Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer

Once again, another wonderful novel by Georgette Heyer! I enjoyed reading

this novel of adventure and romance. It is wonderful.

The two protagonists of the story, Prudence and Robin Merriott, are obliged to don disguise

on the instructions of their father, and are sent, as it were, into the lions' den of London. This is because

they were escaped Jacobites of the time and they had lived in other countries of the Continent. For various reasons Prudence's father had wished Prudence to disguise herself.

It is a fascinating

story of loyalty, disguises and a wonderful romance of Prudence (aka Peter Merriott) and

Sir Anthony Fanshawe. Sir Anthony Fanshawe, who to all appearances seemed not likely to

notice anything untoward did become suspicious of Prudence and that she was not all that she

appeared to be.. However, he did fall in love with her which is a marvellous aspect of the story.

Prudence was completely without guile and it is this mark of her character which is also so appealing. She had courage and wit and would even accept a challenge for a duel when called out. Prudence and Robin certainly became prominent in Polite Society which may not have been

initially intended.

Robin was the consummate actor who donned the guise of Kate Merriott to perfection. He was of athletic build and looked the noble genleman in his fashionable attire and nobody would have been wiser for his disguise. As Kate Merriott, he played an often vapid woman. The father wished to embark on a new life in England and claim his title of the Viscount. This in itself is a fascinating aspect of the storyline as he had left the family home many years earlier.

The plot of the story progresses and evolves with duels, cards, rescues, banquets and balls. I loved reading about the times. The costumes are described in great detail and the reader is transported to another time completely. The dialogue is excellent. I loved reading of the characters and their romances and adventures.

Wonderful descriptions of the moonlit countryside are given of England during a night ride with the hoot of an owl or the twittering of a nightjar breaking the silence of the night. A romantic setting is described with a horse trek across the open fields guided only by moonlight and the occasional lamplight in a house window of a town which they would circumvent.

Propriety and respectability are themes which do enhance the novel as it was set in the seventeenth century.

It is a noteworthy book of value.

An entertaining novel of great value and worth! This book does have all of the elements of comedy and drama and characters of some esteem. The romance of the story is lovely.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Casanova (film)

Casanova is a wonderful film set in Venice which I enjoyed watching.  The backdrops of scenery were
spellbinding and the baroque music was lovely.  The time was 1753, in Vencie, an exotic time, with the fashions, clothing. music and Carnivale.

The costumes which the characters wore were magnificent and the story amazing.

I would describe this film as romantic comedy and also quite entralling to watch.
I loved every minute of this film.

It is the story of the love between Francesca and Casanova.  The artistry, the beauty of the scenes and the humorous
adventures in the film made this film very enjoyable.

Casanova flalls in love with Francesca who is quite unlike any woman he has come across previously.  Casanova plays his role under many disguises and it is this aspect of the film which is quite humorous
and the misconceptions of the people he comes into contact with.

A doge, an inquisitorial bishop, Francesca's mother and brother, Francesca's fiance and the wonderful
scenery made this film very special.

The film stars Heath Ledger as Casanova and Sienna Miller as Francesca.  A must-see film for enjoyment
and light entertainment.  Even though the film seems humorous in many respects the film also represents
many truths and a wisdom of life.  It is a wonderful story.

Well recommended!

Best wishes

My best wishes Sandra

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Les Miserables (film)

I enjoyed watching the musical version in film of Les Miserables.  I thought it was a wonderful film
set in France about thirty or forty years after the revolution.

It is a compelling story of a zealous officer of the law determined to chase an ex-prisoner who had already served his sentence over the years.

A wonderful cast starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe and the beautiful songs make for an exceptional tale.  It is a tale of beauty and love, the story of the young people who put up the barricaades in Paris in the 1830's and it is also a story of hope and wonder.

This film is well recommended.

A couple of songs from the film:

Do you hear the people sing...

I dreamed a dream: Anne Hathaway as Fantine:

lovely songs!

I may watch this film again!

best wishes from Sandra

Love Starts With Elle by Rachael Hauck

Love Starts With Elle by Rachael Hauck is a compelling story of love, loss,

hope and wonder. I enjoyed reading this contemporary story set in Beaufort,

a small rural town in USA.

It is also an inspiring story of an aspiring painter, Elle, and a lawyer who has aspirations

of becoming a writer. I enjoyed very much reading of the lawyer's scripts of his attempt at a novel

of a World War II romance set in the Aleutian Islands, when in effect, he was expected to be writing a crime thriller or a political thriller.

The book is a fascinating story of people and relationships, of Elle, her friends and family, including four sisters and wonderful descriptions of the hometown of Beaufort given. At first impressions it does seem quite a wholesome story to read. The home, the art gallery, the cafes which Elle and her friends frequented and an aspiring artist whom Elle at one stage gives art lessons to as she is trying to steer him on to a more moderate path as his paintings were a little too extreme for her art gallery which she had previously set up.

Circumstances can change and at one time Elle is without purpose in life and it does take her awhile to find her place in society again after the sale of her art gallery.

The characters give depth to the novel. The prayerful Miss Anna, always with a song of hope in her heart, who was an inpsiration and support for Elle. There was the minister whom Elle was engaged to marry and the lawyer who became a good friend, her parents, people in the art world and at the art galleries who could decide Elle's future in art with their critical reviews. Elle's romances are also

cause for reflection and it is this aspect of the novel which is quite inspirational. I enjoyed reading about her interactions with the people close to her in her community.

The descriptions of Elle's paintings are quite exquisite as is also the story of the book. It is well worth reading. There is a quotation at the beginning of the book by Georgia O'Keefe of expressing by colours and shapes feelings which could not be put into words. This expression conveys a sense of beauty and wonder and seems to be a theme in the book as Elle's paintings were really quite wonderful and full of beauty seemingly touching on the spiritual and magical.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Colours and Imaginings

A poem for Poetry in Paradise which occurs every month at the Library:

Colours and Imaginings:

The afternoon sunlight

seems so right

if only it would stay

Not turn into night:

the quiet,tranquillity

Bird song and serenity,

it gives hope to my heart

and all the beginnings of a new start:

Pink shadows and grey

A darkening ray-

But a-far and be-yond

By a magical wand

the Sun dips its beam

into the Great Unseen:

Autumn leaves,

They flutter and fall

sweep up my dreams

and gather them all:

Ruby, russett, orange and red

Colours of imagination

wherein I am led.

A beautiful valley

Of Summer Green

the clover, flower,

and grass:

A spectacular scene

And greet in the distance

sweet summer's haze;

beyond the township

dips the soft sun

The light in the meadows

a glimmering one;

A perfumed landscape

As nightfall approaches

this I see

In all my reproaches

A shimmering stream


The beauties of Nature

give a powerful beam:

the contours,

the colours

they glance into Space

Now it is a canopy,

A starlit, wondrous Place;

Oh, this lovely Night-scape!

By candle-light beauty

echoes the Grace

with each little star

flung out into space

And the seasons,

an ever encircling ring

As May flowers bloom in spring;

The soft greens by the River Seine

they seemed to beckon and call my name

but out on the fields is a different scene

Crimson and yellow and bright blue and green;

The echoing distance

the ringing of bells

A picture-page story-book

which often tells

of adventures and romance

the kind which sells:

In distant played memories

My mind perceives

The beauty of this world

which never deceives;

Who knows where it all began?

The stories of life

which travelled on the winds,

in the currents of streams

whispered in leaves

and reached different shores

North, south, east or west

in the Great Plan:

As oft in my day-dreams

the colours return

Soft greens of a vineyard,

Do colours play tricks?

In my mind,

backwards and forwards

Colours behold!

Beauty magnified

in colours re-run

At the setting of a Sun;

Crimson starlight, pink and blue

Purple, orange, every hue;

Colours of the World,

I say

A beauty of Art

Peace of the World

I pray

And a new start

Peace in my Heart:

the colours and imaginings

Grace plays its part;

Soft glimmering hopes

my last wishing stance

the wonders of Nature

give a Second Chance

for peace, harmony,

beauty tranquillity.

The Way We Were by Elizabeth Noble

The Way We Were by Elizabeth Noble

The Way We Were is a story told with panache and verve

by the author. She tells the story as it is and what a roller coaster of emotional

drama it is!

This story is set in England of London and rural England. Sometimes the story is told in retrospect of Susannah's life growing up in a rural country town, her friends and a near neighbour, Rob, and his family.

It is an interesting story to read of a romance, career, friends and family. I enjoyed reading this

novel which is very contemporary in every respect.

The story is poignant and humorous, especially the banter exchanged between

Susannah and her best friend, Amelia, who had been a school friend in her earlier years.

I enjoyed reading of the earlier times when Susannah's life seemed simpler as she was growing up in

the countryside.

There are many wonderful memories and anecdotes, her memories of congregating with other members of the community outside the village church every week-end to watch the bride and bridal party leave the village church after their wedding and she would bicycle to the local shops to purchase her sherbet and sweets while the bridal party was in the church or of the wonderful celebrations on the village common on the occasion of Guy Fawkes Night which was a special treat for the children.

These occasions are told with authenticity and often the dialogue scripted would be the dialogue expected of the villagers spoken on these different occasions. Susannah's own parents, her family and Rob's parents are fascinating characters to read of with their idiosyncrasies and approach to life. It is a whimsical book to read with sentimentality shown at times in the dialogue and story. It is also sad. Susannah may have been the author of her own misfortunes. It is a story of Susannah's life. It gives a glimpse of a not too distant past in England of the twentieth century.

The Women of the Cousins' War

The Women of the Cousins' War, The Duchess, The Queen and The King's Mother

Three stories by three different authors comprise this book which is quite fascinating to read

for the medieval times of English history and the early reign of

the Tudors.

The first story is of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who was married to King Henry V's

brother, John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford and subsequently married Sir Richard Woodville, father of Elizabeth Woodville, a future queen of England.

I enjoyed reading of

Jacquetta's life as I had earlier read The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

where Jacquetta plays a significant role in the story. There are the family

legends of Melusine, a water nymph. Perhaps

because of these unfounded legends Jacquetta at one time is suspected and arraigned for being

a witch. She certainly was fortunate in that she was acquitted of all charges. Jacquetta is a

witness at the marriage ceremony of Elizabeth and Edward IV. Jacquetta's allegiances

previously were for the Lancasters. In those precarious times Jacquetta and her husband

often had to balance their position between the opposing forces of Lancasters and Yorks.

The next story is of Jacquetta's daughter, Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of Edward IV. This gives a fascinating insight inot her life as queen.

The following story is of the life of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of a King Henry VII, grand-mother of Henry VIII.

This biography gives an insight into the times prior to the early Tudor kings of Henry VII and Henry VIII and of Margaret's life, who was married at a young age to Edmund Tudor and gave birth to Henry VII at a young age as a widow. Margaret was ambitious and concerned mostly for her son, Henry, in exile in France, whom she did not see for many years. Margaret Tudor was the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty.

Her story is a noteworthy one of setting up a Professorship of Divinity at Cambridge University and being a founder of St John's College, Cambridge and Christ's College, Cambridge.

Margaret was a Beaufort, descended from the line of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford, who subsequently became John of Gaunt's third wife, the Duchess of Lancaster. During Henry IV's time a clause was included in the succession bill that the Beauforts could not claim the throne. Margaret's rise in politics and royalty is all the more spectacular for what she achieved from her early beginnings.

The stories give a good overview of the women and how they adapted to change and coped during troubled times in English history. The stories are written by three different authors, Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones respectively. It is more of a book of interest for people who are interested in this era of English history and drama of the times. It gives details more likely to be found in a non-fiction book than a fictionalised story.