Operation Mincemeat Movie Review

When it seems that every story about World War II has been told, the door opens to reveal additional narratives that have remained hidden.

The new Netflix film, Operation Mincemeat premiered last week. Based on a book by Ben Macintyre, it tells the story of a secret mission to end the war via a corpse and false papers.

Among those who are in on the secret are Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth), Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew MacFadyen), future James Bond creator Ian Fleming (Johnny Flynn), Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald), and Hester Leggett (Penelope Wilton). They know that if they succeed, it could mean victory for the Allies. But getting to that point requires strategy, timing, skill, and a little bit of luck.

For obvious reasons, the movie was a must-see. A cast chock full of Austen actors (including the two most popular Fitzwilliam Darcys), a spy thriller set in World War II-era England, and the fight for freedom against tyranny.

I have mixed feelings about it. What was good was that the main female characters were initially more than secretaries, love interests/spouses/female family members, and background characters. They were as important to the mission as their male colleagues. I also very much appreciated the subtle reference to the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry. It reveals that the Allies once again knew what was going on, but did nothing to stop it (which is another topic for another time).

What was bad is that about halfway through the film, I started to lose interest. It was as if the screenwriter(s) just gave up. The other thing that bugged me was the love triangle between Charles, Jean, and Ewen. It felt unnecessary. It also trivializes Jean, making her little more than the wannabe romantic significant other instead of an integral part of the group.

Do I recommend it? Disappointingly, no.

Operation Mincemeat is available for streaming on Netflix.


Best Books of 2019

To say that I am a bookworm is an understatement. As you might expect, I’ve read quite a few books this year.

Without further adieu, my list of the best books of 2019 is below.

  1. The Women of the 116th Congress: Portraits of Power: This book is #1 because it represents how far American women have come and how far we need to go before we are truly equal. In celebrating the success of these female politicians, the authors are paving the way for the next generation of women to represent their country.
  2. The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz, and a Village Caught In Between: This compelling and true story of one small town and it’s Jewish residents during World War II is as compelling as any fiction novel of the Holocaust.
  3. Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II: Telling the story of Audrey Hepburn‘s childhood during World War II, this book is a must-read for both movie junkies and history nerds alike.
  4. Summer of ’69: History is not just facts in a book. It the lives and experiences of those who lived through that period. In telling the story of one specific family, the summer of 1969 comes alive.
  5. Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators: The revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s actions two years ago was appalling and world-changing. In bringing his actions to the light, the authors are giving his victims what should have been theirs in the first place.
  6. Unmarriageable: A Novel: This adaptation of Pride & Prejudice set in Pakistan proves why Austen’s novels are universally loved and rebooted time and again.
  7. The Mother of the Brontes: When Maria met Patrick: The previously untold story of Maria Bronte (nee Branwell) is a fascinating story of the women who would bring Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte into the world.
  8. Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman: It takes guts to be yourself. It takes even more guts when being yourself means that you are no longer part of the community you grew up in.
  9. She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement: The reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein scandal knew what they were up against. They also knew how important it was for the public to know the truth.
  10. The Winemaker’s Wife: Love and betrayal are enough to handle. Add in war and you have this marvelous novel set in France during World War II.

Jane Austen: Ordinary in Her Time and Extraordinary in Our Time

Most of us are ordinary in our day to day lives. We go about our business until the day when we shuffle off this mortal coil.

During her lifetime, Jane Austen was an ordinary woman. But in our lifetimes, she is considered to be extraordinary. She is of the creators of the modern novel, a proto-feminist, a woman who was not afraid to speak her mind and an all around bad-ass.

Tomorrow is the 202th anniversary of her passing. She died at the young age of 41, with only four published books to her name and a modest success as a writer. Every time I read one of her books, I find myself asking what if she had lived a little longer or even into old age? What books and characters might she have introduced to the world?

Wherever she is, I hope that she is looking down on us and smiling, knowing that her name will live on for eternity.

Jane Austen Is NOT A Victorian

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will be hitting theaters next weekend. A number of reviews, I predict will refer to Austen or Pride and Prejudice as Victorian.

I’d like to set the record straight.

Jane Austen lived in the Regency era, which took place from 1795 to 1837. Jane Austen died in 1817. The Victoria era lasted during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901.

Please, I beg of you. If you are writing a review, do your research. Do not refer to Jane Austen as a Victorian.

Pride And Prejudice 2003 Vs. Bride And Prejudice 2004 Vs The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Pride and Prejudice at it’s heart, is a very simple boy meets girl story. The beauty of this book, is that despite being set in rural Georgian era England, is that it is a human story. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy can put in another time and place and still be the same characters we know and love.

The last 11 years have give Jane Austen fans three very different and interesting modern interpretations of Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice (2003)

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Kam Heskin), Will Darcy (Orlando Seale), Charles Bingley (Benjamin Gourley) and Jane Vasquez (Lucila Sola)

  • Pro’s: This modern day reboot takes place in Utah. The screenwriters and director did not make any major changes to the plot, except for the older generation is heard of, but not seen. This movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a nice change from the stiff upper lip adaptations that usually come from the Brits.
  • Cons: This movie is not for the cannon only fans.

Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Cast: Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), William Darcy (Martin Henderson), Balraj (Naveen Andrews) and Jaya Bakshi (Namrata Shirodkar)

  • Pro’s: This Bollywood adaptation is colorful and full of life. Director Gurinda Chadha has a nice balance of traditional elements of Bollywood films while staying true to the novel. What makes this movie stand out for me is not just the class difference, but the cultural differences between American William Darcy, his British Indian friend Balraj and the Amristar raised Lalita and Jaya.
  • Cons: None than I can think of.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)

Cast: Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements), William Darcy (Daniel Vincent Gordh), Bing Lee (Christopher Sean) and Jane Bennet (Laura Spencer)

  • Pro’s: This youtube twice a week webisode series bring Pride and Prejudice to the youtube generation. The producers were also very smart to have a very diverse cast of characters and actors. Despite knowing the book inside and out, it was a riveting series that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last episode.
  • Cons: None.

And the winner is…. I don’t know. I’ll let you  choose.




On His Own

*-I don’t own these characters, just borrowing

*-Please review

 On His Own

At first glance, one might see Charles Bingley as an amiable man who looked upon everyone he met with a gentle eye and a warm heart. That in fact, was the truth of his character. His good friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his sisters, Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst knew of his character and made certain attempts to prevent him from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous sorts.

He had been in love before, or so he claimed. Every woman he met was beautiful and charming. The most beautiful and charming of all of the women he had ever come into acquaintance with was a Miss Jane Bennet, the eldest daughter of a minor country gentlemen. She had four younger sisters and a very small inheritance. Charles had not spoken that he loved her, but his companions could see it in his eyes, in his actions.

His sisters claimed to like Miss Bennet, for she was sweet and agreeable, but upon seeing the actions of Miss Bennet and her immediate family, they had come to the conclusion that Mrs. Bennet was like every country mama, looking for a rich husband for her daughters and her eldest daughter had no true feeling for Charles beyond his income. It was thus concluded and explained to Charles that a match with Miss Bennet was improper.

Half heartedly, he agreed. He left Netherfield, hoping that one day; she would forgive him for his actions.

He got that chance, only a few months later, noticing the carriage pulling away from the London townhouse he shared with Caroline.

“Who was in that carriage?” Charles inquired of his housekeeper.

“A Miss Jane Bennet to see your sisters, sir”.

She was here, in London, a fact which had been concealed from him.

“Caroline, was Miss Bennet here?” he asked pointedly.

“Yes, Charles, she just left”.

“Why did you not tell me she was here?”.

“We did not want to disturb your work, Charles, we were perfectly capable to entertaining Miss Bennet by ourselves” Louisa interjected.

“Charles, where are you going?” his sisters demanded.

But before they could get answer, he was already in the carriage, directing the driver to his lawyer’s office. Miss Bennet had mentioned that her uncle was a lawyer, living in Cheapside. If he wished to find her and make amends, there was only one place to start.

Two hours later, Charles stepped into the office of Mr. Edward Gardiner.

“May I help you sir?” the clerk asked.

“Is Mr. Gardiner in?”.

“Do you have an appointment?”.

“No, I don’t, my name is Charles Bingley, I am acquainted with his sister’s family in Meryton”.

He was led into the office of Mr. Gardiner.

“So you are Charles Bingley”.

“I am sir”.

He took a moment to assess the young man who stood before him. Fanny had enthusiastically written to her brother, that their presence would soon be needed in Meryton for a wedding. Not even a month later, her letters took an entirely sober tone, Mr. Bingley and his party had departed Netherfield, the day they would return was unknown.

Jane was a quiet girl, she had always been. Her uncle suspected that Mr. Bingley’s sudden departure had led to his eldest niece’s more somber tone.

“I understand from my sister that your departure from Meryton was rather sudden, they were quite fond of your company”.

“Our departure was not of my choosing, my companions felt it was best for all if we moved on”.

“I suspect young man, that you have sought me out to make amends for your sudden disappearance”.

“Yes, sir, though I cannot make amends to all, perhaps your eldest niece would be good enough, at least for the present”.

“Well, you seem eager enough to make amends. You are invited tomorrow night for dinner, if my niece sees fit to forgive you, that is her choice”.

The next night, as the housekeeper prepared the table for dinner, Mrs. Gardiner asked why an additional place was being set.

“It was the masters order, ma’am”.

“We are having a guest for dinner” .

“May I ask who?”.

“You shall know when he arrives” Mr. Gardiner replied.  He had only known of Charles Bingley through his sister’s letters, but he suspected some unspoken feelings between the young people.

“Mr. Bingley” Jane was surprised to see him in the entrance of her aunt and uncle’s house.

“Miss Bennet”.

They looked at each other for a moment, waiting for the other to speak first.

“How are your sisters since I saw them last?” Jane asked.

“They are well. And you? Your family?”.

“My sisters are both well, thank you” she replied.

“Pardon me, miss, the master has called for dinner to begin” the maid led the both of them to the dinner table.

“My love, what exactly are you planning?” Mrs. Gardiner asked her husband, noticing the two young people had been placed together at the table.

“Wait and see, my dear” her husband replied with a smile.

Dinner was a relatively quiet meal, without much excitement.

After dinner, Mrs. Gardiner hurried her children to prepare for bed.

“Mama, we want to stay up with cousin Jane” The Gardiner’s children adored their older cousins and were thrilled that Jane was staying with them.

“Not tonight, my dears” Mrs. Gardiner ushered her children upstairs, finally understanding her husband’s plan.

“It is lovely night” Charles commented.

“It is” Jane agreed.

How lovely you are” he thought.

They stood for the next few moments in silence. He dared not reach out; even to brush her hand if only for a moment. It would take only that moment to draw out everything he wished he could say to her.

“I think, Miss Bennet, that our evening must draw to a close, Caroline will be concerned about my whereabouts”.

“Of course Mr. Bingley, it was a pleasure to see you again” Jane started usher him out. He could feel his heart beating, if he walked out now, he might never have this chance again.

“Miss Bennet…Jane” he stammered and then burst out uncharacteristically “I love you; I have loved you since the moment we met. I beg of you to forgive me, I never meant to hurt you. Please marry me”.

“Mr. Bingley, I, uh, I thank for your offer, but I must consider what have proposed, your absence has caused me much to consider”.

“Of course, take as much time as you need” kissing her hand, he then walked out.

If he had proposed three months ago, her answer would have been an immediate yes. But his sudden departure had caused her truly consider what her life would be with him. Or was Elizabeth starting to influence her?

The question that haunted her as she sat down to write to Elizabeth.

“Mr. Bingley has proposed to me. He must have found out our uncle’s residence from his sisters. I do love him, Lizzy, but I do not know if marriage is the best choice, for I fear that he may put my opinions second to his sisters and Mr. Darcy’s. Please write and advise me, for it is your opinion that I rely on most.

 Your beloved sister, etc


A week later, Elizabeth’s letter arrived.

 “If you love him Jane, then I see no reason to not accept him. However, I believe that must make him understand he must put your marriage first, for you both are of such an amiable disposition, that your opinions would be drowned out by others.  Write to me and tell me of your answer, for I would dearly love to see you happy.

 Yours, etc


 It just over a week later, that Jane finally wrote to him. The week since the dinner at her uncle’s house had progressed to the point of madness. He wondered if she had even considered his proposal, or even if she had left another man in Meryton. After all, he had left her unexpectedly and she was far from lacking in agreeability, intelligence and beauty.

 Then the letter came.

“Mr. Bingley, I have answer for you. If you are free tomorrow, I should like to speak with you”

 Yours etc

Jane Bennet

Dropping the letter, he called for the carriage. Two hours later, he returned.

 “Charles, where have you been?” Caroline asked.

Then she saw what he had purchased.

“Charles Edward Bingley, do not tell me that you still wish to marry Miss Bennet?”.

“As a matter of fact, I do intend to marry her”.

“Charles, I implore you, do not marry her. Think of yourself, think of me, think of our family reputation. Her family is ridiculous and will ruin us all”.

“Caroline” while her brother was normally quite amiable, he could only take so much “I will marry Miss Bennet, if she will have me, which I hope she will, especially after the way you and Louisa have treated her. After we are wed, if you do not extend every courtesy to her family, you will not be welcome in my home”.

With that, Caroline Bingley became quiet, a feat which few had been able to accomplish.

The next day, Charles entered the Gardiners home.

“I understand, young man, you wish to marry my niece” Mr. Gardiner was quick the point.

“I do sir”.

“And you, Jane, would you marry him?”.

“I would uncle”. Jane replied.

If they were properly betrothed, he would have kissed her; reveling in what he hoped would be the first of many kisses.

But they were not, there was still one obstacle; Jane’s father. He knew little of Mr. Bennet; he only hoped that he would approve their marriage.

“Well, young man, it is not for me to ultimately decide who my nieces marry, but I shall write to my brother in law and inform him of your proposal”.

A week later, Charles arrived at Longbourne, anxious about the conversation he was about the conversation he was about to have.

Jane had arrived the day before, to prepare her family for Mr. Bingley’s arrival.

“Come in Mr. Bingley” Elizabeth opened the door for him.

“Mr. Bingley” he was greeted in turn by each of the younger Bennet girls, who had to be shooed away by Elizabeth.

“I trust your journey was uneventful, sir” Mrs. Bennet and Jane approached him.

“Extremely uneventful”.

“My father wishes to speak to you, Mr. Bingley”.

The day before she was to return to Hertfordshire, they spoke privately.

“Are you positive? I have treated you abominably; I do not want to force you into marriage in which you feel I would be unreliable…”.

“I understand your reasoning, Charles, I only hope that it is your opinion and heart you will consider before your sisters and Mr. Darcy”.

He light up at her use of his Christian name.

“May I kiss you?” he asked.


It was chaste and sweet, but it felt like the beginning of something new and wonderful.

Then she took a step back and became quiet.

“What? Have I become too forward?” Charles asked.

“No, I feel as if I am to blame, had I spoken of my feelings sooner…”.

“My dear, sweet Jane, you are blameless. I was too easily persuaded, I should have come forward sooner”.

“But it was I who should have expressed myself…”.

“May we leave it as we were both wrong?” Charles asked.

“Yes” Jane agreed. “I believe sir; we have completed our first quarrel”.

“We indeed, have, madam”.

“Jane, send Mr. Bingley in and close the door behind you” came her father’s voice.

“I have received an interesting letter from my brother in law, it seems, sir, you have laid a proposal of marriage at feet of my eldest daughter”.

“I have, sir”.

“Has she accepted you?”.

He tried to remain calm, but the thought that she had accepted him, despite his actions, brought a smile to his face.

“Yes, she has”.

“I have concerns, Mr. Bingley. I know my Jane loves you, but I also know the heartbreak she experienced when you left Meryton.  Knowing that Jane and my grandchildren are unhappy are not the thoughts that should cross a father’s mind when he lays his head down at night”.

His heart immediately dropped to his stomach, he was nearly expecting that Mr. Bennet would refuse his blessing.

“However, I admire a man who has the courage to admit when he had made a mistake. As I stated, Jane’s happiness is all that I wish for and if you should make her happy for the rest of her days, I see no reason to impede your marriage”.

“Thank you, sir, you will not regret your decision” Outside the door came a loud cheer.

“I am sure I wont, sir” letting his wife and his daughters celebrate Jane’s engagement, he returned to his paper.

Within a month, they were married. The morning after the wedding, they lay in their bridal chamber.

“What shall we do now?” Jane asked. The shock of their first intimate act as husband and wife soon gave way to a very pleasurable evening.

“I think it is high time that Darcy should be wed and I do believe your sister Elizabeth would be a fine wife for him”.

“My sister would rather walk on cut glass than even consider a marriage proposal from  Mr. Darcy”.

“Is that a challenge?” Charles asked.

“Perhaps” Jane replied.

But that was for tomorrow, for the rest of the day, everyone else faded into the background.


*- The only characters that are mine are the Darcy children and Sir Edward and John Maxwell. The rest with respect and affection belong to Miss Austen.


“Mr. Darcy to see you, Mr. Bennet” Hill knocked on the study door.

“Darcy, my boy, this is a pleasure. Where is Lizzy?” Mr. Bennet asked as his son in law sat down, looking for his daughter as Hill closed the door behind her.

“Lizzy is home, I have come to speak on a personal matter. I am in need of counsel”.

“Then tell me what I may do for you?” Mr. Bennett asked.

“It is about Fanny…” Darcy started.

“Fanny has captured the attention of a young man and you are unsure on how to proceed”.

Mr. Bennet smiled thinking of his oldest granddaughter, Frances Jane Darcy, known to her family as Fanny. She was the second of the Darcy’s three children and the only daughter, in between her brothers, William and Charles. Fanny favored her mother in both temperament and looks, making her a favorite of her father and grandfather.

Before Darcy could proceed, Mr. Bennet continued “You forget, sir, that I have five daughters, four of my son in laws, yourself included, asked for permission to marry them”.

“Then tell me what to do. I had hoped this might have been easier after Georgiana married, but I did not think this day would come so quickly” Mr. Bennett could see the storm of confusion in Darcy’s eyes.

“Tell me, Darcy, what is this young man like? Is he worthy of Fanny?”.

“Lizzy believes so; she has done her best to convince me that John would be a good husband for Fanny. His father is Sir Edward Maxwell, their property adjoins Pemberley, and John will inherit from his father one day.  John and Fanny have known each other since they were children. It seems almost inevitable that they should marry”.

“Then I shall tell you what my father told me” Mr. Bennet clapped his left hand onto Darcy’s shoulder “What matters is that John and Fanny are happy. They will disagree every now and then, as I am sure you and Lizzy have over the years. But if they are willing to compromise and their love is strong enough, I see no reason to disapprove of the marriage”.

Darcy remained silent, the tension still brewing in his eyes.

“If she is happy with him, Darcy, do not deny her.  Having a daughter who is happily married is far better than having a daughter who is resentful and angry”.

Two months later, the church bells rang, announcing the newly married Mr. and Mrs. John Maxwell.

An hour before the coach was to arrive to take John and Fanny to their honeymoon, Fanny approached her grandfather.

“Are you happy, child?” he asked.

“I am, grandfather”.

“When you come back from Brighton, you must come to Longbourne and visit your old grandfather”.

“I will, grandfather” he kissed her forehead as Fanny heard her new husband calling to her.

Across the room, Mr. Bennet raised his glass to his son in law, who raised it silently in kind.

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