Sunday, February 7, 2016

Different Medium, Same Great Story

Another one of my home library collection (of course), but with a twist - this one comes with a play review! (Aren't you lucky? :)) So some months ago, I saw advertisements by the train station for the off-Broadway show... Daddy Long Legs. Now if you think I was going to miss seeing that, I don't know why you're reading this blog. I've watched the Fred Astaire movie more than once and that one doesn't come *close* to being an accurate depiction of this beloved book.  I've looked for the silent version with Mary Pickford but wasn't able to find it (I should look again, that was a while ago).  And I've read the hard-to-find, not as good, sequel as well. So yeah, this is a book I go the extra mile for :) And I read the NY Times review, which was quite positive (the complaint was the story doesn't translate well for the modern ear, but since my ear is very old-fashioned, that's not a problem :)) So anyway, I knew I had to see it. Couldn't generate much interest from my cl girls, so I went with Dov's family, who are always up for a show. Well they all enjoyed it, and I LOVED it. I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time. Like, really. I know the book really well and the script followed it quite accurately (left out parts, but most of the lines were close to verbatim, and the plot followed basically exactly I think). So it was one of my favorite books, brought to life in a very-well done way, and on top of that... POV! POV! POV! While the letters are all written by Jerusha (of course), here we see Jervie's reaction... and his gradual fall in love with the writer.  And it's sooo well done. There's an aspect of guilt Jervis felt that I didn't really think of when I read the book, but it's quite plausible.  And his wry reading of the letters (mostly verbatim from the book) adds to the humor and whimsy of the writing.  The growing romance was nicely emphasized. And the finale gloriously angsty and satisfying in the end.

So of course I had to reread the book... and here I ran into the same problems as my last read - overfamiliarity + spoiled by explicit romance. The play followed the book so closely that I felt like I had just read the book, so lots of the great lines and romance didn't hold enough surprise for me. And though I am usual satisfied with imagining Jervis's POV as he reads the letters, having just seen it laid out in front of me made me miss it. So while I loved the book as always, I can't say I enjoyed it the more for having just watched it (this is in contrast to say, Persuasion, where watching the movie just made me appreciate the book all the more. I'd say this is a testament to how excellently done the play was).

To top it off, Huvi wanted to see the play too... so I went back again. I was certainly concerned I wouldn't enjoy it as much the second time around, and it did take me longer to get into it... but amazingly enough, I loved it the second time around  as well, at least by the end.

Daddy Long Legs is an incredible book and the play did an incredible job translating it.  Bravo all around, and I can't wait till the play has receded a little in my mind so that I can reread the book again :)

Verdict: 5/5

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Showy Spoils Me For Subtle

Next up on the Books-I've-Read-A-Million-Times list, Court Duel (or actually, Crown Duel, the two part book which used to be two books, the second of which is Court Duel).  I've read Crown Duel a few times and least, and Court Duel many more. Crown Duel is of course only of interest as a prequel to Court Duel.  Court Duel is a classic fantasy romance, so much so that when I first read it, I thought it was a ripoff of Georgette Heyer (I didn't realize then than all historical romance is a ripoff of Heyer :)) So I always enjoy it, even though I have my pet peeves - mainly Meliara's obtuseness, stubborness, impulsivity, and at times, stupidity.  She's not likeable at all, is she? :)

Court Duel is a book I know so well that when I reread it, I end up being intrigued by little details that give me minor insights into the book.  That's where Crown Duel is valuable - knowing the back story goes some way towards making Meliara's actions understandable. We also see a different side of Meliara, one that I think makes her more likeable  - the fearless rebel instead of the nervous court newbie.  So Crown Duel works for that, and it's also a not a bad read, and a fast one. And of course, we see a good amount of Shevraeth ;)  I quite enjoyed Crown Duel this time around.

So what about Court Duel? Well I liked it of course - but I do think it suffered from the usual ailment of well-thumbed titles - over-familiarity. I always knew what was coming, and that made it difficult to be fully engaged in it. I know you've heard it before, and it's no surprise, though I did think I hadn't read the book recently enough for it to be that familiar... now that I think of it, I think I did read it quite recently though, so maybe that explains it :)

How do I know? The ebook version of Crown Duel includes quite the extra - six scenes from Shevraeth's point of view.  And I remember reading them quite clearly while sitting on my couch at my house. So we're talking max two years ago, and probably less than that.  But of course I had to reread them along with the book this time (they may actually have been the reason for this re-read in the first place, I don't remember).  And rather than waiting till I finished the book, or inserting the scenes at the appropriate time (that would have been ideal, but difficult, since I usually read on Shabbos and these scenes are ebook only), I read them when I was just beginning Crown Duel.  And I must say - they are great fun. Absolutely great fun. But they totally spoil you.  It's like overly sweet candy. They're not well-written, they're really just fan fiction (they were originally posted on Sherwood Smith's livejournal site) but they hand you that coveted POV (Shevraeth's of course) on a silver platter.  And then you go back to the actually well-crafted story... and maybe you're just a little lazy to imagine that POV? I'm not sure, but I do think there was something of that in my reread.

This is in general, a very subtle romance - if you're not paying attention, either because you're too familiar or because fan fiction has spoiled you, you aren't really going to get the most out of it.  So much as I continue to love Court Duel, I have to say this reread was not my favorite. So can we say, book 5/5, reread maybe 4.25 :)