More reading

Posted at Oct 25, 2009 10:28 am

I’m in a dry writing spell currently so I am filling my empty time at work by reading.  Yesterday I finished Zusak’s I am the Messenger.  I liked it well enough but I cannot rave about it like I did about The Book Thief.  The writing was not as polished in this early work; the characters did not have as much depth.  Two of the secondary characters (Marv and Ritchie) were not particularly compelling, so when the story finally brought them to the center I was not much affected or interested.  In The Book Thief , the poignancy of the tale was natural, in Messenger it felt a little forced, as if I could feel the author’s fingers pulling at his reader.   But, in my opinion, Zusak still stands heads above most other authors;  I am looking forward to reading Finding Ruben Wolfe, his early YA novel.

I am also reading Les Liasons Dangereuses by Laclos.  Some years back I watched the movie by the same name starring John Malkovich and later discovered "Valmont," starring Colin Firth, which I liked better than its more popular twin.  The book was written in 1782 and has even more depth and imagination than the screen adaptation, in spite of its rather cumbersome format.  In those days authors tried to disguise fiction as pseudo-memoirs to give their novels credibility. This story is told through a collection of letters between the characters with fake footnotes by the author.   Despite the heavy style of writing and the rather awkward letters describing things which no one would ever write about, I am enjoying this piece about delicious evil.

My last recommendation is  "North and South" (2004), the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel.  I had watched "Wives and Daughters" a long time ago and despite my weakness for period films (especially Victorian pieces), I found it to be so dull that I never bothered finishing it. The entire thing seemed to be one long stretch of what my husband calls "inane Victorian chatter."  But North and South was really the opposite. It opens with the token ballroom scene; I remember thinking "Ah, well, here they go—round and round again," but the rest of the film is intense and passionate; nothing like the polite romances of my Austen favorites.  For those women who swooned over Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy– Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton will pretty much kill you. 

In a good way.

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