The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).
I apologize for not posting last week. I had other writing that had to be done.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. 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.
We all have dreams. What happens when those dreams clash with what our parents want for us? In Sanditon, Young Stringer (whose legal name is James) (Leo Suter) wants to be an architect. He and his widower father, known as Old Stringer (Rob Jarvis) work for Tom Parker. While he dreams, Young Stringer knows that it will take work and drive to get to where he wants to be. He also comes home to a father who would prefer that his son set his sights a little lower.
Encouraged by Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), Young Stringer sees a professional future outside of Sanditon, even with the stringent class structure that could hold him back. He also develops feelings for Charlotte, who is equally ambitious and not afraid to get her hands dirty. But she leaves him in the friend zone.
After an accident disables Old Stringer and then a fire kills him, Young Stringer decides to stay in Sanditon, even after being offered an apprenticeship that could open doors for him.
To sum it up: Young Stringer is a young man with heart, enthusiasm, and a bright future. The question is, where does that future lie? In making that decision, he proves that success on one’s own terms is possible, even with the obstacles in his way.
As expected, the clash itself does not come from the couple. Ezra’s parents, Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Arnold (David Duchovny) are liberal, white, and tone-deaf. Amira’s parents, Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long) are trying to understand why their daughter has chosen to marry outside of her faith and culture.
While Ezra and Amira are doing their best to keep their love alive, outside forces may tear them apart.
Co-written by Hill and Kenya Barris, the movie tries to address the cultural and religious issues that come between the characters. Instead of bringing these questions to the forefront in a way that makes the audience laugh and think at the same time, it falls flat on its face.
The worst aspect of the film is that anti-Semitic stereotypes are thrown around like a football. The most offensive of these is the adulation of Louis Farrakhan and the spreading of the lie (which has been proven to be false) that Jews dominated the Atlantic Slave Trade. As an MOT (member of the tribe), I am offended and disappointed that Hill took the easy way out. It’s one thing that if the story would have been entirely written someone who was not Jewish, that would have been an objectionable act by itself. But the fact that Hill is Jewish makes it ten times worse.
The shameful aspect is the misuse of the comedic leads, Murphy and Louis-Dreyfus. These two performers by themselves are legendary in their own right. And yet, they are relegated to tropes that are 2D and stilted.
Do I recommend it? No. I don’t say this very often, but You People is one of the worst films that I have ever seen.
Sometimes, life throws us a twist when we least expect it. What matters is if we choose to go along with that twist or pretend that it never happened.
Fiona Davis‘s 2020 novel, The Lions of Fifth Avenue, starts in 1913. Laura Lyons is living the dream. Happily married with two young children, Laura’s husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library. This allows them to live in an apartment within the library. But she wants more than just being her husband’s wife and her children’s mother.
Things begin to change for Laura when she is accepted into the Columbia School of Journalism. This leads her to the Heterodoxy Club, a group of women who meet in Greenwich Village, flout society’s norms and openly discuss their discontent with being second-class citizens. This opens the door to Laura questioning her life choices and possibly losing everything and everyone she loves.
Eighty years later, Laura’s granddaughter Sadie Donovan is working in the family business. Though she is thrilled when she is promoted to becoming the library’s curator, the questions about her family’s past hang over her head. Her dream job becomes an ordeal when books start to disappear.
In order to save her career and the exhibit that had become her primary responsibility, Sadie has to put her fear of risk aside and work with a private security expert. The investigation goes from strictly business to personal when uncomfortable facts about her family and the building itself come to light.
The book is amazing. Everything that has been said about it is true. Davis’s writing is gripping and powerful and immediately draws you in. The protagonists, Laura and Sadie are easy to follow. In another writer’s hands, it would be easy to get confused with the dual narratives and the numerous characters. But the author writes in a way that each era is clearly delineated.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Lions of Fifth Avenue is available wherever books are sold.