World on Fire Character Review: Robina Chase

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Losing a spouse is difficult by itself. Losing a spouse when your children are young is immeasurably harder. On World on Fire, Robina Chase (Lesley Manville) has lived most of her adult life without her late husband. Raising her son, Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) alone, she has ambitions to see him do great things in life.

But like many young men, Harry and his mother do not see eye to eye. She is almost relieved when he takes a job in Poland as a translator. But that does not mean she approves of his choices, especially when it comes to women. Lois Bennett (Julia Brown) is a local girl who Harry has been seeing for some time. After breaking up with Lois, Harry’s new girlfriend is Kasia Tomaszeski (Zofia Wichłacz), a young woman with who he met in Warsaw.

When Harry returns home after the invasion of Poland, he is not alone. He has come with his young brother-in-law. Robina is not happy with her new charge or that Lois is carrying her future grandchild. But the coming war and the changes to her life will open this woman’s once cold heart after years of tucking it away.

To sum it up: Robina is a woman changed by circumstance. First, by the early death of her husband, and then by the changes brought on by the war. It is through those changes that she reveals the loving, giving heart underneath the formerly cold exterior.

Which is why she is a memorable character.


Pretending: A Novel Book Review

The romance genre has been part of our literary world since the creation of stories. It is therefore, up to every writer to do what they can to make their particular narrative stand out.

Pretending: A Novel, by Holly Bourne was released in November. In her early 30’s, April is living a relatively normal life. But there is one thing she longs for: a boyfriend. Every relationship April has had up this point has ended in heartbreak.

Her way of dealing with this is to create an alter ego: Gretel. Gretel is everything that April wishes she was. Via a dating app, April/Gretel starts chatting with Joshua. After one dating dumpster fire after another, it finally looks like April has the romantic life she has longed for. But, she also knows that she will have to tell Joshua the truth eventually.

Some books hook you right away. Others take a little time to pull the reader in. Pretending: A Novel falls into the second category. I liked this book and I liked the main character. April is not your average “someday my prince will come” romance novel heroine. She is real, complicated, and has a past that is not completely dealt with. Adding elements of the #Metoo movement and mental health issues beefs up the narrative, elevating the overall novel from your typical modern romance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Flashback Friday: Look Who’s Talking Now

On the surface, Christmas (or any holiday) is about family, food, and being with your loved ones. But, as we all know, this simple message is not always clear.

The final film in the Look Who’s Talking trilogy is Look Who’s Talking Now (1993). Taking place several years after Look Who’s Talking (1989) and Look Who’s Talking Too (1990), the family has grown. But so has their troubles. Mollie (Kirstie Alley) has lost her job due to the recession. James (John Travolta) has achieved his professional dream of becoming a pilot. Their children, Mikey (David Gallagher) and Julie (Tabitha Lupien) are now school aged.

The narrative kicks off with the arrival of James’s new boss, Samantha (Lysette Anthony). Samantha has eyes for James that go beyond the professional realm. Meanwhile, the family reluctantly adopts Rocks (voiced by Danny DeVito) and is forced to temporarily take care of Samantha’s dog Daphne (voiced by Diane Keaton). With Christmas coming, will they be together or will circumstances pull them apart?

I personally think that this movie is adorable. Though it fits neatly in the Christmas movie genre, it is neither too cutesy, schmaltzy, or over the top. There is just enough comedy and the message of being together for this time of year that makes it a pretty good watch in my book.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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