Archive for the 'Summertime and the reading is easy' Category

The Hedgehog, a movie in DVD

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

By Ann Dow

The French have an expression that says chacun a son gout, which is translated “everyone to his or her taste.”  That is why we have varied car  models, unlimited  paint colors and many ice cream flavors.  Not only do we not always like the same things as others, but often we don’t even like what we ourselves used to like.  Books and movies as well as authors and film stars have fans who follow their favorites and often make the difference between a rare gem and a remainder.  Highly touted films make their way into the Multiplex only to disappear at the end of the first week.  The most beloved authors sometimes find their work among the literary discards on the shelves at the local dollar store.

I recently watched a film that I highly recommend to anyone who speaks French or just likes to hear it spoken and doesn’t mind reading subtitles; who loves Mozart and Russian literature; who appreciates irony; and who has the patience to watch a story slowly unfold with little action but a great deal of nuance.  The ideal viewer will be so familiar with Tolstoy that he/she will recognize that naming  a cat Leo is  a mark of tribute to that remarkable author .

The interesting feature is that the three disparate protagonists in this story are a 15-year-old reclusive girl extremely bright for her age, a 57-year-old apartment concierge with little formal education but unlimited curiosity for self-learning, and a middle-aged, educated Japanese man who moves into the upscale apartment in Paris and recognizes the potential of his oddly matched neighbors.  He becomes the catalyst to change the lives of the other two.  He is like a careful gardener who brings to flower the rare seeds that had been ignored because no one recognized their value.

To the truly thoughtful moviegoer who enjoys the rare fare at the art movie house, I highly recommend this film for your pleasurable viewing.  To others, you may want to try it, but if it moves too slowly for your taste, you need not be concerned.  I don’t like caviar even though I know it’s a rare delicacy.  I have no idea what a truffle tastes like and am unlikely to find out; if that makes me a peasant, so be it.  I like what I like, and I think that Frenchman got it right:  we do have to be true to ourselves  and spend our time on what makes us happy.  In case you do decide to have a look, our library has a DVD copy. By the way, I suggest that before you watch the film, you read the book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog —also available at the WDFPL.   Let me know what you think.

Summer Reading with Sue N.

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Susan N.

Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Long Lost by Harlan Coben


Me & Emma was my favorite of the three with Plain Truth a close second.  I would not recommend Long Lost.  It was easy to read, but I kept hoping it would get more interesting.

Identical Strangers by Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Reviewed by Ann 

     At one time or another, most of us wonder whether we are adopted children, but in Identical Strangers, the two authors have known all their lives that they were adopted.  What they never could have imagined is that they are equal halves of a pair of identical twins who were separated shortly after birth and used as an experiment to study firsthand the old question of nature vs nurture.  It is nearly unheard of to separate twins for individual adoptions and surely unethical to allow couples to adopt the children without being informed of the circumstances of their birth or of the study. 
    Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein have been raised by loving parents, Paula first in Brooklyn and later in affluent Westchester County, NY.  She has returned to Park Slope, Brooklyn, where she is contentedly living with her husband and their baby girl.  Her world changes forever when she receives a phone call from an adoption informing her that her twin sister is looking for her.  She has had no particular interest in searching for her birth mother because her life has been complete. 
    Elyse Schein, a restless writer and filmmaker, has been living in Paris and has also known that she was adpopted.  Her adopted mother, her “real” mother as far as she is concerned, died, when she was six, and in her thirties she has decided to seek information about her birth mother.  The information is difficult to track down, and will not be fullly revealed, but what she learns is a shocking revelation:  she has a twin sister.  It is Elyse who takes the first tenuous steps to find this stranger and become her sister. 
    The book, written in alternating voices as the two authors describe their journey toward each other and later toward locating the family they share, is a fascinating account of the obstacles and small victories they encounter along the way.  In remarkably candid passages, the two women reveal their innermost thoughts as they forge a bond and share a mission to uncover the truth of why the young mother who gave them birth was willing to give them up.
    I found myself so engrossed in the story that I read it in a day with just brief breaks for doing what had to be done.   I recommend the book and will suggest that the members of my discussion groups consider reading it.  It is time well spent. 

Sisters by Danielle Steel

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

SISTERS by Danielle Steel is a superb novel spinning the stories of four sisters. Descriptive passages of each girl makes you feel as if you’ve known the women for ages. The author does not miss a beat or any opportunity to tell the story in warm, spell-binding passages that have you reading until past midnight.

The climax of an accident rendering the star of the story, blind, angry and helpless is very well done. The angst experienced by each sister is unique and strikes a note of empathy with the reader. Best of all, each sister winds up with a happy ending. The only loose end is the remarriage of their father and new baby sister on the way. Even that tends to give the reader a sense of continuation and completeness.

By Joan Badie

Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber is an unusually well written book that centers on a Yarn Shop nestled on a delightful small town street run by an admirable lady that battled cancer and won an unexpected life extension. She runs classes in knitting and a small, very varied group gets together to knit, crochet and help each other through some difficult life situations.

From the main character’s sister and niece who encounters a car-jacking that impacts her body and soul and that of her mother to a young girl battling wedding celebration woes, the author treats the reader to exciting, surprising and soul-satisfying solutions to the troubles of the characters in the story.

The threads of the stories intertwined in the book are further pulled together by delightful poetry relating to yarn and knitting at the beginning of each chapter.

I was very impressed by the author’s skill and expertise as well as the tales of the characters. It is a very enjoyable read for anyone.

Joan Badie