Thursday, March 31, 2011

Villette by Charlotte Bronte Read-a-long:: Week Eight

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

This is Week Eight, the Final Week of the read-a-long hosted by Wallace at her blog Unputdownables. This week's reading includes chapters 36 through the last chapter 42.

Summary: So we've come to the end of Villette. I really enjoyed this read-a-long. Thank you, Wallace and thank you to everyone who participated in the discussions. I'm happy that I read Villette as part of a group reading because I don't think I would have liked it as much or realized as much from it as I did had I read it on my own. Charlotte Bronte brought all of the story-lines to a neat and tidy end, concluding them all with no strings left hanging, although not necessarily to my satisfaction! Some of the last seven chapters were long, particularly one very fanciful chapter, but all were captivating and provided some great details including some interesting discussions of religion and M. Paul's acceptance of Lucy's Protestantism and a surprising answer to the mystery of the black & white nun!

My Thoughts: (this section contains spoilers)

I’m still thinking about Villette and will probably come up with more issues and questions, but for now here are my thoughts! I can't say I was surprised that Madame Beck turned out to be the real "villain" in this story but I was disappointed. It didn't seem right to me when she snooped through Lucy's things more than once and read her letters from Dr. John. She also seemed to know too much about the comings and goings and business of everyone. I never considered Madame Beck completely trustworthy but she's also a selfish, uncaring woman. And Père Silas. Oh my!

I was so angry when M. Beck kept Lucy from M. Paul the day he was supposed to leave. But I was impressed with how smart M. Beck was when she couldn't talk Lucy into going to bed and Lucy became angry with her, M. beck sends to persuade Lucy to go to bed, knowing full well that Lucy is too exhausted to have a "discussion" with Ginevra. I was really irritated again when Goton gave Lucy the sedative M. Beck wanted her to drink the night before. It was great that the sedative had the opposite effect on Lucy, putting her into an excited hallucinatory-type state. It's so out-of-character for Lucy to wander the town at night by herself.

It was an uncomfortable, strange scene when Lucy is at the festivities watching Dr. Bretton and Paulina, Mrs. Bretton and M. de Bassompierre and M. Beck, Père Silas and M. Walravens having a good time while Lucy watches from the sidelines, thinly disguised. I can't imagine she felt anything but terrible sadness and loneliness, especially since M. Paul wasn't making any real effort to see her. Lucy, though, is strong in spirit, as always and she doesn't dwell on depressing, sad ideas but becomes more determined to gain her independence.

My heart went out to Lucy when she learned the truth about Justine Marie (she's alive!) and then believed M. Paul would marry Justine Marie on his return from Guadalupe. I was so happy for her when she finally spoke with M. Paul, found out the truth and then saw the school! I was happy that he kept his obligation vis-à-vis M. Beck but chooses Lucy. I wasn't completely sure about M. Paul but these last chapters proved he was a kind, caring man with integrity.

The revelation about the black & white nun was quite a surprise to me. I didn't expect de Hamal was behind it. The supernatural theme here was a disappointment. Although I don't believe much in ghosts and things I was hoping for a more "romantic" story-line!

The passage about Dr. Bretton/Graham turning and looking right at Lucy at the festival and approaching her, backing off only when she makes it clear she doesn't want to talk to him is strange. I can't imagine that Graham didn't recognize Lucy since she was wearing only a shawl and hat as a disguise. But it's not like him to respect her wishes, he usually does whatever he wants regardless of what Lucy wants. I suppose it's possible he thought about how she might be feeling not having been invited to the festival with his group. and didn't want anyone's pity or false cheer at seeing her. The problem with this is it requires Graham to think carefully and closely about someone other than himself (or Paulina!). I'm not actually sure he's totally capable of this but I think Lucy believes he is. Lucy believes Graham cares about her as a friend but realizes absolutely that there couldn't be any love relationship between them because Graham is too selfish.

Dr. Bretton and Paulina's marriage is no surprise but I didn't expect her father to be quite so upset by their relationship. Some of it was teasing but I think M. de Bassompierre would have been very happy if Polly never married or waited several more years. Of course no man would be good enough for Polly from her father's point-of-view, but I think he felt a little bothered that it was Dr, Bretton. They worked together on several projects yet he had no inkling of Paulina and Graham‘s relationship. I think this bothered M. de Bassompierre.

In thinking more about Villette I realized I don't really understand Mrs. Bretton...why didn't she invite Lucy to the festival in Villette? I think Mrs. Bretton cares for Lucy but she easily forgets about her. She's a sweet, well-mannered woman but she's more like her son than I initially thought. Sure, she's charming and great at making people feel comfortable around her, but I think she's self-absorbed. I never understood why she didn't keep in touch with young Lucy after she left Bretton when she was a teenager. I know Mrs. Bretton had some troubles, but Lucy was a young girl who could have used a friend and/or some guidance. Mrs. Bretton acts like Lucy's best friend when she sees her but when she's busy and having fun it seems thoughts of Lucy disappear! I think Paulina is somewhat similar to Mrs. Bretton. Polly remembers to get in touch with Lucy when she needs a woman friend to talk to or complain to but when her life is busy, she forgets about Lucy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog where we share words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun (please do!) Be sure to leave a link to your post over at Bermudaonion's Weblog.

The first word is from A History of Love by Nicole Krauss

"On Sukkot we sent our pen pal's class an etrog with our first letters." (p.94)

1. Etrog ~noun. : a yellow citrus fruit, similar in appearance taste to a lemon, used in the Jewish rituals during the week-long festival of Sukkot; also refers to the tree the citron grows on and means literally "a fruit of the beautiful tree."

This next word is from Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt

"The boxroom she wanted to rent didn't have many things but it did have a garden view." (ARC p. 6)

** I'd never heard of a boxroom before and found a definition on Wiktionary!

2. Boxroom ~noun : A room, usually upstairs, a storeroom for boxes and other things.

The following words are from Villette by Charlotte Bronte:

" Of course I "confounded myself" in asseverations to the contrary; and Madame, running into the little salon, brought thence a pretty basket, filled with fine hothouse fruit, rosy, perfect and tempting, reposing amongst the dark green, waxlike leaves and pale yellow stars of I know not what exotic plant. " (p. 437 signet classic ed.)

3. Asseveration ~verb : To declare seriously or positively; affirm; an emphatic assertion

"But we had a whole league to walk-thus far from Villette was the farm where we had breakfasted; the children, especially, were tired with their play; the spirits of most flagged at the prospect of this midday walk over chaussées flinty, glaring and dusty. (p. 437 signet classic ed.)

4. League ~noun : Obsolete unit of length of an hour's walk, usually equal to three miles

5. Chaussées ~noun (French) : Roads

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blog Post Problems!

I apologize to anybody visiting my blog and trying to read my Teaser Tuesday post. Apparently Blogger is having problems and the techs are working to fix it. Maybe it's time for a new blog host (or whatever it's called. Maybe that I don't know is also a problem!) Ugh!

Teaser Tuesday Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt

Teaser Tuesdays is an interesting and fun book-related meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week! My Teaser: " With a grim look over the rims of his tortoiseshell glasses, Churchill began writing. Getting no reaction, Black Pat continued, "You can't ignore me. We've got too much to do". A cruel smirk pulled up his muzzle at Churchill's refusal to engage. " from Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt (ARC p.61) Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following: *Grab your current read *Open to a random page *Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!) *BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) *Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! *And, finally, don't forget to link your post at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Movies ~ Movie Madness!

Feature Presentation...


It's that time of year when Basketball takes over the airwaves. March "Madness" it's called because higher seeded teams play the underdogs with a "one and done" elimination game where the winner advances to the next game until there are 2 teams remaining to compete for the championship. In films, madness is a popular theme, showing up in different ways, sometimes scary, sometimes sad and sometimes madcap fun. But, ultimately, madness can be entertaining. Here are some examples we came up with. Share on your blog movies that feature maniacs, lunatics, psychos, crazed behavior or mentally tortured souls, linking your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Psycho (1960)

Mr. Brooks (2007)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Villette by Charlotte Bronte Read-a-long:: Week Seven

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

This is the Week Seven of the read-a-long hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables. This week's reading includes chapters 31 through and including chapter 35.

Summary: (this section contains spoilers)
Spring has come to Villette and with it warmer weather. Lucy's outside walking in her alley. It isn't dark yet so she's comfortable here. Lucy's thinking about her future and gaining some independence. She thinks about the possibility of starting her own school. . Her thoughts eventually drift to Dr. John. Lucy has finally realized his manner and behavior towards her is nothing special, its just the way he is. Aloud she says good-bye to Dr. John and who should overhear her but M. Paul, of course!

M. Paul thinks Lucy looks pale. He tells Lucy that he has a room at the boy's college that overlooks the Rue Fossette garden and he watches everyone and knows "you all by heart". M. Paul also as a key to a door that allows him to come & go as he pleases and he uses it as he pleases. Lucy doesn't think he means any harm but she tells M. Paul that what he's doing is undignified. It was growing dark in the garden and M. Paul asks Lucy if protestants believe in the supernatural. M. Paul has also seen the ghostly nun . The tree under which the nun is buried begins swaying, the branches waving around although the night is still. The tree stops, the school bell rings and suddenly out of the arbor rushes the black & white figure of the nun!

In chapter 32 Lucy visits Paulina who has been away with her father. Paulina tells Lucy the Dr. Bretton wrote to her while she was away. She wants to know what Lucy thinks of Graham. Finally after much equivocating Paulina admits she loves Graham but she's concerned about hurting father because M. de Bassompierre treats her as a little girl. Lucy tells Paulina that she should talk to her father soon, when she feels it's a good time. But also that she shouldn't worry, just be patient and let things work them selves out as they will because Paulina and Graham have fate on their side.

In early May, M. Paul takes the school to the country for a morning picnic. He encourages Lucy to come along. M. Paul is in a happy, Pleasant mood. At first Lucy is wary of him, but he's too happy to become cross and they have a very nice time together. Lucy sits with M. Paul after breakfast and read to him and they had a nice conversation during which he called Lucy his little sister in French.

Later on in the day Lucy sees M. Paul outside pacing and talking earnestly with M. Beck. When they finished M. Paul walks in Lucy's direction but he because looked strange to Lucy she runs and hides. M. Paul leaves for the night when he can't find Lucy.

M. Beck asks Lucy to run some errands for her. She wants her to deliver a small basket of fruit to a Madame Walravens and be sure to put it in her hands. Lucy saves this errand for last. Lucy has quite an interesting experience at Number 3, Rue des Mages. She finds a very elderly, unpleasant servant, an elderly priest who's familiar to her and M. Walravens. who first appears to Lucy as Malevola, an evil fairy! This is because the extremely old M. Walravens is about 3 feet high, dressed lavishly and dripping with jewels. She's also very inhospitable to Lucy. As Lucy is leaving, the elderly priest invites her to visit with him. Lucy recognizes him, he's Pere Silas from many chapters ago. He proceeds to tell Lucy a story which she realizes is about M. Paul who the elderly priest has known for a very long time as M. Paul was once his student.

Lucy finds out that M. Paul is a very charitable man, extremely kind man. Lucy also comes to understand that M. Beck and Pere Silas arranged all of this in the hopes that Lucy would be put off M. Paul. But this has only increased Lucy's interest in M. Paul and caused her to think of him as a hero.

Lucy is anxious to see M. Paul now that she knows so much more about him. When they are finally alone and can talk, Lucy first asks him about his living situation, eventually letting M. Paul know that she knows all about him. M. Paul wonders if Lucy will still be his friend now that she knows his faults and responsibilities. He wants Lucy to be his close, intimate friend like a sister. Lucy is thrilled and can think of nothing better. He also asks Lucy's opinion of the nun and together they assure themselves that their earthly friendship will not be upset by or upset "heavenly creatures" and ghostly apparitions! won't be bothered by

My Thoughts: I am very happy that Lucy has put to bed her "obsession" with Dr. John. I think she's fully realized that his charming, kindly attentions when he sees her are nothing special but simply his natural behavior and don't mean anything.

I was also happy that her friendship with M. Paul has become stronger. Lucy is so pleased that M. Paul thinks so highly of her that he wants her to be his close, real, true friend. But I'm not as much a fan of M. Paul as Lucy is, I think she's selling herself short. I think she decided long ago that love isn't to be a part of her life and so she's content with M. Paul's friendship. I think it's ridiculous that he is giving most of his money to support the old shrew M. Walravens while she adorns herself in expensive jewels. She didn't approve of M. Paul for her grand-daughter but is fine taking his money for herself. It seems like M. Paul has some huge guilt about something and this is how he's paying for it.

The chapter about Lucy's visit to Rue des Mages with all the Gothic elements was great even though it wasn't very creepy or dark. I also thought it was clever how Bronte brought Pere Silas back into the story.

I find the little games Lucy played regarding M. Paul annoying. Why wear the pink dress to the country breakfast if she was so worried about what M. Paul would say? And it wasn't as if she could use Ginevra to block his view the entire morning. Weird! And then running away and hiding after she watched M. Paul walking and talking with M. Beck. Even when she knew he was looking for her, she hesitated when one of the teachers said Lucy was in bed!

M. Paul’s ego is ridiculous! The scene in which the 2 male teachers “kidnap” Lucy and quiz Lucy to prove, not Lucy’s intelligence, but M. Paul’s ability as a teacher is ridiculous. Lucy should have got up and left the room! It’s completely obnoxious that M. Paul believes that if Lucy does well after he has taught her it’s no reflection on Lucy’s intelligence and abilities but all of the honor is his and proves he’s a great teacher.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Togetherness!

JoJo and Addie (white markings) used to growl at each other and then one day they started licking each other's faces during an "argument". Now they're inseparable!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

Title: The Beauty of Humanity Movement
Author: Camilla Gibb
ISBN: 978- 1594202803
Pages: 320
Release Date: March 2011
Publisher: Penguin Press
Genre: Literary Fiction; Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5

" As Vietnam struggled toward independence, Dao’s poems reached into an uncertain future, contrasting images of Vietnamese peasants in Parisian zoos with those of human pyramids shaped like pagodas, allied Vietnamese workers with hands raised toward yellow skies. Some of these poems were eventually published in Fine Works of Spring, the first publication Dao and his colleagues produced.

Upon reading that journal by the bitter melon light of the oil lamp in the back room of his shop, Hung had felt the words do a perilous dance on the page. The illustrations vibrated with hidden meaning. His skin tingled and his ears burned as he read a poem about the hard times that had befallen the North since 1954. It was a risky topic to raise, one that might lead the Party to charge a person as an agent acting on behalf of the imperialists in the South.

When Hung tried to return the journal to Dao the following morning, Dao insisted it was his to keep. “Because you are one of us,” he said. “One of our movement to keep the beauty of humanity alive.”

Publisher summary: Maggie, an art curator who is Vietnamese by birth but who has lived most of her life in the United States, has returned to her country of origin in search of clues to her dissident father's disappearance. She remembers him only in fragments, as an injured artist from whom she and her mother were separated during the war. In her journey, Maggie finds herself at a makeshift pho stall, where the rich aroma of beef noodle soup lures people off Hanoi's busy streets and into a quiet morning ritual.
Old Man Hung, the enlightened proprietor of the beloved pho stall, has survived decades of poverty and political upheaval. Hung once had a shop that served as a meeting place for dissident artists. As Maggie discovers, this old man may hold the key to both her past and her future.
Among Hung's most faithful customers is Tu', a dynamic young tour guide who works for a company called New Dawn. Tu' leads tourists through the city, including American vets on war tours, but he has begun to wonder what it is they are seeing of Vietnam-and what they miss entirely. In Maggie, he finds a young Americanized woman in search of something quite different, leading him beyond his realm of expertise. In sensual, interwoven narratives, Maggie, Hung, and Tu' come together in a highly charged season that will mark all of them forever.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement is a skillfully wrought novel about the reverberation of conflict through generations, the enduring legacy of art, and the redemption and renewal of love. The story of these characters is tinged with longing for worlds and loved ones lost but also filled with the hope that faith can heal the pain of their shared country's turbulent past. This is the distinct and complex story of contemporary Vietnam, a country undergoing momentous change, and a story of how family is defined-not always by bloodlines, but by heart.

My Thoughts: I was unfamiliar with The Beauty of Humanity Movement, never having heard of the book or its author, Camilla Gibb, when TLC Books gave me the opportunity to review it. I researched Ms. Gibb and read about her other three books. The result being I found myself looking forward to reading The Beauty of Humanity Movement more than I'd originally anticipated. I was not disappointed. It is a beautifully written, engrossing story linking Vietnam's tortured, painful history during Ho Chi Minh’s regime with a present filled with proud countrymen intent on honoring their ancestors and celebrating contemporary Vietnam.

Camilla Gibb's writing is seamless, carrying you through the story with an elegant flow. She paints beautiful scenes as she writes, using just enough detail to enable us to visualize the characters and places on the page, but not so much that the story gets over-burdened and bogged down in specifics. When I took a break from reading and thought about the story, I realized the complexity of Vietnam's history and the rich history of the country I'd learned through Ms. Gibb's skillful story telling and captivating characters. Ms. Gibb makes the era of Ho Chi Minh's communist regime and the political upheaval in Vietnam during the 1950s more understandable by relating history through different individuals whose lives were impacted by the struggle.

The characters in The Beauty of Humanity Movement are what really make the story enticing. Ms. Gibbs excels at creating primary as well as secondary characters that have compelling histories and fascinating personalities with enough quirks that not only do we like them but we hope to see more of them. Old Man Hung was my favorite, a wise, intelligent, kind man with an understanding of human nature and sense of humor. He's burdened by many regrets from his past relating to his family, to the woman he has loved for years but doesn't speak with and to Dao, his great friend. Dao is the father of Binh and the grandfather of Tu, who are, for all intents and purposes, Hung's family now. Dao died at the hands of the Party and though Hung honors Dao daily, guilt for so many things plagues him. Hung no longer dreams about a better future for himself but continues to offer hope as well as sustenance to other Vietnamese. He never misses a morning to provide them his life-affirming, nourishing pho (a beef noodle soup) before they go off to their daily jobs despite the difficulty of finding a spot for his cart. And Hung's always available to speak to Binh, Tu or any of his neighbors in the ghetto. When Hung meets Maggie, his desire to help her forces him to reach back into his past and remember the painful days of political upheaval when artists gathered in his pho cafe, long gone now.

Ms. Gibbs illustrates the differences between Americans and Vietnamese through Maggie, a Vietnamese woman who grew up in America. Some would call her Viet Kieu, which means "inferior Vietnamese" or a traitor, a refugee. Maggie is familiar with Vietnamese history as a result of her love for and study of art and knowing her father, Ly Van Hai, was an artist at the time Ho Chi Minh was in power. She wants to find out what happened to him after never joining Maggie and her mother in America as he promised. After more than a year of searching, she finally met Hung and hopes he can give her some answers. Maggie, like Hung, understands people and realizes that artistic expression may result in art she doesn't like, but the artist shouldn't be condemned for that. Tu comes to understand this after talking to Maggie. Initially Tu believed respect for elders couldn't be reconciled with distasteful art.

Tu is a young man still finding his way in the world. He's been raised with traditional Vietnamese values by his parents, Binh and Anh, who worked very hard for many years to own their home. Tu is ambitious and, as a tour guide, expects to make a lot of money quickly. He is out of touch with Vietnam's history of political upheaval during Ho Chi Minh’s time in power. Tu is representative of Vietnam's current transitional phase and changing times. To him, the attractions he shows to tourists are just a part of the job. The irony is that he wouldn't have this job if not for the struggle of people like Ly Van Hai and Dao, who suffered and sacrificed for the freedom of writers and artists specifically as well as the Vietnamese people in general.

The book's title, The Beauty of Humanity Movement pays tribute to artists like Maggie's father and Dao, who suffered at the hands of the Party and were sent to rehabilitation camps. It was there they were tortured because they refused to advertise Party slogans and heed their orders. The title is also symbolic of Vietnam today, where the people have the freedoms to become successful. It also describes the beauty of people generally, such as Old Man Hung, who was so willing to help Maggie, Binh, Tu and their family, who opened their home to Hung and Maggie. Ms. Gibbs intertwines the history of these characters to give us a powerful and rich story about the enduring legacy of art, hope for a better future, inspiration, love, redemption and the ties that unite us.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement is a book, that, despite it's deceptively simple writing style, is complex and layered. There's insight into Vietnam, it's past and present. There's also quite a bit to learn about people in general and artists in particular. Ms. Gibb has taken on a variety of issues here, and handled them thoroughly, smartly and with an ability to weave them together to tell a captivating story that draws us in because of the important messages as well as the believability of its characters. I loved this beautiful story and cannot recommend it enough. This may be the first of Camilla Gibb’s books that I’ve read but it certainly won’t be the last. Thank you to Trish and Lisa at TLC Book Tours for bringing The Beauty of Humanity Movement to my attention.

Some other reviews: Reading on a Rainy Day, LotusReads, Pickle Me This

Camilla Gibb’s website

I received a copy of The Beauty of Humanity Movement through TLC Books for review.

TLC Book Tours website

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Movies ~ For The Foodies!

Feature Presentation...

Molly edits Restaurants Blog for UpTake, a travel search engine site. She writes her own posts reviewing restaurants, bars, markets, cooking classes, food & wine expos, charitable food events and any other culinary functions going on in her region of the world or wherever she travels as well as managing a small team of writers. (Very cool, right?!). Molly spends part of her weekends eating out and then writes reviews for the upcoming week. Focusing on food caused her to think about food in film, a popular subject. Molly came up with a "feast of selections" that feature food in film. Below are my choice of movies that focus on food in whole or in part. Share on your blog movies that are about growing, cooking, serving, eating or any other function of food, linking your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles movie post!

Big Night (1996) Primo (Tony Shaloub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) are brothers who came to America from Italy and opened an Italian restaurant. Their restaurant is failing despite fantastic, delicious genuine Italian dishes by the brilliant Primo who refuses to give customers the routine dishes they expect. The brothers invite everyone they know to one special Big Night to save the restaurant. The food in this movie is amazing! If you haven't seen it yet, it's a fantastic movie but be sure you don't watch it when you're hungry!

Chocolat (2000) A woman, Vianne Rocher (Juliet Binoche) with her young daughter (Victoire Thivisol) opens a chocolate shop, La Chocolaterie Maya in a small French town in which the residents are reserved and stern. Vianne opens the store during the 40 days of Lent cysung some angst in the town. Vianne's chocolates also shake up the towns-people, bringing out their more passionate side and change many lives. Johnny Depp and Lena Olin are also in this movie.

Ratatouille (1997) An animated movie in which Remy, a rat, dreams about being a top chef despite the problems with being a rodent in the food business and his family's wishes for something different. Remy finds himself in Paris at the award-winning restaurant of his now deceased culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau. Remy's passion for cooking won't let him ignore this wonderful opportunity. What ensues is a hilarious, beautiful "rat race" as Remy attempts to fulfill his dreams!

Waitress (2007) Jenna (Keri Russell) a young waitress who works in a small restaurant that serves an unusual variety of pies from any kind of fruit pies to pies that combine chocolate chip cookies with butterscotch. Jenna life is one she wants to change and she dreams of owning her own pie restaurant. She bakes a pie for every thing in her life whether she's stressed, worried, happy, over-joyed etc. and she combines ingredients according to her mood. As the story of her life..small town, abusive husband, cute doctor, quirky friends, pregnancy...plays out she creates pies. Some of them sound so good!

Tortilla Soup (200) Martin Naranjo (Hector Elizondo) is a widowed patriarch of three daughters trying to keep raising his daughter with good values and morals. He is a chef in his own Mexican-American restaurant who cooks lavish dinners for his family every Sunday. Stress causes him to lose his taste and as he trys to get it back, he comes to some realizations. We are treated to a terrific movie as dad and his three daughters, the oldest working to be a more modern version of the chef her dad is, try to figure out their lives.

Spanglish (2004) In this movie a Mexican woman, Flor Moreno (Paz Vega) with a young daughter Cristina Moreno (Shelbie Bruce) moves in with the Clasky family for the summer when she's hired to work for this dysfunctional family. The husband/father, John Clasky (Adam Sandler), is a celebrated chef and restaurant owner who receives a top rating from the NY Times restaurant reviews but whose wife Deborah Clasky (Tea Leoni) is insecure.

Tom Jones (1963) Tom Jones is considered one of the wildest playboys in 18th century England with a ravenous taste for women, food and adventure! There is a
dining scene featuring Tom and Jenny Jones (Joyce Redman) in the movie that is considered one of the most memorable demonstrations of the link between food and sex found in film. It begins with the loud slurping of big bowls of soup, Jenny's breasts practically falling out of her bodice as she leans over her bowl, slurping loudly and eyeing Tom lustfully at which point Tom rips the claw off a lobster and sucks at it noisily and happily...the scene continues including such things as Tom licking chicken bones, Jenny eating an apply lasciviously and oyster slurping.
Tom Jones (Albert Finney) is adopted by a British squire Allworthy (George Devine) as a born-out-of-wedlock baby (to Allworthy's barber and one of his servants) and raised as Allworthy's son. Tom grows up to be a handsome, kind, charming man and a rascal very popular with the ladies! He uses his popularity to his advantage going from bed to bed, having his fun and leaving a trail of broken hearts despite being truly in love with Sophie Western (Susannah York), another squire's daughter.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

Title: The Wednesday Sisters
Author: Meg Waite Clayton
ISBN: 978-0345502834
Pages: 306
Release Date: May 2009
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Literary Fiction; Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Publisher: Five women, one passion, and the unbreakable bond of friendship.
When five young mothers—Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally, and Brett—first meet in a neighborhood park in the late 1960s, their conversations center on marriage, raising children, and a shared love of books. Then one evening, as they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant, Linda admits that she aspires to write a novel herself, and the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society is born. The five women slowly, and often reluctantly, start filling journals, sliding pages into typewriters, and sharing their work. In the process, they explore the changing world around them: the Vietnam War, the race to the moon, and a women's movement that challenges everything they believe about themselves. At the same time, the friends carry one another through more personal changes—ones brought about by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success. With one another's support and encouragement, they begin to embrace who they are and what they hope to become, as The Wednesday Sisters welcomes readers to experience, along with its heroines, the power of dreaming big.

My Thoughts: I finished reading this book a while back, but developed a bad habit as a result of writing reviews. Looking through a book as I write my review, I find myself re-reading parts of it. Not so bad until I sit down and re-read the entire book, as I did with The Wednesday Sisters! Often, I also find myself doing this with books I didn't like, mostly with the hope that when I re-read them I'll find something that will change my mind! This wasn't the case with The Wednesday Sisters. I didn't have any problems with this book, a wonderful story about friendship, loyalty, the power of literature and believing in yourself!

The Wednesday Sisters is narrated by Mary Frances O'Connor, or "Frankie". Frankie is easy to connect with and a woman we would hope to have as a friend if we don't already. She's interested in her friends' lives, encourages them, and is observant and honest. She's the perfect choice of the five different women to look back on their lives and relate their story. Unlike Allie, who is painfully shy, even sometimes withdrawn, Frankie is quiet and timid but also friendly and approachable. Where Linda is brusque and blunt, Frankie is gentle and tactful with a great sense of humor. She comes from a working-class family in Chicago and her life is vastly different from Kath, a debutante from a wealthy Kentucky family. Finally, there's Brett, who is not only college educated but has a Masters. Unlike Brett, Frankie didn't go to college as her father didn't believe in educating women. Frankie is very insecure about her lack of education and doubts her intelligence, especially next to Brett's brilliance. But, like many women who grew up in the 40's and 50's, the five Wednesday sisters married, became good mothers and wives who are first and foremost defined by their husbands' careers.
The women bond over a mutual adoration of great literature from Daphne du Maurier to F. Scott Fitzgerald to Sylvia Plath. But it's not until they form the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society that the women discover they harbor dreams for themselves beyond marriage, dreams they've never dared share with anyone else. The women write, share and critique each other's stories, essays, book passages and poems. Their writings become a jumping off point to tell each other about their lives, hopes, fears, experiences, their current joys and worries. The women get to know each other very well. and while discovering who each woman is, they also discover themselves. They learn to give the support, comfort and loyalty offered to each other to themselves, as they learn to believe in and trust who they are.

The author's writing is tight and engaging, moving the story along at a brisk, measured pace. Her ability to say so much in less than three hundred pages is a tribute to her skill at keeping to what matters. So, although we know the women are trying to write (some more than others), we get only some brief glimpses, just a few lines from, for instance, one of Frankie's drafts and a short story of Linda's. Ms. Clayton wisely opts not to fill the pages of this book with each woman's voice via their writing. She keeps her story centered around the five likable female characters who all women can identify with in some way. Their initial bond just happened to be over a shared love of literature.

As their friendships grow, the women support each other while confronting difficult issues in their lives. Their strengthening bond enables them to trust each other as well as themselves and to acknowledge who they are, their faults as well as attributes. Ms. Clayton does an admirable job of showing us how the friendships of these women through the years gives them the strength to deal with life on a personal and public level.

Meg Waite Clayton sets The Wednesday Sisters in the late 60's as it moves into the 70's, a time of growth and extreme change in America. Together the women experience the race space race, the Vietnam War, a civil rights and women's movement that encourages them to see their lives from different perspectives. Ms. Clayton uses the Miss America Pageant to mark the passing years. It's an ideal vehicle to emphasize the impact significant changes in America are having on society as well as the women's lives. They bond while watching the Miss America Pageant and talk about issues that affect their lives, but are also universal to all women, which makes this a book all (American) women can understand.

The Wednesday Sisters is beautifully written, a compelling and poignant story about friendship, loyalty and believing in ourselves enough to make our dreams come true. Meg Waite Clayton shows us how these women learn through a love of great literature and the power of friendship to overcome the obstacles in their lives and celebrate who they are. This is not a beach read. Rather, it is a book for intelligent women written with a sense of humor and an awareness of many of life's ironies. I loved this book and recommend it!

Meg Waite Clayton has a website and a great blog, 1st Books: Stories of How Writers Get Started

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Villette by Charlotte Bronte Read-a-long:: Week Six

Villette by Charlotte Bronte
This is the Week Six of the read-a-long hosted by Wallace at her blog Unputdownables. This week's reading includes chapters 26 through and including chapter 30.

Summary: (this section contains spoilers)
This week's chapters are primarily set at the school and involve quite a bit of interaction between Lucy and Monsieur Paul Emanuel. Theirs is an odd and interesting relationship but M. Paul is an eccentric man. Lucy sometimes compares him to Napoleon Bonaparte!

In chapter twenty-six, Lucy sees the ghostly figure of the nun again. She decides that her letters from Dr. John must be hidden somewhere safe because someone, other than Madame Beck, may have been snooping through them. After sealing the letters in a bottle, Lucy takes the bottle outside late one evening and buries it under the pear tree near the supposed tomb of the nun. The moon shines brightly, suddenly, and Lucy sees the spectral nun. Although afraid, Lucy approaches, speaks to and tries to touch the nun but the figure recedes and disappears. Lucy doesn't tell anyone.

M. de Bassompierre tries to hire Lucy to be a companion to Polly, offering to triple her salary. But Lucy has no interest in being a paid companion. She visits Polly frequently and they begin studying German together.

Ginevra's apparently been bragging to Polly about her relationship with Dr. Bretton(Dr.John), telling her they will be married one day. Lucy and Polly decide to test Ginevra, and arrange for her to attend a party M. de Bassompierre is hosting which Mrs. Bretton and Dr. Bretton are also attending. Things go as expected and it's clear by the end of the party that Dr. Bretton is no longer interested in Ginevra.

Dr. John upsets Lucy at the party by telling her that if she were a boy they would have been good friends. He wants Lucy to ask Polly what she remembers from the long-ago days when Polly visited Bretton but Lucy, tired of Dr. John and his self-absorbed ways, refuses. (yay!)

M. Paul is also at the party which surprises Lucy. He give a speech which he later sought Lucy's opinion regarding, obviously hoping for her approval and admiration. Lucy was shocked and pleased that M. Paul expected her to have an opinion about his speech but, as a result, words fail her. Later on, M. Paul gets upset watching Lucy talking with Dr. John. He overhears some of the conversation and misinterprets Lucy's words and actions. M. Paul quietly criticizes Lucy and says something ugly about her. Lucy's very angry. Dr. John laughs at the incident causing Lucy to become teary.

M. Paul approaches Lucy as she's leaving. He's surprised that she's upset at him. M. Paul begs Lucy’s forgiveness and when he finally gets it, in such a way that Lucy finds his face transformed, “I cannot affirm that I had ever witnessed the smile of pleasure, or content, or kindness round M. Paul’s lips, or in his eyes before. (p.363 signet classic ed.)

In the next chapter, Lucy breaks M. Paul's glasses when she interrupts one of his classes delivering an important message. M. Paul doesn't like to be interrupted. He refuses to heed the message, but isn't upset with Lucy. He's kind even though Lucy broke his glasses! But later that night, M. Paul misinterprets Lucy's actions and, once again gets upset. Before the night is over, he tells Lucy she can be unpleasant and then criticizes the way she's been dressing recently. He cautions Lucy not to wear too many accessories. She's making a gold and silk watchguard for a gentleman and teases M. Paul, asking if he disapproves of it?

Lucy spent the evening and night making the watchguard for M. Paul to give him at his school party. The students and teachers give him flowers but Lucy hangs back, not giving M. Paul his gift right away. M. Paul becomes angry and gives a lecture. Later on Lucy finds him rummaging through her desk but M. Paul doesn't seem to mind since he was leaving books for her to read. Lucy gives him the box with the watchguard which M. Paul is very happy about and puts on right away. That night they sit together in the refectory during a reading.

M. Paul is still disapproving and critical of Lucy most of the time. When he discovers she isn't well-educated in mathematics he determines he will teach her. M. Paul is very sweet as Lucy struggles to learn, but once she understands and grasps the subject, M. Paul becomes irritable and demanding as if he doesn't want her to do well. Lucy becomes angry with him and shows it by throwing the books at his feet! He wants her to take a public exam because he thinks she will fail. Lucy refuses.

My Thoughts: I am finding these chapters of Villette very funny and entertaining. I feel as if we are reading a book about children with all their games, antics and fits! Ginevra, M. Paul, Dr. John, Polly and Lucy all play these ridiculous little games with each other, as if they're in high school!

I half expect M. Paul to pull Lucy's hair at some point. She's not much better, though. I thought it was ridiculous when she didn't give him the gift she made him at the same time as everyone else did. Lucy enjoyed watching M. Paul get upset, I think. But why he had to make a big deal about not getting a gift from Lucy in front of the entire school is beyond me. It's ridiculous. M, Paul obviously likes Lucy but then he also criticizes her so much and he's rather cruel about it. I was relieved that he didn't get angry when she broke his glasses. I think it's very funny that he cuts out passages and pages from the books he gives Lucy! I laughed a lot when Lucy threw the books at M. Paul's feet, too! Good for her. If they do decide they love each other, I think they are going to have some loud arguments!

I'm glad that Lucy is finished with Dr. John for the most part. He may be a good and kind doctor but emotionally he has problems. He's obnoxious, full of himself and he uses Lucy for entertainment and amusement. He knows Lucy is sensitive about some things and he'd be blind not to realize she likes him (although he's so wrapped up in himself, it's possible he's that clueless). But Dr. John knows he's hurt Lucy in the past and he still says things to her that hurt her and then acts as if it's no matter to him. I wanted to slap him when he laughed after Lucy became angry with M. Paul at the Hotel Crecy party. In some ways, Dr. John's actually perfect for Ginevra, except that he loves his mother very much. Possibly one of his few saving graces. I wonder if Polly will fawn all over him like she did at Bretton and serve him as she does her father? I loved that Lucy gave Ginevra a sound "moral drubbing' in the carriage on the way home from the Hotel Crecy. Ginevra is a vapid, awful girl, nasty to Lucy, jealous of Polly. But I don't think she'll ever be very happy in life if she doesn't grow up a bit. I was amused at Lucy's idea for she and Polly to put Ginevra to the test regarding her bragging about Dr. John.

I feel badly for Lucy because of her crush on Dr. John...watching his interest in other women has to be difficult. But I think Lucy likes Polly and thinks she has some good values & some maturity and so Lucy's able to put her jealousy aside. I'm also happy for Lucy that she's become friends with Polly and has a small circle of people she can count on. Lucy seemed a little more content, less restless in these chapters. Hopefully her beliefs in love and happiness as pertaining to her own life, are changing!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - Picking Bones from Ash

Teaser Tuesdays is an interesting and fun book-related meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

" I wrote letters to the music department promising that I would not pull any stunts again during my exams. I would accept a low grade and promised to play the Mozart in my next recital. I would not assume that I knew better than my teacher.
Except, of course, that I did. "

from Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mutsuki Mockett (p.52)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Movies ~ Feeling Bookish!

Feature Presentation...

Molly and several other quirky girls have joined together and formed a group book blog, Quirky Girls Read. This coming Friday, 3/18. the Bumble Town Chat will host a meet & great of Molly's new group blog. So, in honor of book blogging, today's topic is about movies that feature books, reading, librarians, bookstores and anything else book-related. Share on your blog some of your favorite bookish flicks, linking your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

The Princess Bride (1987) The grandfather (Peter Falk) of a sick boy (Fred Savage) reads him a classic fairytale complete with a beautiful princess kidnapped by outlaws, a dreaded pirate, an evil prince, a six-fingered man, swordplay, dueling plenty of adventure, fantasy, romance and laughs!

The Neverending Story (1980) A young boy, Bastian (Barrett Oliver) is tormented by bullies on a daily basis. One day he ducks into an old bookshop. He asks the proprieter about an ancient storybook & is told it isn't "safe". Nevertheless, Bastian "borrows" the story book and, hidden away in his attic, he retreats into the mythical land of Fantasia which is being threatened by a mystical force and needs a hero to save it from destruction.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is your typical, monotonous IRS agent. And then one day, Harold hears a voice inside his head narrating the "story" of his life, telling everything he does as he does it! The voice is familiar to him and, eventually he realizes it's the voice of a well-known author, Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) whom he recently saw on TV. When Harold doesn't like part of his life story, he goes in search of Karen Eiffel and discovers she is suffering from writer's block.

Paperback Romance
(1997) In this Australian film, Sophie (Gia Carides) an author of racy romance novels, is working on her most recent book in the library, reading bits of it aloud. She discovers Eddie (Anthony LaPaglia) eavesdropping. Sophie believes he's the man of her dreams but her one paralyzed leg, from polio as a child, stops her from pursuing Eddie. Then Sophie breaks her leg & decides to use this to her advantage. But in this charming, quirky comedy she's not the only one hiding something!

The Answer Man
(2009) Arlen Faber (Jeff Daniles) is the odd, reclusive author of a best-selling, spiritual self-help book, "Me and God". Everyone wants to meet Arlen. Arlen doesn't want to meet anyone. Arlen becomes smitten with a single mother, Elizabeth, (Lauren Graham) of a young boy who unwittingly forces Arlen to confront his past and come to realizations. At the same time Arlen also begins to give advice to a troubled bookstore owner who tracks him down.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Salon - Blogging Cats!?!

I had no idea we turned the clocks ahead last night until a few hours before I went to bed. I would have figured it out at some point when I realized the time on the cable-box (re-sets itself) and the coffee maker (I have to manually re-set the time) were different. It might have taken a few days! (just joking...I hope!). Fortunately, when I was on twitter yesterday someone, I think it was Sarah Dessen, tweeted to move the time ahead an hour last night. Thank you Sarah! I'm looking forward to more light later in the evening and warmer days. Spring is coming!

I visited Twitter yesterday and the day before trying to figure it out, understand it a little bit better. Up until now I've only really used it to tweet about giveaways on book blogs. Am I supposed to just tweet anything I feel like? Or should it be something mildly important? Should I be tweeting to anyone in particular or just to everyone and see if someone replies? It seems so strange to me, this twitter thing. Bit it also seems like the whole rest of the world gets it except me, grandma Amy. The thing is I'm barely 40! So I figured since I didn't do too well when I tried to get a handle on Facebook, I decided to try clueing in to Twitter! Baby steps!

I'm creating a blog for the cats. A place to tell all of their stories and some of their "exciting" daily adventures! I've been neglecting them a little bit on my blog and cats like all the attention focused on them! A separate blog will also be a good place to highlight the rescue of homeless and stray cats (and dogs) from the streets....getting them medical attention, finding them homes, etc.. I hear and read about many different organizations, large and small, that take care of rescue animals and I'd like to write about them and the amazing work they do. Besides, some of the cats, like Bob and Sadie, want more of their pictures posted!

Today I'm going to try to finish Picking Bones from the Ash by Marie Mutsuki Mockett. I might also start Strange Relation by Rachel Hadas.
What are you reading or doing with your Sunday?!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Villette by Charlotte Bronte Read-a-long:: Week Five

Villette by Charlotte Bronte read-a-long hosted by Wallace at her blog, Unputdownables.
Week Five, Chapters 21, 22, 23, 24 & 25
Summary: (this section contains spoilers)
Lucy is back at Rue Fossette to resume her teaching responsibilities. She's very sad. Dr. John has promised to write and tells her Mrs. Bretton will visit. Lucy spends quite a bit of time wondering whether or not she'll actually get a letter from Dr. John and trying to talk herself out of hoping for one. Lucy sees M. Paul soon after returning but she's not in the mood to be teased or to talk to him at all. Later on in the day, Ginevra comes looking for Lucy because she knows Lucy's been staying with Dr. John and his mother. Ginevra wants to talk about Dr. John and is rather rude when she does. For some reason, Lucy humors her.

A letter finally arrives for Lucy from Dr. John. M. Paul delivers the letter to Lucy in the classroom. Lucy immediately takes the letter to her room and hides it away to enjoy later. When she returns to the classroom, she finds M. Paul ranting and raving about the students behavior and speech. He turns on Lucy blaming her for the students. When Lucy doesn't answer him, M. Paul became incensed. Although Lucy tries to remain calm, especially since some of the students were crying, her voice cracks when she finally speaks. This calms down M. Paul. But, by the end of the chapter he's annoyed again!

Lucy retreats to her bedroom in the evening to read the letter. But Ginevra is already in bed, not feeling well.(I found this an interesting tidbit). Lucy takes the letter up to the dark, cold garrett, 3 flights up but guaranteed privacy. She’s enjoying her letter when she hears a footstep and looks to the dark end of the long room. She sees, in the middle of the room, a figure in black skirts with a head bandaged in white. Lucy runs to M. Beck's sitting room and tells M. Beck and her company that someone is in the garrett. One of the men is Dr. John, there to treat M. Beck mother.

The police are called but nothing is discovered. Dr. John found his letter to Lucy. He doesn't give it back to her, initially, teasing her about it. But Lucy is so upset at losing it that he returns it to her. Dr. John encourages Lucy to tell him exactly what she saw. She describes the apparition as a nun He thinks Lucy saw it as a result of being depressed, it's a trick of her mind. He tells her she needs to "cultivate happiness" have "a cheerful mind" and uses himself as an example.

Lucy says that happiness has become her new creed, sadness is kept at bay. She receives several more letters from Dr. John. Lucy wrestled with herself over how to answer them. She wrote about her deep affection and gratitude to Dr. John and then tore these letters up and wrote a very direct, brief letter that she sent! Once a week, Lucy visits at La Terrasse, the Bretton’s home to visit. One evening, Dr. John arrives unexpectedly and asks Lucy to go to the theater with him.

Lucy's dress is up in the garrett. When she went to get it, she saw another apparition of sorts that she couldn't explain. Dr. John could tell something had happened and persuades Lucy to tells him what she saw. He attributes it also to a nervous malady.

Lucy thoroughly enjoys the theater (she explains it to us at length!). Towards midnight, and the most exciting part of the production, a fire breaks out! Of course, it’s chaos with most of the audience running for the exit. Dr. John and Lucy stay where they are to wait out the crowd. They see a woman knocked to the floor when a large man roughly brushes by her. Dr. John runs to help and he and Lucy accompany the injured woman and her father back to the hotel where they are staying to make sure she‘s fine.

Lucy doesn't see or hear from Mrs. Bretton or Dr. John for seven weeks following the fire at the theater. Ginevra tells Lucy that the young woman injured that night is the daughter of Ginevra's rich uncle, Monsieur de Bassompierre. Ginevra is out of sorts because Dr. John virtually ignored her when they were all at dinner together, giving all of his attention to Missy and M. de Bassompierre.

Later that day, Lucy receives a letter which she hopes is from Dr. John but it's from Mrs. Bretton. She invites Lucy to come for a visit later that day as its a holiday weekend. Lucy arrives at La Terrasse and meets the young woman from the other night who, it turns out, is little Paulina Mary, or Polly from Bretton all those years ago!

My Thoughts: I realized while reading these chapters, how important Mrs. Bretton and, especially Dr. John, have become to Lucy. Now that she's found some friends, she's desperate to keep them and afraid she'll lose them. She behaves as if she's okay having a quiet life without friends or family. But I think it bothers her terribly. She just doesn't want anyone to know how she really feels.

I'm certain she has a crush on Dr. John, although she'll never admit it. But Lucy is becoming too focused on him, almost obsessed. It seemed like she would lose her mind if she didn't find that first letter. And its ridiculous how disappointed she is when the last letter isn't from him, even though it's an invitation to his home. Her responses to his letters were both funny and sad. I think the letters she tore up also illustrate her obsession with Dr. John. I wonder how much of her adoration of him is because her life has been devoid of friends, especially very close friends and men. I wonder if she thinks her conversations with Dr. John are special as if he's confiding in her because she's special to him. Lucy doesn't seem aware that many, many of their conversations were about another young woman. I think Dr. John might feel some pity towards Lucy and has taken her under his wing as a kind of sad, little sister with a very quiet life. And because she's special to his mother. I don't completely trust him since he couldn't be bothered to speak to Lucy at all those months at Rue Fossette when he didn't know she was Lucy Snowe.

I find the passages in which Lucy discusses and ponders Reason and Reason versus Feelings interesting although a little tedious sometimes. I wonder if she was raised to be practical and reserved or if it's more a result of the difficulties she's had in her life.

I really wonder what's going on with the ghost images Lucy has seen in the garrett. She doesn't seem at all concerned that Dr, John thinks they are due to a nervous mind. It sounds a little bit like he thinks Lucy's going crazy. Maybe it's stress or terrible unhappiness which Lucy keeps quiet about.

I don't think Lucy cares much for Polly, years ago or now. I think she finds her a "curious little thing", kind of odd. Lucy watches Polly for the several hours they are in the room together but never talks to her!(p.326-27 signet classic) I'm sure she's concerned that Polly will take all of Dr. John's free time when he's home as she did years ago at Bretton. Polly seems very fond of Lucy. It sounds as if she talked to her papa about Lucy a lot. She also seems very happy to be reunited with Lucy.

Question: I was wondering what you think about why Lucy told Ginevra that Dr. John was angry and upset and hurt over her and her behavior at the auction? I know he didn't like how Ginevra treated Mrs. Bretton but other than that he seemed almost relieved to see this side of Ginevra. Yet Lucy lets Ginevra think that Dr. John was "Quite mad". At the end of this passage Lucy thinks "There was pleasure in thinking of the contrast between the reality and my description-" (p.267 signet classic). Do you think that Lucy simply likes being the only one to know the truth? If so, I'm not so sure I like this trait!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wondrous Words from Villette by Charlotte Bronte!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a terrific weekly meme hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun (please do!) Be sure to leave a link to your post over at Bermudaonion's Weblog.

Today's words are all from Villette by Charlotte Bronte (signet classics)

"Repairing to the drawing room-in which calm and decorated apartment she was fond of being alone, and where she could be implicitly trusted, for she fingered nothing, or rather soiled nothing she fingered-I found her seated like a little Odalisque, on a couch, half shaded by the drooping draperies of the window near."(p.31)

1. Odalisque ~noun
:a woman slave in a harem
I went to Wikipedia for a little more info:
:during the Ottoman Empire, an odalisque was a part of the Turkish household of a sultan and assisted or apprenticed to the wives and concubines in their living quarters. It was also possible for an odalisque to rise in status to become a wife or concubine!

"Madame I believed to be in her chamber; the room whence he had stepped was dedicated to the portress's sole use; and she, Rosine Matou, an unprincipled though pretty little grisette, airy, fickle, vain, and mercenary--it was not, surely, to her hand he owed the ordeal through which he seemed to have passed?" (p.114)

2. Portress ~noun
: a woman who is a doorkeeper in a convent
: a female porter

3. Grisette ~noun
: a French working-class woman from the late 17th century; derives from gris, (French for grey) & refers to the cheap grey fabric of the dresses these women wore

“And in catalepsy and a dead trance, I studiously held the quick of my nature.” (p.120)

4. Catalepsy ~noun
: a physical condition usually associated with catatonic schizophrenia, characterized by suspension of sensation, muscular rigidity, fixity of posture, and often by loss of contact with environment.

“The classes were undergoing sweeping and purification by candlelight, according to hebdomadal custom: benches were piled on desks, the air was dim with dust, damp coffee grounds (used by Labassecourien housemaids instead of tea leaves) darkened the floor; all was hopeless confusion.” (p.274)

5. Hebdomadal ~noun
: weekly; of or occurring every seven days. (used esp. of organizations that meet weekly)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday ~ The Beauty of Humanity Movement

Teaser Tuesdays is an interesting fun book-related meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

"And so Maggie had brought her bowl this morning and introduced herself to Old Man Hung. And seeing the faint look of recognition on his face as he said her father's name? A seismic moment that revealed a seam between two worlds."

from The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb (p.31)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Movies ~ Trimming the Fat!

Feature Presentation...

We have all "pigged out" at one time or another. Whether at a birthday party, a holiday celebration or hanging out with friends, most of us have experienced eating a lot more junk food than we should have. And, as a result, needed to loosen our belts as Molly did after attending her niece's 1st birthday this past weekend! Molly had a great time at the party. She also enjoyed brownies with cookies baked right in. This sounds like a treat I could get into! I've never had these brownies but I'm sure I'd "pig out" on them if I could! What movies can you recall in which characters battled weight issues? Share on your blog movies featuring those who want to lose or need to gain extra pounds, linking your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) Bridget Jones (Renee Zellewegger) is a single woman in her early thirties who works in publicity for a book publishing company. She is rather obsessed with how much she weighs and losing weight. In a diary Bridget records her weight each day, sometimes more than once a day, keeps track of what she eats as well as other things such as how much she smokes and what's happening in her love life.

Requiem for a Dream (2000) directed by Darren Aronofsky, this movie depicts different types of addiction with several characters becoming addicted to various substances. Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) is an elderly widow living alone in an apartment in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn who watches infomercials on television. When she believes she's going to be on a game show, she begins taking a regimen of prescription weight-loss amphetamine pills during the day followed by a nightly sedative. Her obsession with losing weight and fitting into a red dress she wore years ago, and hopes to wear on the game show, causes her to up her dosage of the pills again and again to disastrous results.

Raging Bull (1980) Robert DeNiro portrays Jake LaMotta a middleweight boxer popular in the 40's and 50's who has major issues with jealousy and rage. He also has an animalistic appetite and once he stopped boxing, gained so much weight he became obese. In order to portray Jake LaMotta realistically, DeNiro started filming a trim and lean man with lots of muscle and then gained 60 pounds during filming eating his way across France and Italy! (see
Robert DeNiro)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Relaxing Sunday with Cats & Books!

Addie & JoJo

I'm trying to get back into reading, blogging and life in general. Losing two cats I loved has taken its toll and I'm finding it a little tough to bounce back quickly. But I'm finally feeling better overall. I watch the other cats and, although they notice Gustave and Betsy are no longer here, after a couple of days being a little more cuddly, looking for a little extra attention and sleeping a little closer to me and/or other cats they like, life resumes as usual for them. It's back to sleeping, eating, playing and exploring. Bob was buddies with Gustave and so was JoJo. Now JoJo and Addie are becoming fast friends and Bob and Lola are playing a lot. I am really happy to see this since Betsy, who died a few months ago was Lola's mother. Lola was a little lost without Betsy but she's bouncing back. Bob is quite large, as some of you have seen in pictures I posted, and Lola is a small, thin cat. It's very funny watching her play with Bob because she runs at him and jumps on him when he doesn't expect it! And she's fast with her paws, poor Bob doesn't stand a chance. But Lola licks him after she beats him up a bit!

I've started writing essays and stories about all of the cats who have passed through here, whether they stayed and made a home with me or moved on to live with someone else or, sadly, passed on. I don't want to forget any of them. And they are all so unique in appearance and personality.

I haven't been as focused on reading, although the last few days I have been able to concentrate more. I'm reading Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mutsuki Mockett for Jen of Devourer of Books book club and The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb as well as and ARC of Jodi Picoult's Sing You Home. I have a terrible habit of reading too many books at one time!

Enjoy your Sunday! Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Villette by Charlotte Bronte Read-a-long Week Four

This is the Week Four of the read-a-long of Villette by Charlotte Bronte hosted by Wallace at her blog, Unputdownables. This week's reading includes chapters (16-20).

I didn't post my summary and thoughts for week three and I sincerely apologize to Wallace and the other read-a-long participants. My beautiful Gustave had just died and there were some other stressful things I had to deal with (I think you've all been in a similar position) But I'm back with Lucy Snowe's story this week!

Summary: (this section contains spoilers)
Last week’s reading finished with Lucy in a bad spot. She passed out in the street, delirious with fever It was a dark, stormy night and Lucy was in a part of Villette she didn't know. Despair and loneliness had caused her to flee Rue Fossette (everybody else was on a 2 month holiday and Lucy was alone in the big house) in search of solace. She stumbled into a Catholic church where she spoke with a priest. On her way back to the Rue Fossette she became hopelessly lost. As the weather worsened, Lucy became upset and disoriented at which time she fainted.

In this week's chapters, Lucy wakes groggily believing she's in the Rue Fossette. But she discovers she’s in a strange room in a strange house. As she continues to look around, Lucy recognizes most of the furnishings and decorations in the room. "Strange to say, old acquaintance were all about me, and "auld lang syne" smiled out of every nook." (p. 186 signet classic). Lucy falls asleep and wakes in a bedroom which she also recognizes. Everything she sees reminds her of Bretton and then her godmother, Mrs. Bretton walks into the room! Mrs. Bretton doesn’t immediately recognize Lucy. It's not until a little while later, after tea, that Lucy introduces herself to Mrs. Bretton and her son, Graham. But the bigger surprise is that Graham Bretton is Dr. John and Lucy has known this for quite a while! But she never revealed herself to Dr. John.

Mrs. Bretton and Lucy are quite happy to be back in each other's company and spend many hours together in front of the fire with Dr. John, too. Lucy stays at Bretton resting and restoring her strength for the remainder of the school holiday and a couple of more weeks thanks to Mrs., Bretton's intervention with Madame Beck.

Dr. John talks to Lucy, almost exclusively, about Ginevra Fanshawe whom he's absolutely smitten with. Lucy loses her patience with him one day telling him he's wonderful in every aspect except when it come to Ginevra. Of course, she feels badly about this especially when she realizes she's hurt him. Lucy asks him to forgive her. Dr. John tells Lucy he is grateful for her warm words and well-meaning wishes. Once they make up, Dr. John continues to talk about Ginevra incessantly!

While Lucy is at Bretton and once she's strong enough, Mrs. Bretton and Dr. John plan excursions for her most days. As a result, Lucy sees more of Villette in two weeks than she has since she arrived and enjoys herself! Lucy visits a gallery one day and sits on a bench in front of a painting. "Cleopatra". In the painting a large-size woman is reclining on a couch wearing a gown that barely covers her. Lucy isn't impressed by the painting and is looking at others on the wall around it when Monsieur Paul approaches her. He insists that she get up immediately and walk away from the painting with him. Lucy, amused, obliges him. She soon finds herself, at M. Paul’s behest, in front of four paintings that depict women's stations in life and considers them very boring. Lucy and M. Paul engage in fun dialogue in which she teases him a bit and he acts shocked at the behavior of English women.

In today’s final chapter, Mrs. Bretton informs Lucy that they are going to attend a concert, a grand affair in the large hall of the principal musical society followed by a charitable auction. Mrs. Bretton insists that Lucy be measured for a new dress. Lucy is somewhat horrified when she sees that the dress she's too wear is pink! She puts it on with some black drapery but isn't comfortable until Dr, John barely nods at her appearance rather than make a big deal out of Lucy wearing a pink dress!

My Thoughts: One of the aspects of Villette I'm most enjoying is getting to know Lucy more and more. She is pleased and very happy to be back in touch with Mrs. Bretton. But it saddens me that Lucy’s initially afraid to be too happy about the reunion. As happy as she is to have her friends back, she’s unsure of how close the friendship will be and is afraid to make too much of it. I felt badly for Lucy when she cried herself to sleep the first night after discovering she was in her godmother's home. But when Lucy realizes that Mrs. Bretton’s very happy to have Lucy back in her life, I enjoyed reading how happy Lucy was and I liked reading how she seemed to enjoy life a bit more.

I also thought it sad that Lucy didn't introduce herself to Dr. John when she realized he was Graham Bretton all those months back at the Rue Fossette. She felt he wouldn't care who she was. I hadn't realized she was so insecure in some respects. But it also reminded me that she wasn't close to Graham in the days when she visited Bretton. He seems to have grown up to be a nicer man than it seemed he would become.

I thought it was great when Lucy became angry with Dr. John and told him so. I liked seeing her assert herself. My only concern is I think her strong feelings, both her anger and her flattery of him, signify that she's falling in love with him (if she hasn't already). She sings his praises many a time throughout these chapters. I want to say something to her, such as, "This is the same man who adores Ginevra Fanshawe no matter how she treats him!".

I was happy to see that Graham grew up to be a nice man with a good career. He has a good relationship with his mother, too. I enjoyed how they teased each other! He respects Mrs. Bretton and takes good care of her. He was a spoiled boy so I wasn't expect him to grow up so well.

I also enjoy how Lucy is with M. Paul. He doesn’t put her off, irritate or scare her even when he’s gruff and rude. For some reason, she understands that he means well and isn’t offended by his manner. I think this is another example of how good Lucy is at understanding people and adapting to them. It’s a great quality to have especially when she has to rely on her own ingenuity and skill to get through life rather than the help of family or friends.

I was thrilled when Lucy wore the pink dress to the concert! It’s such a nice change from the conservative, dark colors she favors. (Now if I could only rid the image of Gwyneth Paltrow in the pink Ralph Lauren ball gown she wore when she won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love!)