Monday, March 4, 2013

Commona-my Book & Movie Club: Wanderlust

Lets just face it: post Downton Sundays are a downer.
I'm starting a book and movie club here to fill the void.

Each Monday morning I'll share one, two or maybe several books and movies that I've read/watched that may help us to bide our time until next Season's Downton.
Who's in? I'm looking forward to comments: if you've already read/watched one of the suggestions, what did you think?

Next week will be more 'Downtonesque' in theme...
but for today, Wanderlust Week is here and this list reflects it:
The Buccaneers (1995) Poster


"The Buccanneers". The book by Edith Wharton is better than the movie. But this is the story of a handful of girls, like Cora Crawley basically, moving from NYC to England to pursue a husband with a title.
"Passage to India" (read the book, too)
"The English Patient"
"Adventures of Young Indiana Jones"(Ok, I know...weird choice...but it's about a year of travel abroad and I loved it despite some corny acting and predictable set ups, it's fun and period...and on Netflix instant play).
"A Room With a View" (again, Netflix instant play).
"Wings of the Dove" (watch "A Room With a View First").
"Roman Holiday", usually overshadowed by Charade (see below) but a fantastic fun, silly and charming movie with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
"Charade", one of my favorite movies. Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant at their best.


Finding George Orwell in Burma, by Emma Larkin
"Over the years the American writer Emma Larkin has spent traveling in Burma, also known as Myanmar, she's come to know all too well the many ways this brutal police state can be described as "Orwellian." The life of the mind exists in a state of siege in Burma, and it long has. But Burma's connection to George Orwell is not merely metaphorical; it is much deeper and more real. Orwell's mother was born in Burma, at the height of the British raj, and Orwell was fundamentally shaped by his experiences in Burma as a young man working for the British Imperial Police. When Orwell died, the novel-in-progress on his desk was set in Burma. It is the place George Orwell's work holds in Burma today, however, that most struck Emma Larkin. She was frequently told by Burmese acquaintances that Orwell did not write one book about their country - his first novel, Burmese Days - but in fact he wrote three, the "trilogy" that included Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. When Larkin quietly asked one Burmese intellectual if he knew the work of George Orwell, he stared blankly for a moment and then said, "Ah, you mean the prophet!'"

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
This is one of my favorite books, hands down. "It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul."

Life of Pi, Yann Martel
Even if you have already seen the movie, the book is worth reading. Many things were adapted and changed in the movie, the book has so much more character background and is worth the read.

Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
""The Portrait of a Lady is the story of a spirited young American woman, Isabel Archer, who "affronts her destiny" and finds it overwhelming. She inherits a large amount of money and subsequently becomes the victim of Machiavellian scheming by two American expatriates. Like many of James's novels, it is set in Europe, mostly England and Italy. Generally regarded as the masterpiece of James's early period, this novel reflects James's continuing interest in the differences between theNew World and the Old, often to the detriment of the former. It also treats in a profound way the themes of personal freedom, responsibility, and betrayal.

Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes.
A much lighter read and/or companion movie watch. Woman's mid-life coming of age in Tuscany.

Year in Provence: Peter Mayle. Couples mid-life 'finding home' in Provence. Fun read.

Travels with Charley. It's Steinbeck. It's heavy, brilliant and Charley is a dog. A French Poodle, in fact. It's a travelogue in search of America. Cue the Simon and Grarfunkle song.

The Innocents Abroad by Twain
Some say Twain at his best. "Mark Twain acclaims his voyage from New York City to Europe and the Holy Land in June 1867. His adventures produced The Innocents Abroad, a book so funny and provocative it made him an international star for the rest of his life. He was making his first responses to the Old World - to Paris, Milan, Florence, Venice, Pompeii, Constantinople, Sebastopol, Balaklava, Damascus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. For the first time he was seeing the great paintings and sculptures of the Old Masters . He responded with wonder and amazement, but also with exasperation, irritation, disbelief. Above all he displayed the great energy of his humour, more explosive for us now than for his beguiled contemporaries."

The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham
The book is better than the movie, although the one good point for the movie is the cinematography.
It's about betrayal, trust, cholera. "Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life and learn how to love.The Painted Veil is a beautifully written affirmation of the human capacity to grow, to change, and to forgive."

There are probably about 100 more books I could add to this list, but I kept it brief...what would you add?


  1. The English favorite :)Loved the book, too.

    1. I did, too! I love this movie and the book..Ryan wont' watch these sorts of movies with me, which is good I guess in a way since I have an ugly-cry...I need a box of tissues just thinking about it. Thanks for stopping by!!! XXOOO!