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Ms. Jf Bowers

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Tell it to the Bees
Tell it to the Bees
by Fiona Shaw
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A 'nice' read..., 14 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Tell it to the Bees (Paperback)
*Firstly, I think it a little misleading to compare this story to Sarah Waters as Waters is clearly on another level entirely to Fiona Shaw. Just because the story has characters of a certain sexuality it doesn't mean it has the same brilliant narrative and prose as Sarah Waters. So don't be expecting any of the raw, poignant drama or complex characters of 'The Night Watch' or 'Affinity'. However, I did finish the book so there must have been something worthwhile within the story.*

I see other reviewers have described Fiona Shaw's writing as 'delicate' and 'lovely' which, to be honest, sums it's up quite well. It is 'nice', but not ground-breaking. I was happy to see the book was short because there is a serious lack of drive and momentum to the narrative which made it quite an effort to read. I got a strange impression that I have never had before whilst reading a book...that the writer herself was bored, like it came through in the writing. After the first few chapters the clichés and sentimentality really came gushing and the promise on the cover (''if you like Sarah Waters, you'll love this'') I realised was just a misguided comparison.

The main problem is the lack of character subjectivity, the nuances, habits, patterns of behaviour that make us gripped to good characters and feel like we can reach in and touch them. All this is missing. The character of Jean I found myself wanting to get to know a bit more and I quite liked her but Lydia I mostly just wanted to slap with a wet tea- towel with all her whining and whimpering over this brutish thick-as-two-short-planks husband who has treated her like dirt for so many years. I just couldn't get my head around this character at all.

The other major flaw is frustratingly unimaginative dialogue that kills any rare moments of poignancy (''my body is singing''...oh please). Nothing in the dialogue deepens our feeling for the characters neither does it deepen the characters relationship with one another, it remains very one dimensional.

I still however cannot say I disliked the book, I liked the story (what there was of it) but the style lets it down. Drama and tension? No. Nice little book for a rainy day. Yes.

Imagine Me and You [DVD] [2005]
Imagine Me and You [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Piper Perabo
Price: £5.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surpirisingly lovely, 4 Nov. 2011
First things first, until half way through I thought this film was awful! Then something strange was like a sneaky spell had been cast. Imagine Me & You isn't exactly ground-breaking but it does something that is very rare in gay themed films and that is not making a big deal about it being gay themed film. It just is what it is and makes no excuses which is, for me, how it wins it's audience.
The plot is undeniably far fetched.(Unless it is common practice to invite your florist who just did the flowers for your wedding to dinner because you feel like 'you just click'.) and I dare say if it was an American film it would be too much to handle. Rachel (Piper Perabo) has just married the lovely Heck (Matthew Goode) but feels an overwhelming connection to her (gorgeous) florist, Luce (Lena Headey) and they become friends. But as Rachel slowly realises she has more than just rosy feelings of friendship for Luce, she has to confront her own identity and marriage.

The major flaw of the film in my opinion is the dialogue. For the majority of the film it is hugely unimaginative and predictable but yet every now and again just when I was reaching for the 'stop button' there are moments of hilarity and vulnerability in characters that keeps you watching. Rachel's parents (played by Antony Head and Celia Imrie) are brilliant and give it the true feeling of a classic British Richard Curtis Rom-Com of Love Actually or Notting Hill stock.

Finally, the ending, and the part which completely won me over. After so many Hollywood attempts at gay themed films I was certain that poor old Luce the florist who was so up front and open about her sexuality was going to be victim to the Hollywood punishment for deviant women. I saw her walking off into the distance destined to life of loneliness. Wrong! I won't give it all away but let's just say that in true great British Rom-Com tradition the dis-functional family rally together and give a good old fashioned chase for a happy ending. And a happy ending it is! I did give it all away, sorry. But how refreshing to have a film with two women in love who confront their feelings and are not punished for them. Good stuff.

by Annie Proulx
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Words that sizzle 'like meat in a pan', 11 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Postcards (Paperback)
I've always found it difficult to identify, in fiction, with male characters but 'Postcard's' Loyal Blood has been a character who I have thought about a hundred times since finishing the book over four years ago.
Annie Proulx's language, as one reviewer perfectly described, ''sizzles like meat in a pan''. Her words are tough and bloody, rough and earthy. There is nothing pretentious about Postcard's, neither in language nor character. Each character is crafted finely until you are able to feel everything from their plaid shirts to the scars on their faces thanks to Proulx's mastery of detail.
Loyal's story is one of toil, regret and longing. He is a man of the land, a trapper, a farmer. Crippled by the inability to be close to women after an atrocious incident from which he is running from in the book, his story is a delicate parallel of one man's closeness and affinity with the soil and his very being, a parallel that I found to be utterly compelling. In a culture like today's where meat is just something that comes conveniently wrapped in plastic and nature means nothing more than the new fad of organic diets, everything about Loyal's story (once we finally can forgive him for his mistakes) seemed astonishingly valuable. He has a wisdom, a greater knowledge than most.
I just can't rate this story highly enough, the ability of Proulx to craft a landscape not only in the emotional sense but of physical scenery to the point that you can feel the gritty sand and hear Loyal's heart beat just proves her as a literary master.
Finally, the ending! Simple, uncomplicated. Loyal wrapped in a blanket, on the land, knowing his days are done. He will die with his regrets, with his choices. Alone with just the fibres of the blanket under his nails and the ground and sky. Excellent, excellent book!

Burt's Bees Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap, 99g
Burt's Bees Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap, 99g
Price: £4.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for kids!, 11 Jun. 2011
This soap is not just great for kids but also good for anyone with sensitive skin. I'm 25 and have temperamental skin that doesn't like anything fancy with essential oils/butters and this is perfect. Oatmeal is fantastic for moisturising gently without irritating and buttermilk makes it creamy and smooth. It helps to reduce redness too. I use this all year round but its really perfect for summer because it's light and has a pleasant smell. Id recommend trying this if you have sensitive skin and don't like lots of essential oils found in most other 'natural' skincare.

Between Two Women [DVD]
Between Two Women [DVD]
Dvd ~ Barbara Marten

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great performances make the most of an awful script., 14 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Between Two Women [DVD] (DVD)
A female love affair set in post-war England, needless to say I was very much looking forward to seeing this film, and from the reviews I had read on Amazon, all seemed in favour. However, twenty minutes into the film I felt that pang of dread in realising the script was not going to get any better than the dreary sparse dialogue I was experiencing.Whilst not being compeltely ''un-watchable'', it is blatantly clear that the director had very little vision of the details of the story he wanted to tell. Apart from two women dealing with their feelings for one another, there is little else in terms of story that the film offers and it is all presented in lifeless and dull conversation.
Simplicity is of course paramount in films with such strong and delicate emotions as Between Two Women, but there has to be subtext underneath the simplicity to make it interesting to a viewer. If you are going to convey all the drama in dialogue, then the dialogue has to pack some punch. There is certainly no punch here. Luckily for director Steven Woodcock he did make one good decision, and that was in casting Andrina Carroll who can express a whole paragraph of powerful dialogue simply with her eyes. Its a shame the powerful dialogue wasn't there in the first place for them to play with. Instead, Woodcock's poorly crafted characters and unimaginative script forces these two fine actresses to just 'make do'. I don't doubt that if this script is rewritten by someone with more originality and imagination, the film could be extremely powerful.

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