Book Chat

Ava: A Life In Movies by Kendra Bean and Anthony Uzarowski

Photo0190My most treasured gift this Christmas has been this beautiful book about Ava Gardner. It is a glossy book focusing on her film career. It also discusses her early years (which I found most interesting)and her private life.

Some information featured in it I already knew about, but there was much revealed here that I wasn’t aware of. I also learnt a great deal more about her early years, and how she started out as an MGM starlet. 

The book includes so many beautiful photos of Ava, many of which are new to me. The book is worth buying for the photos alone.

Ava’s personality comes through strongly in this book. I have always liked Ava because she was her own person. She was kind, fun, outgoing and she did her own thing. Ava was a free spirit and was someone who was very down to earth, despite her worldwide fame and position in life.

She treated everyone the same; be they cast or crew, adoring fans, or simply an ordinary person who she met by chance. I also like how Ava treated black and white people equally and had many black friends in a time when racism was rife. This book made me like her even more than I already did.

The book also conveys how deeply insecure and shy Ava was. She didn’t think much of her acting talents, and she was also a very private woman who didn’t like media attention. 

Kendra and Anthony have clearly done their research and it really shows. The book is not only beautiful to look at, but is also a very interesting and entertaining read. The book captures the woman behind the beautiful and glamourous screen image and helps bring her to life. I also really like how they focused more on her film performances and acting ability than on her personal life. They show us that there was more to this woman than just her good looks and highly publicised personal life. 

This would make a perfect gift  for fans of Ava, or for someone who loves classic film. The way this book has been put together means it’s ideal to read in a group. You can gather together and flick through the book, lay it out on a table and look through it.

Physically it is a very glossy and high quality book. I highly recommend this one to fans of Ava.

Oh, and be sure to go and stop by Kendra’s beautiful blog Viv and Larry.com to learn more about Vivien Leigh and her husband Laurence Olivier. 

 

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Book Chat

Maddy’s Favourite Books About Classic Era Film Stars: Part 1

Not sure if any of you out there have read any of these books or not. If not I highly recommend them.

These are books that I have grown to love a great deal. I love knowing more about classic stars and their lives. These books certainly let you in to these peoples lives and give you a more rounded view of them.

 

Photo0164 Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing by Lee Server

I love this one because this book lets you see the real woman behind the sex symbol. Ava is an actress who I really like because she didn’t hide herself. Ava was honest, down to earth, fun, passionate and generous; what you saw with Ava was what you got. She was kind to people, and would happily hang out with crew and public; instead of just solely associating with her fellow actors. Ava was a free spirt who would be who she wanted to be, not who others thought she should be. I admire that about her.

This is a fascinating read. Server has clearly done some thorough research to make for a very detailed and interesting read indeed. These pages bring Ava to life. This is one that it is difficult to put down once you start reading. There are some lovely photos of Ava too.

 

Photo0166Bring On The Empty Horses by David Niven

This one is a sheer delight from start to finish. David Niven (always loveable on and off screen)had a real gift for telling witty stories. In this collection of stories we hear about life in Hollywood during the 30’s and later.

David Niven shares stories of his life with fellow acting friends, and actors who he knew socially. We learn a  great deal about the classic stars, and we certainly have a lot of fun whilst doing so. Reading the pages it’s like David is talking directly to you sharing his memories and opinions of his time in Hollywood. A must read. I never get tired of rereading this one.

 

Photo0165The Movie Greats by Barry Norman

The late British film critic, Barry Norman, writes passionately here about various classic stars including Marilyn Monroe, Peter Finch and Edward G. Robinson. He gives us an insight into the private lives and issues of these people. After reading this I feel like I know the people he is writing about. Another must read for classic era film fans. Again, this is another book that you can tell was well researched beforehand. A pleasure to read.

I have many more favourites which I’ll share with you soon. Have you read any of these? What do you think of them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Chat, Romance

Jane Eyre Discussion Part 1: The Novel

It’s time for some book chat. I’ve wanted to write about Jane Eyre for such a long time now. I love this novel so much, so I do hope that you will all indulge me as I first discuss the novel, and then in a future post as I write about my favourite screen adaptation of this classic.

For anyone out there who doesn’t know the story, here is a brief plot description. Jane Eyre is an orphan who is raised by her cruel aunt. Jane is sent to a boarding school that is so bad it is more like a prison. Jane overcomes her childhood horrors and becomes a governess. She is appointed governess to Adele, the young ward of Mr. Edward Rochester, the mysterious master of Thornfield Hall. Rochester falls in love with Jane and does all in his power to make her fall for him in return. Secrets and heartbreak await within the next pages.

Jane Eyre  (hereafter written as JE) was written by Charlotte Bronte, and was published in 1847. Charlotte and her sisters Anne and Emily wrote novels which continue to enthrall readers over a century after they were published.  JE in particular remains a beloved and much discussed classic novel. Why though does this story continue to delight readers today? Why is there still such an interest in this novel?

I think it remains so popular because it is all about finding your soulmate. Jane and Rochester each find that special someone and they become so close it’s like they are one being. Even today we are still desperate to have a person like that in our lives, all desperate to be loved and to be accepted for who we are.

I’m sure it is also so frequently discussed because there is so much within it that is still worthy of discussion and debate. It deals with child abuse, with treatment of the mentally ill, with loneliness and despair; and the novel also has good detail within it about what life at the time the novel was written was like.

The relationship between Rochester and Jane is  very interesting too. Rochester plays with her emotions, he goes after what he wants (her as his love and salvation)and awakens her heart, desires, and passions. Their connection is genuine, and even though it’s partly brought about through his control of the situation, their connection isn’t there just because of his control over their situation.

JE also shows us that true love is not about looks and sex, but about two souls and minds connecting. It lets us see that people should marry for love, not for money, or so that they can bring two estates together. I think that so many of the themes and issues in this novel are still relevant in our world today.

I first read JE in my early teens and instantly fell in love with it. It has become a firm favourite, and it is a novel I can read again, and again and never get bored with. I connect with the lonely, damaged and passionate Jane. I pity and adore the brooding and desperate Rochester. I pity the extremely ill Bertha. I love the time taken to develop the relationship between Jane and Rochester. I smile at the antics of the adorable Adele, and of the loyal Mrs. Fairfax. I hate the selfish Blanche. I want to slap the evil and hypocritical Mr. Brocklehurst(what a loathsome creature he is!)I really feel the growing affection, friendship and romantic attachment between Jane and Rochester.

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I also love this book for the old language. There are many words, objects and phrases etc that I was unfamiliar with before reading the novel. Their inclusion in the novel lead me to go and research what they meant. There are some great words in it that you never hear used anymore, words such as physiognomy for example.

In so many screen adaptations of JE, these old words and way of speaking are not present, I think that’s a real shame as it’s not being true to the novel, or to the time period it is set in. My favourite screen adaptation retains the novels historical language though, something for which I will always be grateful.

If you have never read or watched Jane Eyre, please don’t read any further. Massive spoilers ahead!

Through her novel, Bronte gives us a window into her time, and also gives us a heroine who stays true to her principles, who is a strong, passionate and independent woman. Jane suffered unspeakable cruelty and injustice in her childhood, she did not let that break or define her though.

Jane is admirable for being able to move above and past the horrors of her childhood. She is a shy, gentle and passionate woman who wants to be accepted for her mind and soul, not for money or appearance. Society (even today)places too much importance on looks and status, it is the person inside and our actions that should count most in this world. This novel tackles these issues at a time when they were of paramount importance to all who lived.

The character best remembered from this story by most people, is the brooding master of Thornfield Hall, one Mr. Edward Rochester. Like Jane, Rochester had a deeply unhappy childhood, he wants true love and contentment more than anything else in this world. Despite his marriage to Bertha, Rochester wants Jane, he needs her and wants (and deserves)his own happiness too. Rochester loves Jane and also sees her as his salvation from the awful situation he has found himself trapped within. Some will judge him harshly for wanting to marry a woman despite already being married. 

I on the other hand don’t hate Rochester for that, on the contrary, I pity him and respect him. We see he was not cruel to Bertha, he looked after her very well. He could have just shipped her off to the nearest asylum and dumped her there, but he didn’t. Between him and Grace caring for her she was well looked after, and was treated with compassion and as much dignity as was possible in the time period. She was not mistreated or ridiculed. 

At the asylum Bertha no doubt would have been badly treated and been scared. So he gets all my respect for keeping her at home. Secondly, Bertha was raving mad and  Rochester was told nothing of this when his marriage to her was arranged. How would you react and feel if you were him? He lives a pretty depressing life for years, until the kind, pure and fresh Jane comes into his life. Here is the wife he should have had long ago.

I see no problem with him taking Jane as his wife because why should he remain married to someone who wasn’t even aware of his existence? At least he didn’t try and take Jane as his mistress, he was all set to marry her until Mason showed up. I’m pretty shocked that you couldn’t divorce due to mental illness in those days. I understand the “in sickness and in health”vow, but I think that should only apply if something develops during the marriage, Bertha had a pre-existing condition that was kept from Rochester who quickly discovered the truth shortly after the marriage. Why should he have to stay married in that instance? Plus Bertha’s condition was never going to improve and she was totally mad. 

I’m in two minds about Jane’s reaction when she learns the truth about Bertha. I get that her religious and moral convictions made her think that she had no choice but to leave and not stay and marry Rochester. On the other hand why couldn’t she see what I said earlier? It’s not like he was cheating on his wife, she was his wife in name only anyway, they were not intimate either emotionally or physically. So where is the harm in staying with him?

I’ve read this again recently and picked up on something I never noticed before. It seems like Jane only gives herself one hundred percent to Rochester when he is no longer in control of their situation. At the end he is a blind cripple, he no longer has any dominance in their relationship. He had experience in physical love and matters of the heart, and he played with her early in the story due to her inexperience in these things.

Now he cannot see her reactions to say a kiss they share, or how she reacts on their wedding night the first time they make love. To me it’s like she didn’t like to be seen (at times) and now he can’t see her she comes to him. He can no longer be in control of their intimate moments the way he is at the end ( I know later he regains eyesight.) This doesn’t take anything away from this romantic story, but it does add an aspect to think about. Has anyone else noticed this?

In short, JE is a novel that I never get bored of returning to. It’s well written, descriptive, vivid and moves me so much. Bronte’s characters are as interesting and alive today as they were when they first appeared in 1847.

In my next post I will share my favourite screen adaptation of the novel.

What are your thoughts on the novel? I welcome you comments and thoughts on my observations and views of Bronte’s story. Please leave your comments below.