amelia_petkova: (Default)
I'm about halfway through Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White now and I've been taking a break from it for...at least a week, because that was a lot of Victorian lit I zoomed through and I need to digest it before continuing.

To sum up what's been happening, Marian Halcombe (who is the BEST EVER, I love her so much) and Walter Hartright get their Scooby Doo on to find out who sent the engaged Laura Fairlie an anonymous letter warning her against marrying Sir Percival Glyde. Unsurprising spoilers: it was Anne Catherick. Unfortunately, they can't get her to talk with Laura face-to-face and tell her exactly why she shouldn't marry Sir Ominous Name. Walter Hartright soon takes off because he and Laura have fallen in love with each other but she still plans on marrying her fiance.

Laura Fairlie is one of those people who's honest to a fault. There are so many red flags with this wedding, starting with when she tells Sir Percival that she can never love him because she's in love with somebody else and his reaction is, "So...you're saying you'll still marry me unless I release you from our engagement anyway? Let's get married!" There's also pre-nup shenanigans involving money.

Other events include the revelation that Sir Percival is an asshole as soon as the wedding is over, the presence of Count Fosco and his wife (Laura's estranged aunt) who are both immensely creepy, and the reappearance of Anne Catherick, who I feel sorry for because she is clearly mentally unwell and was locked up in an insane asylum against her will, but also causes frustration because oh my God Anne, just spill the beans and tell the big secret about Sir Percival already!

One of the things that has stuck out to me the most is how Marian and Laura are trapped in what's turning out to be a horror scenario by good breeding and the expectations of polite behavior. Laura can't bring herself to break this engagement that is clearly bad news because it's what her deceased father wanted. Marian can't tell Sir Percival to drop dead when he's being horrible. None of them can tell Count Fosco to get lost when he's being weird and forcing his company on them.

And here's the biggest one: after a scene in which Sir Percival does everything short of physical abuse to force his wife to sign an agreement that he won't let her read and she succeeds in refusing, the women stay at the house. They go with what seems to be the best solution: send a letter to Laura's lawyer in London, asking for advice on how to continue refusing. That's good enough, but what the reader really wants them to do is leave the house immediately and put a safe distance between Sir Percival, and Marian and Laura. It's likely that he'd be able to get her under his control again because they're married and this is Victorian England, but if the sisters could at least reach their family's lawyer in London they'd be able to make a better plan and put a building between themselves and the men in their lives who are clearly up to no good.
amelia_petkova: (Default)
One of my goals this year has been to read and cross off books from my To Read list. Since The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins has been on my list so long that I didn't remember what it's about or why I put it on my list, I had to read it. I'm about 30 pages in and want to write down what I think so far before any plot twists turn up. This novel started its publication as a serial in 1859 and I haven't read a lot of Victorian literature, so I'm not sure how it might turn out.

Walter Hartright is a drawing instructor in his late 20s who has just applied to and accepted a job posting of tutor for several months to two young women at an estate in Cumbria (northern England). On the night that he's thinking about the job offer and walking home to London, he meets a nervous woman all in white who makes him promise multiple times to escort her safely to London and leave her when she asks, and she's very relieved when he doesn't know a certain nobleman. He overhears several men after he leaves her and discovers she has escaped from...an asylum!

So far he's met only one of the young ladies who's described as being the most ladylike and wonderful person from the back, then when she turns around..."Never was the old conventional maxim, that Nature cannot err, more flatly contradicted--never was the fair promise of a lovely figure more strangely and startlingly belied by the face and head that crowned it." Marian Halcombe is described as "almost swarthy" with brown eyes and "thick, coal-black hair growing unusually low down on her forehead." Is she meant to be of partial African or southern European descent? We haven't met her half-sister yet but I have a feeling she'll be blonde and blue-eyed, or otherwise a stereotypically beautiful Englishwoman.

They also have an invalid uncle, no companions other than servants, and two female companions who left recently due to the presence of too many women and not enough social activities.

I don't have many guesses as to what will happen next, but there are almost 600 pages to go and I look forward to shenanigans.

Pangur Ban

Aug. 20th, 2016 06:19 pm
amelia_petkova: (Default)
The medievalists on my friends list are gonna like this. (My apologies for leaving off the accent mark--I don't know how to add it when typing online.)

For a brief overview, "Pangur Ban" is a poem that was written by an Irish monk in the 9th century C.E. What is it about? It's about the monk's white cat who shares his room and chases mice while the monk focuses on his studies.

Now for the fun part: my new favorite book at work is a children's picture book titled The White Cat and the Monk. It's a sweet book that retells the poem with wonderful illustrations showing the cat and monk at their duties throughout the monastery at night until dawn arrives. It even has a historical note at the end!

I love that people were writing poems about their cats over 1,200 years ago; I love that the monk basically named his pet "White Cat"; I love that the monk's poem about his cat has survived all that time; and above all, I love that somebody in the present day thought it was worth making into a book for children. When I'm having a rough day, all of this makes me smile.

You can read the poem itself here.
amelia_petkova: (Default)
So I just finished reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Yikes.

Spoilers, spoilers, nothing but spoilers ahead:

Read more... )

Talk about a creepy ending!
amelia_petkova: (Default)
I have had this book on my To Read list for years and I finally borrowed it from the library. Shirley Jackson is the master of slow-reveal, creeping horror and I LOVE IT. The only other works of hers I've read so far are "The Lottery" and "The Haunting of Hill House."

I knew absolutely nothing about it going in, and I think that's the best way to go because it made even the beginning reveals a surprise. I'm only four chapters in and I want to make some notes on my observations and predictions before I get too farther in. Spoilers for only the beginning of the novel at this point

Read more... )

Something horrible is definitely going to happen in the book and I can't wait to find out how it all goes down.
amelia_petkova: (lenore)
I just read a review of "Sisi", the newest novel about Empress Elisabeth by Allison Pataki. Near the beginning, the review says, "She was the Princess Diana of her time, a storied beauty who longed for more than the trappings of royalty. So why has Sisi been largely lost to history?"

Um.

The musical "Elisabeth" has been around since 1992, it's been translated into multiple languages so that it can be performed in multiple countries, and has been seen by millions of people. I wouldn't consider Sisi as being "largely lost to history".
amelia_petkova: (lenore)
It's Peter S. Beagle's birthday today. Hi, Peter S. Beagle! Today's plans have shifted to include listening to The Last Unicorn soundtrack. I'd go on a reading marathon of the books I own by him, if I didn't have so much to get done before work.

And talking about this reminds me of how much I LOVE his writing. If I ever get to the point where I can write half as well as him, I can die happy.

ETA: The Last Unicorn is over 40 years old!
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
I finally got around to reading "Táin Bo Cuailnge" (listening to "The Tain" by the Decemberists is gong to make so much more sense now). After asking for recommendations, I read the edition by Thomas Kinsella and it's great. The story is very accessible, the introduction has a lot of useful information, and there are several maps that turned out to be helpful when I was reading. Years ago on a whim I bought the "Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology" which, besides being interesting on its own, let me refer to it to make sure I didn't miss anything while I was reading the epic.

Some thoughts, more or less in the order of the plot )

Great story, would read it again.
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
I read Bacchae by Euripides because of Hannibal. No, really. I lurk on Tumblr a bit and stumbled across this great analysis of similarities between Season 1 of Hannibal and the play. It’s a wonderfully screwed-up play, like the rest of Greek tragedy, and everybody should read it even if you don’t care about Hannibal.

(Also: for the most part I don’t care about award shows, but Hannibal didn’t get one single Emmy nomination? Not even for cinematography? Are you kidding me?)

I haven’t read large amounts of Ancient Greek dramas, but I think Euripides is my favorite playwright out of all the ones I’ve experienced so far. I was already familiar with Medea, but the anthology I borrowed for Bacchae also included Trojan Women.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN THIS PLAY IS AWFUL AND I LOVE IT.

It takes place after Troy has been captured by the Greeks and the women of Troy are being taken away as slaves. Poor Hecuba, the queen of Troy, has seen all of her family members either killed or enslaved, and even she is being sent away as a slave to Odysseus’s wife, Penelope.

As much as I feel sorry for everybody in this play, Cassandra is my favorite character. Rather than just being a passive victim who’s been driven mad by her curse, she’s more or less accepted her fate as a slave to Agamemnon (and later to be killed by Clytemnestra), and is determined to FUCK THEIR SHIT UP. (She’s still unstable, but not without a mission.) She says to Hecuba,

“Mother, crown me with a victory wreath, and celebrate my marriage to a king! Take me to him and, if I hesitate, force me. For if Apollo told the truth, my marriage to Agamemnon, leader of the Greeks, will be more painful to him than Helen’s. I shall kill Agamemnon and destroy his home; he will pay in blood for what he did to my brothers and father. I won’t talk about the rest: I won’t sing about the axe at my throat, or the murder of the others, or the agony of matricide that my murder will set in motion, besides the overthrow of the house of Atreus.”

She then goes on to talk about how their people are more fortunate than the Greeks, because the Trojans have the glory of defending their home and being with their loved ones when they die. I think this quote sums it up best:

“They [the Greeks] sent thousands to their deaths for the sake of one woman, and one love affair, when they chased after Helen. Look at this clever general, who destroyed what he loved most, for what was most hated; he gave up the pleasures of his children at home for the sake of his brother’s wife who left home willingly; she was not raped.”

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is a totally inappropriate analogy but it’s what popped into my head nonetheless.

I would have to say that the saddest part is that Andromache’s young son is taken from her and killed by the Greeks during the play—he’s not already dead when it begins. He dies because the Greeks are scared that the continued existence of Hector’s son could give the Trojans hope.

Thanks for ripping out my heart, Euripides. It’s not like I needed it or anything.
amelia_petkova: (Princess Bride icon)
Can anybody recommend a good edition of the Tain Bo Cuailnge? Alternately, any editions you recommend avoiding would also be helpful. I'm planning on reading it for the first time.

RONIA!

Feb. 1st, 2014 02:04 pm
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
GUYS GUYS HEY GUYS STUDIO GHIBLI IS GOING TO MAKE AN ADAPTATION OF RONIA THE ROBBER'S DAUGHTER!!!

Must re-read Ronia now! (And after Ghibli is finished with that, could they pretty please do adaptations of the Pippi books?)
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
I just got my hands on "Rose Under Fire" by Elizabeth Wein, which is the sort-of sequel to "Code Name Verity." I've only looked at page 1--JUST PAGE 1, MIND YOU!--and it mentions Maddie by name, then says, "Maddie had to write a big report herself last January and also be grilled in person by the Accident Committee."

OH MY GOD, MAKE ME START CRYING ALREADY WHY DON'T YOU?

What I should do is re-read "Code Name Verity" first because it's been a while and I'm sure I'll miss a lot of references to it in this new book, but Wein is really good at pulling your heart out and I'm not sure I can bear to read them back-to-back.
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
Hey, hey guys, guess what? The Neverending Story has been released as an UNABRIDGED AUDIO BOOK and I have it right now and IT IS AWESOME OH MY GOD I'M ONLY ON DISC 2 OUT OF 12 AND I ALREADY LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!

(Now if only Peter S. Beagle's publisher would get its butt in gear and release the audio book for The Last Unicorn, I could explode with glee.)
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
I'm looking at some lists along the type of "100 books everyone should read" and this one has some...interesting summaries. They're not necessarily inaccurate, just unexpected. (Note: I haven't read all of the following books.

Some spoilers behind cut )
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
I have a question for readers of The Company series by Kage Baker. Can anybody tell me approximately when Lewis would have been born or made an "employee" of Dr. Zeus? I was reading Sappho’s poetry recently and I’m thinking of writing a fic where they meet. (They’re a perfect combination! We have only bits and pieces of Sappho’s poetry, so Lewis could have been sent to get copies of her completed poems before they became fragmented!)
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
Recently I borrowed The Annotated Peter Pan edited by Maria Tartar from the library. It's great! I love well-done annotated editions and this is one of them. I haven't finished all the introductions yet but I'm already filled with glee. I just have to share these tidbits with you before I continue reading:

The illustrations include a number of playbills from various productions of Peter Pan, and looking at one of them I found that Gerald du Maurier once played Mr. Darling/Captain Hook. If that name sounds familiar, it's because in addition to being a famous actor in his own right, he was also the father of Daphne du Maurier. But it gets even better: while making sure that I was writing down the correct name, I also found out that he George du Maurier was the brother of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the mother of the boys who inspired Peter Pan!!! Where the hell is my historical fiction about these people?!?! It's perfect story material!

In the same production, the role of Wendy Darling was played by Helena Trevelyan. I don't have anything special to say about the real person, just that now I want to write Bloody Jack fic about Randall or Amy's descendant becoming a famous actress in England.

The role of Captain Hook has also been played by Boris Karloff, perhaps most well-known for his work in 1930s horror films. Just to emphasize, the actor who played this guy also played this guy.

I can't wait to find out what else is in this book. Thank you, Maria Tartar!

ETA: While looking up books about the du Maurier family in my library's catalog, I came across Neverland by Piers Dudgeon. A nonfiction book, this is the summary provided:

Relates the tragic story of the author of the beloved children's novel, who learned hypnosis to captivate and psychologically abuse a family with whom he had become obsessed, the very family that inspired the Darlings of "Peter Pan."

...no, thanks.
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
Kage Baker was really good at predicting human trends in the not-so-distant future sections of The Company series. Unfortunately, the world has once again proved her right.

While watching the evening news I heard about an elementary school that has effectively banned hugging. On school grounds, parents are allowed to hug only their own children. They are not allowed to hug other people's kids. Although not mentioned in the article, I believe the TV coverage said that teachers are not allowed to hug. They also mentioned that parents may not push other people's children on the swings.

Which brings me to Kage Baker. I can't recall the title, but in one of the earliest short stories about Alec Checkerfield he's very young and out in public with his family's butler. He's very upset because his parents and nanny are gone, and so he hugs the butler. Butler immediately freaks out and asks why Alec would hug him, doesn't he know what could happen, the butler isn't a relative and he hasn't been granted certification to hug, and he could go to jail for this, and what's wrong with you?

Yeah. That's now happening in real life.

Here's something about elementary school-aged kids: they like hugs. They like physical affection. They don't necessarily care if you're their parent. I volunteered at an elementary school library for a while and on several occasions, younger students (kindergarten or 1st grade) walked up and hugged me. They didn't know me and they didn't say a word, just walked up and stuck their arms out, hugged for a few minutes, and rejoined the class. The kids don't give a damn about this rule and I'm fairly sure many of them will be upset and confused about the limits on human contact.

This is happening at the same elementary school that suspended a student for making his Pop Tart gun-shaped, by the way.
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
I want a Blossom Culp/Flavia de Luce crossover. (Despite the slashing of the names, I don't want them to be slashed, just crossedover.) For people who are familiar with only one or neither of the fandoms, Blossom Culp is a YA series by Richard Peck set in the early 1900s U.S. Blossom is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with psychic abilities and a love of trolling her classmates. [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe wrote up a good summary here. The Flavia de Luce books are an adult mystery series set in 1950s England, focusing on an adolescent girl who belongs to a genteely poor noble family in the English countryside. Flavia's hobbies are conducting chemistry experiments, solving murders, and finding ways to get revenge on her mean sisters. (In the first book, she puts poison ivy--an extract, I think--into her oldest sister's lipstick.)

Clearly, these girls need to hang out. Lacking time-traveling or anything like that, I think Blossom would be in her 50's during Flavia's books. Maybe she's traveling in England as a fortuneteller and they meet? They're both odd girls and I think they would have a great time brainstorming ideas for pranks.
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
Over the past week, my mother has come home with the rest of the Montmaray books and I tend to steal them the moment they make an appearance. I have just a few thoughts on The FitzOsbornes at War at the moment.

spoilers ahead )
amelia_petkova: (pre-raph Persephone)
Seriously, that series is my crack. It's like the creators took everything I love best about stories and fairy tales and classical music/ballet and put it together in a blender just for me.

I'd heard about Mark Reads a year or so ago when he started blogging Harry Potter but didn't pay much attention to it. Then I heard that he was going to be watching Princess Tutu.

YES! So I hopped on over there and (after reading all of his entries so far on the Tortall books) read his post on the first episode:

"HOLY SHIT, WHAT DID I JUST WATCH???"

And now we get to the part where I will never ever stop laughing because that was absolutely my reaction when I watched that same first episode. I love that he talks about the different worlds. I love his thoughts on the music. I love his reaction to Neko-sensei because let's face it, we all had the same reaction. I love his ranting about how Fakir is such an asshole. If you ever have the chance to watch the DVD extras for this series do it, because it includes commentary on the first episode from the dub actors for Ahiru and Fakir, and they talk about these same things. I can't wait to see how Mark reacts to the rest of the series.

Now I want him to watch Utena.

Holy shit, he "read" The Princess Bride as well?!?! Forget the job hunt, there goes the rest of my afternoon.

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