Monday, 7 November 2011

What Would Jane Do...

One of the main factors I loving books and reading as much as I do is because of Jane Austen. I have been a fan since a very early age and can clearly remember my very first Austen purchase. I was at primary school and must have been nine or ten. My class had been marched to our local secondary school to attend a book fair, each pupil armed with a voucher to put towards a new book. While friends were buying Roald Dahl or Jacqueline Wilson, my chosen book was Emma by a certain Jane Austen. I remember my teacher being very surprised! I don't know why I bought it, but the cover somehow appealed to me. It took me a while to read and I didn't understand the full wit at that age, but I still enjoyed it and have been hooked on her work ever since.

It was also around that age that I enjoyed watching the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Since then I have read the book too many times to remember and the DVD is still my favourite way to spend a wintry evening, curled up with a blanket, drinking hot chocolate. P&P is my favourite Austen novel. I love the range of colourful characters, the witty dialogue, the locations and the feistiness of Miss Elizabeth Bennett. I have read so many spin-offs including the love it or hate it Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the seaside set Prawn and Prejudice and Amanda Knight's Mr Darcy's Diary. I even have an interactive adventure called Being Elizabeth Bennett and a personalised version featuring my name rather than Elizabeth's!

It's not just Austen's most popular novel I love though. Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, although about common themes such as relationships and status all feature strong female characters and prove that Austen was a brave writer, way head of her time. Her protagonists are women who all want to shape their own future rather than depending on family and marriage and reflect Jane's own thoughts and feelings, not being as independant as she wanted to be.

As well as the novels, my Austen bookshelf includes her short stories The Watsons and Lady Susan and unfinished novel Sandition, plus a collection of letters to her sister Cassandra which give a great insight into her life.

One of my favourite places is the lovely Jane Austen Centre in Bath, which features in my opinion, the best shop in the world, full of books and Austen merchandise, much of which is now in my house! My ultimate ambition is to take part in the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, prancing around in regency costume! I also love visiting Austen film and TV locations, my favourite being Basildon Park, Netherfield in the Oscar winning film starring Keira Knightley.

My love of all thing's Austen will continue throughout my whole life. I love the books, fashion and language and discovering new adaptations. Next on my list to read is PD James' Death Comes To Pemberley and I look forward to finding out more about Jane's amazing work.   

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Great Snakes! It's Tintin!

I have never been a fan of Tintin and have not read any of the books, but the trailers for this motion capture release have really caught my attention over the last few months. I was not disappointed. With such a great production team including Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson and writers Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Steven Moffatt, plus a cast including Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig and motion capture actor extraordinaire Andy Serkis, it really could not have wrong!

The begins with Tintin purchasing a model boat - The Unicorn - much to the disgust of some unknown enemies. The boat is stolen, but the secret message stays with Tintin, who leans that only a true 'Haddock' will lean the meaning. He soon meets the last remaining Haddock, the Captain of the ship he is kidnapped on and a fast and furious adventure soon begins taking place on the high seas and in parched deserts.

The most impressive thing about this film for me was the technology. The attention to detail is amazing. At some parts I totally forgot it wasn't a live action film and in other parts it worked really well as it helped to make some of the death defying stunts not so unbelievable as Tintin, Captain Haddock and Snowy are thrown around some amazing landscapes. 

A couple of scenes that were highlights for me included the opening sequence, as the identity of Tintin is slowly revealed at a London market place, as he is having a portrait done (a great comic moment of the final product being the orginal Tintin image) and then walking past a line of mirrors, each one revealing a different view of his face. The other one included the hapless Thompson twins, finally finding a wallet thief, but not actually realising it, thinking his large collection is a hobby rather than the result of a long career of pickpocketing. But for me, Snowy really steals most of the scenes as the very clever, loyal and brave sidekick to Tintin. His relationship with a vicious guard dog Rottweiler is very sweet.

There were some sequences that I did lose a little interest in as they went on too long, especially Haddock's visions of his Grandfather's story and I wasn't expecting the film to be so slapstick, although the children in the screening seemed to love it! There are plenty of jokes for the adults though, mostly surrounding Haddock's alcohol addiction, which does come in handy when he provides much needed fuel for an aeroplane!

Overall, I really enjoyed this film and am looking forward to the planned sequels. There were times that it felt like an Indiana Jones adventure, not a bad thing! It has definitely encouraged me to read the original stories, and with the box set on special offer at my local Waterstones, I may just be doing that...!

Watch the trailer here

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


Welcome to my 'blog'! This has been on my list of things to do for a long time now and finally I have got round to doing it! First of all an introduction... I admit I am an addict. I am addicted to books. I cannot walk past a bookshop without walking in and browsing for a long time, I cannot resist a bargain and I love the smell and feel of old books. As a result, my current reading pile is towering at 20+ varied books. They range from brand new releases, to 'classics' from the popular to the obscure, fact and fiction and shiny new buys to charity shop steals (not literally!)

I read and write a lot of reviews on websites such as Amazon and Waterstones and thought I would like to collect all of my thoughts in one place, keep a record of what I read and find out what other book obsessives are reading and recommending. From now on, free time committing, I am aiming to share what I am reading, critiques of books and various other musings on books and authors. I started a book group earlier in the year, which is proving difficult to find enjoyable, thought-provoking reads for the variety of members, so tips from any other book clubs would be welcomed!

I will also delve into the world of film and theatre with a literary connection (I work in theatre, so may also give an insight into the odd production!) and also occasionally give reviews on any exhibitions, or events in London which I think followers may enjoy.

I look forward to discovering blogs and making friends while on my world wide web journey, but right now it has been a long day so I think it is time to have a bath, make a cup of tea and curl up on my favourite chair with my current read.

Bye for now!