Rebecca (Book) Review

I know, I know, it’s criminal in some respects that I hadn’t read this before last month. It boasts everything I hold dear in literature (Gothic landscapes, strong women, drama, murder, suspense) and yet somehow I just never got round to it. It’s the same with Jane Austen, I feel close to the subject matter but I’ve never actually read any of it (sue me). But when I saw this cover I was sold immediately and a lot of friends weighed in to confirm that this is their favourite book of all time. Well, it was clearly time to pick it up and give it a go.

And?

Well! It’s one of the best books of all time, isn’t it? While I thought I might be predicting quite a lot of what happened, I can’t be sure I haven’t seen an adaptation and forgotten about it in my 40 year life. But it was magnificent and delicious – and above all, relatable. In the sense that haven’t we all, particularly as women in a patriarchal world compared ourselves unfavourably to others a thousand times?

That our heroine, the unnamed narrator and new Mrs de Winter is living in the shadow of a perfect and lovable ghost is heartbreaking, who could possibly compete? Thankfully there is always more to the story than meets the eye and the tale that unravels is classic and cool as fuck.

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Vintage Rebecca cover

In case you’re like me and have been happily chilling under a rock all your life, a cheeky little synopsis for Rebecca:

Our narrator, a naive 20 something companion to a rich American lady meets wealthy widower Maximilian de Winter in Monte Carlo. Despite her lack of life experience, the two embark on a swift courtship that results in marriage. Our nameless heroine soon finds herself back in England, living on Maxim’s sprawling West Country estate Manderley and the phrase fish out of water has never rung truer. Haunted by the ghost (figuratively) of Maxim’s first wife, the breathtakingly beautiful Rebecca, the new Mrs de Winter spends her time wandering the estate, wondering if she’s made a massive mistake.

While Maxim isn’t cruel per se, he is often aloof and Mrs de Winter puts this down to him still being in love with his late wife, who drowned in a tragic boating accident only a year before. She might even be able to get on with it if i wasn’t for the deliberate cruelty of bitchy housekeeper Mrs Danvers (surely stiff competition for Nurse Ratched as baddest villainess of all time), who adored Rebecca and relishes every tiny dig.

But as mentioned above, things are not always as cut and dry as they seem and there is plenty more drama before the book is over. Rebecca is an impeccably crafted, paranoid love story that will make you furious on one hand and desperately sad on the other.

What I enjoyed most is that it gives us a heroine who is cut from a different cloth. She’s mousey, angsty and nothing special as far as she’s concerned and yet she has the steel to stay and fight for what she wants and women like that don’t get enough airtime. Her scenes with Mrs Danvers are stressful and every time Rebecca is mentioned by a staff member I wanted to scream – let it go people, she’s dead!

I think this is a book that will just keep giving, an annual revisit sounds like the most comforting thing I can think of and honestly, I enjoyed every word Daphne has set down for me. And lucky me, our local Picturehouse Cinema is showing Hitchcock’s adaptation on the big screen in a couple of months so I’ll be all over that like a rash.

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Various covers for Rebecca, including the copy I have (middle)

Book details:

Rebecca
Publisher: Virago (16 July 2015)
ISBN-10: 0349006571
ISBN-13: 978-0349006574
Gifted paperback (new)

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Dietland

*The first 3 episodes*

I want to talk about the TV adaptation of one of my favourite books in recent years (and apparently, my Book of 2016) – Dietland. It’s just started airing in the US and thankfully also on Amazon Prime – which is the greatest weekly treat. The first three episodes are up now and so far so good.

IMDB Synopsis

Plum Kettle is a ghostwriter for the editor of one of New York’s hottest fashion magazines. Struggling with self-image and fed up with how she’s treated by her boss and society, Plum sets out on a wildly complicated road to self-awakening. At the same time, everyone is buzzing over news reports about men, accused of sexual abuse and assault, who are disappearing and meeting untimely, violent deaths.

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My Thoughts So Far

Joy Nash is gorgeous and so likable as Plum – and she’s actually fat! But I can’t help thinking she’s too good-looking and not fat enough – wouldn’t this be even better if she didn’t fit into the ‘beautiful’ ideal at all? (Hate saying anyone isn’t ‘enough’ of anything but hopefully you know what I’m trying to say) – that said she’s so bloody lovely, I want to see her in everything coming up, please.

Julianna Margulies as Kitty Montgomery is PERFECTLY cast – I despise her in every way. What a prize A CUNT

♥ I’d give anything to visit the beauty closet for just one hour – ten minutes, even

♥ It is never tiring to watch abusers get their comeuppance, even when it’s brutal and violent (particularly then)

♥ I really like that Malleck Ferguson is such a poorly disguised version of a well-known fashion photographer and abuser – down to the minute details of his over-the-top glasses and personal style – LOL

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♥ Marlowe Buchanan is also cast well (she’s played by Alanna Ubach) and so far comes across as a bit of an arse with a God complex – proof that heroes and villains aren’t always cast in black and white

♥ Not enough Leeta (Erin Darke) – so they better bring her back again soon

♥ The closing speech at the end of Episode 3 made me cry. I won’t spoiler but it starts with “I don’t hate myself, society does” and it’s important and vital and above all TRUE

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I haven’t seen any violence towards sex workers or porn stars yet but I’ve read a discussion about it on Twitter and I’m not into it either. I know that the book tackles the porn industry on the whole and it opened my eyes when I read it – but I don’t think this should be a judgement of the women themselves, in either capacity. I’ll see when it comes along how I feel but I am hoping that it doesn’t let me down.

I can’t wait until the next episode, TV just got GREAT again!

Anyone else watching? What are your thoughts? 

Weekly Digest

This week I am seriously digging:

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Atlanta, Season 2

The first season of Atlanta was so good, I feel like I’ve been waiting a life time for it to return. And now Donald Glover and friends (including the amazing Lakeith Stanfield) are back and it’s just as good as ever. Not only is deeply observational, it also has a lot to say about the state of the world, from the point of view of its mainly black cast.

It’s also funny as hell with some of the most off the wall scenarios (particularly episodes 1 (“Alligator Man“) and 6 (“Teddy Perkins“)). One of my favourites so far is episode 5, “Barbershop” which is pure perfection in its simplicity but is written so well and made me cackle all the way through.

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Killing Eve

I’m two episodes into this Phoebe Waller-Bridge co-written thriller and I’m frankly OBSESSED. Starring Sandra Oh, Fiona Shaw and always-flawless Jodie Comer as super-assassin Villanelle it’s already been pretty explosive.

Currently playing on BBC America it’s one of my most favourite current shows and I can’t wait to see how Oh’s Eve Polastri fares in her mission to uncover the identity of the woman knocking off several of the world’s most prolific people. What’s more this all feels very female and while we do meet your usual bullshit male bureaucrats, it’s very much the women who shine here.

Jillian, I think you will LOVE.

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This Jumpsuit (Above)

Look at this total babe in her orange kimono sleeved jumpsuit.

I can’t imagine myself looking half as good as this in it, however I still want to swan around in this in the warmer months, a straw bag swinging from one arm and my own statement earrings embellishing my ear lobes.

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Penguin Modern Collection

There are 50 books in the Penguin Modern collection and are only £1 a pop, so you can grab yourself some classics from the greats without breaking a sweat. So far I’ve got:

Fame by Andy Warhol
New York City in 1979 by Kathy Acker
Food by Gertrude Stein
The End by Samuel Beckett
Investigations of a Dog by Franz Kafka
Three Japanese Short Stories by Akutagawa and Others
The Breakthrough by Daphne Du Maurier
The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson
and The Custard Heart by Dorothy Parker

Not bad for under a tenner, eh? And they look amazing on the bookshelf or in my case, dotted around the flat.

What are you digging this week?

The Jane Austen Book Club (Film) Review

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Since Sunday was a complete and literal wash-out with torrential rain all day and even snow in some places in the country, there was no feasible way to leave the house.

So nice food was purchased, PJs were thrown on and this film was put on the box. And it was perfect in every way. I’m reliably informed that the weather was no better over on Jillian’s side of the pond, which makes me feel even happier. Cosy days ftw.

Annnywaaaay… to week 3 of Free for All Month!

*Spoilers*

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

IMDB Synopsis

Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships — both old and new — begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.

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Any excuse to post pictures of this hair cut

My Review

Six time divorcee Bernadette (Kathy Baker) meets stick-up-her-arse Prudie (Emily Blunt) at a Jane Austen film festival one afternoon and an idea is born – The Jane Austen Book Club. Six books, six club members and a whole lot of chat is what is envisioned – that it will cheer up Prudie, whose husband has just cancelled their planned trip to Paris is a bonus, and the very reason she agrees to Bernadette’s plan at all.

B figures it will also be just the tonic for her recently dumped friend Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) and recently bereaved (from a dog) friend Jocelyn (Maria Bello). Throw in Sylvia’s wilful daughter Allegra (Maggie Grace) and a hot young man picked up by Jocelyn in a bar (Hugh Dancy) and we have our special six.

Sci-fi nerd Grigg, the hottie from the bar, has never read a word of Austen but Jocelyn figures maybe he’ll give depressed Sylvia a much needed confidence boost now her husband of many years has chucked her for another woman, who doesn’t even have the decency to be younger. Grrrrrr.

Each of our club members has their own issues, some of which mirror Austen’s subject matter beautifully. Bernadette just loves the romance of falling in love and being married, and despite six failed marriages is up for a seventh if the opportunity presents itself.

Sylvia is devastated when Daniel (Jimmy Smits) unceremoniously calls time on their long-term marriage because all the sneaking around isn’t fair on his mistress. ON HIS MISTRESS. He wants to quit while they’re ahead and before they hate one another. Shame he’s such a toad then really. Slowly but surely however, Sylvia does what us women do best, she picks herself, dusts herself down and realises that all men are rubbish (sort of). But seriously, she does start to change for the better and it’s glorious. Will the couple work out their differences when Jimmy Smits inevitably realises his huge mistake? Hmm.

Beautiful accident prone lesbian Allegra meanwhile, definitely doesn’t need a man. She loves to fall in love. Quick fiery love that turns bad quickly before she moves on. She dumps a girl who steals one of her childhood secrets for a story (fair) then moves on to the doctor who treats her after she falls off a climbing wall. While Allegra enjoys these temporary romantic highs, Sylvia encourages her to work through her relationship issues instead of running at the first hurdle. But will she?

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“Excuse me miss, do you know where they keep Bitch Planet?”

Then there’s Jocelyn who puts all her time and affection into her dogs and claims never to have been in love with a human man (understandable). When she meets Grigg there’s an undeniable chemistry though she’s trying to palm him off on Sylvia and he’s confused. She won’t read the books he recommends but he’s fallen in love with Austen – and will you just bloody bone already?! Will our potential love birds finally sort. it. out – or will they pass one another by?

And finally, stuck up Prudie with the excellent hair. God what a pain in the arse. Prudie breaks into sporadic bursts of French in conversation and dreams of Paris. She’s a French teacher (naturellement) who’s never been to France and she has bit of thing for one of her students. While her husband is something of a bonehead, Prudie fantasises about a burning desire that will consume her. And when she’s not doing that, she’s judging others and being mean to her obviously mentally ill mother. Prudie is not likeable in the least but when she finally makes a decision about her marriage, I actually cried. Like, you did the right thing, girlfriend.

So there it is, our six romantic fuck-ups, each to host a club evening and each responsible for one of Austen’s books. Will their personal issues eclipse the beauty of Jane’s stories or bring them all together?

Well, what do you think?

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Reading is hot

My Thoughts

This is a lovely bit of fluff pretty much guaranteed to comfort you like a pair of old slippers, especially if you like the classics and Jane Austen herself. It makes me ashamed I’ve only read two of the six novels (Emma and P&P) but definitely makes me want to add them all to my Amazon wish list.

I think Blunt really stands out here as the not particularly pleasant Prudie, though I find it hard to accept she’s so close to giving up everything for that snotty oik Trey (Kevin Zegers). I get we fancy who we fancy but he’s so utterly dull I don’t get the attraction.

I’m also very much here for Bello and although I don’t resent her the romantic side story, I’d also have accepted her not bothering with a partner ever again. And I definitely wish Sylvia had told Jimmy Smits where to shove his sorry arse when he came crawling back but the message I know is that sometimes we work at relationships no matter how hard because we’re committed to them (à la Persuasion).

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Pretty much my dream scenario

I loved it.

My Rating

5/5. What would Jane do?

What does Wifey think about this one? Would she consider it a classic or dump it instead? Find out here.

Such Small Hands (Book) Review

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It would be very hard for me to go in too deep on this book because it’s very hard to define. It’s stunning though; macabre, fascinating and eery as hell.

Marina is seven and has just become an orphan, after her parents are killed in a car accident. The same accident strips the skin from her ribs and leaves her body scarred for life. Her personal mantra has become “My father died instantly, my mother in the hospital” and she wheels it out whenever she’s asked to tell her story.

In the hospital, Marina is given a small spooky doll by the doctors and it becomes her constant companion, her confidante.

One day she arrives at the orphanage and creates a ripple amongst the little girls who already live there (less a ripple more a tidal wave, honestly). The girls’ obsession and their love for Marina while pure, isn’t always kind and they torture her daily with their teasing, their silence and their tricks. They steal her doll and deliver it back to her body part by body part, and bury what’s left in the ground.

But at night, everything is different. At night they play Marina’s game.

Based on a terrifying real-life event, Such Small Hands is a poetic horror story molded from the most beautiful prose I’ve read in a long time. It’s nightmarish and pretty at the same time, like some of the most appealing things in life and I couldn’t recommend it more. I hope it leaves you as breathless and creeped out as it did me.

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Book details:

Such Small Hands
Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd (3 Aug. 2017)
ISBN-10: 1846276438
ISBN-13: 978-1846276439
Gifted hardback (new)

What are you currently reading?

Kudos to Andrés Barba for his amazing author photo. Look at it! (above).

#one becomes #two

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Just under a year ago I claimed the blog title Two Girls One Book Club in a moment of absolute genius. I mean, you have to be a bit of a filth pot to get the thinly veiled reference but it’s classy as well, you know? Just like me.

The plan was to blog with another friend about books but it never came to fruition. Busy bees and all that.

Don’t weep for me just yet though, as there is a happy twist to this tale of how the #onewomanbookclub is well on her way to becoming one half of a perfect pair. It’s quite beautiful, actually, to have found a partner in literary crime. What? I’ve got dust in my eye.

A bit about my gorgeous reading buddy, S. Not long ago she sent me a lovely email asking for book recommendations. We’ve met only once in the flesh, through her boyfriend, who I’ve known for a good few years. In her message, S said she wanted to get into reading more and I bang on about books more than is strictly necessary because the printed word is my friend, so I guess I was a good bet. Not that I’m an expert obviously, I just know what I like.

I swiftly sent back a list of my favourites (and titles that I actually own), she shot back her own picks; which included some biographies, and a few that are right up my alleyway, genre-wise.

Luckily for us, our partners work together, which means we can send care parcels back and forth without much effort and this is always a great thing. But the best thing about #twogirlsonebookclub? Our emails. I love when I can talk frankly about my geeky obsessions and although this is something I can do in my own home, with my family and certain friends, it’s nice to find a girl after my own heart, not just when it comes to literature.

I don’t know where #twogirlsonebookclub will lead. I’m sure we’ll move on from emails to double dates (whether our boys like it or not), so we can talk books face to face. Maybe we’ll start an actual book club one day. Maybe we’ll take on new members.

Maybe the Two Girls One Book Club blog with become a thing, with actual posts on it. Maybe it won’t.

All I know for sure is that books are great and I’ve made a beautiful new friend because of them. We probably would have become real friends anyway, in some way or another, but books paved the way.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?

tumblr_n0c8amSTuP1svu7e2o1_1280All images via Google.

 

Geek Love Review

Geeklove_bookcoverBefore I even finished this book, I was thinking about how I would review it. Not all books deserve a review in my eyes (Bellman & Black, I’m looking at you) but this one is so multi-layered, so fantastic and dark that it really does deserve to be talked about. I’m just mad it took me so long to get my hands on a copy.

But where to start?

I feel I should preface this post with the statement that I love anything freak show themed. I know it’s human nature to be fascinated by the unusual and the macabre, but I really am attracted to the darkness. What can I say?

While reading Geek Love I was put in mind of American Horror Story Freak Show (which I have still yet to finish). I swear it must have been inspired in part by Katherine Dunn‘s novel. The Wikipedia page however, doesn’t mention the book at all so I guess I’m way off.

But anyway, I love this book. I knew I would even before I’d even cracked the spine. It’s got all the hallmarks of a book that will stick with me for life and has automatically clawed its way into my favourites list. It is that good.

To the book. The story of the travelling Binewski family is told to us by Olympia (or Oly) Binewski, the hunchbacked albino dwarf and daughter of Al and Crystal Lil, carnival owners.

Split between two-time periods, the book flits from current day right back to Oly’s childhood and covers most of the events that lead up to her living in a run down tenement in a room down the hall from her grown up daughter, Miranda, who doesn’t know that Oly is her mother.

Oly has several siblings: Arturo (or Aqua Boy), her older brother (who has flippers for hands and feet), the Siamese Twins, Electra (Elly) and Iphigenia (Iphy); and younger brother Fortunato (or The Chick), a ‘normal looking’ angel of a child, who just happens to have telekinetic powers.

You could say that the children were born special, and while that’sgl_bookcover3_large true, we soon learn that their unique idiosyncrasies were predestined. Geek Love isn’t Enid Blyton and is shocking in parts. Early on we learn the origins of the Binewski kids; and that Crystal Lil and Al deliberately engineered a family of freaks to fill up the show.

This band of geeks though, although loved, unfortunately did not come out in perfect succession. We meet the rest of the ‘children’, as introduced by Oly, the offspring that didn’t make it; fated to float for all eternity (or at least for the rest of the family’s days) in cloudy formaldehyde in their own creepy trailer.

Continue reading “Geek Love Review”