The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

bookshelves: skoolzy-stuff, published-1794, gothic, gutenberg-project, e-book, summer-2014, classic, boo-scary

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: FutureLearn
Recommended for: Laura, Jemidar etc
Read from June 26 to 30, 2014

 

Read here

Fate sits on these dark battlements, and frowns,
And, as the portals open to receive me,
Her voice, in sullen echoes through the courts,
Tells of a nameless deed.

Opening: On the pleasant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Gascony, stood, in the year 1584, the chateau of Monsieur St. Aubert. From its windows were seen the pastoral landscapes of Guienne and Gascony stretching along the river, gay with luxuriant woods and vine, and plantations of olives. To the south, the view was bounded by the majestic Pyrenees, whose summits, veiled in clouds, or exhibiting awful forms, seen, and lost again, as the partial vapours rolled along, were sometimes barren, and gleamed through the blue tinge of air, and sometimes frowned with forests of gloomy pine, that swept downward to their base. These tremendous precipices were contrasted by the soft green of the pastures and woods that hung upon their skirts; among whose flocks, and herds, and simple cottages, the eye, after having scaled the cliffs above, delighted to repose. To the north, and to the east, the plains of Guienne and Languedoc were lost in the mist of distance; on the west, Gascony was bounded by the waters of Biscay.

Haddon Hall is the basis for Radcliffe’s crumbling, spooky castles.

Close reading exercise. What adjectives does she use? How do both descriptions connect with the emotions of the viewer, Emily? How is the heroine’s uncertainty conveyed? Are there any nouns, verbs or adjectives in particular which convey uncertainty? How, precisely, is the castle of Udolpho personified?

Towards the close of day, the road wound into a deep valley. Mountains, whose shaggy steeps appeared to be inaccessible, almost surrounded it. To the east, a vista opened, that exhibited the Apennines in their darkest horrors; and the long perspective of retiring summits, rising over each other, their ridges clothed with pines, exhibited a stronger image of grandeur, than any that Emily had yet seen. The sun had just sunk below the top of the mountains she was descending, whose long shadow stretched athwart the valley, but his sloping rays, shooting through an opening of the cliffs, touched with a yellow gleam the summits of the forest, that hung upon the opposite steeps, and streamed in full splendour upon the towers and battlements of a castle, that spread its extensive ramparts along the brow of a precipice above. The splendour of these illumined objects was heightened by the contrasted shade, which involved the valley below.

‘There,’ said Montoni, speaking for the first time in several hours, ‘is Udolpho.’

Emily gazed with melancholy awe upon the castle, which she understood to be Montoni’s; for, though it was now lighted up by the setting sun, the gothic greatness of its features, and its mouldering walls of dark grey stone, rendered it a gloomy and sublime object. As she gazed, the light died away on its walls, leaving a melancholy purple tint, which spread deeper and deeper, as the thin vapour crept up the mountain, while the battlements above were still tipped with splendour. From those, too, the rays soon faded, and the whole edifice was invested with the solemn duskiness of evening. Silent, lonely, and sublime, it seemed to stand the sovereign of the scene, and to frown defiance on all, who dared to invade its solitary reign. As the twilight deepened, its features became more awful in obscurity, and Emily continued to gaze, till its clustering towers were alone seen, rising over the tops of the woods, beneath whose thick shade the carriages soon after began to ascend.

Two and a half wet tissues is all I can muster for this drivel. I can recommend Thomas Love Peacock as a skit on the Gothic Romance genre: Nightmare Abbey is really very funny.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, true-grime, published-1994, spring-2011, nonfiction, north-americas, amusing, paper-read

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Brazilliant Laura
Read from May 13 to 14, 2011, read count: 2


** spoiler alert ** There is an inserted map, i.e. non attached, and given that this is a one-penny wonder I will forgive that I have seen the map with the biro comments – at this stage, the opening, nothing means nothing to me.

Double negatives do work the right way sometimes.

So, given that I have just gawped at how many have already have read this I am, right now, un-hyped and uninitiated as to what this is all about. I am hoping it will be along the lines of Savage Garden where there are follies and secrets in a garden designed as if it was the woods before the journey into Dante’s circles of hell. ETA I like surprises, that is why lots of books are bought, if I can nab ’em for a penny, without any prior knowledge as to genre. Just a few pages in and this is non-fiction, however it has not been established yet whether the line is Charles Manson or real life Savage Garden.

First line He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features: a neatly trimmed mustache*, hair turning silver at the temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine – he could see out, but you couldn’t see in.

*mustache – what a weird way of spelling moustaches.

Page 31 – ‘If you go to Atlanta, the first question they ask is, “What’s your business?” In Macon they ask, “where do you go to church?” In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is “What would you like to drink?”‘

——-

Round about page 250, which is a fair way into Part II, I started skimming; first paragraphs then full pages and then only honing in on key words. Does anyone else see this as a cheap writer’s trick? The same way I saw Capote’s In Cold Blood

To sum up then, Part I has some beautiful portraiture and endearing whimsy. I loved learning about the restoration of Savannah and its lovely squares. Berendt lived/leached off Savannah and its occupants, and if I feel soiled then think of the people who live there.

4* for the wonderful characters; 1* for the journalist’s insiduousity; 5 stars for showing me around Savannah; 3* for (front-loaded) reading pleasure.

‘You mustn’t be taken in by moonlight and magnolias. There’s more to Savannah than that.

 

Monterey Square, Savannah”

 

1973 pontiac grand prix”

 

Tybee Island”

Twelve miles east of Savannah, beneath shallow layers of sand and water, an abandoned 7,600 pound nuclear bomb is biding its time, waiting to rain death and destruction on the southern Atlantic coastline. If not disarmed, perhaps some sleepy Sunday morning an atomic fireball will erupt on picturesque Wassaw Sound, shooting along nearby heavily travelled Interstate 80 with the force of a hundred hurricanes, instantly vaporizing tidal wetlands, and brutally fire-storming a vibrant, thriving metropolis—women, children, more than 200,000 people instantly incinerated—into a crumbling, deserted heap of radioactive rubble.
A cold, calculated act of terrorism? Not quite. It’s simply that the United States Air Force isn’t in the habit of picking up after itself.

 

The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright

bookshelves: film-only, published-1907, summer-2014, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer, forest, bucolic-or-pastoral, christian, doo-lally

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Don
Read from June 29 to 30, 2014


Watch the film here

Description: “Here and there among men, there are those who pause in the hurried rush to listen to the call of a life that is more real. He who sees too much is cursed for a dreamer, a fanatic, or a fool, by the mad mob, who, having eyes, see not, ears and hear not, and refuse to understand.” –From The Shepherd of the Hills Originally published in 1907, The Shepherd of the Hills is Harold Bell Wright’s most famous work. Pelican Publishing Company is honored to bring this classic novel back to print as part of the Pelican Pouch series. In The Shepherd of the Hills, Wright spins a tale of universal truths across the years to the modern-day reader. His Eden in the Ozarks has a bountiful share of life’s enchantments, but is not without its serpents. While Wright rejoices in the triumphs, grace, and dignity of his characters, he has not naively created a pastoral fantasyland where the pure at heart are spared life’s struggles and pains. Refusing to yield to the oft-indulged temptation of painting for the reader the simple life of country innocents, Wright forthrightly shows the passions and the life-and-death struggles that go on even in the fairest of environments that man invades. The shepherd, an elderly, mysterious, learned man, escapes the buzzing restlessness of the city to live in the backwoods neighborhood of Mutton Hollow in the Ozark hills. There he encounters Jim Lane, Grant Matthews, Sammy, Young Matt, and other residents of the village, and gradually learns to find a peace about the losses he has borne and has yet to bear. Through the shepherd and those around him, Wright assembles here a gentle and utterly masterful commentary on strength and weakness, failure and success, tranquility and turmoil, and punishment and absolution. This tale of life in the Ozarks continues to draw thousands of devotees to outdoor performances in Branson, Missouri, where visitors can also see the cabin where the real Old Matt and Aunt Mollie lived. Harold Bell Wright also is the author of That Printer of Udell’s (pb) and The Calling of Dan Matthews (pb), both published by Pelican.

How lovely it is to be so ignorant of divisive issues re geography in US. This, in a heap of reviews, is peculiarly Ozark and that it might be hard to grasp. I looked up Ozark on ‘thankheavenfor’ wiki:

Ozarks is a toponym believed to be derived as a linguistic corruption of the French abbreviation aux Arcs (short for aux Arkansas, or “of/at Arkansas” in English)[1] in the decades prior to the French and Indian War, aux Arkansas originally referring to the trading post at Arkansas Post, located in wooded Arkansas Delta lowland area above the confluence of the Arkansas River with the Mississippi River.

Residents, as far as I can tell, are looked down upon by other US citizens. Please feel free to jump in and explain why this is, I am always up for my horizons being broadened.
:O)*

The answer from Don:

Great post Bettie, thanks! I will be out that way later this week so this is very timely and informative to me.

As far as residents being looked down upon, the label for them, hillbilly, as explained by wikipedia, connotes a “stereotype — the poor, ignorant, feuding family with a huge brood of children tending the ancestral moonshine still — reached its current characterization during the years of the Great Depression, when many mountaineers left their homes to find work in other areas of the country. It was during these years that comic strips such as Li’l Abner and films such as Ma and Pa Kettle made the ‘hillbilly’ a common stereotype.” Hope that helps!

Theme tune placed here just for fun

Riight, gotcha, I’m with you. Thanks for answering, Don, I can see why many would not have felt comfortable with replying: regional prejudices are a tricky subject. Funnily enough, because I can see ‘Springfield’ on that map, it set me thinking of stereotypical ‘Dohs’.

The Bride of Lammermoor by Walter Scott

bookshelves: summer-2014, classic, re-visit-2014, play-dramatisation, published-1819, under-1000-ratings, fradio, gothic, radio-4, britain-scotland, ghosties-ghoulies

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from January 01, 1976 to June 30, 2014, read count: 2


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b047wb66

Less sprawling than most of Scott’s novels, “lean and tragic” (E. M. Forster), but still boasting his characteristic humor and wisdom, The Bride of Lammermoor (1819) brings to vivid life a historical incident from his own family lore and from Scotland’s turbulent past.

Description: Mike Harris adapts Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor.

The novel is set in the Lammermuir Hills of south-east Scotland at the beginning of the 18th Century and tells of a tragic love affair between young Lucy Ashton and her family’s enemy Edgar Ravenswood.

The Ashtons and Ravenswoods have been enemies for centuries – but will a proposed union between the warring families finally bring peace?

Music Composed and performed by Ross Hughes and Esben Tjalve
Violin and viola – Oliver Langford
Written by Mike Harris
Produced and Directed by Clive Brill
A Brill production for BBC Radio 4.

  'BLOOD WILL FLOW'

Deep cut water course on the eastern side of the Lammermuir Hills. The area is managed as the East Lammermuir Deans nature reserve.

Having read the greater part of Scott’s works whilst a young girl at the duty visits to Great Granny in Corstorphine, this BBC offers me a chance to wallow in sentimental reminiscing.

This fiscal Romeo and Juliet tale is only really enjoyable if one knows the impact of the Darien scheme on future generations.

Magnolia Blossom (BBC Radio Drama) by Agatha Christie

bookshelves: summer-2014, mystery-thriller, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, filthy-lucre, fradio, radio-4x

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read on June 29, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jzckt

Description: Theo is determined to seek happiness with her husband’s business rival, Vincent. Having fled London for Paris, however, she soon learns of Richard’s financial collapse – and discovers that rather more than just his job is at stake.

An old short story given a contemporary twist. Gordon Ramsay, ORLY? Not worth more than three daffy ducks.

Bond On Bond: Reflections on 50 years of James Bond Movies by Roger Moore

bookshelves: summer-2014, autobiography-memoir, biography, books-about-books-and-book-shops, nonfiction, published-2012, spies, giftee, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, tbr-busting-2014

Read on June 29, 2014


Read by Roger Moore, his smug, smirkable self!

Description: The Bond movies remain the longest continually running film series in movie history, and 2012 marks its fiftieth anniversary. While there have been other actors that have taken on the coveted role of James Bond, one of the most renowned and beloved 007s, is the charming and charismatic Sir Roger Moore, KBE. To celebrate these films and their cultural heritage, Roger Moore has written a book that features all the Bond movies, along with a wonderfully witty account of his own involvement in them. From the girls to the villains, the cars to the cocktails, the gadgets, locations and everything else, this beautiful book is illustrated with hundreds of iconic images from all the films plus many previously unseen photos from the Bond archive. This is the ultimate James Bond book, written by the ultimate insider, with all the affection and good humor he brought to the role. It is the perfect gift for all fans of these much loved films.

So bad; not even funny bad. The only thing this had going for it was that it was short at 04:48:29. Just the one 007 rating.

Good Bait by John Harvey

bookshelves: newtome-author, mystery-thriller, series, published-2012, london, britain-england, summer-2014, contemporary, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost, next

Read from April 14 to June 29, 2014

 

Hampstead Pond in winter.

Description: When a 17-year-old Moldovan boy is found dead on Hampstead Heath, the case falls to DCI Karen Shields and her overstretched Homicide & Serious Crime Unit. Karen knows she needs a result. …

G

A body in the pond starts this series off. Karen Shields, a down to earth black officer from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command unit, speaks with a thick London patter. At times it reads like a corpse list, meh. A two icicle read. Next!