When referring to the Bronte’s, many will often refer only to Charlotte and Emily, leaving the youngest Bronte, Anne out of the picture.
Anne may not be as popular as her elder sisters. But her novels speak the truth about life, in her time and our time, without relying one the more dramatic story telling that exists in Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.
Published in 1848, The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall is the story of two different characters whose lives will eventually intertwine.
Gilbert Markham is a gentleman farmer in rural England and a sought after potential husband by several of the unattached young women in area. A mysterious widow, Mrs. Graham, has recently rented Wildfell Hall. She is unknown to the people in the town, who turn to gossip when she is not so eager to share her past. In reality, she is not a widow, but a young wife, escaping from an abusive marriage with her young son and faithful servant.
In 1996, the book was adapted into a TV movie with Toby Stephens as Gilbert, Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs. Graham and Rupert Graves as the unknown, but abusive husband.
What I enjoy about the book and the movie is that the story is timeless. How many of us has fallen for prince or princess charming and soon after discovered their not so charming qualities? In the 1840’s, marriage was till death do us part. Divorce was rare and if it did happen, it created a scandal. Thankfully, we have laws in place today that protect those trying to get out of abusive relationships. At the same time, it is still extremely common to hear about people who have been injured or died at the hands of their romantic partners.
I recommend this book and movie not just because both are extremely good, but as a reminder of both how far we have come and how far we need to go.
Today is the anniversary of the first day of World War II. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The European Theater of World War II started soon after. The United States waited a year and a half to enter the war. It was not until the Japanese destroyed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, that America sent her sons to fight.
Two questions come up on this 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.
1. I wonder what the leaders of the then free world would say about today’s leaders and their response to world events?
2. I wonder how today’s world leaders would respond to the events that led up to World War II? Would they step up and do what needed to be done or would they use tip toe diplomacy and hope that it keeps some sort of fragile peace?
Oh wait, they did that. The Allies gave Hitler Czechoslovakia in hopes of appeasing him and the Nazis. We all know how that turned out.
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Are you listening, Mr. Obama?
Daniel Deronda is George Eliot‘s (born Mary Ann Evans) final novel. Published in 1876, it blends two different stories with one central character.
Gwendolen Haroleth is down on her luck. Gambling the last of her money away at casino in Germany, she meets Daniel Deronda, a young man who saves Gwendolen by returning to her a necklace she had gambled away the night before. There the story breaks off into two different stories: Daniel’s and Gwendolen’s.
Gwendolen’s mother has recently become a widow for the second time. She takes her children and moves in with her brother. Knowing that she has to marry and marry well, Gwendolen meets Henleigh Grandcourt, an older man with a mistress, several illegitimate children and a less than warm personality. He proposes marriage to Gwendolen and she accepts him, despite knowing that her marriage will disinherit his children and break previously made promises to his mistress.
Daniel has been raised by Sir Hugo Mallinger, a man he believes to be his father. But his heritage and his true parents are a mystery. As he is boating on the Thames, he prevents Mirah Lapidoth, a young Jewish singer from killing herself. Mirah is looking for her family. Daniel through meeting Mirah, begins to connect to London’s Jewish community and answer some questions about his unknown past.
In 2002, Daniel Deronda was made into a miniseries with Romola Garai as Gwendolen, Hugh Bonneville as Grandcourt, Hugh Dancy as Daniel and Jodhi May as Mirah.
I enjoy the book and the movie. In a literary era when the only Jewish character is Fagin from Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, Mirah and her brother Mordechai are drawn as fully formed human beings, with good and bad qualities. The movie has an excellent cast with as much taken from the book as any adaptation from novel to the screen can be taken.
I recommend both.
Judith Tarr is known for her historical fantasy novels. Her 2004 novel, Queen Of The Amazons intertwines historical facts of Alexander The Great with the myth of the Amazons.
When Hippolyta, Queens Of The Amazons gives birth to her first daughter, there is hope among the clans. This is to be their future queen, the woman who will one day lead them into the future. But the child, according to many in the clan is born without a soul and therefore unworthy of her birthright. Selene, the niece of the late seer, who has her own gift of the sight, takes charge of the child, who has been named Etta.
Years later, when Etta has become a young woman, news of Alexander, King of Macedonia has made it’s way to the Amazons. Determined to be in the presence of this new king, Etta travels to his land with her mother and protector right behind her. It becomes clear that Etta and Alexander’s fates are somehow entwined, when Hippolyta’s vengeful niece, Phaedra returns to once again make a claim on the throne that she believes is hers.
The reviews on Amazon are mixed and to be fair, I have not read any of Ms. Tarr’s other books, so I can only vouch for this book. I do enjoy this book. It may not be 100% historically accurate, but that’s okay. Sometimes you need a good book to take you away from the world you live in and temporarily transport you to another place and time.
I recommend this book.