All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Helen Alderson

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 television show All Creatures Great and Small. 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.

There are two ways to get through life: complain endlessly or just get through it. Though complaining has its place, it takes much less time and energy to just deal with the cards that life has dealt you.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name), Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton) comes from a long line of Yorkshire farmers. Since the death of her mother, Helen has both taken the duties of farming and being the surrogate mother to her much younger sister Jenny (Imogene Clawson). Born and raised in this world, she is practical, intelligent, and just does what needs to be done. She is more than capable of getting behind the wheel of a tractor or rangling an unruly animal.

That does not mean that Helen is a tomboy who despises wearing dresses and putting on makeup. When the occasion arises, she is just as comfortable in a dress and heels as she is in overalls.

She is also the object of affection for two different men. When we originally meet Helen, she has been with Hugh Hulton (Matthew Lewis) for quite a few years. They have grown up together. The next natural step in their relationship is the ringing of wedding bells. Hugh comes from a wealthy family and would be able to provide for Helen and her family.

But there is someone else waiting in the wings. James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) is a newcomer to the area. He nearly instantly develops a crush on Helen and is devastated that she is spoken for. Though he respects the fact that she is in a relationship, James never wavers in his love for Helen. Eventually, Helen and Hugh go their separate ways. It takes some time, but James does eventually propose. She accepts and all appears well for their future.

But neither knows that World War II is waiting in the wings, threatening to turn their world upside down.

To sum it up: Though Helen is the romantic lead, she is not defined by the two men who want to be with her. She is her own woman who can clearly take care of herself and her family. It is that levelheadedness that allows modern women to relate to her but still keeps her grounded in the period that she lives in.

Which is why she is a memorable character.


Where the Crawdads Sing Book Review

Combining genres is never easy. It takes a skilled writer to effortlessly blend each genre while making sure that the narrative is cohesive and easily understood by the reader.

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens, was published in 2018. Coming of age in the 1950s and 1960s, Kya Clark had to raise herself. Reviled by her neighbors in the small southern town she calls home, she is called the “marsh girl” and learned early on that the only thing she can rely on is nature.

In late 1969, local boy Chase Andrews is found dead. Many suspect that Kya is behind the murder. Like many rumors that are not based on fact, these people have no idea who the real Kya is. Though she has been independent since she was a child, the now adult Kya is ready for the possibility of romance. Two young men enter her life. They both make promises of love and devotion. What she does not know is that she will learn some hard lessons and be accused of taking one of their lives in the process.

Part murder mystery, part coming-of-age tale, and part ode to the natural world, this book is amazing. Kya is one of the best female protagonists that I have come across in a long time. She is intelligent, sensitive, strong, and fearless. Her bravery in light of the lies told about her and the accusations by law enforcement is mindblowing.

One thing I really liked was Owens highlighting how destructive racism and prejudice was and still is. This is represented by the only black characters, Mabel and Jumpin. They own the local general store and are one of the few people in town who are in Kya’s corner. Like Kya, they know what it is like to be ostracized and hated. Unfortunately, this small, but important narrative thread is left out of the film.

What got me was the ending. It made me question if I really knew Kya and if the jury perhaps made the wrong decision.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Where the Crawdads Sing is available wherever books are sold.

The Reaction of the Men to the Simulated Period Pain is Priceless

When a woman is in a certain mood or not the easiest to deal with, the joke the men often make is asking if it is our time of the month. Though they may think that it is an innocuous statement, they have no idea what we go through.

Lux Perry, CEO, and founder of the company Somedays is challenging this idea. The videos below speak volumes.

The best part starts at 5:59

Though it is easy to laugh at their experiences, the truth is that it is not funny.

“The average person with a period misses nine days of work a year, and up to 80 per cent of people with a period say that even if they’re at work, they’re not able to be as productive or engaged,” Perry said, explaining that stigma compels some to lie about why they’re missing work, for example.

Those with endometriosis are also often forgotten, Perry says, as many who are diagnosed with this disease that affects the uterus can experience chronic pain that is often mistaken for period pain. According to the Endometriosis Network Canada, in their lifetime 1 in 10 women and girls, as well as an unmeasured numbers of transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse individuals, will be diagnosed with endometriosis.

“Endometriosis is one of the most painful diseases in the world and is regularly mistaken for period pain; so what that says to us is that a lot of people are experiencing extreme period pain,” Perry said.

When those days come, I would love to lie on my couch in the fetal position with a cup of water and a bottle of aspirin nearby. But I can’t. I have to go to work, I have to take care of my errands, etc.

Until you walk in another person’s shoes, you cannot understand what they go through and therefore, cannot make a change for the better. My hope is that with this perspective, the men around us (specifically political and business leaders) will do their part to make our lives just a bit easier.

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