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Posts Tagged ‘retrospective’


From August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson: this is the version I watched as a YouTube on-line

“It is all very well planning what you will do in six months, what you will do in a year, but it’s no good at all if you don’t have a plan for tomorrow.” Cromwell to his son Gregory as they leave the princess Mary in her cold room at Hatfield, Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

Friends and readers,

At each year’s end many people look back over the year and ask themselves, how I or we did, how did this year compare to others, what do we remember as significant, as particularly happy and good (any successes) or as especially grievous, the bad failure. In public here I will mostly confine myself to books & movies; what did I read & see is the first problem. Often I think some book or movie was my favorite this year, when it was last year I read or saw it. I ask, Did any transform my attitudes to this or that; any new literary masterpieces; what lingers in my mind and what did I want to re-read and re-see.

My list is complicated because I do a lot of re-reading, re-discovery. Further, I spend a helluva lot of time watching movies, and I study them as intently as any book. Another thing I do is skip around, dip in and read here and there in books: none of that counted.  I skip all essays and articles, single short stories, even if a particular one was meaningful. I often do not finish a book and do not include those.  The list still seems hardly meaningful as it is varied (unless you start to see parallels), and it is hard for me to chose say the “top 10.” I also don’t want to go on about them individually because the blog would become insufferably long.

So, for once, like other people, here are simply lists, three of them. Sometimes I combine a few books or a series of movies as one


I also loved the Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala film which I saw years ago, but read the book this year for the first time, finally, at last

Of books, the ones that will stay with me that I read through for the first time:

August Wilson Piano Lesson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Jitney
Agier Michel, The Jungle: Calais’s camps and migrants
Naomi Mitchison The Bull Calves; Calder, Jenni The Nine Lives of Naomi Mitchison
Philips, Carol Crossing the River
Weil, Simone, Uprootedness; Simone de Beauvoir, Ethics of Ambiguity & Memoires d’une fille rangee (sans accents, only superior in the French)
Anne Boyd Rioux Meg Jo Beth Amy; Writing for Immortality
Rebecca Traistor’s All the Single Ladies; Lee Virginia Chambers-Schiller, Liberty: a Better Husband, Single Women in America, 1780 to 1840; Martha Vicinus’ Work and community for single Women, 1850-1930
Clifford D. Connor’s Colonel Despard: The Life and times of an Anglo-Irish Rebel
Peter Cameron, The City of Your Final Destination
Elaine Showalter, Inventing Herself
Virginia Woolf, Night and Day (superb, badly underrated)
Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name, Those who Leave and Those who Stay, The Beach at Night
Francis Power Cobbe, The Confessions of a Lost Dog
Oliphant’s The Rector’s Family, The Curate in Charge


Dazzling artistry

Of books, those that I reread for the first time in a long time so I had almost forgotten them (so I must not this year’s Trollope, masterpieces though the first three are: HKHWR, CYFH?, Phineas Finn, and Miss Mackenzie):

Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (and the 2018 series with Jessie Buckley, scripted Fiona Seres)
Adhaf Soueif, Map of Love
Olivia Manning, The Great Fortune
Daphne DuMaurier, Jamaica Inn
Diderot, The Nun; Madame Roland’s Memoirs; Voltaire’s Letters from England
Penelope Fitzgerald, The bookshop; EL Carr, A Month in the Country — Booker Prize books
Margaret Oliphant, Autobiography and Letters as edited by Annie Walker; “The Open Door” (a short story, but pure gothic poetry)
E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel
Winston Graham, Cordelia, The Walking Stick, The Tumbled House


Just unforgettable series, Fortunes of War out of Manning’s 7 book series, Balkan and Levant Trilogies: Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh as the Pringles and Ronald Pickup as Prince Yakimov (scripted by Alan Plater)

Of movies, series and cinema and plays

Outlander, all four seasons
Poldark, the 1970s, both seasons; the New Poldark, Seasons 1-5
The Pallisers episodes 1-12
The Fortunes of War
The Durrells of Corfu (seasons 1-3); Hampstead (with Diane Keaton, Brendan Gleeson) (comfort movies)
Chernobyl
When They See Us
Chasing the Deer (another Culloden humanized, 1994)
Culloden (Watkins’s docudrama)
A Christmas Tale (Desplechin)
Metropolitan (Whit Stillman)
Wild Strawberries
The Lady’s Not For Burning, play and film (with Kenneth Branagh)
An Inspector Calls as rewritten by Aisling Walsh (& Priestley’s play)
Sheila Delaney A Taste of Honey, play and film
Dark Waters
Andrew Davies Les Miserables
Ruth Wilsons’ Mrs Wilson; Miss Pym’s Day Out (with Patricia Routledge, a YouTube)
Greta Gertwig’s Little Women
Amadeus, Wm Davenent’s Macbeth


I also listened to JR more than once


Fifty-Five Steps in court

I suppose, if this means anything, when I try to remember from 2 years, and a wee further back, here are titles books and films that leap to & linger in my mind: books, Claire Tomalin’s A Life of My Own, Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and Susan Sontag’s Volcano Lover; movies, Kedi (Cats of Istanbul), Fifty-five Steps (featuring Helena Bonham Carter) and Andrew Davies’s TV series, War and Peace.

Gentle reader, I promise you, swear I did not just throw at you all the books and movies I read and saw, but this represents a thoughtful selection, about 80% of what I read through and watched (and re-watched).


Claire at the Window as Outlander begins (with over-voice)

People disappear all the time.
Young girls run away from home.
Children stray from their parents and are never seen again.
Housewives take the grocery money, and a taxi to the train station.
Most are found eventually.
Disappearances, after all, have explanations.
Usually.
Strange, the things you remember.
Single images and feelings that stay with you down through the years

Ellen

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