Monday, October 29, 2012

A box of old books

It was a seemingly simple question, phrased in ordinary language, appearing on The Classics Club in a quiet and unassuming font and size.   Yet as soon as I saw it, it took into account all the Wheaties it had been eating and did the proverbial leap off the webpage.

Why do you read the classics?

Until then, I hadn't answered any of the Classics Club's monthly meme questions--a combination of "not enough time" and "I'm not really that interested."   But this one... this one wouldn't leave me alone.  I hadn't the time to answer it when I first saw it, as I was in a flurry preparing for houseguests, but now I have a bit more time on my hands and I'm just squeaking in under the wire.  There IS a little bit left of October, after all.

So.  It's probably evident to anyone reading my blog that I read classics.  But the question isn't whether I read classics or not--it's why do I read the classics?

The short answer to that question would be that I am an unashamed book snob and that I prefer reading classics because they tend to be far superior to almost all modern books out there.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry! It just POPT out!"

The long answer is much less rude and takes quite a bit more time to articulate (do tell, Amy! Is that why it's called the long answer?  What a clever creature you are, to be sure!).

Since the long answer is such a biggie, I'm going to channel my inner organizational nut and use bullet points. Yay for bullet points! For some reason they always make me feel so Academic.  Am I the only one?

I read the classics because...

  • I could not live without books.  And classics are books, as I am sure you will all agree.
  • I love me a big, thick tome.  A book that I can get my teeth into (figuratively speaking).  A book that will last me a long, long time.  Classics tend to be like that.  
  • I like reading about the past, whether it be non-fiction history books, historical fiction or literature written in a bygone era.  I sometimes think I was born in the wrong century.  

  • I love me a big, thick tome.  A book that I can get my teeth into (figuratively speaking).  A book that will last me a long, long time.  Classics tend to be like that.  
  • I like reading about the past, whether it be non-fiction history books, historical fiction or literature written in a bygone era.  I sometimes think I was born in the wrong century.
  • Classics tend to focus on people and how they relate to each other rather than galloping plotlines.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying a classic book doesn't have a plot.  But I tend to be more attracted to the characters and what they think about the world than to the adventure the characters move in.  And classics are stories that have remained timeless, because in general they focus on people.  People don't change.  Societies change, times change, the whole world changes, but people have been the same since Adam and Eve.  

  • There's a certain sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, lean-back-and-stretch-after-a-job-well-done that comes with reading a good hefty classic.  I've yet to experience that with reading most modern fiction.
  • There are so many friends to be found within classic books.  You don't mean to tell me that anyone could forget Emma Woodhouse after once reading about her, do you?
  • Classics tend to be inexpensive and easy to find at used bookstores.  It is the truth, and there is no shame in admitting it.

  • "In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself."  (C.S. Lewis)  Could it possibly have been said any better?  
  • I love the smell of a good, old book.  I will never own a Kindle or Nook if I can possibly help it.  There is no substitute for real, old-fashioned paper and binding.
  • I have met so many kindred spirits through reading classics... why, without Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and the like, this blog would never have begun.  Smoke on your pipe and put THAT in!

"...she is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain..."
~Louisa May Alcott

Why do you read the classics?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Return to Cranford (2009) Review

...Or, as this post might more appropriately be titled, "Railroads, Hoopskirts and Extreme Emotional Trauma (2009) Review."

I hardly know how to begin with a review of Return to Cranford.  The writing of it might be an easier task if I knew what my conclusions were-- as I do not, I'm rather at a loss what to say.  Did I hate it?  No, indeed! Did I love it?  Eh... no, I didn't.

I think, really, I must invoke both Henry Tilney's and Edmund Sparkler's disapproval and say that it was a very nice movie, but it had a great deal of nonsense about it.  It was Cranford... and yet it wasn't quite the Cranford of the first movie.  And since I didn't think much of the original novel trilogy (Dr. Harrison's Confessions, Cranford and My Lady Ludlow) I can't say that the book was better, but I can say that the first movie was better.  

Yet there was so much to love in RTC that I couldn't help enjoying it tremendously--yet I was so annoyed by certain plot twists that I was ready to throw an orange at someone.  Oh, dear, now my head's in a muddle.  I suppose the best way to proceed would be in my usual rambling fashion.  I shall endeavor to tell you what I liked and didn't like, and since I don't like to begin or end on a sour note, the Likes will come first, followed by the Dislikes, then more Likes in conclusion.  

...Shutting up.

(Warning: this post is written with the presupposition that all you readers have seen RTC.  If you have not, you may wish to skip this review, for it will be absolutely studded with spoilers.)

What I Liked About Return to Cranford

~Miss Matty, bless her heart, had not changed in the two or three years that passed between films.  Not much, anyhow. (I'll get to that.)  She's still as sweet and caring as ever, still unpretentious and down-to-earth.  I loved her relationship with Tilly and how she supported Peter in pretty much anything he wanted to do, and I applauded her when she put her foot down and refused to have that horrid feathered parroty creature in her house. Go, Miss Matty!

~All my favorite ladies made delightful reappearances.  Caroline Thompkinson is the only one who didn't show up, but she annoyed me exceedingly in the first movie and I was quite content to do without her.  Miss Pole is probably my favorite of the group, and she didn't disappoint.  "You will rend every garment you possess when I give you THIS piece of intelligence!"

~So I'll admit it up front, William Buxton was one of my favorite characters in this movie.  (Puddle darling, do please stop the hysterical giggling.  You wreak havoc on my poor nerves.)  I liked him far better than Dr. Harrison in the first movie (hey, nothing against Dr. Harrison, but I just like William better) and he made a nice addition to the original bunch.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who immediately thought of Willy Wonka when I first saw his hair... in fact, when he first appeared I thought him a nice fellow but quite unattractive.  I changed my mind, peoples, I changed my mind, and then I saw Henry V and repented of everything I'd ever thought in the beginning, but that is a story for another day.

~Peggy Bell is an absolute doll.  She was sweet and kind and caring, reminding me a little of Amy Dorrit in her familial situation (I came this close to slapping Mrs. Bell right through the screen on multiple occasions, and as for Edward--let's just say that I may or may not have squeaked, "Ding, dong, the wicked witch is dead!" at some time or another during the course of the film.  Ahem.) and her timidity.  However, she definitely had some backbone to her and I admired that (not that Amy Dorrit doesn't, but I think Peggy had more.)  I loved how she kept coming and coming to see William even when his horrid father wouldn't let her in, and how she took command when Edward got into trouble... et cetera and so forth.

William and Peggy's relationship, too, was sweetness itself.  I actually ended up liking them better than Dr. Harrison and Sophy--who, though cute, just weren't as interesting as William and Peggy.  Couples who have to go through some trouble together before they can have their happily ever after rarely fail to endear themselves to me.  Plus, they're just so perfect for each other.  *blissful sigh*

~Lady Glenmire was such a fun and welcome addition to the Cranford Gossip Club.  Mrs. Jamieson annoyed me far more than she did in the first movie, but I liked how Lady Glenmire was so down-to-earth.  She was one of the elements brought over from the original books, and I appreciated that-- I might prefer to movies to the books, but I'm always pleased when the screenwriters include things from the actual novels rather than just taking the names of the characters and running amok with them.  Cough, cough, Michael Landon.  COUGH COUGH.

~Miss Galindo was back!  She quickly became almost my favorite character in this film (can't decide who was my ultimate favorite) and I liked her even better than in the first one.  In the first one I had been worrying in the beginning that she was one of those corset-burning soapboxers, but she turned out to be an absolute duck and I like her immensely.  Especially when she bawled out Lord Septimus.  Yessssssssss.

~Harry Gregson quickly became one of my favorite characters (replacing Mr. Carter, in a way) this time around, though he frustrated me no end at times.  (Hmm, this is a good way to segue into What I Didn't Like About RTC.  Consider everything after these parentheses to be Dislikes until we get to the Happy Ending.  I'll let you know when that comes around.)

What I Did Not Like About Return to Cranford

~Harry seemed to have changed.  Okay, so obviously he'd grown up a bit in two years, and I hadn't expected him to be the same naive little boy who had gone off to school in the first movie, but I did not like how he suddenly had become indifferent to all Mr. Carter's wishes for him and so set on doing things his own way.  I realize that being at his horrible school made a difference and all that, but I do not like it when I spend half the movie joining with my sisters in shrieking at the screen, "NO HARRY STOP IT DON'T BE AN IDIOT!"

Especially in the running-away-and-jumping-on-top-of-the-train scene.  Can I get an amen? Not to mention making everyone think he was dead (and causing me to vow never to watch this horrible movie again) and then coming back to life with a sort of "LOL just kidding."

Um, not funny.  NOT.  FUNNY.

~Mary Smith was a huge disappointment.  I was quite happy to see her reappearance... at first.  The lack of Jack Marshland was quite a let-down (I still think they should have ended up together) but the fact that Mary suddenly became the corset-burning soapboxer was incredibly trying.  Hey, I have no problem whatsoever with her Articles of Writing ("is it a recipe?") but the way she went about it, with her "I don't need a man and a family to tie me down because I must Follow The Star Within Me And Be True To My Inner Freedom (Whatever That Means)" seemed quite inconsistent with her character.  Ugh.

~Though the shunning of Mrs. Jamieson after the advent of Lady Glenmire was a rather hilarious fiasco (good word, fiasco) it just didn't seem like something the Cranford ladies would do.  Now, Mrs. Jamieson's rudeness about not letting the other ladies socialize with her sister-in-law (or was she her cousin) wasn't too out of character (I never much cared for Mrs. Jamieson), but the idea of Miss Matty refusing to speak to anyone is pretty much laughable.  And Miss Pole staying home from a part just to sulk in silence?  Ridiculous.  I was sure up until the last minute that she'd cave.  But she didn't.  And I didn't like that.  The ladies of Cranford may get their danders up every so often, but they are good souls on the whole and don't hold grudges of that sort.  Sure, everything was sorted out in the end, but it still fidgeted me.

~Mr. Carter was dead.  GRRRRR.  Miss Deborah was dead.  DOUBLE GRRRRRRRR.

~Mr. Buxton was a piece of work.  "No, I will not let you marry my son, sweet and lovely young woman, because you are way far beneath him.  Get out of my sight instantly.  But wait, let me do everything in my power to help your deadbeat brother who just stole money from his employer. Please applaus me now for being such a reasonable human being."

~The ending, though deliciously happy, seemed a bit too perfect in one or two spots.  Jem and Tilly randomly popping out of the magician's wardrobe thing?  Really?

~The whole cow-on-the-line thing appeared to be stolen straight from the archives of Thomas the Tank Engine. 'Fess up, BBC.  Are you really THAT desperate for storylines???

~Lady Ludlow died. Sniffle.  Martha died.  Sob.  Edward Bell died.  Party time!

Okay, back to the good stuff.

What I Liked About the Ending of Return to Cranford

~The magician was HILARIOUS.  Here was another character taken from the book, and I was so pleased to see him.  The little scene with Miss Pole was one of the most hilarious in the whole movie.
"I suppose this is a variation on the classical trick with the hat being A and the dove being... B."
"Naoooow.  Eeet eess maaaaaaaaageec."

~Good old Captain Brown got a happy ending.  I defy you not to smile and perhaps even clap a little for him and Lady Glenmire.

~That ending scene was just cuteness.  Especially the waltzing.  I couldn't make up my mind as to whether the whole lady's-hands-on-the-man's-shoulder was something Peggy invented because William's left arm was out for repairs, or if that was actually the fashion back then.  Everyone else seemed to be dancing that way too, but the people of Cranford have a habit of doing little things like that so that no one will feel awkward.  Now THAT is typical Cranford-ness.  None of the petty shunning or staying home from parties.  These are the ladies who gave up their candles, remember.

~Miss Matty finally got her turban.  And it actually looked quite sweet.  Who would have imagined?

Final rating... undecided.  There were so many aspects to this movie, with good being A and bad being B (well, duh)... what did you think?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Time for Elevenses

I feel rather horrid for having blogged so little over the past few weeks.  An anniversary should be celebrated with many wonderful posts about shoes and ships and sealing-wax (and cabbages and kings), but I've been so busy scurrying hither and yon and writing guest posts for lovely friends that I've hardly had time to write posts for my own blog.  I promise that there shall be at least one new movie review next week, however (anyone want to guess the movie? comment, please!), and I'm working on that Les Miz dream cast... but until then, we must all content ourselves with the elevens tag that is flying yet again through the blogosphere.  

This time I've been tagged by Kiri Liz and Hayden, and I'll let you in on a little shameful secret.  Hayden tagged me earlier this week, but I held off on answering her questions for a little while because I wanted to wait and see if anyone else tagged me (presumptuous, I know).  That way, if I had two sets of questions to answer, I'd have an excuse to skip the eleven random things at the beginning (which I muchly dislike).  And what do you know, along came Kiri today with her tag!  Voila!  Kiri, you've saved me from the Eleven Randoms.  I am infinitely obliged to you, my dear.

*assumes Lady Dedlock voice*
So you all know my secret.  And now you are going to expose me.  
*returns to normal manner of speaking*
Without further prattling, I present to you the twenty-two questions that I had great fun answering. I've also tagged several friends at the bottom, so don't forget to check down there!

Hayden's Questions

If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?

Probably the power to be invisible.  That would be great fun.  I could freak people out and become an international spy.  

Bows and Arrows, Swords, or Guns?

Um... none of the above?

What’s your favorite black and white film?

It might very well be Roman Holiday (1953).  Hilarious, touching, full of lovely costumes, Audrey Hepburn being glamorous, Gregory Peck being... Gregory Peck (cough), a fascinating story and of course Rome in black and white.  It's all such a sequence of continual delights, to quote Mrs. Forrester.  "Irving! Am I glad to see you!"  "Why, did ya forget your wallet?"

"Tell me, Mr. Radovich, what is a ringer?"
"Oh, er, it's an American term.  It means anybody who has a great deal of charm."

What is something random that freaked you out as a child, even if it wasn't supposed to be scary?

I was terrified almost to death of the lorikeets at the zoo.  There used to be a cage where you could actually go inside and feed the birds (though it cost a bit more than tuppence a bag) with a little cup of sugar water, and they'd come and perch on your arm or finger.  My grandmother took me there on multiple occasions but I was always far too scared to even try feeding the Flappy, Feathery Animals of Terror.  Still am, for that matter.

Did you read Dr. Seuss books as a kid? Which one is your favorite?

I did indeed!  By far, my favorite was The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.  I also really liked And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.

What is your favorite musical?

Heehee.  You ask ME this question.  Everybody, on three.  One, two three-- 

Except it's not awkward.  Ever.

What is your least favorite book by your favorite author?

Lady Susan by Jane Austen. I haven't even finished it yet.  What I've read of it bored me.  Did I just type that out loud?

If you could steal any movie/television character’s wardrobe, who would it be?

Marianne Dashwood's from Sense and Sensibility 1995.  I may devote a post to her costumes sometime in the near future.  They're just amazing.

What is your opinion on clowns?

I can take them or leave them.  Didn't inherit my mom's terror of them, but I certainly don't think much of them.

What is one obscure book, movie, or television show that you recommend?

So Dear to My Heart (1948), one of the best (if not THE best) of Walt Disney's films. Most people have never heard of it, and it's a crying shame.

"Mama's already sent away for the pattern.  For my new dress."
"What's that got to do with it?"
"I was gonna wear it to the fair."
(yes, I have the entire script memorized...
that's what happens when you watch a movie more than thirty times)

Oh no! You’re stuck in an elevator when the power goes out. It’s going to be several hours before help comes. Who would you rather be stuck in there with- Mr. Collins or Hyacinth Clare Gibson?

Um, can we make Fanny Dorrit an option instead?  Because she'd actually be kind of fun... no? Oh, very well.  Mr. Collins.  I'd have fun insulting him to his face, I think.  Horrid, I know, but... um, anyways.  Moving on. 

Kiri Liz's Questions

What is your third favorite color?

Hmmm... probably cream.  Pink and blue are first and second, though I couldn't tell you which is which.
If you could rewrite any scene from any book, which one would it be and why?

Well, I'd be happy to tell you, but my fellow Leaguettes must promise not to guillotine me.  It's the scene in The Scarlet Pimpernel (do tell!) where Marguerite and Percy have their Cold-Shoulder Discussion in the garden, after which Percy follows Marguerite up the steps and kisses the place where she walked.  I mean, COME ON. That chapter was fabulous, and then that ridiculous end bit-- I have to admit I burst out laughing every time I read it.  I lose some respect for one of my favorite heroes, let me tell you, and that's not a good thing.  
Would you rather live in a old palace, a cottage in the woods, a pirate ship, or a underground burrow?

Toss-up between an old palace or a cottage in the woods.  I'm rather inclined to the palace at present but a little cottage is always very snug. 

How do you pronounce the word "often?" Off-ten? Or Off-fen?

Off-fen, unfortunately.  I'm not much like Jane Fairfax, I'm afraid.  Jane always speaks so distinct, you know.
What is your favorite holiday film?

It's a Wonderful Life (1946).  Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!

"Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?"
"You want me to kiss her, huh?"
"Ah, youth is wasted on the wrong people."

If you had a book (any book including a cookbook or a research book) published, what would be featured on the cover?

Cherry blossoms, perhaps. I'm partial to those.  :D
Where would your dream home be located?

Isn't this kind of a repeat of the one about castles and cottages, burrows and ships? Well, I'd probably like a lighthouse by the sea.  A small cottage at the foot of the lighthouse, maybe, or even the lighthouse itself.  Full of old-fashioned knickknacks and lacy curtains at the windows, indoor plumbing and all manner of modern conveniences of course, but still rustic and lovely and simply crowded with salt air and wet winds blowing off the coast.  And cats, maybe.  Plenty of books, a sewing room, a lovely low-ceilinged kitchen and of course Mr. Knightley and six or seven children.  

If there was no such thing as tea or coffee in this world, what hot drink(s) would you consume?

Hot chocolate, of course.  And I should not suffer in the drinking of it, not one bit. 

What one song describes your life/day/mood? 

At present, you mean?  Hmmm... Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.  I'm quite content and peaceful and happy right now.  Of course, I am not resting in Jesus only when I'm content and peaceful and happy, but that song's been running through my head tonight.  
Peanut butter cookies, snickerdoodles, or gingerbread men?

Peanut.  Butter. Cookies.
What is something you absolutely love right now?

Sewing.  Indubitably.  Also Jane Austen.  And books in general.  But that's a given, right?

My Questions

  1. Who's your least favorite literary heroine?
  2. Did you read the American Girl books when you were younger?  Which series was your favorite?  Which book?
  3. You're having a friend over who has never seen a single period drama in her life.  Which one do you choose for her indoctrination?
  4. Raspberries or strawberries?  Why?
  5. What's your favorite cartoon movie?
  6. Who is your favorite singer?
  7. When do you start listening to Christmas music?
  8. Which was the best birthday of your life so far and why?
  9. Why did Mr. Gibson marry Hyacinth Horror Kirkpatrick?  Explain your answer in 200 words or less and don't forget footnotes.  If you haven't read/seen Wives and Daughters, write a two-paragraph essay on why lobsters don't wear socks.
  10. Who would you rather have tea with, Miss Bates or Mrs. Bennet? 
  11. What is the ugliest/most unflattering dress or outfit you've ever seen on a period drama? How would you have dressed the character who was so unfortunate as to wear it?

I tag...
~Miss Laurie
~Miss Molly
~Maria Elisabeth
~The Young Sage
~Miss Melody Muffin

And, of course, anyone else who wants to do it is more than welcome. Leave your answers in the comments, if you'd like.  I ignored the less-than-200-followers rule, because I was already so flagrant in my flaunting (no random facts! shocking, shocking!) that I figured I may as well be hung for a follower or two as a random fact.  Toodle-pip, lovely people, and see you next week!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Well, if this doesn't just take the giddy biscuit!

Manic Mother
What ho, my friends! My esteemed sister the Anne-girl has gone against Jeeves' better judgment and has worn a white evening jacket every night this week decided to do a simply splendiferous and may I say inspired thingamajigger.

I've always wanted to go to one of those big writers' conferences-- well, okay, ever since Anne-girl told me of their existence, which was about three months ago.  Relative terms, people, relative terms. But such a thing sounded positively top-notch, and I don't mind saying that I was quite yellow with longing to attend one of them.  (People are green with jealousy--is there any good reason why they should not be yellow with longing?)

But I have no more reason to be yellow or any other color, for on October 22nd (a week from today! ONE MORE WEEK 'TIL REVOLUTION!) there will be a veritable explosion of activity over at Anne-girl's blog, Scribblings of My Pen.  Because Anne-girl is hosting an online writers' conference and I don't think I'm going too far when I say that this kind of news just about takes the giddy biscuit!

There will be inspirational posts on a slew of different writing topics, there will be pep talks from Anne-girl's characters, there will be opportunities to swap your writing with fellow scribblers, there will be question-and-answer sessions with some of your favorite authors in the blogosphere (Anne's taking the questions now, by the way!) and plenty of rip-snorting fun.  Besides which, Anne has forcibly forced kindly invited me to distribute the prizes after the headmistress makes her commencement speech, and though I'm trying to foist the job off on Gussie Fink-Nottle, the end result may be quite entertaining.  So do come.

Oh, and don't forget to stop off here and pick up a button of your own-- let's spread the word, shall we?

Manic Mother
P.S.  To all of you who may think I've been watching too much Jeeves and Wooster lately-- I don't know what you're talking about.   *dances off singing Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors*

Monday, October 8, 2012

How mor'ifying!

It's mortifying, truly it is, when you find you've been misquoting something (or someone) for any length of time.  Especially when you've been doing it in the public blogosphere.  "Oh, Jo, I'm simply degradatated."

Recently, my dear friend Melody brought to light a shocking discovery that sank us both into the depths of despair, a depth so deep that not even plum puffs could have yanked us out of it (had we had plum puffs at our disposal, which we unfortunately did not).  It turns out, my friends--prepare yourselves--that Mr. Palmer's supposed famous quote in S&S95 (the one I have used with great frequency on this blog and in my email and comment writing) does not go the way we thought it did.

I, you see, was under the distinct impression that the line of dialogue went like this.

MRS PALMER:  She [Marianne] will be wet through when she returns!
MR PALMER: Thank you, my dear, I think we have all apprehended that much.

But in reality--alas for my inaccurate and frequent quoting!--it goes like this:

MRS PALMER:  She [Marianne] will be wet through when she returns!
MR PALMER: Thank you for pointing that out, my dear.

The world is ending, THE WORLD IS ENDING.  All those "thank you, my dear"'s I've said over the last few months!  I shall have to recall them! All of them!  UGH!  I shall have to change them all to "yes, thank you Mary," because that is the actual quote.  It's P&P, you see, not S&S.

In episode five (or is it six?) of P&P95 (the definitive version, you know), the Bennet girls are talking over Lydia's elopement.

MARY: This is the most unfortunate affair, and will probably be much talked of.
ELIZABETH:  Yes, thank you Mary, I think we have all apprehended that much.


Oh, and since we're on the subject of misquoted quotes, I may as well unearth another shameful confession.  I've been taking a Shakespeare class twice a week at a local college, and in the middle of September we studied the sonnets.  (Well, some of them.  There are one hundred and fifty, after all, and not even Marianne Dashwood could get through all those in two classes.)

At any rate, I was quite put out to learn that the last three words of Sonnet 116 are, in fact, "man ever loved," not "Willoughby, Willoughby, Willoughby."

I mean, really.  WHO'D-A THUNK IT.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Very Merry Un-Birthday

Today is not my birthday.  Neither is it the birthday of any one of my friends (to the best of my knowledge).  Of course someone, somewhere, must be having a birthday today, and if you happen to be that person, well, many happy returns!

Though today is, for me, an unbirthday, it also happens to be an anniversary.  Because it was on this day in 2011 that I took a deep breath, clicked "new post" on my newly created Blogger dashboard, and wrote an introduction, or preface, or foreword, or whatever you want to call it.  On this day in 2011, three lovely young ladies hit the "follow" button on my sidebar (Melody, Miss Elizabeth and Miss Laurie, y'all thrilled me exceedingly that day!).  On this day in 2011, a certain young lady left the first two comments on my blog, sending me into perfect raptures (because someone was READING my BLOG!).

When I started blogging, I truly never thought it would become such a big part of my life.  Oh, sure, I fantasized a little about becoming one of those Big-Name Bloggers with several hundred followers and posts peppered with comments.  But I never dreamed that blogging would introduce me to so many amazing people, that I'd make friends I can now hardly imagine living without.  I never imagined that a few movie reviews and favorite books might be the link to connect me with kindred spirits hundreds of miles away.

Here I am, standing on the threshold of my second year of blogging, and the word that first comes to mind is overwhelmed.  Because this blog has grown by leaps and bounds from what it was when it began.  I've written far more than I ever thought I would, read books I might not have tried if it weren't for other bloggers' recommendations, seen movies I wouldn't have known about if it hadn't been for y'all... and even went so far as to reveal my first name.  (I, who thought I'd always be the mysterious and anonymous Miss Dashwood...)

But following close on the heels of that "overwhelmed" is the second word (okay, two words), which are thank you.  Look, let's be frank.  If I had written that first post and no one had responded or commented or followed, I probably would have soldiered on anyway.  For a little while, at least.  But if still no one visited Yet Another Period Drama Blog, I probably would have given up.

As you can see, that didn't happen.

I'm not an art-for-art's-sake kind of girl.  I write because it makes me happy, yes, but if it didn't make anyone else happy, I might not be so enthusiastic.  It's all of you--your comments, your emails, and above all your friendship-- that have made this blog continue for one full year.  (And there will be many more to come if I have anything to do with it.)  I have lectured you and rambled at you and been silly with you, and you have borne it as no other company of people would.

You, my friends, are amazing.

Thank you.


Looking back over a year's worth of posts, I can see a definite change in my writing style.  In the early days, I was rather stiff and prim and proper.  Blogging, after all, is a Solemn Thing and must be done with Proper Decorum.  At the beginning, my posts followed a somewhat-strict format-- I wrote sensible movie reviews without a lot of gushing, did a series on period drama heroines that I never actually finished (eh... heh...) and dutifully posted a Quote of the Week each and every week.  This was a period drama blog, and to that subject it would stick.  Unyieldingly.  I read lots of other blogs about period dramas, you know, and if I wanted to do well, I had to be just like them! Right?

Then, as more people began following my blog and I in turn began discovering new blogs, I was introduced to the concept of lifestyle blogs-- people who journaled about what they did and how they did it, with several scoops of Random thrown in the mix.  What fun!  So I tried putting some of that into my blog.  Because everybody likes a random person, and if I wanted to do well, I had to be just like them, right?

Shortly after that was when I became aware of the dizzying number of blogging genres out there. Photography blogs!  Sewing blogs! Fashion blogs!  Cooking blog!  Movie blogs!  Book blogs!  Let-me-tell-you-about-every-single-little-detail-of-my-life blogs!  (I didn't follow any of those.)  And my head began to spin.  Because I couldn't decide where my blog fit in.  Was it, strictly, a period drama blog anymore?  I didn't think it was.  So I set up a poll and asked y'all to help me choose a new name.  "Shelves in the Closet" won the poll, but many of you told me that you preferred the name I already have.

In case you hadn't noticed, I ended up keeping this one.

Why?  Because I like it. That's why.

And because after a year of blogging, after a year of scrambling to fit in, it's hit me like a thunderbolt (a thing that does not exist, by the way.  It is lightning that arrives in bolts.  Also fabric.) that I don't have to fit in.  I don't have to be part of a genre, to squeeze Yet Another Period Drama Blog into a box and market it to the General Public.  I'm blogging about what makes me happy, and if it makes you happy too--well, how swellissimus!  Let's get to know each other!

Now, never fear, I have not become a representative of the International Discover Your Inner Cuckoo Clock Foundation.  I'm not going all "be real! be YOU! don't conform!", don't worry.  I'm just saying that I'm looking forward to this next blogging year with incredible excitement.  Will there be movie reviews?  You betcha.  Will there be tons of period-drama-related stuff?  Of course.  Will there be other things totally unrelated to all that?  Indeed there will.  Is that okay?  Indubitably.

So... here's to another grand and glorious year.  Here's to you, and here's to me. At the shrine of friendship never say die--

--all right, all right, I tried.  I really did try to make it through this post without sticking song lyrics in anywhere.  But I didn't make it.  And you know what?  Bursting into song randomly is what I do.  In my head, and on my blog.  So be it.  Join me, won't you?

 (And though that would be a delightfully fitting way to end this post, I simply can't do so without making record of some of this year's stats.  Because I always consider that sort of thing great fun.)

Summer Header:

Autumn Header: (yes, it doesn't look autumn-ish, but it's Emmer-ish, and that was the theme I chose--and I've been trying to change the background image to match, but it doesn't seem to be working.  I appreciate your patience with the odd color scheme at present!)

Posts: 207 (including this one)
Pageviews: 74,943
Followers: 198
Most Popular Post: Defending Mr. Darcy
Most Popular Traffic Source: Google Images
Most Popular Search Keyword: "jane eyre"
Most Ridiculous Search Keyword: "philip quast caterpillar eyes" (Not kidding on this one.  Now I'm just waiting for someone to arrive here from "colm wilkinson grasshopper nose.")
Movies Reviewed: 18 (see list here)
Books Reviewed: 4 (see classics club list here)
Events: Jane Austen's Birthday, Anne of Green Gables Week, Les Miserables Week (co-hosted with Payton)
Contests: Birthday Cards for Jane Austen, Captioned Pictures, Keep Calm With Jane Austen 
Friendships Formed: too many to count or try to do justice to here!

And as I read over this post once more before publishing it, I'm realizing that it has a sad lack of jokes.  Hmmm.  Pity, that.

--Ooh! I know a joke.  A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, "I forgot to store nuts for winter and now I am dead."  HA! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.

*sits back and twiddles thumbs while waiting for the animal rights activists to foam at the mouth with rage hard to surpass*