The Bookshop

Boeke en fliek. Dis my twee liefdes. Kombineer die twee en ek is daar. Britse verhale, filmmakers en akteurs help ook. In hierdie geval was dit ‘n Spaanse filmmaker (Isabel Coixet) wat ‘n verhaal vertel wat afspeel in die tyd na WW11, met Britse en Amerikaanse akteurs.

The Bookshop speel af in Engeland, 1959, waar die onafhanklike jong weduwee Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) alles waag om ‘n boekwinkel oop te maak in ‘n konserwatiewe kusdorp waar mense nie juis lees nie. Terwyl sy deur korrespondensie die kluisenaar Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy) bekend stel aan die werke van Ray Bradbury, bring sy ook Vladimir Nabokov se Lolita op groot skaal in die boekwinkel, nadat sy sy raad gevra het, Terselfdertyd is daar die beleefde maar meedoënlose opposisie van ‘n plaaslike grande dame (Patricia Clarkson) wat groot invloed het op die res van die dorp.

“I have read Lolita, as you requested. It is a good book, and therefore you should try to sell it to the inhabitants of Hardborough. They won’t understand it, but that is all to the good. Understanding makes the mind lazy.”
― Edmund Brundish in The Bookshop

Florence word gedwing om haarself te vra: is daar ‘n plek vir ‘n boekwinkel in ‘n dorp wat nie een wil hê nie? Haar droom was gebou rondom die herinneringe van haar oorlede man, wat haar liefde vir boeke gedeel het. My vraag sou wees: Is dit realisties om ‘n nuwe lewe te begin, gebou op ‘n illusie van wat sou kon wees? Veral gegewe ‘n vyandige omgewing.

“Florence had noticed one or two eccentricities in herself lately, which might be the result of hard work, or of age, or of living alone. When the letters came, for example, she often found herself wasting time in looking at the postmarks and wondering whoever they could be from, instead of opening them in a sensible manner and finding out at once.”
― Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop

Florence was ‘n romantikus, maar kon haar man staan teen o.a. die bankbestuurder en prokureur wat gekant was teen enige verandering. Kritiek teen The Bookshop moet in ag neem hoe klasse en genderverskille hanteer is in die na-oologse Engeland.

Bill Nighy in die rol as die kluisenaar het so goed gepas, dat ek eerder die kluisenaar in Nighy kon sien as Nighy in die rol. Die spel was subtiel, maar ‘n sielsverbintenis van meer as vriendskap was duidelik uit klein dingetjies, soos die serp in sy sak waar hy val. Die ouderdomsverskil wat te groot dat ‘n romantiese verbintenis ontgin kon word. Weereens was dit die subtiliteit van die terughoudendheid wat my getref het.  Hoewel hy in dieselfde ouderdomsgroep as die grand dame Violet en die afgetrede generaal val, is ouderdom al wat hulle in gemeen het.

“Old age is not the same thing as historical interest,’ he said. ‘Otherwise we should both of us be more interesting than we are.”
Edmund Brundish in The Bookshop

Die jong Christine, sowel as haar ma wat ‘n hele verhaal vertel deur net in haar oë te kyk, het baie bygedra tot die ongemaklikheid wat jy heel tyd voel, maar nie kan plaas nie. DIs asof daar meer aan die karakters en die fliek is, wat nie ontgin is nie. Alhoewel die pierewaaier Milo en verskeie karakters in magsposisisies as sulke stereotipes uitgebeeld word, is dit amper asof hulle metafories word vir die lewe in die na-oorlogse Engelse platteland. Daar is baie onvertelde stories, soos wat die lewe is.

Veral duidelik is hoe die mens se ego inspeel op die vasskop teen verandering, sonder ‘n werkbare teenvoorstel. Is dit tipies van die Britte oor die dekades? Dit is ‘n vreemde, gedempte film, wat nie altyd logiese storielyne het waar al die drade bymekaargetrek word soos in goeie fiksie nie, maar juis daarin het die bekoring vir my gelê. Dit ontbloot die menswees, die magspel in ‘n klein dorp; die invloed van mense op wetgewing en struktuur.

“A good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life, and as such it must surely be a necessary commodity.”
― Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop

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‘n Groen boek oor kleur

Elke mens het ‘n storie. Die waarheid is soms vreemder as fiksie, maar altyd eg en hartroerend. Sommige stories word vertel, maar soms maak ‘n boek of ‘n fliek ‘n mens ook toenemend bewus van die aaklige wete dat daar nie net in Amerika nie, maar ook hier by ons, duisende verhale is wat nié vertel is nie. Aaklige verhale. Soos die een van dr Don Shirley in Green Book. Wat ‘n waardige wenner van die Oscar vir beste fliek!

Green Book vertel die verhaal van dr Don Shirley, ‘n gesofistikeerde wêreldklas African-American pianis, wat in 1962 op ‘n konserttoer in die Deep South gaan. Shirley benodig ‘n drywer en iemand wat moet sorg dat sy optredes glad verloop en hy werf vir Tony Lip, ‘n tawwe uitsmyter met vinnige vuiste, uit ‘n Italiaanse-Amerikaanse omgewing in die Bronx. Ondanks hul verskille ontwikkel die twee mans gou ‘n onverwagse band terwyl hulle rassisme en gevaar in ‘n era van segregasie konfronteer. Dit gebeur in die era van Jim Crow, Dit is van 1936 tot 1966 deur New York City se posman Victor Hugo Green opgestel en uitgegee. Tydens hierdie era was daar gruwelike rassediskriminasie en het mense op reis geweldige probleme soos weiering van bediening in restaurante, verblyf tot arbitrêre arrestasie ervaar. In reaksie hierop het Green ‘n gids opgestel van plekke wat relatief vriendelik teenoor die Afro-Amerikaners was.

As ‘n mens net die tema van die verhaal van die twee mans op die konserttoer lees, dan besef jy die fliek kon so maklik ontaard het in ‘n blote tranetrekker wat ‘n punt wil maak. Maar dit was nie en dit het nie. Dit is ‘n briljante fliek op alle vlakke; die subtiele spel, musiek, cinematografie, humor en menslikheid. Dit wys dat eerlike, opregte menslike gedrag dikwels lei dat ander beter verstaan, dat verandering wel moontlik is deur ‘n waardige voorbeeld. Dit is ‘n diep menslike verhaal van familiewaardes, eensaamheid, verontregting en vernedering, maar die ware wenner is die een wat waardig bly.

It takes courage to change people’s hearts.
– Oleg

Erfskandes – Trisa Hugo

Op ʼn plaas in die ou Transvaal het ʼn man gewoon. ʼn Welgestelde boer. Hy was nooit getroud nie, maar wou graag ʼn erfgenaam hê. Hierdie is ʼn verhaal oor twee babas. Daar was die lykie van ‘n baba, wat die boervrou onder die lemoenboom uitspit, met die geroeste bloudraad om die nekkie. Die ander baba in die verhaal het wel bly leef, want daar is ʼn duur prys betaal vir die baba, met verraad op verskillende vlakke. Die toesmeer van gebeure en ongeregtighede op plase is soos die geroeste draad om die baba se nekkie, verstrengel deur die verhaallyne. Uiteindelik is daar dít wat vandag se kinders geërf het – Skandes wat toegesmeer is uit elkeen van ons se verlede – ERFSKANDES.

Erfskandes

River People – Margaret Lukas

River PeopleRiver People by Margaret Lukas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“This ain’t your home no more.” The young Effie was sent away in marriage with Rev Jackdaw by her father, in a time when girls could get married at the age of ten, just by lifting a Bible. After a grueling trip, she was left alone with Bridget, or Rooster as the reverend calls her. Guilt feelings about Bay Sally’s death kept her from loving Bridget.

It is a story of suppression, patriarchy, prejudice, perceptions, hopes, dreams and broken promises – Rev Jackdaw se vision of his own Missionary in Omaha, Mae who was traded at eight for a gallon of whiskey with the promise of a new dress, Bridget who lived for the day Mum and Pappy came for her and Effie who dreams of a house and a family.

At first Chief is the only good person around, fighting off his own demons at night. Yet Effie avoids him at all cost with her own prejudice. Effie never really learns to accept kindness, and her heart never really softened up to Bridget, who mostly acted as the adult. Being the main character, the reader keeps on hoping for a bit of character development.

In places Effie’s voice become muddled with the narrator’s, as if she is just too wise for a girl her age, given her upbringing and social isolation. However, she also was confused enough to be totally incompetent and without any social skills most of the time.

Bridget’s brother Rowan told her that her Mum is a Selkie, and that all water, rivers and streams are connected. Clinging to her grandma Teegan’s braid and the mythical Nera kept her going, always hoping to be reunited with her mum and her pappy.

Bridget is a clever one, who despite her circumstances, wants to become a doctor. Interesting analogy because she acts as a literary archetype of the child savior, through whom others found their truth and worth, helping them heal their own wounds.

Words and phrases put you right in the era where the story belongs. Neatly done and very convincing.

This is a gripping novel in the historical fiction genre, with truly unforgettable characters.

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Shade and Light – Maryann D’Agincourt

The echoes of the past resonate through the lives of two families living in Boston. The secrets of the past where one family was helped by the other in Trieste, are never revealed, yet the threads of it are woven through their lives. It is a slow and easy read, not much happening. The reader stays an outsider, much like the characters themselves.

Jonas sketches Jenny and the final product resembled his aunt Belinda, who was the only one telling him some of the history of the two families. Jonas spends a lot of time in a coffee shop, sketching people. He once saw a man, and imagined him to be Harold, his mother’s lover. He was quite disillusioned to learn that Harold was not the man in the coffee shop.

Jonas was quite bewildered when he learned that the reality of marriage was not as dry and stilted as defined in his mother’s old Webster.

Jenny set up a rigorous schedule to finish as much classes as possible, before getting married to the much older Eric.

I was not drawn into the story in the beginning, the narrator’s voice was stronger than those of the characters. The characters never came to life for me, I could not resonate with one of them, but therein lies the strength of this novel. They stay in the shade.

There is very little dialogue and the personality of characters did not develop. I only later realized how clever it was, to portray Jonas as the observer of the world around him.

When Eric told Jenny about their parents in Trieste, it was in a cold, absent way. In fact, everything in this book happened in a cold, distant way as if one looks at the lives of the characters through a transparent curtain. They say in the shade, but for huge parts of the book, unfortunately so is the reader.

Soul Conversations by Austyn Wells

Review done for NetGalley.comSoul Conversations: A Medium Reveals the Secrets to Developing Your Intuition and Connecting with the Spirit World
by Austyn Wells

This book explains difficult concepts in such a way that even people with little background on soul matters, can understand. The cover is lovely and well chosen.

The exercises are easy to do and it does not feel like “work”. Some can be done as you are reading.

Unfortunately the links to the following website does not work. I trust that this will be updated for the final product. It would have been great to get access to the meditations and links mentioned. http://www.newharbinger.com/41849

Very interesting is the way the writer discusses the role color plays, from different perspectives. The concept of “imprints” is clearly explained, I liked that. The concept of Prayer is explained better than any religious book I’ve ever read.

The chapter on Chakras could be streamlined a bit.

Chapter 5 seems to be a cannon, firing shots of a whole bunch of loose concepts, with no order, without explaining properly, for instance the Automatic writing is just mentioned but not explained.

As a whole, I would say the book is an interesting read for people interested in alternative healing methods and psychic communication. It covers a whole spectrum and there are examples of relatively easy exercises. However I found the net too wide – almost like a box with all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle thrown and mixed up in the box, with little heaps of pieces sorted in colours. This reader expects well organized chapters, neatly tied together. The content is interesting, but I personally find it too loosely constructed.

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Die seuns van Bird Island – Mark Minnie

Die seuns van Bird Island: 'n Skokkende onthulling uit die hard van die NP-regeringDie seuns van Bird Island: ‘n Skokkende onthulling uit die hard van die NP-regering by Mark Minnie

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Twee sterre klink min om vir ‘n boek te gee wat ek tot op die einde gelees het. Ek het egter gekyk waarvoor staan elke ster, en 3 *** sou beteken “I liked it”. Daarom 2**, “It was OK”.

Dit sou arrogant van my wees om my opinie oor die egtheid van die beweringe in hierdie boek uit te spreek, veral vandag wat dit ook bekend gemaak is dat die skrywer, Mark Minnie, homself vermoedelik om die lewe gebring het, maar daar ook deur ‘n gerekende joernalis, Marianne Tham gevra word: “’n Mens wil nie bespiegel nie en ek sal wag vir die polisie se ondersoek. Maar as ’n mens kyk na die konteks van sy dood, is daar definitief ’n paar vrae wat gevra moet word.”

My “It was ok” dui meer op die onvermoë van die skryfwerk om entoesiasme by my op te wek. Die stem en emosie van Minnie het vir my die feite ‘n bietjie gekleur met my eie vooroordeel. As ek hierdie boek vergelyk met Ek is Liza Smit deur Raquel Lewis en Liza Smit, is daar ‘n baie groot verskil. Lewis en Smit het die storie vertel op ‘n manier wat die leser die emosie gevoel het, jy moes nie deur die skrywer se emosies probeer kyk na die storie wat hy vertel het nie.

As ek egter vir moed van Minnie en Steyn moes sterre toeken, sou dit 5 ***** wees. Vir elk.

Ek vermoed ons het nog lank nie die einde van hierdie verhaal gehoor nie.

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