Monday, February 28, 2011

A Damsel's Daybook XIX

~Hosted by Autumn @ Storygirl~

Outside my window....... The edge of a thunderstorm.

I am thinking about......... How I need to get back into blogging!

From the kitchen.......... Grace is starting to get dinner ready.

I am creating......... Err, a blog post!

I am reading......... Just finished "I Will Repay", the second in the Scarlet Pimpernel series. Read my review here.

I am hearing....... Siblings watching "Over the Hedge". Silly movie. :P

I am hoping......... That I would be able to grow a little and contribute a little over the coming week.

I am planning.......... To finish Anna Karenina. . . eventually. . .

I am wearing............ Denim skirt, black top.

Around the house.......... My brother's new laptop has just arrived! They're in the process of unpacking it as I type.

My wish of the week......... That Australia will win the World Cup (that's the CRICKET World Cup! :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Literary Heroine Blog Party

Hmm, I've had this post all ready to publish for days. I've just been waiting to get the pictures organised - but I can't do that because my computer is out of order at the moment! So you can just have the post without the pictures, LOL.

How delightful - a Literary Heroine Blog Party! Please join in, if you feel so inclined.

~ The Questions ~
Compiled by Miss Kellie and Miss Natasha

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? A true heroine should be someone who I can relate to and admire. A true heroine should be strong, yet feminine.

Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to. Oops, I've just realised that I used those two words in my first answer, above! Oh well. . . Okay, four heroines who I admire and relate to:

~Fanny Price from Mansfield Park. I first read this when I was about 14 or 15. I think I was even more painfully shy then than I am now. I don't have Fanny's moral strength and steadfastness, but I sure could relate to her quiet nature and sometimes crippling shyness!

~Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey. Perhaps there isn't much to admire about Catherine, aside from the fact that she is a genuinely sweet, good-natured girl, but she's probably the Austen heroine to whom I can most relate, aside from Fanny. I found it so lovely and refreshing to read a Jane Austen novel with a heroine who was. . . well, just an ordinary teenage girl, who I could identify with! Young, a bit silly, very gullible and naive, a great bookworm, part of a big and happy family, totally in love with Mr. Tilney. . . Yep, Catherine and I have a lot in common!

~Emily Starr from the "Emily" books. Emily has always been the L.M. Montgomery heroine to whom I could most relate. More on this when I get to the letter "E" in my fave books series. Much as I adore Anne, we're almost complete opposites, in terms of temperament, LOL.

Oh, and I just remembered my "Top 15 Heroines" post that I did a while ago - I'll refer you to that post for more of my favourite heroines!

Five of your favorite historical novels? Historical as in historical fiction or historical as in books that were written a long time ago? Oh well, I'll assume it's the latter. I've picked these at random; these are five OF my favourites, not my five favourites.

Rose in Bloom - Louisa May Alcott
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
A Girl of the Limberlost - Gene Stratton-Porter
Our Mutual Friend - Charles Dickens
The Enchanted April - Elizabeth Von Arnim

Out of those five books who is your favorite character and why? Hmm, I'm going to say John Thornton from North and South. Because he's one of the sweetest, kindest, manliest heroes. . . ever! He's even nicer in the book than he is in the miniseries.

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there? The British Isles. I'd visit as many castles, stately homes and historical sites as possible. :D

What is your favorite time period and culture to read about? Ummm. . . I like reading about ALL different historical periods and cultures! Oh well, I'll say the Regency Era for now.

You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of? (!!!) Well, NOT singing. I couldn't do comedy. Maybe recitation. Or perhaps I'd play something on guitar.

If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? Lady Percy Blakeny!! LOL, that was just the first thing that popped into my head. I recently read The Scarlet Pimpernel for the first time, and am going through a second phase of SP fandom. . .

What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate? I can live without it, but. . . I do like it. :-) Dark, but not too dark (i.e. not the 85% cocoa variety). I like most chocolate things too (cake, brownies, etc.), but generally not chocolate ice cream.

Favorite author(s)?
Jane Austen
Charles Dickens
Jane Austen
Charles Dickens
Jane Austen

Okay, okay, let's try that again. . .

Jane Austen | Charles Dickens | C.S. Lewis | J.R.R. Tolkien | L.M. Montgomery | Elizabeth Gaskell | Charlotte Bronte | And many more. . .

As a small, imaginative, red-haired damsel might query; would you rather be divinely beautiful, dazzlingly clever, or angelically good? Why? I'd say "angelically good", except that the phrase somehow smacks of hypocrisy and goody-two-shoes-ism. And I'd pick it for partly selfish reasons, I'm afraid. I think being truly "good" would be more likely to help me find happiness and contentment than being beautiful or clever.

In which century were most of the books you read written? 19th century. . .

In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is… It's a toss-up between Henry Tilney and Sir Percy Blakeney.

Describe your ideal dwelling place. Hm, hard! Umm. . . wherever my family is!

Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name? Yes, sometimes.

In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is... Oooh, another hard one! I can't pick just one, but here are a few: Rigaud, Carver Doone, Chauvelin, Heathcliff. . .

Three favorite Non-fiction books? The BIBLE, So Much More, Castles of Friuli.

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? Reading, of course!

Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. Oh, I don't know. . . something broad-brimmed and utterly romantic. :-)

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year. 1. Our big road trip last year. 2. My 18th birthday (not so much the day itself, just. . . getting older).

Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently. God's and Moses' admonitions and encouraging words to Joshua in the book of Joshua, and towards the end of Deuteronomy.

And lastly, as I am a rather businesslike hostess, may I ask you your views regarding those adorable little items - namely pin back and mirror back buttons? 1). Where would you choose to display a button badge to best showcase your unique style? 2). What image and/or sentiment would most make you smile were it inscribed on your very own compact mirror? 1). I'd proudly wear it on my shirtfront, to declare to all the world my passionate love of books! LOL. . . Seriously, I don't really know. But I do think they're adorable. I especially like the "Bibliophile" badge. 2). I don't know! I do love the design on the compact mirror in the giveaway, though.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Becoming Jane: a review

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen

I have finally gotten round to watching Becoming Jane! (Thanks, Bec!) Surely I must be one of the last Janeites on earth to have seen this!

As I'm sure most of you will know, Becoming Jane is loosely (emphasis on the word loosely) based upon the life of Jane Austen, more particularly her supposed romance with Tom Lefroy. I had of course heard a lot about this movie, and how it had enraged so many Janeites. . . It was for this reason that I have been a little hesitant to watch it, afraid that I would dislike it, and its depiction of Jane. But, today, feeling in a relatively open-minded, non-judgmental mood (in fact, feeling just plain sick and miserable with a cold, and in want of some pleasant diversion), I finally got out my headphones and my sister's laptop and sat down to watch. [I wrote most of this review a couple of weeks ago, and am now quite recovered from my cold. :-) ~Elise]

I loved it! Well, I didn't love it, but I liked it very much indeed.

Julie Walters as Mrs. Austen

I know a bit about Jane Austen's life - I've seen a couple of documentaries, and read a little bit here and there - but I haven't read any full-length biographies or done any serious research (yet). I think this was probably a good thing in this instance - while I knew that this was not necessarily a very accurate depiction of Jane's early life, I was able to (mostly) just enjoy the movie for what it was, without nitpicking over inaccurate or unconfirmed details. I knew just enough, however, to relish seeing Jane and her family brought to life on the screen - particularly Jane's parents, her brother Henry, and sister Cassandra. . . Though they didn't show as much of Cassandra here as I thought they might - perhaps there'll be more emphasis put on Jane's and Cassandra's relationship in Miss Austen Regrets (next on my to-watch list). And last but not least, a brief cameo from Mrs. Radcliffe (Helen McCrory) herself!

James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy

Acting-wise, all the costume drama veterans present were excellent, as usual. Anne Hathaway was also surprisingly good. James McAvoy was VERY good, and there was great chemistry between him and Ms Hathaway.

The cinematography was gorgeous. . . I was pleasantly surprised, the film was much more artistically done (and less Hollywood-ised) than I had expected. I liked the costumes, too - more subdued than those in Pride & Prejudice 2005, and yet just original and unconventional enough to be interesting - besides being very pretty. (I daresay they aren't historically accurate or consistent, but I'm no historical clothing expert, so that didn't bother me too much!) Becoming Jane is now possibly in my top five Regency films for costumes - and that's saying a lot, considering how many I've seen!

The score - often a deal-breaker with me, I love a good movie soundtrack - was lovely. Not too flowery, just subtly complementing the film. Composer Adrian Johnston is also the man behind the deliciously dark score of my fave Dickens adaptation - Our Mutual Friend!

Cassandra Austen (left) - brilliantly played by Anna Maxwell Martin

Interestingly enough, Becoming Jane smacks more of Bronte-ism than Jane-ism. The script is not as witty as one might expect of a movie about that wittiest and most ironic of all authors, Jane Austen. Most of the wit here comes directly from Jane Austen's novels, with various familiar lines interspersed throughout the film - some feeling rather out place. In some respects, I think the semi-biographical Mansfield Park 1999 does a better job of capturing Jane and her sense of humour - though that film was certainly not without its flaws, either.

Becoming Jane is. . . imaginative, impressionistic, sad, poignant, beautiful. Recommended if you feel you can just enjoy it as a bittersweet period romance, rather than a Jane Austen biopic.

Recommended for mature teens and up. It only received a PG rating in Australia and America, but be warned that it is quite a "mature" PG! Christian movie reviews of Becoming Jane:

Charity's Place | Christianity Today | Plugged In

Now, to watch Miss Austen Regrets!

Just a couple of random thoughts to finish - do comment and let me know whether you agree with me or not!

Laurence Fox as Mr. Wisley

-Poor Mr. Wisley! Was he really all that bad? I thought he might have been alright beneath the cold, "boring" exterior.

-As I watched Becoming Jane, I thought there was something different in the atmosphere of the film - I mean different to the oodles of Austen adaptations shot in beautiful English pastoral settings - but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. After I finished, I found out that Becoming Jane was shot in Ireland! Maybe that's what it was! It's hard to explain, and it's possibly just my imagination, but there was just something subtly different about the countryside, that lent the film a more "fairytale-ish", less prosaic air. And yes, I know that much of Northanger Abbey 2007 was shot in Northern Ireland, but NA tended to have more of an "urban" setting, so the effect was less pronounced.

-"Old" Jane's hairstyle at the very end. . . (!!!) Seemed more 1930s than 1810s to me!

All pictures from

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My favourite books: B

B. Quite an inelegant, ungainly letter, as opposed to the elegant "A". 

I'd never had cause to notice this before, but not many books seem to begin with the letter "B".


Bacon Sandwiches and Salvation: An A to Z of the Christian Life. Another classic from Adrian Plass. Gently pokes fun at the quirks and foibles of us "Crazy Christians", with our often unintelligible Christianese. Never distasteful or inappropriately irreverent, however - Adrian's books always have tremendous heart beneath the wry wit and wonderful British humour.

Black as Night. Second of Regina Doman's "Fairytales retold" series. Read my review on Goodreads.

The Blue Castle. One of my all-time favourites. Read my review here. Hate that awful cover!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Damsel's Daybook XVIII

~Hosted by Autumn @ Storygirl~

Outside my window....... A cool (for summer, anyway), rainy day.

I am thinking about......... Lots of things. . .

From the kitchen.......... I'm going to make a cake for my sister. We had a rather discouraging clothes shopping outing this afternoon. It's so tough trying to find clothes when you're that age (11-14). . . I remember. :-(

I am creating......... Nothing at the moment, I'm afraid. I'd like to do some more crochet or knitting sometime. If only good quality yarn wasn't so darned expensive!

I am reading......... The Scarlet Pimpernel, Anna Karenina, The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass aged 37 3/4. Also started reading my first Father Brown mystery yesterday, but I'm trying to restrain myself, and wait until I've finished SP and AK.

I am hearing....... Siblings playing!

I am hoping......... That I can cheer my sister up!

I am planning.......... To buy a new guitar. . . soon. . .

I am wearing............ Denim skirt, black top.

Around the house.......... We're having our upstairs toilet replaced tomorrow. We won't be able to use it for 24 hours afterwards, to let the cement set. Thank goodness we have a toilet in the laundry downstairs!!

My wish of the week......... That the new Jane Eyre will be good. . . In case you're wondering why I haven't been posting any of the newly-released clips - I haven't watched any of them. I don't want to spoil anything, beyond watching the trailer! Only a couple of months left now. . .

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My favourite books from A to Z

I've borrowed this idea from Emily @ The Wanderings of a Dreamer. It just looked like too much fun. :-)
In true Sesame Street fashion - the letter of today of the day is. . .


Such an elegant letter, I've always thought. Right. Just get started already, Elise. (Oh, and thank goodness for Goodreads! Otherwise I'd never be able to remember all the books I've read and enjoyed that begin with the letter "A".)


Agnes Grey. A lesser-known masterpiece from the "forgotten" Bronte sister, Anne. See my review here.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I didn't get round to reading the full, unabridged version of Lewis Carroll's classic until relatively recently - but when I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do love a bit of nonsense - Edward Lear, The Phantom Tollbooth. . . Alice. Though I actually prefer the sequel, Through the Looking Glass, the first Alice book is wonderful in its own way, too. I love every crazy character and situation. The dialogue is divine - witty, satirical, full of puns. And the illustrations by Tenniel are amazing - Alice in Wonderland wouldn't be what it is without them.

Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Avonlea.

Anne of the Island.

Anne of Windy Willows/Poplars.

Anne's House of Dreams.

Anne of Ingleside. - I can think of few books that have meant as much to me as the Anne books during my growing-up years. They really have become a part of who I am, in a way! Anne, Diana, Priscilla, Phillipa, and so many others have been true "kindred spirits" to me! And Avonlea feels like home. And Gil is such a sweetheart. :-)

Around the World in Eighty Days. I read and re-read this when I was about 12 or so. I'm actually not sure why I liked it so much (and I've a feeling I wouldn't enjoy it quite so much if I were to read it again now) - but like it I did! I suppose I must have liked the characters - especially Phineas Fogg - and the sense of adventure, and the descriptions of various places across the earth.

Asterix books. Many of our family members (myself included) like to take a book with us when we go to the loo. . . for this reason, our nickname for "toilet" is "the library". Ahem. Anyway, Asterix comics (along with old National Geographics!) are prime toilet-reading material in our house. I'm not a great comic-reader in general, but I LOVE Asterix comics. The stories by Rene Goscinny are always witty and well-constructed, chock-full of puns and classical references. And I love all the quirky and affectionate details in the illustrations by Albert Uderzo. Both author and artist were very fond of the characters in these books, and it shows. Oh, and for the record - my favourite Asterix title of them all is Asterix the Gladiator.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Mummy has a blog!!!

And what a beautiful blog it promises to be. Please check it out here:

Recently, Mum's been sharing some of our holiday photos from our big road trip last year (yep, those photos that I promised to share and never got round to posting. . . *blushes*).

Anway - I am so glad my mother has joined the blogosphere. :-)

A Damsel's Daybook XVII

Time for a long overdue return to blogging! Sorry I've been away for so long.

~Hosted by Autumn @ Storygirl~

Outside my window....... A pleasant, if overcast day. Such a nice change from the 35C heat we've had for the past week.

I am thinking about......... Anna Karenina. I started it yesterday.

From the kitchen.......... I'm making chocolate slice and ginger crunch slice.

I am creating......... Not much right now. I need to get back into sewing.

I am reading......... Anna K., also re-reading P&P (yes, again!!).

I am hearing....... Relatively quiet right now!

I am hoping......... To have a quiet, productive week.

I am planning.......... To finish Anna Karenina within one month.

I am wearing............ Nothing interesting, LOL.

Around the house.......... General tidying up this morning. 1 neat and organised mother + 8 messy children = some interesting situations sometimes. :P But mum managed to get us (and the house) into quite a clean and organised state over the course of the morning. What an amazing, patient mother I have! :-)

My wish of the week......... That the crazy weather we've had across this country over the last few weeks would settle down, so that people can begin to rebuild their lives. No more flooding or bushfires or cyclones, please!! Having said that, I am very grateful to God for keeping the people of Queensland safe during Cyclone Yasi. Only one death reported - truly a miracle!!