*Allison blasts into the room with a toot of trumpets*
Hola boys and girls! How’s it going?
It seems the time has come for another nutshell from yours truly.
A very tiny nutshell. August and September were pretty slow and distracted months for me. Even painful, at times.
As usual, numerous circumstances contributed to this post being HORRIBLY LATE. But that’s a trend here.
And now, without further ado (who am I kidding, there’s always ado on Allison’s Well) . . . ONTO THE NUTSHELL.
– WATCHED –
*cracks knuckles* I’ll try to keep this on the short side.
If you can’t stand criticism of this film, you may want to skip some of the sections below. ?
The reports about the acting chops of Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh were not exaggerated – both ladies turned in excellent performances.
It’s a very pretty film and quite artistic in many respects. You can definitely see the painterly inspiration behind it. I also really loved the honest portrayal of Amy and Jo’s lives, and the fact that hardship and hard work look different for everyone – but no one is exempt from them.
And that scene where Jo finally gets her breakthrough and writes her novel? *chef’s kiss* It was such a beautiful salute to the writer’s life.
At this point in time, there have been so many Little Women adaptions (ten, to my count) that even a purist doesn’t mind when films deviate from the source material because, obviously, after beating something to death it’s time for a fresh take.
It was a very unique way of telling the story. It was almost as if the past and the present were running parallel to one another, simultaneously. Jo (in the present time) would see something that would trigger a flashback – causing all of the flashbacks to serve as poignant memories. This feeling of timelines running parallel and simultaneously gave the film a sort of time-wimey vibe – as if Doctor Who had decided to remake Little Women.
Beth looks angry throughout the whole film – which is the very opposite of what Beth is supposed to be. Granted, blink and you’ll miss Beth entirely, but still. . . .
Laura Dern as Marmee . . .
Laurie is so unspeakably awful there is really nothing to say except – how did this actor ever get a screen test?
As stated previously, it was an interesting way to tell the story. However, it only works for people who have the book memorized. I could follow along just fine but, when I showed it to my sister, she was lost.
As for the nitty gritty of the adaption. Let’s just say, there are multiple reasons the only Academy Award Little Women won was Best Costume . . . just saying.
Casting British actors to play classic American roles. Sure, Pugh and Ronan are good actors – but REALLY? It just feels funny to take novels that are so important to Americana and so much a part of a country’s identity and cast non-Americans.
I mean, can you imagine casting Americans in, say, a Jane Austen movie? It’s a part of British history, so I feel that that story rightly belongs to them. Casting Brits to play the March sisters is like casting Jason Mamoa to play Mr. Darcy. IT’S JUST WRONG.
And another thing . . . Do people actually think this film is historically accurate?
Sorry, no matter how much of a tomboy Jo is, she would NOT run through the streets with her skirts hiked up to her waist to reveal her shockingly-colored pants. She would NOT go to a tavern “just for fun” and cavort around the smoky establishment with strange men. And how about inviting a boy over to their house while they’re all parading around in their nighties and unmentionables???
I’m pretty sure Jo March herself would be shocked by this representation of herself, not to mention Alcott.
In addition, this movie contained feminist and Anti-American themes that, at best it made me laugh, at worst, it made me want to smash the DVD.
Sweeping statements such as: “No one makes their own way, least of all a woman, you’ll need to marry well.” or “As a woman I have no way to make money, not enough to earn a living and support my family.”
Um, guys . . . Louisa May Alcott helped support her family AND helped raise a niece without being married . . . another words . . . she worked and earned money . . . and helped to raise a child . . . without being married.
Just so you know, the most cursory research proves there were women during the Civil War era that owned and operated their own businesses and were regarding as successful and savvy tradeswomen by their communities. I found lists detailing female run and staffed businesses that existed before, during, and after the War.
Here’s a few screenshots of some the facts I found.
How about this excerpt from the book? Alcott herself indicates that it is quite common for American women of the time to pay their own way.
Look, I’m not saying that women weren’t allowed (or at least, it was frowned upon) to do certain things in history that we can do today – that’s true.
But, as usual, the modern feminist exaggerates to try to build up a history of victimhood – thereby spitting upon the memory of historical women.
Must we really remind the world of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the famous writer and abolitionist? How about Clara Barton, the found of the American Red Cross, or Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive an American medical degree? And, fun fact, two of these women were successful in her lives, despite never marrying – making some of the claims of this movie utterly invalid.
SO LET’S JUST GO AHEAD AND PUT A PIN IN THAT ABSURD LITTLE THEORY.
It annoys the living daylights out of me that people are only now “getting” Amy simply because of this film. HELLO – THE BULK OF THE DIALOGUE THAT REVIEWERS ARE RAVING OVER WAS IN THE BOOK. The Amy that you think is so awesome now was BOOK Amy. Maybe you should read the book again, eh?
Okay, I’m done. (actually I could go on but I’ll spare you)
POIROT (TV SHOW)
I watched a Poirot episode years and years ago, but didn’t quite catch the vision of the show until my family and I tried it again recently.
We were missing out!
These refined and elegant mysteries are full of intriguing and well-crafted plot-lines and fine characterization. Poirot and Hastings are an irresistible pair that complement one another beautifully. In addition, it’s a feast for the vintage-loving eyes – full of gloriously retro sets, costumes, cars, and more.
Some of the episodes get too dark and depressing for my tastes but, over all, it’s an excellent and diverting show.
JEDI TEMPLE CHALLENGE
Okay, who else has watched LEGENDS OF THE HIDDEN TEMPLE??? ✋
Legends of the Hidden Temple was a game show where kids would use their wits, physical coordination, and memory skills in a series of challenges that promised big rewards. (some of those lucky kids went on all expense paid trips to Space Camp or on Luxury Cruises).
Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge is similar to Legends of the Hidden Temple in many respects – except that this challenge takes place in a galaxy far, far away. Young contestants are put through a series of obstacles in the attempt to gain the rank of Jedi Knight.
What’s not to love about seeing tiny tots fighting to become a Jedi?
My siblings and I are an easy mark for game shows involving children: it’s so enjoyable to see children having such a good time. The only difficulty is when some of them lose. Those wee crushed faces are almost more than I can stand. ?
Legends of the Hidden Temple is still superior in many way (they were way more generous with their prizes, the editing was less choppy, and the host was more entertaining) – but the Jedi Temple Challenge is still a fun little show.
– READ –
Leave it to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse
I must admit, I once eyed any Wodehouse that wasn’t about Jeeves and Wooster with a certain amount of suspicion. To my mind, it was like being offered cheap knock offs of some much-treasured item.
However, I was not disappointed with my first dip into the world of Psmith. While the cast might be different, the same absurd Wodehouse touch makes itself present in this ridiculous escapade. I was laughing out loud at nearly every page as our irresistibly bumbling characters stumble from one ludicrous scenario to another. Though I’m certain Jeeves and Wooster will always hold first place in my heart, it seems you really can’t miss with Wodehouse, no matter what series you dive into!
The Most Wonderful Thing In the World
This was such a charming little picture book. There is some unique world building due to a setting that appears to be inspired by Venice somewhere between WW1 and the Roaring Twenties. It almost gave me some Roman Holiday vibes. It’s a soft and sweet story full of lovely illustrations. Just look at this!
Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
My twin begged me to read this one. She’s a Luke Skywalker super fan and she handed me this book and basically said: “It’s a glorious tribute to the Real Luke.” (I’m condensing a long and excited rhapsody down to one sentence).
As most of you probably know, I’m a silent part of that outraged group of Star Wars fans that were part of The Last Jedi hashtag – #NotMyLukeSkywalker.
We have endured Luke trash-talk (both before and after the sequel trilogy) and we are getting tired of it . . . .
ANYWAY, it was a relief to see the Real Luke in all his glory. Twin was right. This is basically a salute to the Greatness of Luke – The Jedi Like No Other.
What a relief to finally experience a Star Wars story that has so much respect and veneration for the Original Trilogy (specifically Luke). And it was just icing on the cake that the writing was good, the plotting solid, and our heroes were on an adventure that just didn’t stop. These are definitely one of the best Star Wars novels I’ve ever read!
This was the sequel trilogy that I REALLY wanted to see. IT IS FANTASTIC. This is the REAL Star Wars. No question.
The Letter For The King by Tonke Dragt
A wonderfully, old-fashioned medieval fantasy story!
This novel reminded me of some of my beloved childhood favorites such as The Red Keep and The Lost Baron. It’s full of beautiful descriptions and imagery, as well as noble and righteous characters that you can’t help but root for!
This book was recommended to me by a dear friend (you know who you are!) – and it’s just as thoughtful and deep as she is.
I listened to this on Audible, and I think hearing it read aloud really added to the mythic quality of the story. It was as if a storyteller was telling me an ancient legend. Highly recommended!
Grump by Liesl Shurtliff
As many of you know, I am an extreme dwarf fan. My love for dwarves knows no bounds. I am a dedicated champion of this fictional race and am always desperate for more dwarf representation in fiction.
This book filled my dwarf-loving cup to the brim.
The world building is phenomenal (as well as being hilarious). Quirky fairy tale retellings are one of my favorite genres, and Grump is definitely one of the best retellings of Snow White that I’ve ever read. I did find the (unnecessary) epilogue a tad on the depressing side, but that was my only real quibble. Overall, this was a delightful read!
Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott
This was a delightful salute to the Wodehouse classics. While you can tell this wasn’t written by Wodehouse, the author still does a grand job of sticking close to the original tone.
This is the kind of fan fiction that I mentally compose (but never write). Jeeves and Bertie involved with spies . . . what is NOT to love about that concept?
Admittedly, there wasn’t QUITE as much skullduggery as I was hoping for (though one can’t really expect knives in the dark in Wodehouse) this was still a jolly read and I highly recommend it to Wodehouse fans!
REBEL WAVE: Contact in Proteus by Tor Thibeaux
This serial is AMAZING. Okay, so my sister wrote it, so maybe I’m prejudiced (no, come to think of it, I’m not – this is genuinely terrific).
Strong female characters? Check. Epic undersea adventure? Check. Wonderful platonic relationships. Check. Desperate bids for freedom? YOU GOT THAT, TOO.
I don’t know how my sister comes up with this stuff but, wow, is she talented.
Word of warning, if you read this (or anything by Tor) you had better not have anything else planned for the next few days. It’s that good.
Goldwater Ridge by Hannah Kaye
A cute and funny Wild West middle grade adventure that was reminiscent of one of my favorite humor authors, Sid Flesichman – although it’s really more of a tall tale, than a Western. Although I wasn’t quite happy with some of the plot twists, this book was still a fun little romp of a story. A good friend sent this to me as a gift and I was whisked away on a dusty little jaunt on a day when I really needed an escape. Hilarious, heartwarming, and good, old-fashioned fun!
Animal Farm by George Orwell
This really ought to be mandatory reading for the world, in general. Especially for Certain People. It’s a great cautionary tale for all of us.
In a nutshell: victim mentality invariably leads to oppression. Don’t be a victim.
– WRITING –
August wasn’t a very good month when it comes to writing. I wrote less during that month than I have in a long time. The stats deeply disappointed me, friends.
I was struck by a terrible attack of WRITER’S BLOCK.
Did I say block? Nay, that implies a mere ice cube – this was a veritable iceberg, a great barrier completely impeding the progress of the Good Ship Alli.
Because I was having so much trouble writing, the first week of August I spent simply catching up on blogging, writing captions for Instagram, writing a few promotional articles for T Spec Fiction, and poking at copy writing for a potential client.
You know, just the usual things you do when you’re trying to take a break and relax.
After a week of relaxing – ehehehe – I knew it was time to get back to work and flex that writing muscle, no matter WHAT I was working on.
But I needed something easy and cathartic to break out of my writing slump.
I’m usually, more-or-less, a plotter, so I figured a completely different process would help pull me out of my frozen state.
I pulled up a blank doc and just started writing the sort of book I would like to read . . . and I’m completely pantsing it.
And you know what? It worked. I have utterly NO IDEA what’s going to happen from chapter to chapter.
If I get to the end of a paragraph and don’t know what to do, out comes magic jello or a dancing troupe compromised of rotini noodles.
Okay, it’s not that crazy, but the point is I’m letting myself write like a little kid. I let myself play again as a writer and do something atypical. It was really rather helpful to try something new.
And I really love what I have so far. It’s about a little boy named Monty who wears glasses and carries around a dictionary, and it’s about magical bookstores, and roller-skating wizards and monsters and time-wimey fog and lots of atmosphere.
I’ve decided to “save” this story for when I really need it, and that I’m not going to work on it seriously or even think about it unless I’m working on it. And I’ll only work on it when I have writer’s block – it will be my medication, so to speak.
I worked a little bit on the material for my future Patreon (which will be launching this December, Lord willing!)
This particular part had to do with the one and only CYNTHIA, and I can’t wait to see what you guys think of it.
The story that I have previously referenced as SOLDIER now has a title – The Dancer and the Goblin (simple, but it works).
It’s a retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier and I more or less finished the first draft, which I must confess quite surprised me. I must have made more progress than I realized back in June and July. Still, it’s going to need a lot of polishing before it’s ready for publication.
Got author copies of my books. That’s always fun!
Started working with my designer to tweak a few minor things on my book covers. Don’t worry, it’s nothing majors, just a few little changes that you’ll hopefully hear about soon on my newsletter or social media pages.
I returned to working on that Sci Fi Romance that I have mentioned to you previously and what is tentatively (and terribly) titled WHEN SLAVES AWAKE.
I once again poked at my Little Red Riding Hood retelling, with the vain hope and belief that I was getting somewhere.
I wrote a very short short story featuring fairy tale retellings and robots – which are essentially two of my favorite things in the world, so why not combine them?
Unfortunately, I waited until literally an hour before the submission window closed to send my story in, believing that it would still receive a chance.
The editor responded back to me within the hour and let me know that the selections had already been made.
Lesson learned – don’t wait till the last minute to submit, folks.
However, the editor did say that he liked my story a lot and, if I didn’t find a home for it elsewhere, to re-submit the story next year.
Now I just have to wait till the summer of 2021 to submit again! Fuuuuuuun.
I started working on a Viking-esque fantasy story features some very fun and creepy vibes. It was supposed to be a short story, but it’s turned into a novella. *bangs head against desk*
I also started working on a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I’ve never retold Sleeping Beauty before (it’s one fairy tale that doesn’t have much appeal for me and intimidates me somewhat because of the sheer awkwardness of having the heroine comatose for most of the story proper). My retelling is very much inspired by the Disney version, but with a fun twist.
Submitted a handful of stories to magazines and anthologies . . . and got a handful of rejections. It’s starting to get really repetitive at this point.
– LIFE –
We spent Labor Day at home – but we were able to go shopping for fabric and then afterwards we went to Barnes and Noble and had lunch at a restaurant.
I tell you, after a year 2020, bookstores and restaurants take on a whole new significance and I appreciated them more than I probably ever have in my life.
Got to go antiquing. It has been probably a year since I went to an antique store, and since one of our favorite old haunts was knocked down and replaced with apartment buildings, we felt the need to go to one of the few remaining thrift stores in our area while we still had the opportunity. I managed to score some pretty fabulous items, too.
The stars aligned and we had the opportunity to go swimming at a neighbor’s pool. The last swim of the season – and it was absolutely lovely.
I went out with my Mum to a new coffee shop and had a lovely mother/daughter date.
Went to the movies and had the marvelous experience of seeing Land Before Time on the big screen!
Land Before Time was essentially my childhood. I have vivid memories of sitting with my twin watching it twenty years ago, and it was surreal to be sitting with her and watching it again so many years later.
The nostalgia was strong – and I won’t deny that some tears were shed. What can I say? I don’t care if it’s animated, it’s a powerful movie.
As you can see, I had a rather quiet two months – but that’s okay!