotswe and change his form to female, then he (as 'writer') would become the African Lady Detective himself!
I would encourage young and old alike to read this book as the appeal is far reaching and unlimited by age or reading ability.
more mojo than you could throw at lou's tights...more jojo than you could push the most reluctant of readers to open their eyes, turn the pages and read.
so go on, indulge yourself..get a little lost in the plot of the will he wont he..
this book from beginning to end is a soulful read. its lightness belies the seriousness of the dilemma faced by its participants. the story (for them at least) is a life changing one and for the reader it is indeed very compelling.. tearful...humouress..an all encompassing throw that hits you square in the stomach and will not allow you to breathe until you reach the end.. quite a book then i hear you say?.. one nods and admits that although it isn't the mayor of casterbridge, the subject matter is just as challenging and the characters are just as real and flawed but who, although challenged, ultimately win the day.
it brings up 'the' most daring of topics..what does a man do when he is stuck in a wheelchair as a quadraplegic with no hope of recovery? How does a family, faced with the strains of a marriage already doomed to fail, cope with the knowledge of their sons impending mortality?... enter lou... a vibrant, dress fussed, stressed out delightful scatterbrain who tries to hold it all together for them..
at first they all hate each other and lou wants to pack it in but circumstances pull her into this families life and will's in particular until she can't pull away.. at times she runs the risk of jeopardising her own happiness but then while searching to fulfil another's happiness finds her own.
Me Before You made me laugh, made me cry but its ultimate message is to listen and to try and understand what another person might need from life. the challenge ultimately is to be brave enough to accept them, even when they are totally against your own wishes and in looking at another's life - to be brave enough to have and want a life of your own.
My impressions of this DVD is that it is more like a 'character' portrayal from song to song, all done to dramatic effect live on stage at the O2 and is I feel, a reflection of a new direction in her singing career thus far. Evidence to support this theory, is her new album (released October 2011 compared to DVD's Xmas 2010) 'Daydream'. Her management and no doubt herself are seriously examining what they perceive the public want to see and hear from her in the future, which I believe is a becoming more of a mixture of traditional folk music and light classical, rather than the opera arias she has favoured in the past.
The production of this DVD and the visual quality of her performance on stage is vibrant and alive, somewhat sensual, totally feminine and very carefully managed. Even in the arena of the O2, the cameras capture the intimacy that she has with her dancers on stage and with her audience. However, her new album steers away from the diva in Katherine and concentrates on the traditional genres of folk music and light classical music which I believe is better suited to her husky voice but it more removed from a feeling of belonging in the moment of her music. The DVD is in my opinion over the top but still an enjoyable experience. Her new album in comparison is easier on the ear and has more of a flow than the songs she sings on the DVD.
Indeed, she does attempt to sing Evanescence's 'Bring me to Life' - this becomes a massive finale with all the drama and flair she can muster but it falls short to impress (even with the stage design and costume) as she remains 'unconvincing' in her role. No one could ever outclass Amy Lee.
Daydream in contrast offers a change that is enriched with her own culture and heritage and it is, in most part, sung with ease and style. 'Black is the colour of my true love's hair' is a typical example of the harking back to her folk roots. You can fully hear her love of the music throughout this album.. particularly when she sings 'Carrickfergus' also I do believe that she should have stayed clear of 'And this is my beloved' quite frankly it stinks.
So, in summary, it rather depends on personal preference and what you expect from Katherine, if you want the diva go for the dvd, it is stunning if a little bit over the top, (worth watching just for the butterfly scene alone) but if you want something more relaxing and something more suited to her voice, then go for the CD, honestly, you will not regret it.. just make sure you skip a couple of tracks and you will not be disappointed.
It is indeed a truth universally acknowledged...so commences the first line of the book as famous as it is true?.. do i detect some sniggers in the background?.. is it a mans predisposition to be proud and arrogant and a woman's to be indifferent and prejudice? If these statements are no longer true, (?) then it certainly appeared to be that way in Jane's day. There are many complex and competing ideals to the whys and wherefores of Jane's writing. It could not be argued that Jane Austen must have lived to write.
Jane examines the close and sometimes fraught personal relationships Elizabeth has with her peers and with her parents, which is often envisaged as juxtaposed. Being one of the eldest sisters in the household, she takes the responsibility upon herself to guide and even educate her younger siblings, which is reflective of how Jane also lived her life. One has to remember that at the time of writing, it was frowned upon for a young woman to be educated beyond what was deemed strictly necessary and if seeking a husband was not her primary concern then not having an interest in gaining an advantageous marriage, she would have appeared somewhat radical. I for one, rather like that.
There have been many film and tv adaptions - each bring their own interpretation of the book and attempt to bring it back to life. The thing that stands out to me the most (which is the reason i return back to this book and read it all over again) is that, above all else, humour and a sense of the ironic shines through like a beacon of light. This is reflected most in the 1941 version of Pride and Prejudice starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, which to me will always be the best, despite the appalling costumes.
The book is a delight to read, unashamedly poking fun at all who come into her circle, whether they be friend or foe. But it is also genteel, defiant, again unashamedly speaks of her class and of her social standing in the community in which she lives. It is not difficult to draw parallels.
'Why..you would be the last person I would ever be prevailed upon to marry'... justifiably cross with her circumstances, social restraints and barriers and with no other way to fulfill her needs she fights against her feelings for Darcy, while also sensibly admitting to herself that to secure her financial future (for her family also) would be a wise thing to do.
I would argue that even in today's setting, the story still has resonance - which I believe is part of the reason why this novel is so deeply loved and engrained into our English culture. We all still crave success and happiness within relationships and social acceptance, we all still want to be loved for ourselves alone and have someone set us apart and to say that we are indeed special and in a household of sisters this could not be more pronounced and yet more fun.
This is why Pride & Prejudice will continue to hold a place in our hearts as each time we read it, we are mirroring a reflection of our own needs to love and be loved and not to be judged. to uphold the virtues in which we believe and to support and defend our societal nucleus, that thing we call 'family'.
All one has to do to imagine yourself enjoying reading this book is to recreate the opening scenes of the book in your head. They walk in silence in the heat and the dust.. a family of three, exhausted, thirsty, hungry, each emotionally separated from the other. Alone.
They happen along to a fair, where the man (Henchard) is suddenly possessed of the right to quench his thirst after a long walk along dust filled lanes. They eat a form of gruel and unbeknown to the woman, the man has his food laced with drink to make it more palatable (often the occurrence in those days).. Tempers fray after more and more drink is consumed by Henchard and in a fit of pique, where he is both consumed by jealousy of the mother to daughter relationship and the lack of displayed affection from his wife and the disaffection he feels for them both, he drunkenly stands up and offers his wife and child for sale shouting.. 'who would have ye some of this..am i to be forever tortured by such financially draining constraints in my life or am i to be rid of them and free to be a man who can breathe again?' or words to that effect.. The alcohol he consumes fuels his ambition further to be a 'free man' again and as they eat at sparely set out tables, he eyes his wife and child with growing frustration and when his pleas are ignored he rises once more to plead to his audience to rid him of his burden.
The scene is jaw droppingly good and leaves the reader hungry for more so that you can taste the disillusion of the man and the quiet compliance of the woman.. you feel with shocking violation the strains within their relationship, the tense atmosphere and of how a bet (that could have been so easily resolved) and clearly goes too far. No one cares to stop it.
This is all any reader could possibly need to feel compelled to read this book.. why it isn't a compulsory text for schools and literature reading books worldwide beats me... Hardy does what no one else can do, he makes his hero and heroine victims of their own weaknesses and in that creates a monster of a tale that leaves you tasting the bitterness Henchard feels right to the bitter and ironic end..
While I feel that this movie will be entertaining for children and young teenagers alike, I do not believe that it holds much in the way of entertainment for adults. Antonio Banderas is as ever excellent in the role of Puss but the movie does not hold together very well with the other characters and Humpty Dumpty as a fat round turning evil egg didn't seem to or do the movie any good overall. The premise of the story moves around the fact that Puss in Boots is alienated somewhat from his home town (mainly because of Humpty's volatile behaviour) and when Puss saves the day as a young kitten, Humpty takes offence and will not speak to him or have anything further to do with Puss.
Puss's love interest comes in the form of Kitty (Salma Hayek) and the chemistry between them is good but not outstanding. All the one liner jokes are a little on the corny side to say the least and when they challenge each other to what initially appears to be a fight but instead is a dance, then it lost most of its appeal to me.
Although the animation in the film is absolutely astounding (and to be fair it gives a stunning visual experience to the movie) it is not my favourite dream works movie. I found myself wishing that the script writers had given more thought to the plot and character building and despite Antonio's excellent performance the movie fell a little short for me.
First of all Call the Midwife, is a series of three books, each follows the other, on which the new hit BBC series (One) is based. Unfortunately, Jennifer Worth died just before filming began and therefore, she never got to see her books 'come to life' as it were.
The first book 'Call the Midwife' tells the story of a newly qualified midwife who descends upon the East End of London in the late 40's and early 50's, I would say that expands up to and including the onset of the 60's.
The books, in truth, offer different perspectives on different stories which are recounted by Worth from her experiences (some of which are secondhand) during her stay working as a Midwife and Nurse at Nonnautus House. When she arrives, she is somewhat surprised to find that she is working alongside Nuns, when she was expecting a hospital. Immediately, her eyes and ears are opened to the squalor and poverty she sees all around her. The East Enders have an aversion to modern practices and require patience, understanding, empathy and educating. The story, which is clearly set some 10 to 15 years before the onset of the pill, describes the very real conditions that most experienced of that era. i.e. having multiple pregnancies and very large families and living in cramped conditions that harks back to the Dickens Era, or so we think.
It further tells of the social aspects of a young midwives life and delves somewhat into her own experiences of spirituality and her understanding and drive and even ambition to do her job. Often she feels drawn to the chaste life of the nuns she works alongside and steers away from socialising with the other midwives until Chummy comes along.
The most harrowing stories come from the book entitled 'Shadows of the Workhouse', which recounts the experiences of people who have survived into adult hood when placed in the care of the workhouse as children. Dark tales emerge of incest, rape, prostitution, domestic violence to say nothing of the very real horror of giving birth alone or going for an illegal abortion.
The story tells of the unstinting work of the nuns and midwives and their relationship to the people of the East End. All three books are a must read and add as a enlightened reminder of how just one generation removed lived and of how the onset of the NHS in 1947/8 became the cornerstone for change for women's rights in accessing appropriate medical care for pregnancy and after care.
I have recently reviewed War Horse the movie after seeing it at the weekend and simultaneously reading the book. Even though it is written for 11-12 year old's, I would recommend the read for all ages.
To be fair, reading and watching at the same time gave me a really good impression of the differences between the two, which I thought were acceptable and minimal. The book literally just sails with ease through your hands it is so easy to read. Above all else within the book, the bonds of friendship and of human and animal effort working jointly together and their relationship with each other, even in horrific circumstances shines through. I would definitely recommend this book as a historical study within classrooms even as I believe it could capture the imagination of children and get them to understand better what war does and how that it impacts upon life, takes it away and leaves little but hope and prayer in its wake.
Interestingly in the book, Morpurgo uses the voice of Joey (the hero of the book and movie: the War Horse), throughout the book, telling the story from his perspective, encapsulating him in frightening scenarios and being shoved from pillar to post as a consequence of anything but his own actions. Despite this, Joey takes a hero's lead and endears all who come into contact with him.
The book is far less patriotic than the movie but this I believe, is a reflection of the differences between the directors experience of war (one generation removed) and morpurgo's reflection of war, which is told in a more unbiased fashion. This is, I suggest, very cleverly achieved, whilst the younger generation read about a horrific story they become involved in it without being overly frightened.
The awful truth of war, the hundreds of thousands of men and horses that died on a daily occurrence during the First World War is difficult enough to write about. To engage an audience some of the horrors of that are not as easy to see when you are confronted with the visual image but they are still there, haunting us all from a past that cannot be forgotten but must be understood.
Having read the book and watched the movie, from a feminine perspective, I have to say that they both get the thumbs up from me. They both recreate an euphoric nostalgic sensation of a time long past, when life was complex still, but had spiritual purity and a lasting sense of morality. However, this should not deter any generation from going to watch this movie as it offers the viewer an incredible journey from a unique perspective. The story in the book is told from the horse, Joey's viewpoint and is altered slightly. I am pleased to report that this is not that noticeable in the movie and the director has interpreted the relationships perfectly.
The movie's cinematography sweeps with the expanse of an epic across wide open spaces with grandeur and panache, while the story pulls you in, compelling you to watch and learn and re-experience from a very human perspective, how their lives must have been.
It is set during the onset of the First World War and deals with many serious social issues effectively. Where the movie differs most from the book is that Morpurgo (as he is writing for a younger generation) tends to be less biased and patriotic than the movie. It is, without a doubt, a difffiicult subject matter for any generation to comprehend, let alone a younger one. Apparently, Spielberg interviewed many of the familes whose ancestors had undertaken the responsbility of tending to the welfare of horses during WW1 with satisfying results. This empathic understandiing and care shines through the entire movie, which in my opinion is not twee but necessary. The star of the movie 'Joey's' plight is ultimately to survive the war and return home and while he sees and experiences the horrors of the guns, the rats, the trenches, the mud, mustard gas and continuous explosions, he also witnesses his fellow animals being shot and wounded. When he loses his first captain after his first charge of the war, he keeps on running straight into the German Camp.
The story is further complicated by human reaction to him, which sets him on a pathway that he has little control over. It is a must see movie and I would rate it as a 10/10.