Tag: novels

Officially a NaNoWriMo WINNER!

So its official I have completed the 30 day NaNoWriMo challenge!  Here is the certificate to prove it.  I’m really proud of my accomplishment.  I’m proud that I finally, however, incompetently put pen to paper and wrote my story.  I have thought of those experiences from 2007 over and over again and now they have been written down.  I look forward to editing, changing things around and making it as good as it get can be.  Then I am going to bind it and keep it as a prized possession.

In the meantime I am already thinking about what to write next year.  It is a lot harder because this was my one big idea.  I had practically written the book in my head a million times and had practiced many of the events on this blog.  I may not have that luxury the next time around.  I could do a sequel but that would’ t really be my life at all as the character gets married at the end and I clearly am not married. I think I will just have to find another way to write about God and the Workforce but in another set of characters. Hmmm…

Well, I thought since I am ‘finished’ meaning initial output done I’d give you one more snip-it of the book.  My friend Polly read it and she enjoyed it.  I hope you do as well.  This is a closing scene when the character has just had her last day at the job she is quitting.

Thank you in advance for your feedback.  It’s still in a rough state so please bare with me. Just enjoy some early, exciting, writing in its raw form.  Plus this is a pretty romantic section, so enjoy that!  I enjoyed writing it and can’t wait for it to happen to me in real life! 🙂

I have decided to be happy because My Life is God’s and He is happiness.

LEAVING

As I descend the stairs I feel like an astronaut who is  about to take the big step onto a new planet.  Each one feels important like a plaque should be put in that honor stating ‘Rachel took the leap of faith here”.

Sometimes I still wondered why God was asking me to do something so strange?  Quit my job with nothing to fall back into?  Who does that especially in this economy?  Evidently I do. I finally reach the bottom of the stairs and open the door.  With the fresh air my brain is flooded with thoughts but  I am drawn back to the scripture Jamie read to me the other day:

“That you may love the LORD your God, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave unto him: for he is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them..”

“He is my life” I am putting it in His hands.  A rush adrenalin crawls up my spine and I feel ticklish all over.  It’s like happiness is bursting out of me from every pore.  Setting the box down for a minute I raise my hands high into the air and let out the loudest ‘Yes! I did it” I possibly can. For a moment I am dancing and I’m a terrible dancer!  The smile on my face is wide and a million pop ballads embracing freedom and adventure pop in my head.  That person they are singing about is me.  I’d done it.

In the middle of my revelries I feel a tap on my shoulder.  Looking around I see that it is Oliver and he gives me a huge hug.  “Congratulations.  I’m so proud of you for taking this big step”.

“I’ve never felt so great in all my life.  I did it!  The thing I didn’t think I could do for three years, I did!” I raise my arms to the sky one more time and let out a little ‘Hurray!’

“So what do you think you want to do with all your free time?” he asks

“Well, I’ll be looking for a job mostly but I have lots of projects like my college scrapbook to work on.  I would love to volunteer maybe go and tutor for Dr. Thomas for free.  That would be the best!  We will just see what life throws at me and where God wants me to be”.

All of the sudden his voice sounds a little nervous and I wonder why.  “What about doing some wedding planning?”

“Oh that could be a fun career” but before I can go on Oliver is on his knees in front of me with a ring.  It’s a princess cut ring small stoned ring with a the most beautiful platinum band”  I look at it and him with amazement.

“Will you marry me?” he asks

“Yes, of course, I will marry you!” I quickly reply and put the ring on my finger.  It seems to have always been there along with my necklace around my neck.

“Yes, yes, she said yes!” he says to nobody and we kiss but this is a kiss like never before.  Long (way past our 20 seconds), soft and tender and then rough and passionate.  I never want it to end. Without helping it I start to cry a little bit and put my head on his shoulder.

“What’s wrong he asks” hoping I haven’t had a change of heart.

“Now this is the BEST day of my life!” As I stood there with my head on Oliver’s shoulder I knew I would always look back on this moment as perfect.  Life would get hard again, I’d feel anxious and stressed, maybe even panic, but I would always have in my pocked that I had gotten through these 3 years.  I had learned to pay attention when God tells you to ‘make a change’ and that the more you fight Him the unhappier you will be.  I’ve learned that God has patience and he gives us far more blessings than we deserve, especially when we aren’t listening to him.  I’ve learned that diving into nothing is the greatest feeling a girl can have.   Most importantly I learned that my happiness matters to God, and that He really does love me.

Life is going to be good for Rachel Wagner former employee of Marshall Plastics.

“ka,ka,ka”  I hear and look around me on the top of the patio ledge is a crow getting ready to fly off into the distance. “ka,ka,ka”.  It rings in my head and I look at Oliver and smile.  He has work to do but I give him a sweet and simple kiss and then it gets longer and harder.  Perfect.

“Have a great day at work” I say with a wink and I hold onto his hand until it is just fingers and we finally let go.  “See you later tonight”.

As I get into my car, I let out a large long sigh.  “It is done.  Thank you God.  We did it!” Just as pull out of the parking lot the Clocktower ticks loudly and I push the gas pedal.  “Done and on my way to a new adventure”.

 

 

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Preparing to Write My Story

NaNoWriMo coming up!

So as many of you know I am going to participate in the National Novel Writing Month challenge in which you must write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days of November.  It is something I have wanted to do for many years and believe me this year had a lot of excuses but I just decided to go for it anyway.    My twitter friend Abby and I have made a pact we would both finish or we have to do a polar bear plunge!  That’s motivation for you!

My story is one I’ve wanted to put to paper for some time.  It is based on my experiences in 2007 when I took the great leap of faith and quit my job.  I have written about that moment greatly on my blog but have always felt it had the inherent drama necessary for a good book- something along the lines of Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisenberg.

I will be adding a romance to the story which will be a lot of fun considering I’m a bit of an amateur in that department.  Hopefully I’ve seen enough romantic movies to make it believable.

A couple of challenges I have run into as I’ve outlined my piece.

1. How religious should I make the character?  Since it is my story it is hard to imagine not making the character religious.  My faith was a huge reason I took the leap of faith.  I knew for sure from God that it was the right thing to do.  Without that reassurance I may not have been so brave.   Not that it is going to be published by any means but I want my story to be as accessible as possible.  It seems so rare in modern literature that there is a character who is Christian without it being a ‘christian novel’.

2. How many characters to develop?  Well, I have 5 siblings, 2 parents, lots of friends etc but it seems too much so I’m tempted to make her an only child but maybe one or 2 sisters wouldn’t be too much to follow.  I also am morphing 2 of my former roommates personalities, Emily and Camille, into one roommate for the character.  You don’t want to make it too cluttered but also want to have enough drama for 50,000 words.

3.  The other challenge is to make a pretty dark time in my life real without making the character seem unlikable.  I was very unhappy at that time, even depressed, and I want to show that without having the character seem whining and annoying (which I’m sure I was at this time. Sorry friends). I’ve been thinking about Drop Dead Diva and how they take some tough things the character has been through (like dieing!) and still help it feel light and funny.  The whole reason that show works is because the characters are all so likeable.  The plots are kind of stupid but we don’t care because we like Jane so much.  I hope I can pull off that kind of likability while showing a relatable version of the workplace.

Tone is going to be a challenging thing to maintain in this story.  With panic attacks, anxiety and a lot of unhappiness I will have to work to keep the chicklit tone but I think it will be all the better for it.  (If you look at most chick lit it involves some kind of sadness, usually at the beginning, like a death, divorce, break up, infertility etc).  Wouldn’t it be the greatest thing if someone , someday read my story and thought- I’ve been there, I’ve dealt with that, let’s see how she does.  That ‘d be awesome!

4. Character names?  Because this is coming from real life I am having a hard time picturing the characters as anything else but their real names.  I’m using those for now but eventually I will have to give them different names because they are not accurate portrayals just inspired by true characters.   My sister had some good suggestions for choosing names.  Do you out there in cyberspace have any suggestions?

I’m really excited about writing my book.  I wish I could get started now.  I read my outline to my sister Anna and she liked it.  Hurray!  I am sure I will write a lot of it in the first week and then cool down a bit after that but it helps when you can type 120 words per minute touch type.

It will be so exciting when I get my certificate and it says ‘you have written a novel in a month’.  I will frame it!

I love a good deadline and challenge.  Makes me very happy.

So, who wants to read my book once it is done?  I might let a select few…

Think the whole process is a waste of time? (heard that from some) Check out this article with some reasons why to do NaNoWriMo

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2010/11/12-reasons-to-ignore-the-naysayers-do-nanowrimo.html

Writing and Stories

Ok.  We are taking a break from my interviews for one second.  This is a topic I have wanted to address for some time.  I love writing and have always enjoyed creating stories (not as much as my sister but I still like it).   Growing up the advice to writers was always ‘tell what you know’ (think Jo March, Anne Shirley etc).  However, if this was the standard we would never have fantasy, magic or imagination (unless there is a mystical world out there I am unaware of).

Lately, I have heard a different vein of this old school writing advice.  Not only should you write what you know but that is the only thing you have a ‘right’ to write. If you venture away from your world than you are accused of stealing the voice of others.

For example, many have criticized Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, for telling a tale about black household workers in the 60s.  She even admits to being ‘nervous’ about it in an interview:

Q.  Were you nervous that some people might take affront that you, a white woman in 2008–and a Southern white woman at that–were writing in the voice of two African-American maids?

A.At first, I wasn’t nervous writing in the voice of Aibileen and Minny because I didn’t think anybody would ever read the story except me. I wrote it because I wanted to go back to that place with Demetrie. I wanted to hear her voice again.

But when other people started reading it, I was very worried about what I’d written and the line I’d crossed. And the truth is, I’m still nervous. I’ll never know what it really felt like to be in the shoes of those black women who worked in the white homes of the South during the 1960s and I hope that no one thinks I presume to know that. But I had to try. I wanted the story to be told. I hope I got some of it right.

I have also heard the same criticism of Sue Monk Kidd’s writing in The Secret Life of Bee’s.  In Utah some are mad at Stephanie Meyer for writing characters that do not uphold her Mormon faith.

I take issue with all of these arguments.  Are we really saying that Stockett can only write about Southern white women, that Stephanie Meyer can only write about Mormons, that Sue Monk Kidd can only tell stories of girls from small towns in Georgia?  (I don’t even like Meyer’s writing but I will defend it on this level).

Nobody enjoys a good memoir more than I do but I also love creativity and vision.  Who cares if a character may not be perfectly historically accurate?  If it works within the world of the story that’s all I care about.

These types of exclusions and criticisms are another example of how we preach diversity while becoming more isolating every moment.  We are no longer a melting pot of ideas and cultures but a scattering or clustering of those ideas.  Any break from cultural autonomy is seen as bigoted or an affront.   It makes it easier for most of us to stay in homogenous groups such as exemplified by Utah (where I live) or Portland (great book on this topic is The Big Sort by Bill Bishop).

Getting back to writing,  if a book is well written I shouldn’t even be thinking about the author and his or her story.  After all, when I’m reading Jane Eyre I’m not wondering how a clergyman’s daughter who didn’t marry until she was 30 could write such sexy, romantic prose? No, I’m enthralled with the story and then only after do I ask those questions.

To me it is sad that we are making authors ‘nervous’.  That we are forcing them to ask those questions and perhaps abandon a powerful story.   I like how Sue Monk Kidd describes her writing process:

“It took me a little over three years to complete the novel. The process of writing it was a constant balancing act between what writing teacher Leon Surmelian referred to as “measure and madness.” He suggested that writing fiction should be a blend of these two things. That struck me as exactly true. On one hand, I relied on some very meticulous “measures,” such as character studies, scene diagrams, layouts of the pink house and the honey house. I had a big notebook where I worked out the underlying structure of the book. I relied more heavily, however, on trying to conjure “madness,” which I think of as an inexplicable and infectious magic that somehow flows into the work.”

How can such madness and vision be tempered by thoughts of what is appropriate for them to write?  How about we just let them write and enjoy the results?  Maybe we would get better books if we encouraged true creative freedom.  That’s one thing I appreciated about The Book Thief is it has an unabashedly unique voice and perspective.   Nobody said, “Markus Zusak you are Australian, you can’t tell a story about WWII Germany” and thank goodness for that.  It is a perfect example of an author embracing the ‘madness’ and it working so thoroughly.

So, yes as Professor Bhaer says in Little Women “You must write from life, from the depths of your soul! “, or…maybe not?  Write whatever your soul tells you to write and even if it is a fairy story or about pygmies in Africa, it will become your story because you wrote it.  Look at Alexander McCall Smith.  He wrote about a spunky female detective in Botswana and he’s a stodgy old man from Scotland but it works.  There are so many examples.

All I’m asking is that we give people a little more room to breath outside of their life experience.  This doesn’t weaken any culture but adds a new voice and how can that be bad?

Update on Book Club

I haven’t mentioned my book club on this blog for some time.  I thought it’d be nice to give you an update.   Its been just over a year since I started the book club and at first it was difficult to find recruits.  Even now, each month there are 2 or 3 new people who test out the club, with a few of them sticking around.  I don’t think we’ve had the same formation of girls repeat a month in the entire year.  While this can be a bit of a problem in promotion and making sure everyone knows the club details, (especially those that do not check facebook or join the facebook group!), I’ve learned to appreciate the organic nature of the club and the different perspectives we continually have.

This month we even had our first member join via skype!  Emily was injured with a hurt back and didn’t feel she could take the drive (she drives the longest to get to my house), so we set her up on skype.  It wasn’t quite the same as having her there but a close second.  I was glad to get her perspective.   At least we know the method works for future ill or away members.

Over the course of this year we have read:

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

My Life in France by Julia Child

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

The River Between Us by Richard Peck

Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons

Marriage and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverely Campbell

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Hunger Games vol. 1 by Suzanne Collins

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle  by Avi

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (that is this month’s choice).

Not a bad list if I don’t say so myself!  I think there is a good variety with everything from spiritual non-fiction, to young adult, to the classics.   I’ve enjoyed reading every book (except for one- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- but you can’t have a home run each time at bat!).  However, as fun as the reading has been its the camaraderie and discussion which I’ve truly enjoyed.

Is there anything better than bonding over books?  I believe in talking about a book, whether in favor of it or not, you share a part of your soul- what moves and intrigues you, what inspires you to be better.  Over the course of these 14 books I have learned much more from my fellow club-mates than I could have ever grasped from the book alone.   Along the way I have come to realize new things about myself and my personality (as I have chronicled in several posts like this one)

More than anything else, I’ve had a lot of fun.  This year has proven to be one of the hardest of my life and what a comfort and joy it has been to know at the first of the month is book club- one evening when I can step away from my problems and just talk books (although, I still talk about my health more than I should).  It is nice to have a break and something to look forward to each month.  A time to socialize and share.  Its a small thing but I’m really grateful to have had it in my life.  So, thanks girls for coming!  I am so fortunate to have such great friends.

I have to stop writing because everything is spinning.  That still happens when I look at something for a long time.  Recovery is going as expected but it still feels slow.  No driving yet.  😦    Thanks everyone for the rides.

Also, we are continually on the hunt for new members so if you’d like to join let me know!

Writing Class

One of my chief enjoyments of this blog has been the weekly opportunity it gives me to hone my writing skills.  I still have a long way to go but I’ve seen a lot of improvement over the last two years of blogging (crazy that it has been going on that long!).  Naturally I also worked on my writing during my years of schooling writing papers and other presentations.  As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, writing and reading have not always been easy for me.  Growing up I was late at both skills and felt behind until college where something clicked inside my brain and writing/reading became a joy.  I have been a journal writer from a young age (which helped prepare me for blogging) and it is amazing to look at the difference between writing at 17 years old and 19.  It feels like 10 years difference not 2.

The one area I have never worked much on is fiction.  I took a poetry class in college but nothing in creative writing or fiction.   This is surprising because I’ve often day-dreamed about writing the next great American novel.  So many of the characters I loved growing up were writers (Joe March, Anne Shirley etc) and it always seemed like something exciting and fulfilling.

As I have also mentioned I am not traveling much this summer- just a reunion and a trip to CA to visit Megan.  I am doing this to save money so if it feels right I can make a down payment on a condo next year.  (I am missing Hawaii so much!  I will definitely go next year.  Maybe even for my 30th birthday- anyone want to come along?  It’s January 23rd).  Anyway, with more time this summer I thought it would be fun to take a creative writing class.  It is through the UVU Continuing Education department and only cost $60 for a 6 week course.  This Tuesday we had week 3 lessons on plot, subplots and more.  Our teacher is named Sharon Jarvis- a local LDS author that has published 8 books.

I’ve learned a lot through the course and am glad I registered; however, the greatest benefit is it has gotten me writing.  Tuesday I read the introduction to my book to the class and got a lot of positive feedback.  Driving up to the reunion I read the first 2 chapters to my mom, Madi and Grandpa and they really liked it too.  This has been encouraging to say the least.  The book I am writing is a chick-lit type book that is loosely based on my experiences quitting my old job.  I have switched things around and added a romance but the core person is basically me.  Right now I’ve even given the character my name.  I just can’ t think of a better name.

I am writing for fun and  am not going to publish my book; Nevertheless,  I am greatly enjoying writing it.  Once I have more completed I will post it and get feedback.

By the way, my sister Megan has already finished a young adult book she is currently editing and a picture book for kids.  I admire her devotion to daily writing despite her busy life with 3 little girls.  You can read about her writing at http://megwrites.typepad.com/blog/.  Check it out.

I always wanted to be a writer like Jo March in Little Women

Why I love Elizabeth Gaskell

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For all of you who do not know, Elizabeth Gaskell was a novelist in the 1850’s at the same time as Charles Dickens.  In fact, the two were friends and critiqued each other’s work on occasion.  I have now read four out of her six novels and I have LOVED all but one (Ruth I liked but did not love).  North and South may very well be my favorite book.  (I know- all you Austen-attics can scream in shock!).  To me it is as close to perfect as a novel can be- perfect characterization, settings, conflict, romance, social consciousness etc.  Wives and Daughters is also great, but Gaskell died before finishing it so the ending is a bit abrupt.  Recently  I  finished Cranford, which is more a series of short stories rather than a novel of a town called Cranford, and I LOVED it!  I laughed and laughed throughout the entire thing.  It is wonderful.  Let me say a few more things I love about Gaskell’s writing:

1. Her characters are the most fully realized voices I have read.  Each person Gaskell invents are complex, confusing, imperfect and human all at the same time.  He or she changes bit-by-bit like real human beings and by the end of the story I feel as if I have come to know a new friend intimately.   Some of my favorite characters are:

Molly Gibson (Wives and Daughters)- I can’t think of a higher compliment than someone telling me I am like Molly.  I know I keep saying this but she is perfectly well-rounded.  She is smart but not too bookish, kind but no pushover, spunky without being obnoxious, good but not pious, shy but not too shy.  She is willing to do brave things throughout the book but she does not seek after such tasks.  She loves but does so quietly out of true friendship. She loves her father but is still willing to speak her mind to him on occasion.  She’s just great! I don’t think I have ever wanted a character to fall in love as much as I wanted it for Molly.

John Thorton (North and South)- As much as I love Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, John Thorton is an even better man.  He is lower class-wise than Darcy but he holds himself up as high in the beginning of the story.  He is what Darcy might be had he been a self-made man.  Thorton’s father lost his fortune in speculating and the resulting poverty caused Thorton to pursue business with a passion.  That said, he never becomes a Scrouge-like character- consumed with greed.  Perhaps it is the presence of his mother that keeps a softness to him, but it is also the presence of literature and philosophy that convince Thorton he has more to learn- keeps him humble. I don’t want to give too much away but it isn’t until Margaret judges his lifestyle as inferior that Thorton’s pride becomes a stumbling block.  He believes that his factory, his life, is a benefit to the world and is shocked to find Margaret in disagreement.  This eats at him and causes him to slowly change.  (Again, Gaskell gives us a complicated and layered character).

Miss Matty (Cranford)- An old spinster who bases all her life choices on the opinions of her sister- or that’s at least what Gaskell wants you to think at first.  Again, without giving too much away, Matty looks  at the need around her and then subtly encourages her more headstrong sister to do the right thing.  With the exception of a man she might have married early in life, Matty seems to know what she wants in life and then finds a way to get it without ruffling any feathers.  This is shown when she has financial problems and through the support of her town she finds a way out of it without hurting anyone. (All of the women in Cranford are like this- Miss Matty was just my favorite).

2. The next thing I love about Elizabeth Gaskell is how contemporary her novels feel.  You might think I am crazy to say this given their length; however, the themes and characters are very modern.  For instance, the women in Cranford are almost entirely self-sufficient.  The narrator actually says in the opening of the book that the gentlemen in Cranford “seem to disappear.”

“What could they do if they were there?  The surgeon has his rounds and sleeps at Cranford;  but every man cannot be a surgeon…for kindness to the poor, and real tender offices to each other whenever they are in distress- the ladies of Cranford are quite sufficient. ‘A man’ as one of them observed to me once ‘is so in the way in the house”.

Now tell me, does that not seem like the words of a contemporary novelist? It’s not just her bold, dynamic women that I love but the mixture of tradition with a willingness to change that her characters embrace- is that not also very modern?  Even traditional Miss Deborah in Cranford changes in her views about death and certain traditions.

There is an independent voice to all of Gaskell’s characters. which I also find very modern.  I never feel like they are touting a party-line or saying something to be politically correct.  For instance, Margaret in North and South intervenes at a key moment not because she believes in a particular philosophy but because it is her innate human response. Someone like George Eliot (who I admire greatly) would have given tons of weighty reasons for why her characters act- instead of just letting them be human. Each Gaskell  character is unique and wonderful- and that individuality is very modern.

The women in all her books are independent thinkers, which you don’t see in a lot of other novels of the day. In Ruth, Gaskell even gives her readers a woman who has an illegitimate child that she keeps.  This must have been shocking for readers of the 1850’s, but doesn’t it seem like something that could have been written today?

Dickens, on the other hand, definitely has characters that are meant to symbolize or bring to light particular philosophies, practices or beliefs of his time. Plus, the women in Dickens are uniformly silly (With perhaps the exception of Estella in Great Expectations).  Most of this works in Dickens, but I prefer the organic feel of Gaskell’s characters.   I honestly think you could publish North and South or Wives and Daughters as  new books today (with perhaps a slightly different setting) and they would be equally applicable to our modern sensibilities.

3. I love the language of Gaskell.  I love that she can pull imagery from a flower, a piece of cotton, a butterfly.  There are scenes in her books where all you have to know is the character’s cravat is untied and you know everything.  I have never been to England but the way Gaskell describes the scenery makes me want to visit.  Whether it is the industrial South, the lush North, or the small isolated town of Cranford, Gaskell’s descriptions are just beautiful.  I love them!

4. Gaskell has some of the best pacing I have ever read.  Like Austen, she builds tension slowly with each scene until I am about ready to burst.  Then she gives us the climax or moment of crisis finishing off with a subtle yet triumphant ending.   That’s why Wives and Daughters kills me- I want to read the ending! As much as I try to fill in the blanks I know it is nothing to how great Gaskell would have ended it.

Given her great settings and characters, I buy what happens in Gaskell’s plots.  It just makes sense, and it always has me enraptured.  I don’t think I have ever wanted to know how a book would end more than while reading North and South.  I really did not know if it was going to be a tragedy or a romance- it is a perfectly executed  plot. In all of her books I just can’t wait to know what is going to happen and how it will all turn out.

I could go on and on.  Gaskell’s books are fantastic.  They make me want to write and to read more.  I find them funny, romantic, sad, tragic, gossipy, and immensely satisfying.  I know they are long books (with the exception of Cranford) but it is worth the effort.  Enjoy the length.  Enjoy every word of delight, every wonderfully layered character, and every perfectly executed scene.  I know that literature is very subjective, but if I could recommend any book to a friend it would be one of Gaskell’s.  I consider all of you to be my friends so there it is- read her books!

I will close by saying that the BBC miniseries’ based on North and South, Wives and Daughters and Cranford, are all superb.  Great, great, great, great.  They are long but I enjoyed every moment.  North and South is probably my favorite (Richard Armitage as Mr. Thorton- totally gorgeous).  It’s not only acted well but filmed in an interesting contemporary style which is in fitting with Gaskell.  Cranford is wonderful also with Dame Judy Dench, Dame Eileen Atkins, Imelda Staunton (who steels every scene she’s in- the scene with the cat is the best!) and Michael Gambon.  I can’t praise it highly enough.  Wives and Daughters managed to do the impossible by finding a Molly Gibson that I like.  Michael Gambon is wonderful in that as well.  All of the miniseries’ are great.  I just wish she had written more books for them to make into more miniseries’! If any of you want to borrow I have all 3 on DVD.

By the way- the next comment I get on the blog will be my 100th!  I wonder who will get the honor?! Thanks for making the blog a great part of my life.