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The Secret Lives of Dresses
The Secret Lives of Dresses
by Erin Mckean
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Delight, 10 April 2011
I took the time to read the other reviews for this book and I think the lower rated reviews missed the point of what, in my opinion, is a sweetly realised and poignant story.

Some reviews have suggested that the main character, Dora's, preoccupation with finding the right thing to wear to visit her sick grandmother is shallow and makes her unlikeable. I found that, on the contrary, this gave an instant insight into the nature of the relationship between the two characters and an immediate introduction to what sort of woman her grandmother is. This is essentially a book about one woman's journey of self-discovery: Dora is raised by a loving grandmother who takes pride in dressing well and hopes that her granddaughter will grow up with similar sentiments, but Dora, in an almost unconscious act of rebellion turns into much more of a jeans and tee gal. This is how we meet her. She is inconsolable to hear her grandmother is ill and after a harrowing trip home hopes to please her by finally wearing the clothes that she has carefully saved for Dora from her vintage shop. For Dora it's the last thing she feels like doing but it is the only act that she can make to stop herself feeling helpless. Hardly unfeeling.

Dora finds herself wearing clothes she wouldn't otherwise wear, doing things she wouldn't otherwise do, all in the name of love for her grandmother (and a wee bit of guilt), and in the process she learns a great deal about herself, the people in her life, and realises that perhaps the right clothes really do make the woman!

I partially agree with some reviews that suggest the title 'The Secret Lives of Dresses' is misleading. This is not a book filled solely with tales of, well, the secret lives of dresses. There are short segments about the secret lives of some of the dresses in the book but these work more as a vehicle for the further growth of our main character and insight into the author of the lives. This added rather than detracted from the story for me.

I found that this book had a nice balance to it. Anyone who has a real appreciation for clothes and their power I am sure will appreciate the sentiment behind this book. However if, like me, and perhaps Dora, you are much more of a jeans and tee gal, the great affection and heart with which this book is written will certainly win you over.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2011 9:51 PM BST

Sense & Sensibility : Complete BBC Series [2008] [DVD]
Sense & Sensibility : Complete BBC Series [2008] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Charity Wakefield
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £4.84

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good-looking but not necessarily good, 12 Mar. 2008
It was with trepidation and anticipation I waited for this to air over the festive season. I read an article in Radio Times that earnestly declared that it would not be stepping on the toes of the 1996 film version and would hold its own quite nicely. For the most part I am in agreement. This adaptation approached Austen's work with the aim of also showing the male perspective of the story and thus side-stepped encroaching on Ang Lee's filmic masterpiece. However, I am afraid it was for me, precisely this point that didn't sit well. Points of dialogue between the foremost male characters although artfully penned by the wonderful Andrew Davies seemed to be unnecessary and detract from what for me is an already perfectly formed narrative. I was particularly irritated by the sword fighting scene in the latter third as it seemed entirely pointless, and was even a little let down at Davies attempt to sex it up a bit with the woodcutting scene with Edward Ferrars, undoubtedly supposed to be to S&S what Colin Firth's lake scene was to Pride &Prejudice. Equally I thought the opening sex scene with Willoughby was in poor taste.

Be that as it may I thought the cast were wonderful and much preferred this Edward Ferrars to Hugh Grant's who I always struggle to believe can make anyone fall in love with him - but perhaps that is just Grant! Some of the shots were simply beautiful. I particularly loved the scene in which Brandon shows Marianne his library - the bowl of ripe red strawberries against the rich mahogany furniture was very evocative - and overall it was lovely to watch.

This adaptation was obviously made to entice a younger audience towards period drama, and in that respect I recommend it because it does its job rather nicely. If you could only see one version however, I'd suggest Ang Lee's version every time.

The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008]
The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008]
Dvd ~ Maria Bello
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.92

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'What would Jane do?' - Watch this movie!, 2 Mar. 2008
I knew that my reason for forking out the money to see this film rested purely on the basis that it had the words 'Jane Austen' in the title and that I'm easy prey when it comes to all things Jane related, consequently my expectations were rather low when I started watching this film; I expected it to be trashy but sufficiently Austen-filled to keep me content, well, in many respects it was but it was also so much more!

The Jane Austen Book Club achieves a rare balance which I am sure will keep Austen fans and and novices alike engaged with the plot. Each of the female leads offer a warm and realistic depiction of women at different stages of their lives, struggling with the demands of life and identifying with female characters written almost two centuries ago. Their engagement with Austen's characters works to highlight a sorority and timelessness among women, Prudie in particular as the outsider of the women proved a particularly interesting character. It is for me, however, the character of Grigg, the film's foremost male lead, who steals the show, stopping it short of becoming just another 'chick-flick' and adding another layer of depth to the film.

The film is called The Jane Austen Book Club but thankfully dodges concerning itself wholly with Austen's books, which means you needn't have read the books to enjoy the film. Indeed, even the most die-hard Austen fan can be induced to forgive the film's loose handling of the plot of Austen's Persuasion for the sake of the main story. It is a delightful story with some truly wonderful moments and I would encourage anyone, male and female alike, to give it a go.

Be that as it may, I am biased. I love all of Austen's books, Grigg's sci-fi knowledge had me fondly recalling my teenage years, especially when he talks about Buffy and Ursula Le Guin, and with Snow Patrol on the soundtrack I was delirious with happiness. If I hadn't personally responded to these elements I'd probably have given this movie a 4-star rating. But I did so top marks all the way.

Persuasion : Complete ITV Adaptation [2007] [DVD]
Persuasion : Complete ITV Adaptation [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sally Hawkins
Price: £4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful ..., 22 Feb. 2008
It is true that the BBC version of the novel is more true to the book and Tony Head's portrayal of Mr. Elliot in this version is entirely incorrect, and it is for this reason that I have given this version a four star rating instead of five. In all other respects I would say that this is a top-notch adaptation. The musical score resonates throughout the length of this production, providing for me the same feeling of anxious, tumultuous anticipation that had me holding my breath, hardly daring to read on, throughout the novel. The chemistry between Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones is almost tangible and the cinematography is exquisite. Certainly this version has been produced for a more contemporary audience but this is no bad thing. The only thing that lets this production down in my opinion is the dance between Anne and Wentworth at the end. What was that about?!

Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD]
Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.75

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Give it a go!, 22 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD] (DVD)
This is not the Wright/Pegg/Frost trio that many have come to expect so those expecting something in the same vein as Shaun of the Dean and Hot Fuzz will be disappointed. I think that many of the negative reviews for this movie fail to take this into account. It is a perfectly adequate 'rom com': The script is not a strong one but Pegg and Moran carry it well with a few good laughs and Thandie Newton is very sweet. Personally I enjoyed this movie. I loved the relationship between Pegg's character and his son - but then I am a Pegg fan - and would recommend this movie to anyone who wanted a light-hearted, undemanding watch.

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