Bird Cottageby Eva Meijer is a novel based on the life and research of Gwendolen Howard, a British naturalist and musician. It fictionalizes the journey of a woman who pursued her passion for music and birds at a time when women’s ambitions were throttled.
Gwendolen was known for her amateur studies on the behavior of birds that were published in various periodicals and two books under her pseudonym, Len Howard. After building a successful musical career as a violinist, she left London at the age of forty, to settle in the English countryside and study birds.
Coming from a bird-loving family, this was an inevitable progression for Howard. She wanted to study the behavior of birds when they were free. Her devotion towards her passion reflected in her relationship with the birds. The tits, robins, sparrows, and the other birds that lived in the garden of her cottage would fly in and out of the windows of her cottage freely and would even perch on her shoulders and play with her.
Three women in Guatemala, 1954. An archaeological dig. An astonishing discovery that establishes a significant connection between Andes and Mesoamerica, but which also triggers a chain of events that forever changes the lives of these women.
Meg Fuente, the archaeologist’s American wife, hobnobs with a left-leaning political group, but soon realizes this could put her and her family in danger if the current progressive government falls. Patricia Baldt, the stubborn daughter of a wealthy coffee planter (a German immigrant to Guatemala), is determined to excavate at the dig, but she must keep her activities hidden from her savage, right-wing, orthodox father. Finally, there is Noemi, a girl from an impoverished Mayan town, whose family survives on her brother’s salary as a foreman at the dig.
In a country where tension has been brewing between the Spaniards and the indigenous population for years, the situation has turned gloomier due to a looming civil war supported by outside forces. In this hatred-filled atmosphere, the discovery at the dig spells doom for the three women who must show extraordinary fortitude to survive.
Recently, I watched two films, August Rush and Leap Year, and read a book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. While the films were good overall, the book was wonderful.
In A Thousand Splendid Suns, penned by Khaled Hosseini, the narrative seamlessly blends the stories of the two women protagonists, Mariam and Laila, against the backdrop of the Taliban invasion in Afghanistan.
In addition to a beautiful and heart-moving story, the writer has also employed rich prose to transport imagery to the readers, thereby, displaying his writing finesse. Hosseini has tremendously improved himself since his first book The Kite Runner. The book has definitely given me a new romantic pair to cheer – Laila and Tariq.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is as much “a story about a woman’s freedom from brutal and systematic oppression as it is about human endurance and courage to move on and start afresh.” It’s a story of hope.
As far as the films are concerned, I liked both of them, although when I checked the Internet, none of the films were appreciated by the critics. Carping is the profession of critics so, let’s leave them to that.
August Rush tells the story of a charismatic young Irish guitarist (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and a sheltered young cellist (Keri Russell) who have a chance encounter one night (the most common trope in romantic movies, lol). However, they are soon estranged, leaving in their wake an infant, August Rush, orphaned by circumstance.
Cared for by a stranger (Robin Williams), August (Freddie Highmore) starts performing on the streets of New York and uses his impressive musical talent to find his parents.
August Rush is a story about a child prodigy in music and his attempts to find his lost parents. It was a simple story and proved to be a good source of relaxation. However, I do agree with the critics on one point- the movie ended abruptly and thus, left a jarring note.
Verdict: Fairy-tale ending. Watchable.
The other film Leap Year (2010) was a good romantic movie starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, two formidable acting talents. It had a sweet, simple, and a humorous story.
Anna (Adams) wants to propose to her long-time boyfriend Jeremy and decides to do it the traditional Irish way. So she takes a flight to Dublin, but due to inclement weather, the plane has to land at Cardiff, Wales.
From there, she boards a ramshackle boat to travel to Cork, yet her plans are thwarted once more and she has to land in Dingle.
There she meets a surly but a handsome (yeah, bring on another romance movie trope!) Innkeeper Declan (Goode) who agrees to take her to Dublin.
Voila, Declan and Anna, along with the audience, embark on a road trip and lo behold! What a transformation both of them undergo.
The transformation of both Anna and Declan has been convincingly portrayed by the lead actors. Further, the chemistry between them is undeniable and jumps right off the screen.
Verdict: Happy ending. Definitely watchable!
All in all, both the films were good for biding time.
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