Intergenerational family stories are a genre unto themselves. What makes one narrative compelling or another boring depends on the writer ensuring that all of the threads weave together to create a coherent and engaging tale.
No Country, by Kalyan Ray, was published in 2014. The novel starts in a small town in rural Ireland in 1843. Brendan and Padraig have been best friends since they were young. As it usually happens when we are on the cusp of adulthood, the boys are torn apart by blossoming and confusing romantic feelings. Padraig is unaware that his girlfriend, Brigid is carrying their child, when he leaves for the city to fight for his nation’s independence. Instead of returning home, he makes a dangerous mistake that sends him instead to India.
Back in Ireland, Brendan is raising Padraig and Brigid’s daughter, Maeve as his own child. When the potato famine struck, he decided that it would be better to start a new life in America. As the years pass and different branches of the family tree come into being, questions of identity, politics, and history play with the fate of their descendants.
The book started off well enough. I was drawn into the narrative and the character’s struggles. The problem is that about 2/3rds of the way in, I got lost. I can’t put my finger on what went wrong, but for whatever reason, the story lost its momentum. While I did finish it, the ending left me with an empty feeling.
*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the movie. 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..
Being a working mother is never easy. The scales between parenting and raising the next generation can seem like they will never be balanced. In A League of Their Own, Evelyn Gardner (Bitty Schram) has been forced by her husband to take their son, Stillwell (played by Justin Scheller as a child and Mark Holton as an adult) on the road with her. Evelyn is a bit of an indulgent mother, attempting to keep Stillwell from getting into trouble with multiple chocolate bars while on the bus in between games. To say that this does not go over well with her teammates is an understatement. She also allows Stillwell to taunt the team, which also gets under the skin of the rest of the women.
Evelyn is also an emotional softie who does not respond well to criticism from her coach, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) when she makes a poor decision on the ballfield. But that does not mean that she is weak. Evelyn has a backbone that allows her to be a trailblazer, as both a working mother and a female athlete.
To sum it up: I think we, as an audience, underestimate Evelyn. She may appear to be a softie, but underneath that softness is a will of iron that is not often associated with women from the period. The truth is that we, as women have had it all along, we just needed the opportunity to show it.
Martha becomes an unlikely hero for democracy as she realizes that her husband is in on the scheme and does everything she can (in her own way of course), to save the nation and her man.
What I am enjoying so far is that the spotlight is not on the usual suspects (i.e men), but on the women whose heroic acts are either ignored or downsized. I also like that Martha is unwilling to stay silent in the face of truth, even if it means opening the door to trouble. The acting is fantastic, the storytelling (so far at least) is easily watchable, and the politics is a reminder that even though it’s been 50-ish years, nothing has changed.
From a young age, women are taught that above all else, we should have children. While being a parent is a joy, it is also a 24/7/365 job that does not let up until the younger generation has left the nest.
In the book, Dornath interviews a group of mothers of various ages with children who are also of various ages. While they come from different backgrounds, their commonality comes from being referred to as “Mom”. She explores the complicated feelings that these women have toward their status and their offspring, in addition to the question of if they would do it again if they had a choice.
I found the book to be illuminating. It reveals how complex this issue is and how often our feelings are ignored just for the privilege of larger societal acceptance and conformity. I think it behooves us to listen to the women in our lives, as without them, humanity will cease to exist.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Regretting Motherhood: A Study is available wherever books are sold.
We all tell ourselves lies. It is part of human nature. What it comes down to at the end of the day, is the effect the lies have. It is just for ourselves or will they create figurative ripples that also affect others?
Recently, two major figures in the Republican party once again proved that they are cowards, fakes, and liars.
Meanwhile, Marjorie Taylor Greene has taken the stand to defend her comments in regard to that day. Voters in her home state of Georgia are looking for legal avenues to prevent her from running again. Her answers to the questions by the prosecutor were largely “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall”.
It is suspiciously curious that when forced to admit the truth, these people have either selective memories or profess that publicly verified remarks are untrue in one form or another. I know that no one is perfect, but, the reality they live in is not just their own. It has the power to affect the entire country not just in the present, but for decades to come.
No one gets through life without a few bumps in the road. The only question is if it holds up back or makes us stronger.
The TV moviebiopic, Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back (2000), tells the story of the late singer and actor. Marvin Lee “Meat Loaf” Aday (W. Earl Brown) was born in Texas to a loving mother dying of cancer and a father who was far from parent of the year. As a young man, tormented by his father and peers due to his size and decided to strike out on his own.
Fate would lead him to an audition for a musical where he met future music partner Jim Steinman (Zachary Throne). Together, they would create Bat Out of Hell, which has become one of the best-selling and most respected albums of all time. But while Meat Loaf had incredible career success and a happy family life, his demons were not too far behind him.
As I recall, I enjoyed watching it. It reveals both the highs and the lows in a way that is entertaining without being too heavy, kitschy, or predictable. In telling Meat Loaf’s story, I would hope that members of the audience find the courage to overcome their own demons.
While Kempton teases the police by sending clues, he offers to return the painting on the condition that the government will take greater care of its elderly citizens. When he finally returns the portrait and has his day in court, the trial becomes much more than it was expected to be.
I love this movie. Broadbent and Mirren are at the top of their game. What makes this film special is that it is a reminder that one person can change the world, even if they don’t have the logistics quite down. It has humor, it has heart, and it is simply a good reason to go to the theater.
Prosecuting the case is Kate Woodcroft (Michelle Dockery). Though she appears to be randomly chosen to represent the government, her connection to the case is much closer than anyone would guess.
Holy shit. The tension in this series is so thick that it could be cut with a knife. What starts out as a straightforward story morphs into twists and turns that made my mouth figuratively drop. Though I have never read the book (or even heard of it until I watched the on-screen adaptation), I am tempted to read it. The narrative is a roller coaster ride that is a thrill to watch and a unique way to explore a topic as tempestuous as sexual assault.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Anatomy of a Scandal is available for streaming on Netflix.
I'm a retiree in his seventies. That may not be significant to many, since there is a bunch of us Baby Boomers around. However, in the year 2,000, when I received a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, I expected to be dead in three to five years.