TV Review: BBC’s Cider with Rosie and Lady Chatterley’s Lover

BBC iPlayer is a godsend. It has saved my life more than once.

Like when the TV was juddering and I couldn’t tell whether Paul Hollywood’s dubious frown resolved into a positive comment or not.

Like when I was on the train home after a weekend away and wasn’t going to get back in time for the start of Poldark.

Like when I didn’t know the BBC was doing a series of 20th-century literature adaptations until it was almost over simply because I don’t watch enough TV in order to find out about these things. (Only on Wednesdays at 8pm for the last ten weeks…)

Cider with Rosie and Lady Chatterley’s Lover are two books I have on my lengthy to-read list. Their bucolic, time-gone-by settings are just the kind of thing I like to indulge in now and then, so, naturally, I turned to iPlayer for my fix.

Cider With Rosie, BBC

Source: BBC

At the immediate entrance of a horse-drawn cart trundling through a field, I had a good feeling about Cider with Rosie. The settings throughout – fields, woodland, the wildly overgrown cottage, the picturesque village – were idyllic, heightened by Timothy Spall’s voiceover of Lee’s text, full of beautifully poetic observations.

While these things enjoyed their screen time, however, the story began to bustle on through insensitively. The film soothed us into its handsomely painted environment and yet we were suddenly expected to be emotionally primed for when Laurie is on the verge of death! …and then better again! …and then when Frances dies! (…who?)

Throughout the whole hour and a half, I felt quite detached from Laurie. Rosie’s defiance amused me, but that only partly made up for the fact I felt sorry for Jo (Laurie’s first love interest), who was a relatively undeveloped character anyway.

Laurie’s mother, Annie Lee, played wonderfully by Samantha Morton, was the only character towards whom I was truly sympathetic. The strength of this adaptation is its representation of what must have been a physically and emotionally draining experience for her.

The first few minutes of Lady Chatterley’s Lover also tore through what seemed to me to be a sizeable helping of storyline. Yet the cleverly interwoven stories of the marriage of Constance and Sir Clifford Chatterley and Sir Clifford’s later experiences in the war immediately stirred my concern for these apparently doomed lovers. I briefly thought he would not survive, but it was worse: he returns, disabled, and promptly attempts suicide.

This sequence establishes the tone that runs throughout, the tone that has been criticised for not being that for which the novel is notorious. Knowing that Lady Chatterley would soon have a lover, I began to acknowledge how the strains of her marriage would drive her to this, despite clearly still loving Sir Clifford.

It matters not that this particular adaptation lacks full-frontal nudity, as the 1993 adaptation apparently boasts. We have Game of Thrones for that. In the words of director Jed Mercurio, what was titillating in DH Lawrence’s novel is no longer ‘groundbreaking’ and therefore his interest lay in the love triangle.

Lady Chatterley and Oliver Mellors… fully clothed.

So my expectations for Cider with Rosie are left sadly unfulfilled and my enjoyment of the DH Lawrence adaptation is nevertheless besmirched by the awareness that the story was told through a 21st-century tinted spectacle.

In both cases, I feel a need to reform my opinion by reading the books themselves. Never judge a book by its adaptation… no matter how good.

Book Review: Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

EIM-pb-jacketHow do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?

Mystery turns to comedy when investigated through the perceptions of forgetful octogenarian, Maud Horsham. But Healey’s debut novel is more than that. Comic moments resulting from Maud’s forgetfulness are undercut by the tragic reality of Maud’s mental deterioration. Uncovering the true mystery of this novel and witnessing Maud’s increasing disorientation and vulnerability make Elizabeth is Missing a heart-warming and heart-breaking read.

When the truth is uncovered at the end of the novel (no spoilers!), a policeman asks Maud about the events leading up to the discovery. Her muddled, sometimes nonsensical answers made me wonder how the policeman would ever be able to understand. How ever could he grasp the way in which this forgetful old lady unravelled the mystery? It was then I realised how brilliant this book is.

I had enjoyed the narrative throughout, aware I was being led through it by one of the most unreliable of narrators. But despite Maud’s inability to recall important events and information, I pieced together the evidence for myself. I acquired everything the policeman was asking for.  All the clues were there. I was aware the seeds were being sown (or, rather, casually placed), but I didn’t know which seeds would grow – which bits of information would become meaningful later on. The way in which Healey draws these clues together is not simply satisfying; it is a subtle and graceful piece of craftsmanship.

Another product of Healey’s craftsmanship is the weaving in and out of two stories – the present day mystery of a missing Elizabeth and the 70-year-old mystery of a missing Sukey (Maud’s sister). Maud seems far more aware of the past than of the present. Things in the present, such as smells, words and objects, trigger memories and we are transported back to that moment in Maud’s teenage years. I often find flashbacks distracting or tiresome, but in Elizabeth is Missing, the passages between the two stories were smooth and unforced and I was as eager to hear the old story as the current one.

In a final bout of praise for Emma Healey (I really don’t have anything negative to say), I must mention her choice of voice. Healey is 30 (so the internet tells me) so she would have been in her twenties when putting herself in the shoes of an eighty-something year old lady. Perhaps I am not a suitable judge, being in my twenties too, but I never once doubted Maud’s authenticity as an elderly person.

I enjoyed the insight into old age. Healey seems very empathetic in her portrayal of Maud, but she also takes the opportunity to explore a new perspective of the world. Because Maud struggles with vocabulary and recognition, she gives very objective descriptions: acutely observed, unique and sometimes child-like. For instance, when Maud fails to recall the name for ‘a squat, splayed thing’ that a young boy places in her hand (a ‘fog’, or frog) or when she describes the sensation of plunging your hands into wet earth for no apparent reason, we experience her sense of unfamiliarity with the world.

In a word, this story is charming – tragic, but charming – and an absolute advocate for holding onto hope.

Week E – Endings

I know someone who read the first six Harry Potter books but not the last one. This same miscreant also chooses not to watch the final episode of a favourite TV series. Bizarre, yes? But there’s a reason: she doesn’t want it to end.

Not wanting your beloved series to end is understandable – it’s like saying a final goodbye to a friend. But after getting so far, refusing to complete the experience is an insult to all the hours invested already.

Choosing to not eat the final square of a chocolate bar doesn’t mean the chocolate bar-eating experience will never end. It just means that it ends sooner, and that there is some chocolate left un-enjoyed.

Not everybody hates endings to this extreme, but there is something poignant about closing a book’s covers for the final time. We are left at a loss, with a sense of emptiness. The world we have inhabited for days, weeks or months closes its doors to us, and we are sent back to reality.

Reality. That is what we are left with. Reality never ends. It changes, fades in and out of phase after phase, but never reaches a full stop.

A story will always reach its final full stop, but, like reality, can it ever really end?

The best fictional endings are, in essence, no ending at all. The Italian Job’s famous last line – “Hang on, lads. I’ve got a great idea” – as the choice between saving the gold and saving their necks hangs in the balance (literally), does not indicate an ending, but the beginning of a new venture: a new idea.

Those millions of us who have devoured the final tome of Harry’s adventures know how Rowling puts this particular tale to bed. Not where she ‘ends’ it, but where she lays it to rest.

The final chapter projects us forward in the lives of our three hero(in)es. We enjoy the nerdish satisfaction of seeing who ended up with whom and what they named their children. As Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione chivvy their children onto the Hogwarts Express, the full circle is completed: the technique that satisfies all audiences of classical music and comedy sketches alike. And as we absorb this cheerful conclusion, we ask ourselves what adventures lie ahead for these young witches and wizards. It is simultaneously an ending and a beginning.

But not everyone enjoyed this finale. Was it perhaps too happily-ever-after? Even JK Rowling admitted that partnering Ron and Hermione was ‘a form of wish fulfilment’ on her part. So although the final chapter implies a continuation to the wizarding world we have known for seven volumes, the final picture we get is unrealistically convenient.

Unrealistic convenience is what is objectionable with so many happily ‘ended’ stories. The story stops in a nice place, leaving little or no doubt as to what will happen beyond the final curtain. But even a perfectly resolved narrative is merely an impressively choreographed tying of loose ends.

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” – Frank Herbert

My Top 5 Reads of 2012

It’s coming to the end of another year of reading books old, new and middle-aged.  As the year of my graduation from university, it has been a diverse one, including everything from the books I read for my dissertation to the ones I read over summer months on the beach.  But I have found it surprisingly easy to pick my top five, and here they are…

#5 – Tamara Drewe – Posy Simmonds

Tamara Drewe Image

Many of you will know Tamara Drewe as that film where Gemma Arterton wears really short shorts, but it was originally a graphic novel published as a serial in The Guardian between 2005 and 2006.  Based on Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, this book deals with the relationship between, and the representation of, the country and the city, as it recounts the changes that occur in the village of Ewedown upon the arrival of Tamara Drewe, a rather glamorous journalist from the city.

Though originating from the country, Tamara’s appearance produces a whirlwind of small-town gossip and conflicts arising from her city ways, and induces major consequences in the lives of bored teenage girls and married men alike.  What is brilliant about this book, aside from the amusing and consistent characterisation and the satisfyingly awkward situations, is its form.  The balance of illustrations and block text is unlike any other graphic novel I have read.  The illustrations seemingly embrace the nostalgic and idealistic representation of the countryside that Simmonds is criticising, and this seemingly ‘nice’ form is astonishingly undercut by the events of the climax and conclusion.

 

#4 – The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar Image

Sylvia Plath’s one and (sadly) only novel has made my top five for many reasons.  The weaknesses of the protagonist, Esther Greenwood, are so honestly revealed that one cannot help but connect with her.  Most likely due to the similarities between Esther and Plath herself – though she may have denied it – Esther’s descent into psychological illness and a suicidal nature is portrayed so thoroughly and vividly that it is understandable.  We are brought to understand a condition that is often inconceivable to a mentally sound mind, and not from an objective position, but from the sufferer’s own position.

The other beauty of this book is its language, particularly its metaphors.  Plath’s prose flows smoothly, allowing a quick reading pace, whilst not being void of linguistic interest.  In other words, her artful manipulation of language does not make it an effort to read.  Her metaphors alone made me smile; they provided exact descriptions that I could immediately understand, without ever having heard the phrase before.

 

#3 – The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

The time travelers wife image

Having heard so many people say this book was better than the film I just had to read it.  The film was definitely good, but as always, the book triumphed.  Part of me loved this book because it was so unlike anything else I tend to read. In a complex and meandering way, it tells the story of a man and a woman who meet again and again throughout their lives, but they don’t know where or when or what their age difference will be.

Henry’s time travelling means that they struggle to control their own relationship and bring their lives into sync, perhaps reflecting upon how this is true of many normal relationships.  By dividing up the first person narration between Henry and Clare, the two protagonists, Niffenegger gives the reader a privileged perspective and encourages our compassion equally for both characters.

Despite its unbelievable premise, this book is surprisingly believable. It has the qualities of a classic love story, but completely refreshed and unique.  I was engrossed in the tragic plot as well as in the enjoyment of deciphering the puzzle-like passage of time and trying to work out what happens next from the brief glimpses of the future.

 

#2 – Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens Image

This book is the literary equivalent of Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way!  Each character is brilliantly unique and complete; the humour is top of the range British home-grown stuff; and the various strands of the plot fit together like a dream.  Having read works by both Pratchett and Gaiman, I particularly loved seeing how these two great minds worked with one another, fed one another, and compromised with one another.  Good Omens blends the witty and well-worded humour of Pratchett – including his many amusing footnotes and parentheses – with the bizarre apocalyptic themes and characters Gaiman is known for.

I frequently had to suppress laughing fits whilst reading this book in public; it’s just that good.  And the brilliant humour does not come at the expense of the plot, which will keep you engrossed for all the 500+ pages.  I rarely re-read books anymore, but Good Omens definitely deserves the honour of a re-read.

And finally…

#1 – Maus – Art Spiegelman

Maus Image

Maus is the biography of Art Speigelman’s father, Vladek, and is without a doubt the best representation of Holocaust experiences I have ever encountered. The narrative depicts Vladek’s struggle to survive and protect his family, the effort with which he hides himself in attics and sheds, and his awful experiences in concentration camps; but all of this focuses on the relationships between the many persecuted people and those with compassion, than on Vladek alone.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of this book – as suggested by the quantity of academic works that dissect it – is how the characters are represented.  All are human bodied, but with the head of an animal; Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, Poles are pigs, and so on.  Maus is also recognised as a strong case for the serious consideration of the graphic/comic form, and Spiegelman’s use of this form is inextricable from the story itself.  The artwork does not only help us begin to imagine what the Holocaust may have been like, but it self-reflexively prompts questions about representation itself and the practice of biography and storytelling.

This graphic novel was tragic, enlightening, thought-provoking and refreshingly original – easily the best book I’ve read this year!

Same again, please!

You only have to take one look in Waterstones to realise the effect that EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey had made in the trade publishing industry.

Bared to You… Reflected in You… Entwined with You… a trilogy by Sylvia Day.

Eighty Days Yellow… Eighty Days Blue… Eighty Days Red… a trilogy by Vina Jackson.

Erotic fiction, mummy porn – whatever you want to call it – has undeniably taken off.  No longer does that category refer to the obscure titles secreted on a top shelf, but to world-known titles that unashamedly smack you in the face when you enter any high street bookstore.

First, 50 Shades made a striking appearance, selling over half a million copies per week at its peak.  Then, Bared to You by Sylvia Day became Penguin’s fastest selling paperback for a decade.  And now, Day’s second installation, Reflected in You, sells at an even faster pace, surpassing the first week sales of 50 Shades with ease.  I question how such irrefutably mediocre literature has had such achievements.  The success of EL James’ (or should I say Snowqueens Icedragon’s) Twilight fan-fictionseemed surprising enough, so how have subsequently inspired publications enjoyed even more success?

Is it that James has opened a door onto the complex issue of female sexuality that requires further exploration?  In a way, yes.  But also, in a way, no.  She has simply turned a huge spotlight on something that has been there all along.  She has turned the unspeakable into one of the hottest topics of 2012.

So where do Sylvia Day and Vina Jackson fit into this?  They might be taking the opportunity to further explore the issues that James has brought to light.  Or they might just be proactive individuals who know a good opportunity when they see one and don’t mind setting pen to paper to make a bit (understatement) of money.

In reference to the impressive sales of Day’s e-books (75,000 digital pre-orders), Tom Weldon, the c.e.o of Penguin UK, who publish Day’s novels, argues ‘This is not copycat publishing. In a digital age, this is giving readers what they want straight away.”

But just because they are supplying a new and heavy demand does not mean that this doesn’t qualify as ‘copycat publishing’.  Yes, they’re giving the readers what they want as fast as they can, but what the reader wants – and probably won’t deny – is more of the same.  They want to continue the 50 Shades experience, just in the same way that EL James wanted to continue the Twilight experience (with a side order of BDSM).

And the authors and publishers are clearly aware that they are getting in on the demand created by EL James.  Just look at the titles.  Smell the reek of associative marketing.  All three examples I have given are trilogies, with titles only changing slightly – by one key word – each time.  In Jackson’s case, Eighty has replaced Fifty (because Fourty would just be too obvious). To stretch it, there is an undeniable rhyme between Days/Day and Grey and Shade.  And finally, the use of colours: yellow/red/blue… grey.   I may be overanalysing, but it all seems a bit suspicious.  The covers are also suspiciously comparable to those of the 50 Shades trilogy… and Twilight for that matter.

While James owes her success to Twilight, an imagination I don’t wish to analyse, and a dash of bravery, Day and Jackson owe theirs to common sense and the market already established by James.  The publicity received by 50 Shades not only boosted its own sales, but also those of future erotic fiction books.  50 Shades created hype as well as an audience, and books from the likes of Day and Jackson simply take advantage of this.  It just goes to show that even bad publicity is publicity nonetheless.

As a final note, and disclaimer, I would just like to say that this article is not based on the contents of the books, but a reflection on the current trend.  I have not yet had the privilege of reading the books in question for the purpose of criticism, as I am still recovering from trawling through the Twilight series for that very reason… three years ago.

Judging by the Cover

Sitting alone in a café the other day, at intervals between reading, I took to my penchant for people-watching.  In walks a guy, roughly my age, with a unique ‘clothes-that-don’t-match-the-seasonal-weather’ look and a lack of socks.  He’s carrying a thick book, with a plain, brownish cover – just the kind of understated, academic brick that I’m likely to find myself exiting the library with.  Friedrich Nietzsche, perhaps?  War and Peace, even?  Or maybe a Keats poetry anthology?  My mind makes tenuous leaps and assumptions, exploring the potential avenues opened by his appearance: what sort of book would ‘suit’ him?

I was reading him through what he was reading.  In just the same way as society has assumptions, or even prejudices, about certain appearances, clothing styles, brands, and tastes in music, in public, reading is not a private pleasure, but a form of identity construction, whether intentional or not.

I am reminded of a moment in Pride and Prejudice, when Mr Darcy takes up a book after tea, and Miss Bingley follows suit.  Miss Bingley’s interest, Austen remarks mockingly, is in engaging and impressing Darcy, not in her book, which “she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his.”  By no means am I suggesting that public reading is always a vain, impression-making practice, but Austen is aware of the social implications of reading in the presence of others.  Unintentionally, we can make statements about our identity and personality through what we read in public.

On a recent train journey, I was reading a graphic novel, something I am admittedly quite self-conscious about, because of the associations of trivial, childish comic trash that immediately spring to the minds of many people.  My niggling sensation of being judged was confirmed by the passenger opposite me, who kindly decided to inform me of the fact that I was reading “a comic book”.  (Well done, sir!) Certain books probably do draw attention to themselves; for example, something like War and Peace is likely to imply intellect, ambition and sheer determination, whereas a light-hearted mainstream holiday read isn’t likely to shout out at all.  It’s the same with clothes: there’s always a choice between blending in or standing out and making a statement about oneself.  But of course, sometimes it’s just a case of wearing, or reading, whatever you want.

So, I eventually discovered the book of my café friend.  As he folded back the unmarked cover, the dust jacket gaped slightly to reveal the letters “HAR” in an all-too-familiar font, format, and colour.  It was the third instalment of J. K. Rowling’s much-loved Harry Potter series.  Not quite what I expected, to be honest, but it serves my point.  Your character will be judged by the cover of your book.  Disguising it simply acknowledges this fact.

This article has been published on Intuition and can be viewed online at http://www.intuition-online.co.uk/article.php?id=2508

Page and Screen: The Symbiotic Relationship

Watching TV gives you square eyes.  This is a common “truth”, supported by strict parents and any cynics whose childhood was already a distant memory by the late-50s, to sway impressionable children and grandchildren from the lure of the screen.

TV and film, by absorbing an average of four hours of each citizen’s day, are accused of the crime of tearing the nation away from old-fashioned books, thus breeding a generation of illiterate children, causing reduced concentration spans, the inability to absorb large quantities of text and even weight issues.  I don’t disagree, but I don’t think it’s all bad news.  Can these forms not reopen doors for the discovery of literature?

The television and film industry of today practically gorges on the publishing industry of the last few centuries.  We all know that Bridget Jones’ Diary is based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and that 10 Things I Hate About You mirrors Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.  And there’s about a billion TV dramas based on nineteenth and early twentieth century classics, such as Cranford, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Lark Rise to Candleford, Brideshead Revisited and so on.

These productions may be perceived as indulgences or guilty pleasures, but the idea that the literary connections legitimize their mass consumption is not an unreasonable one.  It is argued that people don’t have the patience or ability to consume these stories in their original form, and instead settle for the easy option.  Conversely, I believe that these adaptations can encourage a rediscovery of the classic texts on which they are based.  They provide the link between never even considering reading a particular book and inquisitively picking it up off a shelf in a bookshop.

Contemporary adaptations make classic literature seem accessible, relevant, and consumable.  By breaking down any previous negative assumptions, the only thing left to conquer is the more time-consuming text.  But the beauty of books is that they release their pleasure more slowly; watchers who were sad to see a story end, can – with their newfound readership – experience it again, but differently, and indulge in it at their own pace.

Yet it is not only adaptations that can pull back the dusty gates of literary avenues.  And now comes my primary motivation for approaching this subject at all: I am completely hooked by Gilmore Girls.  Miles behind the bandwagon, I know, but it’s true and I can justify it.

Anyone who has ever watched an episode will be aware of the bombardment of literary references, both overt and veiled.  Books and films are referred to in every single episode and although I cannot speak for everyone, I know I am not alone in being inspired and intrigued to read and watch things I feel that I probably should have already.  In fact, a quick Google search will demonstrate that there is even such thing as ‘The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge’, and I was quite disappointed to find that I wasn’t the first person to have this idea.

Nevertheless, I have just begun reading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar; last week I watched Casablanca; this week I borrowed a copy of Proust’s Swann’s Way from a friend.  And it is thanks to this “American trash” that I renewed my desire to one day read War and Peace.

Gilmore Girls is proving to be great for recommendations; I’ve begun compiling a list, which is turning into a full-blown reading project.  So over the next few weeks and months I am going to be reading and reviewing books and classic films that I have been led to through what some may refer to as the ‘cruder’ media and art forms.

Excessive TV watching might give you square eyes, but it might also encourage you to have a well-rounded cultural knowledge.

Mortal Engines: A Nostalgic Revisiting

I was both anxious and excited to discover that Peter Jackson is currently nursing the rights to adapt one of my favourite childhood books, Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines.  When it comes to film adaptations, I always have mixed feelings.  And in this case, I hastened to read the book again first.  Before the film overrides the need for my imagination, I wanted to enjoy it just how I had enjoyed it the first time.

At heart, it is a tale of adventure.  In Reeve’s post-apocalyptic world, where natural resources are scarce, towns and cities have donned a set of wheels and now chase, consume and digest each other in order to stay alive.  Tom Natsworthy, a likeable apprentice historian from London, after being ‘accidentally’ exiled becomes involved in the revengeful ambitions of the scar-faced Hester Shaw, and tramps across the Out-Country, hopping from town to town, in search of Thaddeus Valentine, the man who murdered Hester’s mother.  Back in London, Valentine’s daughter Katherine sets out to discover the truth of London, and the missions her father secretly undertakes on behalf of London’s Mayor.  By alternating between the adventures of Tom and Katherine and the human relationships they build along the way, Reeve skilfully maintains suspense to the very end.

The teen romances now seem rather cliché and lacking, but as I had hoped, the charming touches and details that Reeve adds to his fantasy futuristic setting are satisfying.  The characters’ unfamiliarity with “a thing called a blue whale”, their historical inaccuracies, for example their belief that Pluto and Mickey are “animal-headed gods of lost America”, and the adaptation of familiar phrases, such as “a rolling town gathers no moss”, provide snippets of amusement throughout.  Furthermore, the steampunk element to the book is pleasingly subtle.  Until you start looking out for it, there is simply a delightful je ne sais quoi to the anachronistic technologies, the combination of progression and archaisms, and the pseudo-Victorian Dickensian characters.  It turns out there is a name for such a multi-temporal mishmash!

I’m glad I still found the book’s premise and story engaging and so wonderfully thought-through, otherwise I would have ruined a lovely childhood memory.  But I discovered so much more in this book that has now tainted my remembrance of it… in a good way.

Unbeknown to my thirteen-year-old eye, Mortal Engines introduces issues familiar in more mature literature.   Posing questions to social class inequality, the tiered cities literalise the social hierarchy by placing the wealthy few at the top, and the poor masses at the bottom, but throughout the novel, there are numerous characters who breach the divisions.  Also, I was surprised to find that Tom was not the protagonist I remembered; to challenge the tradition of male adventure heroes, Katherine and Hester are both stronger characters and lead the action forward far more than the slightly pathetic Tom.  And the opposition between science and history, progression and stasis, new and old that cleverly permeates the entire book not only gives food for thought in terms of the ethics of scientific development, but also subtly reinforces the book’s steampunk style.  The technological development revealed at the book’s climax is particularly pertinent to a 21st Century reader (bearing in mind Mortal Engines was published in 2001).  London’s Guild of Engineering has developed a weapon against which every other Traction town and city, and the Anti-Traction static settlements, will be powerless.  Essentially, a weapon of mass destruction.  At one point, Reeve explicitly refers to the terrible weapons of the “old American Empire”, but this is executed with the subtlety that characterises the whole book.

As I await more news of the film adaptation, I wonder if Peter Jackson will employ the same subtlety.  His taste and talent for fantasy and adventure is a known quantity… But is he going to draw out the more serious issues and accentuate these sensitive connections with our present?  We’ll have to wait and see.

This article has been published on Intuition and can be viewed online at http://www.intuition-online.co.uk/article.php?id=2508