Monday, 29 April 2013

Films about Writers

I rewatched Miss Potter recently, the film about Beatrix Potter and how she got her books published.  The film portrays her as a forward thinking, modern woman, with a vivid imagination and strong principles and it is inspiring and encouraging to see how determined she was. She was truly an inspiration woman.

It led me to think about other films that are about the lives and careers of writers. 

Straight away I thought of Enid, the BBC film about Enid Blyton, which reveals the darker reality of her life.

Another one I quickly thought of was Finding Neverland, one of my favourite films, all about J.M. Barrie, a troubled man.

Here are some more I came up with:

The Waves. I've never seen this, but it's meant to be fantastic. All about Virginia Woolf. And a book as well.

Daphne. As a du Maurier fan I am ashamed to say I haven't seen this BBC film, but this was made to coincide with her centenary, all about her affairs with Ellen Doubleday and Gertrude Lawrence.

Becoming Jane. Another American actress takes on a very famous British woman (I know right) but Anne Hathaway does a great job as Jane Austen, charting her early years as an author and a love story.

Miss Austen Regrets. Another Austen film, this time about her at the end of her life as she looks back over her life.

Shadowlands. An emotional film about C.S. Lewis and his wife.

Shakespeare in Love. I'm sure everyone has seen this. It's been a while since I saw it, but I seem to remember it is about the writing of Romeo and Juliet (?) and plays around that time.

Of course these are all about real life writers.

There are ones about fictional writers too, like I Capture the Castle, with Cassandra's eccentric writer father who, since his first well renowned book has not written another word. And of course Cassandra is a budding writer too.

And that's where I got stuck.... Do you guys know any other films (or books - although of course there is a wealth of biography about many of these authors and more) about writers, real or fictional?

Saturday, 20 April 2013


A return to normal blogging, a return to Exeter, and a return to... Spring! Yes, Spring is seems is finally here, which means summer is around the corner and as these are my favourite two seasons I am in heaven.

 And utterly obsessed with daffodils.

Although, my favourites are the bluebells and I am eagerly anticipating them coming out, and going to find a bluebell wood somewhere in Devon, as I am not at home for them this year (if anyone has any suggestions PLEASE let me know! Cheers!)

I love the longer evenings, now that it doesn't get dark until 8.30 or so.

I love that the sun is shining and it's warm enough to sit outside (when it's not windy) and that we can shed the winter layers (I do feel like I've come out of hibernation!).

I love that I can go outside in BARE FEET.

I love that there are so many summer plans and it is nearly tennis season in the UK and that the French Open and Wimbledon are around the corner.

I could go on, but today I won't.  Am busy at the minute writing and finishing off assignments due for the beginning of May, and then I'm free! Until September! But I am looking forward to starting many more projects over the summer (I have a couple I've been planning on focusing on) and getting them written, and my mind is buzzing with ideas at the minute, which is exciting. One character strolled into my mind this morning, making me want to write her story down, so I scribbled some notes, but now it's back to focusing on this essay!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Anna RAL Challenges #2 and #3

A little behind so I'm going to post both these challenges in one post.

The second challenge (and the first one in this post) was to share a story in your life when you identified with Anna.

Initially I thought that although I relate to Anna tonnes and love her as a character I didn't really have experiences that echo hers from school. But then I saw lots of you posting about 'home' and that's when it occurred to me. This is when I make a confession - I went to boarding school, for a good five years. It's not a confession really, but it seems like it to me. It's not a secret, just something I don't talk about much, but when I think about it, it's so much a part of me it's important - important to me as a person, how I am now, and how I changed - how I found out home wasn't just a place, but the people you're with, a lesson that I continued to learn at university and am still learning.Of course Anna finds herself moving away from home for the first time, and although it's only for her last year of school, there are things she is bewildered by. I recognise and get that bewilderment, the confusion, the wanting to do everything right and like Anna realises, it's there all the time. Non stop.

Yet, as I was writing this post I realised what I wanted to really write about in regards to Anna were her group of friends. The theme of home is one that continues to intrigue me. True I was at an all girl's boarding school so my group of friends were different, but we were, and still are, a close knit group. We shared everything, did everything together and those memories are still incredibly important to us. It occurred to me as I started writing this, that I have, or have had several groups of friends who have made me feel at home, who have been home for me. There are my lovely friends from home, who I feel incredibly comfortable and safe with, because we grew up together and have always known one another, there are my school friends and we know each inside out, as you do when you have lived with a group of people. And you find yourself growing closer to them, while things at home change. It is easy to assume that things will stay the same at home while you're away, but as Anna finds out, of course they don't. Then there were my online, Mcfly friends who I shared very important Mcfly moments with and I felt incredibly at home with them for a long time and they taught me so much. And then there are my uni friends, a group of people I haven't known so long, but feel equally at home with, as you do when you've all moved away from home, and share so many things. And So it turns out, I can relate to Anna more than I thought I could! But the important thing is that, she realises 'home' is the feeling of safety and contentment with people and and it is not necessarily about the place you are. Home is where they are.

Phew! That was longer than I thought.

Challenge #3 was to post a review of Anna. Compared to my babbling up above, this is just short and not much of a review, but it's something!

Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2010)
Etienne St Clair. Three words that say it all about this book. Oh yeah, and PARIS and just amazing writing. This book has me hooked everytime I reread it, and each time I am thrilled by it, as if I have never read it before. The boy is just so swoon worth and Anna is a fantastic main character. This is one of my favourite YA books and one of the books that got me hooked on YA and in particular contemporary YA. This is so much more than a love story. It feels so real and Perkin's writing is funny, clever and so damn cute at the same time - you want to cry, laugh and swoon all at once, if that were possible (and with this book it is, believe me). The characters are brilliant and you feel like you know them all so well, and the setting is fantastic as well.

It's hard to express quite how I feel about this book and how perfectly wonderful it is. I almost didn't want to read this at first because of the hype, but believe the hype and go read it if you haven't already (and I don't know why you would not have read it. I mean come on).

Anna RAL Discussions Questions #3

Firstly I must apologise for the lack of regular blogging recently. I've been at home, with a poor internet connection and have been caught up in this RAL, which is taking up all my posts! I am back in Exeter (yay!) and back to normal (sort of), so I will return to normal(ish) posting (is there such a thing?) next week! 

Here is the third set of discussion questions. If you've not read it, there are definitely spoilers here! 

St Clair knows he needs to make a decision about his relationship with Anna, but his hesitation only hurts her. Do you sympathize with him?

Yes. As someone who hates making decisions and changes and hates that sort of thing, I totally sympathise. But at the same time HE’S SO STUPID. I MEAN REALLY. HE HAS ANNA, COME ONNNNNNNN. *ahem* I mean….

Anna is hurt by St Clair, and makes some bad decisions, relationship wise. Do you sympathize with her, or not?

Yes. I do. What’s a girl to do? I mean, he’s stupid. He acknowledges that. But she has to do something, this has been going on like all year. She is stupid, but people do impulsive things when they’re mad or upset. And I do sympathise with her.

How would you have reacted in the park if you were Meredith? How do you think Anna handles the fall out with Meredith?

She has a very appropriate reaction! I think I probably would have done the same to be fair. Or more likely, just pretend I didn’t care when I really did. But running away seems a good option, especially as everyone knew how she felt. It wasn’t like it was a secret.

I think Anna should have listed to Rash and not spoken to her that night, and left her to wallow for a bit. Although it’s good of her to try. But when she does patch things up, I think she handles that well.

Anna has a meltdown in chapter 42 – do you think this was a break-through for her? St Clair tells her that he isn’t the only one who is afraid of being alone. Do you think Anna ever realized this before now?

No. That’s such a hard thing to realize – especially if you’re denying it as much as you can (like she is!). And she doesn’t see that her thing with Toph and her hopes were the same as Ellie and Etienne, because she was never in a relationship with him in the same way. And she kept holding onto him because of Ellie, and argh! It’s so confused. But no, she didn’t realize.

Were you proud of Anna for the steps she takes to repair the relationships in her life?
Yes. She does all the right things. And although maybe she could have seen it sooner and done it sooner, when she does do it, it’s right and I am proud because everything works out so well.

These questions were hard! I can't believe that's the end either. Posting the other two challenges hopefully today!


Friday, 12 April 2013

Discussion Questions #2

Another Anna RAL post for you all. Here's my answers to the second set of discussion questions. Still loving being able to reread this amazing book. Etienne <3 

At the end of what we read last, St Clair asked Anna a question that could change their friendship. Would you answer the same way?

Yes, I think so. I think she does what is right, given the situation. And also maybe the easy way out!? I would certainly go with that anyway.

Anna realizes in Chapter 17 that she and St Clair will both be spending their Thanksgiving break at school, basically alone. How do you think this changes their relationship?

Oh man, this changes their relationship SO much. I adore this bit of the story, I think it’s so adorable and I love how she manages to get him out the house and back into the world again. It’s so cute. And all the time they spend together… they get to know each other in a way that they couldn’t before, because no one else is around. And the fact that she bothers – she makes the effort to find out what is going on with his mum, and he really appreciates that. I think that’s adorable. I mean, having been to that sort of place before, I know how much that would mean. Someone making an effort without asking ‘are you okay?’ all the time.

Anna and St Clair’s relationship changes even more over the Christmas holiday. Do you think either of them realizes just HOW much?

I don’t think they do until near the end of the holidays. I love how easy they become with each other, and I love all the calls and emails. I think they probably do realise as the holidays go on – for Anna especially on New Year. I love it when she says that St Clair is now ‘home’. Without anyone else around them again, they become really close and share everything and I love how they become close when they’re apart from each other. I love this bit so much. Maybe they don’t quite realise the full extent of how it’s changed though.

Anna has a big realization about her relationship with St Clair at the end of chapter 30. Discuss!

Okay, I know I keep saying this, but I LOVE this moment, when she goes to meet St Clair and Josh and sees them sitting there on the steps and realises. Oh my goodness – such an amazing moment! And she can’t walk, and then he sees her, and then he gives her the bead and Josh is just there like ‘aha…’ and oh man I love it so much! Finally right?!

How do you think Anna will deal with her new feelings for St Clair?
I’ve read it before so I feel like I’m cheating…. But with Ellie around, and Meredith I think she knows she’s in a sticky situation.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Anna RAL - Discussion Questions

One of the challenges is to answer these discussion questions, which can be found here .
Here are my answers. 

Discussion Questions

Anna is afraid to really experience Paris when she arrives. Would you be, or would you look at it as an adventure?

I would be terrified, and would definitely be inclined to stay in my room, but I like to think I would go out and be brave and think of it as an adventure!! I think if I had been pushed into it a little like she has been I would be just as afraid, but maybe if I was prepared for it I would be braver! Who knows!

Which of the characters we meet – Anna, St Clair, Josh, Rashmi, or Meredith – do you most identify with? Why?

It’s impossible to pick just one. I think there are elements of most of the characters that I identify with. I guess Meredith though; because she is the best friend and she clearly pines after Etienne, but she is never going to be with him. She is supportive of her friends, but stays in the background. She is loyal too. I also love the way that she collects things and how decorated her room is – she is passionate about the Beatles and a football player.

But then, I identify with Anna’s uncertainties and alienation in a foreign city. She is grateful to be accepted and finds herself amazed that she is part of a group. Her train of thoughts and awkardness I totally relate too, and I guess Anna's voice and insecurities is one of the main reasons I pick this book up again and again. Rash is quiet and uncertain about the intruder to their group, although she is also loyal and stands up for Anna, which I admire. Josh too is quiet and passionate and dedicated.

Anna is drawn to St Clair, as well, everyone is. She wants to be “just friends” with him. Do you think this will be possible for her? Can a guy and a girl BE just friends?

Yes. I think they can. One of my best friends is a guy. Although I think the attraction between the two of them is strong it’s kind of inevitable….

What are your first impressions of Anna? Of St Clair?

I love Anna. From the first sentence I adore her voice and character.

And St Clair… how can you not fall in love with him from that moment when Anna runs into him? *swoon*

What’s your favorite moment or quote from what we’ve read so far?
These are tough questions!
Okay; so I managed to pull some moments and vague quotes out:
The moment when Anna walks into Etienne for the first time and goes ‘Not a wall, a boy’.
The moment when she is standing on the star and he tells her about it and welcomes her to Paris, and when the wind blows and he says ‘must have been a good one’. 

The bit when Anna finally orders food and St Clair yells across the dining room. 

And when he does the dodgy 'fo shiz' accent.  

And the bit where Anna talks about how Meredith pratically throws napkins at her... that makes my heart twist. Poor Mer.  
See, I just love how Stephanie Perkins manages to combine humor with really cute moments! I have gone back to these moments thinking there are lines I want to pick out, but realising I want to quote the whole page, I realized that is impossible!

Okay, as I keep reading on, I keep finding more things I want to quote. 

Like the moment when Etienne hears the news about his mum and he is so heartbroken, and that moment is so devestating. 

And, his drunken confession.

The exchange between Josh and Anna when she's like should we be skipping school?

This book is too full of good moments! Sorry....   

(I nearly got super geeky referencing these... curse of the English student). 
This will be linked on Molli’s blog at Once Upon a Prologue.Join in there and follow along on twitter with the hashtag #AnnaRAL