Saturday, April 28, 2012


Afterwards offers a simple, ordinary plot but very well written that it's captivating and beautiful. I read this book in a week, which was fast, because lately I had been so tired after work.  I have a friend who dislike first-person narrative style, and I think her opinion has affected me a bit. This book is written in that style and as I was reading this, I kept hoping that Ms Lupton used another style.

The story is told from the point of view of Grace Covey, a 39 year old mother of 2 children: Jenny, a teenager, and her little brother Adam. Her husband is a BBC presenter. They live happily until comes the day when Adam's school is on fire on Sport's Day. Jenny is trapped inside the burning building and Grace goes in to save her. Afterwards, Grace is lying in a coma because of a fatal head injury, Jenny is badly burnt, and Adam is accused of starting the fire. Grace and Jenny's spirits roam the hospital following the investigation. During these days, Grace learns more about the people she loves and understands better about them.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Light Bearer

This book's cover is rather vulgar, in my opinion. Just found out that this was the most vulgar among other versions. I think the cover had influenced my opinion about the story. However, I finished it last night and I must say that the story deserved a better cover.

The Light Bearer by Donna Gillespie is a historical fiction set in ancient Rome, in the 1st century. The story begins in the 11th year of the reign of Emperor Claudius and ends when Nerva takes over the power.

The main character is the daughter of a Germanic tribal chieftain, a female warrior named Auriane. The way the Chatti live is still like barbarians, like described in Astérix comics. After defeated by the Romans, the remains of them are taken to Rome, where they are either sold as slaves or trained as gladiators.

In Rome, Auriane has a secret patron who loves her: Marcus Julianus, Emperor Domitian's First Advisor. The people love Marcus Julianus as much as they loathe Domitian. Marcus Julianus is a wise man, a scholar, almost genius. He is the brain behind Domitian's assassination.

The first part of the book mostly tells about how Auriane with her tribe fight the Romans, how she becomes a legend. It also tells about how Domitian and his friend Marcus Julianus climb to the highest place in Rome. The second part is more like a Spartacus story. The book is entertaining and well-written, although I am not convinced with how Auriane and Marcus Julianus becomes each other's second self. It's like a dream for both of them. He first sees her in a war and thinks she is a goddess. While for Auriane, it seems she has always known him from a long time ago.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pippin: His Life and Times (1981)

Never heard about this musical before, bought the dvd, and hoped it would be good. Last night I watched it and yes, it's one of the best musicals I have seen. I think the stage decor is very creative and the choreography is quite complex. It's communicative, too, with the audience and to see it live perhaps would bring more joy (than to see it on dvd).

The music by Stephen Schwartz is nice, but for me, my appreciation goes more for the director and choreographer: Bob Fosse. I just think that I would not have enjoyed it much if it had not been directed and choreographed that way. The cast is also very good.

King Charlemange is the king of the holy Roman empire and Pippin is his eldest son. Pippin is a scholar, while his brother Lewis is a soldier. Pippin tries to be a good soldier, too, at first, but after a gory war and what it does to their people, he begins to question his father's policy. Pippin kills his father, becomes king, and realizes that it's in fact hard to keep peace. Thanks God that this is a musical comedy, so he can bring his father back alive (unlike Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers who cannot bring her twins back). The events are narrated by Leading Player. The settings and costumes change from present to Middle Ages. There are lots of creativity here.

In sort, if you haven't watched Pippin, you must put it on your list now; and for those who don't have enough money to go watch it live, you must at least watch the dvd: rent it, borrow it, or simply buy a copy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Les Misérables (1982)

I had heard before that this version of Les Misérables was one of the best. I did try to find a copy, but wasn't successful; so I was happy when TV5 showed this in 2 parts: last week & this week. Lino Ventura was a wonderful choice to play Jean Valjean. Once a wrestler, we are led to believe that he is the strongest man in Toulon prison.

The story is faithful to the book and as I was watching this, I kept saying in my mind that Robert Hossein (the director) must have loved the book very much. It has parts that I love which are missing from the Schönberg & Boublil musical: Cosette names her doll Catherine, Valjean gets help from Fauchelevent whom once he helped when the man trapped under a cart, Marius's disputes with his grandfather, Éponine shows Marius that she can read and write, the Jondrettes, Gavroche delivers Marius's letter to Cossette.

I like the scene describing the ruin of Fantine, which is shown in a slide show, showing her bust in every step of her ruin. After fired from the factory, she is forced to sell her locket, her hair (gold on her head), her teeth (pearls in her mouth), and then her body. She is getting uglier and uglier. This slide show is used again to describe time passes after Cosette met Marius. They both stand still, but the seasons change around them. They don't see anything else, the world is nothing, only they both matter.

In this film Gavroche sings The Fault of Voltaire, which is from the Schönberg Boublil musical.

I am rather disappointed with the ending, though. After Valjean gives Cosette to Marius's hand, he leaves and lives miserably for about 5 years (if I am not mistaken. I forget the year). He dies with Javert's words in his ear: "Now you are free." Perhaps it's a good decision since Valjean has been trying to run away from his past and Javert throughout the movie. I only wished the part when Cosette and Marius see him on his dying bed was included, because I love the part when Marius asks for Valjean's forgiveness. With this scene omitted (also when the Thénardiers tell Marius who his father-in-law is), Marius never knows who has saved him from the barricade.