“I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.” ~ Charlotte Brontë They say that once you get your first tattoo, you’ll get addicted and never be able to stop getting them. That’s probably true. I can see how … Continue reading
Apologies are in order (I feel like I apologize a lot on this blog, for missing posts, eh?)…I missed my Weekly Round-Up last week, but I promise I have a great excuse! Last Sunday, I fully intended to write up … Continue reading
Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen is an absolutely darling short novel, and one that I wavered between giving 4 stars and 5 stars to. I eventually settled on a 4-star rating, for reasons that I will discuss below, but if I could’ve given it 4.5 stars on Goodreads, I definitely would have. It was just lovely!
Nine Women, One Dress chronicles several different love stories, from both the female and male characters’ perspectives. It is written in short bursts of text which resemble newspaper or magazine columns (complete with hilarious and fitting bylines), and this style was both unique and perfect in the sense that it allowed Rosen to tackle many different narratives without overwhelming the reader or taking away from the artful simplicity of her tales. The book almost felt like a collection of short stories in that it was easy to get through and a quick read, but what was wonderful about it was that the short narratives continued and several characters were revisited on multiple occasions, so that their stories were told both in snippets and anecdotally, but also completely. I liked the fact that I got to see many of my favourite characters from the novel frequently, but also that my reading experience wasn’t bogged down by details of them in their daily lives that were irrelevant or didn’t propel the main plot forward. I was looking for a light read after finishing a hulking John Irving novel, and Nine Women, One Dress was exactly what I craved. I powered through it, and honestly I could’ve read it even faster if I didn’t take as many breaks in between chapters, to sip on my tea or break off another piece of the chocolate bar I made a companion to my reading time on many nights while immersed in this story. It is just the quintessential coffee shop novel, the perfect read for an evening spent in the city, with a hot drink and a great view of skyscrapers and the gentle hustle and bustle. It is a novel that screams I ❤ New York…or any other great city (like, as an example, Toronto)!
Although it is a small book, weighing in at only 257 pages, I did get really into the lives of some of the characters in Nine Women, One Dress. My favourites would have to be Natalie, a Bloomindale’s shop assistant (Sidenote: I really need to visit Bloomingdale’s one day!) and movie star Jeremy/Stanley, as well as Private Investigator Andie whose job I found so interesting and whose issues with romantic boundaries I found endearing and realistic (haven’t we all obsessed over and pseudo-stalked a love interest in our lives?). I also had a particular soft spot for the romance between Arthur and Felicia, which brewed quietly over many years and finally reached its impressive romantic climax…it was totally adorable to watch this slightly older couple discover their long-buried feelings for one another! Many of the more secondary characters were also witty and a lot of fun to spend time with, particularly Sophie, the new graduate who uses Instagram fame to her advantage to land her dream job. Each of the characters were very down-to-earth and human, and I could easily pick out people in the crowded Starbucks I sat in while reading parts of this novel who I could imagine slipping into one of the storylines. Rosen really does seem to pick people out of an average crowd and make them into her subjects, and that makes it very easy to relate to and root for her characters.
Having said all that, I couldn’t give this novel a full 5-star rating for two main reasons. One is the chapters focusing on Medina Karim, whose self-proclaimed title is “Shireen’s Levelheaded Sister”. Medina and Shireen are young women living in Paris who struggle with their religion, Islam. Because they wear burqas as part of their religious custom, they wrestle with their desire to explore fashion and express themselves physically. While I thought it was a clever idea to include a commentary on religion in the novel, I did feel that Rosen tended to oversimplify these issues a little and focus too much on feminist stereotypes. I appreciate what she was trying to do and the statement she was trying to make, but I worried that maybe she wasn’t using the right medium to do so. The novel seemed altogether too short, and the chapters were not detailed enough, to enter into a proper discussion of religious belief and adherence and its limitations. I just felt that these chapters and this narrative was a touch out of place – if Rosen had spent more time truly delving into the matter and examining her characters more closely or giving them more space to speak and express themselves, I think her arguments would have been more successful.
I also, ironically, could not give the novel a full 5-star rating because I felt that it was too short. I know that is a bit paradoxical because I just finished saying how lovely it was in its quickness, but what I’m trying to say is that, when I compare Nine Women, One Dress to the 5-star novels I’ve read in my life, or just this year, it falls a bit shy of the mark. Only a touch shy, mind you, but it simply wasn’t the most outstanding or incredible rom-com I read this year. For that reason, I felt the need to distinguish it from clear 5-star favourites of mine like The Hating Game and Christmas at Tiffany’s – but, as I said, I would give it 4.5 stars if I could!
All in all, I would highly recommend Nine Women, One Dress as the perfect holiday read (whether that holiday is in the summer, on a beach, or in the winter, by a warm fire, it still works)! It is airy, fun and very cute, and it was a truly enjoyable experience to read it! Plus, isn’t that cover just gorgeous?!
*Final Note: I didn’t take the time to keep track of the women interacting with the little black Max Hammer dress mentioned in the book’s title, so I have no idea if there really were nine women…having said that, I’m sure that there are and a less lazy reader would probably be able to say for sure! Haha!
❥❥❥❥.5 (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart
I have always been attached to objects.
It started when I was a newborn and I was given a soft and inviting blanket by one of my grandmother’s friends. While a newborn will naturally receive many blankets in her day, this one became my absolute favourite, and it stayed wrapped around me for years while I was in my crib. When I progressed to a “big girl” bed, my beloved blanket slept in my arms, and he (yes, I do refer to my blanket as a “he”) evolved into Blankie. Blankie became one of my most trusted companions, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I talked to him every night. Some kids have imaginary friends, but I had something much better – an actual, physical object to hold in my arms while I chatted away to him, silently and in my mind of course. I’m also not embarrassed to say that Blankie slept in my bed all throughout high school, and to this day, he rests on my pillow beside me every night. Introducing my fiancé SS to Blankie when we first started dating was a bit of an ordeal, but I decided to share the secret of my constant bedfellow with him about a month into our relationship, and rather than finding it weird, SS decided to curl up for a little nap with Blankie. They’ve been friends ever since.
Is it possible that becoming so attached to an inanimate object was strange behaviour for a young girl? Sure. But think about who my favourite fictional character was at the time: a soon-to-be princess who lived in an enchanted castle and enjoyed living in the world of literature more than any other. With a friend like Belle, how could I not have a blanket as my closest confidante?
Okay, so we’ve established that I’m somewhat unhealthily attached to items and things. Well, imagine how great my attachment has been to each gift that SS has given me. Having a boyfriend for the first time is one source of excitement…but receiving a piece of jewelry from that boyfriend is quite another. I’m not overly superficial and I’m not jewelry obsessed, but having a physical token of my boyfriend’s love, something that I can wear and show to the world, something to give me reassurance and joy every time I look at it…that is quite magical. And an engagement ring…I think there can be no more incredible token than that. You wear it on this finger that everyone knows is so significant, and it sparkles in the sunlight and even (although it seems impossible) on the rainy days, and it gives you butterflies every time you catch a glimpse of it in your peripheral vision. Needless to say, I’ve grown so very attached to my engagement ring, my custom-made rose gold ring and the gorgeous (green, green, GREEN!) emerald that it harbours. There has been no greater joy in my life than slipping it on my finger each morning – it is the absolute best start to my day.
But engagement rings, as with anything else, need care. Every now and then, they need some TLC, a spa getaway, to come back glistening and new. And because SS has remarkable foresight and did an admirable amount of research before having my ring made, he purchased a lifetime warranty from the jeweler that allows me to have my glorious emerald ring polished and buffed and inspected every six months.
Fantastic! Except for the fact that I have to give my ring to the jeweler for two to three weeks. They have to take it from me, literally remove it from my finger, and send it off to some faraway land where engagement rings get pampered and hopefully treated like royalty. For someone who’s attached to inanimate objects, that whole ordeal is daunting.
But, today, my six months were up (Sidenote: It has been six months since I got engaged which is amazing to think of!) and I had to take my ring in. There was no avoiding it, and to be honest his (yes, my ring is a boy like Blankie!) band was a little scuffed and scratched. I of course want him to feel loved and well taken care of…but two to three weeks of absence won’t just make the heart grow fonder, it’s likely to make me crazy!
This post is coming to you late at night, and that’s because I can’t sleep without thinking of my ring, sleeping somewhere that isn’t beside me in my room. It’s a terrible thought, but totally unavoidable. So, here we are, me writing away to ease my anxiety while my ring hopefully rests peacefully elsewhere.
Here’s hoping he comes home to me SOON!
Girl with a Green Heart
I’ve just finished the fourth episode of ITV’s series Victoria, and I cannot get the images and scenes out of my mind. This episode was by far the best of the series, and I can confidently say that the caliber of each consecutive episode is getting higher and higher. This particular episode was just…delicious…? Is that a word you can use to describe a television show? I don’t know, but I don’t care because everything about this episode, from Albert’s cross and surly manner to Victoria’s midnight blue gown, was absolutely scrumptious! 😉
Let me start by saying that Prince Albert has finally entered the picture, and his relationship with Victoria blossomed so subtly and fluidly and naturally in this episode. Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes perfectly portrayed these two young monarchs, and their chemistry was undeniable. But, it was a chemistry that was classy and mature and composed, in accordance with the Victorian time period. It is definitely one of those relationships for the books (literally!) and it was exquisitely articulated, from the first abrupt meeting of the pair to the wonderful and lovely proposal at the end. This show is immensely well written, like a well-curated Victorian novel, and the dialogues are only getting better and better as the episodes progress. The characters are also growing and developing in a very human and realistic manner – particularly Victoria, who is evolving from being a tad self-absorbed and self-obsessed into a ruler with greater compassion, intellect and knowledge of the struggles of her people. I already feel like each and every one of these characters is my dear friend…and I cannot wait to attend the royal wedding of one of my favourite (VICTORIAN!) couples VERY soon…
Here are my thoughts on the fourth episode of Victoria…
Episode 4: The Clockwork Prince
– Dash hates Prince A and I can’t blame him; I don’t love him either because I am still reeling from Queen V’s romance with Lord M. Albert also seems to really dislike Victoria (for example, he thinks her piano playing is mediocre and he cannot believe her lack of knowledge of art and the Da Vinci pieces in the palace).
– Queen V must propose to Prince A = the woman has full control over her romantic destiny (for once). How refreshing!
– Queen V already seems rattled by Prince A’s presence and wishes to know if her maids think him handsome = she feels something, while all Prince A feels is disapproval.
– Prince A challenges how juvenile and superficial Queen V is (for example, in the scene where Queen V scoffs at the stamps featuring her picture, although they are a marvelous invention according to Prince A). In classic Victorian romantic fashion, there is dislike, annoyance and disdain…there is tension, disapproval and uncertainty…Prince A brings out something hidden in Queen V and calls her to be a better version of herself already…if I know Victorian romance at all, this will lead to love!
– I also judged Prince A prematurely = he gives money to a poor girl, rather than flirting with women; he is also annoyed with Queen V’s spoiling of and fawning over Dash (“her lapdog”); he finds her selfish and childish, and I began to see her that way as well. He seems to think people indulge and spoil her too much.
– Okay, *swoon* when Prince A plays the piano… Damn, he’s winning me over! And Queen V too, I think!
* I can’t decide if Queen V is a tad bratty, or Prince A is a pretentious prig. I’m questioning everything now!
~ “‘A queen does not have time for scales every day.’
‘Only card games.’” ~
…and yet, the next day, Queen V is practicing her scales…Prince A gets under her skin!
Sidenote: Queen V has the BEST wardrobe! Her sky blue cloak dress while walking with Prince A is gorgeous! And her midnight blue gown with the diamond tiara…oh my gosh! Since I have a particular fondness for satin since purchasing a very special dress of my own, I LOVE Queen V’s style!
– Lord M sends Queen V a white flower before the dance, so now I’m just super confused and conflicted! -_- …Having said that, I’m starting to find Prince A pretty sexy! Damn it!
– This show is so easy and absorbing to watch. The scenes are the perfect length and the flow is very fluid and almost graceful. The story is shot and articulated so well!
– Queen V and Prince A can’t stop staring at each other and the waltz seals the sexual tension; they are still figuring out what the charge and chemistry between them is. Queen V even gives Prince A the flower Lord M gave her = her heart has a new preoccupation!
– I truly have no idea why Prince A cuts open his shirt to put the flower by his heart…but I love it!
– Queen V wakes up sooo in love the morning after the dance! She cannot stop smiling and dancing! She is a changed woman! YAY!
– Queen V is going to Windsor Castle to indulge Prince A’s love of forests and trees = she wants to please him.
BUT does Prince A truly love her too or is he just playing her?
– Queen V tries to favour Prince A with the Windsor uniform, but he is honest about finding “the gold braid heavy”. Ugh!
~ “What would you prefer? Flattery or truth?” ~
* Dickens! YAY! Prince A thinks he writes accurately about the poor condition (he has just written Oliver Twist). Hear, hear, Prince A!
❥ “I like to see you unbound. You are not so much a queen.” ❥
– Prince A is attracted to the woman behind the queen… Queen V looks like she feels as though she is finally being seen.
– Prince A is upset about the poor situation in England and he claims that Lord M chooses not to see it. He will push Queen V to be a better ruler.
– If Prince A accepts Queen V, “it will be with his heart” = that is what Queen V wants, but it also terrifies her.
❥ “I want him to smile at me.” ❥
– Lord M and his influence over Queen V is a wedge between her and the man she now loves and wants. Prince A: “I thought she followed you in everything.” Is Prince A jealous?
– Queen V and Prince A’s marriage will be one full of love and emotion = a true union and one of the first of its kind.
– Lord M intends to retire. Uh oh!
– Okay, the proposal scene nearly killed me! It was absolutely exquisite!!! So simple and so loving….but also sexy! There is emotion but also desire between them. This is a proposal for the books!
❥ Victoria: Albert, will you marry me?
Albert: That depends.
V: On what?
A: On if you’ll let me kiss you first. ❥
BEST EPISODE EVER!!!
❥ “‘…I have no choice.’
‘Neither do I.’” ❥
Oh, *swoon*! What a romance! I cannot wait to see my friends again next week!
Until then, I remain yours, sincerely,
Girl with a Green Heart
I have to apologize. I totally missed posting a number of #JNGListens quotes on Twitter this week. I began the week by quoting lines from my all-time favourite Bruce Springsteen song “I’ll Work for Your Love” – a song that I plan to feature prominently at my future nuptials – but I soon forgot to keep posting lyrics because of how hectic and busy the week became.
On Wednesday evening, SS and I selected a wedding venue and date. I’d like to keep the date a secret for now but it is in December 2017, as we planned, and now that the big decision of where to get married is out of the way, we feel a lot calmer and as though we can go about all our other plans in a more relaxed manner. But, needless to say, making this decision took time and research, and now that the decision is made, we have been so excited and overwhelmed with joy…so that’s why I’ve been a bit scatter-brained lately.
Having said that, because I knew I wasn’t going to have a consistent week on the #JNGListens front, I did take the time this week to do something a little special when I found myself on the University of Toronto campus. I completed what I can only call an Engagement Ring Photoshoot! I walked around the campus, visited some of my favourite sites and locations, and photographed my gorgeous emerald and rose gold ring around UofT. I thought I would share the photos with you now…sorry if you’ve all already gotten tired of this wedding news, but I’m a little obsessed!
Here is the ring at University College, one of my favourite buildings on the UofT campus (although I was part of Victoria College). The area you can see behind my ring is the quad, a lovely Austen-esque courtyard with lush grass, wood benches and tall trees. I used to read the novels for my English classes in this area, and dream of my own dashing gentleman!
This is a picture of my ring with my dragon. Let me explain: I used to pass this dragon sculpture (also at University College) every day on my way to my Linguistics tutorial in first year and to my Alice Munro fourth year seminar. For whatever reason, this dragon made me feel strong and secure; every time I looked at him or rubbed his head, I was reminded that I had the force necessary, way deep inside me, to get through my degree and battle the demons that tried to hold me back (whether they were my professors or my own anxieties). I’ve taken pictures with my dragon before (see below), but I definitely thought it was appropriate to introduce him to my engagement ring, a symbol of the fact that I have conquered everything I set my mind to (so far at least).
And the final photo in the first wave of the JNG Engagement Ring Series (see that, I even named this endeavour) is a photo of my ring in the room in Hart House where SS and I first met. Here I am, sat at a table just like the one I sat down at when I met SS. I had to take this photo stealthily, but you get a general impression of what the room looks like. And is it any coincidence that the chairs, which SS and I sat in when we had our first ever conversation, are decorated with hearts?
I anticipate that there may be more posts in the JNG Engagement Ring Series in the near future, so stay tuned!
Girl with a Green Heart (and Ring)
I had a #JNGReads post written and scheduled for upload today, but then things got a little bit Jane Eyre for me and I had to deviate from my plan. This is totally unlike me, to not post my regular #JNGReads entry, BUT, Readers, I have some extremely exciting news to share…
… I am ENGAGED! Reader, I’m marrying him – MY Edward Rochester, my Prince Charming, the love of my life. My boyfriend, that wonderful, caring and kind SS that I rant and rave about, is no longer my boyfriend. He is my fiancé!
Okay, so I don’t even know where to begin, but all I know is that I have to share this story with you all. It was the most perfect, literary proposal, from SS’s planning to my reaction, and I want you all to know every detail.
SS and I have talked about marriage for a long time…since our 3 month anniversary, actually, when I was incredibly sleepy and blurted out that I wanted to marry SS one day. From that moment, we’ve been planning and scheming and discussing…and we had pretty well decided that once SS finishes his last few university courses this upcoming August, we would get engaged. So I had a timeline in mind – engaged by Fall 2016, ideally married by the end of 2017.
And then, SS went rogue, as he often does. He decided that he wanted the proposal to be a total surprise for me…so he had to do it on a different timeline, when I wouldn’t be expecting a thing. He sat down with my parents and brother, told them about his plan, and they were thrilled. The wheels were in motion.
That was apparently a month and a half ago. SS had his work cut out for him then, getting the most gorgeous engagement ring I’ve ever seen CUSTOM MADE for me.
When the girl you’re in love with has a green heart, you have to get her an emerald, right? Truth be told, I have always adored emeralds, and SS hit the nail on the head with this beautiful ring from Peoples, complete with a rose gold setting to reflect my Victorian sensibilities. So he had the ring…now what?
Here’s where I come in, oblivious and hopelessly romantic. SS knew he wanted to propose to me where we first met, at the University of Toronto in a building called Hart House. But how would he get me there, the girl who controls every aspect of our schedule and keeps a detailed agenda of all events? Well, he brilliantly decided to book us a hotel room to celebrate the end of his winter semester, and then he expertly told me he would need to quickly drop off a textbook to a friend at UofT during our stay, for her to use for summer classes. She apparently wanted to meet us right by Hart House and I thought it would be cute to revisit the site of our first acquaintance.
So we went, started walking toward our beloved school, and somehow weddings came up. I got a bit frustrated because all I’ve been wanting for months is a ring to wear and show to the world to commemorate our longstanding level of commitment, so I said to SS, “Stop! I refuse to talk about weddings until I have a ring on this finger!” He must’ve found that hilarious as he was carrying the ring with him the whole time.
We got to Hart House and were standing in the hallway outside the room where we met. I looked inside to see that the room was closed and locked, and when I turned back around, SS was rifling in his bag for a book. He pulled out a copy of Jane Eyre and I thought, “How sweet! He bought me a new copy of the book!”
Then, I noticed that he wasn’t getting up – he was still down on one knee. He opened the front cover of Charlotte’s story and I saw written inside as an inscription, “Reader, Will you marry him?” And there was an emerald, rose gold ring tucked inside the pages.
So I, of course, had an appropriate Janian reaction. “No! You are a liar!” I shouted. “This is a cruel joke! That ring is not even real!” SS was alarmed and stood up, coming toward me to put the ring on my finger (he knew that, no matter what my reaction was, I was saying Yes), but I rebelled. “No, stay away from me, don’t touch me!” Like Jane Eyre, I refused to believe that any of it was real. I refused to accept that SS was in ernest. I couldn’t wrap my mind around such happiness.
But eventually, like Rochester with his Jane, SS was able to coax me into being calm and listening to him. I looked at this sparkling gem on my finger and I had to believe. He was my SS and I was his fiancée…at last!
So there it is – SS and I are engaged! We are getting married…and we will be planning a wedding that will make my literary heroines proud!
“‘Make my happiness—I will make yours.'”- Edward Rochester to Jane Eyre
Janille N G
Girl with an Emerald Green Heart
Yesterday I was off work, lying at home sick with a migraine all day. While most people would love a day at home, doing absolutely nothing, I like stimulus and activity, so I knew that I had to fill my day doing something (albeit calm and soothing). In my painkiller-induced slumber, I arrived at the idea of watching the Netflix/Marvel original series Jessica Jones. There are 13 episodes total and yesterday I was able to watch…9 episodes!
Okay, let me just say that I am extremely picky when it comes to TV shows. Basically, I watch Penny Dreadful (Long live the Victorians!) and Reign (Long may Queen Mary reign!), and that’s about it. I used to watch a whole bunch of different shows (The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, The Affair, among others), but I dropped most of them after a while because they just weren’t grabbing my attention. I have this policy that if I’ve watched 3 episodes of a show in a row and I’m feeling bored and not excited or anxious to keep watching it, then I have to cut it, whether that’s at the beginning of the series or after seasons and seasons of watching. There are too many good books to read out there to waste any leisure time on stories that are uninteresting.
Having said all that, I watched one episode of Jessica Jones and I was immediately hooked! This probably has a lot to do with Krysten Ritter – I’ve liked her as an actress for a long time (ever since she was on Gilmore Girls briefly) and I absolutely LOVE her in the role of Jessica! She is my new girl crush in every way: her style is exactly the sort of fashion I love (more on this in a moment), and she is so dry and sarcastic. Her sarcasm and wit make her so unbelievably strong and a real force to be reckoned with, but what is also really great about Ritter’s portrayal of her is that Jessica still comes across as emotional, vulnerable and scared. She’s a truly complex character, but she’s also a female character that a lot of young women can look up to – she’s no nonsense, 100% badass, and she isn’t going to take anyone’s crap…but she’s also caring, loyal to her friends and loved ones, and truly remorseful for the mistakes she makes. She’s flawed and human in the most wonderful and interesting way, and I’m addicted to her story and to the way Krysten Ritter tackles her complicated and chaotic life.
I also have to say (and this is a bit of a shameful admission) that I really really like Jessica’s “enemy”, Killgrave. I find him strangely sexy, which says a lot about my taste in male characters apparently (Damaged and dark British male lead, anyone?). I don’t watch Doctor Who and I’ve never seen David Tennant in anything, but I have to say, he has fully won me over as Killgrave. I don’t blame Jessica (and others) for being intoxicated and manipulated by him because he’s intelligent and calculated, but also hilarious and so cunning. I’m very impressed by his character because I think there’s a lot more to him than being the classic villain. He has a troubled past and a lot of emotional demons to deal with, but he also still seems to be strangely nice and genuine at moments. I’m just super conflicted about his character, to be honest – I want him to go away, but I feel bad for him as well – and I do kind of think the idea of him and Jessica is a little bit cute.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the show pretty much nonstop since I started watching it, and I am ridiculously anxious to finish the next 4 episodes. I’ve even planned to go to my boyfriend’s house tomorrow just so I can log onto his Netflix and watch them all in one go (it’s one of his favourite shows too, so this is no sacrifice on his part).
And so, in honour of this momentous occasion of finding a TV show to finally hold my attention, I decided to have a go at dressing like Jessica Jones today. This was possibly the easiest feat ever because I dress like Jessica almost every single day. I had all of these items in my closet already, and I probably would’ve worn them together even if I’d never seen the show. But, here, have a gander at the photo below and see my Jessica Jones-inspired outfit:
Items Required to Dress like Jessica Jones:
- Black hair – It helps that mine has been black forever!
- A pair of fingerless gloves – the epitome of badass!
- Short boots
- Lots of black!
- A large, wraparound scarf – No one rocks a scarf quite like Krysten Ritter!
And there you have it – new TV obsession + new style icon – nailed it!
Best sick day ever, like seriously!
Girl with a Green Heart
As you’ll know if you follow my Goodreads page (Sidenote: Wanna be friends?), I finished reading Thomas Hardy’s short but epic and unique Victorian novel Far from the Madding Crowd quite awhile ago. I have been waiting to post my final review of the novel, however, until I could write a comprehensive post about the recent film adaptation, starring Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts and have read my last two (#1 + #2), you’ll have a good idea of what my feelings are about Bathsheba. But, I have to admit, the movie adaptation altered my views of this seemingly selfish, weak and superficial Victorian woman, and so I want to share how I believe the film did an excellent job of adapting certain moments from the novel to present Bathsheba as a much stronger and more sympathetic character.
Scene Analysis #1:
What The Novel Says…
“‘It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in a language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.’”
– Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
In the novel, Hardy gives Bathsheba leave to make an extremely profound statement in one of her conversations with Farmer Boldwood. With the increasing interest in feminism these days, it’s surprising to me that no one has latched onto this particular quote (unless they have and I’ve missed it) as a blatant representation of the struggles of women living in a largely patriarchal society. What Bathsheba says at this moment of the novel is not only true, but also poignant: she feels manipulated, constrained and weak because she is unable to express herself, her feelings and desires, adequately in a language that she feels is not hers and was not designed with her sentiments in mind. Unfortunately, despite how relevant and contemporary Bathsheba’s realization of male advantages is, the fact that Bathsheba treats Farmer Boldwood so cruelly (you can read about this in blog post #1, linked above) and is so inconsistent and cruel in her actions towards him, lessens the force of her statement a little. Although I recognized it as an interesting statement, and so quoted it on my Twitter page, I still didn’t sympathize with Bathsheba’s frustrations at the failings of her language because I was too frustrated with her in general.
What The Movie Does…
However, the film adaptation totally rectified this situation for me, or, rather, Carey Mulligan did. Her delivery of this line (word for word from the novel, might I add) was absolutely perfect. She was calm and collected, but defiant in her observation that it is in fact Boldwood who is being unfair to her. Rather than continuing to be annoyed by Bathsheba’s antics and her tendency to pass the blame in this moment, I was impressed by her composure and I believed her to be the smart, observant, strong woman that I believe Hardy intended her to be. The moment in the film was so crisp, the dialogue so clear and well-articulated, that Mulligan’s portrayal of this line really brought it to life and, I feel, encouraged the audience to sympathize with her and recognize her as a woman trapped and cloistered by her society and its difficult expectations.
Scene Analysis #2:
What The Novel Says…
“‘But you never will know,’ she murmured.
‘Because you never ask!’”
– Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
One of the final moments in the novel, when Bathsheba finally admits to desiring her very first suitor, the shepherd Gabriel Oak, is simple and not altogether poignant. I thought the dialogue above, between Bathsheba and Gabriel, was coy and cute, but it wasn’t the romantic declaration I was hoping for. Instead, Bathsheba urges Gabriel to ask for her hand in marriage again by insinuating that he can never know if she will say Yes or No because he refuses to ask her. This is a witty way to admit one’s love, and it is in line with Bathsheba’s general reluctance to give herself to (most) men, but to me, it felt a bit like the lack of emotion was unfair to Gabriel who had worshipped and supported Bathsheba for his whole life. Again, I was critical of Bathsheba and I wanted more from her…at least a bit more feeling and softness and less coquettish flirtation for once.
What The Movies Does…
In the movie adaptation, this scene between Bathsheba and Gabriel is absolutely BREATHTAKING! It was everything my heart wanted and the simplistic nature of the dialogue became much more beautiful and intimate in light of how it was delivered by the excellent actors. Carey Mulligan gave Bathsheba that softness I think was warranted in this final scene, and Matthias Schoenaerts was absolutely incredible as Gabriel, just so loving and tender but also dignified and respectful. I truly felt that the movie portrayed this scene in a way that gave the story finality, especially amidst the struggle and tragedy faced by the characters.
My best friend CV, who is an accomplished and very creative poet, writer and reader herself, was the one who encouraged me to pick up Far from the Madding Crowd. She admitted that she felt conflicted in her feelings toward Bathsheba, and we always discuss literature together in the hopes of arriving at some sort of profound conclusion about it. Throughout my reading, I discussed with CV many times how frustrated I was with Bathsheba, how disappointed I was that she hadn’t quite lived up to being the strong, confident heroine I was looking for. CV felt the same way, but she urged me to also watch the movie, and I’m so glad I did.
I think, and from my few conversations with CV it seems that she agrees, that Carey Mulligan makes Bathsheba into the role model she has the potential to be. Hardy absolutely created a complex, intriguing female character who is round and complicated and human. But, it is Carey Mulligan who takes Hardy’s creation and makes her into a formidable role model for contemporary women. Mulligan’s Bathsheba is warm and affectionate when her heart overwhelms her with emotion, but she is also incredibly intelligent and resourceful enough to dominate a typically male profession. She is impulsive at times, and she wants desperately to be loved and to receive society’s approval, but that is what makes her so wonderfully flawed and so like the viewer. Overall, her intentions are more pure than they seem in the novel – Mulligan allows for the viewer to sympathize with Bathsheba because she portrays her as a woman who is navigating a difficult time and is doing her absolute best to survive in the world around her.
So, my recommendation would be to definitely read Hardy’s original novel to get an insight into Bathsheba’s genuine character…and then delve into the recent film adaptation to see how a brilliant actress like Carey Mulligan makes Bathsheba’s story her own!
– Also, sidenote: if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that after finishing the movie, I became obsessed with Carey-as-Bathsheba’s fashion and style! Every single one of her outfits is gorgeous, and I can guarantee that my Instagram will be riddled with more pictures of her in the near future! –
Girl with a Green Heart
‘Fool,’ said my Muse to me, ‘look in thy heart and write’.
– “Astrophil and Stella”, Sir Philip Sidney
Welcome to 2016 here at The World of my Green Heart!
To ring in the New Year and get myself amped up and excited for all the blog posts I intend to write in 2016, I decided that today I’d feature one of my favourite Christmas gifts that I received over the holidays.
What is a reader without her (or his) hardware? Previously on the blog, I wrote about purchasing a new (third) pair of glasses – a momentous occasion for me because I feel that my specks are an integral part of my identity as an avid reader – after all, if it wasn’t for all the reading I’ve done throughout my life in dimly lit libraries, my eyesight would probably be much better. I was truly excited to pick out a pair of unique, eccentric and bold frames, and I’ve gotten many compliments on them since. And every time I do, as well as any time I wear one of my multiples pairs of glasses, I feel like I am proclaiming to the world, Look at me – I’m wearing glasses because I need them to see some special words on a very special page of an even more special novel that I am currently immersed in! To me, being a reader is equally about those awesome accessories you get to wear – just like being a music lover might be about purchasing the latest iPod or sporting some gorgeous and stylish headphones, and being a hardcore runner might be about donning some colourful sneakers. I’m a reader, and I was a reader before I was most other things in my life, so I like the world to have an idea about that when they look at me!
Now, in the same vein, I’d like to pose the question: What is a writer without her (or his) hardware? Yes, yes, I’m typing this post up on my Macbook right now, and I love all the latest gadgets, especially the fact that my lovely gold iPhone 6 lets me type notes that will instantly appear on my laptop. The way of the writer’s future is pretty marvelous! But, I’m also seriously old school…like to the point where I never once brought my laptop with me to any of my university classes. I preferred to write my lecture notes out by hand…yes, that’s right, with an actual pen and piece of paper. A lot of people think this is absolutely nuts. They’d often ask me how I could keep up with the professor’s speaking (trust me, it takes practice), or how I could prevent my hand from getting cramped or tired (I didn’t – I just persevered). My answers to these questions were never adequate because they could never convey just how happy I felt at the end of a three hour class, looking at my colourful, highlighted, handwritten notes. It just felt so nice to have a notebook full of my own scribbling and shorthand at the end of a semester, and I still have many of these notebooks (you never know when you might need to look back at some lecture notes when writing a blog post, am I right?).
So, to me, one of the most important things that I can possess is a good, high quality, fully functioning, totally reliable black pen. I used to write with only blue pen for awhile, mainly when I was in high school, but as I moved into my university years, I started to prefer black ink because it seemed a bit more professional, less flashy and easier to read. Since then, I’ve stuck to strictly black pen, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate that any time someone has gifted me with a pen, it’s just happened to be a black one. Writer’s win!
And this Christmas, I received some awesome pens (people know me well enough by now to purchase them for me on every occasion) – but one pen stood out to me in particular. My darling boyfriend SS bought me an absolutely gorgeous (black!) pen from Swarovski. It is decorated with rose gold crystals – and since rose gold is unquestionably my favourite, it suits me perfectly! I love it, and with it I intend to write lengthy blog posts, creative stories, anything and everything my green heart desires!
Stay tuned for what my pen will produce this year!
Girl with a Green Heart (and a Pink Pen)