Hello and welcome to the second edition of Pryday! This week’s question is:
“What is your favorite TV adaptation of a novel?”
I’ve been a PBS and Masterpiece Theater (now Classic) fan since my teen years and I think I’ve seen every adaptation they’ve presented in the past 20 years. I’ve also watched quite a few BBC dramas that I’ve checked out from the library. I thought this would be a hard question for me to answer because I’ve enjoyed so many of these presentations, but the first series that popped into my head and that just felt right on further reflection is the 2006 version of Bleak House starring Gillian Anderson. I have to shamefully admit that I have never read a complete Dickens novel (even when I was required to in college) and I surprised myself by liking this series as much as I did. It was the only adaptation in the past 10 years that I’ve forced someone else to watch (sorry Megan, but not really) Everything about it is supremely exquisite. The acting, the plot, the costumes, the scenery, the air of mystery and sadness that permeates the characters’ lives. There’s also good heartedness and humor. The gamut of human situations and emotions is fully explored. I think Gillian Anderson’s performance is outstanding and I always like to watch Anna Maxwell Martin. I definitely need to watch this again sometime very soon!
Other recent series that were in the running as my favorite: Downton Abbey, Cranford, and Tess of the D’urbervilles.
What is your favorite tv adaptation of a novel?
I’m moving on Tuesday after living in the same apartment for seven years. Packing is in progress, but I forgot how monumental a task moving really is! I hope to have Internet service in my new place by next weekend, but if you don’t hear from me for a while, you’ll know why. Have a great weekend!
Well, Sarah Waters has done it again. She’s completely hijacked my life with one of her engrossing, agonizing novels. I’ve previously read Fingersmith and The Little Stranger and loved them both so turned to Affinity with much anticipation. I bought a copy of it about a year ago and just couldn’t work up any interest in it at that time. When I picked it up last week during the midst of my reading slump I knew that it was the golden book that was going to break me out of the slump.
Margaret Prior is a mentally ill spinster who lives with her widowed mother in London during the 1870′s. In an effort to distract her from the depression that has overwhelmed her after the death of her father, a family friend suggests that she become a “lady visitor” at Millbank Prison. The role of the lady visitor is to inspire the prisoners to be better people by the example of their good breeding and good sense. Margaret immediately feels the hypocrisy of this effort yet continues to visit the prison when she becomes smitten with Selina Dawes, who is a spirit medium in prison for abusing a patron of her work. Selina is enchantingly beautiful with golden hair and the look of a renaissance painting. She seems to be a cut above the other prisoners and more refined and innocent than her fellow inmates. Margaret soon becomes obsessed with her, an obsession that leads to terrible decisions and feverish choices. Will Margaret risk her comfortable middle-class life to have the woman she loves?
Affinity oozes with dread. The novel is dark and dangerous and the sense of foreboding for the reader corresponds with the downward spiral of Margaret’s despair. I love when authors can match the reader’s feelings to the plot. I really liked Margaret. She is clearly intelligent and gifted, yet she is bored with her status in society. She so desperately does not want to be her mother’s companion for the remainder of her life. She is looking for passion, for beauty, for an experience that will lift her above the drudgery and routine of daily life. Selina provides this escape. Selina is mysterious, exotic and powerful and is maybe the more fascinating character because we never really know her. The novel is told through diary entries, Margaret’s interspersed with Selina’s daily jottings of her life before prison. Margaret is easy to sympathize with, Selina is not and she is also a bit frightening because of her ability to sway people’s impressions of her.
Despite its unhappy premise I adored this novel. I really do think Sarah Waters is a fabulous writer and she is, at the moment, my favorite.
Have you read Affinity or any other novels by Sarah Waters? What do you think of her books?
Hello all! I’ve decided not to participate in the Library Loot event anymore because I check so many books out and only read about 5% of them and it seems silly to post pictures of books on my blog that I’m never even going to crack open. But, I still want to do some kind of weekly themed post so I’ve come up with ‘Pryday’! Every Friday I will ask a book-related question, something to get me thinking about the books I love, why I love them and how I’m developing as a reader. I’d love to hear all of your responses too, if you feel like sharing. My first Pryday question is:
“What is the first book that you really LOVED?”
I wasn’t much of a reader as a child. I was a good reader and I liked to read, but for some reason I didn’t read for pleasure. I was always outside playing with my friends or making mischief with my brothers and sisters indoors, but reading wasn’t a big part of my childhood. I only started to read seriously when I was about 13 or 14. That’s when I became more introspective and struggled socially after I entered junior high school. I turned to books to escape myself. Around this time my grandma sent a box of books to me that had been my mom’s books when she was a teen. Inside the box was a big, fat, dusty copy of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I chose to read it during my summer break and was completely mesmerized. I remember being smitten with Scarlett, wishing I was as bold and fearless, as headstrong and demanding as she was. The passion and heat between Scarlett and Rhett was irresistible to a 13-year-old girl, prompting fantasies of having a dramatic romance of my own. And what other book so sways the reader so persuasively to the side of the South during the war? I held my Confederate sympathies for many years after reading GWTW and was convinced that General Sherman was a monster because of it. This is the only book I can remember immediately starting again right after I’d finished and I think I read it 3 or 4 times in a row during that summer and fall. I was so beguiled by this novel and I’ll never forget that feeling of falling in love with a book for the first time.
How about you? What was the first book you really LOVED?
It’s been one of those weeks. One of those weeks where you feel dissatisfied with everything in your life, including every single book you try to read. I abandoned many books this week, even those I had made a good start in or was really looking forward to. I tossed Franny and Zooey by the wayside after I got bored with Zooey’s horrible treatment of his mom, sent The Lantern on to the next reader when I realized I was not in the mood for flowery writing, and brutally rejected countless other unworthy novels. The only thing that has seemed to hold my interest this week is the biography of the Kennedy White House I am currently racing through.
So, my library loot only contains three books this week. These are the three that made it home and have stayed home with me and that I hope to start soon.
1. The Best American Short Stories of 2010 edited by Richard Russo. I always like reading at least a few selections from this collection every year. This edition contains stories from Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan, one of my personal favorites Lauren Groff and Orange Prize winner Tea Obreht.
2. Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter. I really don’t know much about this epic novel, but it was on the best seller list in 1962 and so qualifies to be read due to my current obsession with this era.
3. The Siege by Helen Dunmore. I’ve read so many positive reviews of this novel that is set during the siege of Leningrad and of Helen Dunmore’s other novels that I thought I’d try it. After reading Snowdrops, in which a major character briefly talks of her experiences during the siege I’ve had an interest in reading more about this horrible tragedy.
What have you taken out of the library this week? What do you do when you have a reading slump?
I suppose it’s not very auspicious to start a post telling you that I had very high hopes for this book because it indicates that perhaps my hopes were dashed. I’m afraid to say that they were!
What doesn’t sound appealing about a story told by Marilyn Monroe’s dog, Maf? You may be intrigued; I was too. The story starts in England where Maf the dog is bought by Natalie Wood’s mother who takes him back to California, sells him to Frank Sinatra, who gives him to Marilyn when she is feeling down and depressed over her impending divorce from Arthur Miller. There are some very amusing early scenes featuring Ol’ Blue Eyes and his epic temper, Natalie Wood’s crazy dad and Marilyn’s appearance at a Sammy Davis, Jr show. Maf (short for Mafia Honey) narrates the story with a keen sense of human weakness and a high interest in philosophy. There are many scenes of Maf and his dog friends discussing Plato, Aristotle, and Freud. I have to say I didn’t enjoy these scenes. I much more enjoyed reading Maf’s descriptions of Marilyn’s interactions with her famous friends such as Carson McCullers, Sinatra and George Cukor. I admit I have a plebeian sensibility and usually enjoy celebrity chatter over philosophical ruminations, especially when they are abstract and head-spinning as they are in this novel.
I’m sure I’m probably missing the genius of this book and others will find it more satisfying than I did. I think if I knew more about different philosophers and big thinkers of this time period it would have been more fulfilling. There are a lot of clever “in” jokes that I only got about 10% of the time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am not smart enough for this book!