What I’m (just done) reading/watching now: Cranford & Shakespeare Retold

Cranford is one those book places you hate to leave.

Which is a little surprising, since so little actually happens there and what does happen moves as slowly as elderberry jam.

The book reminded me of “Quite a Year for Plums,” which is one of the best American “novels” I’ve read. Like Plums, Cranford is sort of a series of short stories that string together and do add up to something in the end, although these is cause to doubt that they ever will.

As for the plot, it’s a little like “Keeping Up Appearances,” except in this case it’s a whole Victorian village of Mrs. Buckets.

I understand this was a big on hit on Masterpiece Theatre recently. I can believe it.

I’m currently trying to read “Udolfo.” I had downloaded it once before, but was inspired to read it by the heroine of Northanger Abbey. Apparently she’s got a better brain than I do, because I can’t cut through the purple prose.

As for the TV, we’ve just finished three episodes of Shakespeare Retold.

Cracking modern settings, dialogue and direction. Some of our favorite BBC actors. And Shakespeare’s plots, of course. It’s gold.

The shrew in Taming of the Shrew is an incredibly angry member of parliament. Much Ado About Nothing is about the cast and crew of a local  TV news show and it makes great use of cell phones, txt messages and other modern contrivances.

We’ve got Macbeth left. It’s about an “ambition chef.” I guess we’ll find out what that means…

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5 Responses

  1. Ooooh. I loved Shakepeare ReTold. Macbeth was cree-py! And brilliant. I think I really understood his utter downfall and destruction for the first time in years of knowing that play. And the “witches”–I won’t spoil it, but again, brilliant.

    The Shrew was hilarious, and I tend not to like that one. When I think of the “wedding day” I’m wincing and cracking up all over again.

  2. Wow. Just watched Macbeth and it knocked us out. Yes, this telling makes it make sense and makes it believable and makes Macbeth into a real person.

    I’ve watched lots of Shakespeare-related movies, but I think these have raised my estimation of the man more than anything.

  3. Just ducking back in to say that you might also like the TV series Slings and Arrows, about a Canadian theater company that is staging Shakespeare, of course. It’s very funny and very well-acted and offers yet more twists on our favorite bard. It’s on Netflix and Amazon, I believe.

  4. We loved Slings and Arrows! All three seasons!

    In a similar concept, the movie A Midwinter’s Tale. (I think that’s the name. The title is purposefully confusing….)

  5. On the subject of Cranford…
    I still haven’t seen the Masterpiece Theater Judi Dench version, but I read a synopsis of it that seemed to have nothing to do with the book. Maybe it was just a bad synopsis.

    Also Judi Dench seems to have been miscast, but perhaps she rose to the challenge of playing the meek sister instead of the domineering one.

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