Saturday, June 30, 2012

So what are YOU doing after high school?

Everybody should read this post by my dear blogging friend Hayden.  Somehow she managed to brilliantly convey everything that's been kerbobbling in my head about the whole post-high-school thing, and she did it in a completely straight-forward, clear and concise manner.  I'm only a little bit jealous.

Please, just go read it.  Thank you.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Princess Bride Book Review: Guest Post by Molly

My twelve-year-old sister Molly graciously agreed to write a guest post for me this week, and she chose to review her favorite book.  If you don't have an invitation to Molly's private blog, Each and Every Hour, just contact me to get one. And if you have been invited... take a minute to hop over there and read a few of her fun posts!

Miss Dashwood has kindly asked me to write a guest post on her blog. Now, before I go any farther, I want to say that you must not blame Miss Dashwood if this post is crummy, boring, and the worst thing you ever read. Because I’m not the best writer in the blog world. But, in spite of that fact, she had let me do a guest post. So here goes. A guest post written and illustrated (all right, I didn’t draw any of the pictures, they’re from Google Images) by Miss Molly on her favorite book in the world: The Princess Bride. WARNING! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!

First of all, let me point out one thing about The Princess Bride that I used to be confused on, and I’m sure that some people are confused about it too. The thing is, that there is no such person as S. Morgenstern. The book is really written be William Goldman. This is certain for two reasons. 
1. On the back flap of the book, you can find a picture of the person who wrote the book. That person is William Goldman, not S. Morgenstern. So no matter how many times he interrupts the story to tell you how his dad read this book to him as a kid, and how there is a bunch of stuff that he cut out of the story because it was boring, just bear in mind that he is making that up. Even though his interruptions are sometimes funny, they can sometimes be a bit confusing.
2. In the movie, you can go to the making of the movie, and in one part of it; Goldman tells how he got the idea for the book. He says that he wanted to write a book, so he asked his two daughters what he should write the book about. One said;
“Write a book about a princess.” And the other one said;
“Write a book about a bride.” And Goldman said;
“Okay, I’ll call it: The Princess Bride.
So you see that there is living proof that The Princess Bride was written by William Goldman, and not by S. Morgenstern.

All right, now let’s get down to the fun part. The characters. In this movie, even I admit that the plotline itself is rather dumb. But the characters are something else! All of them (at least the ones that have names) are funny in some way. Even Buttercup. If you’re trying to figure out what on earth could Buttercup do or say that is funny, it’s when she says; “ Farm Boy, fetch me that pitcher.” And when she says the whole speech about her “little joke,” with Westley. But other than that, yeah, the leading lady is kind of boring. To get back to what we were talking about, I think the only people who aren't funny are Queen Bella and King Lotharon. But that’s probably because they hardly have any lines throughout the whole entire book.

Westley is the hero of the book. He swordfights, mountain climbs, fights giants, outthinks Sicilians, is immune to iocane powder, is a pirate and dies twice. Well, he only dies once, but everybody thought that the Dread Pirate Roberts had killed him. In fact he is about the best hero ever. Next to Sir Percy, that is. I mean, no one is as wonderful as Sir Percy. Ahem. One thing I like about Westley is that he doesn’t worry about failing something. He just does things and knows that they will work out. After all, it has to all work out, or else it wouldn’t be a “Happily Ever After.”  Like when he’s trying to get Buttercup out of the Snow Sand, he doesn’t stop to think and see if there might be a better way to rescue her. He just goes.

There was no question of failure in his mind. He knew he would find her and he knew she would be upset and hysterical and possibly even brain tumbled. But alive. And that was, in the end, the only fact of lasting import. Once he found her, he would pull her to the surface and the only real problem would be convincing your grandchildren that such a thing had actually happened and was not just another family fable.
See what I mean? And for those who have read the book so many times that something looks funny about that passage, yes, I shortened it a little. But let’s move on to the next character.

Buttercup is the heroine of the story. She is beautiful, rides rather well, and ummm….. has nice clothes. Buttercup is something of a wimp. Her name itself is rather…. shall we say, different. And she doesn’t seem to possess much strength of mind. But that might have come from not doing any work, and making Westley do it instead. Also, she has pretty weird parents, who do nothing but fight all the time, so she might have inherited some of the wimpishness from them. Yeah, I know “wimpishness” isn’t a word, but it fits. 

Now, because I just read over that last paragraph, and felt that it was a little harsh on Buttercup, I’ll say that she does a good job in telling Humperdink off, right before he puts The Machine up to twenty.

"Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, PREPARE TO DIE!!" Inigo is a very interesting character. Like Westley, he swordfights, and also drinks, and is bent on revenge. He is a master at fencing, and in the book fights with the air, unnamed people, Westley, King Bats, and Count Rugen. All of which he defeats except Westley. 

Fezzik is the gentle giant. Since I’ve been telling what everybody else is good at, I might as well tell what Fezzik can do. He rhymes, wrestles with more than one person at a time and drools when he gets excited. That’s what the book says, I didn’t make it up. His rhymes are very good ones, except for when he finds Inigo again. There…..well… it is a little squirmy.

Then, quietly, he said, “Fezzik?”
From behind the noisy one, the quiet one said, “Who says-ik?”

Ew. But let us move on from the characters to other stuff. After all, this is supposed to be a book review, not a character review.

Now, for this next part, I’m going to be sort of comparing the book and the movie. There are several times in which the movie guys cut things from the book. Or else, there are things that they change. Not very big things, but big enough to be noticeable if you’ve read the book more than once. For instance, when they’re climbing the Cliffs of Insanity, in the book the rope they use is tied to a tree, but in the movie they make the rope tied to a rock, and they make Vizzini cut it instead of untying it. In the bay where Buttercup dives off the boat, in the book it is sharks that come after her, in the movie they change it to eels. And in the Westley verses Vizzini scene, they cut some of the dialogue.

The Princess Bride is a book that makes you want to just keep on reading. The characters, the humor, even the rather corny plot makes you want the book to never end. But, sadly, it does end, as all books do. Ew, I just read that last bit, and I sounded just like an ad. Oh, well. It’s true. So if you haven’t read the book, go read it. Please. To my sorrow, it does have a bit of bad language, but you can always go through and cross out the bad words with a pen. Providing the book is yours, that is. But on the whole, it is a wonderful book to read, and if you haven’t read it yet…. then what are you waiting for? 

There is one more thing I’d like to say before I close this post. At the end of the movie, it ends with Westley and Buttercup kissing. But in the book, it ends on a cliffhanger, and you can make your own conclusions as to what happens.

From behind them suddenly, closer than they had imagined, they could hear the roar of Humperdink: “Stop them! Cut them off!” They were admittedly, startled, but there was no need to worry: they were on the fastest horses in the kingdom, and the lead was already theirs.
However, this was before Inigo’s wound reopened, and Westley relapsed again, and Fezzik took the wrong turn, and Buttercup’s horse threw a shoe. And the night behind them was filled with the crescendoing sound of pursuit………

That is how it ends. And don’t comment and ask what “crescendoing” means, because I have no idea. It’s in the book; I didn’t make it up. But I like to stop reading at this part.

It appears to me as if we’re doomed, then,” Buttercup said.
Westley looked at her. “Doomed, madam?”
“To be together. Until one of us dies.”
“I’ve done that already, and I haven’t the slightest intention of ever doing it again,” Westley said.
Buttercup looked at him. “Don’t we sort of have to sometime?”
“Not if we promise to outlive each other, and I make that promise now.”
Buttercup looked at him. “Oh my Westley, so do I.”  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Only a Novel Giveaway

The time is now!  The day is here!
~Les Miserables

I've never hosted a giveaway before, so bear with me, my dear patient readers! This is new and uncharted territory here.

I'm giving away one free copy of my book Only a Novel, autographed with a personal message.  (Did anyone else pronounce that word as "author-graphed" when they were little?  No?  Okay, never mind.)

Rules for entering:

For One Entry...
~Simply leave a comment stating that you publicly follow my blog.  (Um, and the statement has to be true. In other words, you have to be a public follower of my blog.)   Please leave your e-mail address as well so I can contact you if you win.  If you don't wish to have your e-mail displayed publicly, just leave a separate comment with your address (in addition to your entry comments).  I will delete the comment with your e-mail address after I've noted it and it will not be considered an entry.  Thanks!

For Additional Entries...
~Put the OAN Giveaway button on your blog (+1 entry)
~Write a (public) blog post announcing this giveaway and leave the link in a comment (+2 entries)

Maximum number of entries per person: 4.

The giveaway closes on Saturday, July 7th.  I will randomly select one winner to be announced on Monday, July 9th.

*Note: I'm very sorry, but this giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada only.*

"Well, don't just sit there shaking like a leaf. Open it!"

Captioned photo made by my dear friend Melody, who very kindly put up with her
Tween's exuberant, breathless squealing over the phone on Monday night... ahem...
I've been thinking it's high time this blog had a giveaway... don't you agree?

And since Only a Novel by Amy Dashwood has just hit the virtual shelves on, today seems like the perfect time.  

I haven't yet run in circles, screaming and shouting, "I'M AN AUTHOR, I'M AN AUTHOR!" a la Jo March, but I must say I'm pretty excited.  (SQUEEEE!)

Okay, okay, so Eponine's not exactly screaming for joy in this pic, but you can pretend she is. :P
I blogged over at The Quest for Stories about my mixed feelings on the subject-- you can read the post here.  It was incredibly thrilling to hold the proof copy in my hands on Monday evening, and now that the book's actually available, I think I'm in a state of semi-shock.

So please, check back this afternoon or evening when I'm thinking a bit more clearly, and you can enter to win a copy.  Sink me, I can hardly wait.

This is a pretty good depiction of the mysterious smirk on my face right now. :P
(Oh, and all those of you who might think that I was using this post as a good excuse to share a bunch of my favorite pictures-- I have no idea what you're talking about.  Nope.  Not a bit of it.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recycled Costumes: Guest Post by Hayden

I asked my dear blogging friend Hayden to write a guest post for this week, and she very kindly complied.  I was fascinated by her study of period drama costumes, and I think you will be too!

Have you ever been watching a period drama and realized that something looked oddly familiar? One thing I love about period dramas is that the actors tend to stick with the genre and become like old friends. But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about. Besides the acting, one of the best parts about these movies is- you guessed it –the costumes. And a lot of times these costumes are recycled. I guess even BBC likes to be thrifty now and again!

One outfit I find the most recognizable is Margaret Hale’s (North and South, 2004) green striped hoopdress:

When watching Bleak House (2005), I recognized it right away, worn by Lady Dedlock:

It wasn’t until my second viewing of Return to Cranford (2009) that I saw it on Erminia:

This, I think is one of the easiest to spot. Though I’ll always think of it as Margaret’s dress, I have to admit I like it on all three women. Who, in your opinion, wore it best?

I admit that I looked up several of these next ones on the internet. A great site is It has an extensive collection of reused movie costumes.

Some of these outfits have been around for years- both Sabina Franklin (as Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, 1980) and Freema Ageyman (as Tattycorum in Little Dorrit, 2008) have worn this gown:

I can’t believe I didn’t realize this one: Elizabeth Bennet (P&P 05) and Marianne Dashwood (S&S 08) are wearing the same dress!

I’ve never seen The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), but she’s wearing Emma (2009) Woodhouse’s dress!

Well, I guess it’s really the other way around…

And Jane Fairfax borrows Emma’s dress….

Emma 1996
Emma 2009

You cannot see Mrs. Dashwood’s (Sense and Sensibility, 1995) dress in this picture very well, but it’s the same as Lady Ludlow’s (Cranford, 2007) …

Two such different characters wearing the same dress:

Fanny Thornton (North and South, 2004)

Miss Galindo (Cranford, 2007)

The March girls aren’t proud! Hand-me-downs are a part of life. :)

Both from Little Women, 1994

Why, is that Anne Shirley wearing Lucy Honeychurch’s (A Room With a View) dress?

Well, I hope you enjoyed this! I know I did. :) (Although, if BBC ever wants to get rid of their old costumes, I'm perfectly willing to take them off their hands....

Thanks so much for writing this, Hayden! I loved it!
Hayden blogs about period dramas (with costumes!), books and other things in her life at Story Girl.  Hop on over and take a peek!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Random Writing Tips and Tidbits: Guest Post by Alexandra

Hello, one and all! My darlingest Amy asked me to guest post today, and I’m soooooo over-the-moon thrilled and honored!

Today I thought I’d share a few writing tips. I know peoples around here enjoy writing, and being that I’m in the thick of writing a story myself at the moment, I would take this opportunity to share a few “tidbits I have learned through this” with you all. Not to mention that writing takes all my brain power so I can’t think beyond “writing” at this point. Thus why I am not posting about any other subject. :)

1.       Don’t be afraid to follow plot bunnies…as long as you’re not in the middle of a project.
This is crucial. My latest WIP was a lovely plot bunny that popped up when I was in the planning process of another novel. As long as you’re not smack-dab in the middle of writing something else, go with your idea while the idea’s hot and fresh in your mind. The only exception is when your novel-in-progress is at a dead point, to which I say, drop it and follow the plot bunny. I had one instance before where my inspiration for a story was stone-dry. I went off on another project, got that done, and came back to project A ready to write again – and got that book finished in three months.

2.       Don’t be afraid to cast!
I’ve written about character casting before on my writing blog, and honestly, I’d say even if you don’t usually…give it a try. It’s amazing how it can help. And when you cast – do some research. If possible (depending on if the person you’ve cast is in anything you’d actually watch :-P), look up films or clips or whatever. Don’t be afraid to steal ideas – one, it’s fun to have inside-trivia with yourself about your characters, and two, as the great quote says, “Good writers imitate. Great writers steal.” I recently got an idea for a scene that turned out adorable from watching a film the actress I cast as my heroine was in.
In that vein…

3.       Don’t be afraid of casting people You Really Like.
In other words, if you keep thinking up story ideas for that actor or hero who you think Is Awesome, then go for it. Let me say from experience, if you think the Hero is awesome, then it’ll show in your writing. I’ve cast several people from what I like to call my Awesomest Actors Evah circle (a group of actors who are complete geniuses in their field…and also very handsome and give me warm fuzzies which has nothing to do with it), and the heroes in my stories…always end up pretty awesome as a result. That goes for heroine and minor characters and plots and everything – if you’re crazy about it, your enthusiasm will show up in your writing. It’s not silly (and if you think Certain People [brothers usually fall into this category :-P] will make fun of the fact that you’ve cast A Certain Someone as your hero, just don’t tell them. :-D) Quite easy.

4.       Don’t be afraid to steal ideas.
Did you know that Shakespeare stole the idea of Romeo and Juliet? As any good Leaguette knows, superheroes with their alter-egos came from our own Sir Percy. Don’t be afraid to take an idea and put your own twist on it. No one’s going to arrest you for it, and besides, there’s one helpful thought – until you publish the book and people all over the world read it, no one will know what you do. It is kind of a freeing thought, no?

5.       Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.
Like anything else in life, you’ve got to stretch yourself and do things you find difficult if you’re going to get better at writing. Don’t keep from doing something just because you haven’t done it before or think you can’t do. Write that nice mushy proposal scene. Try your hand at a mystery. Kill off that character. Add that odd plot twist. Give that character a melodramatic speech.

6.       Don’t be afraid of romance.
In my humble opinion, a story ain’t a story without a romantic angle somewhere in the story, whether it’s the main plot or two minor characters. A lot of girls are squeamish about writing romance in a story, mainly for the understandable argument that being as most of them are single, they haven’t experienced romance for themselves and don’t want to be inaccurate. Understandable, but not true. Jane Austen was never married and wrote some of the most famous romantic couples ever. What if she had thought “I can’t do it, I’ve never been married?” There’d be no Austen vs. Orczy argument. And then life would be so much duller for me. :-P Don’t be afraid of it…especially proposals. I love writing a good proposal scene. I love writing those back-and-forth flirtatious sparring. I love the excitement I get when the hero and heroine get that mental jarring moment where they suddenly realize “ooh…there’s feelings there, wow…”. Tense Moments (the staring-at-each-other-for-ten-seconds-and-we-all-hold-our-breath-before-the-moment-is-broken-by-someone-or-something) are my very very favorite and I highly recommend anyone have tense moments in their stories (they also work great to replace kissing scenes if you don’t want them in there but want that romantic tension). If you treat writing romance like it’s no big deal, it isn’t. Enjoy it. It’s really fun.     

7.       Don’t be afraid to have the characters show their emotions.
Heroes crying are epic. Now, that shouldn’t be confused with a sopping crybaby. But the hero who at some point breaks down is awesome. Let your characters yell at each other. Cry if they need to (the heroine crying always is nice because it gives the hero a chance to comfort her, thereby inducing Warm Fuzzy Feelings on both the heroine and reader’s part).  Don’t be afraid of melodrama.

8.       Don’t be afraid of holding out tension.
This is very important. Keep throwing roadblocks in the way. Don’t give in to the temptation to resolve everything right away. I’m terrible at this, so I’m very thankful for my writing partner, who always insists that I stick with our agreement and wait until page X to have the hero and heroine resolve their issues like we’d planned instead of succumbing to the desire to have them go ahead and do it ten chapters before. Don’t be afraid to throw some hard punches at your characters. If there’s one thing your character would never do, make them get into a situation where they’d have to do it. Get your character close to their goal and then pull it outagain from under their feet. I’ve recently gotten obsessed with the show Doctor Who, and one of the biggest things I’ve gotten from watching it writing-wise is that the viewer (or reader in our case) will continue if they’re emotionally invested, if you keep taking away what the character wants. They continue because they want to see the character happy and finally get what they desire or are working for. Would The Scarlet Pimpernel be quite so awesome if Percy and Marguerite resolved their issues there in the hallway in the scene after the garden party in the 1982 film? Would you really care quite as much if Charlie got the golden ticket the first chocolate bar he got, or if Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth got over their prejudices in the first ball scene? Keep dragging out the tension. It’s worth it.

9.       Don’t be afraid of writer’s block.
It happens to everyone, in every book at sometime (that’s where I love co-writing…I just pass the buck to my friend until further inspiration. :-D). Everyone has different ways of dealing with it…I always write other scenes I’ve got in my head. Or write something silly. Or throw a weird plot twist in. And unless you’re on a deadline, sometimes you’ve just gotta give it a while. Like artists who leave their paintings for a while to get a fresh “eye” for it and come back days later to work on it again, sometimes we just need a rest, a time to recharge. I took a two week break from a story once and thought up a character who completely brought a new angle to the story during that break. It is ok.

10.   Don’t be afraid to write scenes out-of-order.
I always do this. ALWAYS. The proposal for my present book…which is the last scene…is already written. So are several tense moments that don’t come until a ways down the road from where I’m technically at now. If you get an inspiration for a scene, treat it like a plot bunny…write it down while the idea’s hot. You may end up losing the inspiration for it if you wait.

And lastly…

11.   Have fun.
It’s not a job, and unless you actually get into the publishing business, it most likely never will be. Look at it for what it is – a chance to create your own world. It’s crazy, and it’s awesome. I love creating character and situations, spending months with them, and then when it’s ended, feeling as if these characters are real. Don’t stress over the little stuff. Don’t worry if your style is perfect or if you’ve used too many adjectives. That’s what editing is for. Just have funwriting.

And now I’m off. My characters are calling… :)            

Alexandra is twenty-three years old and passionate about everything in life. She is a Christian, a homeschool graduate (Class of 06!), daughter, sister to ten siblings, and piano teacher. While the sun rises and sets on The Scarlet Pimpernel, her biggest obsession in life, her other non-TSP obsessions include reading voraciously (classics are her specialty), singing, musical theatre, Doctor Who, playing the piano, anything and everything British, talking, accents (Scottish in particular), costume reproduction, and costume dramas in general. 

She blogs about costume dramas, musicals, costume reproduction, classic literature and everything historical related at Of Trims and Frills and Furbelows, her writing projects at The Breathings of My Heart and about everything else in her life (yes, she does have one) at The Value of One, where, despite her best efforts, a bit of The Scarlet Pimpernel always manages to wiggle itself in. She also has the enormous honor and pleasure of contributing to The Day Dream, the most awesome (in her humble opinion) TSP fansite on the web!

Guest Posting!

This is a rather accurate depiction of how I've felt over the last few weeks.  Picture worth a thousand words and all that.

I had great fun over the last few weeks writing a blog series with my lovely bloggy friends Miss Laurie, Miss Elizabeth and Melody! We compared the 1995 and 2007 movie adaptations of Jane Austen's Persuasion in a four-part series published on Charity U's blog Austenitis.  You can see the posts here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.

I also guest posted on Miss Woodhouse's blog for Mr. Knightley Day--you can read my post here.

With all the writing that I've been doing for other blogs lately (not to mention a certain enormous Les Miserables week thingy) and with finishing up my NaNoWriMo novel (yes, it's June, I'm aware of that), I've been tremendously busy and haven't been able to blog as much as I'd like to.  So... friends to the rescue.  (Applaud them, please.) Guest posts by Hayden, Alexandra and a Mysterious New Guest Blogger will all be appearing here on YAPDB over the next few days.  (Thanks, gals!) Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pulling Out All the Stops

Now some may say all [daughters] just exaggerate, that every [father's] great...
Every daughter tends to say her father's tops. She pulls out all the stops to praise him... and quite rightly!
~"No Matter What," Beauty and the Beast

Mr. Knightley is my ultimate literary hero.  Y'all know that, right?  And if you didn't, you do now.  (I guest posted about Mr. Knightley over at Eva-Joy's blog, by the way--check it out here.)  I went into some detail (I elaborated, Millicent) about why Mr. Knightley is my favorite literary hero in that post, so I won't rehash it all here.  But to put it all in a nutshell, Mr. Knightley is my favorite because he's the kind of man I want to marry someday.  He embodies all the qualities of a wonderful husband and a man of character and integrity.

It's been said, you know, that girls tend to marry guys who are like their fathers.  And if that's true, then I will definitely end up with a Mr. Knightley.  Because my dad is like Mr. Knightley in many ways (except for the fact that he's even better).

Mr. Knightley's good points (heh... like he has bad points) include his sense of honor, his gentlemanliness (yes, it's a word, I made it up) his kindness, his generosity, his thoughtfulness and his amazing sense of humor.  Each and every one of those qualities can also be found in--wow, you guessed it already, how brilliant--my dad.

My dad runs a home business, preaches at two nursing homes every Sunday, leads a Bible study and prayer meeting each Tuesday, runs a book program at a nursing home every Wednesday and still makes time for his family.  All my life, he's taught me by example how important it is to do things together, to spend time with the people you love.  The result: hundreds of wonderful memories.

Daddy fostered my love of reading when I was really, really little--he was reading the Little House on the Prairie series out loud to me when I was four.  By the time I was five, he was encouraging me to read the first few verses of the Scripture passage each night in our family devotions (a tradition he's carried on as each of my siblings learned to read).  He introduced me to Mark Twain, encouraged my reading of Dickens (we're beginning Dombey and Son together) and we've had many long talks about one of our ultimate favorites, The Yearling.  Reading aloud together as a family has been a biweekly tradition since I can remember, and it's been the means of introducing me to the vastness of classic literature.

Yes, that is I on the Upward Climb in the year of grace 2000.
Notice the pink "hiking" shoes.  Also the pink backpack.
I was muchly proud of them.
When I was five, Daddy took me on a mountain hike, my first really-truly-grown-up expedition.  I still vividly remember the thrill of standing on the flat top of the mountain, exhilarated with the feeling of having accomplished something big (after which I took a half-hour nap before we descended the mountain).  The hike was exciting and memorable, but what I cherish most is the memory of my wonderful time with my dad.  Sure, I was little and couldn't go very fast, but Dad didn't mind that and instead took the time to give me an incredibly special day with him.

Since then we've gone on bike rides together and many more hikes, visited historic sites (we're both history buffs) and planned surprises for my mom's birthday.   When I competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2009 (heh, that's the first time I've ever mentioned THAT on here), didn't make the cut to the semifinals and was pretty much devastated as a result, my dad was there to hug me and let me know how proud he was of me no matter how I placed (again, because he'd told me that before I even went to Washington for the competition).  Just as Mom was my coach throughout my journey to the national competition, Daddy had been the head of the cheerleading section and the first one to hug me when it was over.  My dad held me when I was born, baptized me when I was fourteen and will (I hope) be the one to perform my marriage ceremony someday.  Because he's been there for me through everything in my life.

(I was so determined to get through writing this post without tearing up, but that just flew out the window...)

What I'm trying to say here is that my dad is my hero.  Yes, Mr. Knightley's great and all that, but he's fictional.  (Somebody give Melody some smelling salts.)  My dad is a real person, the most wonderful man in my life.

Even Jane Austen can't trump that.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy, from your perpetually late daughter,

Friday, June 15, 2012

What's in a name?

My December 2011 header

"What is the name of that geranium on the window-sill, please?"
"That's the apple-scented geranium."
"Oh, I don't mean that sort of a name. I mean just a name you gave it yourself. Didn't you give it a name? May I give it one then? May I call it--let me see--Bonny would do--may I call it Bonny while I'm here? Oh, do let me!"
"Goodness, I don't care. But where on earth is the sense of naming a geranium?"
"Oh, I like things to have handles even if they are only geraniums. It makes them seem more like people. How do you know but that it hurts a geranium's feelings just to be called a geranium and nothing else? You wouldn't like to be called nothing but a woman all the time. Yes, I shall call it Bonny. I named that cherry-tree outside my bedroom window this morning. I called it Snow Queen because it was so white. Of course, it won't always be in blossom, but one can imagine that it is, can't one?"
"I never in all my life saw or heard anything to equal her," muttered Marilla.
~Anne of Green Gables, chapter 4

I have decided...

...that Yet Another Period Drama Blog needs a new name.  When I first began blogging, this blog was intended to be a place where I could write movie reviews and occasionally a character analysis or two.  Since then, it's evolved into something much more diverse.  I've been writing posts on a very wide variety of subjects, not just period dramas.  Plus, with my joining of the Classics Club, books are going to figure predominantly here in the coming months.  So though period dramas and classic literature are still the focus of this blog, I think it's time for a new, all-encompassing blog name.

I've put a poll on the sidebar so you can vote for the name you like best... but I can't just leave it at that.  I have to elaborate at least a wee bit.  You know me.

~The first name that comes to mind (the first on the poll, what a coincidence) is Raindrops on Roses.  It's a line from "My Favorite Things", a song from The Sound of Music, and I thought it was appropriate because this blog has become a conglomeration of my favorite things.  (And the title "My Favorite Things" is much less interesting than "Raindrops on Roses".)

~The second name I thought of (the second on the poll, how brilliant) is Shelves in the Closet.  It comes from Lizzy's famous line in P&P95-- "Shelves in the closet.  Happy thought indeed." I like having reasons behind names, and the reasons for this one are threefold.  First, because the second half of line ("happy thought indeed")  is appropriate for blogging--I'm writing about my happy thoughts, indeed.  Second, because shelves in the closet are a great place to keep books and period drama DVDs.  (Yes, I'm nonsensical and proud of it.)  Third--which perhaps I should have mentioned first--because it is the express wish of my noble patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  What more could you want?

~Third on my list is Miss Dashwood's Writing Desk, which I don't really like, but I thought a poll ought to have several choices, so there it is.  Heehee.

~And then, of course, there is the "what do you suggest" option--and if you DO have a suggestion, please leave a comment!  (And hey, even if you don't have a suggestion, comment anyway, because I like to know what people voted.  No secret ballots here.)

So... please vote!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Few Gracious Women

The days of knights and fair maidens are long gone. For many young women the question, “Can I carry that for you?” sounds more like, “Prithee, fair maiden! Allow me to relieve thee of thy luggage.” To which they respond, “What century are you from?”
~Brett Harris, When Lancelot Comes Riding

The last strains of Carl Davis' famous theme fade away as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy ride off in their wedding carriage. Pride and Prejudice ends, and with it comes the blissful sigh of satisfaction. Happy ending! But the bliss doesn't last long, because after the sigh soon comes the question, "Why can't there be guys like Mr. Darcy today?"

I know I've asked myself this question--and I'm betting that you ladies have, too. For a diehard Janeite like myself, a real hero might look something like Colonel Brandon or Mr. Knightley--a true gentleman in every sense of the word. This is a great ideal, and gentlemanliness (hmm, that's not a word) is definitely a trait I want to see exemplified in my husband someday. Unfortunately, though we may admire men like Colonel Brandon, Mr. Knightley and Mr. Darcy, that admiration is often followed by--quote, unquote--despair. Where are all the gentleman of the Modern Era? Did they go out with cravats? Are they an extinct race, vanished from the face of the earth.

Well, no, they're not. But it's an indisputable point that true gentleman are rather scarce nowadays. Simple courtesies such as opening doors for ladies, not smoking indoors and removing hats are now considered as obsolete as Internet Explorer.

I myself am an old-fashioned girl.  I only started using Google Chrome last summer.  (And I still haven't switched to the new Blogger interface.  I know, I know... delaying the inevitable.)  I'm a history buff and love studying times gone by--now really, wouldn't it be pretty neat to be able to step back in time and attend a Regency ball or be in the crowd during Lincoln's Gettysburg address? I've often daydreamed about living in a world of hoopskirts and four-wheeled carriages, a world where people bowed and curtsied ... a world where good manners were taken very, very seriously, where gals were ladies and guys were gentlemen.

And though the desire to live in a bygone era may very well be "just me", the fact that true ladies and gentlemen are rather scarce nowadays is something that a lot of people are acknowledging.

In his four-part series on The Rebelution blog, "When Lancelot Comes Riding," Brett Harris writes,
"For decades gentlemanly behavior has experienced decline. Not only are men becoming less apt to offer service, but ladies are much more likely to refuse it."

You know, I have to wonder... does the Decline of Chivalry maybe, just maybe have something to do with the way we girls are treating gentlemanly behavior today?  Could our unladylike attitudes possibly be keeping guys from being gentlemen?  Might this just be, in some way, our fault?

The Marine Corps are famous for saying that they need a few good men. Well, I'd like to say that I think we need a few gracious women.  Our world needs women who are not afraid to be ladies, who are not unwilling to be mannerly and gracious, who don't worry about looking "helpless" or "wimpy" if they--gasp--let a guy open a door for them.

And really, why is it awkward for us to accept a little chivalry now and then?  I know I'm guilty of it-- if a guy opens a door for me or steps back to let me go first or offers to carry a box, my automatic response is, "Oh, no, I've got it."  Why?  Probably because I don't want him to think I can't do it myself.  I don't want to be considered helpless.

But if a guy offers to carry something for me, he's not saying that he thinks I'm helpless.  He's simply showing good manners.  It isn't that he thinks I can't do it myself-- it's that he's being polite! (Hey, did you read that article I linked to yet? No?  Go read it.  I'll wait.)  Okay, are you back again?  Great, now we can discuss it.  I think my favorite analogy in the whole Rebelution series is the one about the CD.  (I know some of you didn't go and read the article even though I asked you to, so I'll just repeat the analogy here.)  If a friend bought you a CD for your birthday, a CD she knew you'd been wanting, would you consider that an insult?  Would you think she was hinting that you're too poor to buy the CD yourself?  Of course not! You'd know that your friend got you the CD because she wanted to do something nice for you... something that you could have done yourself, but didn't have to because she did.

So let's stop getting offended over a CD.  Let's stop saying, "Oh, it's fine, I'll get it," if a guy offers to do something for us.  Because you know what?  If we keep refusing, they'll stop offering.  And then they'll think we're morons when we start whining about how there are no gentlemen around these days.  And since nobody wants to be called helpless, I think I can say with certainty that no one wants to be called a moron either.

Seriously, letting a guy do something for you does not automatically turn you into this.  Believe me.

Accepting chivalry isn't easy for us to do at times. But do you think it's always easy for guys, to act like a gentleman when they know there's a pretty good chance of getting snubbed?  Let's make it a little easier for them... by being ladies.  If we want to encourage our brothers in Christ, we have to act like the sisters in Christ that we're supposed to be.

Plus, it's embarrassing for everyone if you refuse when a guy steps back to let you go through a door.  Believe me, I speak from experience.  I remember one time when my family got together with some friends, and as we were moving from one room of the house to another, one of the boys stepped back to let me go through first.  Under the impression that I was being a good hostess (it happened at our house), I said, "Oh, no, you go ahead."  Embarrassed, he shook his head and insisted that I go first.  By this point, we were holding up everyone else and his mother had to say, "Now, now, ladies first, you two..." and at last I realized how ridiculous I was being and hastily zipped through the door.  I think we were both mortified for the rest of the evening.

Now all you lovely readers know just how much I'm willing to do for you--I'm actually telling you embarrassing stories about myself to get a point across.  Sigh.  Moving on.  (I haven't refused to go through a door first since then, by the way.  Lesson learned.)

Recently, I've been trying to encourage my brother in this respect by thanking him every time he opens a door for me.  He's seven, I'm seventeen.  He's half my height and often has to ask me to pick him up so he can reach things.  I don't need him to open doors for me-- but it doesn't hurt to let him.  In fact, if he gets into the habit of being a gentleman now, his future wife will be grateful someday. :D

(You can read a little more on this topic here.)

And you know what?  If we practice being ladies now... we'll be so much readier when Mr. Knightley does come riding.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Classics Club: Northanger Abbey

(This isn't the same copy that I have, but I
couldn't find a picture of mine, and this
one was purty so I just decided to use it.)
"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." ~Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey

I've joined up with Jillian's Classics Club over at A Room of One's Own-- you can see my list of 61 titles here.  So from now until 2015 (provided this blog stays around that long, that is--and I do hope it does) book reviews will be popping up hither, thither and yon on Yet Another Period Drama Blog.  I'm not sure if that was the proper usage of "hither, thither and yon" but it's fun to say.

Northanger Abbey was the first title that I read, (I may or may not actually have begun reading it before I joined the Classics Club... *cough*) and it's quite fitting that the first novel on the list should have been written by my most favorite author.  Pride and Prejudice occupies the top spot in my opinion of Jane Austen's books, and for the longest time Sense and Sensibility was second, but now I'm wavering between S&S and NA.  Because it's just that good.

If you aren't acquainted with the plot of NA, never fear! I'll be quite happy to wait while you go over and read the Wikipedia summary.

Now we can get to the good stuff.  NA is hands-down the funniest of all Jane Austen's novels.  In my not-so-humble opinion, that is.  The narrative is witty and satirical (not that Jane Austen's narrative is ever anything but), the dialogue is often hilarious and the plot is clever and fast-paced.

Catherine is probably my least favorite of all Jane Austen's heroines, but that doesn't mean I dislike her.  Her wide-eyed naivete and tendency to look at the world through bookish spectacles make her an endearing character, and I even see myself in her at times.  (Searching through a wardrobe for a hidden journal or letters? Guilty!)

Henry Tilney, however, is definitely one of my six favorite Jane Austen heroes.  (And I'm not just listing all of them to be funny--there are actually seven heroes from her six major novels.  You can guess, if you like, who I'm leaving out.) Henry provided a wee bit of inspiration for the hero of my own novel, so I can't help but like him.  Has anyone else noticed how Jane Austen treats Henry a little less reverently than most of her other heroes?  He's frequently referred to by his Christian name (instead of always "Mr. Tilney") and his method of address is rather different from that of, say, Mr. Darcy or Colonel Brandon.  "Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again."

Isabella Thorpe had the dubious privilege of being one of the funniest and most infuriating characters in the story. "But do not insist upon my being very agreeable, for my heart, you know, will be some forty miles off." She's hilariously quotable (check out this post for some great Isabella quotes) and though she's completely insincere in everything she says, she never fails to make me laugh.  She's even influenced me to refer to certain friends as "my dearest creature" at times (you know who you are!).

NA was the last Jane Austen novel I read, for two reasons.  First, I'd heard somewhere that it was a spooky Gothic story (ha, my informer must have been quite misinformed), and I was disinclined to try it... but then I heard that the hero was incredibly funny and wonderful, and since I have a soft spot for hilarious heroes, I decided to read it after all, and saved it for last.  Ironically enough, NA was the first of Jane Austen's novels to be published, but I'm glad I left it for last.  I think anyone, really, would appreciate the humor in it no matter how many of Jane Austen's books she'd read already.  But still, I'm glad I read it last.  P&P was funny, but not as funny as NA, and I think I appreciated the subtle wit more after being previously exposed to Jane Austen's style.

My rating for this book: nine and a half out of ten! My only complaint was that the proposal was not detailed.  I likes me my proposal scenes, and was quite disappointed to be deprived of this one. But other than that, the book was excellent. It's Jane Austen-- what else can I say?

Since I've pretty much rambled myself out (I do hope you weren't expecting anything more than a rather haphazard review of this book...), I'll just share a few of my favorite NA quotes.  (I think I'll make a habit of doing that with all my Classics Club reviews. After all, the book authors can say it far better than I can!)

To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.

"Why should you be surprised, sir?"
"Why indeed?" said he, in his natural tone; "but some emotion must appear to be raised by your reply, and surprise is more easily assumed, and not less reasonable than any other."

"And what are you reading, Miss – ?"
"Oh! It is only a novel!" replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. "It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda"; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.

"As far as I have had opportunity of judging, it appears to me that the usual style of letter-writing among women is faultless, except in three particulars."
"And what are they?"
"A general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar."

As a celebrated writer has maintained, that no young lady can be justified in falling in love before the gentleman’s love is declared. It must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her.

"Ah, Mother! How do you do?" said [John Thorpe], giving her a hearty shake of the hand. "Where did you get that quiz of a hat? It makes you look like an old witch."

"And such is your definition of matrimony and dancing. Taken in that light certainly, their resemblance is not striking; but I think I could place them in such a view. You will allow, that in both, man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal; that in both, it is an engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each; and that when once entered into, they belong exclusively to each other till the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty, each to endeavour to give the other no cause for wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere, and their best interest to keep their own imaginations from wandering towards the perfections of their neighbours, or fancying that they should have been better off with anyone else."

"Oh! Mr. Tilney, I have been quite wild to speak to you, and make my apologies. You must have thought me so rude; but indeed it was not my own fault, was it, Mrs. Allen? Did not they tell me that Mr. Tilney and his sister were gone out in a phaeton together? And then what could I do? But I had ten thousand times rather have been with you; now had not I, Mrs. Allen?"
"My dear, you tumble my gown," was Mrs. Allen’s reply.

"Miss Morland, I think very highly of the understanding of all the women in the world – especially of those – whoever they may be – with whom I happen to be in company ... Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much that they never find it necessary to use more than half."

And then his hat sat so well, and all the innumerable capes of his great-coat were so becomingly important!

Her greedy eye glanced rapidly over a page. She started at its import. Could it be possible, or did not her senses play her false? An inventory of linen, in coarse and modern characters, seemed all that was before her! If the evidence of sight might be trusted, she held a washing-bill in her hand.

Happy the glance that first distinguished Catherine! Happy the voice that proclaimed the discovery! But whether such happiness were the lawful property of George or Harriet could never be exactly understood.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Do You Hear the Distant Drums: Our Conclusion to This Amazing Week

Jean Valjean stands alone in the middle of the stage.

Marius and Cosette are married.  Eponine is gone.  Fantine is gone.  Enjolras is gone.  Grantaire, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Gavroche… all are gone.  The Thenardiers are gone (we hope).  Alone, Valjean waits in the shadows, counting the hours till he can sleep. Once more he prays to God on high, once more for Marius—and for Cosette.  “Take these children, my Lord, to Thy embrace… and show them grace.”  Then, and only then, will he pray for himself, that God will bring him home.  “Where You are, let me be… bring me home.” 

That’s when Fantine slips out of the shadows, come to take Valjean to heaven.  (Okay, so this isn’t very theologically sound, but… anyways.)  “You raised my child with love and you will be with God.”  

Cosette and Marius return, overcome with grief and guilt now that they know Valjean’s true story.  Marius literally falls at Valjean’s feet to beg for forgiveness, and Valjean is content now that his loved ones are with him.  He tells Cosette that he is leaving her a confession of all that happened in his life (and hers)—“it’s the story of those who always loved you.  Your mother gave her life for you and gave you to my keeping.”

Eponine joins Fantine in a wrenchingly beautiful duet as they take Valjean to heaven. “Take my hand and lead me to salvation.  Take my love, for love is everlasting.  And remember a truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.”

 And then… and then… as the distant drums grow louder, the ensemble moves forward onto the stage in a reprise of "Do You Hear the People Sing?".  Marius and Cosette stand close together—the sole survivors of a story that encompassed so many lives.  (All right, all right, the Thenardiers survived too but they don’t count.)  Enjolras and the Friends of the ABC move forward to lead the triumphant chorus as everyone joins in.  “Do you hear the people sing?  Say, do you hear the distant drums?  It is the future that we bring when tomorrow comes!

We’ll pause a moment and let you have your tears.

So… which version nailed the finale?  DO NOT ASK US THAT QUESTION AT THIS TIME.  Or at least do not expect an answer to that question at this time.  As you can see, we are quite busy.  *Amy tosses Petie another box of tissues to share*

Oh, all right, fine, we’ll attempt an answer.  It really is a terrifically hard decision, but you’re tired of hearing us say that by now, aren’t you?  Colm Wilkinson (10th), yet again, completely inhabits Valjean’s part.  When he sings, "Forgive me all my trespasses and take me to you glory," we literally weep.  Alfie Boe’s singing is beautiful and we have to give him MAJOR kudos for crying at the end when Fantine and Eponine appear, but it’s still Colm’s song.  We're not particularly impressed by Ruthie Henshall's appearance in 10th (Petie maintains that her "Come with me where chains will never bind you" sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard), but Lea Salonga blows us away as always in 25th.  (Are we the only ones who jumped up cheering as soon as she opened her mouth? Fantine's back!)  She also blows us away in 10th as Eponine... and we're stuck wondering why on earth someone can't tweak the musical a bit (and invent a time machine) to allow her to play both roles in a single production.

Oh, who are we kidding? We love them both.  We can't decide which one got this song better... but if we were forced to choose, we'd lean toward 10th.  The mind-blowing amount of talent assembled onstage in that song... it's incredible.  

Let's hear it for Lea Salonga! And her cap!
But it's not over yet.  This is when the appreciation begins: the bowing, the applause, the frenzied delight from the audience and the sheer joy exuding from the performers as they cheer for each other.  It happens in both productions, but the one dearest to our hearts is the 10th.  We hope we're not the only ones who get a huge kick out of Eponine's exuberant reaction when the Thenardiers step forward.  Heeheeheehee.

Is there anything more heartwarming than seeing Javert break into wild applause for Jean Valjean as he steps forward to bow?
Annnnnnnd we burst into happy tears for the umpteenth time.
Yep, actually there is--it's the moment when Marius goes nuts, cheering for the man who made this musical what it is, and the audience's applause reaches unheard-of proportions.
This picture doesn't do it justice.  Go watch the DVD.
 We cry unashamedly here.  (Um, are we actually ever ashamed of our crying during Les Miz? Nope.  We are not.)  After all the tragedy and heartbreak that took place during this musical, the exuberant joy and celebration that sweep the stage at the end are an incredible relief.  Yes, we know they can't hear us clapping.  That's not going to stop us.

Fantine's actually whistling there--is this awesome or what? Don't say what.
 Although we prefer the 10th’s bowing/applauding sequence, one thing we desperately love about the 25th’s is when Alfie Boe steps forward to take his bow. Despite the spectacular performance he just gave that would likely puff anyone up, he looks so humble, like it’s his privilege to be there playing Valjean. We’re forever Colm fans, but… there will always be a special place in our hearts for Alfie.

And still, it isn't over.  (Nor is this blog post.  Hey, it's the end of the series-- we can be permitted a bit of long-winded-ness, right? What, you think we've been long-winded during the entire week? Well, we didn't ask you about that.)  No, because now the stage grows (temporarily) quiet in 25th as everyone prepares for the encore, and from the shadows three men step forward.  John Owen-Jones, Simon Bowman and Colm Wilkinson come to join Alfie Boe at the microphone, four different Valjeans. And as the spotlight focuses on Colm Wilkinson, the audience breaks into ecstatic cheers.  Before he even opens his mouth.

Colm Wilkinson and John Owen-Jones

But then he does open his mouth, and the impossibly high first notes of "God on high, hear my prayer," come pouring out, and the audience goes nuts.  Again.  So do we incidentally, but that's a given, right?

Simon Bowman and Alfie Boe
As the song goes on, John Owen-Jones and Simon Bowman join in, and finally Alfie Boe chimes in at the last to hit a note even more impossibly high (and yes, everybody goes berserk again).  "You can take, you can give; let him be, let him live!"  

The encore in the 10th also stars multiple Valjeans, but in a very different way.  As the cast finishes their bows and the orchestra strikes up the opening bars of "Do You Hear the People Sing", seventeen actors from various Les Miz productions all around the world join the cast onstage to sing that song in their native languages.  From Colm Wilkinson to Reinhard Brussman to Jan Jezek, they belt out each and every line from "Do You Hear the People Sing" (some of them multiple times--it's a short song :D) in over a dozen languages and we get goosebumps.

But what really, truly gives us goosebumps is the all-cast ensemble reprise of "One Day More" at the very, very end of the 25th.  When the original 1985 cast (eep! Michael Ball returns!) and many other actors from other productions come out onstage to join the 25th cast, we're on cloud ninety-nine.  (It's bigger, grander and more exciting than cloud nine.  Trust us.)  
Michael Ball and Colm Wilkinson... and a cheering crowd... and a swooning Petie and Amy.
There's something indescribably wonderful about watching all these phenomenal artists perform together, with Les Miserables as the tie that binds them together.  A divide of twenty-five years separates many of their performances, and yet they all came together on that one glorious night in London to sing their hearts out and thrill us all.  We can't possibly keep the huge grins off our faces (not that we would want to) as two of our favorites, Colm Wilkinson and Ramin Karimloo, stand together at the mic with Ramin's arm around Colm's shoulders. 
See how Colm's pointing to Ramin as if to say, "Look at this guy!
Isn't he great?" Yes.  Yes, he is.
Colm Wilkinson begins to sing the first lines, and the theater roars. But that sound is nothing to what comes charging almost through the roof when Michael Ball starts with, "I did not live until today..."

There must be at least three hundred people on that stage--we exaggerate not--all singing their hearts out, and we can't resist singing along.  Come on, admit it-- you know you do the same thing!   

The happy, heartfelt sigh we give at the final, "My place is here, I fight with you," completely sums it up.  This is Les Miz. There's a new world for the winning, there's a new world to be won... do you hear the people sing?

So now we've come to the end, to that all-important question that's probably been bugging you all since you began reading this series.  What's the final answer?  Which concert do Amy and Petie like the best?

Well, first of all, we have to say that the 25th concert is of epic proportions.  The lighting! The costumes! The brilliance! The sheer magnitude of it all! It includes more of the original score, the actors actually act a little more (that is, they don't stand still the whole time), there are more props and the special effects (especially during the battle scenes... sigh...) are magnificent.  Visually, this concert is spectacular.  And it stars some of our favorite actors to boot.  We can sum it up in one word:  RAMINKARIMLOOLEASALONGASAMANTHABARKS.

Yes, that was one word.

But now... but now... you've all guessed by now, haven't you?  The 10th Anniversary Concert wins, ladies and gentlemen.  There's a reason that it's called "The Dream Cast In Concert."  There are at least ten reasons why we adore this concert with such great adoration, and you needn't look at us like that, because only three of those reasons are Michael Ball.  Okay, well, four.

The fact is that the 10th concert didn't need all the fancy frou-frou of the 25th (and we're not bashing the 25th, folks!).  Because it stood alone.  The incredible talent of the performers, the grandeur of the music, the way every essential bit of that amazing musical was conveyed so perfectly in such a limited time and space.  The actors didn't need special effects or elaborate costuming (though we wouldn't have minded some better lighting...) because they stood alone. They made us laugh and cry, shiver and bawl, shake our heads in wonder and smile so wide as to permanently stretch our mouths out of shape.   They managed to give us Les Miserables in all its full blaze of glory while standing behind a row of microphones.

What more could we ask?

And now... well, now Les Miz week is over.  It's come to a close and we're feeling a bit sad.  But really, there's nothing to be sad about at all.  The title of the musical may translate as "the miserable ones", but are we miserable?  No, indeed. We're joyful-- joyful and glad and delighted that this incredible story has become a part of our lives, and will continue to be so forevermore.

Writing this blog series was a journey for us both.  It brought us much closer together as friends, it taught one of us how to meet deadlines (cough cough, nobody look at Amy, cough cough), it gave us hilarity and laughter and inside jokes (PUPPIES!), and it reinforced (a hundredfold!) our love for Les Miserables.

We hope that, if you are already a fan, this series served to strengthen your fanship and remind you of why you love this musical so much.  And we hope that if you're being introduced to the wonder that is Les Miz for the first time... you will realize just what you've been missing all your life.  Will you join in our crusade?

Petie (country girl) and Amy (Miss Dashwood)