Daily Archives: December 21, 2019

A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death Book Review

There are two things in life that are guaranteed: death and taxes. Everything else is up in the air.

While death itself is simply explained, everything else around is difficult. A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, by BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger, takes away that difficulty. The book is a step by step process of dealing with death. From the legal and financial paperwork to dealing with the healthcare system, preparing for the funeral and the grief that follows, the book is the complete guide for dealing with death.

I originally picked up this book because as someone who lives with depression, I wanted to get another perspective on illness and death. What I got instead was a book that is tremendously helpful. As my generation gets older and our parents reach the age in which their health comes into question, we will need to deal with issues we have not dealt with before.

While this book cannot completely help with the emotional aspects of this topic, it can help with the legal, medical and logistical aspects that make illness and death just a little easier to cope with.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health

Marriage Story Movie Review

In our culture, there are more than enough stories about falling in love. There are not enough stories what happens we fall out of love.

In the new movie, Marriage Story, Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) have been married for ten years and have a young son. The marriage is falling apart. Charlie is a theater director and Nicole is an actress in Charlie’s theater company.

Knowing that her marriage is at an end, Nicole accepts a job in Los Angeles. Charlie does his best to see their son and keep his life in New York intact, but that is evidently becoming more difficult. They promised that they would keep the divorce as simple and lawyer-less as possible.

Then Nicole hires Nora (Laura Dern). Charlie hires Jay (Ray Liotta) and Bert (Alan Alda). Bringing in the lawyers both helps and hurts the divorce proceedings. The question is, can this couple divorce peacefully (as much as that is possible) or will it become painful?

I have mixed feelings about this film. Based on the experience of writer/director Noah Baumbach, watching this film is almost excruciatingly painful at times. But, I suppose, that is the point. At best, the divorcing couple are mature and come out of it with an adult understanding of their relationship and their relationship with their child(ren). At worst, the divorce devolves into a shouting match and accusations that get worse by the day.

My problem with the film is that while is excruciating for the characters, it is the same for audience. Clocking in at a little over two hours, I feel like the narrative could have been scaled back. There were moments that felt like the end, but then the movie continued on. By the time the credits rolled, I was more than ready to leave this world behind.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Marriage Story is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, New York City

The Mother of the Brontes: When Maria Met Patrick Book Review

It is said that opposites attract. It can also be said that one can learn a lot about a person by knowing who and where they come from.

At first glance, the marriage between Maria Branwell, a gentlewoman from Penzance and Patrick Bronte, a fiery and poor clergyman from Ireland seemed like a mismatch. But if one were to look closer, one would see a marriage seemed almost ideal.

Sharon Wright’s new book, The Mother of the Brontes: When Maria Met Patrick, is the story of the marriage of Maria Branwell and Patrick Bronte. Maria was born in Penzance in 1783 to a prosperous family. Patrick was born in 1777 to a large and poor family in Ireland. Their courtship and marriage in 1812 to some might seem a bit impetuous. By the time she died in 1821, Maria brought six children into the world. Three daughters and a son, Branwell lived to adulthood. Her daughters, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily are revered today as some of the greatest writers of all time.

I loved this book. I loved it because it gave Maria the spotlight she rightly deserves. When we talk about the Brontes, their mother is often a footnote or a line or two. She is rarely given her due as a mother ought to receive. In bringing Maria’s story to life, the reader gains a greater perspective on her daughters and the literary worlds they created.

My only warning is that this book is not for the casual Bronte fan or the average reader looking for another book to read. It is for a reader who is well versed in the Brontes and their books.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, History, Writing