Brave

Everyone’s seen Brave. The excitement started before the movie released with people going gaga over the graphic book (or do I mean artwork?). However, moving pictures top mere pictures with me any day,and have you anything more beautiful than Brave? Ha ha if nothing else Brave reconciles me to my own unmanageable hair. Give me a bow and an arrow and a legend and I shan’t ask for more. I want the vivid colours and the bright excitement. Why can’t legends be real and fantasy true? Can’t I be a Scottish princess please?? Or a Scottish anybody in a Pixar animation? Let me know where all the adventure is please so I can go find it.

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Just William

I haven’t rated/reviewed Just William before?!That’s a shock to me but then I haven’t read it in a while. Just William is a great example of the best of what I will riskily call period British humor. There were plenty of writers like that:the guy who wrote Billy Bunter, W.E. Jones (he wrote this one funny Biggles book) James Herriot and Gerald Durrell. Jerome Klapka Jerome seems to live on albeit as a red flag for the intellectual reader who likes fun. P.G. Wodehouse’s reputation is the only one that seems to flourish in the main stream posthumously, post empire and post 20th century; at least in India and maybe in the libraries of canny (eccentric?) bookworms else where.

Presumably Richmal Crompton was mainstream and modern once upon a time. But that was a long time ago and it seems her day is done. (IS it done? Maybe the good people at Penguin can tell us) But if you will let me be enthusiastic for a second Self what I would really like to do is shout Crompton’s name from the terrace tops. She’s funny- okay, and perceptive and William is hilarious. She can build up a moment and sometimes even if you can see what’s coming it still works. But the happy books, you know, the funny ones- maybe it was a complacent or ignorant time- but books like that from the 1920s and 1930s were so idyllic. They seem to create a settled, secure world:a big part of their charm is that it seems like they were on permanent holiday. Ha! The halcyon day humor writers. Literary period has been named.

An Experience of India

I read Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s book and think it a literary inadequacy.
Remember how the “East” was portrayed? Or how people this side of the globe were “Orientals”? Remember your Somerset Maugham where Asian servants were sly and slit-eyed and your American literature where the African slave had the mind of a child? That last one is exactly what the description of the Indian protagonist in “A Star and Two Girls”- one of the short stories in the collection- smacks of.
Did you know that she wrote the screenplay for Merchant-Ivory’s A Room With a View? I loved how the book was brought to the screen.I want to read her other work and see if she EVER gets any better or deserves one pice (I’m getting furiously Indian now) of her ridiculous respect as some kind of a tiny Colossus of the Indian lit.scene.
I’ll bet she’s only good at portraying the Europe of her 1930s childhood and its cultural morphing. Which is fine, but why the undeserved credit as a master of many cultures? Apparently she _invented_the term diasporic before there _was_ a diaspora. We shall see.

Plain Kate

Plain Kate made me excited about reading again. I re-read all my old books and these books are actually old like the writers are all dead. So you read and you read and sometimes you cast your line for new writers but so few times do you actually come across a whopper. A big one. This is it. It’s been written so well. (lots of italics here but I need expression:))
Oh and if you’re the sensitive sort you’ll cry when you’re reading this I promise you. Erin Bow’s monsters are actually terrifying and her lead characters are so interesting. Kate is shown to you without a lot of back and forth talk.

It’s for mature young adults I guess because dangers aren’t glossed over. The bad people are just ordinary people and are not set apart as especially Evil Villains.

Final test for reading excellence: I finished it in 48 hours and re-read the extra good bits and still want to go through it again.

Howl’s Moving Castle

Writing about Howl’s Moving Castle is an enormous pleasure. Howl and Sophie are so real you wish the book could swallow you up and take right into Market Chipping. It’s completely satisfying. How many books have you read that you can say that about?Sophie as an old lady is the Best Character Ever!!! She’s feisty and maddening and easy to empathize with all at once. And the best thing about the book is that when I read about Howl showing up for the first time I see him floating from roof to roof like in the movie. And the background music from the movie starts playing in my head. You could almost pretend that they were all real:).

Cranford

If you like slow paced humorous observation ***!!!THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!!!****. It makes me laugh- all the narrator’s affectionate and clear sighted opinions about the eccentric Cranford ladies. There’s a little sentimentality: bright (sweet and blue eyed) happy young women are perpetually being blighted because of unrequited Love. Miss Matty IS unrequited and Miss Jessie (minor character) only just escapes. So exit Miss Jessie and we go back to funny old ladies who like to dress their cows in flannel clothes. But it’s a happy book and if you’re secretly convinced you belong to a Victorian novel you’ll be happy with Cranford- and happy that there are sequels:).

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