Emoting over Books

1f972Nicola here. I’m in deadline territory so I’ve dusted down and added to a blog piece from 9 years ago on a topic that really interests me – books that make us cry. This is intended to be a cheerful blog, not a miserable one. It’s not about the latest craze in what has been dubbed “sad girl books” which are apparently about millennial women who are unhappy in their lives. I haven’t read any and the present time isn’t the right moment for me to start. No, it’s about authentic emotion and the way that can touch us.

A while ago I spent a day on writing retreat with a very good friend of mine, also a romance writer. Over lunch, we got chatting about the books that make us cry. We weren’t talking about those books that drive us to tears of frustration as we’re writing them although there are plenty of those. Nor were we discussing “misery lit”. We were talking as readers about the scenes that can make us cry every time we read them, even though we know them back to front and word for word. Not all of our favourites were romance books although some of them were. Others were thrillers, crime stories, even biographies.

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Costume Dramas: They don’t make them like they used to do. Or do they?

Canva - Close Up Of Tickets UnrolledNicola here. One of our lockdown activities during this period of self-isolation has been to have a weekly film night (or sometimes a double bill!) it’s been great to catch up with some of the new movies that are out, some TV series I hadn’t yet seen, and some old favourites too. My viewing has included Knives Out, a sort of post-modern Agatha Christie style whodunnit with more twists than a roller coaster and Daniel Craig doing a bizarre accent, and Yesterday, a sweet and funny time -travel romance that I loved.

Costume drama has always been my catnip though, so the first film I streamed was the new Emmaversion of Jane Austen’s Emma. Wench Andrea has already blogged about the film here so I’m not going to give my own take on it, especially as I agree with practically everything she said! New versions of Jane Austen’s books seem to come along more regularly than trains these days and it’s always interesting to see what new angle can possibly be taken. In the case of Emma, it really did feel like a film for the Instagram generation with every shot so beautifully curated. Unlike some viewers I did enjoy the fact that there wasn’t such an age disparity between Emma and Mr Knightley as there was in the book, and the sexual tension between the two of them was hot enough to burn down a Regency stately home!

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Emma—a Heroine to Love or Hate?

Screen Shot 2020-03-07 at 9.10.48 PMAndrea here, musing today about books, movies, and Jane Austen . . . and when the three collide. I just saw the new iteration of Emma on the silver screen, and have some thoughts and reactions to share.

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.”

Emma-anyataylorjoy-outside-dress-700x348To begin with, Emma (the novel) is not my favorite Austen. (Though I do find the opening sentence nearly as witty and clever as “It is a truth universally acknowledged . . .) That distinction lies with P&P (though Persuasion is a very close second . . . pip, pip, for the Ps!) But it isn’t my least favorite either —I have to say that rating lies with Northanger Abbey, which JA wrote as a parody of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, considered the first gothic novel.


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What we’re watching!

Mary Jo Killing Eve

We Wenches are creatures of The Book, but we also enjoy stories in other formats.  Here's a selection of what we've been watching and enjoying on TV/streaming/movies lately. 

From Nicola:

I’ve been glomming on Killing Eve, which is a British spy thriller TV series where a female intelligence officer tracks down a female psychopathic assassin. It’s based on the Villanelle books by Luke Jennings which I haven’t read so I’m not sure how close the show mirrors the books, whether the book or the TV series is better, or whether it matters! The series has won multiple awards and been highly praised, not least because all the major characters are women and it’s written by women. It certainly has a different sort of take on the spy genre. It’s quirky and comical at times and the dialogue is funny and sharp. The obsession that both Eve and Villanelle develop for each other is fascinating to watch Apollo 11

I also went to the cinema to see Apollo 11 on the big screen as it’s that sort of film! I thought it was an amazing piece of documentary film making and was completely riveted by it. The way it’s put together with never-before-seen footage and audio is very immediate and the rocket launch quite nerve-wracking! It left me speechless and overwhelmed – stirring stuff.

As a follow up I watched a new documentary series about the solar system, The Planets, with Professor Brian Cox which was also fascinating.  Since they couldn’t go on location to Jupiter and Mars they filmed a lot of it in places like Jordan and Iceland, which I’ve visited, so that was even more fun!


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What We’re Reading in September


Nicola here, introducing the Wenches' monthly "What We're Reading" feature, which, this month is a "What We're Watching" as well! 

Anne: I've had a pretty busy time in the last month and, apart from some rereads of old favorites, the only book of any note I've read recently is Together by Julie Cohen. A friend told me about this book, saying that it was about a romance, but was written backwards, starting at the end of a couple's life and gradually working backwards to when they first met. I was intrigued, so I bought it.

In the working backwards, the reader begins to put clues together —it's not a murder mystery, but there is a big secret to be discovered. As the cover blurb says, "Their love was unstoppable . . . Their life was a lie."

It's been a big bestseller, and I found it quite a compelling read, but in the end I'm still not sure what I think. But certainly worth a read.

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