Category Archives: period romance

Paradise in a sunrise, paradise in those eyes . . .

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I woke up early this morning and slipped outside to the balcony to watch the sun rise. It was still chilly and dampish and my knit zip-front jacket felt good.

 

As I sipped my coffee (made super strong to suit my BIL; I trick it out with liberal amounts of half and half and sugar),  I could hear the deep, rather mournful sound of the foghorn in the distance. The exterior lights lining the board walks to the beach still glowed.

I think it’s going to be another beautiful day in this little taste of paradise.

And speaking of paradise . . .

More Studies in Sepia and Autumnal Reflections

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That face

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The dark brows drawn slightly together, a furrow between them. Pensive, apprehensive. The eyes, framed in a fringe of dark lashes, half in shadow, so intense. The sculpted plane of those high cheekbones. A delicately shaped mouth, both soft and firmly resolute.  The chin, strong and masculine.  A man of beauty.  A man of reflection. A man of character.

I did get some well-needed sleep during the day after being awake all night. I was feeling marginally better earlier but seem to be going downhill again. I still sound like a man. 😉 I hope the rest of you out there dealing with sinus/allergy/colds/bronchitis and what have you, are improving. Take care, everyone. Time to try to eat supper.

OT: Need a feel-good fantasy film? Catch “Stardust”

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Are you looking for a feel-good movie that has wit, charm, humor, intelligence, a bit of swashbuckling derring-do and sweet romance? A film offering beautiful location scenery (Scotland, England and Iceland) and a talented cast of Brit and American actors giving memorable performances?

Then might I suggest 2007’s Stardust, a delightful fantasy film centered around the magical kingdom of Stormhold. There’s a race by scheming witches, fratricidal princes and a young man infatuated with the village beauty to capture a star which collided and bonded with a gem as it fell to earth. The witches want the star in order to reclaim their long-ago lost youth; the princes want the gem so they can become the next king of Stormhold and the young man, Tristan, wants to capture the star for the girl he fancies to prove his devotion to her.

The original theatrical poster for Stardust.

There’s a problem: Tristan (Charlie Cox) lives in the village of Wall, and he is never supposed to cross over the wall into Stormhold.  His father Dunstan (Nathaniel Parker) reveals that Tristan’s mother was from Stormhold, and she left a Babylon candle for her son, which will allow him to travel to any desired destination.

He lights it and is transported to the location of the star. Much to his surprise, it has a human form, that of a lovely young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes).  Much to Yvaine’s dismay, Tristan takes her prisoner, intending to return to his sweetheart Victoria with Yvaine as her gift.

Of course, things do not go as the young man has planned, and a great adventure gets underway that involves a magical inn, a flying ship of pirates who capture lightning, led by Captain Shakespeare (Robert DeNiro) and more.

Yvainne (Claire Danes) and Tristan (Charlie Cox) are served by Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro) as they enjoy a meal upon his flying ship.

Danes is absolutely incandescent as Yvaine, even without the help of special effects (her bleached-out eyebrows do take some getting used to, I must admit). Cox is a sweet and likeable hero who undergoes an attractive physical transformation in the course of the film.

Michelle Pfeiffer has great fun as the eldest witch, Lamia, who uses what is left of the three witches’ last captured star to restore her beauty as she tries to chase down the celestial body.  Mark Strong is a villain to watch as Septimus, the prince who is pitted against the other remaining brother Primus (Jason Flemying)  in an effort to capture the throne. The other five brothers, including Rupert Everett and Julian Rhind-Tutt, are now ghosts (having done each other in) who look in as a sort of Greek chorus and provide amusing commentary on the proceedings.  And the narrator for the film is none other than Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen.

Mark Strong as bad boy prince Septimus.

The film is based on a 1998 book of the same name by Neil Gamain. Gamain gave his approval to trim portions of the rather large novel to keep the film a reasonable length. The author said he also agreed to a larger dose of whimsy and humor in the film than is found in his book. The author said he preferred the filmmakers depart somewhat from the book and craft an enjoyable film, rather than attempting to slavishly follow the source material and ultimately fail.  I have not read the book but I can certainly attest to the creation of a very enjoyable movie.

The film is currently airing on Showtime in the U.S., and is available through Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. It is also available on DVD and Blu-ray at very reasonable prices through Amazon.

It’s something the whole family could enjoy together and it’s definitely not just a chick flick. I could easily see Mr. FL sitting down with me to watch Stardust.  This romantic fantasy-dramedy really has a magical quality all its own. Highly recommended.

Danes as Yvaine.

A little romance for Monday

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Some North & South fanart done in variety of painting styles/mediums and photo effects courtesy of BeFunky. Today we have some portraits of Margaret, too.

An emotional thesaurus, courtesy of Thornton & his CReAtor

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According to The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi, up to 95 percent of all communication is non-verbal. Even in instances where we are trying not to show our feelings, we are still sending messages through body language. As a writer, I have to make sure my characters express their emotions in ways “that are both recognizable and compelling to read.”

These words made me think of Mr. Armitage, an actor who can speak volumes of dialogue about his characters’ thoughts, feelings, emotions without speaking a word. Think of the wonderful scene at the train station in North & South. As Thornton, he does not have a great deal of dialogue in that scene, and yet–we know so much about this character and what’s going on in his head and heart. A pensive Thornton arriving at the station, the lightening of his expression as he sees Margaret and presents her with the flowers from Helstone. We learn so much by watching his body language, his facial expressions, seeing his attentiveness to Margaret, the way he uses those eloquent and beautiful hands when cupping her face for that kiss

The look of desolation when it seems Margaret is leaving, the dawning recognition that we see in his eyes and smile when he realizes she is, indeed, coming home with him–we can relate to and respond to these emotions so easily.  (In no way do I intend to discount Daniela’s contributions here–their onscreen chemistry added immeasurably to the production and particularly to this scene–but the focus here is on RA’s perfomance.)

If good writing involves crafting characters that are both recognizable and compelling to read, then good acting surely means breathing life into characters that are also recognizable and compelling to watch as well as to listen to. Richard Armitage accomplishes that feat very, very well, I think.  He is very much a storyteller, and not just in those charming Cbeebies videos.

Last stop for Thornton Thursday: A Great Catch

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In case you haven’t noticed, this Thornton guy is really quite attractive. Rock the ‘burns, rocks the cravats, smoulders beautifully and gives swoonworthy kisses.  He’s also a hard worker who is good to his mama and his silly goose of a little sister. A man trying to better himself through education. A man who loves with all his heart.  Ladies, he’s a catch!

A little romance courtesy of John & Margaret

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Just some pretty images of Mr. Thornton & Margaret for Sunday (or late Saturday, depending on where you are, my international posse).  I’m not feeling my best–cranky knee, dermatitis flared up, bit of tummy trouble–so don’t know that I will be posting a lot tomorrow.  We’ll see. Hoping to get some more writing done and finish re-reading The Hobbit. Happy Sunday to everyone!

The devil, the details, and my muse

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3,600 words. That’s what I’ve completed in the last couple of days.

Actually, I have written more than that, but I move things around, I take out a sentence here, a word there–it’s like a puzzle and you’re trying to get the pieces in just the right places. It’s a good thing I am not writing with a quill pen and ink, for the manuscript would be littered with blots and crossed-out patches, notes scrawled along the sides.  Hooray for modern technology.

English: Quill pen

English: Quill pen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s work and it’s a game all at the same time.  Sometimes it’s a frustrating game and you want to hit your head against something hard. But when it flows, it’s good.   When you get into that zone–whether it’s writing, or painting, or playing music or some other creative activity–you lose track of time. It’s pleasurable and exciting.

This is a period story that I’m writing, so the dialogue needs to have the flavor of 18th century England without being so archaic it sounds stiff and artificial to a modern reader.  And then there are the details you must check–the sort of windows one would likely find in a newly constructed London townhouse in 1750, the way a lady’s dress and undergarments would be constructed and embellished, cosmetics and hairstyles of the period, the role of a thief-taker in the criminal underworld–well, you get the idea.  The devil is in the details.

But then again, I know a very talented gentleman who does a great job getting the details right. You may be familiar with him and his roles.

And some of those details are just heavenly.

Ah, Richard Armitage. Endlessly inspiring.

Some hearts & flowers for Hump Day

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That’s what we call Wednesday in the U.S. It’s the middle of the week and only two days away from Guyday Friday.  I have had a whole 3.5 hours of sleep. I may snooze this afternoon at the hair salon. I always get sleepy when I am being pampered.

Benny and I will both be getting our tresses trimmed. He’s tired of his John Standring curls–well, it is summer and hot weather and he’d like a cooler ‘do–and I’ve got sheep dog bangs and tons of white roots and I surely am NOT old enough to have so much of God’s platinum blonde hair just yet, am I? Well, I like to think so, anyway.  Although, if I don’t get more sleep, I fear I am going to look old enough for every white strand.

At any rate, here’s some images with a “hearts and flowers” feel to them. More fun with various free photo editors along with Photoshop Elements. I hope you all enjoy.  Visit fun.pho.to, photofunia,  photofunny.net or photo fun box to create your own giggles and pretty images.

Two weeks from today I will be flying to San Diego for Comic-Con International. In fact, right about now I should be at Dannelly Field in Montgomery getting ready to board the plane to Atlanta. Thank you to all who have supported my fund for the trip. While I earned the reporter position with Comic Book Resources through my experience and writing samples,  I would never have been able to make the trip without the financial aid of my fellow RA bloggers and fans. 

For those who still wish to donate, the button is still up. And Dawn still offers these lovely winged heart necklaces which she will make to order for you.  You can also purchase them through the PayPal button and send me your address info and the specified necklace length.

This charming little sterling silver necklace can be yours for $35 including shipping, thanks to Dawn, who will make it to your specified length. A generous portion of the sale goes to my Comic-Con trip fund.

The N&S Global Watch continues . . . thoughts on Thornton and Gisborne

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Sir Guy, who really can be quite a sweetheart when he chooses to be, was very magnanimous about sharing Guyday Friday with Mr. Thornton as part of the North & South Global Watch.

After all, it would  have to be an extended marathon to view all 37 episodes of Robin Hood in which Sir Guy appeared (he’s quite proud of the fact there is more Sir Guy than any of the Creator’s other ChaRActers. He preens over it, truth be told).

My dark knight sees something of a kindred spirit in Mr. Thornton. Of course, they are both part of the Brotherhood of  ChaRActers lovingly crafted by their Creator and they do bear a physical resemblance– both are tall, dark-haired and rather regal, with a tendency to smoulder and brood very attractively.

They are two proud men who have struggled to reinstate the good name and fortune of their families. Both suffered tragic events at a young age–Thornton, the financial ruin and subsequent suicide of his father, and Guy, his father’s leprosy, and the loss of both of his parents and his home.

They both have tempers, which can flare quite suddenly; they possess passionate and sometimes tempestuous natures. When they love, they love whole-heartedly.   They can be stern and harsh, this medieval knight and Victorian mill owner, but they have their kind and gentle sides, too.

Both men have younger sisters who can be trials. Fortunately for JT, while Fanny may be a silly, affected goose who tries his patience sorely, she is no murderous shrew like Guy’s sister, Isabella. There is genuine affection between the Thorntons.

When Guy lost his parents, he had to go out into the world and make his way  and care for his sister–who seems to have always been difficlt– as best he could.

Hannah Thornton may be a dragon and a battle ax, but her steady presence in John’s life, offering encouragement and support that never wavered, made such a difference in the man her son became.

John might have felt at times as if no one loved him but his mother. For Guy, there was the lonely ache at his core, knowing that he had truly had no one, no one at all, save the poisonous sheriff and that vindictive sister. And when you have those two, you’re better off with no one.  He tried to fill the emptiness with his pursuit of power, status, wealth, but it never really satisfied him. He wanted, he needed love, affection, a home and a family.

Marian was the love of Sir Guy’s life. Sadly, she never returned his feelings. Thank goodness that the love of John’s life, Margaret, came to understand and appreciate the wonderful, honorable man Thornton was.  We need a happily ever after for a least a few of the Creator’s ChaRActers, don’t we?

 

OT: The Price is–wrong? My problems with an Austen poor relation

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We’ve been discussing some of the pros and cons of various adaptations of period dramas in comments on other posts, so I thought I would bring up another Austen novel. Mansfield Park has been adapted several times for television and film, but it seems to be a difficult task, judging from some of the results.

Nicholas Farrell and Sylvestra Le Touzel as Edmund and Fanny in the 1983 mini-series version of Mansfield Park. This is reportedly an adaptation faithful to the original novel.

To summarize: Fanny is one of a large brood of children, more than her parents can afford to keep, and so she is sent at age 10 to live with her wealthy relatives, the Bertrams.  She grows up to be a very timid and demure young woman. Her spoiled female cousins never let her forget that, as the “poor relation,” she is their social inferior.

Only her cousin Edmund shows her kindness, which develops into a romantic attachment for Fanny (upon which she is too shy to act).   Edmund, who plans to enter the ministry, is a steady, sensible soul, unlike his drunken wastrel of an elder brother. He and Fanny are clearly the two most virtuous characters in the story, and that virtue will be tested.

The charming but shallow and materialistic Crawfords come into the Bertram family’s universe and turn it upside down, leading to several romantic entanglements. Will Fanny lose Edmund to the worldly Mary Crawford? Will she herself fall under the spell of Mary’s dashing brother, Henry?  Will virtue triumph over vice?

Alessandro Nivola as Henry and Frances O’Conner as Fanny in the 1999 film version of Mansfield Park, which took some noticeable departures from the source material.

I have to confess, Mansfield Park as a novel is a problem for me largely because Fanny Price is a problem for me as a heroine.  She’s so shy and demure and virtuous, she’s downright dull. I have no objection to virtue, mind you; but a bit of spark and spirit, a noticeable sense of humor, the sorts of qualities we see in Austen heroines like Elizabeth Bennett and Emma, would have gone a long way.  Fanny on the page comes across to me as–blaah.  So good she’s boring.

In the 1999 film version written and directed by Patricia Rozema, Frances O’Connor brings us an intelligent and forthright Fanny who keeps a journal in which she makes clear-eyed and witty observations of the world around her. I like O’Connor as an actress and I like her Fanny; but is she really Jane Austen’s Fanny?

The whole production takes considerable liberalities, including the addition of social commentary concerning slavery in Antigua, where the Bertrams have holdings. It hints that Mary Crawford may be attracted to women as well as men. We see Maria Bertram in flagrante delicto with another character rather than simply hearing she’s run off with him.

Purists often detest this version, but I confess I find it very watchable and enjoyable as a period comedy/drama. I’m just not sure it’s Jane Austen, if you know what I mean.

The other Mansfield Park adaptation I have seen is the 2007 ITV version starring Billie Piper as Fanny. Oh, dear.

Billie Piper, a great companion for Doctor Who, but a strange casting choice for the role of timid little Fanny Price.

Piper was charming as the companion to the first two Doctors in the rebooted Doctor Who.  But she was truly miscast as Fanny Price. First of all, the look was all wrong. The nearly black eyebrows with the loose bottle blonde hair tumbling about her shoulders and the dresses more suitable for a serving wench than the demure poor relation made her look like she’d walked in off the set of one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Piper’s Fanny was more of a boisterous tomboy, giggling and cavorting about. I think she even played footsy at one point with Edmund, who came off as cute but a bit wet.

And once more there were departures from the source material, all of which I do not recall as I watched this only once and then tried to put it out of my mind. I had reservations about the last Persuasion, but found it considerably better than this.

The 1983 mini-series with Nicholas Farrell and Sylvestra Le Touzel is one I haven’t seen but I hope to do so one day. It appears to have the highest overall rating of the three productions, adhering the most faithfully to Austen’s novel. Would I find Le Touzel’s Fanny more palatable than Piper and more faithful to the original than O’Connor–and also interesting?

Have you read the novel and/or seen the film adaptations? I would love to hear your thoughts.  (images courtesy of IMDB)