The White Queen – #JNGReads

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory is a novel that I am quite confused about and am finding difficult to review. This is partly because I don’t even know that it should be classified as a novel, and the writing style and structure doesn’t really fit exactly within my knowledge of the genre of historical fiction.

I picked up The White Queen because of my eagerness to read another novel in the series it is part of, The White Princess. I recently came across photos for the new TV series based on The White Princess, and I immediately wanted to watch it, but I knew that it would be a better idea to read the book first. I then remembered wanting to watch the series The White Queen as well, and since I knew that it was also based on one of Gregory’s novels, I decided to read it first, watch The White Queen, and then move onto the story of her daughter, the White Princess.

Well, after finishing The White Queen, I am still eager to watch the TV adaptation and read The White Princess, but I do have to admit that The White Queen was not written at all how I expected it to be. My only other experience of Gregory’s writing was in reading her more famous book The Other Boleyn Girl, as well as The Virgin’s Lover, which comes a few books after the story of the Boleyn sisters. I read both of those novels when I was in high school, and I remember enjoying them immensely. I’ve always liked historical fiction, both when it comes to literature and to other types of media like movies and TV, and I do know that I enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl and The Virgin’s Lover very much because they were addictive and highly entertaining and transported me straight to regal England. The descriptions and scenes were vivid and detailed, and I felt immersed in the lives of the characters. I know that much of Gregory’s storylines and the interactions between her characters were fictionalized, but I also felt like I achieved a better understanding of the time period she wrote of and I actually did feel like I learned many things about the history of England and some of its most famous monarchs. Amidst all of that though, I did grow attached to the characters, their struggles and anxieties in trying to maintain power and authority, and I felt as though I had an invested interest in their lives and their tragedies and triumphs.

With The White Queen, things were a bit different, and I feel that all I received really was a history lesson. This is largely due to how the novel is written. In The White Queen, Gregory adopts a style where she basically summarizes a great deal of information into not so many pages. I honestly don’t think there was even much dialogue in The White Queen, and when there was, it was incredibly simplistic, to the point and often very dry. (Sidenote: I will say that the last quarter of the novel featured much more dialogue, and the conversations between The White Queen and her daughter Elizabeth, the future White Princess, were quite tense and interesting – but I don’t know that they made up for the lack of dialogue and connection between the characters in the first three quarters of the novel.) Gregory does a great job of running through the events of Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s reign and marriage to King Edward, but it is unclear why she even chose Elizabeth to narrate the story because there is nothing unique or outstanding about Elizabeth’s voice. At times, it felt as though I was reading a history textbook, devoid of bias or personal interest, and this just didn’t seem to jive with the fact that Elizabeth does in fact have a distinct role and influence in her husband’s reign. At the same time that the story was written in textbook style, however, it was also missing any concrete facts or hard-hitting details; Gregory glossed over a lot of gritty, nuanced historical information, and instead summarized battles and feuds in a handful of pages or less. She does cover a remarkable number of years in her story, but there isn’t any real character development throughout because we never really get to hear her character’s speak or see them in action. Instead, it is almost as if we are being told a story in conversation, as if anecdotes and events are being recounted to us without depth or any real insight into the causes and factors behind and surrounding them.

I have also read several reviews on Goodreads in which fellow readers said that they found The White Queen to be very repetitive, and I definitely have to agree with that assessment. Certain phrases were repeated, verbatim, within mere pages, and Gregory mentioned characters’ titles constantly, almost as if she needed to remind the reader every time a person was mentioned, who exactly they were. The main characters appear so frequently, though, and the novel is only just over 400 pages long, so I found it very unnecessary to read that George was the Duke of Clarence or Thomas was Elizabeth’s Grey son on every other page. It just made my reading experience that much more tedious. Gregory also goes so far as to repeat ideas over and over, particularly when Elizabeth is reflecting on the politics of her husband’s reign and her royal position. It is almost as though we are witness to the constant obsessing that Elizabeth does, but because she never adds anything new to her reflections, this is more frustrating than insightful. However, despite all the repetition (which I sort of think is just be evidence of lazy writing), Gregory’s tale does flow very nicely, and once you get into the hang of reading it, it is very easy to get through many pages in one sitting. It’s somewhat of a strange paradox when you think about it, and perhaps the fact that Gregory’s writing is so repetitive makes it that much less complicated and easier to blast through rapidly. Who knows?

The thing that makes it so difficult to review The White Queen, though, is that I still found it really interesting and enjoyed reading it, in spite of its many flaws. It was definitely frustrating to get so little information about specific characters and to feel as though historical details were being diluted and washed over, while at the same time having some phrases and ideas incessantly repeated, but I still did find myself entertained as I read. It’s true that I didn’t have any strong emotional connection to any one character, but I certainly wasn’t dreading reading more of the book, and on the contrary, I found that when I did have a moment to sit down and read it, I got through many pages quite quickly because of the smooth and fluid style.

The best I can say, I guess, is that The White Queen is an average novel. It certainly wasn’t what I expected, especially because I remembered Gregory’s style to be more rich and opulent. But, I do think it will make an incredible TV series because there is so much subject matter to be treated and there are so many dialogues I can imagine coming out of scenes that Gregory somewhat flitted past. I’ll certainly be interested to watch The White Queen, and I do still intend to read The White Princess to see if Gregory perhaps developed a more detailed style and a knack for getting inside the minds of these particular characters later in the series.

❥❥❥ (out of 5)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

God Save the Queen – #JNGReads

victoria

My second read of 2017 is already under my belt, and we’re not even halfway through January. That’s 2 out of my Goodreads goal of 18 for the year down – go me! Right on schedule.

I’ve just finished reading Daisy Goodwin’s historical fiction novel Victoria. Now, it’s a well-known fact that I am a huge fan of both Victorian literature and the monarch who gave her name to this era, and I did in fact watch the entire ITV series Victoria when it was released. So, for that reason, this was a bit of a strange reading experience for me. I normally make it a point to never read a book after seeing the film or TV adaptation. The only time I ever did that (until now) was in high school, when I had to read Truman Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s for a Writer’s Craft assignment. Obviously I was already very familiar with the classic movie starring Audrey Hepburn, and I found it extremely difficult to fall in love with Capote’s tale because I was constantly comparing it to the film version. I also read that Capote really did not like Audrey in the role of Holly Golightly, but I could not stop myself from picturing her as I read, so I feel like I never had a natural, authentic reading experience. I just wasn’t able to fully appreciate Capote’s text and prose, and it has been one of my least favourite literary texts ever since.

I desperately did not want the same thing to happen with Goodwin’s Victoria. I absolutely ADORED the ITV series of the same name, so I was equally eager and wary to read the literary equivalent. I was at once afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get Jenna Coleman and Rufus Sewell out of my head when reading about Queen Victoria and her Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, as well as desperate to have a chance to continue experiencing the story that I fell so in love with while watching the TV show. I have to say that, now that I have finished reading the novel, I am still very conflicted about whether or not I am happy that I had watched the TV series prior to reading the story. Part of me wishes that I hadn’t because the plot was much less surprising given the fact that much of the dialogue was taken directly from the show and many of the scenes paralleled each other. On the other hand, the novel did go into greater depth during the most significant scenes, and if anything, I felt that it added subtle details and intricacies to the moments from the series that I was most fond of. It’s really hard to rate Victoria for all these reasons – I feel like I can’t quite judge it on its own, as a novel in its own right, and I think that is unfortunate. But, I did still thoroughly enjoy it and I finished it rather quickly because I was so connected to the characters and so eager to revisit them.

The novel was also different from the series in one important respect: (SPOILER ALERT) it ends with the scene in which Victoria proposes to her beloved future husband, Prince Albert. If you’ve seen the ITV series, you’ll know that it goes on after this particular moment, to investigate the early days of Victoria and Albert’s marriage, until they have their first child. I really do love Albert and I think his relationship with Victoria was very significant historically, so I preferred the second half of the TV series because Albert was featured in it. Having said that, the first half explores Victoria’s relationship with Lord Melbourne (Lord M as she likes to playfully call him), and that was lovely to watch unfold as well. There was undeniable chemistry between the two characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them engage in a quasi-romance that was at once forbidden and intoxicating. The novel Victoria delves into this relationship between Queen V and Lord M much further, and we are given a lot more insight into the internal feelings and emotions of each character. While I was disappointed that Albert wasn’t introduced until around 315 pages into the novel (it is only 400 pages in total, so Albert is barely in it), I also found it interesting to get a closer look at a relationship that was sort of overshadowed towards the end of the TV series. I do like Lord M very much, and although I know the romantic aspects of his relationship with Queen Victoria are highly fictionalized and not really grounded in historical fact at all, I still did enjoy getting a closer glimpse into what Lord M might have felt for his much younger monarch and friend.

My experience reading Victoria was undoubtedly pleasurable, despite all the qualms I mentioned above, and probably what I liked most about it was witnessing the young Victoria begin her reign. This moment in her history is treated rather quickly in the series – although Victoria’s struggles in being a young, female monarch are constantly treated, we do tend to focus more on the romances she engages in (or at least, I did while watching). The novel was different in that it thoroughly investigated several scenes in which Victoria is forced to stand up for herself, assert her authority as a monarch and develop her own voice. These moments are wonderful to behold, and they gave me such inspiration as a young woman in the working world, developing her professional career. I latched on to several quotes from these points of the novel because they reminded me that Queen Victoria was a remarkable and revolutionary monarch and still serves as an important role model for young women in a world still very much dominated by men. I loved witnessing Victoria stand up to Sir John Conroy and her uncle the Duke of Cumberland, and I cheered for her whenever she was grounded and strong. She was admittedly somewhat childish and immature at times, but it was also fascinating to see her develop from a petulant adolescent into a more self-assured and self-aware leader. I think this aspect of the novel was more exciting and engaging for me than any of the romantic bits, and for that reason, I would highly recommend Victoria to teenage girls, particularly those in high school, who may be in the market for a powerful role model.

“she would start as she meant to go on.”

“‘It is time that people stopped seeing me as a little girl.’”

“‘I am tired of being treated as a young lady without a thought in her head.’”

To conclude my review, I have to be perfectly honest and say that I preferred the TV series to the novel Victoria. That may be due in large part to the fact that the TV series is visually astonishing – the costumes, the sets, the actors are so remarkable and it is a series that I don’t think I will ever forget. Goodwin writes with a very cinematographic style, and you can clearly tell that she is imagining and picturing each of the scenes she writes, so I think they come across as already being made for the screen. I do believe that the two mediums go hand in hand, though, so I would certainly say that if you view this novel as a companion to the TV show and engage in enjoying the two together, the experience will be very pleasurable.

❥ ❥ ❥ (out of 5) for the book alone

❥ ❥ ❥ ❥ ❥ (out of 5) for the book as a complement to the TV series (admittedly my favourite TV series of all time)

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

The Crown – #JNGWatches

Good evening Dear Readers and welcome to 2017 at The World of my Green Heart!

My apologies for the extreme delay in posting, but time got away from me over these holidays, since my last blog entry. I’ll mention a bit more about this in tomorrow’s post (yes, that’s right, you’ll be getting two posts in a row to make up for my absence!), but I was specifically kept away from my computer by SS who happened to have 10 days off of work over the holidays. We were able to spend all of these 10 days together – he is right beside me as I write this very text – and I just couldn’t find time to get onto my laptop or even to read. I am finding the time now, though, and I am happy to say that I have many ideas for posts that will be coming very soon! I’m also thoroughly enjoying my current read, Gillespie and I by Jane Harris, so I am certain that I will be finishing it within the next few days, as I get back to work and my lunchtime Starbucks reading routine. I’ve set myself a goal of 18 books in the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge, and what with my full time work schedule and spending every weekend with SS, I think I will be keeping myself pretty busy trying to read a book and a half every month for the next year. Wish me luck!

Anyway, let’s get to the subject of today’s particular post. I’m a fan of the monarchy – actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m a fan of Queen Victoria but that doesn’t mean that I’m an expert on English history by any standards. I know a lot about the Victorian era in terms of literature and culture, and I am a collector of facts pertaining to the queen who gave this time period her name, but that doesn’t mean I know much about King Henry the VIII or Queen Elizabeth I or even the current reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. While I woke up ridiculously early in second year university to watch the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, I’m not a super fan of the Windsor family really. I appreciate their existence and I like the idea of royal families, but I don’t know much about the current family that inhabits Buckingham Palace.

You can’t imagine, however, just how many people have asked me if I’ve seen Netflix’s new original series The Crown. In theory, it makes perfect sense that they would be shocked that it took me this long to get around to watching it – I’m very vocal about my love for Queen Victoria, so it stands to reason that I would also be interested in (or even obsessed with) Queen E II. I’m not though, so I didn’t feel the same passion to watch The Crown that I did when I watched ITV’s drama Victoria. Not even close, to be frank. But, the phenomenon that is this Netflix series certainly intrigued me, so I sat down this past week and blasted through all 10 episodes with SS.

I have to say, I really did enjoy it. Like I said, I don’t know much about Elizabeth’s reign, specifically the beginning of it in the early 1950’s, and I did learn quite a lot about the economic and social climate of the mid-20th century. Having said that, I did find many parts of the series, particularly the more political bits involving the government at Downing Street, to be a touch boring and hard to follow. While John Lithgow put in a formidable and admirable performance as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, I still didn’t love the parts where he and his fellow politicians were discussing the laws of England. It didn’t seem all that relevant to me and I found it hard to keep track of their issues, concerns and preoccupations.

What I did really enjoying about the series, though, was the relationships it explored, and the way in which the characters within these relationships were portrayed. In terms of more minor characters, I became very fond of King George, particularly during the flashbacks that were used after his death early in the series, and I also became fascinated by his brother, the former King Edward VIII. The conflicts that these men experience, due largely to the pressures of being royalty, are quite surprising, and I was interested in King Edward’s relationship with the divorced woman he chose over his throne. These were elements of English history that I had no idea about, and I felt the brotherly relationship between George and Edward was really nicely portrayed and explored. The same can be said for the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret. Claire Foy and Vanessa Kirby play these roles to perfection, and each dialogue they engage in is full of masterfully measured tone and body language that suggests a discomfort and jealousy between the two sisters that I hadn’t previously expected. Their relationship becomes more and more complicated as the series progresses, and as Margaret becomes open about her relationship with a divorced man, and it is very interesting to see the internal tension that Elizabeth experiences as she must choose whether to be a good sister or a responsible queen. I was on the edge of my seat during many of the conversations between these two characters, and I think Foy and Kirby had great chemistry and were very believable as sisters who both love and resent each other.

The breakout star of the series was, for me, Matt Smith as Prince Philip. Wow, that man was something else! I’m not a Doctor Who fan at all and I’ve actually never even seen an episode, but I know a lot of people who are very fond of Matt Smith, and now I can see why. He’s a fabulous actor, and his portrayal of Philip was so surprising to me in every way! Maybe I don’t know enough about the real-life Prince Philip, but I was shocked to find that he is portrayed as a bit of a playboy in The Crown. His one liners are witty and totally unexpected, and he comes across as quite immature and difficult to deal with most of the time. Smith gives Philip an element of the juvenile, but he is also arguably the most memorable character. The scenes between Elizabeth and Philip are uncomfortable and fascinating, and I am very eager to see how their relationship develops over the next several seasons. It’s interesting to watch a series where we know exactly what the ending will be: Elizabeth and Philip will live into their nineties and remain married. What makes this series unique is that it takes the inevitable and complicates it, providing us viewers with a glimpse into the dramas that resulted in the present we are so familiar with.

There’s no doubt that The Crown is a good piece of television, and I’m not surprised that it is nominated for several Golden Globes. My prediction is that it will win many, and I was hoping to see an award for Matt Smith myself, which doesn’t seem like it will be possible considering that he wasn’t even nominated (an outrage, in my opinion, unless I’m missing something and he was in fact nominated…?!). I would, in any case, highly recommend the series because it makes for an intriguing and dramatic watching experience. It is definitely binge worthy!

Let me know in the comments below if you get around to watching it and what you think.

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen – A Belated #ManCrushMonday / #JNGWatches

We interrupt our usual talk of True Love and Victorian romances to bring you a little something different…

Remember months ago when I was home sick from work and I binge-watched the Netflix/Marvel original series Jessica Jones?  That was the first time I had ever binge-watched anything; I’m not really the type to sit for hours and watch TV and I’ve always liked the format of watching shows on a weekly basis.  I believe this style of television watching helps to build anticipation and get the viewer excited.  With Jessica Jones, though, something was different: I felt this growing interest, a sort of craving developing to know what would happen next, and as quickly as possible.  I thoroughly enjoyed Jessica Jones, both the character and the show she gives her name to, and I would highly recommend this viewing experience to those who not only enjoy superhero fiction, but also to viewers and readers who appreciate strong female characters with feisty and defiant personalities.  Jessica is very complex, and I think it is high time we had more female protagonists like that on our television screens.

Having said all this, I don’t know why I resisted watching the other extremely popular Netflix/Marvel series Daredevil.  In hindsight, I shouldn’t have because there was no chance I wasn’t going to love it…but I kept telling SS that I wasn’t interested in watching it, that I just didn’t think it could blow my mind like Jessica Jones did.  Consider me corrected.

Daredevil is an absolutely PHENOMENAL series!  I think that sums up my reaction to both seasons 1 and 2 quite nicely, but let me go further and give you some reasons as to why I enjoyed it so much.  It is truly (and it is very similar to Jessica Jones in this way) unlike any other superhero movie or television show I have encountered.  The episodes are such high quality, and the acting was superb.  What impressed me most of all, though, was that the action wasn’t simply gratuitous: the fight scenes were beautifully shot and were little works of art in themselves, and I was fascinated by how the choreography allowed the viewer to embody the character of Daredevil for a time.  I believe they did an excellent job of referencing his blindness in these scenes, and of making the viewer feel how disoriented and fatigued he often became.  It was a very unique approach to filming these scenes that in movies usually become cheesy and annoying.

It wasn’t just the choreography and the style of shooting that got me hooked though; I was truly impressed by the stellar acting, as I mentioned before.  I think each and every one of the main characters were complex and well-developed, but I have to give huuuge props to Charlie Cox who was a serious surprise for me.  I had only ever encountered Cox in the movie Stardust previously, and while that’s a great movie, he isn’t exactly superhero material judging by that film.  Imagine my surprise when he totally encompassed the roles of both Matt Murdock and his crime fighting counterpart, Daredevil, or the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.  His glorious abs notwithstanding (although, let’s be honest, I’m pretty obsessed with them now), Cox embodied the aura of a superhero who is not at all arrogant, who is truly a hero in every sense of the word.  He is quiet, contemplative and a little lonely, and that comes across strongly in Cox’s portrayal of his inner turmoil and his fear of letting his closest friends down.  He isn’t an arrogant superhero by any standards, and that was so refreshing to see after recently encountering characters like Deadpool and Dr. Strange whose egos seem to sometimes get in the way of their productivity.  I know this is inherently a part of Matt’s character, but I particularly loved how Cox emphasized his goodness, his desire to maintain his humanity and morality, even amidst the evils he witnesses.  His main focus, as Elektra rightly notes at the end of season 2, is to maintain peace and safety in New York, and he devotes himself not to becoming famous, an idol for the masses, but instead to looking after the people around him, his fellow citizens, who struggle and live in fear on a daily basis.  He is, in many ways, more of a martyr than a vigilante, and that is an interesting concept to investigate and get swept into.

Of course, as I said, the supporting cast is also incredible, and honourable mention must be given to Élodie Yung and Jon Bernthal for their portrayals of Elektra and Frank Castle/Punisher respectively.  In particular, Yung made me hate the character of Elektra, and the way she was influencing Matt, so much that I went on several rants about it…so obviously, that’s some good acting right there.  I really do have to mention the stand-out star, though: Vincent D’Onofrio was absolutely brilliant as season 1’s primary villain Wilson Fisk (who also goes by the name Kingpin, which was news to me, but is apparently very significant to diehard Daredevil fans).  D’Onofrio was an absolute force to be reckoned with as Fisk and his acting gave me chills on several occasions.  SS realized how much I had come to like the character, so he bought me a POP figurine of Fisk, along with one of Matt, to keep on my dresser.  I stare at these guys everyone morning and am reminded of a television series that I was almost too stubborn to watch.  Boy, am I glad I came to my sense and gave it a chance!

daredevil-and-fisk

Watch Daredevil everyone!  I urge you to delve into this truly engrossing series.  You’ll become addicted quickly, and you won’t regret it.  And be sure to dive right in before The Defenders comes out next year…and gives us a chance to see Daredevil and Jessica Jones in action together.  What could be better?!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Long Live… – #WomanCrushWednesday

~ Long live Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria! ~

This is just a quick note to say that I have been missing ITV’s new series Victoria very much. It became a real source of joy for me and was a viewing event I really looked forward to each week.

So, for the second time, I am putting forth Queen Victoria as my World of my Green Heart #WomanCrushWednesday. But, more specifically, this time I would like to make Jenna Coleman, the spectacularly talented actress who portrays the young Queen V, my WCW. I recently snapped up the issue of Glamour UK that features her on the cover, and devoured the article about her. She seemed so down-to-earth and lovely, and I grew to appreciate her talent even more. It’s definitely worth a read – and is that cover photo gorgeous or what?

There’s another thing that JNG has read and enjoyed this week…

queen-jenna-coleman

PS – This is also a good opportunity to thank the lovely Alice and Mary at the Milk & Honey blog for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award!  This was such a sweet surprise, especially from two bloggers whose writing I have recently become quite obsessed with.  Take a look at their page because it is so creative and unique!  And thank you again to these fellow avid readers for recognizing something in my blog…I sincerely appreciate it!  I think this post portrays how much thought and effort I put into making my posts versatile, so it is so nice to be noticed for that. xox

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Victoria ~ Episode 8: A Young England

Dear Readers, the Victoria Extravaganza Weekend has come to an end.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s story is finished for the time being, and I must now wait until some time in 2017 to see my new friends again. It is strange to think that, if the second season is released in Fall 2017, I will be so close to becoming a wife myself. As with many literary characters I’ve met in recent weeks, Queen Victoria and her Prince Albert presented me with another model for married life that made me even more excited to wed SS (something I didn’t think was possible)! Watching Queen Victoria go from 18-year-old monarch, to strong and defiant queen, to soft and supportive wife within the span of one season was a lovely journey to be a part of, and I will always remember the image of Victoria marrying Albert in Westminster Abbey, declaring that she was an “ordinary woman” on that day. SS watched most of the season with me as well, so it was a wonderful moment when we watched that wedding scene together. To see Victoria and Albert become parents in this most recent episode, the finale, was also incredibly interesting – they were terrified and excited in equal measure and it gave me and SS an model of the type of feelings we may be experiencing in the near future.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this first season of ITV’s Victoria and I am beyond thrilled that the story will continue. This is first class television, from the sets, to the actors (portraying both major and minor characters), to the writing. Queen Victoria may be the centre of it all, but it was also fascinating to get to know some of the minor characters, like the budding chef Francatelli and Miss Skerrett, who have the most Victorian courtship of the entire show, complete with complications, obstacles and heartbreak. Victoria is not only the story of the Victorian queen; it is also the story of the people living in her era, who would become the inspirations for and creators of many of the world’s greatest literary masterpieces.

I can’t speak enough about how much I love Victoria, and Jenna Coleman, and everyone involved in this production. I’ll leave you now with my thoughts on the finale of season one of Victoria…

Episode #8: A Young England

~ “Oh I’m so bored of this!” ~

– Queen V really does not enjoy being pregnant because she cannot do anything, like dance or ride. Prince A isn’t very “sympathetic” and actually goes for a ride himself. Watching V’s frustration is so cute and I love that A is comfortable enough with her not to feed into her. It’s a form of flirting for them in a way!

– People, especially servants, are terrified that Queen V and the baby will die in childbirth. Princess Charlotte was perfectly healthy until she gave birth, died…and Victoria became queen.

~ “She does not like to wait.” ~

– Duke of Cumberland (V’s uncle) is a threat to Queen V and may actually harm her physically. I think this is absolutely absurd and crazy…someone NEEDS to stop him!

~ “I want this to be over…I am scared.” ~

“But there has never been a queen such as you are.”

– “You still see me, Lehzen, don’t you?” = V feels forgotten and unnoticed. She is anxious about losing her identity to the child. She is insecure.

– Prince Ernest returns. I actually find him quite dashing! I hope he can find love (but not in too risky a manner)! He does know how to flirt very well, but he’s also romantic.

– “She is not a queen, and I am not a cow!” Haha! Oh dear! V is very against this whole motherhood business. I doubt that she’ll be a warm and loving mother…BUT she did become a devoted and loving wife, so she may surprise us all!

– Queen V has fans and admirers, but also dangerous stalkers. She is never really safe.

~ “Am I simply a vessel to be protected because I am carrying precious cargo?” ~

– V’s identity is being reduced and she is resentful.

– The Duke of Cumberland actually threatens Queen V. I don’t know why they haven’t thrown him in jail yet!

– “She had no regrets, your friend?” Queen V is afraid that no child can erase from her mind the feeling of discomfort and annoyance she has experienced.

– Francatelli and Skerrett = another forbidden romance, as we are so familiar with in Victorian literature. “You have your freedom, Nancy, don’t give it up for a man.” Politics and risk even plague the lower classes.

* Freedom seems to be the theme of this episode… It is a concern for Nancy, who wants to maintain security in a time that is not always kind to women (especially those of the working class)…AND, it is also a concern for Victoria, who is constrained by her positions of queen and mother.

❥ “I don’t think anymore – I just feel.” ❥

* That is the Victorian era/culture in a nutshell – feel always, and give your emotions free reign!

– Oh my gosh! A carrying V to the bed is sooo romantic! My goodness, I LOVE them together! A will always protect V, although she is still so strong in her own right.

– The Young England Society is conspiring and plotting to kill Queen V! I had no idea that this was a thing…wow! Another great layer of historical drama!

“He might’ve killed you – and then my life would be over.”

* V adores A so much, which is so heartwarming to see. But, as we know from history, A will die eventually and leave V devastated and miserable. I dread that day! While I appreciate that the show is following history and documenting the life of an impressive monarch, it is sometimes horrible to know so much about her life, and her loss of her greatest love.

– Queen V crying because she wants her pregnancy to be over. She is so cute, but she obviously really hates her life right now.

~ “I think the queen is a lot stronger than you think.” ~

– V’s dresses are much simpler in this episode, which is very realistic. She has to remain comfortable.

“I will keep you safe.”

“I know, Albert, but I want to be free.”

– V cannot live in fear forever and she will not have that for her child.

– Francatelli and Miss Skerrett = classic Victorian romance, full of misunderstanding, complications and barriers.

~ “I know I am a better monarch than you could ever be.” ~

– V stands up to Lord Cumberland and refuses to be afraid anymore. !!!

~ “I think I have never heard a monarch say a wiser thing.” ~

– Queen V will support her citizens’ decisions in the justice system and she will not be afraid to meet them and go out.

– A knows that V is a smart monarch and so he chooses to trust her judgment. ❥ “You are my queen.”

– Ernest! Oh dear, this is a risky business!

– V eating chocolates is probably the most adorable part of the episode!

~ “For you, I pray in every denomination.” ~

– People want V to live, more than anything.

– The candles everywhere are so gorgeous! Once again (like last episode), everything truly feels so Victorian!

– V is in labour…and A is asleep! Figures! The moment where she hits him with the pillow is so hilarious and domestic.

“We should call her Victoria, after a great queen.”

* Victoria and Albert lying in bed with the baby is the most beautiful image to end the season with. What a romantic scene and finale in general! I loved it!

Looking forward to returning one day soon with more reviews of the continuation of this incredible story!

Until then, I remain your,

JNG

Girl with a Green (and always Victorian) Heart

my green heart

Victoria ~ Episode 7: The Engine of Change

Hello again dear Readers!

Today marks my second to last review of ITV’s new series Victoria.

I watched this episode a few days ago, but I didn’t have a chance to post my thoughts at any point throughout the week. I also thought it might be a good idea to save my review to post this weekend, and make it sort of a Victoria Extravaganza Event!

I am going to miss this queen more than I can express. I can’t explain quite how soothing it is to watch her story every Sunday before gearing up for the week ahead. Like Jane Eyre, Clare Abshire and so many characters before her, Queen Victoria (specifically as portrayed by Jenna Coleman) has given me another model of strength, force and courage to carry around in my green heart. From the costumes, to the sets, everything about this series has been absolutely exquisite, and I am so relieved that it has been renewed for a second season. I know that, after tomorrow night’s episode, I won’t be seeing Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for quite awhile, but I am very grateful that these new dear friends will be returning to me soon.

Here are my thoughts on the second last episode of Victoria…

Episode #7: The Engine of Change

Sidenote: The title credits are still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!!! ❥

– Sick Queen V = Uh oh! Is her fear coming true? She wants kids in theory, but certainly not now!

– Albert likes Sir Robert Peele, but Queen V still does not. He’s no Lord M.

– A is progressive, business-like…he wants change and advancement (ex – the railway).

– Queen V is bored by manufacturing and the Industrial Revolution.

– This Francatelli guy is actually growing on me! His romance with Miss Skerrett is cute!

– Queen V telling Prince A she is pregnant is the most sad thing I’ve ever seen…she looks miserable! But A is sooo excited and it is adorable! She is clearly terrified though!

– “Drina’s” mother wants her to sit around and not work = although it is right to protect the baby, V is still a queen with duties…and a STRONG one at that! Her mother implies that her only “function” is to have an heir.

– V is in love and fears A will think her hideous when pregnant = so cute!

“A love like ours can burn down the city.”

– Queen V names Prince A potential regent; politicians vehemently rebel! Duke of Wellington is kind of mean…why did Charlotte Brontë like him so much?

– A and V flirting in bed is amazing! It gives me life! They are truly in love!

– Queen V’s mother says laughing is bad for the baby. What on Earth?!?!

– A still wants some power! But Queen V must compromise and let him use power through her.

~ “But I’m not a German woman. I am Queen of England.” ~

– Queen V kind of treats her mother terribly, BUT, my mom and I both agree that her mother is quite annoying and a pest.

❥ “Just be your darling self. They will adore you.” ❥

– V and A exchanging looks at dinner is another prime example of how in tune they are! They are a formidable couple!

– Sir Robert Peele is actually kind of sweet. He could be a real ally if he and Queen V worked together.

– “Now, lunch.” I wish I could command people like that! haha

– “You count as alone.” Lehzen is like a mother to Queen V; she wants her around always.

– The politics is complicated, but what I do know is that the Tories and Queen V must get on the same footing.

– Queen V is spooning Prince A! Aww! heehee

– Queen V needs to “guide the conversation” and maintain authority so that her and A can tread carefully and people will not resent Prince A.

– Sooo…naturally Prince A goes off to see the train on his own, even though V specifically asked him not to. Damn it!

– The fact that they all find the train so incredible just goes to show how much we now take for granted…and how far our society has come. So much happened, so much progress was made in the Victorian era.

~ “This is the future.” ~

– Queen V is depressed because she doesn’t know where Prince A is = not so easy when you can’t text someone, eh? 😉

❥ I’m pretty sure the scenes at Sir Piers’ house were filmed at Haddon Hall – aka Thornfield Hall. I can’t be 100% sure because I’ve never personally be there, and have only seen it in the Jane Eyre film adaptations, but the scenery is GORGEOUS and I recognize it! It is one of my favourite sets on Earth! A perfect choice!

~ “…condone or condemn…” ~

– Prince A and Sir Robert Peele are now friends, which is a huge advancement.

~ “I decide what is the future!” ~

– Queen V and Prince A are in a peculiar place: Queen V must maintain her authority, but Prince A wants to help her. He wants to guide the English people too. “This is my country!”

– Queen V goes to see the train. Her and A can discover things together! This is the future of not just England, but the whole world!

– Okay, this Francatelli guy is smooth!

~ “The Prince has no power to be solicited.

“Oh, you’re wrong!” ~

– V: “I am frightened of the pain.” A: “Childbirth is surely an ordeal, but you are equal to it. You have such fortitude.” Queen V is terrified and she admits it to Prince A. He is unfailingly supportive and he wants to share her burden!

– Peele backs Prince A as regent. Nice! He is so firm and I love it – he is actually amazing in this scene!

❥ Queen V at her desk, surrounded by candles is such a gorgeous Victorian image!

– V subtly, and without calling attention to it, lets A help her with her work. The moment when he takes her pen is symbolic of the fact that they are now working as one.

Sidenote: Jenna Coleman truly acts like a queen, right down to her subtlest gesture of leaning her hand on her neck and her small smile.

Speak to you about the finale soon,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Victoria ~ Episode 6: The Queen’s Husband

Well, Victoria, what I once thought was ITV’s new MINIseries, has been renewed for a second season. This means, much to my supreme pleasure, that there will be more than eight episodes in the story of Jenna Coleman’s Queen Victoria. It also means that I don’t have to go into a little depression in two weeks when the eighth episode comes and the story is finished for the time being. I am so so beyond pleased that this incredible series – undoubtedly one of my favourites ever – will be coming back!

Today, my mother, fiancé and I sat down to watch this week’s episode of the series. I don’t think anything will ever top last week’s episode for me, because it was absolutely wonderful to witness Queen Victoria as a betrothed woman and watch her wed her Prince Albert. Maybe I’ll always be particularly fond of that episode because, being engaged myself, it sort of felt like Victoria and I were engaged together. Having said that, this week’s episode was also incredible and enjoyable, and it was so lovely to see Victoria coming into her own as a wife. My post yesterday portrayed how much I have been thinking about what it means to be a wife lately, and so it was perfectly timed that this episode centered on Victoria’s married life. She navigates what it means to have a husband, how she should be supporting and encouraging him while also maintaining her own identity and power. She also contemplates motherhood, which is something that both frightens and excites her. She is a young bride, just as I will be, and I was so happy to see her and Prince Albert becoming a formidable, united pair. They share secrets, they rely on one another, and they boost each other up. They are also passionately in love, attracted to one another and made more confident by the intimacy they share. It was remarkable to see my favourite queen as a wife, and I know she will only become better in this new role as the series progresses.

Here are my thoughts on the sixth episode of Victoria…

Episode #6: The Queen’s Husband

❥ “My Victoria.” ❥

❥ “Now you have me.” ❥

– V and A have not had much alone time or much of a honeymoon; they are back into the politics and family dinners.

❥ “We must start as we mean to go on – together.” ❥

– Queen V is afraid of childbirth…or is she afraid of being a mother? Prince A is very eager to start a family.

-Queen V implies that Prince A will be bored by business – he is still a foreigner. He wanders aimlessly around the palace because he can do no more/is not welcome to.

* Sidenote: Jenna Coleman is PERFECT and sublime in this role! The way she speaks is so regal – formal and strong. BUT, she also has an emotional fire to her.

– Is Queen V condescending to Prince A? In this instance, the woman has complete control and supremacy.

– My fiancé asks, Shouldn’t they treat him a bit better? He’s the King! … My response, Well, he’s the Queen’s husband.

– There is an important distinction. Although Queen V does not allow Prince A much say in business, she tries to demand respect for him by having him escort her into dinner. “Albert is my husband and should be by my side. It is time that things changed.”

~ “Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Albert.” ~

– Queen V wants him to have an ACTIVE role in her reign, regardless of what has been done in the past. This is confusing though, because she also won’t allow him to read documents.

– In the end, she succumbs to pressure and allows another man to escort her, which is heartbreaking and frustrating, especially for the viewers. She is tormented though, and wants to try harder for him. She is pulled in ALL directions!

~ “This is your home!” ~

– She can be so cold and detached though, especially in public = she needs to let her emotion through and allow it to influence her.

– slavery = illegal in Britain but still legal in the US. The abolition committee wants Queen V to open their meeting…but this is too controversial and she cannot.

– Albert is disappointed in her. Will he be a force for encouraging her to change and be bold?

– Queen V asks Lehzen about birth control = she is reluctant to become a mother right now.

Sidenote: I would love to see Prince A drawn as a sausage! Haha!

– Albert will speak at the slavery abolition meeting = he is not constrained by custom, and the one benefit of this is that he will use it for good. He now has a purpose! “If I am to be held up to scrutiny, it will be for something I believe in.”

– I truly fail to understand the purpose of the servants’ storyline = I honestly barely care about them!

– V and A sleep face to face = how adorable!

– Aww, Queen V jumping to stop herself from getting pregnant = so innocent and naïve, but cute! Heehee!

– Queen V gets Albert his title by being a tad manipulative but also by using her power and influence for a noble cause.

– Ernest’s romance = again, not my favourite storyline (this goes without saying), but it has its intriguing elements, although it is very wrong and immoral!

– Prince A rehearsing his speech is so perfect = he still has a lot to learn too, but he will tackle it head on!

– Prince A sends Ernest home = the rules of propriety may tear apart this brotherly relationship.

– Albert finally walks Victoria into dinner and it is a wonderful moment. BUT, Albert wants more still; he is always pushing Victoria, which is good for her. He also wants his own moment of strength.

– Albert and Ernest’s relationship doesn’t seem to be affected at all. Their relationship is strong and sweet! “You will miss him very much.”

– V seems terrified any time A mentions a family.

– Okay, the servants’ storyline became a bit cute.

– Albert needs Victoria to stay calm during his speech. He is so good at the meeting, making everyone feel important and valuable, as they should be.

– Queen V abandons Prince A. NOOO! What the ….?! Why? This makes me sooo sad and MAD at her! Duty must NOT always come before love!

– I am so proud of Albert for nailing his speech without her! Good for him!

– I can’t believe V would just leave A alone! I am seriously outraged and annoyed by how juvenile she can sometimes be! ARGH!

– Okay, so Queen V had a plan all along, perhaps – she wanted to give Prince A his own victory, in front of everyone.  Fine…

– Queen V cannot agree to abstinence…so a royal baby may be on the way soon! YAY! Stay tuned!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Victoria ~ Episode 5: An Ordinary Woman

The day is finally here – Queen Victoria has wed her darling Prince Albert!

As a bride-to-be myself, this episode meant more to me than any other. Of course, I have always been wedding obsessed, so if I weren’t getting married in just over a year, I still would’ve adored the imagery and romance of the fifth episode of ITV’s series Victoria. However, as a woman planning my own wedding, fully understanding the significance of finally being irrevocably joined to the man I love, every aspect of Queen Victoria’s wedding planning filled me with joy and excitement. I have always been particularly fond of Victorian weddings – and by this I mean the weddings described in Victorian literature – so to witness a wonderful, accurate and absolutely beautiful reenactment of the wedding between the queen who inspired so much incredible art and literature and culture and the man she loved beyond all others was such a pleasure. This was by far the most exquisitely filmed and acted episode of the series, and the caliber of each performance is reaching new heights. Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes have some incredible chemistry, and they also portray the obstacles and restraint Victoria and Albert must face with sophistication and class. Everything about this most royal of weddings made my heart soar!

Having said that, there were moments throughout the episode when I just could not take notes. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen, especially when Victoria was running toward Prince Albert in her purple gown, and when she was walking down the aisle of Westminster Abbey toward him, and when Prince Albert was saying his heartfelt and traditional vows to her. The wedding night was also a gloriously simplistic scene, and I couldn’t stop watching as Victoria and Albert faced their fears and uncertainties together. There was not a moment of this episode that was out of place, and I felt such emotion and feeling between the queen and her prince, that it is so clear to me why Victorian literature has always felt more sentimental and emotional than any other literature for me. There was feeling in the woman whose era it was birthed out of, and she wasn’t afraid to express it!

Here are my notes on the gorgeous fifth episode of Victoria…

Episode #5: An Ordinary Woman

– First of all, let me just say that this is the perfect title for this episode. Queen Victoria is a woman before she is a royal, and she wants to give herself to Prince Albert in the same way any other, more normal woman would give herself to her husband.

– This wedding will go down in history!

❥ “I wish I were an ordinary woman.” ❥

– Queen V and Prince A have such chemistry…it is unreal!

❥ “The only person I want to please is you.” ❥

– I am dying! Their love is adorable but also full of sexual tension and emotion. They are so human in their feelings and desires.

– BUT, Victoria is a QUEEN, so there are royal obstacles to overcome, such as Albert’s allowance = will hierarchy and regulations get in the way of their romance?

❥ “like something out of a fairytale” ❥

– Queen V and Prince A will inspire so many stories!

– 6 weeks of separation = Queen V will feel it and she is honest and forthright with her emotions; she is a woman who hides nothing, even in spite of her regal position.

❥ “I will miss you so much!” ❥

– Prince A has become bold and sexy = he intoxicates her.

– Queen V must seek approval of the Privy Council = her heart cannot make any decisions alone.

– Now everyone is against Albert because he is German and not necessarily Protestant. Queen V wants him to be King Consort, but the British subjects and politicians (including the Duke of Wellington) are rebelling already. “no title and only $30,000 a year.” “the Parliament that he admired so much needs to be coaxed rather than commanded.” = this is the makings of a true democracy.

– Prince A wants equality…but the people are putting doubt in Queen V’s mind as to his intentions.

* Queen V will have a white wedding dress! * = she is a true trendsetter!

– Prince A had a true bachelor party… That’s one tradition I could do without.

– BUT, Prince A wants to be instructed on how to please Victoria, which at least is refreshing for this time period.

– MAJOR wedding inspiration: a small affair; 4 bridesmaids; a simple breakfast afterwards.

– Queen V will make Prince A a knight and defy everyone.

– Queen V and Prince A barely get a moment alone = everyone is always around and watching them.

– Honeymoon can only be 2 days because of Queen V’s duties = they may never be truly alone.

– A hard dynamic to navigate = the woman has more power and the man cannot be independent without her help and consent = women will move toward independence in this era. BUT, Queen V is still full of feeling and worry and jealousy.

❥ Queen V running in her purple dress is the most beautiful image!

~ “The bells are ringing!” ~

– Queen V will not wear diamonds to her wedding = she is “an ordinary woman” today.

❥ The wedding is GORGEOUS! Prince A’s vows were so sweet and traditional but personal. The imagery was lovely!

– “Goodbye, Lord M.” = perfectly done = Queen V will always love him a little. “I will never forget.”

– The wedding night was simple, classy and full of love.

I truly cannot wait to see how Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s love story progresses!

Until next week, my fellow Victorianists,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

Victoria ~ Episode 4: The Clockwork Prince

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,

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart