My Problem with Pooh and Christopher Robin too.

Unexpectedly I came to see the (2017) film Goodbye Christopher Robin which tells the tale of the world famous Playwright and Author A.A Milne but most notably as author of Winnie- the Pooh. First published in the wake on the first world war in 1926, the film follows Milne known to his family as Blue as he returns from the first world war with shell shock or what we now may recognise as PTSD. Devastated by his time at the Somme Blue wants to write a book about war, encouraging peace for future generations; but that is not the story that finds him.

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Thanks to the decision to move his young family to the Sussex country side Blue started to spend more time with  his young son known to the family as Billy Moon and his beloved bear affectionately named Edward  (would later be re-named Winne-the-Pooh). I saw a video with the films director and he talks about how Blue and his wife Daphne were very much of their time, how it wasn’t uncommon to have baby and continue on with life as if nothing had happened only seeing the child for half an hour in the morning and evening. Looking at the relationship of Billy, Daphne and Blue through modern eyes is difficult and it is almost impossible not to judge their relationship. Billy Moon has a nanny Nou whom he adores and as the film unfolds I found myself wondering in a house or family like this when a child has so little access to their own parents who is really Billy Moon’s mother is it Daphne or is it Nou?

In later life a grownup Christopher Robin is even quoted when describing Nou as ‘Almost a part of me’ and they remained close for her entire life.

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Blue and Billy eventually get to bond when both Nou and Daphne are away from the house hold leaving the pair alone together with no choice but to either sink or swim. Blue eventually discovers what a bright and vibrant imagination his son has discovering the names of his favourite toys, which along with Edward Bear included Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore the depressed Donkey. They play together in the long hot summer days just Blue, Billy and his toys and Billy’s imagination that essence of childhood become the inspiration for A.A Milne’s most famous creation, his Winnie the Pooh stories. The Stories were an instant success, lifted up on the back of the tragedy of World War One ‘the country is wounded’ Blue cries to his wife Daphne in the film and with the help of Winnie the Pooh they could remember that life could be good again and life was worth living after all.

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But by writing about his son and his toys  Blue was effectively selling his sons childhood to the masses. The books were an instant stand out success and at one point Christopher Robin who was slowly but surely losing his identity as Billy Moon was named the most famous child in the world. Comparing it not just to today’s standards but famous children throughout history there are very few examples where child stars come off unscathed. Christopher Robin was more famous than his father A.A Milne and his mother was  not only the driving force behind commercialising Milne’s’ books also could see what a commodity her son was becoming. He would do interviews and photographs, signings; all the while Edward Bear had become Pooh and no longer just belonged to him but him and millions of other people all over the world. Billy Moon’s real problems started when he attended boarding school at age nine. It is depicted in the film but the real Christopher Robin had spoken of it many times in his books and interviews over the years that he was consistently bullied for being the child in his father’s books and poems he was pushed kicked and repeatedly pushed down the stairs.  He felt his father had ‘climbed on the back of my infant shoulders’ to forge his career leaving Billy without any identity and with no say in how famous he had become and he was famous for no real reason.

Eventually Billy Moon would shed his Christopher Robin identify all together when he joined the army and became Private Milne. He would survive the war and later marry his first cousin. This would cause great strain on his relationship with his parents one that was already full of emotional entanglements and resentments.

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Daphne and Christopher soon to wife’s father were brother and sister and did not get on and the marriage between the pair further strained his relationship with his mother who was a hard woman at times and is depicted as such in the film. As he grew into a man Christopher seemed to always looking back to his childhood his was filled with a bitter resentment towards the books and what they did to his life and was still angry at his father. He did not speak or see to his father until he was on his death bed and Daphne and Christopher would never reconcile.

Goodbye Christopher Robin did a good job of showing that Daphne and Blue were flawed humans and their relationship with him was fraught. But it ends right when a young Christopher Robin gets home from war, the viewers never gets to know how it ended for the family and how they would never be reconciled. How Christopher would never take a penny from the Winnie the Pooh franchise but eventually when he and his wife had a disabled daughter they were eventually forced to take some money to pay for her care  ‘For Clare’ I read  him say, which is both beautiful that he loved his child in a different way than his he parents loved him but tragic that he had to forgo his principles in the end and his wishes to separate himself from Pooh.

The origin story of Winnie the Pooh is a sad one but it got me thinking about the new Christopher Robin movie to be released this year. (2018) When you’re telling the story of an adult Christopher Robin who famously came to hate Pooh Bear shouldn’t how he really felt about his situation be addressed?

Christopher Robin Movie

I get it, this is Disney and this is the sentimental tripe we love, it has echoes of Robin William’s Hook to me and I’m sure it will be a box office smash. But where does the morality come in? The Little boy Christopher Robin is immortalised in book form destined to be playing with his ‘Silly old Bear’ forever but the adult man who grew up and away from Pooh does he stop mattering cause he’s dead? When did we stop caring about truth? Honestly I think that this movie is a morally bankrupt idea, and yes people will love it because it’s Disney but they will be loving a lie somehow I don’t think I will ever look at Winne- the -Pooh ever the same way again and that’s both a good and a bad thing.

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The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill – A Review.

The Surface Breaks is a feminist re-telling of The Little Mermaid all dressed up and ready to go in the most beautiful cover I’ve seen all year. Louise O’Neill takes the story of The Little Mermaid back to it’s Hans Christian Anderson roots moving away from the Disney version we all know so well.

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When I was a little girl I loved Ariel and watched that movie many times but I also owned the (1975) Anime version of the tale. Which is a very close re-telling to the original fairy-tale and as a girl enjoyed both but for different reasons. It’s a much darker story which Disney turned on it’s head and made into something light and filled with a romantic musicality.

The Little Mermaid

I was excited to head into this new re-telling and from the first few pages I knew it had the original story ingrained in it’s roots. Louise O’Neill tells the story we all know well of a young mermaid princess who falls in love with a human boy, and after saving his life desperately wishes to become human. But there are two twists to this tale, the first is her feminist take on a classic, the Mer-people but specifically the mermaids live in a misogynistic and patriarchal society where there only choices are to be pretty to be silent and to be mothers. Beauty is how our little mermaid and her sisters measure their value and it causes repression, anguish and a fierce sibling rivalry.

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The second twist to this tale, no pun intended is this stories darkness long gone are the singing crabs and fishes for best friends but one thing stood still and firm, her roots at the very centre of  The Little Mermaid’s story, I am talking of cause about The Sea Witch. But even the word witch is turned on it’s head on this tale.  The Sea Witch is a major character in all versions and in The Surface Breaks I enjoyed this complicated interpretation of her character Ceto. She’s the centre of most of the stories darkest moments but has some great lines and oodles of body positivity all the while leaving me not really knowing if she was good or evil or just morally grey.

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I really enjoyed this book, I would say it took a little while to get going, a lot of time was spent in Mer-society which was great… but I could of cut that just slightly shorter and gone above water sooner. The is a very famous fairy tale after all even down to the mermaid  losing her beautiful singing voice, all major plot points we know and love they remain. So there was no need to drag certain things out because as readers we know where the story is heading because we’ve been there before, it’s just a case of where we end up.

 

The book really got going up for me in the last 50 pages and while reading I felt we were in for a huge pay off. And I really did love the ending… but I could of done with an Epilogue or another chapter, the ending just felt a little unfinished to me especially in terms of Oliver I think he (and i’m being as vague as possibly here to keep it spoiler free) but I feel that all I really needed was a paragraph or two on him and then a chapter on what happens after the end of the book as we know it. It was brilliant but felt a little vague.

Anyone who has read The Surface Breaks let me know your opinions I would love to hear your thoughts.

Over all loved it! Great story telling and an interesting perspective from a unique female character who grows and develops as the story unfurls.

3/5 Stars!

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The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrow (A Review)

 

Both happily and unhappily I have just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, from here on out I shall just refer to it as Guernsey and I think you will understand why.

It has been softly on my radar for a few years now but with no real intention of reading but I’m not sure why. It’s definitely my genre, it had been sat on my Goodreads shelves for awhile now and it’s one of those books that I had seen around in varying covers but had never quite reached for.

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Then I saw the trailer the Guernsey movie and knew I’d been missing out and bought the book without hesitation. The first thing I discovered was this book is a epistolary novel for those who don’t know this book is written in the form of letters, I have only ever read one book in a similar format before Cecilia Ahern’s Love, Rosie and I just didn’t get on with the structure and ended up DNF-ing the novel. But Guernsey is different, it is so easy to fall on love with the characters. The book follows Juliet a young writer and journalist who has been writing fluff pieces during the second world war to cheer up the nation she’s looking for a new and interesting book idea when she get’s a letter from a man in Guernsey who has bought one of her old books that had her contact detail written inside.

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They begin to correspond and he discuss he is a member of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. They enjoy corresponding so much that Juliet begins to get letters from other members of the society and this is where the fun really begins. When Juliet travels to Guernsey and meets the real people she has been writing to, her new friends from her letters and becomes part of their lives. She discovers what Guernsey and it’s people went through during the war, occupied by the Germans, Guernsey was the only part of the British Isles to really have to live with their enemy and Juliet a writer and a seeker of truth is determined to find out what that really means. She also becomes curious about the societies founder Elizabeth, Elizabeth becomes the centre of this story that Juliet becomes determined to write and her love for the island pours out of her and onto every page.

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Guernsey is a book about friendship, loyalty and love, in a period in history when there had been so much tragedy and devastation it shows is the small things that truly bind people together and love will always win out even in the darkest and most brutal of times. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is a beautiful story that everyone should read it is written in letters but the characters feel fully formed and full of colour. The book is so short it was like being on a short visit with great friends, who I already miss.

5/5 Stars!

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WWW Wednesday – 18/4/18

Hi guys it’s Wednesday and you know what that means? It’s time for WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @Taking On A World Of Words, the rules are simple you just have to answer these three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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I have just started reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This Historical fiction novel is set shortly after WW2 and written as a series of letters between the characters. I have only read one book in a similar format before and that was Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern and really didn’t get on with the writing style. I’m going to see this in the cinema when it comes out and know it’s a very popular novel so hopefully this time round this style of writing will be a hit with me.

What did you recently finish reading?

I have been on a bit of a Angel kick recently and have just finished Fallen by Lauren Kate and Angelfall and WorldAfter by Susan Ee. Reviews for all three on the way soon (promise).

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m really excited to read a few books at the moment, Folk by Zoe Gilbert, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and Circe by Madeline Miller. What are you guys reading this month? Let me know in the comments.

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Let’s Talk About- Series I’ve Started, Read the First Book and Never Made it to Book Two…

I am a series sinner I have been doing the same damning thing for years and it needs to be addressed. I have a terrible habit of starting series, picking up the first book jumping head first into a word getting, often  getting completely sucked in to the characters, the stories.

But then when I finish and place the book back on my shelf, instead of picking up the next book in the series I read something else instead, which is fine if I were to ever get around to reading the second book in the series; but I rarely do. And this can be frustrating for me as a reader, as a reviewer and just as a person who wants to know what happens but lacks the discipline or the will to finish what she has started.

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In an attempt to tackle the problem I started to look through my bookshelves, now I don’t know how you all organised you TBR and your shelves but I keep all my unread books on the same one.  I started pulling off all the second, and third, fourth books in series that I haven’t read I started to realise I have a problem. After some thought I decided it was time for an unhaul, what books am I realistically never going to read (or read again in some cases) and what books but looking at series in particular am I just never going to get around to completing. (All the books below are going to be donated to my local library)

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This works both ways as well, I like to have a monthly TBR and yes I’m flexible with my reading but I do like to have a rough idea of what I may like to read in a month. So in April I came up with the idea of introducing or re-introducing series often a second book that I have forgotten about to my TBR. A Series that I still want to read and have never lost  interest in even after time has passed. This month that series is AngelFall and the Penryn and the end of Days books by Susan Ee. I read the first book Angelfall a few years ago and it became victim to my usual pattern of failing to read book 2, but thanks to my new monthly plan I have just finished the second book in the series WorldAfter (review to come). Going through my shelves I really thought seriously about series I intended to finish and at the top of my list are Shatter Me, Angelfall, Cinder and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

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I know my reading tastes are maturing and changing in general and there are some books I’m never going to get around to reading The last book in the Selection Series is a great example of this. But as I grow and change and explore new genres and writing styles as a reader there are some books I want to bring with me, some I don’t want to forget.

Come Find Me! 

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Page to Screen Series: Episode Two- A Cuckoo’s Calling

Hey guys and welcome back to the second episode of my brand new Page to Screen series launched only last week. The basic premise is that I will talk about books that have been adapted for the big and small screen but in a more in-depth way than when I just do a standard review. I don’t hold back in these discussions but I will try and do this as spoiler free as possible as I know many people still have series this on their TBR.

Here is Episode one where I talked about Atonement.

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If you have dropped by my blog in the last week you may have noticed I have mentioned the Cormoran Strike Series a few (okay many) times. It all started when I binged the BBC adaptation and then began reading the first book. As someone who is not really a lover of crime it was a surprise that I have completely falling in love with this series and it’s characters.

Based on the Robert Galbraith (J.K Rowling) novel of the same name A Cuckoo’s calling stars Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger they play the one legged private investigator Comoran Strike and his new assistant and temp Robin.

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Strike is the son of a model and rock star and internally has been dealing with his mothers murder for years he also lost his leg while serving in the army. So when he meets Robin on the morning he and his long time girlfriend Charlotte break up after a blazing row he has been through a lot.

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Robin has moved to London to be with her boyfriend Mathew and has been temping, an intelligent university graduate Robin is capable if achieving more than she has been doing and at this point in her life she knows she has been floundering. But it’s only when she walks into Strike’s office and he nearly kills her by knocking her down the stairs that she starts to feel a sense of gravitational pull and knows that working with Strike is where she’s suppose to be.

Although her Fiance Mathew hates her doing the job and that friction is felt between them as he desires her to work in a more corporate environment. The reader can feel his dislike of Strike, it just flies off the page and this has been translated brilliantly on screen. Strike who really is just a quite loner, he lives for the job and is busy building his fledgling business but Mathew dislikes him,  just as much he dislikes the fact that working for him makes Robin a low earner.

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Together Strike and Robin have been hired to re-examine the case of Luna Landry a model at the height of her fame when it appeared she jumped from her penthouse. The Celebrity world comes easy to Strike and washes over him like nothing but it’s exciting for Robin moving in these glamours but ultimately tragic circles.

Luna, it’s reveled was adopted and had been investigating her biological family and for a time it’s thought that this could be the reason for her death.

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I really like Rowling’s writing for adults, I’ve said before that Harry Potter wasn’t really part of my childhood it somehow managed to pass me by until about three years ago when I read the whole series. I should say I enjoyed the Harry Potter books but I think when you consume something whether that be books or music or movies as a child or in your teens it has a different effect on you than when you just  experience it as an adult, a huge part of that is the nostalgia factor.

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Reading Rowling’s writing as Robert Galbraith has been a really lovely experience she invokes some interesting discussions including race and disability. I am thrilled that the Strike series is continuing with the adaptation of Lethal White I just hope the book comes out soon!

I hope you enjoyed Episode two of my page to screen series, I love reading your comments especially if you have opinions on the books or the series, I’ll see you next time!

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International Women’s Day- Favourite Ladies in Literature 2018

Hello everyone and happy International Women’s day! All the way back in 2016 I wrote a post for International Women’s day on my Favourite Fictional Females, in 2017 I decided not to do the same list because I didn’t think it could have grown or changed that much from 2016.

This year I am giving the list another go, with fresh eyes and newly acquired reading habits and although I have gone over my list from 2016 and I still stand by all the ladies on that list I just want to add a few more. I always like to hear what you guys think and any ladies you think should have made my lists and haven’t.

Robin Ellecott – The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

 

From going over my 2016 list I realised how heavily my lists are influenced by what I’m reading at the time and Robin is a perfect example of that as I’m currently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (not that that means she doesn’t deserve to make this years list!) cause she does, she’s awesome.

Robin is a strong and Independent woman  who has had some bumpy roads in life, her career has taken and nose dive and although she doesn’t know it she’s in a relationship with the wrong man. Robin is all about fighting for what she wants and she wants a career, she wants to be a PI and although she took some wrong turns and dark corners that have lead her the wrong way she is fighting for the life she wants and deserves. She’s brilliant, a power house and above all a great detective.

Lou Clarke- Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

 

I am such a long time Me Before You fan and Lou fan, Lou is full of heart right down to her core. She loves her family wants to do the best she can for them, she’s a little lost though which makes her totally relatable. Lou’s self discovery and love and eventual  loss of Will makes her one of my favourite characters.

Me Before You- Book Review

Demelza Poldark- Poldark Series by Winston Graham

 

Ahh Demelza, anyone hate Ross as much as I do? I mean seriously what was that guy playing at? Demelza is brilliant she is strong and fiery, she was a poor girl who came from nothing, a father who beat her and left her half starved but this eventually lead her to Ross her future husband… I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone who hasn’t read it or watched it but the woman can handle herself and she needs to cause she’s going to go through some seriously tough times- all hail Demelza Poldark.

Catherine Earnshaw – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 

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Oh how we all love to hate Kathy Earnshaw, one of the most self indulgent and selfish characters ever written. But Kathy was strong, wild passionate and a free thinking individual. What ever you think of her life choices and some of her questionable decisions and motives no one can question Kathy’s strength of heart.

Dolly – Cheerful Weather For the Wedding by Julia Strachey 

 

When we meet Dolly it’s her wedding day and she is decided whether or not to marry her fiance while her former lover waits to talk to her desperate to talk to her but he is trapped downstairs while she locks herself in her bedroom drinking in her wedding dress. Dolly is a great example of the tragedies that can befall us in adult hood especially if we don’t know which choice to make.  Dolly is also a woman who I think we have seen many times before if real life, the lines between reality and fantasy are just a little blurred and she doesn’t realise till it’s to late how damaging that can be.

My full review of Cheerful Weather for the Wedding 

So I hope you enjoyed my choices for International Women’s day, hope you’ve all had a good day and I’ll see you next time!

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