Book Review: The Go-Between

Based on anecdotal evidence, you likely have never heard of The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley, but you might know its opening line: “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.”  I picked the book up recently because Michael Crawford (of Phantom of the Opera fame) starred in a musical play based on the book–which was why I went to England last September! (I’d have gone eventually…but that was why it happened then.)  The play was wonderful, Crawford was magnificent, and the book was pretty good too.

The Go-Between centers around Leo Colston, an older man remembering the summer he turned thirteen.  He spent it with a school friend’s family, at an estate much above his own social class.  There he had his first crush, on his friend’s older sister Marion, and became the go-between for Marion and Tom, a local farmer.  And while it all seems quite cheerful at first, we know something went horribly wrong.

This is one of those charming, terribly British books that manages to be incredibly discreet, while centering the entire plot around a scandal.  Marion and Tom are of course carrying on a torrid affair, despite the class difference, despite Marion’s coming engagement–but even though the affair is at the center of everything, I don’t think Hartley ever once says so!  But I like that–because we all know what’s going on, but Hartley is subtle and clever about conveying it.  And it also is a good mirror for Leo himself, who is (somewhat out of his own desire) in the dark for most of the book. Continue reading “Book Review: The Go-Between”

Saturday Snapshot: Here I Have a Note…

I’ve mentioned once or twice (or thereabouts!) that I’m a fan of The Phantom of the Opera.  I may have also mentioned that I’m a member of the Michael Crawford International Fan Association.  Mr. Crawford, of course, was the original Phantom in London and Broadway.  The MCIFA had a special sale recently of memorabilia…and I bought the most splendid of souvenirs!

Phantom's Letters (3)This is a prop letter from the Phantom to Carlotta, actually used in the Webber production, and signed by Michael Crawford and Leigh Munro, who played Carlotta.  I couldn’t resist a signed letter…or a matching set of Andre’s and Firmin’s notes!

Phantom's Letters (1)Phantom's Letters (2)The Phantom’s letters feel far more personal than almost any other souvenir…and they’re particularly meaningful to me, because of one of my favorite moments in the play.  During the song “Prima Donna,” seven characters run about the stage, mostly waving letters and trying to placate Carlotta.  One of those characters is Meg Giry.  While others sing at the front of the stage, often (not in every production, but often) Meg slips to the back of the stage to examine all the Phantom’s letters.

It’s a tiny moment that probably 99% of the audience never notices.  I always watch for it, and it helped inspire my belief that Meg has a very special interest in the Phantom…and have I mentioned that I’m writing a novel from her point of view?

Visit West Metro Mommy for more Saturday Snapshots, and have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday Snapshot: With Love, Michael Crawford

I had very exciting mail this week…

But before I get to that, let me tell you a story, if I may.  I’ll give you the short version.  About eight years ago, a friend loaned me a copy of Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera, and a CD of Webber’s musical.  I wasn’t all that into the book, but I liked the soundtrack.  And so an obsession was born.

A couple years after that, after a lot of delving into Phantom versions and who-knows-how-many times through the soundtrack, another friend suggested I find Michael Crawford’s other CDs.  Crawford was the original Phantom in London and Broadway, and his is the voice on the soundtrack.  As my friend suggested, listening to his other CDs would be like listening to the Phantom sing other songs–and it was!  And so a new obsession was born.

I now have all of Crawford’s CDs because, well, he’s amazing.  Somewhere along the way I stopped hearing the Phantom when Crawford sang and started hearing Crawford when the Phantom sang…if that makes any sense!

Recently I had an opportunity to mail an item in for a personalized autograph.  And so, exciting mail arrived this week…

Michael Crawford Autograph

I could have had my Phantom soundtrack signed…but I suspect Crawford signs a lot of Phantom CDs!  And I wanted this one anyway, because it’s my favorite.  Or to be more precise, the last song on the CD, “A Piece of Sky,” is mind-blowing, life-altering, unbelievably amazing.

So I’d say that’s the most exciting mail I’ve had in, hmm, a long time.  Couldn’t resist sharing!

Have a wonderful weekend, and visit At Home with Books for more Saturday Snapshots!

Saturday Snapshot: Lyrics as Art

I was looking around for inspiration this week, and decided on my own walls.  I like all of my art to have a story.  A few have songs, and I thought I’d share those today.  Sort of meldings of art mediums.

These two pictures were a gift from a friend, who got them from her friend who bought them from an artist selling them by the Thames.  The hard-to-read lyric in the middle (sorry for the glare!) is “Part of me still has never come back from London,” from the beautiful song by Barry Manilow, “London.”  And it’s true–I went to London when I was sixteen, and part of me has never come back.  I suppose that’s why I’ve been dreaming of getting back ever since.  I don’t plan to ever move there; I have too many ties on this side of the ocean.  But part of me has never left London.

I bought this poster because I wanted to put up the song quote.  I had to hunt quite a bit for a good picture of the sky (harder to find than you’d think).  The line is from “A Piece of Sky,” a song from Yentil, but what counts for me is that Michael Crawford put it on his A Touch of Music in the Night CD.  The song is all about realizing that there’s a bigger, broader world out there, and deciding to go out and find it, to believe that we don’t have to settle for less, and that we can chase our dreams.  It’s a good thing to be reminded of now and then.

And just to tie it together, going to London is definitely a dream I chase. 🙂

Check out At Home with Books for more Saturday Snapshots!

Birthdays!

Today is rather exciting–not only is it Friday the Thirteenth, it’s my birthday.  🙂

I love keeping track of the birthdays of some of my favorite authors and celebrities, and celebrating if I can (which usually means reading or watching something relevant).  Since it’s my birthday, I thought I’d share about some other birthdays.

January 18: Cary Grant, 1904 – My favorite actor, January 18th is the perfect opportunity to watch Bringing Up Baby or Arsenic and Old Lace.

January 19: Michael Crawford, 1942 – The original Phantom in London and on Broadway, I have enough of his CDs to spend an entire day listening to them.

March 17: Lawrence “Titus” Oates, 1880 – Titus went to the South Pole with Captain Scott, and is a major character in The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean.  He also brings many people to this blog; his name is a frequent search term in WordPress’ stats.

April 23: William Shakespeare, 1564 – I once had a Shakespeare class which met on Shakespeare’s birthday.  I brought cookies, even though I knew my professor wasn’t a Stratfordian.

June 9: Johnny Depp, 1963 – I have, erm, lots of movies on my shelf to choose from to celebrate Johnny’s birthday.

September 1: Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1875 – And I have even more books by Burroughs…

November 30: This one is interesting, because a remarkable number of my favorite people were born on this date – L. M. Montgomery (1874), Winston Churchill (also 1874!), Mark Twain (1835), William Bouguereau, my favorite painter (1825), and Mandy Patinkin (1952), who forever endeared himself to me as Inigo Montoya.  It’s rather a busy day!

Do you celebrate the birthdays of anyone from history or literature?  It’s fun–like putting extra holidays on the calendar!