A Truly Unexpected Favourite ~ A Court of Thorns and Roses ~ #JNGReads

What on Earth did I just read?!?!?!

I rarely do this. I rarely sit down and write a review only moments after finishing a book, especially if it’s after 10:00pm on a weekday, but this time, I just couldn’t resist.

I am in shock – complete and utter, mind-bending, soul-altering shock – from what I experienced. Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow.

I have to admit, I was expecting to enjoy Sarah J. Maas’ novel A Court of Thorns and Roses. Read the description of it, online, on Goodreads, anywhere you can find it – it is a novel right up my alley: a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with a strong and defiant heroine, battling it out against unique and terrifying villains, all in the hopes of saving her beloved. Sign me up. My only source of hesitation when picking up the novel was its genre – fantasy is not my thing whatsoever (Unpopular opinion time: I struggle to get through episodes of Game of Thrones that my fiancé finds incredible and heart wrenching, because I find that show DULL!), and so I had this feeling that I would like ACOTAR, but that I wouldn’t love it.

Well, I was freakin’ wrong on all accounts, and I am more shocked than anyone about it (except, perhaps, for my fiancé who can’t believe that a book of high fantasy had me gasping and writhing on our couch). Holy ****, I don’t even know how to describe what I’ve just experienced. This book is INCREDIBLE and I LOVED it!!!

Okay, how to put into words the emotions that are currently swirling in my chest… I have no idea. I need to try to be calm and rational about this, but it is so so hard, and if you’ve heard of ACOTAR at all or read any reviews, you’ll know why I’m so shaken. It is just that good. Like I said, I was NOT expecting to react this strongly or be this sucked into a fantasy world, but Maas’ writing is so intricate and detailed and consuming that I couldn’t stop myself from being overtaken. And more than that, I am completely overwhelmed by the story – it delivered every possible emotion; I felt horror and fear and anxiety and joy and love; it was romantic and funny and suspenseful and terrifying. It was everything, absolutely EVERYTHING that literature and fiction should be because it effortlessly transported me to another world. I was so enveloped in Feyre’s world that I almost forgot where I was at times, that I was able to ignore my real-life anxieties and obligations and go on a wonderful and awesome adventure. This, this, is what reading is all about!

Alright, let me try to properly articulate what I loved about A Court of Thorns and Roses… Everything!!! No, focus, be more detailed than that…

~ I loved the world, the setting. This surprised me more than anything. As I mentioned, I’m not one for all that fantasy stuff, and although I don’t mind reading about a fairy every now and then, I can’t say that I crave entering mythical or magical lands all that often. Having said that, Maas creates a world that is recognizable and relatable, but tinged with just enough magic to make it intriguing. Fantasy truly is the perfect word for it because I felt like Prythian was the ideal place to live, full of human comforts and familiarity, but also laced with wonders and immense beauty. I totally felt like I was living there because Maas’ descriptions were so breathtaking, and to be frank, I’d like to head back there right now.

~ I loved Feyre. I’ve heard criticism of her, and I’ll admit that I was SUPER annoyed when she couldn’t figure out the simplest riddle in all of existence, but she kick assed and I loved it! She is a strong, defiant and utterly brave female character, and she is about a million times more resourceful and resilient than her male counterparts. This is the type of female character that we need in this day and age, and when things got ridiculously intense at the end of the novel, I was on Feyre’s side every step of the way. I think she made all the right decisions, and I was in awe of her heart and her passion. I like to think that I’m similar to her in many ways, in my loyalty above all things, and she really did inspire me to stand tall and walk with my chin held high under all circumstances. Go Feyre!

~ I loved Rhysand. This is probably shameful, but this is where I’m at by the end of this epic novel. I don’t understand Rhysand, I have no real idea what he’s up to or what’s going on, but I like him. He’s mysterious and I just know that he’s misunderstood and has a kind heart way underneath his pale skin, and I’m sorry, but any time I sense even a bit of Mr. Rochester in a male character, I’m going to fall for him. It’s complicated, definitely, but I feel like something good is happening between him and Feyre, so I’m just going to go with it. He was there for her when it counted, when no one else was, and for that, I give him points. And, also, this scene…I mean, come on, I didn’t stand a chance…

“The pain shot through my bones again, and through my increasing hysteria, I heard words inside my head that stopped me short.

Don’t let her see you cry.

Put your hands at your sides and stand up.

I couldn’t. I couldn’t move.

Stand. Don’t give her the satisfaction of seeing you break.

My knees and spine, not entirely of my own will, forced me upright, and when the ground at last stopped moving, I looked at Amarantha with tearless eyes.

Good, Rhysand told me. Stare her down. No tears – wait until you’re back in your cell.

….Good girl. Now walk away. Turn on your heel – good. Walk toward the door. Keep your chin high. Let the crowd part. One step after another.

I listened to him, let him keep me tethered to sanity…”

~ I wanted to love Tamlin. I think I was supposed to love him, but in typical Victorian heroine fashion, I let a more interesting male character distract me. Tamlin was bland, if I’m honest, and he didn’t really do much of anything. Even his “romantic” interactions with Feyre weren’t all that spicy or intoxicating. However, I understand that it was important for him to be the likable good guy in order for Feyre’s willingness to die for him to be believable. If anything, though, I saw him as more of a plot device to get Feyre Under the Mountain, and that was just fine – but, the fact is, I’m not enamoured with him and I’m more interested in Feyre’s personal journey in the coming books than with her relationship with him.

~ I loved this entire reading experience. I can’t emphasize enough that A Court of Thorns and Roses delivers exactly what every reader should want: a true escape. I was whisked away to an entirely different realm and I was absorbed for every single second of my journey. The final third of the novel is full of such suspense and agony and uncertainty that I was actually shaken and left totally unnerved. I found it hard to concentrate on anything else, or even to sleep, because I kept dwelling on Feyre’s dilemma – it was that intense.

This reading experience was passionate for me, all encompassing and profound, and I am so glad that I decided to buy the second and third installment of the series this past weekend so I can dive back into the story right away. There must’ve been flaws with this novel, I’m sure there were, but I can’t even think about them because I’m too overjoyed and excited about how intricate the story was and how many new friends I’ve made in its pages. This reading experience was simply breathtaking, and I would highly recommend A Court of Thorns and Roses to any reader that wants to get away for awhile and be consumed by a world both different from and yet satisfyingly similar to our own.

On to the next novel – but seriously, I’m cracking open its spine tonight!

❥❥❥❥❥ (out of 5) ~ A new favourite!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

A Different Kind of Bride

havisham

“But, as every girl growing up understood, her wedding day was the most significant she would know: a woman’s crowning glory.”

Havisham, Ronald Frame

A little while ago, I finished Ronald Frame’s novel Havisham, a prequel to Dickens’ much loved masterpiece Great Expectations and a book that I picked up on serious sale at my local Chapters.  I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and I was particularly fascinated by Frame’s portrayal of the young Catherine Havisham.  It is a novel that I would absolutely recommend to fans of Great Expectations because it offers just that little extra bit of history about a character whose background is shrouded in much mystery.

In that same line of thought, I believe that the one defining and extraordinary feature of Havisham is the narrative voice that Frame creates for the young Miss Havisham.  Allowing Catherine to speak in first person was a masterful choice on Frame’s part, as it gives her an opportunity to speak distinctly, to take ownership of her personal story and the decisions she makes.  Rather than being an intriguing character in a larger work, Catherine Havisham becomes the centre of her own world, the focal point of a plot that is replete with its own mysteries and misunderstandings.  Miss Havisham is undoubtedly a character that is complex enough to warrant this sort of exploration, and I think that allowing Catherine to speak for herself adds many more layers to her already impressive personality.  Catherine Havisham is an educated, strong and defiant woman with a mind for business and a steely resolve, and although as readers we know that her story has a heartbreaking ending, we are also offered a glimpse into her powerful mind, which is a lot healthier and more robust than we probably would’ve expected.

What is also wonderful about Catherine’s voice is that it is clearly her own; it is a narrative voice unlike any I’ve encountered in a contemporary novel in a very long time.  Frame artfully mixes Victorian-style speech with references to classic poetry and imagery that are unique and vivid.  His descriptions, through Catherine, of physical surroundings, other characters and feelings and emotions are detailed (in homage to Dickens, no doubt) and quite beautifully crafted.

“Did the trees droop by nature’s will, or because I told them what my feelings were?”

“I floated through the day, never so light or carefree, hopeful to the very tips of my fingers and toes.”

Catherine’s narration is also wonderfully cadenced: her lines, both spoken and internally narrated, take on a very poetic quality, which aligns well with her haunting and spectral quality.  She is a narrator whose voice is at once bewitching and relaxing.

“But I was afraid every time he left me, not just unhappy.”

“My imagination threw a caul of gentle thoughts around him, to protect him…”

The one criticism of the novel I remember reading on Goodreads is that one reader said she could not connect fully with Catherine because she never found herself even remotely liking Catherine’s love interest, Charles Compeyson.  Well, with that I must agree.  However, unlike this reader, I think the fact that I disliked and was extremely suspicious of Charles from the start increased my sympathy with Catherine and my overall connection to her.  I have been reading novels (such as Jack Caldwell’s The Three Colonels: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men) and watching television shows (such as ITV’s new series Victoria) recently that have presented me with models of wives and domestic life.  As someone who is engaged and will be married next year, I must admit that the image of Miss Havisham, a not-quite-bride forever suspended in the moment of 9:20am on her wedding day, was not the model of bridal bliss I was eager to encounter.  Having said that, I grew to love Catherine Havisham because I felt her heartache, I was outraged on her behalf, and I understood that the loss of the sort of love that leads to marriage (even if I didn’t like the man she had chosen) would be utterly devastating.  I was wary of Charles from day one because I’ve read Great Expectations and I knew things weren’t going to end well on the romantic front for Miss Havisham, but I could still identify with Catherine’s loneliness, with her desire to find a partner, to have a bit of her burden unloaded on someone she could trust and feel close to.  I didn’t believe that Charles ever properly respected or appreciated her, but I felt how solitary her existence was, and I knew that she craved support and attention, so I didn’t fault her naivety whatsoever.  On the contrary, I felt closer to her because I wanted to protect her from the outcome that I knew was inevitable.  I couldn’t do that, and so I found Frame’s novel so much more emotional and meaningful for the predictable ending it was required to provide.  I would say that the fact that Charles was despicable only made me adore Catherine more.

“He evaded me now because, I realized, he always had.  I had been in love with someone I had half-imagined to life, half-invented myself.”

And come to adore Catherine, I did.  I didn’t expect to become so close to someone like Miss Havisham, who is portrayed as so cold and calculated in Dickens’ original text.  I was drawn to the humanity in Catherine Havisham though, and I think that is testament to Frame’s remarkable knack for writing and mastering his narrator’s voice.

“I sometimes thought that I disappointed him.  He would have liked me to be more of a ‘Miss Havisham’ than I was.  Had he been directing me in a play, he would have heightened the effects.”

I was originally going to say that my one qualm with Frame’s novel is that it extended into the storyline of Great Expectations.  Originally, I wasn’t pleased that Frame chose to explore the famous Miss Havisham of Dickens’ novel in the final hundred pages of his own.  I wished, at first, that he had finished the story after Catherine’s fall into depression, after she remade herself into the ghost-like and miserable Miss Havisham of Great Expectations, before she invited Estella to her home.  I felt that delving into the world of Great Expectations made Dickens’ spectre of a character too human, and this bothered me as I have always appreciated the mystique around Miss Havisham’s character.  Now that I’ve had a chance to think about this more, though, I do like that I now have a new perspective on Miss Havisham.  I know that there is humanity in there, that there is a woman inside the figure who walks endlessly around her breakfast table.  There is feeling there, even if Miss Havisham tries to portray herself, especially to Pip, as frozen.  She has sentiments and regrets and yearnings, and I believe that Frame is very respectful of Dickens’ invention by exploring what lies within Miss Havisham’s soul.

As I said, I am very happy that I stumbled upon this novel and gave it a read.  It added yet another layer to my appreciation of a literary classic, and further informed my understanding of a character I thought I would never have answers about.

❥ ❥ ❥ ❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

So Far, Not Good

I’m in probably the worst position an avid reader can be in right now…

I am not enjoying my current read.

If you follow along with me on Twitter or Goodreads, you’ll know that I started reading Margaret Atwood’s Victorian-esque novel Alias Grace last week. My choice to read this book was completely random: I had just finished Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and I didn’t have a clue what book I would read next; I saw Alias Grace sitting on my bookshelf and impulsively picked it up, placing it in my work bag to begin reading on the bus the next day. Alias Grace did NOT come highly recommend, however; my brother eagerly gave me the book after completing his Canadian Literature class this past year. He hadn’t actually read it because it seemed “too long and boring”, so he thought he would just dump it on me for my blog. Not exactly a stellar review, eh?

I have to preface everything I am about to say by admitting that Canadian Literature is not my favourite. I’m pretty sure I’ve already mentioned this on the blog before (I’ve actually been writing this thing for so long that I sometimes forget what I’ve told you all – imagine that!), but my mark in my Canadian Literature class from second year university is a black spot on my academic record that I will never recover from. Okay, I actually got a good mark by most people’s standards – it was a B+ if you must know – but considering that it is the ONE B amongst all the other A’s I achieved in 5 years of study (including my Master’s), I think it’s fair for me to be a little bit upset about it. (*Overachiever problems, clearly!) I also stand by the fact that I deserved a higher mark because the essays I wrote for that class were among my favourite in my entire academic career. I’m convinced the TA had something against me and my writing style, but I have yet to prove this – it was also very gratifying to take classes with this same TA during my Master’s and realize that my opinions were in fact just as valid as his. Anyway, I digress, no need to get more enraged by this. The point is, although I love the short stories of Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant, and I have enjoyed a Canadian read here and there, it’s not my absolute favourite style of literature.

Now, in theory, that has nothing at all to do with Alias Grace, which does take place in Ontario but which is set in the 19th century. I mean, we all know that is a time period I am very interested in, and it should be fascinating to read about how my favourite era played out in my own country. It should be fascinating, but, if I’m honest, I’m not finding the story all that fascinating just yet. Actually, no, I shouldn’t say that – the plot itself is very cool: the story investigates the life of Grace Marks, a housekeeper turned murderess who kills her employer and fellow housekeeper in cold blood. Yeah, I think that sounds intriguing too!

However, here’s another startling admission: I am not a fan of Margaret Atwood’s writing. I have read many of her works, starting with The Handmaid’s Tale in high school, then onto some of her short stories in the aforementioned Canadian Literature class, and even including her novel Cat’s Eye which I read randomly one summer. So I’m experienced with Atwood’s writing style. The issue is that I don’t particularly like it – her stories are interesting enough, but her writing seems so dry to me, and Alias Grace is especially written in a sort of catalogue or documentary style. I’m really struggling to get through it for that reason. It feels a lot like homework to read this novel, which is not exactly what I was looking for in a summer read.

The problem is, everyone seems to be excited about me reading this novel. Everyone and their mother is liking my Goodreads status or Tweets about it, so obviously enough people think it is a good book. I’m just not there yet, and the thing is almost 600 pages, so I’m hoping my opinion changes really soon.

Here’s the question: keep plugging away or give up now while I still can? I’ve never been a quitter, so I think I need to give this one a more solid effort!

Wish me luck!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Janille Reads Jane – Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

I have to make a startling admission which I’ve probably already alluded to here on the blog: I am not the biggest fan of Jane Austen.

I am one of those people who is loyal to Charlotte Brontë, who loves Charles Dickens, who enjoys long and eloquent descriptions full of emotion and feeling. I’m not really that fond of concise narratives that sum things up in a single paragraph, that tell me what a character is thinking and feeling rather than showing me through their actions. I like sentiments over logic, lengthy descriptions over summaries. And I find that Jane Austen usually offers the latter.

My assessment was no different yesterday afternoon when I finished Northanger Abbey. I have now read all of Jane Austen’s books except Sense and Sensibility, so I feel that I can profess an astute opinion on them. Don’t get me wrong, her stories are iconic and I have adored movie adaptations of them, such as the version of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFayden, as well as modern adaptations like the Youtube series Emma Approved. However, I just do not adore Jane Austen’s writing style. It is too clipped and concise and ironic, which I believe leaves it void of emotion. There is no real substance, no depth to the characters, in my opinion. The concepts are good, but they are told in catalogue style, as if Austen wants to simply list the events and summarize them without exploring their detail or complexity.

Northanger Abbey was probably destined to be a novel I wouldn’t love because it toyed with and critiqued the archetypes of gothic novels. However, I hoped to learn something about the gothic genre from it and expand my opinion. Instead, I found myself struggling to connect to Catherine Morland – I just wasn’t given enough to work with; her speeches were short and to the point, and her romantic feelings were described in a few sentences or less. Her fear at being separated from her lover, Henry Tilney, was momentary and brief, and their profession of love was entirely omitted and was instead summarized in one paragraph. I love ardent confessions of undying love, and Northanger Abbey sorely lacked this.

It also lacked direction, in my opinion. It started off as a pleasant tale about a young woman entering society, then became a pseudo-gothic novel set in an abbey, then it was concluded with convenience and efficiency. The scenes were interesting enough, but they were short-lived, and I never had a chance to fully immerse myself in any of the plots or intrigues.

I should say that I still enjoyed the novel more than most others I’ve read and more than other Austen novels. I just wasn’t blown away by it and although I’m glad I can say I read it, it’s not one of my absolute favourite portrayals of the time period. I do intend to watch the movie adaptation with Felicity Jones though, so that may increase my affections a little.

Are you all too disappointed in me for not being a Janeite?

❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Haunted – #JNGWatches

As the summer gets into full swing, all of the TV shows that I watch (and there aren’t many) wind down and come to an end.  In recent weeks, I have experienced two very significant season (and, in one case, series) finales that left me utterly breathless, and I figured that today was as good a day as any to give you all my thoughts on them.

* Warning: Penny Dreadful and Outlander related SPOILERS await you… *

  • The End of Miss Ives

The first great loss I experienced during this TV season was the end of my favourite series of all time, Penny Dreadful.  In a means that I can only call sneaky, Showtime and creator John Logan decided to create a series finale without alerting any of the fans beforehand.  Imagine our surprise, then, when our beloved heroine Miss Ives died in the conclusion of the final episode of the third season.  I knew as soon as her lover Ethan Chandler shot her that the series was coming to a close; although each of the actors and plots was incredible, Eva Green as Vanessa Ives was the heart and soul of the show, and it simply could not continue without her.

Although I was devastated and greatly saddened for weeks after watching the series finale, I was struck by how beautiful and artfully constructed the entire series was.  I think it is most ironic that I wrote a blog post gushing about the characters and the writing only a few short weeks before the series came to an unexpected close, but I stand by every statement I made in that original post.  Penny Dreadful was a series unlike any other: moving, powerful, visually intriguing, suspenseful and extremely well done.  The commitment of the actors and crew was evident in every single scene, right to the difficult and depressing end.  I do agree with many viewers that there were still multiple storylines that could’ve been explored in future seasons, but I also don’t mind the fact that the show ended on a high note, that it ran its intended course and finished on the top of its game.  The final scene was also incredibly touching, and Rory Kinnear expertly portrayed all of the emotions of the fans as he sat by Vanessa’s grave and mourned her on behalf of all of us.

I will mourn Miss Ives myself though, and the days following her death were very sad for me.  I know, she’s only a fictional character and I shouldn’t become so emotional about people that “aren’t real”.  I’ve heard this argument many times before.  I always respond to this statement, however, by reminding people that characters can very often become friends.  I spent many years with Miss Ives, I watched her struggles and fear, I witnessed her growth, and I grew to genuinely care about what happened to her.  I do believe that she had to die in order for her trials to come to an end, but I still felt as though I lost someone very dear to me in the process.  Her character was an inspiration to me in many ways, and I won’t soon forget this show.  It will absolutely continue to be one of my favourite shows of all time, and my respect for Eva Green as an actress knows no bounds.

  • A 20 Year Silence

~ I am really not a fan of lovers being separated. ~

Another show that came to an end just this week is Outlander, based on the popular series of novels.  I wrote a blog post about the TV adaptation a few years ago, when it first started, and I have to say that I have continued to be impressed by the series for the last two years.  I have only ever read the first novel in the series, back when I was in university, and although parts of the TV show are a bit too historical and detailed for me (for example, all the information about the various battles), I do feel a strong connection to Claire and Jamie and their love story has really entertained me.  The show also has some very powerful episodes that have left me heartbroken, angry and worried for my favourite characters, and there has been some absolutely spectacular acting on the part of Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies, who is a force to be reckoned with as Captain Jack Randall.

Now, this show isn’t coming to a definitive end and has actually been renewed for two more seasons, which is very good news because the season two finale left me shaken.  I am still haunted by it.  If you’ve read the books, you’ll know the general story, but because I stopped after the first novel, I had no idea that Claire returns to the present and is separated from Jamie for…TWENTY YEARS!!!  This seems totally absurd to me, and the scenario is made even worse by the fact that she raises their child with her first husband Frank, all the while hiding this monumental time travel secret from said daughter, Brianna.  Like…what?!?!  The season two finale played with all of my emotions: I was really sad at times, I was excited and happy to learn that Jamie was still alive, and I was nervous and anxious about how Brianna would take the news of her father’s true identity.  It was a rollercoaster to say the least, and I was immediately sucked back into the story after wavering a little during all the political discussions and battle scenes that made up this season.

My visceral reaction to the finale is mostly down to Caitriona Balfe’s incredible performance as Claire in this episode.  It goes without saying that Sam Heughan was perfect as Jamie, and the scene where Claire and Jamie say Goodbye to each other almost tore my heart in two.  It is so clear to the viewer that they assume they will never see each other again, and I was moved by how passionate their acting was.  Balfe really shines in the episode when she is alone, though, in those quiet moments when Claire visits various places in Scotland that remind her of her life with Jamie.  She is in mourning and it is so evident that her heart is broken.  My favourite scene was the one when she sits on the front steps of Jamie’s home, Lallybroch, and sees a vision of him standing in the distance.  It was absolutely exquisite.  Balfe’s performance at Jamie’s supposed grave was also very moving, and it was beautiful to watch her speaking to Jamie and filling him in on the twenty years of separation and of their daughter’s life.

As I said, I’m really not fond of any separation between lovers, fictional or otherwise.  If someone told me today that I would have to be separated from my fiancé for the next twenty years…well, that would feel a lot like a death sentence.  Despite the fact that, yes I know, Claire and Jamie aren’t actually real, their love is in my opinion; they might be characters, but they have feelings and sentiments that are expressed and portrayed to fans, and so it’s not so easy to dismiss their anguish or turmoil.  I’ve been thinking about Claire and Jamie all day, wondering if they will be reunited, when it will happen, and how they will each hold up in the interval.  Forgive me for caring so much about characters, but it’s just far too easy for me to empathize with them, to place myself in their positions and feel their pain right along with them.

And now, the cold spell begins.  Penny Dreadful is lost to me forever, Outlander is on hiatus…and no other TV shows really interest me all that much.  When you’ve encountered such intricate and detailed storytelling in some TV shows, it is so hard to sit around and watch others that just don’t meet those standards.  So, for now, I wait…and maybe tackle all those books on my To-Read List in the meantime.

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

 

Bellman & Black

Bellman & Black

I’ve just finished the Victorian-esque novel Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield and I have to say that I was extremely impressed by it.

I’ve read many reviews (most of them on Goodreads) stating that this novel was dry, boring, uneventful and a complete waste of time. I could not disagree more. I feel that the readers who wrote these reviews may not be totally experienced with the Victorian genre of novels, and may not truly understand that 19th century literature was not always exciting, enchanting or full of fantasy and extraordinary events. Yes, of course, novels like Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist with their madwomen in attics and fanciful characters like Fagin and the Artful Dodger exist, but there are also those Victorian novels that simply tell the tale of every day life in the 19th century, that choose to focus on one man who is unusual but not altogether very special and tell a tale about his life and struggles. Take for example novels by Dickens such as Our Mutual Friend and A Tale of Two Cities – these novels have become iconic because of the mastery and intellect of their creator, but if you sit down and break them down into their rudimentary components, any reader will find that they are less than extraordinary tales. What does Our Mutual Friend really do but follow John Harman/Rokesmith around London? One entire chapter is devoted to watching him as he walks around the city and contemplates his life. A Tale of Two Cities does much the same, following characters in two different locals, yes, but not doing much more than detailing their personal struggles and trials.

I believe that Setterfield’s novel does exactly the same thing with the character William Bellman, and I found it to be an incredibly accurate, scholarly and loving depiction of 19th century society. Bellman is a fascinating character, even if his story is slow and repetitive at times. Yes, he spends most of the plot completing business, either at his mill or his funeral parlour, but this is what makes his character so interesting and unique – we, as the readers, are called to analyze the actions and decisions of a man who doesn’t do very much, and decide if his success in such a cloistered routine is truly worthwhile. It is true, Bellman wastes much of his life (as his strange “partner” subtly points out to him in the novel’s conclusion) and some may argue that he therefore wastes a perfectly good story – but I would rather choose to believe that the poignancy of Bellman’s story comes from the fact that he accomplishes much technically while simultaneously accomplishing very little emotionally. He has wealth and esteem, and yet he lacks feeling and connection and humanity. He is as complex as any character created by Dickens, and Setterfield allows him to fully inhabit the Victorian era without restraint.

Setterfield is, for this reason, a masterful writer in my opinion. She writes like a Victorian novelist. I have read her first novel The Thirteenth Tale and I thought the exact same thing about her writing style then. Setterfield clearly loves Victorian literature and she isn’t afraid to try to mimic it. Luckily, her strong diction, clever juxtaposition of images and ideas and the smooth, rich pacing of her style mean that she mimics such a prolific genre with class and respect.

Some readers have also argued that Bellman & Black is incorrectly marketed as a ghost story. I wholeheartedly disagree. No, it’s not a ghost story by contemporary standards, but it is indeed a gothic novel in that it deals with dark and macabre themes. It might not be scary, necessarily, but it is eerie, it does leave the reader with a sense of being unsettled and disjointed and contemplative. Perhaps there is no real “ghost” figure, but does Bellman not become a spectre of himself through his losses and turmoil? Is Black not a haunting figure, even if he is merely internal and psychologically fuelled, who follows and torments Bellman’s every move?

I think that readers have been unfairly harsh toward this novel. I had high expectations going into it, and I was not disappointed in the least. It brought me back to reading my favourite Victorian classics. It gave me the same feeling that reading A Christmas Carol for the first time did. No, I was not afraid, but I was moved, curious and entertained. In that regard then, I think Setterfield’s second attempt at novel writing was very successful!

❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Wonderful – #JNGWatches (…and is obsessed!)

“Vanessa Ives: Stay with me tonight.

Ethan Chandler: And tomorrow?

Vanessa: I promise you, we will be less afraid.”

– Penny Dreadful

Union Station

I’ve raved about my favourite TV show before on the blog, but apparently I’m not quite done gushing yet…

Penny Dreadful is hands down, no question, the most incredible TV show I have ever seen. Every single aspect of the show, from the remarkable actors to the detailed sets to the dialogues and attention to detail, is flawless. I’ve mentioned my love for the show and the characters (many of whom I’ve loved through literature for years), but I think it’s time to break it down and describe the precise reasons why I enjoy this show so much…and am so eager to get you all to watch it too!

The Words

Penny Dreadful is one of those rare TV shows that is written impeccably. It feels more like a piece of theatre or like a Victorian novel being read aloud than like a TV show. Perhaps the fact that it is a Showtime series, and not one on network television, has something to do with this, but I’m more inclined to think that the beauty of the way the show is written has everything to do with creator John Logan. Logan is quite literally a genius, and I believe that the world’s foremost Victorian novelists like Dickens and Mary Shelley would agree. Logan not only accurately and lovingly pays homage to some of the greatest literary characters of all time (more on this in a moment), but he puts words into their mouths, and into those of his own fictional creations such as Vanessa Ives and Ethan Chandler, that are 100% truthful to and appropriate for the Victorian context. Although the series is often raunchy and dark, it is always genuine and authentic. This loyalty to the Victorian setting and genre does not take away from the poignancy of the story, however – on the contrary, Logan gives his characters such profound, modern and applicable lines that a modern viewer can’t help but be intrigued by the fact that their own preoccupations and concerns are being represented in a more ancient context. Logan is a writer of astonishing caliber, and even the simplest lines and scenes in the show have given me chills.

“Ethan Chandler: You will not die while I’m here. You will not surrender while I live. If I have one goddamned purpose in my cursed life it’s that.

Vanessa Ives: You are one man.

Ethan: More than that and you know it. We are not like others. We have claws for a reason.”

– Penny Dreadful

The Characters

As I mentioned a moment ago, John Logan, in creating Penny Dreadful, pays homage to the most unique, wonderful and interesting characters of English literature. While he creates his own fictional beings who are equally exciting and engaging (particularly the show’s protagonist, Vanessa Ives, as well as her fellow strong female lead, Brona Croft/Lily – more on them in a moment), he also borrows from the Victorian era’s greatest stories to reimagine the lives of some of literature’s most fascinating characters. From the beginning of the series, Victor Frankenstein, his Creature, as well as that formidable vampire Dracula have been focal points. However, Logan also borrows from lesser known texts, such as Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and in so doing, he introduces a modern audience to the strange and enchanting tales of an era that is often stereotypically perceived as prim and proper. In the most recent season, Logan decided to introduce the viewers to another much loved character, a certain Dr. Jekyll – once I learned that Dr. Jekyll was going to be featured on the show, I rushed to read Robert Louis Stevenson’s original novel (which I had been meaning to do for years), and I am so impressed with the way that Logan investigates Dr. Jekyll’s troubled past, before he gives in to his alter ego Mr. Hyde. Logan treats these characters with such love and affection, cherishing them, allowing them to speak for themselves, but also placing them in circumstances that are new and require accommodation and adaptation. This take on some of the characters I have grown to admire is absolutely breathtaking and novel.

The Players

This brings me to my main reason for prizing this show so highly – the wonderful actors. I don’t think I have ever witnessed such incredible performances in a TV series. I’ve spoken about this before, but Eva Green (who stars as Miss Vanessa Ives) has to be the greatest actress of modern times. She is extremely versatile – one moment she is sitting quietly, composed and collected, and the next she is possessed, tortured and crazed – and she truly gives herself over to her performance without restraint. There have been several scenes in the show where she has taken my breath away, and in a recent episode (3×05), she conveyed more emotion and turmoil with her eyes alone than I have seen most other actresses express in full feature films. She deserves recognition of all kinds for her flawless portrayal of Vanessa Ives.

Having said that, another actress in the show gives Green a run for her money. Billie Piper as prostitute turned fierce immortal Brona Croft/Lily is absolutely unreal. I’ve encountered Piper in films before, most notably the adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, but I have never seen her in a role so strong and forceful. Her manner of speech alone is confident and collected, but she also clearly portrays the turmoil and emotional pain of her character. There are so many moments when she addresses male characters with such ferocity, and it is amazing to behold a Victorian woman standing up for herself and her peers. This fact is really down to John Logan as well, who has made a huge focal point of season 3 the struggle of Victorian women to rise up and obtain their own status and freedom. By creating strong female characters and allowing such talented actresses to play them, Logan is providing the modern female viewer with models of strength and confidence.

**My apologies for the explicit language in the following quote.**

“Brona/Lily: We flatter our men with our pain, we bow before them, we make ourselves dolls for their amusement, we lose our dignity in corsets and high shoes and gossip and the slavery of marriage! And our reward for this service? The back of the hand…the face turned to the pillow…the bloody, aching cunt as you force us onto your beds to take your fat, heaving bodies! You drag us into the alleys, my lad, and cram yourselves into our mouths for two bob when you’re not beating us senseless! When we’re not bloody from the eyes, and the mouth, and the ass and the cunt! Never again… will I kneel to any man. Now they shall kneel to me.”

– Penny Dreadful

The rest of the actors and actresses are equally incredible, from those who play more minor characters like Hecate Poole (actress Sarah Greene) to Rory Kinnear, Josh Hartnett, Harry Treadaway, Reeve Carney and Timothy Dalton (a legend, and a dashing Mr. Rochester as well) who round out the male leads. I’ve never been more impressed by their performances than I have been while watching season 3. And, speaking of Dr. Jekyll and Dracula (aka Dr. Sweet), Shazad Latif and Christian Camargo do an excellent job of inserting themselves into the cast in the current season – their acting caliber is exquisite and so they fit right in with the established characters. They also have some formidable shoes to fill, playing such iconic characters, and they definitely have no problem with such an undertaking.

I honestly can’t say enough about this show – that much is probably obvious! I highly recommend it, not just for those who love the Victorian era, but for anyone who is interested in good storytelling and masterful acting. My father doesn’t have any interest in the Victorian era whatsoever (strange, I know!), but he has called this his favourite TV show of all time – if that isn’t proof enough that the show is pretty great, I don’t know what is.

Check it out if you haven’t already, and if you have, let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

 

Madman in the Attic – #JNGWatches

Hello again dear Readers! Today I have a special blog post for you all about a wonderful piece of theatre I experienced last night.

My boyfriend SS and I like to go to plays every Valentine’s Day. Rather than buying each other expensive and unnecessary gifts, we like to give each other a fun, exciting night out – a night of arts and culture. Last year, we went to see the play Once which was beyond incredible! The music was lively and so well performed, and I really enjoyed the story, although the ending was beyond depressing (and not at all filled with True Love, much to my disappointment).

This year, I received an update from Mirvish Productions that the play Gaslight was coming to Toronto. I’m not going to lie, I had never heard of Gaslight and had no particular passion for seeing the story performed. I did, however, notice that two actors from the immensely popular TV show Game of Thrones were starring in the production: Owen Teale and Ian McElhinney. SS is a HUGE fan of Game of Thrones (it’s the first show he forced me to watch when we started dating) and I knew he would be super interested in seeing these two actors live. I thought that maybe this could be the Valentine’s Day production we were looking for!

Then, I started to research the story more and discovered that it was, in fact, Victorian! I was instantly convinced – we had to see this play! As I read more about it, I also learned that it had a hugely gothic influence, complete with mystery, intrigue and madness. SS and I bought our tickets.

And boy, am I happy we did! We saw the play last night at 8:00pm, which is a perfectly gothic hour, not quite the dead of night but decidedly not daytime. The Ed Mirvish Theatre felt intimate, gloomy and quiet, and you could literally hear a pin drop. I think everyone in the audience was amped up to be taken on a horrific journey. And we were – from the moment the play started, we were engrossed in a typically morose and macabre Victorian setting: the set was replete with vivid burgundies and yellows, the furniture was grandiose, and the glow from the gaslight created an eerie atmosphere. The first actors to appear on stage, Flora Montgomery (who was perfect, perfect, PERFECT as a Victorian mistress) and Owen Teale, began with such reserved passion that it was immediately obvious we were going to witness some impeccable acting ability. Once Ian McElhinney entered the story, the humorous element increased, but there was still such an air of thrill and excitement, and the fast-paced dialogue was totally engaging to keep up with.

Now, these are some random impressions, but I should try to be clearer with my opinion: I LOVED this play! Honestly, I had no idea what to expect, and I was afraid that the Victorian era would not be adequately represented – but, believe me, it was. This play is labeled as a thriller, and a lot of people would be surprised by that. Most people I encounter think that the Victorian era is all prim propriety, decorum, women in high collars and corsets. This is, obviously, quite true. But what people don’t realize is that the Victorian era was incredibly macabre and gothic – some of our greatest horror stories originated in this time period (I’m looking at you Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde!), and I’ve spoken enough about the new TV series Penny Dreadful that you should all understand what I mean. Another huge interest in the Victorian era was mental illness and instability or, more simplistically, madness. The Victorians were obsessed with assessing whether or not people, particularly women, were mad, and so many pieces of literature were obsessed with depicting “mad” characters. Jane Eyre is actually one of the best representations of this.

So, I’m familiar with madness in Victorian literature – but I had never witnessed a Victorian character going mad before my eyes, until last night. Yes, Penny Dreadful treats mental instability, but that comes at the viewer through the lens of a TV screen. Last night, Flora Montgomery’s character was driven mad in front of the entire audience – and Owen Teale’s character was proven to be mad, an obsessive lunatic who roamed his attic endlessly and tiresomely, through the investigations of a witty and articulate Victorian inspector. This is a familiar Victorian storyline: detective investigates crime scene, determines that someone is mad, and will not stop until that madman (or, more often, madwoman) is found and apprehended. But to see this all acted out was so fascinating…to be a part of the journey and investigation was such a thrill. It sort of felt like I had become a Victorian detective myself, or at the very least, a spectator watching the crime unfold. I was immediately sucked in, and I made sure to follow each one of McElhinney’s speeches as closely as possible, so that I could decipher the clues myself.

Gaslight was incredibly entertaining in every way. SS said that he could not believe how quickly the 2 hour production went by, and we both agreed that the actors from one of our favourite TV shows were brilliant and convincing. But, to me, the real star was Flora Montgomery. Victorian women are seriously dear to me in every way – I fancy that I would’ve liked to be one myself – and I think she portrayed a troubled but courageous 19th century woman perfectly, from her manner of speech to the way she carried herself to her moments of strength amidst mania and hysteria.

All in all, I would give this production 5 brightly shining gaslights out of 5. It certainly represented my favourite era in a very exciting manner!

The glow of the gaslight reveals all.

The glow of the gaslight reveals all.

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

 

Introductions – #JNGListens

“…no thoughts within her head, but thoughts of joy! No dreams within her heart but dreams of love!” – The Phantom of the Opera

In most relationships, there’s always that tricky moment when you have to introduce your new love to your first (and usually former) love. This is exactly what I had to do yesterday. In my case, however, it wasn’t a situation where I wanted my current boyfriend, SS, to hate my first love and feel competitive. On the contrary, I still love my first love too, and so I desperately wanted them to get along and learn to love each other.

If you read Friday’s blog post, you’ll know what I’m talking about – my first love, the love I developed from childhood and have held onto for so many years, is not another person, but rather the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera. In Friday’s blog post, I detailed how truly important and formative the musical was for me, and how I continue to give it an extremely important place in my green heart.

So, naturally, when I brought SS with me yesterday to see the play, I knew that it was his first time ever encountering the story, the music, the characters, all of it, and I so badly wanted him to love it, to see in it exactly what I saw when I was a child. SS and I have similar taste in most things (except for graphic novels and Star Wars, really), so I was quite confident that he would find the play very interesting and intriguing. The problem was that I myself hadn’t seen the new production of POTO, complete with new and updated set designs, and I had no idea how the actors would portray my favourite roles…and, perhaps more importantly, if their voices would be adequate to make the music sound as perfect as I know it to be.

I’m happy to say that both SS and I were truly impressed by the whole production, and SS has been eagerly asking me questions about the story and expressing interest in seeing the musical again soon! 😀 YAY!

Let me start by saying that the new set was absolutely, beyond words INCREDIBLE! It was so unbelievably intricate, with this sort of spinning design that allowed for multiple different sets to be hidden all within the one stage. The set designers expertly recreated so many different rooms of my beloved Opéra Garnier: the Phantom’s lair was dark and sinister, but also full of candles, and luxurious burgundy and black fabrics, especially fitting to a Parisian style; the manager’s office was richly upholstered with gold and red hues; the roof of the opera house was complete with gold statues and even seemed to be delicately accented with a bit of snow. My favourite set had to be the one used during the Masquerade scene: the entire set was transformed into a room of mirrors, very similar to the one that can actually be found in the Opéra Garnier. There were golden statues all around, which reflected brilliantly in the mirrors, and it really brought me back to my time at the Opéra Garnier. I was so ridiculously impressed by how everything moved and operated to allow the actors to move effortlessly between the different parts of the set, and to allow my friend the Phantom to play tricks from above and below and all around.

So, the visual aspect of the play was a HUGE hit, especially with SS who is so interested in set design and has a very artistic nature. The chandelier was also newly designed, and it was sparkly and full of diamonds…and when it fell from the ceiling, with flashes of fire and light, it was truly dazzling! I admit, I missed the old design of my favourite chandelier, but the new one definitely got the job done as well!

And what of the actors who played my three most favourite roles? The entire cast was absolutely incredible (shout out to Carlotta and Piangi, as well as Messieurs Firmin and André, who were truly hilarious!), and the actors who played the Phantom (Chris Mann) and Raoul (Storm Lineberger) hit the notes exactly how I wanted them to – they evoked the exact feelings I was hoping for, and they played opposite each other really well. The audience really got the sense that the Phantom and Raoul are totally different men, each with something unique and intriguing to offer to their ingénue. The actress who played Christine was Celia Hottenstein at this performance, and she was excellent as well – she had a powerful but delicate and lovely voice, and she really shone during Think of Me and Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. She perfectly nailed the combination of innocence and strength that is so crucial to Christine’s character, and I thought she looked very elegant in all of her incredible costumes!

Overall, I’d say that the production was a hit! Obviously, I have my favourite Phantoms (Colm Wilkinson forever and always, and recently Ramin Karimloo) and Christines (particularly Sierra Boggess, but also Rebecca Caine), and I will never stop hearing their voices when I play the famous songs in my head. But, every new production has a new cast of wonderful actors, and I was not disappointed with yesterday’s performances whatsoever! I was very impressed and so so pleased…and the main thing is that SS was moved and totally in awe of the whole production! I think he very quickly became a Phan!

And that’s all that matters to me, in the end! For the first time in my life, I allowed the man I love to experience and become acquainted with the music and story that has made me into the woman he loves. It was a risk, but it all went perfectly…and now, I will never have any passions or loves to hide from the man I hope to have beside me forever. As my #JNGListens quote from today suggests, there was so much love in that theatre last night for me, and all of my hopes and dreams were totally fulfilled!

The Phantom of the Opera

With a full heart,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

By Heart – #JNGListens …over…and over…and over…

Today, I’ll be interrupting the recent Christmas cheer here on the blog to discuss one of the greatest influences in my life.

I know that’s a pretty bold and serious statement to make, but I think it’s definitely true.  The piece of pop culture that I’m about to talk about has been a significant part of my life for longer than anything else.  Yes, I fell in love with Jane Eyre as soon as I encountered it, but I did not meet that incredible novel until I was in my last year of high school.  Of course, I’ve always adored Beauty and the Beast, but my obsession with Disney comes and goes, and I feel like my child-self on certain days more than on others.  But, my passion for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera knows no bounds and is constant and fervent.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about this play and have a piece of its music playing on repeat in my mind.

My obsession began when I was just a little girl, probably around the same age Christine Daaé was when her father first introduced her to the Angel of Music.  My grandfather (most definitely not my father who basically hates musicals of any kind) decided to bring me to the production of POTO in Toronto.  What possessed him to bring someone so young (I can never seem to remember my exact age when I saw it for the first time, but I want to say that I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old) to a play of that genre, I will never know…but I will forever be grateful.  From the moment I heard the opening piece of music, I was totally taken and captured.  I was, quite frankly, in love with all of it…the story, the orchestrations, the lyrics, the beautiful sets and costumes…the whole thing left me intoxicated and forever changed.

And since that first performance, I have thought of the play and the story at least once a day.  The music became a source of comfort and solace to me – in my high school years, when I was plagued by homework and when I was upset or confused about the guy I had a crush on or an altercation with my friends, I would turn on the first version of the soundtrack I ever purchased (or rather, my wonderful grandfather purchased for me), and lose myself in Colm Wilkinson’s gorgeous and moving rendition of the Phantom.  As I entered university, I had the chance to see the 25th anniversary performance of the play at the Royal Albert Hall from my local movie theatre (another National Theatre Live performance), and I immediately grew to love Sierra Boggess as the innocent but strong Christine and Ramin Karimloo as an attractive and tormented Phantom.  I remember watching at least one clip from this performance every evening that I was in my final year of university – after spending long and grueling days studying, I would wind down and get ready for bed with Boggess and Karimloo, who had quickly become my favourite actors to portray two of my dearest friends.

I was also equally obsessed with finding ways to see the play.  In Toronto, we don’t have the Phantom running all the time, like they do in New York or London, and that’s something that I’ve never been able to fully accept.  It is probably better for my wallet because, realistically, if POTO was constantly playing in Toronto, I’d be going to see it at least once a month.  But, I’ve had to content myself with seeing it every time it returns to Toronto, and I even made sure to see it on Broadway when I made a trip to New York in my third year of university.

Phantom in NY #1 Phantom in NY #2

The strangest thing about my obsession is probably the fact that I can’t pinpoint why exactly I love this musical more than any other.  When I was younger, in elementary and high school mostly, I desperately wanted to be a musical theatre actress.  I took drama and vocal lessons and I envisioned this whole future for myself, playing all the roles I adored and had memorized all the words for.  I dreamed of being Eliza Doolittle and Eponine and Elphaba, but I knew that all of these desires stemmed from my urgent wish to portray Christine Daaé.  I knew all the words she sang and spoke in POTO by heart (I still do!), and I just wanted to wear her costumes more than anything!  I held onto this dream from the first time I saw the play until grade 10, when I realized that my voice was okay (that’s probably generous actually), but not anywhere near good enough to stand out at an audition.  My passion probably wouldn’t be enough to land me a role with such substantial technical requirements.  And, to be honest, it broke my heart a little that I would never be able to fulfill my dream…and it breaks my heart a tiny bit more every time I see the play and watch someone else perform the role that I’ve always coveted.  But, the point is, the narrative I constructed of my future was shaped for such a long time by The Phantom of the Opera, and honestly, I think it still is…

…because, if I have to be really critical of the whole situation, I think that quite possibly I was meant to love The Phantom of the Opera because I was meant to study and become passionate about the French language.  Not long after I saw the play originally, I discovered that it was based on a French novel by Gaston Leroux.  Now, naturally, at the time I wasn’t old enough to read the novel in the original French because I only had a few years of French class under my belt.  But I eagerly read a translated version and I absolutely adored it!  Something about the French culture just absolutely spoke to me and gave me chills, and I became so interested in the Opéra Garnier and in the culture of the 19th century in France.  When I reached my grade 11 French class (because, obviously, I couldn’t give up studying French if it was Christine Daaé’s language), I got the opportunity to read Leroux’s original French novel for the first time, and I loved it even more.  The language was beautiful, eloquent, and just as passionate as the subject matter.  I knew that I had found my niche, the language and culture that I wanted to study and make a part of my life.

And, I have!  I use French on a daily basis now, and I am always beyond proud that I am able to speak quite fluently and with confidence.  I truly believe that I owe at least part of this to my exposure to French culture at such a young age.  And, isn’t it a coincidence that Leroux’s novel takes place in the 19th century in France?  Isn’t that startlingly similar to the 19th century, or Victorian era, in England that I devoted the English half of my brain to studying?  So yes, I would say that POTO opened my eyes to a new language and a new time period, both of which have become fundamental aspects of the person I am and will always be.

Now, you may be wondering, why would I bring all of this up right now on the blog?  Well, the answer is simple: TOMORROW I will be seeing The Phantom of the Opera in Toronto, for probably the millionth time!  Yes, that’s right, the play has returned to my hometown, and I have tickets…and yes, you guessed it, I’ll be going with my dear grandfather, the man who gave me this gift of music from the start.  I cannot wait, and if you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll notice that I’ve been quoting lyrics from the play all week…lyrics that I am able to document from memory, by heart.

Obviously, a full review of this recent production will appear on the blog on Sunday.  But, to leave you all now, I’ll share one final anecdote.  Two summers ago, you’ll all remember that I took a trip to Europe with my friend SN.  Arguably the most important and exciting stop on our trip was Paris, the city I had longed to visit since I was a child.  You’ve probably guessed by now, but my main priority in going to Paris was to visit the Opéra Garnier, to see that beautiful building that inspired my favourite novel and play, that location where my dear Phantom (known as Erik in literary circles) was supposed to have lived.  My expectations were SO HIGH, dear readers – I had an image in my mind of how that opera house had to look, and I so did not want it to be destroyed.  More than anything, I needed to see the famous chandelier, hanging right above the stage, and I wanted it to be everything I had imagined.

And oh, it was!  It was MORE than I imagined – the opera house was absolutely perfect, right down to the red velvet seats, the flickering lights, the dark passageways.  It truly was like stepping into one of my favourite works of fiction, and I never wanted to leave.  I got to see the inside of the Opéra Garnier, the outside in daylight and at nighttime…and I got to visit with my beloved chandelier, which looked absolutely, 100% exactly the way it looked every time I saw the play adaptation!  I was amazed, mesmerized, shocked to find that everything was just how I wanted it to be!  I’m surprised SN was able to drag me out of there…I could spend my whole life in that one building and be perfectly content!

...and it can be very pretty, as an outsider looking in. Buchanan's characters, who are on the inside, feel differently.

I hope that wasn’t too much gushing for you all on a Friday…but, after all, what is this blog for but to gush and rave and rant with intense emotion and feeling?!

Talk to you all again on Sunday,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart