feather_ghyll: Boat with white sail on water (Sailboat adventure)
My Cousin Rachel
This adaptation of Du Maurier’s book, which I haven’t read, revolves around Read more... )

Adventure on Rainbow Island by Dorothy Clewes
I enjoyed this well enough, considering it was narrated by a sixteen year old chauvinist Read more... )

I've also recently reread The Ambermere Treasure by Malcolm Saville, featuring the Jillies and Standings. I’d bought a second copy by accident, although I can see why I didn’t really remember it. Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
Just a quick pointer to Their Finest, a film out last Friday. Set during the Blitz, it’s about a writer, Catrin Cole, who got into writing films, first infomercials and then a film to bolster spirits. I remember reading an interview with Gemma Arterton, who plays Catrin (and gets the Welsh accent about 90 per cent right), where she said something like it contained multitudes – there’s comedy, there’s tragedy, there’s romance, and part of that romance is the making of movies. It features west Wales pretending to be Devon (in the film) pretending to be Dunkirk (in the film within the film). I found it involving and moving, with good actors and a definitely female point of view. I keep wanting to call it ‘Their Finest Hour’ but it’s based on a novel called ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’ which is a phrase that’s used in the movie.
feather_ghyll: Lavendar flowers against white background (Beautiful flower (lavender))
Ths isn't the review that I said was coming (but then today was meant to be a book-buying day and that didn't happen either). Friday before last I read Anne Billson's feature on 'An Education', An Education that is very British, and the depiction of (British) school life or lack therefor on the big screen. I then saw 'An Education' (recommended, even if it sometimes falls on the side of being funny and charming rather than profound, the acting is very good, and the heroine's school life is a thread) and before it a trailer for Cracks, which is mentioned in the feature. I'm not sure entirely whether elements that were hinted at in the trailer will come through in the film. It looked like one I'd want to see, although everyone's hair was awfully messy!

Anyway, in her feature, Billson asks But why did no one ever film Malory Towers, or The Chalet School?. She discusses part of the reason in the feature, I think, St. Trinian's, which in part parodied the girl's school story. A strong, parodic or absured iconography like that made a 'straight' rendition difficult. In addition, the examples she offers are series, which before the Harry Potter and Twilight phenomena would probably put film-makers off (but why no television series?) Perhaps not so much these days? I don't know. It would be fun to see an all-girls school story with the rivalries, the midnight feasts, the prefects nd mistresses and the daring rescue from a fire or unexpected tide!
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
Over the summer, I've found myself reading a lot of books that are concerned with the employment of women, in the loosest sense of the phrase, maybe 'occupation' is closer to it, and some of them were girls rather than women...

Sue Barton - Staff Nurse: Helen Dore Boylston
Requiem for a Wren: Neville Shute
Miss Buncle Married: D. E. Stevenson
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: Winifred Watson
The Third Miss Symons: F.M. Mayor
North for Treasure: Dorothy Carter
Read more... )
feather_ghyll: Black and white body shot a row of ballet dancers (Ballet girls)
In the ideal world of my intentions, there would be full reviews of all these books, but I have to admit that, under current circumstances, there is no way that I can do them justice, so it's better to clear the desks with some quick overviews.

The Third Class at Miss Kaye's: Angela Brazil: I didn't realise when I read it quite how early a book this was, although I picked up on the references to (the lack of) plumbing and transport. In fact, it's only something like the second of Brazil's school stories, and comes off like The Fortunes of Phillippa meets For the Sake of the School. One of the more notable things about the story of how dreamy only child, Sylvia, becomes a normalised schoolgirl, is the role that the headmistress, Miss Kaye, plays. Brazil could have titled this The Third Class at Heathercliffe House, but the reference to Miss Kaye is crucial. She's in the wise Hilda Annersly mould and even more obviously influential - and a contrast to A Worth-while Term, which has a novice headteacher, somewhat in the mould of Madge Bettany, although author Judy Irwin come off the worst in any comparison with Brent-Dyer. For one thing, the book seems to be set in an alternate universe where the question mark was never invented.

Cicely, who is in her early twenties, inherits a school from a woman she befriended on a cruise during the outbreak of the second world war. As you do. Said friend didn't disclose that she was very sick to Cicely, who finds herself in charge of a small, select and slack school after said friend dies. Can she turn it around?

More entertaining, and surprising to me, was Mollie Chappell's Endearing Young Charms, which is a romance, though not that far removed from her books for older girls. I only knew Chappell as a children's writer - she comes off as somewhere between Oxenham and Streatfeild in tone, and this book certainly has charm. I'll be looking out for more of her romances.

Also amusing was Jane Shaw's Fourpenny Fair. Penny's a heroine by accident, her kind heart not being married with much sense, and her accidents are usually pretty funny. Even funnier was A Bullet in the ballet by Simon and Brahms, hence the icon. Definitely not a children's book, it's a comic murder mystery, with Inspector Quill of Scotland Yard trying to solve a murder, which of course becomes a series of murders, with the hinderance of the Stroganov Ballet Company, who live ballet, breathe ballet and try to be helpful to the nice police inspector who has never seen even the most well-known ballets and is trying to find the assassin of the ballet dancers who can breathe no more. By the end, I was literally roaring with laughter, you know, loud, hearty laughter. This is the first in a series and I'll be looking out for the rest.

Ethel Talbot's Ranger Rose was fortunately not terrible (which Talbot can be), but slight in some ways, although it's theme and Rose's journey were trying to tackle big issues. Weird ending though, and disappointing handling of the big final scene.

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is out in the cinemas this week. I won't be going to see it, despite having read the first two books, which I didn't find that funny. Coming soon is Emma 'Nancy Drew' Roberts in Wild Child, where a Malibu brat is sent to an English boarding school, where her dead father used to play quidditch her dead mother used to play lacrosse. The trailer looks as though it's trying for something between the Paris Hilton/Nicole Ritchie TV show, the Trebizon books and the recent St Trinian revamp, which I avoided. Unless if the reviews change my mind, which I doubt, I'll be avoiding this too.
feather_ghyll: Girl reading a book that is resting on her knees (Default)
I'm posting this so that I have a clean slate for the next book that I want to review. Here’s what I’ve been doing lately that might be of interest…

The Youngest Sister is typical Bessie Marchant, a girl’s coming of age in an exotic local with a smidge of romance and an attempt at Romance in the old-fashioned sense. Although her heroine criss-crosses across the vastness of Canada, you’d think that only half a dozen people lived there because she keeps coming across the same folks. There’s some mildly interesting character stuff about the eponymous heroine’s attempt to make up for a life where she let her (apparently) more capable sisters do everything for her, but BM feels the need to have peril or disaster strike in EVERY. SINGLE. CHAPTER. Which gets tiresome.

I have forgotten everything I ever learned about Canada and flying in the 50s or 60s, which is a shame because teaching me that stuff was the sole point of Shirley Flight, Air Hostess in Canadian Capers. Spectre Jungle by Violet Methley featured a bunch of really hard-to-like snots, racing against an American adversary in Borneo to find a mysterious simian - the spectre of the title.

More PC was Tangara by Nan Chauncy, which didn’t quite pull off its rather familiar trick of having a twentieth-century girl be able to slip through time and relive the experiences of another white girl, who befriended a Tasmanian Aboriginal girl, just before her people were massacred. Speaking of history, The Wind Blows Free teaches us what use can be made of cow pats (it’s a bit Little House on The Prairie).

I’ve also been reading The Crackerjack Girls’ Own. I don’t normally like these annuals – I like longer stories, where narrative covers up perfunctory writing, but it was cheap and featured a story by Anne Bradley. It turned out to be a pleasant enough collection to read before going to sleep – which isn’t how I normally read books, I’m far too likely to end up reading until the wee hours otherwise.

I read Mistress Pat, the sequel to Pat of Silver Bush. Poor Jingle. Montgomery had to do something REALLY, REALLY DRASTIC to get Pat out of her stubborn rut. I think one of the problems with these two books is weird choices in terms of the passing of time. (They’re also overshadowed by better things she’s done – the Annes, Emilys and Blue Castle.)

Angela Brazil’s Schoolgirl Kitty features an arty family that loses a mother and goes to France. This gives AB a chance to lecture on Art, and provide some ‘exotic’ drama (this being quite a few decades before Spectre Jungle and Shirley Flight).

I read four Miss Silver mysteries in quick succession; I have a fifth to read but I’m a little tired of the formula, so I’m putting it off. It’s always like that with the Miss Silver books, either feast or famine in terms of seeing them on the shelves of shops.

Blue for a Girl was a (somewhat scattershot) account of the Wrens’ history in world war 2. While writing about the Admiralty et al’s sexism, the male writer displays his own chauvinism. I felt that the book was written for people in the inner circle too. I’d have preferred it if it had been more rigorous chronologically, instead of having chapters based on theme, with the writer changing direction unexpectedly every few paragraphs.

Cinemawise, I watched The Spiderwick Chronicles, which was based on a book that was influenced by other fantasy books. A modern family, flirting with dysfunction, meets old-fashioned (but well-rendered) faerie folk – although the troll was rubbish. There were problems of scale. I hardly ever believed that the whole wide world as the kids knew it was in danger, and I couldn’t but compare it unfavourably with The Neverending Story

Nim’s Island could have been based on a book – I don’t think it was – with its theme of a storyteller lying within us all and it being a lonely person’s way of reaching out. It wasn’t a very good film though.

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