Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love Me Like You Do

Happy Valentines Day!!  It's time for another batch of some of my favorite literary couples.  I've been doing this for several years now and it is honestly one of my favorite posts to do.  Here are this year's picks!

Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It is one of the greatest tragic romances in all of literature.  It is something we all hoped would be, but would never happen.  It is the green light, forever just out of our reach.  In so many ways, the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy embodies everything that was beautiful and sad about the Roaring 20s.

“His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.” 

Rudolf Rassendyll and Princess Flavia in The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

The struggle between love and duty is as old as anything, and we see it played out here again in Anthony Hope's famous swashbuckler.  Though Rassendyll and the Princess love each other intensely, they never lose sight of how their own desires could harm so many others.  It is both heartbreaking and inspiring to watch them selflessly let each other go.

 “There are moments when I dare not think of it, but there are others when I rise in spirit to where she ever dwells; then I can thank God that I love the noblest lady in the world, the most gracious and beautiful, and that there was nothing in my love that made her fall short in her high duty.”

George Emerson and Lucy Honeychurch in A Room With a View by E. M. Forster

For a good girl like Lucy Honeychurch, George Emerson was not the kind of man to be in love with.  His and his father's brash and radical ways upset everything about her proper English upbringing.  But one moment in a meadow outside of Florence changes everything and Lucy is forced to deal with some overwhelming feelings.

“It isn't possible to love and part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.”

George Knightley and Emma Woodhouse in Emma by Jane Austen

It is always worth including an Austen pair on a "Best Couples" list.  It takes Emma FOREVER to realize that George Knightley is the perfect man, but she eventually figures it out.  After lots of missteps along the way, Emma is able to recognize true love and gives her heart to the one man who knows how to handle it.

“I cannot make speeches, Emma...If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."  

Who are your favorite literary couples?  Share with us below!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Masterpiece Theatre: Death Comes to Pemberly

Last fall, the good folks at Masterpiece Theatre treated us to a trip back to the enduringly popular world of Jane Austen.  But rather than another retelling of one of her stories, we instead enter the crazy and fun world of Austen fanfiction.  Death Comes to Pemberly was written by the late and beloved English crime writer P. D. James in 2011 and has been generally well received by Austen fans the world over.  Set six years after the end of Pride and Prejudice, the story reintroduces us to some of literature's favorite characters and imagines what life after happily ever after may have been for Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. Last year, BBC One adapted the story as a television mini-series starring Anna Maxwell Martin, Matthew Rhys, Jenna Coleman, and Matthew Goode.

I was interested (but not overly excited) in this adaptation, though I had never read the book.  I love Pride and Prejudice as much as anyone and will always welcome a chance to explore that story further.  So lets start with that aspect of the adaptation...the story.  Plot wise, this adaptation seems to connect fairly seamlessly with the original work.  The Darcys are happily married and living at Pemberly.  They have a young son, Gerogianna lives with them, and things seem to be going swimmingly.  Until, that is, a man is murdered on the estate and the prime suspect turns out to be the Darcy's brother in-law and everyone's favorite Austen baddie, George Wickham.  Now, Darcy must help the man he likes least in the world to prove his innocence (if he can) and discover the truth of what happened in Pemberly Woods.

The story is ok, nothing mind blowing.  The mystery itself was pretty basic, and I had figured out what happened pretty early on.  For me, the characters themselves were more interesting, especially the relationship between Lizzy and Darcy.  At first, I loved the idea of where the story seemed to be taking them.  As tensions increase, doubts about their own relationship creep in with Darcy wondering if Lizzy married him for his money and Lizzy wondering if Darcy secretly despises her for her family connections.  These are real, grown up problems that you know would have to come up at some point in their marriage.  But rather than allowing them to really hash these questions out and reestablish trust in each other, the story kind of lets it fizzle and they simply settle everything with some make up sex.  Personally, I would have loved to see them really get to the bottom of those doubts.

Some characters were pretty close to what you would imagine them, while others didn't seem to really jive with the Austen originals.  Anna Maxwell Martin played Lizzy as a much more somber person.  She seemed to lack the wit and vivacity that we all love in the character.  Matthew Rhys was passable as Darcy, though he didn't really inspire any passions in your heart (unless you are like me and love him simply for the sake of Rhys himself).  I was probably most confused over Col. Fitzwilliam.  The dude seemed so nice and laid back in the original novel, but here he is grumpy and self centered.  Seriously, who put his undies in a wad?  I do have to give props to Jenna Coleman and Matthew Goode who both turned in excellent performances as Lydia and George Wickham.  They were every bit as insufferable as one could hope and honestly brought the most life to their characters.

If you are looking for a story that is going to equal the magnificence of Austen's, you won't find it here.  If, however, you are ok with spending a few hours enjoying a decently acted film based around familiar and favorite characters, then you may be satisfied.  It wasn't something that I fell head over heels for, but I enjoyed myself while I watched.