When Mary Adams sees Millais’ depiction of the tragic Ophelia, a whole new world opens up for her. Determined to find out more about the beautiful girl in the painting, she hears the story of Lizzie Siddal – a girl from a modest background, not unlike her own, who has found fame and fortune against the odds. Mary sets out to become a Pre-Raphaelite muse, too, and reinvents herself as Persephone Lavelle.
Something terrible has happened to the Abbott family, a tragic secret from the recent past that has torn them apart. It’s up to Henry (Henrietta) to figure out what the mysterious interfering Doctor Hardy is planning to do and use her wits to reunite her parents. Lucy Strange’s modern take on a classic children’s literary narrative is reminiscent of “The Little Princess”, “Tom’s Midnight Garden”, and “The Children of Green Knowe”. It explores the powerful influence of imagination in coping with heartbreak, with absentee parents and a trip through the wood at the end of the garden full of songs, stories, poetry, fairy tales, and a witch in a caravan. It’s a magical, lyrical mystery-adventure.
“Thieving Forest” is a tale of adversity and survival against the backdrop of frontier America.
Published in 1831 in French under the title “Notre-Dame de Paris”, this book has been made into an opera, a ballet, several stage plays, two musicals, and at least 15 films, including TV and animated versions. One conclusion I could draw from this is that it’s a very popular tale, and so there is a good chance that you already have some idea of what it’s about. Another conclusion that I came to while listening to David Case’s expert audiobook narration, is that it was written in a way that lends itself to dramatic interpretation. It’s not hard to see why so many theater and film producers have found it hard to resist the urge to adapt this book to their medium. It comes ready-made with dramatic set pieces, entertaining dialogue, moving soliloquies, skillfully blocked stage business, characters making dramatic entrances and exits, vividly described scenery, and impressive spectacles that leave one thinking, “I wonder how this could be engineered for the stage.” Sometimes its melodrama is downright operatic: “With a few cuts,” one thinks, “this could easily be made into a libretto.” As the villain struggles to hang on while dangling 200 feet above certain death, one thinks, “I know just how I would edit this scene, intercut with shots of the gargoyles and sculptures on the church’s facade.” You see where the idea comes from.
Forget about the 1992 movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and based on this book published in 1826. All these years later, I still remember a lot of things about that movie. Very few of them faithfully represent things in this book. It turns out to be not so much a film adaptation of the novel, as a piece of original entertainment based on characters and situations in the novel. Oh, well. I still like the 2002 film “The Count of Monte Cristo”, even though I now know it resembles its source book even less. It’s a trial to be both a bookworm and a movie buff.
Peter Blood does not start out as the sort of many you would expect to become a pirate. A physician by training, a soldier and naval warrior by experience, he has just settled down in a quiet corner of England’s West Country when the Monmouth Rebellion breaks out. This bit of trouble was a response to the Catholic James II becoming king of Protestant England in 1685. Being an Irish Catholic himself, Peter takes no part in the rebellion. But when he is caught giving medical aid to one of the rebels, the full frenzy of the Lord Chief Justice falls on him and he is sentenced to hang for treason.
It’s the 13th century. Kublai Khan has conquered China, spreading the Mongolian empire from Ukraine to Korea. His epoch-making attempt to invade Japan is about to get underway—the one that will end with Kublai’s army at the bottom of the Yellow Sea, thanks to a storm that will go down in Japanese memory as “Kamikaze” (divine wind).