Thursday, April 01, 2010

This Week in Books and Media

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley - I always appreciate something out of the ordinary and this novel definitely features an unusual hero.  From what I can tell, Ian appears to have Aspergers, and as a young child was confined to a mental asylum, which during Regency times was quite brutal. He is also suspected of the murder of a prostitute. The only thing that keeps him from being returned to the asylum or to prison is his wealthy and powerful brother's protection. Finding a heroine who could deal with the assorted issues he brings to the relationship is quite a trick and I think this novel does an admirable job of finding him someone with a past who can think creatively and has a different perspective on the world.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier -This historical novel chronicles the lives of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, both real people who lived Lyme and spent their lives hunting the fossils that lined the beach. Mary Anning, despite her "low class" background, made several discoveries that revolutionized the way the natural world is perceived today. As someone with an interest in fossils and science, I found it intriguing enough to finish but I suspect not everyone would be as tolerant of the amount of detail in this novel. I read the first part of this and then finished it as a Book-on-CD and I think it worked better when read aloud. Descriptions of the constraints upon women were much more tedious when I was trying to read it than it became when I listened to it.

Winterland by Alan Glynn - I really wanted to like this more than I did but I realized at about halfway through the book, the main character was just getting started on her vengeance filled quest. I am really picky about my thriller/adrenaline novels. I want the action to start two pages in and not let up until the very end and this one didn't quite do it for me.

Zombieland - Well, this was fun. A zombie infection has taken over the United States and four rather odd people band together to get to California to find Zombieland. There are obnoxious characters and much killing of zombies with assorted tools, guns, hedge clippers, well, what's not to like. With a special guest appearance by Zombie Bill Murray.

Emma (2009) - Before watching this I went to and read some of the reviews. I found the usual "we love this beyond words because we love anything Jane Austin" and the "we loath this movie because nothing can do justice to the original Jane Austin text". In other words, Jane Austin fanatics are the most suspect reviewers ever. Having said all that, I liked this version of Emma. Sure there were some moments that were not true to the book but they weren't jarring for me and I thought the expanded length actually provided much more detail than many of the other movie adaptions. I thought Romola Garai did a good job playing a slightly snobbish but essentially good-hearted matchmaker and I really liked Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal of John Knightley. And yes, the actor is 38, which makes him about the same age as Knightley is in the book. It is Romola who is much older than Emma is in the novel.  (Sorry, but there was a huge amount of criticism about his age on Amazon. Look up the details before you criticize, people!)


Dune - And the activity that cut into my reading time this week: Dune, The Boardgame. Some friends spent nine hours (give-or-take) at my house learning the in's-and-out's of this complicated board game from the 70's. We had a fabulous time and ate much cheese and are clearly all big geeks because we want to do it again very soon. 


Tara said...

Oddly, what you didn't like about Winterland is precisely what i DID like. The slower pacing and pushed-into-investigating seemed much more rational to me than ignore-the-police-and-dive-in.

Catherine VandeVelde said...

I like Tracy Chevalier, so I may have to check that out. I saw Emma just recently on TV and liked the extended length, too. I did feel that the actress did a great job, but yes, was a bit older than the actual character. But, frankly, as I get older, I'm sort of creeped out by older men with much younger women. I find it weird rather than romantic. So, having a slightly older Emma was more enjoyable. :)