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Saturday, March 31, 2007

NORTH AND SOUTH


"Elizabeth Gaskell's passionate tale of love across the social divide"

I've always been quite wary of the various BBC adaptations of Victorian novels. For every PRIDE & PREJUDICE there's a JANE EYRE. But I'm delighted because 2004's NORTH AND SOUTH, which we recently bought on DVD, (Sue edited to say: after reading about the adaptation on PHS) is one of their most engaging adaptations yet, and it successfully ticks all the boxes in telling a decent romantic story.

One confession - I haven't read Elizabeth Gaskell's story, so I can't comment on the liberties this adaptation takes with the book. Sue has, and she mentioned that the story of the book is better, and more complex, but that's to be expected really because of time constraints. I know some crucial scenes are different - our introduction to Mr. Thornton on the screen is as he beats up a worker, something that I know never happened in the novel - but I also know that key points in the book are retained (such as the stone-throwing incident).

Taken on its own, NORTH AND SOUTH is a decent period series that never outstays its four-hour running time. What is most vivid about the adaptation is its sense of time and place. Set in a grimy northern mill town, you really get a feel for what life was like during the period. There are no cheats, no tricks, no pandering to squeamish viewers - we see life in all its cold cruelness, and as the saying goes, it certainly was "grim up north".

So, the big picture of the story - the striking miners and terrible poverty - is portrayed admirably. But what of the central romance? It is a romantic story, after all. The good news is that the romance is as engaging as the backdrop. Daniela Denby-Ashe, best known for EASTENDERS and MY FAMILY, really gets to show off her acting muscles as she gets her teeth into the role of Margaret Hale and makes it her own. Denby-Ashe is fantastic, and ably supported by Richard Armitage - nowadays known for his role as Guy of Gisborne in the recent ROBIN HOOD BBC series - playing the hero, John Thornton. Armitage is dashing but also very human, and he's up there with Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy in the ranking of charismatic heroes. The supporting cast members are also all very good in their different roles.

What really makes this good is that there is no cliched flashiness, no camera tricks. Director Brian Percival is content to let the story tell itself without getting in the way. I'm glad - because the concentration on the storytelling is what makes this a winner. Not PRIDE & PREJUDICE, perhaps, but NORTH AND SOUTH certainly comes very close.


...and the walls come tumbling down!

Once again I haven't been visible very much over the past couple of weeks - and this has been for a few reasons - the most excruciating of which has been back pain.

Well, I'm pleased to say, thanks to the physiotherapy that I now have access to, the pain is finally subsiding.

A couple of other things have also been causing me pain - albeit emotional. I'm not going to Blog specifically about them, except to say that the fog is lifting and sunshine is peeking through.Time truly IS a great healer, and the brick wall I've spent years banging my head against is tumbling down, taking with it its fruitless pain.

We can never change our past but we CAN change our future.
There are always choices.
I CHOOSE not to be hurt any more.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Meet my heroine

Claire

She's a young, newly qualified teacher embarking on life as an independent adult and escaping the suffocating, intimidating influence of her past for the first time.
Falling in love is one complication that she doesn't intend to have...
...but then she hadn't reckoned on meeting Jon...

Jon

Jon is older, more experienced, and has been through his own tragic experiences.
The difference is, he's made it through to the other side.
He's found peace with his past,
and,
now he's ready to love...

Is Claire ready to face her pain?
or

Will she continue running?

or

Will she allow Jon to heal her with the promise of a future?


Thursday, March 22, 2007

What a difference a critique makes!!

My very lovely CP has given me back my enthusiasm for my book. Not that I've been struggling, struggling, but I started this WIP in the New Year and it's been stop and start all the way ever since. It's left me with 'those' feelings already: Is it boring? Am I wasting my time? Do I have the right voice for M&B Romance... ? You know the ones, they then turn into major collywobbles. I've had them before, but not quite as soon as this - I'm only on Chapter Two.

I didn't think it bode well, and then the other old questions reared their heads: Am I sure I'm even a writer? Am I just toying with the idea...?

But no, thanks to my wonderfully talented CP, my doubts have disappeared. She loves my writing, and she thinks it's right for M&B. Phewwwww!!! I live to write another day :-D.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Casino Royale and Daniel Craig


I have one word to say:
WOW!

And, for the romance and emotion:



Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mothering Sunday

Today it's Mother's Day in the UK. Check out my gorgeous tulips:



I thank God every day for blessing me with two beautiful children.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Here's a question for you...

... taken from Jessica Raymond's Blog:

How Many Have You Read?

  • Look at the list of books below.
  • Bold the ones you’ve read.
  • Italicize the ones you want to read.
  • Leave same the ones that you aren’t interested in.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne Du Maurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Jess has also come up with a wonderful idea about creating...
...the 100 "best" romance novels, ranging from the classics to the bonkbusters to the category romances to chick-lit...
...If anybody's interested in contributing to the list, pop over and leave a comment on Jess's Blog
P.S. Just in case anybody was wondering, I've done my day's writing and finished my rough draft of Chapter One :-D, so this post isn't procrastinating but rewarding myself... honest. ;-)

Health Update

I can't believe how much I've enjoyed the past couple of weeks. Each day there have been minute changes with my health - good changes. Every day I've felt my legs becoming a tiny bit stronger. The 'chair has enabled me to get out in the fresh air, and this in itself has energised me - I haven't felt energised in years because of the chronic fatigue I experience.

Arriving for the first time at my doctors in a wheelchair is still reaping massive results. Suddenly I have access to all kinds of services that in truth I should have been offered years ago. But I won't go into a rant about it, because this is a HAPPY post. Arrangements are in progress for a few adaptations that will make a huge difference to my life (I'm just praying that the landlord - we're in rented accommodation - will agree).

The best bit of all is that I'm now regularly seeing a physiotherapist - one who specialises in neurology. The difference I'm already noticing is nothing short of AMAZING! It's like having my own personal trainer, but one who understands the limitations MS brings. She keeps reminding me that she can't work miracles, but to my mind she already has.

I am trying to stay realistic - I know I won't ever be able to walk very far before my legs want to collapse, but that's okay. My next goal is to be able to use my 'chair to take me the distance and then for me to be strong enough to be able to walk into a shop, because I have to say, there aren't many places that are wheelchair friendly.

The only 'blip' I've had is that I've had a UTI, but antibiotics are already working on that. The family visit happened, and it was nice that I was well enough to enjoy a few trips out to garden centres, etc. And, since yesterday afternoon I've resumed my WIP - again.

My only concern now is that I LOVE feeling this well, and I've got to work on not feeling so devastated when I have the next not-so-good day/week etc. But, that's me just being greedy and wanting every day to be like this.

Well, I'd best stop rambling because I have some writing to do... I hope you've had a good couple of weeks too - I'm planning on catching up with some Blog posts over the weekend.

Sue :-)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Busy, busy, busy...

...and it feels so good!

Firstly, I'd like to thank everybody for taking the time to leave me advice on my previous post - I can't begin to tell you much you've all helped me, THANK YOU!! :-D

Today is the very best Monday I've woken up to this year! The sky is bright (the sun's even shining - I can smell spring in the air), the birds are chirping, and I'm feeling energised.

My manuscript 'Lessons in Love' really has become a Work-in-Progress. I have a few key appointments this week that will have a positive affect on my health. I also have a family member planning on coming to stay for a few days next week... so I'm going to be busy, busy, busy!

For all these reasons I may not be around the Blog-o-sphere very much over the next 10 days, but unlike other times it won't be because I'm unwell, but because I'm busy, busy, busy!

Keep an eye on my word counter - with the help of my new software, my progress may continue to creep up slowly.

Wishing you all a wonderful and productive week.

Sue :-)


P.S. Did I mention that I'm going to be BUSY?!

Friday, March 02, 2007

You too, can help change the world!

This is a blog post I'd meant to write way back in January, until real-life put it to the back of my mind. I'm not even going to try and explain it, instead I'll leave it to the experts. Trust me on this, it is SO easy and a brilliant cause:

World Community Grid's mission is to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity. Our work is built on the belief that technological innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can change our world for the better. Our success depends on individuals - like you - collectively contributing their unused computer time to this not-for-profit endeavor.

Donate the time your computer is turned on, but is idle, to projects that benefit humanity! We provide the secure software that does it all for free, and you become part of a community that is helping to change the world. Once you install the software, you will be participating in World Community Grid. No other action must be taken; it's that simple!
















No other technological breakthrough has demonstrated the power of individuals more than grid computing. By donating your unused computer time, you can begin to change the world for the better.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Am I struggling already?

In a word, YES!!!

I have finally resumed my W. I. P. and already my inner doubts are flooding my mind. I've spent this evening going through a mental checklist:
  • Do I know my characters? Are they grounded in my head?
  • Do I know their back story?
  • Do I know the setting?
  • Do I know where to start the story?
Yes, I know my characters, and I thought they were grounded in my head - that is until I realised I'd been calling my heroine 'Kate' for the past two pages (Kate was my previous heroine)!

Yes, I know their back story, but maybe I haven't lived with it enough.

Yes, I know the setting, but again, maybe I haven't lived with it enough.

Yes, I know where to start the story.

Now the big question: do I know why I am struggling already?
YES! It's all become clear: I'm making the same mistake I always make - I'm far too eager to start writing. I think there will always be a part of me that is a pantser, but there is also part of me that needs something of a planned outline, if for nothing other than to keep those nagging doubts at bay.

Outcome: I need to live with my characters and their story for a little longer. I need to write a more thorough outline for Chapter 1, and I need to give each scene a beginning, middle, and end.

Then, who knows, Chapter 1 may even write itself...