Monday, December 31, 2012

My brother's take on Les Mis

My seven-year-old brother, known at times on this blog as Jerry (not his actual name) plays with his Legos almost every day.  He has a folding table set up in his bedroom on which he keeps his Legos, and when he builds things with them he likes to have a continuous live soundtrack playing at all times.  This is often manifested in the form of appropriate sound effects (plane crashes, zooming motorcycles and the like) but he frequently uses music as well.  Today I was coming down the hall and overheard him singing songs from Les Mis at the top of his lungs.  It was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I fetched my camera and took a stealthy video of him singing all the parts to "One Day More," a capella of course.  I thought some of you might find it entertaining, so I'm sharing it here.

(Note: my brother did turn around at the end of the video, a segment I've cut out so his face won't be on here, and instead of being mad at my filming him without his knowledge, merely grinned at me and launched into a rousing rendition of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" while making faces for the camera. However, I prefer candid videos to have as unstudied an air as possible--that is, it's not as cute when he's just hamming it up-- so I'm not sharing that part.  Anyways, I just wanted to say that so y'all knew he has no problem with being filmed.  :D)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I dreamed a dream...

In January 2012, I 'met' Les Miserables, the musical.  My first exposure to it came in the form of a trailer on IMDb, an advertisement for the Broadway touring cast.  Why that was on IMDb, I do not know, but I came across it while looking in vain for a movie version of the musical and I watched it all the way through.  Six times.

I was hooked, you see.  Especially that song "Do You Hear the People Sing?"  It played through my head all day after I saw the trailer, and nothing would do but to order the Original Broadway Cast Recording and the concert DVD from the library.  Naive being that I was, I assumed that the 25th Anniversary Concert would be better than the "old one," so I thought I put that edition on hold-- but some library person made a blessed mistake (or else I did) and it was the 10th Anniversary Concert that came instead.  

So I listened to the soundtrack... and then I watched the concert... and if I hadn't been hooked before, I was then.  News of the movie reached my ears soon after, and all year I followed the progress avidly.  I desperately wanted to see the play at some point, but what were the odds of the touring show coming anywhere near me?  Pretty slim.

Until August, that is.  Until August, when I randomly decided to search online and see if the play might be traveling to a near location sometime soon-- doubting that such a thing would happen, of course.  But lo and behold... it was.  "Sometime soon" was January 2013 and a "near location" was Philadelphia (which isn't all that near, haha... and I'm not telling you where I live, by the way) and "insanely excited" was me.

After that, a lot of things happened.  Things such as getting a job (not expressly for the purpose of seeing Les Mis :P), saving up money, purchasing tickets to the show as a Christmas present for my sister, telling friends and swearing them to secrecy, dying to write about it on my blog but knowing I couldn't because my sister reads my blog...

...and, well, it all culminated on Christmas morning when Anne-girl opened a card from me that informed her we were going to see Les Mis.  Live.  On stage.  IN JUST A LITTLE OVER A WEEK.

She burst into tears, by the way.  And I almost did, too.  

And now?  Now we're bouncing around the house singing ONE WEEK MORE! Because on Thursday, January 3rd, almost exactly a year after I was first introduced to one of my favorite stories of all time, my sister and I will see it live on stage in a really-truly theater.

Somebody pinch me, please.

Monday, December 24, 2012

God Is Not Dead, Nor Doth He Sleep

I heard the bells on Christmas Day their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.

Every Christmas, tragedy strikes somewhere.

(Talk about an attention-grabbing opening line, yes?)

I know I sound terrifically morbid when I say that, but morbid or no, it's absolutely true.  Truth is morbid sometimes.  And the truth is that many people suffer from hurt, pain and loss at the holiday season.  Of course, pain and loss come all year round--they're not just confined to Christmas--but sometimes it seems to me that it all becomes much more acute at Christmastime.

I'm not just rambling here-- I speak from experience.  My family has lost many relatives at Christmastime over the years, and it seems that every year we know someone who's suffering a loss of some kind.  We all know about the unspeakable tragedy that took place in Connecticut a few weeks ago.  And we ask why? Why do these things have to happen at all, let alone at a time that's supposed to be so joyful?

Then in despair I bowed my head.  "There is no peace on earth," I said.
"For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men."

Peace on earth?  Can we truly sit calmly in churches and sing serenely about such a thing when there are wars and rumors of wars in the Middle East, when loved ones are dying and kindergartners are being murdered?  Seriously?

It was as if an earthquake rent the hearth-stones of a continent, 
And made forlorn the households born of peace on earth, good will to men.

And yet where in the familiar passage from Luke does it say that the "peace on earth, good will to men" is from men?  Where does it say that Christmastime brings peace to all people comes from people?  Where does it say that war will cease and tragedy will cease and death will cease at Christmastime?

It doesn't.

Rather, the angel's words go like this: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." The good will toward men is from God in the highest, a supreme act of good will manifested in sending His Son to an undeserving race of sinners.  Nowhere in the Scripture does it say that Jesus' birth marked the end of suffering in this world.  No, in fact, Jesus Himself clearly stated in John 16:33, "In this world you will have tribulation."

How cheery.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

And yet...

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, "God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.
"The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men."

It's all right there in that one little phrase: God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.  When the Son of God was brutally killed and put in a grave, He did not die forever.  He rose again to bring the second part of John 16:33-- "...but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world."

This world is filled with evil.  Evil brought on by the human race, evil continued ever since the Fall in the hearts of men.  True peace on earth will never come by human workings.  Good will to men from other men is paltry at best.  Only God can make the wrong fail and the right prevail.  Only He can turn weeping into dancing.  Only He possesses the oil of joy for mourning, for He came to preach deliverance to the captive and bind up the brokenhearted.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here.
And drive away the shades of night
And pierce the clouds and bring us light.
Rejoice, rejoice!
Immanuel has come to thee, O Israel.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

And the Winner Is...

I shall not try your patience, lovely readers, with much ado about nothing, so without further deliberation I present to you the winner of Monday's giveaway-- the fortunate blog reader who has been honored with an autographed copy of Annabeth's War by our very own Jessica Greyson.

*trumpets, please*

Let us all congratulate...

Padmé Arya Éowyn Istalrí Skywalker!

Padme, please send me an email at your earliest convenience to missdashwood95[at]gmail[dot]com with your shipping information, and I will forward it to Jessica so she can get your autographed book mailed off! Congratulations!

To all those of you who did not win (and there are quite a few of you... eighty-five entries in total, wow!): you can still obtain a copy for yourself on Etsy or Amazon.  Annabeth's War would make a great Christmas present...

A big thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway, and the biggest thank you of all to Jessica for sponsoring it!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Little Letters - December Edition

Little Letters have popped up on so many blogs recently, and I've been charmed by the idea but until now hadn't gotten around to doing any of my own.  Perhaps I'll make this a monthly thing, perhaps not, but at any rate I'm labeling this post as the December Edition in case I ever do another one and want to keep the posts straight.

Dear Christmas,
How can you possibly be just four days away?  December flew by so terribly fast-- in a way I loved the hectic-ness (hecticity?) of it all, but I'm also glad things are slowing down now.  In fact, very glad.  :D

Dear Etsy,
I would like to request that you stop being so fascinating.  I do not wish to be perpetually broke, and if I continue browsing your shops with such avidity, I will be.  Well, of course, I could exercise restraint and not purchase anything. (Yes, thank you, Mary.)  Which is what I've been doing because I currently am pretty much broke.  But... yeah.  Release your hold upon me, Etsy.

Dear Renaissance Tailor,
You are a lifesaver, did you know that? Fitted bodices have always been the equivalent of Beechen Cliff in my mind.  (That's the literary alternative to Mount Everest, FYI.)  Your instructions are so easy to follow--and now I'm recommending your site to all my blog followers.  Voila, it's the hyperlinked salutation at the beginning of this letter.

Yes, yes, this is a movie poster, but it's prettier than any
of the book covers.

Dear Les Miserables (the book),
You are amazing.  I mean that in the most literal sense.  You still can't beat Jane Austen's novels for overall wonderful-book-ish-ness, but you are probably the most powerful story I've ever read.  I'm awed.  And even though I have five-hundred-some pages left, I don't want you to end.

Dear Hugh Jackman,
Please do a fantastic, stupendous, incredible job with your part as Jean Valjean in the Les Mis movie.  From the clips I've seen so far, you're going to be pretty great (aside from the voice that's not as strong as some might like... ahem...).  But please, be phenomenal.  You owe it to Victor Hugo, to Boublil and Schonberg, to  all the Mizzers everywhere and especially to Colm Wilkinson.  Which brings me to...

Dear Colm Wilkinson,
You are still the one and only Jean Valjean.  Period.  End of story.  To me, you will always be the face of Les Mis, no matter what Hollywood has to offer. (But you're a great Bishop Myriel, too.)  And I'm glad you're being such a guiding presence in the making of the movie.  I like what Cameron Mackintosh said about the figurative and literal passing of the candlesticks... but in my mind, you're still THE Valjean.  Always.

Dear Music Man,
(That's what I've decided to call you, you see, because "the adorable baby I take care of every week" is too long to type out on my blog every time.)  You have no idea how grateful I am that you've finally accepted me, that you don't scream when your mom leaves the room anymore, and that you're even trying to say my name.   I completely melt every time you hug me with your little one-year-old arms; you know that, right?  Little Drummer Boy always makes me think of you now-- I love how you try to sing along whenever we listen to it together!

Dear Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Tea,
You are the best alternative to hot chocolate--indeed, any kind of hot drink--that I have ever met in my entire life.  Please continue to exist forever.

Dear A Christmas Carol (1984),
You are now on my list of favorite Christmas movies.  Thank you for sticking to the book.  That's a rare thing in this day and age.  (Okay, so you're twenty-eight years old... but still.  It's a rare thing.)  I'm planning to review you soon, I really am.  

Dear Irish Tenors,
Thank you for recording some of the best Christmas albums ever.  Er, some of the best albums ever, bar none.  If you wouldn't mind releasing another one (or several...) sometime soon, I would be very much obliged.

Dear Eddie Redmayne,
Michael Ball is still the best Marius ever.  Period.  End of story.  And yet I've become so reconciled to your role in the movie that I'm almost willing to say you're going to be just as good.  Is this rank heresy?  Because you seem to be capturing everything about Marius that was in the book and didn't make it into the concerts.  I can't wait to see the whole thing-- and from the wee snippet of your Empty Chairs that appeared in this video, I think you're going to be splendiferous.  But Michael Ball still sings better, okay?  Okay.

Dear Jeanne Birdsall,
Please hurry up and write the fourth Penderwicks book.  My sisters will back me up in this, I know.  Only do leave out the whole Rosalind-and-Tommy hoopla.  It's unnecessary and is in great danger of becoming the object of ridicule in my family.  Much obliged.

Dear Margaret Hale,
I can't believe I ever said you were one of my least favorite literary heroines.  I apologize.  On bended knee, no less.  Daniela Denby-Ashe did a great job of portraying you in the miniseries, but nothing compares to your depiction in the pages of North and South.  You are one of those people who appear to best advantage in the book, and I'm so glad I finally re-read yours.  I truly feel that I understand you now. I regret to say you're still not up there in my top five, but you've moved into the top ten, and I apologize for previously not considering you much of a heroine.

Dear video editing,
You are a pain in the neck.  I will never have a career in movie-making, and that you may tie to.  Don't get me wrong, I'm truly glad my siblings and I were able to make videos as Christmas presents for our grandfathers this year.  But when you have eight characters appearing in one scene of Much Ado About Nothing with just five actors playing those eight roles... ay yi yi yi.  The amount of shooting, stopping, changing positions, getting unruly little brothers to stand still on their masking-tape floor marks, and then all the cutting and pasting at the end... let's just say this was a one-time-only venture.

Dear siblings,
Thanks for being such good sports in the abovementioned ordeal.  You have no idea how great you all are.  I'm looking forward to our newly-made tradition of a Christmas Eve slumber party together--and it's so cute how some of you are so incredibly excited about my first exposure to Eugene and Connie when we listen to Adventures in Odyssey early on Christmas morning.  I can't wait!

Yours &c.,
Miss Amy Dashwood

Monday, December 17, 2012

Interview With An Acclaimed Authoress {and a giveaway!}

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Today, lovely people, I have the great honor of hosting an authoress in our midst! Miss Jessica Greyson, author of the newly-released Annabeth's War and writer of the delightful blog Safirewriter, has consented to an interview here at Yet Another Period Drama Blog in celebration of her new book.  I started reading Jessica's blog about six months ago at my sister's recommendation and I've been hooked ever since... so will you be, too, once you get a taste of this girl's writing!

You have no idea how insanely excited I am that you're releasing Annabeth's War... what was the prompt to launch your own self-publishing project? 

 I've dreamed of being published ever since I started my first little stories. My plans were to go through a traditional publisher and become rich and famous…er…something like that. Maybe not the rich and famous part, but at least published. I've had a few mentors along the way and shortly after I finished my first real novel (I Am Louisa) I happened to attend a seminar given by Denis Hensley. After that first seminar I was positive I was ready to meet the world and be published (please forgive my ignorance - this was about five years ago I KNEW NOTHING). However as I began editing I became discouraged, and after sharing the first chapter with someone whose opinion I highly valued, I was crushed and just went back to scribbling. 

Through the years of my scribbling I kept secretly stuffing and waiting for that single moment and opportunity in time where the light would simply burst open and shower me with a dream come true. Anyone who knows what makes dreams come true knows it's a four letter word, called work. So I started working on my own dreams, researching hours on the internet different publishing companies and agents, but things kept turning me off to one thing or another. I couldn't find someone or someplace that I liked or I didn't have to write that nasty horrid cover letter too. (Which I totally understand, it makes perfect sense - but the amount of unfinished ones on my lap top is simply horrifying). During this time I stumbled across the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild which was just shy of promising that by the time you finished their course you'd know everything you wanted to know about the publishing world and most likely be published. I jumped at the opportunity. To say the least I was disappointed. I came away from my lessons disappointed and nigh penniless and further from realizing my dreams than I thought possible. Long ago I had avowed I would never ever ever ever self-publish. But you know what they say…don't ever say never. (Okay it's "Never say never" but I like it that way better).

Through winning NaNoWriMo in 2010 I received a delightful ability to publish one of my own books. The delight of holding my own copy was far more gratifying and delightful then I thought it could be. I wanted more but… I didn't want to pay for it. However the lovely Katherine Sophia found out a special deal going down at Lulu. You could publish any book for free and just pay the shipping. Needless to say the two of us went nigh crazy with publishing our works for our personal libraries. Through the writers group I attended sporadically I started noticing groups and tendencies. There were the published, the unpublished, and the self-published. The unpublished was my personal boat at which helm I sat mutely watching those around me. Most people wanted to be published traditionally…(who doesn't), yet the whole procedure daunted them (okay it daunted me). Then the published…their publisher wasn't doing anything, had put it under a different title than they originally planned and now the book didn't sound like it made sense, changed the text to their dissatisfaction, the cover was all wrong or boring, problem after problem. I glanced at the self-published ship, in it were the kind of people who give self publishing well…a bad rap? Then I glanced back down my ship…in it were well, people running in circles, who rewrote their work over and over again and sought perfection constantly only to find it really was yet beyond the horizon. I jumped ship, and boarded self-publishing full steam ahead. Because self-publishing doesn’t have to have a bad rap, and done right it can be very effective in the publishing world. So that is how I landed in self-publishing my works. I get to retain my rights, and have full control of what happens to my little darlings.

Love what you said about self-publishing not having to have a bad rap! I concur.  Wholeheartedly.  :D Can you remember where the idea for Annabeth's War first came from? I know for some novels this is like asking "can you remember your first thought when you were a baby?'...

Annabeth's War is a story that lay in the back of my mind for quite some time and under several disguises. The Mask of Margurite was the original idea I had written in a note book and three of the characters defiantly stemmed from there, however Ransom certainly had his own ideas of how the book should go, and it morphed accordingly.

Having not yet read Annabeth's War (though I'm dying to) I'm a bit ignorant... Can you give a really quick summary of the plot? 

The king is away at war and Annabeth, daughter of a master swordsman, is fighting for the life of her father, Prince Alfred and her country. Will she save them, or will she fall beneath the power of Lord Raburn and his men?

Which character in AW are you the most apathetic about? (The favorite character question is soooo hard to answer so I'm skipping it.) 

 I love this question. Hmm, most apathetic about. There are about three characters that have taken that seat but the one who steals it best would probably be Lady Christina.

What was the most stressful part of the story to write? 

Probably the dungeon scenes, let's just say lots of tears were shed.

How long did it take you to write AW from beginning to end? Like, from first inspiration to final dying gasp---er, last edit? 

A little less than a month to write from when I settled down to write it to when I wrote the last word. From start of story to last edit…it's been 21 months.

I know you're a voracious writer... how long have you been scribbling like this, would you say? 

I've been writing seriously for about five years now and have slowly picked up and dropped speed to about a book a year overall. My peak was before I was doing a lot of working, and I pulled off 3 books in 4 months (which felt supremely epic). However it has dropped considerably and I write a few thousand words a month when I get the chance.

What's one book you would recommend to everyone reading this post (other than AW and the Bible? :P) 

I am going to go on my old fallback for this one - there are SOOO MANY WONDERFUL Authors to recommend, however one author I always feel safe saying to just anyone is Lois Walfrid Johnson. She spins some pretty amazing and lovable characters and stories.

Is there a particular piece of music that you listened to obsessively during AW's creation? 

There were several pieces of music that defined Annabeth's War but the one that I listened to the most would be Hero by Heather Dale, which happened to be forwarded by Katherine Sophia to me shortly after I started Annabeth's War.

Are any portions of AW drawn from real life? Would you care to share an example (or two)? 

Annabeth is purely a work of fiction; the only thing from my life that I placed in this story was the truth I learned that all things really do work together for good, no matter what it is.

The book's cover is fascinating! Did you design/draw the cover?

 The cover was created by Louie Roybal. He did such an amazing job with it I am floored and tickled beyond pink. Working with creating a cover for Annabeth's War was very difficult for me. So often when people tell me about their novels I catch an INSTANT image of several ideas and the creation comes about, however with my own works it can be hard at times to come up with something because I see so many images at once. So after briefly sketching out what I imagined my ideal cover to look like and taking a few pictures of my little sister (she is the silhouette on the banners). Louie and I did some chatting, and took his creative bent to work and created a gorgeous cover.

Annabeth is a lovely name! Did she just sort of choose her own name and you had no say in the matter, or was it a name you'd always liked and wanted to give to a character? Or none of the above? 

Coming up with a name for her was difficult. Ransom knew he wanted his name instantly but coming up with hers' took more time. I actually wrote the first chapter just referring to her as she and her, before we came up with it. We were wavering between Anne or Anna and Elizabeth neither which really seemed to fit her exactly. Ransom said he wanted to call her Beth for short so after a little bit of thinking the inspiration to combine the names struck and name Annabeth was created and fit her perfectly.


Thank you, Jessica, for consenting to be interviewed today!

And now I have a special surprise for all of you (okay, if you read the title of this post it's not really a surprise...).  In addition to the interview, Jessica has kindly agreed to give away one free, autographed copy of Annabeth's War!  How cool is that?  If you're as anxious to read it as I am, here's your chance-- and if you've already read it, I might add that a lovely signed copy of this splendid book would make a delightful Christmas present for a friend.

To enter, you must be a follower of both Safirewriter and Yet Another Period Drama Blog (insert little star thingy that says You Are Here).  In order to earn entries, you can...

  • Follow both our blogs [Mandatory entry - 2 points]
  • Share about this giveaway via whatever social media you use: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blog button, etc. [2 points for each of these, and be sure to leave a comment with a link]
  • Write a blog post to promote this giveaway [5 points]
  • Write a review of Annabeth's War (only if you've read it already...) and post it to or Goodreads [10 points]
Don't forget to leave a comment on here for each entry! (If you write a blog post or a Goodreads/Amazon review, however, you can just leave one comment for each of those and I will add the correct number of points to your tally.)

The giveaway will close Friday, December 21st-- so get crackin'!  Oh, and here is the button you can use for the second entry option:

Yet Another Period Drama Blog
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Yet Another Period Drama Blog"><img src="" alt="Yet Another Period Drama Blog" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

P.S. Jessica is hosting me at her blog for an interview/giveaway today as well, so hop over and take a peek!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Take Time to Watch the River

I'm writing this post to tell you all, bluntly and apologetically, that the Wives and Daughters read-along is going to be postponed until further notice.  Which is to say, until after Christmas at the very least and probably until the end of January if I am not much mistaken.

The simple fact of the matter is that I am just too busy.  And stressed.  Lots of stress.  This holy tide of Christmas is supposed to be a time of comfort and joy, of spending time with friends and family, stopping to enjoy the lights on the tree and sitting before a crackling fire.  It's not a time for stress.  And though hosting a read-along for a really thick novel isn't necessarily a stressful thing, it can become one when it's combined with...

...editing and truncating Much Ado About Nothing to make a Christmas-present-video for one's grandfather
...memorizing lines for said video
...acting in said video
...editing said video
...frantically finishing various sewing projects that have to be done by the end of this week
...keeping up with schoolwork
...babysitting a precious little boy each and every week
...working on Christmas presents for various friends and family
...planning and preparing for an American history class that one is going to begin teaching in January
...attempting to keep up with e-mails from friends (doing rather poorly on that one)
...spending relaxed and appreciative time with one's family, one's friends and one's Heavenly Father

The last item the most important to me this time of year, and you know what?   If I want to do that, something's gotta happen now and something's gotta give.  And that something is blogging.  Or at least read-along blogging.

I committed to doing the read-along back in August, I believe, when I was laboring under the delusion that December would be a month of light schedules, with plenty of time to devote to W&D.  I was wrong. (Yes, thank you, Mary.)  So though a post or two of a Yuletide-ish nature may pop up on here before the end of the year (and I do hope they will), and though this blog may sport a new header sometime in the near future (and I do hope it will) I cannot promise any kind of regularity in blogging, and I must announce the pause of the read-along.  Because I want to feel like the picture at the top of this post.  And right now, I'm not quite feeling like that.  My emotions &c. are rather more along these lines.  :P  So I am calling a halt.  For now.

I know you all understand.
Thank you.  I really mean it.  Thank you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

W&D Read-Along: Mr. Gibson {chapters 1-15}

As I said in the opening post, I know basically nothing about read-alongs: how to host them, how to attend them, how to participate in them, what to feed them or when to put them down for a nap.  It strikes me that some sort of recap of what has been read each week might be agreeable, however, so I intend to post my thoughts every fifteen chapters.  (Or... thereabouts.  It is Christmastide, after all, and those things known as schedules have gone topsy-turvy.)

I finished chapter fifteen (the end of the first reading segment) on Monday evening-- a task which should have been accomplished on Saturday, but one cannot do everything.  I'd forgotten just how much I love this book.  I maintain that a book is almost always better the second time around--the first time, you're getting familiar with the characters and learning the story.  But the second time, it's like coming back to an old friend.  The stiffness and lack of acquaintance is gone, and you can thoroughly enjoy yourself without having to bother about wondering what's going to happen next.  That is the way I'm enjoying W&D this time around.

This time, one character in particular stood out to me in the first chapters.  Molly is, of course, the heroine, and Cynthia and Mrs. Gibson will play a major role as the story goes on (it's called WIVES and DAUGHTERS for a reason...) but Mr. Gibson, Molly's father, caught my attention and held it tight from the very beginning.  I first read W&D in November of 2010, and it was Mr. Gibson's character that hooked me, reeled me in and made me anxious to read more of the story.  Of course as Molly got older and the story began focusing exclusively on her, I began to appreciate her as the heroine, but it was her father who first appealed to me.

And yet Mr. Gibson gets a bad rap.  At least, he does where my two youngest sisters are concerned.  "He's mean," Laura always says, wrinkling her nose.  "You know the part where he yelled at Cynthia?  Yeah.  He's mean."  In her defense, she's only seen the 1999 miniseries--and though I think the miniseries does an excellent job of portraying each character, the book is always better.  (Can I get an amen.)  My sister Molly, who is reading the book, doesn't think much of him either. "It's not that I don't like him... it's just that I don't like him, if you know what I mean. He's just so... strict."

Is he really?  I say... no.

Whatever they may be in the movie, in the book Mr. Gibson's thought processes are vivid, apparent and sensible.  His reaction to Mr. Coxe's underhanded attempt at wooing Molly seems a bit harsh in the movie, maybe, but in the book it gives you a nice triumphant oh-yes-go-get-him-Mr.-Gibson! sort of feeling.  And though he's firm in squelching the first flame in Mr. Coxe's tambour amour, he's not cruel about it.
...and then [Mr.Gibson] paused over the address.  "He'll not like Master Coxe outside; no need to put him to unnecessary shame."  So the direction on the envelope was Edward Coxe, Esq.
~chapter five, Calf-Love
Oh, and did anyone notice that Mr. Coxe is a red-headed young man, which can easily be abbreviated as r.h.y.m.?  He's almost a rhyme--but never a poem.  (Identify that quote and you will receive a pretend hug.)

Mr. Gibson could be (and has been...) criticized for his lack of feeling toward Molly.  I disagree.  Sure, he calls her a goose and tells her he's sending her off to Hamley Hall to get rid of her.  It's called affectionate sarcasm, peoples.  Mr. Gibson isn't mean-- he's a first-class tease.  The names he calls Molly are terms of endearment, not means of ridicule.  My dad has a special pet name he's called me since I was a baby--I love it when he calls me by it, but if anyone else tried to use it, I'd probably be insanely annoyed.  Name-calling is a dad's prerogative.  It's not a bad thing.  Trust me.

Okay, so now you're probably wondering when I'm going to get to the real question.  The one about... you know... Her.  Hyacinth Clare Kirkpatrick.  The Self-Centered One.  The Evil Stepmother.  The Scourge of Hollingford.  (okay, maybe the last one's a little strong...)

Why on earth would a man as sensible, level-headed and good-hearted as Mr. Gibson marry a woman as frivolous, narcissistic and butterfly-brained as Mrs. Kirkpatrick?

I asked this of several friends a while ago in a list of tag questions-- the answers were manifold and varied, but they almost all came back to the same points in the end.  He was lonely.  He needed a wife. He thought she was nicer than she really was.  He wanted Molly to have a mother.  

And though none of these answers fully satisfied me at the time (sorry, mes amis...) I've come to accept them after reading this first section of W&D.  Because I think that's really all the explanation we have.  There's one other reason, one that no one stated in the tag (to the best of my knowledge), one that's far more dull and prosy than any of the others.  It is this: Mrs. Gaskell needed a source of conflict for Molly to make the story flow properly.  

See, I told you it was dull and prosy.  We'll forget it as soon as we can.

At any rate, I will never pretend to completely understand Mr. Gibson's reasoning in marrying Mrs. Kirkpatrick (very little is told us about his thoughts in this area... sad, that), I'm not going to puzzle over it any longer.  Was Hyacinth Kirkpatrick the best choice for him?  Probably not.  Was he aware of what he was getting himself into?  Perhaps not.  Did he make the best of a less-than-ideal situation? Yes.  And that's a really big part of the reason I like and admire Mr. Gibson so much.  Some men might have taken out their annoyance at having procured such a wife on the wife and the daughters, yet Mr. Gibson doesn't.  Oh, sure, he drops a few rude remarks here and there, and when Cynthia gets herself (and Molly) into trouble later on he doesn't waste words in telling her what he thinks.  Yet, to quote Edmund Sparkler, I still say he isn't a bad old stick.  He acted in his daughter's best interests (or what he thought were Molly's best interests) and when it turned out rather worse than he'd hoped, he went on philosophically and didn't let Her bother him.

So yes, I like Mr. Gibson.
What do you think?
There! he had done it--whether it was wise or foolish--he had done it; but he was aware that the question as to its wisdom came into his mind the instant that the words were said past recall.
~chapter ten, A Crisis

(Don't forget, chapters 16-30 this week!)

Friday, December 7, 2012

This Is Better Than An Opera! {Insanely Long Les Mis Post}

Well... obviously.  Les Mis is always better than an opera.  I'm not bashing opera--I really like opera--but Les Mis is better than pretty much every other kind of musical entertainment, ever.  

But if you've been hanging around this blog for any length of time, you already know that.

Yes, I'm dumping another load of movie stills on y'all again, if only because it's practically impossible for me to look at these without wanting to SHARE THEM WITH THE WORLD.  So voila.  More pictures from the movie for you to drool over-- and would you believe it, these are only a select few.  I forced myself to just choose my favorites (and forced myself even harder not to just throw my arms wide and say ALL OF THEM ARE MY FAVORITES) so that reading this post doesn't take your entire computer time.  

Well, actually, it might, depending on how long your computer time is, but I'll do my best not to keep you too long.  First, let's gush over the poster that you may observe on your upper left.  How gorgeous is that?  I thought the one I had at the end of the last Les Mis picture-post was my favorite, but I've since changed my mind.  This one is the best of the best.  And it's a French poster to boot.  Fitting, non?

On to the movie stills (which are in no order whatsoever, and which may contain comments of mine own writing that will spoil the story for you, so be forewarned and forearmed).

"Let others rise to take our place until the earth is FREEEEEEEE!"

At this time I do not choose to reveal to the public just how many pictures of Marius-on-a-horse that I have saved on the computer.  You would probably laugh at me if you knew.  But seriously, is this not the epitome of the whole do-you-hear-the-people-sing thing? He even LOOKS like he's singing.  So does the horse, for that matter, or at least nodding along to the music, but that's beside the point.

"Don't think about it, Marius, with all the years ahead of us...
I will never go away and we will be together every day."

To be quite honest, I find this shot (presumably from "Every Day") about fifteen times cuter than the looking-through-the-bars bit in "A Heart Full of Love," and if you knew how much sighing I did over that teeny clip, that's saying a lot.  

"And none shall ever harm Cosette as long as I am living."
One of the teensy weensy complaints I have about most of the stage Fantines is that they just look too doggone healthy during "Come to Me."  I will not be making this complaint about the movie Fantine.  Part of the reason is that Anne Hathaway seriously does look like she's dying, and part of the reason is that I'll be too busy bawling my eyes out in this scene anyways.

"You would live a hundred years if I could show you how.  I won't desert you now."
While we're on the topic of sad songs... I literally squealed when I came across this picture, and it's not a squeal-y kind of scene.  But it happens to be one of my top five favorites in the entire musical (which is saying a lot, because I tend to say they're all my favorites...)  No rendition of this heartwrenching song will ever be as fantabulous as Michael Ball and Lea Salonga's, but I still have high hopes for Samantha Barks' and Eddie Redmayne's portrayal.  Won't it be nice for poor Samantha to finally have a co-singer who does this scene properly?? I mean, think about it.  She suffered through Nick Jonas' whining in the 25th concert, Gareth Gates' "WAKE UP FISHY" version on the West End... and NOW she'll finally be able to do full justice to it.  "And then, do you know, Monsieur Marius... I believe I was a little in love with you." (That one's from the book... I do wish it could have made it into the musical.  Because she never actually says "I love you" to his face in the musical, you know.)

"From the table in the corner they could see a world reborn."
I spy Fra Fee (just behind Marius, in the red jacket) and I think Alistair Brammer might be the dude on the extreme left, but I'm not completely sure.  (Anyone who has more knowledge of the West End cast than I do is encouraged to enlighten me.)  I've said it before and I'll say it again-- I LOVE how the director, the production designers, the what-have-you are making such an effort at being as faithful to the novel as possible.  This room looks just exactly as I pictured it from reading the parts about the ABC cafe.  To a T.  Oh, and take a good look at Enjo's waistcoat, peoples, because I have a sinking feeling that that's the closest we're going to get to the Legendary Red Vest of Power and Awesomeness. *wistful sigh*

Cannot get over the extreme cuteness of this picture.  I believe it's a publicity shot and not actually a still from the film, but I don't care.  The look on her face of complete trust and adoration--YES.  Some of the stage Cosettes, from what I've seen, appear indifferent to Valjean or even a wee bit afraid of him, but I like this portrayal much better.  In the book she sees him as an angel that dropped from heaven (a metaphor that appears several times) and you can totally see that in this picture.  Oh, and I like his coat.  :D

"He let me eat my fill. I had the lion's share.
The silver in my hand cost twice what I had earned..."
So I saw THIS picture and went, "It's YOU!" and all but hugged the computer screen.  Not at Hugh Jackman, silly, or Mademoiselle Baptistine for that matter.  Nope, the affection was all directed at the one and only Jean Valjean Bishop Myriel.  I thoroughly enjoyed Earl Carpenter's take on the bishop in the 25th concert, but I think I can safely say that Colm Wilkinson will blow him out of the water.  I cheated and read the entire script for the movie (hey, Universal Pictures made it available to the public! I couldn't resist!) and I promise I'll give nothing away, but I will just hint that the bishop has rather a bigger part in the movie than he did in the original stage production... and I'm as thrilled as could be.  You will be, too, when you see what I mean.

By the by, I am really, really pleased with Valjean's convict look.  I wish he had kept the beard for the later scenes, because I think it makes him look more like the real Valjean Colm, but I've become reconciled to his appearance.  What I'm not so sure about is his rendition of Who Am I?  Watch some of it here and then let me know what you think, if you would be so kind. 

"And they rose with voices ringing, and I can hear them now,
the very words that they had sung..."

The first picture I saw of Aaron Tveit as Enjolras was such a crushing disappointment that I was on the brink of refusing to have anything else to do with the movie.  I still can't stand his hair. And I still wish his voice were on the level of Ramin Karimloo a little stronger.  But I no longer shudder at the idea of his playing Enjolras, and there are a multitude of reasons, but one of them is this picture.  It's the look in his eyes.  Think back a moment, if you will, and try and remember if Michael Maguire or Ramin Karimloo ever showed any signs of fear in their portrayals of Enjolras.  To the best of my recollection, they didn't.  They both acted the part of the all-fired, charismatic revolutionary who led a devoted band of followers to their deaths.  Don't get me wrong, I'm quite certain Aaron Tveit's going to do that too.  But I also think he's going to bring another dimension to the character, one of the scared little boy deep down inside Enjolras' shining-noble-I-will-defeat-everybody-and-bring-justice-to-the-world exterior.  Even heroes have their moments of terror.

"And first of all," said Enjolras, "let us hoist the flag again!" He picked up the flag which had fallen just at his feet.
They heard from without the rattling of the ramrods in the muskets; the troops were reloading.
Enjolras continued: "Who is there here who has courage? who replants the flag on the barricade?"
Nobody answered.  To mount the barricade at the moment when without doubt it was aimed at anew, was simple death.  The bravest hesitates to sentence himself, Enjolras himself felt a shudder.  He repeated:
"Nobody volunteers?"
~Volume Four- Saint Denis, Book Fourteen-The Grandeurs of Despair, Chapter One- The Flag: First Act

"I know this is no place for me.  Still, I would rather be with you."

The barricade is all I ever could have wished.  A fellow Mizzer pointed out to me a while ago that they manage to make it look towering and exciting yet still so pitifully tiny in the grand scope of Paris and the mighty National Guard.  The story of how the barricade was made is even better.  I read this interview with Eddie Redmayne: "It came to building the barricade and there were 50 peasants, there were 30 students, and Tom Hooper had 5 camera men dressed up as peasants with the cameras wrapped up to camouflage them. He put 10 minutes worth of film on the camera and he was like, 'All right, build a barricade. Action!' We were like, 'What?' And suddenly pianos were falling from above, wardrobes were flying about. It was the most anarchic, sort of terrifying, adrenaline fueled 10 minutes." Which is exactly how the barricade was built in the book (minus the cameras &c.).  Which is why Tom Hooper just went up about fifty points in my estimation.

I just love behind-the-scenes pictures, and this one is cute.  :D Is that Marius with Eponine?  Because it doesn't really look like him... plus, he wears a plaid waistcoat for the barricade scenes.  I do appreciate how they actually put Eponine in boy's clothes for these scenes-- the trench coat and Gus Pike hat get the meaning across on stage, yes, but they aren't terribly believable.  Especially not when she has shoulder-length hair tumbling out from under the cap.  Hello?

"...we may be easy pickings, but we've got some fight..."
I hate to admit this.  I really do.  But... I'm seriously disappointed in Gavroche.  He looks nothing like the Gavroche in my head, for starters... which isn't necessarily a bad thing because I've been known to be horrified at an actor's appearance and then become quite reconciled to it. (Cough cough, Eddie Redmayne, cough cough.)  But in the few pictures I've found of Daniel Huttlestone, I see none (or very little) of the swaggering, devil-may-care bravado that he exudes in the book and on stage.  Picky as it may sound, I don't think either Adam Searles (who's going to be a traveler at The Sergeant of Waterloo!  Woo-hoo!) or Robert Madge got the part quite right in the concerts.  I've seen about as many versions of Gavroche as there are on YouTube, and IactuallythinkNickJonaslooksthemostliketheGavrocheinmyhead.  *runs into barricade to hide*

In all seriousness, though, I still haven't yet seen a Gavroche who was just right.  I could be wrong about this one, of course... but I am never wrong.  (Don't you just love how Princess Bride quotes fit every occasion?)

"Marius.  Dude.  If you want to hit the target, the water pistol has to go UP.  It's physics."
"Okay, Enjo."

Sorry.  But that's what I think of every time I see this picture.  :P

"Please take this letter to Cosette and pray to God that she's still there..."
Actually I think in this picture Marius is reading the letter FROM Cosette, not HIS letter TO Cosette.  Yep, they've changed that bit... with mixed feelings on my part because something else has been changed as well.  It's more book-accurate now, which is good, but a small part of a certain character's sacrifice has been changed, so... I'm not sure how I feel about it.

"Cosette... now I remember.  Cosette... how can it be?"
I can't emphasize enough how high my hopes are for Samantha Barks as Eponine.  I'm almost afraid she's going to boot Lea Salonga off her pedestal as Best Eponine Ever in the History of Theater.  Several aspects of Eponine's role have been slightly altered--for one thing, "On My Own" is sung in Act One, before "One Day More"--and one other big thing has been changed (to match what happened in the book...) and I'm throwing confetti because of it. (Hint, hint... just imagine "Little Fall of Rain" becoming even more heartbreaking, 'kay?)  Oh, and do you want to see a wee clip of OMO?  Of course you do.

"Have you asked of yourselves, what's the price you might pay?
Is it simply a game for rich young boys to play?"
This is my favorite picture of Enjo so far--my Tuppence-like intuition tells me it takes place during "Drink With Me."  (I'm actually just guessing... I have no idea.)  The haunted expression on his face, the solemn looking back over what's happened... I sometimes forget just how much responsibility Enjolras bore on his shoulders.  He was the one in charge, the leader of all those schoolboys who were never told that a summer day could kill.  When you remember that Enjolras was barely twenty in the book (and seemed so much younger that people thought him only seventeen), it makes it all the more poignant that he took on himself the task of bringing so many others together to sing the music of a people who would not be slaves again.

"What a pity!" said Combeferre.  "What a hideous thing these butcheries are! ...Enjolras, you are aiming at that sergeant, you are not looking at him.  Just think that he is a charming young man; he is intrepid; you see that he is a thinker; these young artillery-men are well educated; he has a father, a mother, a family; his in love probably; he is at most twenty-five years old; he might be your brother."
"He is," said Enjolras.
"Yes," said Combeferre, "and mine also.  Well, don't let us kill him."
"Let me alone.  We must do what we must."
And a tear rolled slowly down Enjolras' marble cheek.
~Volume Five- Jean Valjean, Book One- War Between Four Walls, Chapter Eight- The Gunners Produce a Serious Impression

"If I have to kill you here, I'll do what must be done!"
I'm not quite sure how I feel about having a sort-of sword-fight in the Confrontation scene.  I've never seen that song performed outside of the concerts, in which they don't do any physical fighting, but from what I've read this part is usually performed with a fistfight.   Which I think just seems to fit the song better.  However, though Valjean gives himself up to Javert in the book, there IS this little wee part:
There stood in the corner of the room an old iron bedstead in a dilapidated condition... Jean Valjean went to the bed, wrenched out the rickety head bar--a thing easy for muscles like his--in the twinkling of an eye, and with the bar in his clenched fist, looked at Javert.  Javert recoiled towards the door.  Jean Valjean, his iron bar in hand, walked slowly towards the bed of Fantine.  On reaching it, he turned and said to Javert in a voice that could scarcely be heard:
"I advise you not to disturb me any more."
~Volume One- Fantine, Book Eight- Counter-Stroke, Chapter Four- Authority Resumes Its Sway

"Would you weep, Cosette, should Marius fall? Would you weep, Cosette?  For me?"

"Marius was a romantic stereotype," Eddie Redmayne said in a fantastic interview for Vogue.  (go read it!) "So we went back to the book and found all these moments that showed he was more than just a guy running down the street singing about his love."  While the whole "guy running down the street singing about his love" thing is really more West Side Story than Les Mis, I am very pleased that the movie's interpretation of Marius seems to be a blend of his idealistic puppy-love and his firebrand patriotism.  Hold your ears, Puddle, for I am about to commit heresy, but I think Michael Ball didn't quite convey everything about Marius' character.  His interpretation in the 10th concert shows Marius' heart-full-of-love side, but not as much of his begone-or-I'll-blow-up-the-barricade side.  This is mostly the producers' fault, I think, for not including "The Second Attack"--that is, Marius' blow-up-the-barricade moments DO occur in the musical, just not in the concerts--but I'm glad to see that the book's Marius is going to get better treatment from the director in the movie.  And the heart full of love will most certainly not be neglected-- go here to melt into a puddle (aka watch a bit of the Cosette and Marius scene).

(The opinions expressed above do not reflect any kind of negative opinion whatsoever about Michael Ball, his acting ability, his voice, et cetera and should not be taken as such. Furthermore, Eddie Redmayne publicly stated that he considers Michael Ball the ultimate Marius.  So there, Marilla. :D)

I am still not overly thrilled with Russell Crowe's voice.  (There.  I said it.)  I agree with Petie that he's going to make an awesome Javert nonetheless (the nonetheless is mine, not hers), and with Rachel that perhaps the clipped, restrained way of singing is actually better for a man such as Javert, but I'm still kind of wishing that Norm Lewis could have been hired to dub his voice.  Because that would have been phenomenal.  Take a look at this scene and tell me what you think.  My first reaction was "How dare they change the lyrics?????" but on the whole it's quite good, even with the messed-up words.  My approval has been given.  

Also, is it just me or does Russell Crowe actually kinda look like Philip Quast?  Minus the beard, of course.  And I'm not so thrilled with his hat... I prefer the classical bicorn but you can't have everything.  The coat is fabulous.  We will leave it at that.

Eighteen days more until the public gets to see it! On a scale of Javert-at-Fantine's-arrest to Marius-at-the-barricades, how excited are you?

Monday, December 3, 2012

W&D Read-Along Kick-Off

Welcome, everyone, to the Wives and Daughters December read-along, in which Miss Dashwood freely acknowledges that she has no clue what the Gaskell she's doing, and in which she prepares to just fudge her way through and hope no one notices.

Because seriously.  What DOES happen in read-alongs?  I've never hosted one.  Iv'e never even participated in one, for Pete's sake.  So if someone wants to shoot me an email (see my Other Locations page--which has been revamped, by the by) and give some suggestions or advice, that someone (or someones) will be heartily welcome.

For now, though, I'm on my own.  *resists urge to burst into song*  So I am doing things in my own way.  Which means... scattered ramblings.  And nonsense.  Hey, have you ever noticed that in the rain the pavement shines like silver and all the lights are misty in the river?

As the hostess of the read-along, I guess it's my prerogative to give reading assignments, so... I'm dividing the book into four sections of fifteen chapters each (there are sixty chapters... yes, this is a tome).  So for this week, let's all read chapters 1-15 and then next Monday we can discuss it and start the next part.

I'll confess, I haven't actually begun reading yet.  I should have done so on Saturday but I had a million relatives in my house and we were baking Christmas cookies and playing Trivial Pursuit.  Plus, Melody and I launched the P&P95Forever Club that day (if you haven't yet checked it out, you should).

If you're still reading this post in hopes that something fascinating is going to happen, you may as well go read something more interesting, because that's about all I have to say.  More posts will be coming later this week as I actually begin reading the book and have things to talk about.  (And I'll expect you to do your part, darlings, which means commenting and talking about things too.)  I see this read-along as being somewhat like a bunch of friends in a coffee shop... informal, laid-back, with lots of laughs.  And everybody ordering something different.

Because hey, we're all going to be reading the same book, but we're each going to have a different perspective on it.  Some of us have read it before.  Some of us are experiencing it for the first time.  Some are going to love it and some may finish it with an "ehhhh" feeling.  But we won't know until we try, and that's why I'm so very excited.  I'm one of those who's read it before, and I'm looking forward to diving into the story again--with all of you.  Seriously, it's really fun to read a book with someone (especially when it's your second time around)-- you end up learning things you never knew you never knew, because no two people will look at Wives and Daughters in the exact same way.

So... happy reading!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

In Which I Explain My Scarcity Around Here Of Late

Hey, look! It’s Richard Armitage! Yeah, over there!


But we had to get your attention some way.  So kindly look back here, and forgive us for fooling you—oh, wait, you’re wondering what the “we” is all about?   “We” refers to Melody and Miss Dashwood, and Melody and Miss Dashwood have an announcement to make.  Which may very possibly include ice cream, so we would like to have your attention.

(Note: There will probably not be ice cream.) 

We would like to announce the formation of a musical club, with regular meetings at yours or mine—erm, whoops, wrong club.  We would actually like to announce the formation of the P&P95Forever Club, and you are all invited to join.

Now, right about now some of you are probably clasping both hands to your hearts in a squeal of utter joy at the thought, some of you are glaring and scowling most ferociously, while others of you are saying, “Wait, what?  The P&P95Forever Club?  What’s that?”  Let us endeavor to expline, or if you aren’t accustomed to our Eliza Doolittle method of speech, we shall explain (while the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain). 

Last year, Miss Dashwood wrote a seemingly innocuous review of Pride and Prejudice (1995), hereinafter referred to as P&P95 so we don’t have to bother with italicizing it.  In the aforesaid and abovementioned review, she made a brief joke about how she did not think Colin Firth smiles enough as Mr. Darcy, and hoped that the members of the P&P95Forever Club would not come at her with their DVDs at the ready.  A joke, nothing more than a joke.  (After all, she's a child, only a child.) Melody read the post and left a lengthy comment, as per, in which she only laughed a little over "the Club thing," but tucked the title away in her brain, and at some later point (we are not sure when) mentioned to Amy that a P&P95Forever Club would in all seriousness be quite a marvelous thing. We agreed to begin a blog together, but not just any blog. No, this one would be extra-special—it would be a clubhouse, a place for fans of P&P95 to congregate and learn more about their favorite miniseries. 

In June 2012, the great task began.  Together, we began organizing our information, deciding how much to include and where to find our facts.  We began collecting quotes, looking up dance instructions, researching the actors’ other works, organizing links, et cetera and so forth.   Believe us when we say it was a lot of work.  (And perhaps you will accept this as a partial excuse for our lack of posts lately.)

And now, finally, the P&P95Forever Club is opening its doors.  We do not think it is necessary to explain that we think P&P95 is the definitive adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and that we will stick to this opinion with our last breath, unless the BBC makes another, better, truer-to-the-book adaptation which is highly unlikely. We realize that not everyone shares this opinion, but hey, if you don’t, you are under no pressure to join the Club.  But if you do agree with us that P&P95 is the best on earth (excellent taste you have, by the way) we invite you to join the Club (visit the Become a Member page so we can send you a member button.

If you are a relative newbie to P&P95, do not despair!  One of the purposes of this new site is to provide fans with everything under the sun that they might wish to know about P&P.   At the P&P95Forever Club you will find everything from trivia facts about the production to pages and pages of screencaps to instructions for dancing those lovely dances in the ball scenes.

This blog, however, is not intended to be a stagnant one-visit website.  No, indeed, for we intend to keep it hopping with new posts, games every week, polls and throwdowns and perhaps even opportunities for you to make an appearance! 

So please, go explore the blog!  And while you’re there, have compassion on our poor nerves and leave a comment.  This is the express wish of our esteemed patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and besides which, it adds greatly to our own happiness. 

See you there!
 ~Miss Dashwood and Miss Marianne