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james-Arundel "james-arundel" (Arundel, West Sussex, U.K.)
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Some Other Eden
Some Other Eden
by Natasha Farrant
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read, but its been done before and better., 15 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Some Other Eden (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The basic premise of this book is similar to dozens of others... dilapidated but much loved country house, a family secret, modern day parallels, etc etc. But Marshwood is no Thornfield or Manderley, and this type of story has been much more successfully attempted both by Kate Morton in The Forgotten Garden, and by Diane Setterfield in The Thirteenth Tale. The characters here are drawn with varying degrees of success: Bella, while fitting the role of the stubborn matriarch is rather annoying at times and seems very inconsistent; her Grand-daughter Isla bogs the reader down with her tedious and commonplace marital and domestic problems, moving the book more to the category of an "Aga Saga" than a "Family Saga"; and Callie (the middle generation, who is pleasantly vague and unconventional, and unafraid to put herself first. Bella's coven of women friends, while diverting enough, are fairly one-dimensional and lack substance (A "Gaga Saga" perhaps?!!)
There are also gaps in the narrative: while Bella miscarries her husband's child, and thereafter fails to conceive, it is also made clear that the "relationship" with the French airman never reaches a sexual level, leaving the reader none the wiser as to how Callie's conception came about. The turnaround of events at the end of the book all seems to happen in rather a hurry, as if the author had had enough and just wanted to be finished.
All in all, a pleasant, but unchallenging read, leaving more of a sense of a job half done than a thoroughly satisfying read.


Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Atonement [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Keira Knightley
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £2.75

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely good adaptation of a fantastic book, 11 May 2009
This review is from: Atonement [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Many films based on books can be a great disappointment. The weight of expectation lies heavy, and subtleties can be overlooked. I watched Atonement with trepidation, dreading the possibility of it not living up to the book or worse still, ruining and debasing it. But Joe Wright's adaptation was both sensitive and true to one of the most simply touching and understatedly tragic books I have read.
The settings as well as the actors were perfectly cast, and the languid, suffocating heat of the summer was set perfectly as a background to the misunderstandings, love and deceit that form the main action of the story.

Saiorse Ronan was excellent as the young Briony, a captivating and complex character, her understanding/misunderstandings of events convincingly drawn, and shaping the lives and destinies of the other characters.
The blossoming romance between Keira Knightly as posh girl Cecilia and James McEvoy as working class but educated Robbie is charming.
The other supporting characters give performances of an equal standard, especially in displaying the role that class still had in 1930's England, as the privilged begin to close ranks against the educated but expendable son of the cleaning lady. Harriet Walter is excellent as Emily, the withdrawn, slightly distant mother who suffers from her migraines. Benedict Cumberbatch captures the character of Paul Marshall, the crass, slimey chocolate magnate to a tee; and Juno Temple as the manipulative Lola leaves the viewer in no doubt of her part in events.

The second part of the film which finds Robbie in Dunkirk is horrific, but complelling, and provides a stark contrast to the privilege of the pre-war scenes that open the film. I'm not sure whether much set building or clever camera angles were necessary to turn Redcar into a simulation of bombed out 1940's Dunkirk, but it proved a convincing backdrop.
Romola Garai's performance as Briony as a young adult provides the important linking piece of the jigsaw to lead us to the heartbreaking conclusion of the film with Vanessa Redgrave giving a touching cameo as Briony as an old woman, revealing the full picture of cause and effect of her childhood actions. The ending, and Briony's atonement is sublimely moving, and illustrates almost as well as the book, how our actions can shape our destinies, and how life (especially against the backdrop of war) can literally hang by a thread.


Call Me by Your Name
Call Me by Your Name
by Andre Aciman
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted novel but slightly lacking in purpose, 6 May 2009
This review is from: Call Me by Your Name (Paperback)
I took this book to Portugal recently as a holiday read, and as such, it was fairly enjoyable. The sumptuous, sensual descriptions of a hot, languid summer in Italy were mouthwatering, and the atmosphere of Elio's household successfully stifling, but I found the character of Oliver and to a lesser extent Elio himself somewhat lacking in motivation. Elio is drawn to Oliver, fair enough, and in time, Oliver reciprocates after a captivating game of cat and mouse, and the consummation of their love is passionate and intense. After which, on Oliver's part, the "specialness" of their relationship seems to fizzle out, and whilst retaining a nostalgic contact with Elio and his family, he embarks on a life of married, academic, suburban mediocrity. What exactly was this summer supposed to mean to him? Special enough to inspire nostalgia, but insignificant enough not to shape his future life in any way. Puzzled a bit by that....
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2010 12:31 AM BST


My Side of the Story
My Side of the Story
by Will Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for a first novel but fairly inconsequential, 29 April 2009
This review is from: My Side of the Story (Paperback)
This first novel by Will Davis is a moderately good read, though I found the character main character of Jarold rather unsympathetic. Whilst you follow his journey with interest, he is a very selfish, sometimes very spiteful creation that is difficult to like. His cynicism, and his delivery of it, while occasionally funny jars somewhat with his obvious intelligence. The insight into his mind during his "experiences" rings very true at times, and is clearly something the author is writing from bitter experience. The "like", teen talk, gets "like" kind of wearing after a while, though it at least is "like", consistent.
As a whole, the story, as such, was slight to say the least, but this was nonetheless a reasonably enjoyable lightweight read.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2011 12:34 PM BST


The Tattooist [DVD]
The Tattooist [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jason Behr
Price: £4.62

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok., 27 Aug. 2008
This review is from: The Tattooist [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Tattooist is a reasonably well put together film. A bit of gratuitous blood and gore at times perhaps, and it seems somewhat confused in its identity between thriller/horror/romance but worth a look just the same. It lacks depth, certainly, and Jason Behr whilst giving an acceptable performance as the lead character Jake, was working with a script that made his characer rather one-dimensional. I would have liked to know more of the motivation of Jake; why, for example he had the tattoo as a young boy, what his own tattoos meant/represented to him, what he got out of being a tattoo artist etc. But I'm getting carried away here. This is not a deep and meaningful film we're talking about here. Its a passable hour and a half's viewing, reasonably diverting, and in all honesty it's Jason Behr's tattooed torso that provides more interest than the rather flimsy plot.


Atonement
Atonement
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Audio CD

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful listening - an excellent book, beautifully read, 29 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Atonement (Audio CD)
I have already raved about this book in the form of a paperback - see my other review there. But for a wonderful book to be read so beautifully with such expression by a voice as rich and resonant as Isla Blair's is a real pleasure. She depicts the different characters with great expression and real attention to the nature of the characters, from the main Briony narrative to the "little boy" voices of Jackson and Pierrot, and the booming complacency of Paul Marshall.

I have whiled away many hours of tedious driving listening to this audiobook in the car. A real pleasure.


Atonement
Atonement
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and Tragic, an excellent read., 29 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
When I began reading Atonement, I initially found the very descriptive style of writing very hard going, and was tempted to abandon the book after a few chapters. I am very glad indeed that I didn't. Looking at the book as a whole when I had finished it, it is one of the most simply touching and understatedly tragic books I have read. By the time i was about a third of the way through I was gripped. Briony is a captivating and complex character, and her understanding/misunderstanding of events shapes the lives and destinies of the other characters. The blossoming romance between Cecilia and Robbie is charming, and the other supporting characters are beutifully drawn: Emily, the withdrawn, slightly distant mother who suffers from her migraines; Paul Marshall, the crass, slimey chocolate magnate; the simple but decent Grace Turner; the manipulative Lola.

The second part of the book which finds Robbie in Dunkirk is horrific, but oddly complelling, as the reader watches their hero weave his way through the literal and real minefields of war. Briony as a young adult has certainly developed and grown as a character, and at the conclusion of the book as an old woman, sees the full picture of cause and effect of her childhood actions. The ending, and Briony's atonement is sublimely moving, and illustrates how our actions can shape our destinies, and how life (especially against the backdrop of war) literally hangs by a thread.

I also strongly recommend the audiobook, read beautifully by Isla Blair.


Picnic at Hanging Rock [DVD] [1975]
Picnic at Hanging Rock [DVD] [1975]
Dvd ~ Rachel Roberts
Offered by babsbargains *** WORLDWIDE SHIPPING ***
Price: £26.74

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cut scenes diminish a film that was a work of art, 28 Jun. 2006
This landmark in Australian Cinema is certainly amongst my very favourite films. Ordinarily, I would score this film 5 stars, but as another reveiwer points out, key scenes, in my opinion vital to fleshing out the characters and plotlines, have been cut. Oddly, a totally irrelevant and superfluous scene of a reporter photographing the school has been inserted. Several scenes involving Michael, Irma, Albert and Mrs Appleyard have been edited out, and their loss is pointless and certainly diminishes the film as a whole.

My view is one of a languid, sensual dreamlike film, suffused with mystery, focusing on the reactions and feelings of the characters to the tragedy/mystery on the rock. To cut approximately six minutes from the film, is not to add to the mystery surrounding the girls disappearance, but to simply disrupt continuity, and to make scenes and developments seem unconnected and senseless, for example, the cutting of both the crash sound as sarah plummets through the conservatory roof, and the scene of Mrs Appleyard gathering her things together, the viewer could be understandably confused, and not connect the unrecognisable corpe amid the pansies with the vanished Sarah.

I for one will be digging my neglected video of this film out of my loft to watch in preference to this edit-fest of a dvd version.


Nanny McPhee [DVD]
Nanny McPhee [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emma Thompson
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.81

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Poppins meets Mrs Doubtfire and Maria von Trapp, 27 Jun. 2006
This review is from: Nanny McPhee [DVD] (DVD)
This is a thoroughly enjoyable frothy concoction, brilliantly adapted by Emma Thompson. Like in Mary Poppins and Sound of Music, Nanny Mcphee arrived to a houseful of unruly children with little or no parenting, who have already seen off scores of lesser nannies. Enter Nanny Mcphee, a towering figure with course grey hair, hairy warts and tombstone teeth. Through her unconventional and magical powers, she tames the children, reignites the affection between them and their father, and sees off mean Aunt Adelaide and monstrous Mrs Quickly (see the Baroness, Sound of Music). Touchingly, as the children grow more well behaved and loving, learning the lessons cunningly set them, Nanny Mcphee gradually becomes beautiful, perhaps magically, or perhaps to symbolise the childrens growing affection seeing beyond her external appearance. Thompson is captivating as Mcphee, Colin Firth is, well, Colin Firth as the children's widowed father, and the incredibly versatile Celia Imrie provides a delightful turn as the grotesque Mrs Quickly, comically common and abrasive.

Like Mary Poppins, who left when the wind changed, Nanny Mcphee also takes her leave at the end, having put the family to rights: "When you need me but do not want me, I shall stay. When you want me but no longer need me, I must leave." Like Mary, Nanny Mcphee's young charges barely notice her departure once family life is set on an even keel. Almost brings a tear to the eye.

All in all, a great fun, feel good film for the whole family.


Keeping Mum [DVD]
Keeping Mum [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rowan Atkinson
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.34

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept my Mum extremely amused!, 27 Jun. 2006
This review is from: Keeping Mum [DVD] (DVD)
It was a treat to have a film starring Dame Maggie released almost alongside one with Dame Judi (Mrs Henderson presents). Each in its own way was extremely funny and moving, Keeping Mum perhaps more slapstick at times, but equally showing the frailty of human emotion. It has been said that true comedy is very close to tragedy and vice versa, and this black comedy proves it once again. Only once before in my life have I seen my mother laugh so uncontrollably as she did after Dame Maggie's turn with the shovel (watch it and see!)

Maggie Smith is superb as the sublimely dotty and ruthless Grace, capturing a perfect balance between family feeling and family values. Gloria (Kristen Scott Thomas) is stuck in the rut of a marriage to Walter (Rowan Atkinson)that is not so much loveless, as lifeless, and embarks on an affair with sleazy golfing pro Lance (Patrick Swayze). Her daughter Holly has a similarly dubious taste in the opposite sex, while her son Petey is being bullied at school. Then Grace arrives, with her peculiarly uncompromising ways of dealing with problems, and the family fortunes begin to improve. Unfortunately Grace's methods are not strictly orthodox, and there are a few other hurdles to overcome before the final twist, proving the saying "like mother, like daughter".

Strangely, Keeping Mum shares similar themes to Nanny McPhee, Mary Poppins and even The Sound of Music, in the shape of a mysterious stranger arriving amid a family in disarray, turning things around, and when the time is right (with the exception of Maria von Trapp) knowing when it is time to leave again. Although it has to be said, Grace Hawkin's methods are more unconventional than Mary's, Nanny's or Maria's!!


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