Fave Film #97 – Sense & Sensibility


Cast- Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant

Directed by Ang Lee

Emma Thompson won an Oscar for Best Writitng, Screenplay based on material from another medium

Based on the Jane Austen novel, this book follows the classic novel closely.  The two Dashwood sisters, Elinor (Thompson) and Marianne (Winslet), both struggle to find happiness.  The sensible Elinor falls for Edward (Grant) and the passionate Marianne for Willoughby (Greg Wise).  However, neither will have a smooth road to true love.

Why I love it –My favorite thing about this film is the wonderful cast.  The top four and the surrounding cast were all wonderful.  I was charmed by Hugh Grant  as Edward in a way that I wasn’t in the book.  Winslet glowed as Marianne and it was great to see Rickman as a romantic lead.  And Thompson was perfectly sensible.  I also very much enjoyed the actors in the smaller parts, especially Hugh Laurie as the sarcastic Mr. Palmer.

I saw this movie when it came out and liked it and I recently listened to the novel and liked it too, but I liked the movie more this second time I saw it because I had read the book.  It brought the story to life and the actors made the story richer for me.  Of course, I love period dramas, romances, and these actors are favorites of mine, so it is no big shock that I would love this movie.

And because I know most of the ladies who love this time period, love to see the balls and the gowns, here’s a clip…

House of Many Shadows, by Barbara Michaels

Cover ImageFinished 7-27-09, rating 3.5/5, pub. 1974

“What period is the house?  Colonial?”

“No, it’s a perfect monstrosity of a Victorian mansion-Gothic revival, I think they call it, with stained glass and the rest.  I think it’s perfectly awful, but apparently that sort of thing is now considered amusing, and it’s an excellent example of it’s type.”

“Good heavens,” Meg said, as the image took shape in her mind.  “It sounds overpowering.  Are you sure it isn’t haunted?  I don’t think I could stand living with a ghost just now.”

“Why should it be haunted?” Sylvia asked reasonably.

“I was joking.”

Chapter 1

Meg thinks she’s going crazy.  She had an accident and now she suffers from hallucinations that her doctors say are temporary.  But they don’t feel temporary to Meg and she asks her very rich cousin, Sylvia, to help her out since she has had to leave her job.  Sylvia offers her a place to stay in the Pennsylvania country and Meg is appreciative of the generosity. 

Meg arrives at the house and is greeted by an old childhood nemesis in Andy and the two must learn to play nice since he is the only other person living on the secluded 20 acre property.  After a few physical encounters the two realize that just by touching they both have the same hallucination.  Are they seeing ghosts or visions, or a reenactment of the past?  The two begin to investigate the history of the house to get answers.

The book was a spooky page turner.  The visions combined with the history and geneology made this a great read for me.  The real relationship between Meg and Andy was prickly and I enjoyed the references to Andy being a coward.  Meg was the tough one and I loved reading about a strong woman – even if she was seeing things that weren’t there. 

Michaels did a great job of wrapping up the mystery of the house and visions in a satisfying way, but there were a few loose ends about the characters that I would have liked knowing about.  It left me thinking the book wasn’t quite done even after I’d turned the last page.  All in all it was a good spooky mystery and I would read another by Michaels.

For those who don’t know, Barabara Michaels is really Elizabeth Peters.


The Quilter’s Apprentice, by Jennifer Chiaverini

Cover ImageFinished 7-25-09, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 1999

This is the first book in the Elm Creek Quilts series

“Who’s not being fair?  I didn’t mean to suggest that judges make arbitrary choices, just that matters of personal taste strongly influence how we evaluate art.  That being the case, I’d prefer the appreciation of a broad range of people, quilters and nonquilters alike, rather than the stamp of approval from a few select so-called experts.”

Chapter 19

Sarah and Matt move from Penn State town State College to the small college town of Waterford for Matt’s new job.  Sarah is having no luck finding a job and begins to feel some resentment for having left a good job and good friends until she is offered temporary employment by Matt’s new employer.  Sarah is to help Sylvia clear out an old mansion and prepare it for sale. 

As part of her payment, Sylvia is teaching Sarah to quilt and each new block is a story about Sylvia’s life and how the family mansion became run down and abandoned.  The two women become friends and Sarah cannot bear the thought of Sylvia selling the house and moving away.  As Sarah settles into her new job she meets a small group of quilters who befriend her, but dislike Sylvia.

This story was a warm and inviting escape into the world of quilting and friendship.  I was able to identify with Sarah as she lost her sense of self when she was jobless, friendless, and lonely in a new town.  She did have mom issues that I assume will be dealt with in a later book and acted a bit immature at times, but the imperfections were mostly interesting to me.

I loved the sassy Sylvia and her story and look forward to continuing with this series in the future.  This is a great book for quilters, but also for anyone who loves reading about the often complex  friendships between women.  I really liked it.

Teaser Tuesday

 teasertuesdays31Grab your current read.  Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.  BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!).  Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


She wondered, Is it possible, maybe even normal, to spend twenty years of your life with someone, to love that person more than you love yourself sometimes and then sometimes to truly hate him, so much that you think you about taking your new cast-iron grill pan and bringing it down on the top of his head?  Or maybe these thoughts were just a result of one of her random yet tempestuous perimenopausal moments.

first two sentences from Sliver of Truth by Lisa Unger

I’m going to start this one in the next few days.  It’s the sequel to Beautiful Lies, which I loved.  What are you reading this week?

Up & Down Quiz – ANSWERS

Maybe Level 2 was 2 hard 🙂

I love the Up & Down word game.  Try it if you haven’t already.  Since this is the first time I’m making it myself I’m going to keep it simple.  The answer for line 1 goes down to the first blank in line 2, and so on.  These are all 2 word book titles.

Quiet ______________


What’s the word that goes in both blanks?  American

Now on to level 1

Mystic ___River___

___River___ King   (Kathy was first 🙂 )

Too easy?  How ’bout level 2

Indian ___Killer____  (Hilarie)

____Killer___   ___Angels____


Let’s see who figures them out first.  Leave a comment with your answers.

Sense & Sensibility, by Jane Austen

Product DetailsFinished audio 7-23-09, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 1813

This audio version was read by Wanda McCaddon

This is my first Jane Austen book, so I thought I would start with listening an audio first.  I am glad that I did.  I saw the 1995  movie soon after it came out and once I started listening the characters came to life in my mind, as the cast of the movie.  The combination was Cliff’s Notes for the Austen virgin and I thought a great way to start my Austen reading.  Now that I’ve finished the book and watched the movie again in my imagination I plan on watching the actual movie this week.

The Dashwoods have just lost the head of the family and his second family is mistreated by the heir and left with little money and few prospects.  Thanks to the generosity of a cousin they are welcomed to a small house in Devonshire and the four women make a new life with new friends. 

Elinor and Marianne are sisters that share a close relationship, but different temperaments.  Marianne is full of fancy and passion and Elinor is full of good judgement and common sense.  They both fall for two very different men, but suffer the same fate in their attraction. 

As you can see, I took the quiz to find out which Austen character I am and Elinor was the winner.  After reading the book I can see where the result came from, but think perhaps I am a bit more direct than Elinor.  I liked both sisters, but there were times when both of them drove me a little crazy.

I like the book, but I can’t give it more than 4 stars because there are so many people to dislike.  Some got their comeuppance, but some didn’t and I wanted some karma for a few of the characters.

I look forward to reading an actual Austen book soon.

Girl time and a great place to visit!

Every summer around the time of my Grandma’s birthday the women of the family choose a place in Ohio to spend a night or two together.  My Grandma will be turning 87 any day now and us gals spent Thursday night in Cumberland.  We were missing one  of our cousins who always comes, but gained a friend, for a total of 13.  This happens when the women are so wonderful 😉

gals 2009

This is us at the cabin in the wilds that we rented for the night.  I always enjoy the girl-time and come home every year appreciating my family more.  And I think most of us granddaughters (she has 10) know that we have the best possible Grandmother and we are blessed.

Now, on to THE WILDS!  I cannot possibly recommend this place enough for any kind of family trip.   It is located in SE Ohio, but you would never know it once you drive onto the 10,000+ acres of land that was gifted to this non-profit conservation group by the power company after it had been used in surface mining.  This group has turned it into an amazing place for research and the public.  We took a 2 1/2 safari yesterday on an open air bus.  Have a look at a few of the many, many different animals we saw…wilds giraffejuly 2009 149

wilds rhino

And yes, many animals came right up to the bus.  I could add so many wonderful photos, but The Wilds is not just about the animals, it is equally about the land and living in harmony with nature and using land that is good for nothing else for something worthwhile.

There is one lodge on the premises, where we stayed that had 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms and a private lake with boats and a canoe.  They also have newer smaller places near the visitor center that sleep two. 

If  you are within a few hours drive (took me 2.5 from Cleveland) or are driving through on your way someplace else, you cannot go wrong with stopping here for a few hours.   I had a fabulous time on my Ohio Safari!  Visit the website here.

9 in ’09 with Preetham Grandhi

Preetham Grandhi, M.D. immigrated to the United States from India and graduated from Yale.  He is the chief of service for House 5 at Bronx Children’s Psychiatric Center and also has his own private practice.  So, he speaks from experience when telling the story in his new book, A Circle of Souls, reviewed here.  Visit his website for more information about Preetham and the book.  You’ll also find links to his blogs.

I want to give special thanks to Preetham for being the first author of the male persuasion to agree to answer 9 questions on my blog.  He may have also tied with Carla Neggers for the quickest response time.  I think it took less than an hour for Preetham to send me his answers.  Without further fanfare…

1.  I love your novel A Circle of Souls.  Is it true that the idea for this story came in the aftermath of 9/11 and in what way?

It was a few months post 9/11, and I was looking at the biographies of the people who had lost their lives.  I began to wonder if there was a larger meaning to their lives.  Are we predestined to interact with each other in a certain way.  All of a sudden, a story flashed into my mind, and I quickly wrote it on a piece of paper.  I knew then that I needed to write a story that was larger than life.  It needed to communicate the essence that there is a bigger purpose and meaning to our passage on earth.

I knew that in order to capture and convey such a message, the book needed to be captivating, interesting, and thrilling.  I realized that a story based on the work I do would be the right place to begin.  I am a child psychiatrist and had just started a new job.  During my fellowship, I worked with children with numerous psychosocial issues and many life stories to tell.  It was at that moment that I decided I could write a book that would capture all these thoughts.  That was how A Circle of Souls was born.

2. I am impressed that this is your first novel!  What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

Never to give up, was the best advice given to me.  I think being patient is very important.  In the end you have to do your half and hope that the other half will happen.

3. You work at a children’s psychiatric center, have a private practice, are working hard to promote your book, have several blogs, and are blessed with a family.  When do you find the time to write?

It is hard, I mostly write while driving (I don’t mean literally).  I get my ideas while driving to and fro from work and put them on paper when I get the chance at home.

4. You found the world of traditional publishing a challenging one.  What has your experience been like with Sweetwater Books?

It has been wonderful to work with and I am grateful to having met Cedar Fort.  They were very reassuring and have been easy to work with.  They designed such a great cover that fits the content of the book and taking into consideration what I had in mind.

5. Who or what inspires you?

To travel and see the world some day.  I think life is too short and there is so much to do.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

“The world is yours so turn it around,” is actually a dialogue line from the movie Scarface.  It had kept me going during some hard times in medical school.

7. What are you currently reading?

Terror by Joseph J Neuschatz M.D. and am looking forward to reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

I would enjoy being Tintin, from The Adventures of Tintin.  This is a series of comic strips created by Belgian artist Herge.

9. And finallly, what are you working on now?

Hoping to start my next novel once I get this one on it’s own feet.  I thought writing was difficult only to find out marketing in even more challenging.

Thanks Preetham!  To enter to win an autographed copy of his book, click HERE.

Sky Burial : An Epic Love Story of Tibet, by Xinran

Sky Burial by Xinran: Book CoverFinished 7-20-09, rating 4.5/5, fiction, pub. 2004

“Zhuoma,” she shouted. “come over here!  What’s Ge’er doing?”

Saierbao, who was standing nearby, couldn’t understand Wen’s reaction.  What was so surprising about the men in the family doing the sewing?  Zhuoma told her that Chinese men hardly ever touched a needle, that sewing and mending were invariably women’s work.  Ni fell about laughing after she heard this.  “Women, sewing?”  she said to her mother.  “Surely not.”

Saierbao shook her head, sharing in her daughter’s disbelief at this absurd idea.

Chapter 4

What would you do if your husband of less than 100 days was sent off to war and never returned?  Would you join the army to gain access and answers?  Would you travel to a harsh, conflict heavy country in search of him?  Would you give up country, family, career, and life as you know to search for a husband presumed dead? 

Xinran is a Chinese-born reporter who was able to spend a few days with Wen, to hear her story of love, loss, and peace.  She wrote Wen’s story as a love letter to a husband and to Tibet.

Wen and Kejun lived a charmed life as Chinese doctors in the 1950’s.  Kejun joined the army and went to Tibet in hopes of unifying the two countries.  He was told they would be greeted as liberators (sorry for stealing the apt line), but found violence instead.  He was declared dead shortly after arriving and Wen in her grief joins his unit and heads to Tibet.

Almost immediately Wen is separated from her unit and she was cared for by a Tibetan woman, Zhouma.  The two women are both searching for love lost and lead a nomadic life for many, many years.

The book was riveting.  I was unsure if I would warm up to Wen, but I did.  Xinran was so outspoken in her admiration for this woman but it took the whole story to be told for me to really understand it.  And even then I think it could have been that Wen was mysterious and  left the author wanting more.

This is Wen’s love story and also a description of her life as an outsider.  It was easy to be drawn into an unfamiliar, yet stirring country and its people.  The book is a fast read at only 200 pages, but a worthwhile one.  I highly recommend it.