Hello everyone. Happy Friday. I feel like this week has flown by. It has been another rather stressful week for me however I can say that after many ups and downs, I am heading into this weekend much happier than I was when heading into last Saturday so I am thankful for that.
I thought that it might be nice for today’s Friday’s Choice if I share some quotes that I really love.
Words have power and I think it is incredible that we can read some words once and they can stick with us for a very long time. I am positive that almost everyone has a quote or two that they love.
I am going to share four quotes that I really love with you all today. Some are from books, some are from poems, and some are from movies.
So let’s dive into #fridayschoice.
Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.
A quote from Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
I have started off with this quote because I think it is so true. Confidence is a gift in my opinion. Anyone can fake it until they make it, but true confidence can be rare and hard to come-by. I think that when you truly feel confident it is one of the best feelings there is. Nothing makes me happier than when I can say that I genuinely feel confident, secure in myself, and happy.
If someone helps you feel that way, if someone gives you that confidence boost, then I agree that you owe them a lot because if someone gives you a confidence boost, then they have given you a real gift.
There are many people in my life who have given me confidence over the years, some of them really stand out, and I will always be grateful to those people because without confidence, I would not be where I am today. I would not be doing what I love, I would not be doing what makes me happiest, and I would not have learned about myself, and what I love, and what I am truly capable of without that confidence. So, to those people, and you know who you are – Thank you xo.
Even miracles take a little time.
A quote from Walt Disney’s Cinderella.
Walt Disney’s Cinderella is one of my favourite movies. I have loved it since I was a little girl. In many ways, the movie is very sentimental to me and I will always love it. I really do love this quote because I think that it is helpful. I have had two very stressful weeks. I have cried more than once. I have been utterly stressed out and now, after a lot of time, energy, patience, and phone calls, I am able to walk into the weekend knowing that everything is okay. It took time, and it took effort, but I made it in the end and it was worth it.
When I was deciding which four quotes I would mention, because truly there are hundreds that I could mention, but when I was trying to choose four to start with, this one popped into my head almost immediately. I think that if you want to do something and it is important, and you consider it worth doing, then the effort you put in won’t be for nothing. Things may take time, and require patience, but I think that in the end, if it something you truly wish to do then the patience will pay off.
The lights were clicking on, and the rightful owner of the music, tiny but no longer timid sang for the rightful owners of the song.
A quote from Interruption at the Opera House, a poem by Brian Patten.
This is one of my favourite poems. I will talk about it in a dedicated post at some point in the future because I love it and have loved it since I was fifteen. This is a poem that is about appreciation for the arts. It is a poem that is about how it does not matter where someone comes from, if they love the arts then they should have a right to hear great music, and see amazing theatre, and the poem also sheds a light on how some people may take the arts for granted.
It is a really lovely poem and I have always loved that final line because I think people who truly love the arts will know what I mean when I say that a song is not ‘just’ a song, and that a book is not ‘just’ a book. The arts can be moving, touching, and so important to so many people and this poem highlights that in a really beautiful way.
There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.
A quote from Hard Times, by Charles Dickens.
As many of you will already know, I love Charles Dickens. Hard Times is a novel that explores the tension that can exist between logic and imagination. Dickens makes the point that we cannot function on logic alone. There are things in life that are illogical, but those things are not any less valid. We must think with our hearts as well as with our heads. It is important to be rational, and logical, of course it is, but it is also so important to leave room for the illogical. It is important to leave room for creativity, and wonder. It is so important to be empathetic, and kind, as well as informed. There are many different kinds of wisdom and we can learn from so many different things. So, that is why I love this quote because I think that it is so important to acknowledge that there are different kinds of wisdom and in life, sometimes our head will be right, but other times our heart may take the lead, and that is okay. It is all about balance.
This has been Friday’s Choice. These are four quotes that I really love, and as I said, there are many, many more that I love too and I will share them, and explain the reasons behind them as time goes on here at Katelovesliterature.com.
What’s your favourite quote? Please let me know. I’d love to hear it. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
I’ll be honest and say that I have not had the best week. If you follow my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you will have seen that I shared a quote that I love. ”Every kick is a boost.” – This is one of my favourite quotes by Rue McClanahan, who of course played the brilliant Blanche in The Golden Girls.
My Irish mammy always says ”what’s for you won’t pass you”, so even though it has not been the best week and I don’t feel this way now, I know that I will look back on this week and be glad that things worked out as they did.
All of this brings me to this week’s #fridayschoice. I have been thinking about comfort shows, shows that we watch when we are feeling down. I’ve been speaking to family and friends about this because I wanted to get some opinions and almost everyone I spoke to had a show or a movie or a book that they go back to when they are feeling down.
My comfort show, I’ve discovered, is The Golden Girls. Every night this week I have been watching The Golden Girls on Disney plus and it really does help me to relax and clear my head before I go to sleep.
I love this show for many reasons. It is nostalgic for me. I used to watch it a lot with my grandmother when I was younger. It is funny. The quick wit is fantastic and I believe that the character Sophia is the definition of sarcasm. The four leading ladies are a dream team. They each play their part perfectly and the chemistry the group had is something that is rare to come by.
I plan on talking about this show in more detail at a later date because I think it is an incredible show. The writing is fantastic, the storylines that the show covered were at times very powerful and poignant – I have a specific episode in mind that I plan on discussing in more detail. Most importantly, The Golden Girls is brilliant because of what it does for female representation onscreen.
There are still conversations about having older women onscreen in 2021, and many actresses have spoken about the struggles they face in casting after forty.
The Golden Girls is a show about older women and they are not the butt of the joke. They are lively, nuanced, fun, well-rounded characters who live full lives that are full of ups and downs, laughs and tears. They are interesting, dynamic, vivacious and yes, sexy. They make growing older look fabulous and it is. Yes growing older can come with new challenges, but life does not stop once you pass thirty and this show reflects that.
I adore Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty. They are wonderful, funny, talented actresses who can sing, and dance, and play instruments, and they fill the show with heart. It is actresses like these four that made me adore acting because what they do onscreen is marvellous.
I even love the theme song – ‘Thank you for being a friend’, and every time the opening credits play, starting with that shot of a plane flying through the orange sky at sunset, I feel better. I feel calm and cozy and my ideal way of watching this show is when I am snuggled up with a blanket with some tea or coffee, and sometimes even a little treat and while a tv show cannot fix a problem, it does take my mind off of it and it makes me feel a little bit better.
The reason that I wanted to talk about comfort shows is because I think the idea of a comfort show demonstrates how important the arts can be. A book, movie, or show can be so much more than ‘just’ a book or ‘just’ a movie because of what they can do for people. They can move people and make people laugh or people can relate and feel less alone or a show can even make you feel better on a bad day. Literature and the arts can do so much for so many people and this is why I am so passionate about the arts and about literature, and why I created Katelovesliterature.com.
If I was to talk about all the things that literature and the arts have done for me, I would be typing forever so for now I’m starting with comfort shows.
The Golden Girls is funny, witty, heartfelt, and so ahead of its time. I will talk about this show again in the future but for now I will simply say if you are ever having a bad day, I would highly recommend watching The Golden Girls because if you are like me then it might just bring a smile to your face too.
This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Have you got any comfort shows, books, or movies? Is there a piece that brightens your day? Let me know, I’d love to know.
Hello everyone and welcome back to another Friday’s Choice. Last week I talked about Virgin River on Netflix which you should go and check out if you haven’t already. Today’s #fridayschoice is going to be all about why I love musicals.
I think that it is obvious from my Theatre Throwback posts that I have spent a lot of time at the theatre watching musicals. I cannot wait to get back to the theatre and I know that the next time I get to watch a musical, I will be glowing with excitement.
Today’s Friday’s Choice is a little bit more personal because I am giving you all an insight into something that I love.
I think that when it comes to musicals, they seem to split people’s opinions. I don’t think I have met anyone who had a middling opinion on musicals, perhaps it is has just been my experience and I do not wish to make sweeping statements but whenever the topic of musicals has come up in conversation, my experience has always been that people tell me that they love musicals or they hate them. There has not been much in-between.
Something that has always struck me as interesting is that whenever someone tells me that they hate musicals (which is fine by the way, we all have our own interests), they tend to mention movie musicals as examples. Now there is nothing wrong with movie musicals, but I don’t think they are the right thing to base one’s opinions about musicals off of. A movie musical that has been adapted to suit a cinema screen is very, very different to a musical that is being performed live onstage, and I will be honest and say that I do not think all musicals are suited to movie adaptations because without the live element, the concept sometimes does not translate well onto the screen and then the movie musical sometimes does not make sense.
I have had people tell me that they don’t enjoy everyone bursting into song which is pretty key to a musical. I think that when you watch a musical live onstage, the bursting into song does not feel so jarring as it sometimes does in movies. In live shows, the orchestra is always playing and you can hear the introduction to the song, and because in musicals, the songs function as a way to share more of the story and move the story forward, the songs seem so much more natural which makes sense because they’re in their natural element and I think that when watching live theatre, some of the most beautiful and emotional moments in the musical happen in the songs.
I have been watching musicals for as long as I can remember. I would say that my family is rather musical, there are people who play lots of different instruments and I went to singing classes when I was very young. We were all always in the choir, things like that and my grandmother especially loved to sing. When I was little we would watch things like My Fair Lady and Oliver! so I have enjoyed musicals since I was very young and as I got older and started taking drama classes more seriously, I began to appreciate musicals on a deeper level too.
I love musicals because they are fun. Some shows have the most fun and upbeat scores and being in the theatre watching a show like Legally Blonde or Mamma Mia is so much fun because the energy is upbeat and the atmosphere in the theatre is amazing. There is a buzz in the air and I don’t think that feeling can be recreated anywhere else.
I think that there is a magical quality to live theatre – which I know, I know, that sounds cliché, but I think it is true. I think that the feeling you get when watching live theatre is almost indescribable. When you are waiting for the curtain to rise and you can hear the orchestra play a few bars before they begin playing the overture, there is such an incredible energy in the theatre. Everyone is excited. The lights have dimmed. Everyone is eagerly anticipating the performance and then it begins.
I love musicals because I love to be moved. I think that some of the most beautiful moments happen in songs. There is something about the way that music can capture an emotion that words cannot. I adore music. I adore reading sheet music. I love how powerful and moving and personal music can be. Everyone has a favourite song and I will bet there is always a reason behind why it is their favourite. There have been times when music has moved me to tears and I think that when a piece of art touches you on that level, it is very special.
It is great to enjoy a musical. It is great to walk away and say ‘I had a great time, that was brilliant.’
I think it is another thing entirely to walk away feeling moved. When a show resonates with you or you find it relatable or touching, that is the best feeling because the show becomes more than just a show.
I love musicals because visually, they are stunning. I am always so impressed by the production. The staging, the costumes, the sets, the dancers, the ensemble. A musical is composed of many moving parts and I have great admiration for anyone who works onstage and behind-the-scenes because everyone who plays a part in making a show happen is extremely talented and together all those components create something incredible.
Musicals are a little bit of a spectacle. I think there is a certain opulence in musicals that should be just accepted as a given. It is not the realism that is created in movies. A musical is a very immersive experience because the actors onstage will bounce off of the energy of the audience. Anything can happen live. Props can break, sometimes there are mishaps, there will always be rustling in the audience and so even though the actors perform the same script again and again, it is still a different show every time.
I think that musicals are a great way to appreciate all different aspects of the arts, if you love dancing then you will love the dancing in the show. Some shows are known for their incredible dance sequences. If you love music then what could be better than a musical? There are so many different, amazing songs and I think that sometime on Katelovesliterature.com I will talk about some of my favourite scores in more detail. If you love acting and usually prefer traditional plays, then I would say to give musicals a chance because there are some incredibly talented actors who have blown me away when I watched them live. Acting onstage is very different to acting onscreen so if you have a movie musical in your head I would say to forget about the movie. Set aside that expectation and go and enjoy live performances.
Of course I understand that tickets can be expensive and sometimes there are shows that I would love to see but can’t. What I will say though is whenever I know a show is coming that I know I absolutely do want to see – not a casual ‘oh that might be nice.’ – but a proper, ‘oh my goodness, I can’t miss that.’, then I will save up or maybe I will get the tickets for my birthday or for Christmas and any time I have spent the money on theatre tickets, it has always been money well spent because I have never had a bad night at the theatre. There are also different seat options and sometimes there are deals about so if it is something you love then keep an eye out for things like that.
I cannot wait to see a show again. The next show on my list is The Rocky Horror Show. I will hopefully be seeing this weird and wonderful show in October and of course, I will write about it so keep an eye on my Instagram (@katelovesliterature) for updates on that. I am very excited about adding another program to my collection. I will be seeing this musical with a friend of mine who loves the movie, but has never been to a live musical before so I have said already to put the movie out of your head because the show will be a completely new experience. So I am very excited for that. Roll on October.
This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know your thoughts on musicals. Love them? Hate them? What’s your favourite musical? Is there one that stands out? Is there one that moved you? Let me know, I love hearing from you. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Hello everyone and welcome back to another Friday’s Choice.
Last week I talked about Ten Crime Dramas That I Binged Watched, you should go and check that out if you haven’t already.
Today’s #fridayschoice is also tv related. If you follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you will have seen from my stories that I started watching Virgin River on Netflix.
I have now finished all three seasons of this show and I am hoping that it will get picked up for a fourth season because there are too many questions that can’t remain unanswered.
This series follows Mel Monroe, a nurse practitioner from Los Angeles as she moves to the small town of Virgin River for a fresh start. As the series goes on, we learn from flashbacks about Mel’s past and what lead up to her needing a whole new start.
In Virgin River Mel meets an ensemble of great characters. There is Jack, the handsome barman who quickly becomes her closest friend. There is Doc, the gruff and stubborn doctor who Mel must learn to work with which is difficult until she begins to see the kind, caring man behind the gruff exterior. There is Hope, the self-appointed leader of Virgin River. Hope is funny, feisty, witty, independent, and stubborn. She has a habit of meddling in other people’s business but it is hard to be too annoyed with her when her heart is always in the right place.
There are many other brilliant characters. My favourite characters are Paige, Christopher and Preacher. I think their storyline is the most interesting and intense one in the show – no spoilers here though. If you want to see what I mean then you should check it out for yourself.
While there are a lot of characters, the core four are Mel, Jack, Doc, and Hope. There are a lot of storylines happening at once but even with so many moving pieces, the plot does not feel overwhelming.
There are some beautiful scenic shots because the setting of Virgin River is simply stunning and so it is a very visually pleasing show to watch. I also think the soundtrack is fantastic. There have been many times when I have been so impressed by the music choices because the songs feel tailor made to the scenes they are accompanying.
The cast is great. I think they really captured the small-town sense of community that a place like Virgin River is bound to have. The characters are imperfect but they are endearing. Everyone knows everyone and everyone looks after each other. It is quite an emotional show. I found myself tearing up on more than one occasion as the show covers some very emotional and poignant topics.
This series has been a nice change from my usual watches because while crime dramas are my favourite genre, this is the first series I have watched in a while that is not a crime drama. It is hard to say which genre Virgin River fits into. It is not a crime drama although season three has raised the stakes and there is some illegal activity going on which I imagine will continue if the show gets picked up for season four. As I said above, our main protagonist Mel is a nurse practitioner so I suppose I could call this show a lighthearted medical drama and I would say there are elements of a romantic comedy in it too.
It is a really good watch and I would recommend it.
Up until now I have been primarily writing about movies, books, and theory on Katelovesliterature.com and I have written quite a bit about theatre too in my theatre throwbacks but I also really do love getting invested in a good tv series and so going forward I will be writing more about different tv shows too.
I really love exploring different mediums of expression because I think it is fascinating to look at how many different ways a story can be told. I think that certain mediums work better for certain stories. When you are working with a tv format, the story and the characters can continuously grow and evolve but when you are watching a movie, the story and character arcs must fit into two hours and some stories simply need more time. Some stories need the cinematic scope while others will work better in serial format and so that is why as much as I am a movie lover, I also really do enjoy watching tv.
Going forward I will be talking about more tv shows, more poems, more plays, and more short stories. There is so much to come and I am looking forward to every moment.
We are approaching the end of August which means that August’s #bookofthemonth discussion all about Michael Connelly’s City Of Bones will be published soon. Keep an eye on my Instagram for updates.
We are also approaching my favourite time of the year, autumn and winter, and I am very excited for all that is to come.
Have you seen Virgin River? Let me know what you thought of it and if anyone has any tv suggestions for me, please drop them in the comments below. This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Hello everyone and welcome to a very exciting Friday’s Choice.
As you all will know by now, I believe that English Literature is a wonderfully enriching subject to study because I think that a love for literature can open many doors and it can be an inspiration to so many people.
This week I had the wonderful opportunity to chat to the incredibly talented artist Annabel Carington. Annabel is fascinated by the relationship between language and images and I reached out to her after seeing one of her beautiful paintings, a piece that was inspired by Elizabeth Bowen’s short story The BackDrawing Room. This is one of my favourite stories, I have written a review about it which you should check out if you haven’t already and I am going to take this opportunity to recommend the story again because it is simply brilliant. It is a mysterious and complex take on the ghost story and I adore the idea of the past haunting the present which is a theme that Bowen explores in this story. I saw Annabel’s painting and as someone who greatly admires art, I loved that she captured the mystery of this story on a canvas and I thought it was wonderful that this stunning piece was inspired by a piece of literature.
So today’s Friday’s Choice is all about the interview I conducted with Annabel Carington over zoom. I asked her all about her love for art and literature and what inspires her and the conversation we had was just wonderful so stay tuned. I would also like to say thank you so much to Annabel for taking the time to chat with me. It was a fascinating conversation. I learned so much. It is always so lovely to speak to people who enjoy the arts and who enjoy literature and one of my favourite things to do is listen to someone talk to me about something that they are passionate about. Annabel was so lovely and so kind and I could not have asked for a more lovely chat so Annabel thank you very much.
So let’s dive into the interview.
When did you start painting? Have you always enjoyed art?
“I’ve been painting all of my life. I’ve always loved reading and writing, drawing and painting and as a child I was always spending my money on books and art materials. Not much has changed!”
Have you always had a love for literature or did that come later?
“I’ve always loved to read. When I was younger I might have thought of reading, writing, painting and drawing as separate things but, over time I found that they are complementary. If you look back through history it is common for writers to also be artists and for artists to also be writers, so there is something there about the two working together. I have also always been interested in these as different forms of expression and why someone chooses to express themselves in the way they do. Perhaps there are things that one can express in painting that can’t be expressed in writing. I find that very interesting.”
Would you say that literature inspired painting or was it the other way around? Did one come before the other or have they always worked together?
“I’ve always loved reading and painting but over time I’ve developed an interest in the way art is portrayed in literature. Lots of writers write fiction about art and I find the crossover or differences in interpretations of art in literature fascinating. I’m particularly interested in early 20th century art and how this is portrayed in writing.
The nature of what I paint has changed over time. I’ve always been inspired by the natural world and have made a lot of seascapes and landscapes. But this interest in the connection between art and literature has really developed further over the last three years, and I have become especially inspired by literature in my painting during that time, and so the ‘landscapes’ that I make now come more from this.”
Was there a specific idea or moment that made you realise that you really enjoyed creating pieces inspired by classic literature?
“Since the mid-nineties I’ve carried around T.S Eliot’s Four Quartets with me. I have read it everywhere: on public transport, in queues, in waiting-rooms, etc. I always had it with me. Then, about three years ago, I don’t know why but I decided I wanted to create a painting about these poems, so I made a painting called ‘Burnt Norton.’ The process of making that painting made me realise this was actually an entire series I wanted to make, so that one painting led to a forty-eight piece collection! There are now twelve paintings for each of the four quartets and the names of the pieces come from the name of the poem itself and then from quotations within those poems. This was a defining moment for me and a real shift in my work and the ultimate ambition and focus became to create pieces from works of literature. I now can’t imagine doing anything else. When I was making the Four Quartets series, I really gave myself to the work, and it consumed me, really. A lot of sketchbook work went into it; I made several trips to East Coker and the other locations in the poems; and I went and did the walks that Eliot did with Emily Hale to get a feel for the landscapes he walked through. I really absorbed myself in the work. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up every morning. I also spent a lot of time thinking about the meaning of the poems as well as what they had meant to me at different stages of my life. So the paintings are a mix of personal, real, and fictional landscapes. I had to paint them and, as I say, I was consumed by the work. It’s part of me.”
I would imagine the creative process is very personal and that it can be quite emotional at times. Would you agree?
“I think the creative process can be viewed by some as self indulgent and people who don’t have that mindset are often perplexed by the thought of spending so much time on your own, working on what can be very personal ideas. You put the work first. You spend a lot of time alone and you make sacrifices because the work comes first. You never know if you’re going to be financially recompensed, or even if anyone will ever ‘get’ the work that you’re making, but all you can do is make the work that you know you have to make, because it is a compulsion. I have to make these paintings. I can’t tell you why I have to but, I have to. It’s an ongoing thing — you never switch off when you have this kind of mindset — there is the potential for inspiration everywhere, but that’s ok…I don’t want to switch off…I see it as a good thing.”
You have said that you are very interested in the relationship between language and images. Can you tell me more about that?
“It goes back to the idea that there are so many different forms of expression and I’m interested not only in why someone chooses to express themselves in the form that they do, but the ways in which these forms overlap. If you look at a writer like Elizabeth Bowen, for example, her writing is very visual. On the one hand, this isn’t a particularly unusual feature in writing of that period because of the influence of the rise of cinema, TV and advertising, so there was a shift in focus towards the visual anyway but, on the other hand, there are aspects of her work which I think are especially cinematic and so it does lend itself to some form of visual interpretation, whether that’s painting or film adaptation. She was, of course, very interested in painting, so maybe that’s another reason why this is a particular feature of her writing. When you study literature you spend a lot of time discussing imagery and the visuals that the writer creates, as well as what that does for the reader and how it affects interpretation, so I think my interest in language and images and how they work together is a natural extension of that.”
Is it frustrating if an idea is not translating onto the canvas the way you envisioned it? How does it feel when a work is complete? I’d imagine it is quite emotional.
“I think all artists look at their work and find flaws. I think it’s a common trait because we are always striving for something which perhaps feels just out of reach and so, yes, there can be times when it can feel frustrating. Over time, though, that has evolved for me and I see it as part of my practice and process now, so rather than feeling frustrated, I tend to feel excited about where the process might take me and the work. The idea — that envisioning you mention — is something I now see as just the starting point and a lot of it gets worked out at the sketchbook stage. I’m creating a piece inspired and informed by literature, rather than illustrating words, and so I am necessarily taking myself to the work as well and so the painting can change and evolve — that is exciting! An example is my painting that was inspired by Bowen’s The Back Drawing Room: the house started off as a much larger feature in my head because I’d always envisioned the house as rather large in the story, and it is such a crucial feature of the story, but of course the painting is a different piece of work from the story and is not an illustration of it, so conveying an overall atmosphere and feeling was more important than a conventional idea of ‘adaptation’ or ‘accuracy.’ I wanted to convey the idea of dreamlike ideas, or places you can’t fully remember, because for me, that’s critical to the story and is more significant than technical descriptions.
The best feeling in the world is when you are in the studio and everything is going right. When you finish a piece it is extremely satisfying, but it can be disorienting too, because then it is finished, and this thing into which you’ve invested so much doesn’t need you anymore. The gap between finishing one piece and starting another can be strange, and it can be hard to settle on and have certainty in a new idea sometimes, but that is all just part of it. This kind of feeling is particularly acute at the end of a whole series, rather than just one piece of work, and you can even worry about losing your ability to paint altogether… that maybe what you’ve just finished is the best it’s ever going to get! Experience tells you this is never the case though, so you just have to keep turning up to the studio and carry on until the next thing starts to fall into place. This can sometimes take a while but it always happens in the end — you just have to keep going.
When someone connects with the work it is so lovely and very humbling and you feel that you have communicated something.”
How will you pick your next piece? What is inspiring you at the moment?
“I’m currently working on a series entitled Sleep. I am very interested in nighttime and how nighttime is portrayed in literature and how dreams, nightmares, sleeping and insomnia are written about in fiction and poetry. The idea of exploring what we mean when we talk about dreamscapes and dreamlike things is fascinating because dreams are so often linked to the imagination and what we regard as ‘acceptable’ cultural expression — or not! It’s challenging in a different way to the Four Quartets series because I’m creating pieces inspired by many different writers, rather than just one, so doing that while maintaining a sense of cohesion in the collection is part of the challenge and there has to be something that links the literature I choose other than simply the thematic commonality of nighttime subject-matter. Night is interesting in the history of art: artists have always painted the night but of course no one paints the day as a subject, because day is the default. Night is seen so differently, as a place and landscape in itself. And you can’t paint the night without also painting some form of light, so it’s interesting to see how artists over the centuries have chosen to illuminate their paintings of nighttime, and to then see how I can take this idea to instances of night in literature and bring those into my own painting, and think about what illumination might mean when I’m making my work.”
One thing that I like to ask people is do they have a favourite book so is there a particular book that you love?
“I love Elizabeth Bowen’s TheHouse in Paris. I think Bowen is a very painterly writer and this is by far her most painterly work. I actually think the book is structured like a painting and works in a similar way, so in a way it’s bound to be my favourite!”
I would highly recommend going and having a look at Annabel’s website and her Instagram page because as highlighted in the wonderful chat we had above, Annabel is an incredibly talented artist and I think it is amazing to see someone’s ideas expressed on a canvas in such a beautiful way so if you are an admirer of art then this will definitely be something you enjoy and if you love literature then you’ll enjoy seeing the art that literature inspired.
Annabel has very kindly given me permission to share photographs of some of her pieces so I’m going to share them below. I hope you enjoy this Friday’s Choice. I personally love it and I’m so glad that the opportunity arose. I hope to do more interviews in the future and again thank you to Annabel Carington for sharing her time, her experience and expertise and most importantly for sharing her work.
Hello everyone and welcome back to Friday’s Choice. I hope you all had a good week.
Today’s Friday’s Choice is a little bit different as I’m not discussing a piece but rather I am sharing a little snap of history because I think it’s really interesting and if you are a fan of literature and you’re following my blog then hopefully you will find it interesting too.
Something that I love about where I’m from is that Dublin is steeped in literary history. Dublin is home to some incredible theatres, one of them being the Gaiety Theatre. The Gaiety Theatre opened in 1871 and I am lucky enough to have a program from 1957.
I absolutely love this program. I love that it gives me a glimpse back in time and from reading it you can get an idea about what was going on at that time. What I love about it most is that I think it just proves how universal theatre is. Theatre is and has always been a communal experience and yet it is also a personal one.
When you go to the theatre, you are sitting in an audience and then the lights go down, the curtains open and we all watch something together. We all watch the same show and yet we can all leave feeling different. Some will love it, others may hate it, some will feel deeply moved, others may be indifferent because even though we have all watched the same show, theatre can move people in different ways and that is what makes it so interesting. I love chatting to my friends after a show and learning what stood out for them and seeing if it is different to what stood out for me and I just love the idea that even though times change, shows change, and audiences change that some things stay the same.
The next time I go to the Gaiety or to any theatre, I will get a program. In 1957 an audience gathered and someone got a program and now in 2021 I have it and I love it. I love it because it is a little snap of the past, it is a snap of literary history and it is a very special addition to my program collection.
I hope you all enjoyed this Friday’s Choice. It was something different but the goal is that every week is new and different. I hope you like the snaps below. Do you have pieces that mean a lot to you? Any snaps of the past? I love reading comments so let me know.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I am already looking forward to Movie Monday.
A quotation from Love and Friendship by Emily Brontë.
Hello everyone and welcome to Friday’s Choice. It is July 30th, which happens to be Emily Brontë’s birthday, so I decided that this week would be about one of her works, perhaps the work she is most known for Wuthering Heights however I did want to share the above quote because while I would argue that her name is most associated with Wuthering Heights, I think Emily Brontë was a wonderful poet and her poem Love and Friendship is one of my favourites.
Wuthering Heights intrigues me and it amuses me because as I have studied it over the years and spoken to other people about it, the one comment that keeps being said again and again is that none of the characters are very likeable, and as time goes on I have started to believe that that is the point. This is a book about deeply flawed people and love it or hate it, there is a reason why it is a long-standing canonical literary classic.
Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 and I would describe it as a tale of intense love and intense tragedy. Rather than talking about the entire novel, I have decided that today I am going to specifically talk about the character Heathcliff because after many readings, and many hours spent analysing the plot, I have come to the conclusion that it can be suggested that people’s opinions on the novel itself depends on how someone interprets the character of Heathcliff. Interpretation is individual and it is subjective and how you interpret something can impact your understanding and enjoyment of the entire plot.
Readers meet Heathcliff as an adult. He is a landlord who is living in a fine manor with servants. He is successful but he is brooding and surely. As an adult he is cold and he is cruel but he cannot be dismissed as just a cruel man. The novel takes readers through his past, and shows us all of the trials and tribulations he faced as a young boy, and readers can see how the cruelty he endured shaped him into the hardened man he is when we meet him.
It is clear from the beginning that Heathcliff is always made out to be ‘other’. He is described as a dirty and ragged child. The novel repeatedly refers to how dark and cold his eyes are, and this physical darkness could be a metaphor for the cold, cruel, revenge driven man he grew up to be but it should be noted that it is not his fault that he was dirty and ragged. He was a victim of circumstance and throughout his life, he was repeatedly cast aside, and mistreated, and made out to be ‘other’, he was even often referred to as ‘it’ rather than ‘him’ which is extremely dehumanising so it is understandable that this treatment played a big part in the cruel man he grew up to be. I would argue that the adults who mistreated an innocent child are responsible for the man he has become.
In many ways, although is is not always a likeable character, I believe that Heathcliff has the potential to be a sympathetic character. He could be someone readers root for. He could have had a rags to riches story, he had a very harsh upbringing but he makes something of himself despite all of the people who wanted the worst for him but Heathcliff, in my opinion, loses sympathy when he not only gets revenge on those who hurt him when he was young, but he is also cruel to innocent people, becoming so engrossed in his revenge that he is as bad as those who hurt him when he was an innocent child himself because that is what he goes on to do. A cycle of cruelty can be easily recognised in this novel, and while it may not make the characters likeable, it certainly makes them layered and interesting.
Wuthering Heights is often referred to as a love story because the love between Heathcliff and Catherine is so passionate and intense and all consuming. The novel brings us the very famous quote “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” While the romance between these two characters is of course a hugely intricate part of the novel, I would actually describe Wuthering Heights as a revenge story because it is intense and dark, and it shows readers what happens when someone is so mistreated that they return determined to ruin the lives of everyone who has wronged them. It is a novel about flawed people, cruel people who do cruel things to one another, not without their reasons, but they are cruel all the same and I think the character of Heathcliff and how complex he is makes the novel memorable. He stands out. He is a rich character to analyse. He can be discussed from many different angles and I would say that if WutheringHeights is on your reading list but you find it to be a daunting read, because it is a daunting read, my advice is to dive right in and pay attention to Heathcliff. There are a lot of characters, and a lot happens but my advice when it comes to understanding Wuthering Heights is to start with Heathcliff and work from there and that is why I chose to discuss his character today on Brontë’s birthday and this has been my Friday’s Choice
Have you read Wuthering Heights? Have you seen the movie? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear from you so let me know.
Hello everyone and welcome back to Friday’s Choice. Today I am going to be talking about a play that I watched on Tuesday evening, Windows 21.
Some information about this piece. This play is a product of the collaboration between the Abbey theatre, and Fighting Words. The Abbey theatre is steeped in history and it has always been a place that showcases creativity and engages with ambitious and courageous storytelling that is aimed towards everyone in Irish society and Fighting Words aims to help children, young people, and adults to unlock the power of their imaginations through writing and with the help of mentors, anyone who wants to can learn how to thrive, and use their voices to become the person they want to be.
As someone who will always talk about the benefits of taking drama classes and why I believe it is so important that literature should be accessible to anyone who wishes to access it, I think that the work done at the Abbey and at Fighting words is truly admirable. For the past ten years, the Abbey theatre and Fighting Words have collaborated and every year, plays that have been written by teenagers and developed at Fighting Words have been professionally performed on the Abbey stage.
More information about the Abbey theatre and Fighting Words can be found online, on their respective websites and I would encourage anyone who enjoys the arts to go and check it out because the work they do is incredible and I especially love seeing the creativity of young people being explored and given a platform onstage. This year, the play Windows 21 premiered on YouTube, so on Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of enjoying a night at the theatre in my own home (although I am looking forward to the day I actually go into a theatre again, but that is for a different blog post – some exciting shows are coming up!).
This is not a review, it is more of a discussion because I think that the piece that I watched on Tuesday evening truly deserves to be talked about. I took many notes.
Windows 21 was written by Michael Lavery, Ray McHallem, Louí Montague, Aisling Murphy, Emily Murray Nelson, Èadaoin O’Neill, Joe Reidy, and Selina Xu, and it was directed by Jeda de Brí.
Juliette Crosbie, Esther Ayo James, Holly Hannaway, Clinton Liberty, Matthew Malone, and Katie McCann made up the wonderful cast.
This play gave audiences a look into young people’s lives as they faced a global pandemic, and it was funny, honest, emotional and incredibly relevant.
As an audience member, I think the title Windows 21 is extremely fitting as I would say that this play gave the audience windows into the lives of different young people, and we saw snippets of the realities faced by many different young people. This play was only an hour and twenty minutes long and yet it touched on so many things, the impact of lockdown, all the things that people missed out on, the excitement we first felt when we heard we were all getting two weeks off from school and college, to the sudden realisation that we would rather go to school and face bullies then be in this situation. This play touched on the mental health of teenagers, and how they are dealing with anxiety and depression, not just because of the pandemic but also because of all the other things they face, the fear of failing, the thoughts of wondering what the hell am I doing? Will everything be ok? Will I ever find love? What does love mean? The fact that time and days and everything seemed to lose it’s meaning in quarantine, the fact that people felt disorientated and isolated, and not only that, but this play also touched on the constant positivity that is Instagram culture and the need that young people can feel to look perfect all of the time. This play touched on victim blaming and consent, it touched on adults struggling to talk to their teenagers about their mental health, it touched on trials and tribulations with friends and how that seems so important at the time but it too shall pass and mostly, this play touched on hope. The idea that life will go on and connections will be remade, and this is a time that we will always remember.
I took so many notes while watching this performance and I even teared up on one occasion. It was so refreshingly honest and touching, and I loved that a voice was given to the younger generation to express how they felt throughout this extremely trying time. I am a big believer in the notion that we can always learn from those who are younger than us, and as someone who turned twenty one in lockdown and had to finish my final college year alone at home, it was brilliant to have some of my own worries represented and validated onstage and it was also brilliant to see the worries of those who are even younger than me, those who are still in secondary school be represented onstage too and I learned a lot.
To sum up this Friday’s Choice, all I can say is I think it is fantastic that this performance was available for viewing on YouTube and I would encourage anyone to go and watch it while they still can. I am so glad that I took the time to sit down and watch this play because I was left feeling so impressed by these writers and actors and everyone who was involved who made this performance happen. It truly is a testament of the wonderful things that young people can do. I think it should also be said that most of the work for this piece was done over Zoom which could not have been easy so it really does just go to show what can be done when people work together. The past year has been a really trying time and many people have struggled and suffered and it was very touching to see all of those realties represented onstage.
I think one of the best things anyone can do is to remember to think creatively, and always be open to wonder. So, that has been my Friday’s Choice. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts about the wonderful Windows 21.
Hello everyone and welcome to the first of many posts in my Friday’s Choice series. I have decided to start this series with a short story review, so I am going to be talking about Elizabeth Bowen’s short story, The Back Drawing Room.
Bowen’s intriguing short story invites readers to think about if people and places are defined by things that came before, as the key theme that Bowen explores in this short story is the idea that the past is ever-present. This suggestion that the past is always haunting the present is something that Bowen explores often in her writing and it is particularly noticeable in The Back Drawing Room.
There is a cinematic quality to this short story and one could say it has all of the components of a wonderfully compelling ghost story. The atmosphere that Bowen creates is cozy, and warm, and yet there is an air of mystery to every word, keeping readers engaged.
The plot is fairly simple, friends are at a party. They have retired to the back drawing room to have drinks and chats by the fireplace. It’s late. It’s intimate. As the night goes on and drinks flow, the conversation turns, as they often do after a few drinks, to more philosophical topics. The group is discussing the afterlife and one can envision this quite easily, merry friends, in the dim light, gathered around in the early hours of the morning discussing death. A mysterious man, who remains unnamed speaks up from the corner of the room to tell a story. He speaks of a time when he had a punctured tire and knocked on the door of a nearby house for help, where he was instructed to wait in the back drawing room. He goes on to say that after this event, anyone he told insisted he was mistaken as the house he received help in had burned down two years ago.
Something to note is this short story takes place after Bowen’s The Last September, although I think that while it can be read as a sequel, I believe both stories can be read as stand alone pieces.
This story is a very thought-compelling read as Bowen allows readers to fall into the expectations of a standard ghost story and then switches gears with a twist at the end of the tale. If you do not want any spoilers then I would recommend not reading beyond this point, as I am going to be discussing the twist and how it provides a great deal of nuance to this text in the next paragraph.
Spoilers from this point on.
This is not a traditional ghost story, and Bowen cleverly subverts expectations. The house the man visited did burn down two years prior however the family did not die, they simply had to relocate but locals and old neighbours talk about them as though they are dead. The idea here is that all of their family history, generations of living and laughing and growing up in that house are now gone. Their roots were burned to the ground and Bowen explores the idea of haunting in a very interesting way. The family, while not dead, do still haunt this place. That house always will. The place where it stood will never simply be land, it will always be known as the place where the big house used to be, where that family used to live, as time goes on, it will be marked as three, four, five years since the fire etc, etc. So, even though the family have relocated and they are trying to build a new home somewhere else, they will always haunt the old one and while that house is not physically standing anymore, it will always be there.
Spoilers Over. Final Thoughts.
My final thoughts are that The Back Drawing Room is a beautifully written, intriguing and unconventional story that prompts many questions and thoughts in the reader and in my opinion, the reason why short stories are so appealing is because the author gives readers a snippet in time, and I think a successful short leaves readers wanting more, which I believe Elizabeth Bowen achieves in The Back Drawing Room.
I hope that you all enjoyed this review, maybe you have even gotten a short story recommendation. If anyone has read this story, I’d love to hear what you thought of it and if anyone goes on to read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you enjoyed it, so feel free to leave comments and let me know.