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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Books Read in May

Elizabeth of GlamisElizabeth of Glamis by David Duff

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Elizabeth of Glamis provides evocative and descriptive accounts of royal events and ceremonies.  The royal history is interesting.

However, you won't learn much about the Queen Mother from this book. She must have had a will of steel and she was very supportive of her husband.  She was also devastatingly charming and a wonderful hostess.
Duff seems to regard her as almost verging on sainthood! You won't find any criticism of her in these pages, let alone any scandal or gossip.

I am a fan of the Queen Mother's, but this book even got on my nerves in the end.  The writing was just too cloying.  The style is also rather old-fashioned and breathless, although I didn't mind that.

Me & Orson Welles by Robert Kaplow

This is a coming of age story full of excitement and drama.  When Richard is 'discovered' by Orson Welles and placed in his innovative Caesar, his life changes for ever.  He falls in love with the damaged Sonja, decides what he wants to do with his life, and meets stars such as Joseph Cotton.

Eventually Richard has to learn to judge what the enigmatic Welles and the other actors in the play are really like, and whether Sonja is worth it.

This fast-paced novel captures the fascination of 1930's New York, although I would have liked even more about this, and the strange character of Welles.  If only we could have read this type of book at school instead of the boring and dreary Josh by Ivan Southall!   I know that I'm being unpatriotic here, but Australian literature is often dreary and depressing.  Why?

View all my reviews
Elizabeth of Glamis: Story of the Queen Mother

Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants To Do This by Bruce Beresford

Diaries can often be quite dry and dull, but this one is surprisingly interesting.  Beresford drops lots of famous names and the difficulty of a director's life is made very clear.

                                      He writes about many celebrities, such as Barry Humphries.  He's also extremely honest about them.  For example, he tells how Jennifer Byrne did an interview with him and wanted to write about his teeth and argue that his political views were controversial.  He also relates how he got into big trouble for saying that Toni Collette's acting was over-rated.  I enjoyed all this.

I was surprised to learn how difficult a director's life is.  Beresford has to make films he's not at all interested in and he lost films such as Miss Potter and Amazing Grace because of contractual problems! He has to deal with people who he dislikes all of the time.

He also writes about some of the extreme political views of the people in the arts.  One woman told him that she admired Bin Laden, for example!  Beresford seemed to me to stick to the mainstream in his politics, but that apparently annoys many.  I'm not going to discuss politics here!

Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants to Do This--: True Stories from a Life in the Screen Trade

Ella: Princess, Saint and Martyr by Christopher Warwick

This well-written book captured the rich and colourful atmosphere of the Russian Imperialist era. However, I felt that I didn't learn that much about the personality of Grand Duchess Ella, the sister of the last Tsarina of Russia, except that she was incredibly brave and charitable.

Did she really love Sergei, her husband?  Warwick is very objective about him but he was universally hated and a nasty piece of work.  Was she cold or just extremely repressed?  What was her true attitude towards her wards, Dmitri and Marie?  I was not sure about the answers to these questions when I finished reading.

The Education of a Princess by Marie Pavlovna is helping me gain more of an understanding of Ella's true character.

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