Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Notes from March

Previously known as What I read in... but it wouldn't be my blog if things were consistent now would it?

March has seemed like such a long month compared with January and February!  Not in a bad way, but when I think about some of the things I did at the beginning of the month they seem like at least half a year ago.  Here are March's highlights:

  • Brunch with Alice at Fettle Cafe
  • A visit from Noel and a great night in watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I've never seen before and which made me snort with laughter in quite a few places
  • Two trips to the theatre!  The first to see War Horse which was my Christmas present from Paul.  It was absolutely amazing, so atmospheric and the puppets blew me away, I couldn't believe how lifelike the horses were.  They were never completely still, all the time they were breathing, flicking their tails, pawing the ground.  Just incredible.  Then a week later Paul and I went to see Tim Vine - a totally different experience, he is absolutely bonkers.

  • Snow, snow and more snow.  I used to say that I hated snow but let's be honest, last time we had proper snowfall I was more likely to be going out wearing unsuitable footwear and not enough layers.  This time we had a real flurry and I loved walking to work in it, the excuse to dig out my floral wellies, enjoying the hushed feel of the morning.
  • Fancy hot chocolate with my sister at Hotel Chocolat
  • An afternoon in York with my best friends, having lunch and shopping
  • Lunch with my dad and the tiny glass elephant he gave me... A treasure 💓
  • Shopping for and collecting my first wig and getting a little bit of myself back - I wrote more about my experience here

And here's what I read in March...

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock tells the story of Jonah, a widowed merchant in the 1700s who unexpectedly acquires a mermaid.  His new possession makes him rich and famous and steers him from a humble existence to high society and a world of opulence and debauchery that he's never experienced before.  At a party he meets Angelica Neal, an accomplished courtesan, and from then their lives are linked.

It took me a good long while to get through this one which is usually a sign I'm not enjoying a book as much as I thought, but I really liked it.  I was pulled in straight away by the premise and the language in this book is so mesmerising, both the way the characters speak and the descriptions of the setting.  It's really beautifully written and an impressive debut.  I loved the historical setting too.  The mermaid is less a central character than I expected from the blurb and more of a background influence, but it worked really well especially because Jonah and Angelica are already accompanied by a cast of vivid characters; his niece Sukie, the maid Bridget, Angelica's former madam Mrs Chappell, and Polly, a black prostitute working for her now.  In fact, the novel is really driven by its women characters.  Not quite 5 stars because some of their stories were left unfinished (especially Polly) and it almost seemed a shame to include them and not tie everything up - but then it's already 500 pages long!

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Everything I Know About Love

This was definitely a case of  'instagram made me do it' but I don't regret it one bit.  Dolly Alderton has written such a wonderful thing with this ode to friendship, family, teenage romance and relationships, I read it cover to cover in the space of one evening.

There's a chapter at the beginning about talking to boys on MSN that made me giggle so much, I knew exactly where she was coming from and I want to recommend it to all my friends just for that part to be honest because we were all the same.  But there was something to relate to all the way through as Dolly takes us through her life (apart from the bits about heavy drinking and drug use at university - I don't begrudge anyone their experimental phase but she lost me a bit there) and it was both funny and very moving.  You should read it.

The Children of Men by P.D. James

The Children of Men

Holy snooze-fest Batman.  Seriously, this one was way oversold to me.  To be fair the person who I heard about this from was telling me about the film but I thought I should read the book first, only now I'm wondering whether this is one of those rare cases where the film is actually better.  I'm not sure whether P.D. James had completely made her mind up what angle she wanted to take with this novel: it started off as an interesting commentary on a world without children and ended up as a story about the abuse of power.  For me personally I would have been more interested in the societal stuff, plus I never felt the tension I think was intended.  One of the poorer dystopias I've read, which is a shame as the general concept is so interesting.

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Let Me Lie

Last month I wrote a five stars reads prediction post (click here to read it) in which I predicted that I would give Let Me Lie five stars.  I was right!  This was soooo good.  I will forever read anything Clare Mackintosh writes, she is just amazing.  That's all I'm going to say on this one because as with any thriller I think it's best to go in blind, but definitely pick this up if you're looking for a good crime novel.

Monday, 2 April 2018

25 Thoughts on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Gilmore Girls only came into my life around the time everyone started talking about the revival.  I'd heard about it before then but I'd only ever seen maybe the last few minutes of the odd episode while flicking through TV channels, but suddenly everyone was talking about it and a few of my friends told me they thought I would love it, so I decided to give it a go and around the time A Year in the Life became available on Netflix, I started right from the beginning.

My friends were so right.  It's been a long time since I have taken a TV show so to heart or got so involved with the characters but I loved it, so much.  I genuinely missed it when I got to the end.  I've only watched it through once so I won't be winning any trivia prizes or anything but it just gave me all the warm and fuzzies and was probably just exactly what I needed in a series when I started watching.  It took me through more than a few bad days and Stars Hollow was the perfect place to escape to, even the stressful times when I was annoyed at Lorelai for messing things up with Luke which culminated in me shouting 'fuck off Christopher!!!' at the TV.  As I said, I was very invested.
So, bereft as I was when I finished the original series, I was actually pretty nervous to watch A Year in the Life in case it burst my cosy Stars Hollow bubble.  I'd avoided spoilers but I knew there had been mixed opinions, some people even hated it, so it was after a few week's break and with a fair amount of trepidation that I sat down to watch this week.

I'm so relieved to say that, overall, I really enjoyed it.  Phew!

The rest of my thoughts aren't really coherent enough to be formed into paragraphs so I'm just going to chuck them at you in list form.   I think since the revival aired in 2016 I'm pretty safe on the spoiler front, but just in case consider this your fair warning.  Ok?  Let's go.
  1. First things first: Luke & Lorelai.  THANK GOD. I thought for sure she was going to mess it up again.  The only thing I really needed from the revival was confirmation that they lived happily ever after and it made me so happy.
  2. Side note: very happy Luke is still alive and running the diner, I had a minor panic in the first scene when Lorelai had coffee from Al's until I remembered about Al's Pancake World
  3. The new rules at Luke's.  'No man buns and no taking pictures of your food.'  Oh, Luke. 
  4. You could sense the bigger budget and everything had been a little bit Netflix-ed with higher definition and more sets but the characters were still the ones I loved.  Kirk was still running around town with his multiple jobs, Babette still interrupting Taylor at the town meetings in her husky voice.  Several times I chuckled at something familiar from a character.  They all look a little different (none more so than Zach) but other than that, it was like they just picked up where they left off.
  5. It did feel a bit like sometimes characters were just slotted in to get the fan reaction though?  Like Jackson and Mr Kim (!)
  6. The whole storyline of Richard's passing was so moving and done so well, I think they really did him justice.  The premise of the revival was all about change and the absence of the Gilmore family patriarch was a good frame for this.  The three of them at the funeral broke my heart, especially Emily but I thought it was nice that Richard still had so much of a presence.  He was always one of my favourites.
  7. Dean's scene was perfect.
  8. And Jess is still hot and also now a well-adjusted adult encouraging Rory to follow her passions?  I might have to switch allegiance.
  9. On the subject of Rory's boyfriends... I was hoping she might have grown out of sleeping with other people's partners? I don't think Logan is a bad guy (cheating aside), they were almost engaged and he definitely understands and supports Rory just as much as Jess does, but I wish they weren't both still cheating.  I know it had to be casual because she's kind of at a loose end, but still.
  10. I'm glad they don't pretend she isn't flawed though.  And that she doesn't get everything handed to her on a plate.
  11. And I'm also glad Rory's story arc was not all about which guy she would end up with.
  12. I missed Sookie so much, I needed so much more than the 10 minutes or so we got.  I know Melissa McCarthy is really famous now but you know, don't forget your roots.  It doesn't make sense to me that Sookie would leave to go on sabbatical when she hates letting other people in her kitchen and the Dragonfly was just as much her dream as Lorelai's.  I'm glad she was able to film something for the revival but I would have appreciated Melissa making a little more time in her schedule thank you very much.
  13. On the other hand, Sookie's absence made some room to explore Lorelai's relationship with Michel which was lovely, and he was on top form throughout.
  14. What happened to Sookie and Jackson's third baby?  Is it a boy or a girl?  Does it have a name?
  15. So glad there was so much Paris, I bloody love her, she's hilarious.
  16. I'm not a huge April fan and I'm glad she wasn't in it much.
  17. I would not pay to see the Stars Hollow musical.
  18. But I probably would use Ooober!
  19. I need to know who sent Emily the nasty letter on her birthday (although my money is on Trix).
  20. The development of Emily's character was so great, hers was probably the most interesting story arc, watching her come to terms with losing her husband and finally settle into something of a new life and routine for herself.  The scene where she calls out the DAR ladies was hilarious.  Kelly Bishop is fantastic.
  21. Loved Lorelai's whole Wild thing and how she didn't even end up going but got what she needed anyway.  Her calling Emily to tell her a favourite memory of Richard was so moving, it made me cry and it might have been my favourite part of the whole thing.
  22. I didn't need to see or hear from the Life and Death Brigade again, they were never my favourite people.  That whole scene bugged me firstly because I don't like when weird things happen in a show that otherwise has no magical or fantastical theme (like the sign on the flower shop changing, the talking crow), it just doesn't make sense.  Secondly, at 32 I'd have thought they would have outgrown those antics.
  23. Yay for talking fast and witty comments and not knowing how to hold a full coffee cup and sniffing the air for snow, I'm here for it all.
  24. I still 100% wish I lived in Stars Hollow.
  25. And finally... the last 4 words.  At first I rolled my eyes but really, it makes sense given that Gilmore Girls has always been a generational show.  I know that Amy Sherman Palladino planned to end on those words all along too so I'm glad she got the opportunity to, and it does bring everything nicely full circle.
I know I had so many more thoughts but these are the main ones.  Overall, I loved it.  I had some niggles but they were more to do with the plot, and I wasn't without these during the original series either - I never understood the Jason Styles thing?  And there are things that would have been on my wish list if the revival had been longer, a more fulfilling life for Lane being one of them.  But crucially, a Year in the Life hasn't taken anything away from my enjoyment of Gilmore Girls.  It *felt* the same to me and I'm so happy about it! Now to start series one again...