The Enchanted April: Room with View but with 4 women

The story is of 4 very different women who go on holiday together in the 1920s to escape their lives in England. They are the downtrodden Lotty Wilkins and Rose Arbuthnot a sweet faced but sad woman who has buried her grief for her baby in religion. There is also the beautiful Lady Caroline Dester who is angry with the way her beauty makes her be treated like an object. Finally there is the much elder Mrs Fisher who is trapped in the past of her dead literary friends. They all stay in a castle in Mezzago and are overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. It changes all 4 women for the better and becomes something they will never forget.

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Elizabeth Von Arnim

The story was both sad and funny. For example it poked fun at the women such as Mrs Fisher who keeps thinking about being friends with the dead Ruskin. I like the mix of sad and funny as I do not like books that are really sad and where everyone dies. However I do not like ones where everything is taken very seriously all the time either.

The characters in the story were also very interesting. I also like how different they were and the exploring of their different personal problems. From Mrs Wilkins who escaped London to run away from her boorish husband who is obsessed with thrift. However when he actually appeared he was not nearly as bad as she said. Well he was actually rather silly really although obsessed with making money. However on to Lady Caroline who for me was really sad. She is 28 but her parents infantilise her because she is very beautiful. People even women forget because of her beauty that she has inner thoughts and feelings of her own.  I did not like the book ending for her where it was implied she would marry the castle’s owner Mr Briggs who started worshipping her as beautiful object. I personally hope they did not get married as I think she would hate it.

The men although minor are also interesting particularly Frederick Arbuthnot or Mr Arundel. I liked in particular the bit where the reader realises he and Mr Arundel are one and the same person. It was also interesting to see him come to see Lady Caroline. However after seeing the castle like the women he was transformed and went back to his wife. Not in a sad way but in a soppy romantic way. It is strongly suggested at the end of the book that they were having sex which was quite entertaining.  I bet there would be a baby on the way after the book’s ending.

Interestingly there is also a film of this book which since I enjoyed it so much I will have to watch.

 

 

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Emily Faithfull

Emily Faithfull was a publisher, women’s rights activist and writer who was born in Headley Rectory in Surrey on 27th May 1835 but spent most of her adult life in London.  Her parents were the vicar Ferdinand Faithfull and his wife Elizabeth. She was educated both at home and at a school in Kensington.

Image result for emily faithfull
Emily Faithfull

She first became involved with campaigning for women’s rights in the 1850s as a member of the Langham Place Circle. This featured other women’s rights activists such as Emily Davies the founder of Girton College. Langham Place supported women’s suffrage, improvement of women’s education and furthering women’s employment. Emily’s main interest however was in improving women’s employment. Her interest in this grew out of her role as the secretary and as a committee member of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women. This society was set up by the Langham Place Circle. She was introduced to the printing press by a fellow committee member Bessie Rayner Parkes. This led to Emily setting up the Victoria Press in 1860.

In the Victoria Press Emily employed women as compositors and a few men to do manual labour. She employed women as compositors because she believed that publishing was a suitable occupation for them.  Emily treated her staff very well for the time period. Emily noticed that the average age printers and publishers died was at 48 partly to due to lung problems because of the lack of ventilation systems where they worked. Therefore she introduced proper ventilations systems and stools and chairs for her employees to sit on. Her workers also had a staff kitchen and worked in good lighting. Her employment of women was attacked however by the all-male Printer’s Union who even tried to sabotage the Victoria Press. For example they dirtied her employee’s stools with ink. Nonetheless her press was actually quite successful. For example Emily was awarded the position of a printer and publisher to Queen Victoria in 1862.

Emily was also a keen writer. In 1868 her only novel Change Upon Change was published. It is the tragic love story of a young man who falls in love with his coquettish cousin. It also called for improvements to women’s education.

Emily also established her own journal the Victoria Magazine which was published monthly. She continued the journal for 18 years and called for improvements in women’s employment in it.

At about same time when she was involved in the much publicised divorce case of Admiral Henry Codrington and his wife Helen. She had worked in their house as a companion to Helen but was dismissed from the position by Helen’s husband under mysterious circumstances. In Henry and Helen’s much publicised divorce case he was accused of raping Emily by Helen. Emily was however accused of being Helen’s lover. At first Emily gave evidence on behalf of Helen but later refused to. This was in order to protect her reputation as it was already at risk by being associated with a divorce case. It would have been completely ruined if she had carried on standing as a witness. These events have been written about by Emma Donoghue in her novel the Sealed Letter.

Despite this her reputation was clearly not badly affected as she toured England and the USA giving lectures in the 1870s and 1880s. In these talks she lectured about women’s rights. For example she argued in New York for marriage to be based on love and not money.  She published her account of her tour in her book Three Visits to America in 1884. In this book she wrote chapters about women’s roles in America in particular she devoted a whole chapter to how Mormon Women were treated in Utah.

In the 1880s she started the organisation the International Music, Dramatic and Literary Association to help protect the rights of artists and composers. In 1888 she received a civil pension and was presented with an engraved portrait of Queen Victoria for her 30 years work for women’s rights. There was no title of Dame at the time so this was the Victorian Equivalent.

7 years later she died at the age of 61 in Plymouth Grove in Manchester of a Bronchial Disorder as she was a heavy smoker.

 

Bibliography

Newspaper Articles

Emily Faithfull Obituary, (June 3rd 1865), Issue 34593, The Times, London, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Times/1895/Obituary/Emily_Faithfull

Websites

Emily Faithfull, (24 May 2018), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Faithfull

Massey Gerald, Faithfull Emily, http://gerald-massey.org.uk/faithfull/

Simkin John(January 2015), Emily Faithfull, Spartacus Educational, Spartacus Education Publishers ltd, https://spartacus-educational.com/Wfaithfull.htm

Wojtczak Helena, (2009), Emily Faithfull and the Victoria Press, British Women’s Emancipation since the Renaissance, http://historyofwomen.org/faithfull.html

 

 

The Queen of the Abbey: the Magic Flute and Northanger Abbey

In the 2007 ITV adaptation of Northanger Abbey the song Der Hölle Rache or the Queen of the Night’s Aria is used which is from the opera the Magic Flute by Mozart. Now in the scene the novel’s protagonist Catherine Moorland(Felicity Jones) is at the opera watching the Magic Flute with some friends. They are watching the moment were the Queen of the Night sings the above song. Catherine’s friends are the Allens, Isabella Thorpe(Carey Mulligan), Catherine’s brother James and John(William Beck) Isabella’s brother. Catherine looks hopefully across Henry Tilney (J.J Field) who is her main love interest in the story and his sister Eleanor but they both look at her coldly. Meanwhile John who desires Catherine for himself sees her looking at them and comments that Eleanor is attractive but Catherine is better looking. Catherine ignores him as she is more interested in the Tilneys. Now Henry looks at her coldly as Catherine was meant to go out walking with him and Eleanor. However John and Isabella manipulated her into coming on a carriage ride with them instead.

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Catherine and Henry

Now in the Magic Flute the Queen of the Night is angrily telling her daughter Pamina that if she does not kill her rival Sarastro that will she disown her. The Queen of the Night has originally been set up as a good character who manipulates Pamina’s lover Tamino into believing she is good and that Sarastro is evil. Now as the opera goes on this is revealed to be the opposite. Pamina in this scene who sees Sarastro as a father figure and does not want to kill him but also does not want to lose her mother. Therefore she does not know what to do.  Below I will suggest what the use of this song could mean in this adaptation.

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Catherine and Isabella

Firstly I think it could symbolise people appearing to be good on the surface but being the opposite underneath. For example Isabella, John, and Henry’s father General Tilney appear to like Catherine. Nonetheless they all have ulterior motives. Therefore this could foreshadow how Catherine has been deceived by appearances and will realise that these 3 characters are not what they appear to be.

It may also link here to the theme of conflicted parent and child relationships as in this scene in the Magic Flute it too deals with this. Eleanor and Henry in Northanger Abbey have a rocky relationship with their father. This is as they both oppose him in their choices of spouses. He wants them to marry for money. However Eleanor and Henry are only interested in marrying a potential spouse for love.

Finally the song could symbolise the love triangle that has developed. Catherine has to choose between Henry the nice guy and John the bad boy. The creepiness in the song could show the tension that has built up between the three of them as both men are rivals for her affection. Now at the point in this production Catherine I would say has not shown a strong preference for either man. Perhaps slightly more for Henry as she has a sexual fantasy about him while she is in the bath. I suppose she has a sexual fantasy about John too as there is a scene where her and Isabella are in their underclothes discussing him. Here Isabella teases her about him and she appears to blush at the mention of him. Later she falls in love with Henry after spending time at Northanger Abbey. Also after getting to know what John is really like.

How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days: clichéd, unoriginal but kind of fun if you don’t think

Take Sex and City but remove the substance from it and also focus on a man as one of the main characters, then you have… How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days.

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Andy, Ben and the Dog

Andy(Kate Hudson) is a bored columnist for a women’s mag called Composure which I think is meant to be based on Cosmopolitan. She writes How to Articles on things such as fashion and men but she would rather write serious articles about things such as politics. However her boss Lana played by (Bebe Neuwirth) insists she carry on with the How To theme. She does however come to an agreement with her that if she writes a how to article on losing a guy in ten days then she can write about anything she wants.

Bebe Neuwirth as Lana and Kathryn Hahn as Michelle
Bebe Neuwirth and Kathryn Hahn

Meanwhile Ben (Matthew McConaughey) is bored with his work as an advertising executive. He wants to be involved in an advertisement on diamonds but is not allowed to by his boss (Robert Klein). His boss along with some rival colleagues say he can work on the advertisement if he makes a woman fall in love with him in ten days. His two rival colleagues both called Judy I am not joking here pick out Andy as his target as they saw her earlier at a meeting with Composure. Andy also on meeting him decides that he will be her lose a guy target.

This then results in her embarrassing efforts to get him to dump her. Such as being clingy and needy. Ok I get that she is meant to be extreme but some of this was too extreme. She decorates the toilet in his flat with a pink fluffy cover and buys a little ratty dog for them to share. The worst is that she insists on calling his penis Princess Sophia. Somehow he stays with her despite her gruesome behaviour. However I will not spoil the end although it is very predictable and you only need to guess it.

The only good point of this film was Hudson and McConaughey. They had chemistry, actually very good chemistry a key ingredient for rom coms. They were both also likeable and had good screen presences despite her dire behaviour. What they needed was a funnier and cleverer script to do justice to their on screen chemistry.

Now onto the other actors. Bebe Neuwirth as Lana was awful. Now most people will recognise her for her role Dr Lilith Sternin in Frasier and Cheers for which she won 2 Emmy Awards.  Or more recently her role in Madam Secretary. In Frasier and Cheers she is very funny. For me Lilith is one of the funniest female TV characters of all time. Here however Neuwirth is embarrassing. I expected better from her but I guess it paid well.  However she has generally done quite well for herself as an actress. For example she has also won a Tony Award for her performances in Sweet Charity and Chicago. Therefore perhaps here I will give her the slip.  The other actors were nonetheless not even worth mentioning in the film. Andy and Ben both have a gaggle of tedious mates who were boring and unoriginal. Their friends also had no personalities and did not feel real at all.

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Andy in extreme mode

Anyway back to the plot. This film was so full of clichés. A woman bored of writing tedious articles or wanting to be a writer oh no we have not heard that one before. Let’s see Never Been Kissed and the awful Letters to Juliet. A man making a woman fall for him but not meant to feel anything for her falls in love with her instead. Oh no let’s see 10 Things I Hate About You. Actually they both used each other in How To Lose, generally it is just the man in the films I have seen with this trope.

Also it was clearly influenced by Sex and the City but without the humour and seriousness of the TV Series. Let’s see a columnist who writes about men and lives in New York, oh I bet Andy is partly based off Carrie Bradshaw. It is also no coincidence that McConaughey was in one episode, where he proposes that he turn Carrie’s column into a film. I do not like this scene in the TV Series it is so cringe worthy. 

Overall I would give this film 2.5 stars which may sounds generous from what I have said about it but the two leads were good together and had great chemistry. This film is also mildly entertaining if you suspend judgement and do not use your brain at all.

 

 

Why we do not need a Buffy Reboot

When I heard about the idea of a Buffy reboot I had very mixed thoughts. I applaud the idea of Buffy being played by a black actor as Buffy was a very white show and TV is still unfortunately very white. However a reboot is so typical of American TV and below I will discuss why having a Buffy Reboot is not a good idea.

 

the original scoobies
The Original Scoobies

Firstly cannot American TV think of a new idea about a young woman who slays vampires who is Black, Asian or another ethnic minority who is not white. Or maybe a middle aged woman who hunts vampires who is not white. Or even better pick a non-white writer to write a new idea about vampires or the supernatural with non- white leads. TV is already full of recycled ideas and what we need are new fresh ideas not ones that have been done before. Anyway reboots are only done because the original idea made lots of money.

buffy the wish.jpg

Reboots are also not always of good quality and can ruin the legacy of a show that was originally very good. For example the X Files just like Buffy has had a huge influence on Popular Culture and is a great show. The reboot however is terrible. For example it did awful things to the character of Scully. Don’t get me started on the alien pregnancy violation. Also some of the episodes are so awful that they made me cringe. This has now created a mixed legacy for the show. I have the feeling this might be the same for Buffy too.

scully and mulder.png
Scully and Mulder

Therefore although I applaud them for wanting to widen diversity, the idea of a reboot should be ditched completely and something new should be done instead. Or current shows should make an effort to cast more non- white actors. Or in the future TV Shows should seriously consider colour blind casting to make them more diverse.

 

 

Poldy Worldy 5

Ross was back in London in this episode with Demelza holding down the fort in Cornwall. In London Ross finds that nobody will listen to his views much to happiness of a smirking newly reinstated George. Ross in this episode wanted grain prices to fall so the poor would not have to go to poor houses. This was opposed of course by George and Lord Falmouth who dislikes the fact that Ross has opposed some of his previous policies. However Ross manages to persuade the Cornish Big Wigs including Falmouth to support his temporary welfare policy so the poor will not starve. This led to George storming off like the little sulky boy he is when he does not get what he wants. However I bet he will have something up his sleeve to try and again ruin Ross. He always does. Also there is a change in Parliament in that the other MPs are beginning to listen to Ross as two men in Parliament one I think who is William Pitt mentioned that he has some interesting things to say. Therefore he thinks someone should call on him. This will be interesting and I am looking forward to seeing Ross meet Pitt. To be honest the politics are some of the best parts of Poldark in my opinion in the entire run, finally some actual history and a touch of reality. Not just the usual soapy stuff.


However Ross also had other people’s problems to deal with. Ross is currently spending a lot of time with Caroline. This involved discussions about her grief over losing her baby. I was interested to see that Ross did feel something about Julia’s death, I mean I guess he did but he has never seen to be very interested in his own children. Really they are mere card board cut outs that could be removed and no one would notice.

 

Anyway Ross also spent some time dealing with Jeffrey’s Charles’ problems in a wonderful scene where Ross wins a fight against a Viscount. Then this results in Ross basically saying if you do not behave I will tell your father who I know from parliament. This is so Poldark but it was fun in the face of all this misery and heartache. Then even better Jeffrey Charles was sick. Best scene in this episode for me! This led onto Ross talking with Elizabeth about Jeffrey Charles. I have the horrible feeling his infatuation with her will resurface again. I wish he would get over it. I do not see what is so wonderful about her since Demelza is way more attractive than her in many different ways.

 
Meanwhile Demelza also had others’ problems to deal with. She spent a lot of time in this episode with Dr Enys. This involved a conversation about if Caroline and Ross would have been a better match and them vice versa. Oh no! I hope this does not go any further. This already made my blood boil but it looks like Caroline is back next episode putting all thoughts of this behind. Anyway I think Demelza is too fiery for him and he too calm for her. To be honest I always thought Morwenna might have been good match personality wise for Dwight more so than Caroline. I am not anti her and Drake but both she Dr Enys are pretty similar in personalities and also temperament wise.
Meanwhile things got worse and better for Morwenna and Drake. Morwenna’s son was taken away from her by a nurse under the control of Lady Whitworth, so Ossie could go back to raping her. She also established the reason to Dr Enys why she had threatened to kill her son, since this was her only defence. Poor Morwenna, she could not divorce him at the time and he can basically make her life hell and get away with it. Ossie also finished his affair with Rowella but Rowella’s husband found out. This led to him beating Ossie to death. Thank god! He is dead finally. I have been praying for this moment for ages.

 
However this is clearly going to have repercussions and this is where Drake comes in. Drake accepting he cannot have Morwenna proposed to Rosina who accepted him despite the fact he told her he still love Morwenna. Then Demelza having heard Ossie was dead told Drake who then jilted Rosina at the altar. This led to her angry father burning down his forge. Oh no this has certainly not happened before.  George also heard about Drake and wanted to hurt him. Thank God Elizabeth told him to leave him well alone this time. God George is vile. Well maybe not as vile as J.R Ewing but he is certainly well up there. Well he did not leave him well alone and sent Tom Harry after him who has resurfaced again! I thought he had gone forever. Well anyway he went to Namparra to find him. In my second favourite encounter of this episode Prudie and Demelza shoved him out the door. It looked like Prudie wanted to beat him with an inch of his life. She probably really misses beating Jod up!

 
Anyway Drake went to Morwenna who rejected him because of all the pain she has been through. I am sympathetic to both parties here. Does she still love him at all? However there again she has been married to vile Ossie which would put anyone off sex forever. Anyway this encounter led to Lady Whitworth thinking Drake murdered Ossie who according to her is a great horse rider and would never fall. Knowing her and her being played by Rebecca Front she will not stop until she gets what she wants. Oh no!
Now onto one thing I could not miss out sexualised males. Zero in this episode. Unless you count Ossie’s huge sweaty hand but no show of his famous toes! Oh and I suppose Drake’s shirt was undone slightly.

 
On a final mention. I think the fashions may be beginning to change in Poldark. Morwenna was wearing a bonnet this episode. Perhaps even more fashion changes will come to Cornwall. Next Ross will be wearing a top hat instead of a tricorn.
Overall 4.5 stars for this episode, as it was dramatic, heart wrenching yet even light at times.

 
P.S it looks like in the next episode Ross is batting his eyelashes at Elizabeth again and vice versa. The rivalry between Ross and George again heats up with George threatening to have him expelled from Parliament. Caroline and Dwight are back together clearly as she is telling him to administer to Elizabeth who has fallen to the ground. Oh no it looks something disastrous will happen to her. Is she pregnant? She is not doing something stupid again to bring it on early?

Much Ado About Nothing: funny, smart and clever but serious

From the man behind Buffy and Angel comes a very different thing: Shakespeare! You may recognise some of the stars of this film if you are familiar with these above shows. Particularly Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof or Mr Alyson Hannigan who both played important parts in Angel. However onto the story.


It opens in the house of the wealthy Leonato (Gregg Clark) who is the Governor of Messina. Leonato lives there with his demure daughter Hero(Jillian Morgese) and his free spirited, lively niece Beatrice(Amy Acker). Some guests come to stay in the form of the prince Don Pedro(Reed Diamond) and his two friends who are as different as chalk and cheese. They are witty, spirited Benedict(Alexis Denisof) and hypocritical weak Count Claudio( Fran Kranz). Benedict is at a war of wits with Beatrice who it is revealed he had a messy past sexual relationship with. Meanwhile Claudio becomes besotted with Hero and they soon become engaged. Claudio, Hero and their friends decide to trick Beatrice and Benedict into believing that they love one another. They do this by having Beatrice and Benedict overhearing the others supposed feelings for the other. This works very successfully and even more so when Beatrice and Benedict develop real feelings for one another. However Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother Don John(Sean Maher) is determined to ruin everyone’s happiness. He tricks Claudio into believing Hero is unfaithful to him. Claudio therefore insults an innocent Hero on their wedding day and refuses to marry her. This leaves Beatrice furious and Benedict defends Hero by challenging Claudio to a duel. Can the wrongs be righted so the two couples can get together?

 
The acting in this production was very good particularly from the two leads but Denisof was by far the best. Acker was charming as Beatrice who was both feisty and spirited but vulnerable in her feelings for Benedict. She could be comedic one minute then deeply serious, however I think she was somewhat lacking in goofiness which this production certainly had in it. Denisof was perfect for the role of Benedict and had good chemistry with Acker which is essential for this story. Funny that these two have played on screen love interests to one another before in Angel. Well they were two parts of a love square but I will not get into that. Anyway I liked how much like Acker he could be silly one minute then deadly serious the next. Unlike Acker he captured the slight goofy side of this production very well particularly in the scenes where he overhears Pedro and Claudio. The other actors were also quite good. For me the other stand out in this film was Nathan Fillion as the prison guard Dogberry who made a fuss about being called an ass. He seemed just as concerned about this as performing his job. Fran Kranz was also good as Claudio capturing the unlikableness about his character well.

Sean Maher in Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
The modernisation of this production worked mostly very well. I thought the modernising of Benedict and Beatrice into having been lovers worked well. It gave us a reason for why they argued all the time. I know she implies that they liked each before in the play so I guess Whedon was playing on this. However I did not like the lack of the modernisation of the obsession with Hero being a virgin. I know this is what the play says but it does not seem right in the modern times. Hero would definitely not be a virgin before marriage nowadays. I would have also liked a little more indication that it was the modern times as I actually thought it was first set in the 90’s until I saw the smart phone at the end of the film. The Black and White Film however worked well adding to the old and new feel of the film.

 
The costumes in this production were quite good although I think they could have been some distinguishing features to show the differences between the different characters’ personalities better. For example Benedict could have worn a lighter or darker coloured suit compared to Claudio and Pedro to show his different personality to them. However I know this was a low budget production so they perhaps could not have afforded to show these differences.

 
Overall I would give this production 4 stars as it captures the spirit of Shakespeare in the modern times very well.