Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Movie Review - George Eliot's Middlemarch

I just watched the 1994 adaption of George Eliot's Middlemarch, and although I do not usually review new movies that I have seen, I liked this one so much, and I have heard next so little about it, that I decided to write my own review.

The story takes place in Middlemarch (shocker!), an English town surrounded by landed estates.  Like many period dramas, there are many small plots and side stories, so it can be a bit confusing.  The movie is actually a miniseries containing one hour and twenty minute episode and five fifty minute episodes.  I watched it over the course of two days.

The main characters include Dr. Lydgate (and his flighty, flaky wife, Rosamond), wannabe philanthropist Dorothea Brooke/Casaubon, young author and rising politician Will Ladislaw, banker and do-gooder Mr. Bulstrode, shiftless Fred Vincy, hardworking Mary Garth, creepy and crabby religious scholar Reverend Casaubon, and the unpaid preacher Mr. Farebrother.

I think a plot summary will be hard to do for this story simply because there are so many subplots, but the story revolves, for the most part, around Dorothea Brooke, who is a young and idealistic.  She is also the nieceand ward of wannabe politician Mr. Brooke, who does not subscribe to her ideas for improvements on the servants' and tenants' cottages.  She ends up marrying Rev. Casaubon, who is much older than she is, because she enjoys listening to his intellectual talk and thinks that she loves him.  In fact, their marriage turns out to be pretty unhappy.  She keeps on trying to help him, but he thinks that women should keep their place.  She becomes friends with his younger cousin, Will Ladislaw, who during the course of their friendship decides to become an author.  He also falls in love with Dorothea, but he is too honorable to say anything to her, and she does not realize that he looks on her as anything more than a cousin.

Meanwhile, Dr. Lydgate comes to Middlemarch and, after a brief courtship, marries Rosamond Vincy, a blonde in every sense of the word.  Their marriage is based on romance and nothing else, so it falls apart pretty quickly after Rosamond begins piling up debt for her husband.  Fred Vincy, Rosamond's brother, is interested in Mary Garth, but she will not have him because she knows that he is being forced into his profession of a preacher by his family, and she wants a man who will be strong enough to think for himself.  Mr. Farebrother, however, gets a real position as a preacher after spending years as an unpaid chaplain at a charity hospital, and he also pays suite to Mary Garth.  She tells him that she likes Fred, though, and will never marry anyone else, even if she cannot marry him.  When Mr. Farebrother tells that to Fred, he (Fred) goes to her (Mary's) father and asks him for a job, even though he knows that he will disappoint his own father.

Fred Vincy and Mary Garth
(By the way, Fred Vincy is played by Colin Firth's brother.  I didn't even know he had a brother.)

During this whole drama thingy, Mr. Bulstrode is being blackmailed by a mysterious and slovenly man who keeps showing up in Middlemarch.

Finally, old Casaubon dies, but in his will he says that if Dorothea marries Ladislaw, she forfeits her right to his money, which means that he suspected something.  Of course, Dorothea is horrified, but when Ladislaw finds out, he gets angry and leaves town.

I am reluctant to tell you any more, because if you have not seen the movie you might be annoyed with me for all the spoilers.

I was struck by the different looks at marriage in the story.  Dr. Lydgate and Rosamond have an unhappy marriage because they based everything on romance and feeling, but Dorothea and Rev. Casaubon have an unhappy marriage because they based it on only intellectualism.  Fred and Mary are much happier, because they waited and based their marriage on both character and love.

Favorite character:  This is a toss-up between Will Ladislaw and Mary Garth.  I am definitely leaning toward Mary, just because she was so sweet and nice and normal!

Least favorite character:  Definitely Dr. Lydgate.  He was pretty annoying, even more so than his wife, and he had no control over his wife, and all of his character was a veneer.

Would I watch it again?  Oh, yes!  I give this movie five stars.  But before I watch it again I want to read the book.  If you have never seen it, you should definitely give it a shot.  If you like period dramas even a little, than this is a movie for you.

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Friday, August 2, 2013

Character List for The Fey Castle (Sequel to CatT)

So, I have been working on The Fey Castle and am already past ten thousand words on it in three days, which is not bad.  Of course, I am also working on fine-honing CatT at the same time, not to mention actually spending time with my family and doing jobs around the house.  So, as you can probably imagine, I am pretty busy and tired.

However, in keeping with my usual practice, I am posting a character list for TFC.

Jessamine Warbling ~ Yes, she is narrating this story also.  In case you are not familiar with her, she is a young London socialite with the ability to land herself in odd and dangerous situations.

Laird Andrew and Lady Laura Loughney ~ Jessamine's uncle and aunt on her mother's side.  They live in Castle Cauldwerden in the Scottish Highlands to which Jessamine is banished after the Tittleton scandal.

The Honorable Mr. Byron and Mrs. Mary Dowald ~ Mary is the daughter of the Loughneys, and she is the pride and joy of her father, having upheld the family honor with a marriage to the son of an ancient family.  Byron Dowald is a dour fellow, but at least he is rich and respectable.

Gavin Loughney ~ The estranged son of the Loughneys.  He has always tried to respect his father, and even gave up the girl that he wanted to marry in order to honor Laird Andrew's wishes.  But when Laird Andrew decided to cast doubt on the honor of the lady in question, Gavin had to defend her, even though it cost him a place in his father's house and broke his mother's heart (and her reason).

Alexander MacAuney ~ He raises horses for Laird Andrew, and he is engaged to the most beautiful girl in the town of Mickelhaudin.  No wonder someone would be jealous enough to kill him in the deserted Castle MacDrae.

Grissie Faekell ~ The most beautiful girl in Mickelhaudin, and the daughter of the cobbler.  She broke the hearts of all the young men, quite unintentionally, of course, when she consented to marry Alexander MacAuney.

Robbie MacNielton ~ He is in love with Grissie Faekell, and he is the prime suspect for the murder of Alexander MacAuney.  After all, his family does live near the Castle MacDrae, and everyone in Mickelhaudin knows that he had an argument with Alexander.

Jeremy Marchmont ~ Jessamine suspects that his presence in Inverness is a ploy used by her mother and his to bring them together.  Still, he is in a handy place when she needs help investigating murder.

Katherine MacNielton ~ She may be a plain country girl, but Laird Andrew blames her for the rift between himself and his son.

Inspector Fionn ~ A Scotland Yard detective, Jessamine wishes that he really was in Scotland.  At least she can write to him for help in solving a murder.

Mehitable Churnell ~ Jessamine's insufferable companion, hired by Mrs. Warbling to make sure that Jessamine does not get into any trouble.  Unfortunately, Miss Churnell takes her job a little too seriously.

Lady Diana MacDrae ~  She's been dead for ninety years, but the villagers are positive that her ghost still haunts the deserted Castle MacDrae.

So, that is the main character list.  Here are a few snippets:

A girl of about fifteen or sixteen entered the room.  She was carrying a silver tea tray, which she deposited on the table beside the fireplace.  “Good e’en to ye, Miss,” she said, her Scottish accent as thick as Camclodie’s.
            “Good evening, and thank you for the tea,” I replied, observing that the girl was tall and very skinny, with red hair pulled tightly into a bun beneath her stiff white uniform cap and cloudy but cheerful blue eyes.  Her skin was ruddy and freckled, and she had extraordinarily long, chapped fingers.
            “Ah’m Tillie,” she said with a smile.
            “Good evening, Tillie,” I returned.  “I am Miss Jessamine Warbling.”
            “Och, I knew tha’,” she laughed.  “Laird Andrew’s niece all the wa’ from London.  ‘Tis guid to ha’ ye here.”
            “Thank you,” I replied.
            Tillie remained in the room, clearly wishing to engage in further conversation, but also too polite to speak without first being spoken to.  I took pity upon her and also decided to try to satiate my own curiosity.
            “Who was Diana MacDrae?” I asked.
            Tillie’s cloudy eyes grew wide.  “I dinna spaek o’ it much,” she said.  “’Tis temptin’ Providence, sure enough.”
            “Goodness, what happened to her?” I asked.
            “She was murdered,” said Tillie, her eyes glowing with excitement, indicating that she did not care as much about Providence as she claimed.
            “Oh,” I said, for that monosyllable was as much as I could force out at the time.  I had had quite enough of murder in the past few weeks.

~ The Fey Castle
Castle MacDrae, better known as The Fey Castle

I screamed and awoke, breathing heavily and staring at the green velvet hangings above me.  At first I could not comprehend where I was, but soon I remembered that I was safely in Scotland, in my Uncle Andrew’s old Castle Cauldwerden.  I shivered and wondered if I had really screamed or if that was only part of my dream. 
My question was soon answered when Miss Churnell came rushing into the room, her thin dark hair falling in stiff, coarse locks all around the shoulders of her yellowed flannel nightgown.  I had not thought it possible for her to be more ugly than she already was, but she was!
            “What is it?” she asked stiffly.
            “Oh, nothing,” I lightly replied.  “I had a dream.”
            Miss Churnell sniffed as if she could not believe that I had just roused her in the middle of the night for nothing.
            “Do you realize the time?” she demanded.
            “No,” I replied.  “What is the time?”

            “The time is five o’clock in the morning,” she said.  “I am an early riser, Miss Jessamine, but I do not rise at this unholy hour.  What were you thinking, anyhow?  Proper young ladies do not have nightmares.”

~ The Fey Castle

“Tha mi s├ásaichte bi fhios aig thu, Miss Warbling,” said Grissie, walking all the way out of the house.  She may have been very pretty, but she was wearing very worn clothing, including a threadbare white blouse, a green vest and full, tartan skirt and a dark blue jacket.  Her hands were calloused with hard work.
            “I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Faekell,” I said.  I looked over at Uncle Andrew.  “What did she say to me?” I asked.
            “The same thing you said to her,” he laughed.  “I should have known that you would not know Scotch.  Well, you shall have to learn, for the people of Mickelhaudin know it more than they know Queen’s English.”
            I smiled a rather sickly smile, for I recalled my futile efforts to learn French and German.  After several years of each I could barely hold a simple conversation with anyone who knew much about either of those two tongues.  Languages are not my strong point.

~ The Fey Castle

I would love to hear what you think about these characters and snippets!

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Thursday, August 1, 2013

CE School Shopping - Laird Andrew and Lady Laura Loughney

I know that I am not exactly consistent with CEs, but I like to do them when I can, so I am linking up with Kendra of Knitted by God's Plan for her August Character Encounter, which just so happens to be school shopping.

Most of the time I enjoy school shopping, in fact, but today I am not very excited about it, because it symbolizes the end of summer with my family.  In just a few weeks I will have to return to college and will not see them until Christmastime.  With this depressing thought in mind, I still remember to shop sparingly, because I will have to transport everything that I buy in as small a space as possible.  I gaze longingly at the expensive leather bound journals and grab a few ten-cent notebooks instead.

"Why, where is this place?"

I turn around and nearly fall over in surprise.  A lady is standing behind me, and I know exactly who she is.  About fifty, dressed in unrelieved mourning with dark brown hair, she can be none other than Lady Laura Loughney of Castle Cauldwerden.  I imagined her rather taller, but in fact she is not much taller than I am.  The very sight of her makes me fell sloppy, underdressed, immature, and clumsy, but I straighten my back, wishing for the perfect posture that she is exhibiting.

"Where is this place?" she asks again.

I smile reassuringly, although if I were a titled lady used to luxury I would hardly be pleased to find myself in a Walmart.  "This is ah . . . a marketplace," I say.

"It is excessively loud and bright," she says.  "Also, it smells . . . odd."

"That's Walmart," I say, inwardly gleeful that her Scottish accent is just as perfect as I imagined it.

"What is your name?" she asks me, looking me up and down with her strangely bright eyes.  "Have you seen my Gavin?"

I bite my lip.  Lady Loughney is a little obsessed with one idea, finding her estranged son.  "Where did you come from?" I ask.  "How did you get here?"

"I was searching for my Gavin in the closet where he used to hide, and I came here.  Who are you, Miss?"

"I am Kathryn," I say.  "I know all about you, and Gavin."

Suddenly, around the corner strides a tall gentleman dressed in a green riding coat, brown trousers, and top-boots and carrying a tall beaver hat and riding whip.  His well-chiseled features are a mask of concern.  "Laurie, my love, there you are!" he exclaims when he sees his wife.

"Laird Andrew!" I exclaim, giving him an approving nod.  He is just as perfect as I imagined him, even to the embroidered thistles on his vest.

"Who are you?" he asks, gently drawing his wife to his side.

"Kathryn," I answer.

"I thought that Gavin might be here," says Lady Loughney plaintively.  "He was calling me, I know he was."

Laird Andrew is breathing heavily, as I thought he might.  "You witch!" he gasps.  "You brought us here."

At once I understand what he is thinking.  "Do you think that I am Katherine MacNielton?  I look nothing like her."

"You do look like her," insists Laird Andrew, but I decide that his guilty conscience is playing with his mind.

"MacNielton!" cries Lady Loughney.  "Don't they live on MacDrae land?"

"Aye, my love," answers Laird Andrew, his face growing more and more disturbed as he takes in the strange surroundings of Walmart.

"Katherine MacNielton is no witch, Laird Andrew," I firmly declare, deciding that I like this man better in literary form than in real life.

"If it were not for her, my Laurie would not be like this," Laird Andrew breathes.  "Where are we?  Give us back to our own place."

"Katherine MacNielton is not at fault," I reply.  "Neither is Gavin.  You are responsible for your wife's condition."

"Gavin is a rebellious son!" exclaims Laird Andrew, growing angry in a magnificent manner.

"Oh, my love, do not speak of him so!" exclaims Lady Loughney.  "Gavin is a good boy."

"She is right," I agree.  "Gavin was a dutiful son, giving up whatever you wanted him to.  But when you cast a slur on an honest girl, he had to defend her.  Your own pride has cost Lady Loughney her reason."

Laird Andrew takes a step in front of Lady Loughney, as if shielding her from my harsh words, but his face shows that he knows I am right.  "How do you know this?"

"I am the author writing the story that you are in," I say with a little smile, enjoying the shock that I see crossing his handsome features.  "In fact, you are only a figment of my imagination."

Laird Andrew closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.  "Why did you write such misery for us?" he asked.

"So that you would appreciate the happiness that is soon to come," I assured him.  "Once you learn to get over your pride, you shall become one of the happiest men in the world.  You are already so blessed."

He looks as though he cannot quite bring himself to believe me, not noticing that Lady Loughney has wandered around a corner, still searching for her Gavin.  He turns, and, seeing his wife gone, goes after her, leaving me standing alone, holding my ten-cent notebooks.

Thanks for reading, and God bless,