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Tag Archives: historical-fiction

Movie Review: True Grit

Based on the book by Charles Portis.

Version: 2010; starring Jeff Bridges; Matt Damon; Domhnall Gleeson

Genre: adventure; classic

Plot Summary: [from goodreads:]  Mattie Ross, 14, from Dardanelle, Arkansas, narrates half a century later, her trip in the winter of 1870s, to avenge the murder of her father. She convinces one-eyed “Rooster” Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshall, to tag along, while she outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten types in her path.”

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

I’ve been wanting to watch this film for a while, but you should know by now I’ve never been up to speed on pop culture.  I have never seen the John Wayne movie made in 1969, so I cannot compare it to that or the book which (as stated) I have not read.

I could immediately see why this story is such a classic.  The plot sounds like one that could easily be written today.  One could also appreciate the detail and attention taken in the production of this movie.  Much of the story’s tone is cold and austere, the characters are often grungy and hardened.  This gave it a believable feel, taking place in a tough atmosphere and time period.

I was struck by such a quick-witted heroine only aged 14 years.  She is forced to grow up far too early and therefore she is mature and capable.  She doesn’t let any scoundrel monkey with her and isn’t shy in standing her ground.  She makes for a very admirable character!  The question isn’t whether she has true grit, but whether others are up to the task of staying faithful to their word even when the trail grows cold.

I wanted to give thought to the choice of background music.  Orchestrated by Carter Burwell, much of the theme delineates from the hymn, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”  At first I wondered why this choice was made.  The sound fits well in the background, but what about that song connects it to the story?  After thinking about it, I realized that although the film is not overtly religious and many of the characters do not recognize God (except through swearing), our young heroine Mattie Ross does come from a God-fearing family.  Mattie is not after personal revenge per se, something the Lord commands us not to seek.  But she is after justice which is a major attribute of God.  After local officials refuse to take correct measures, Maddie pursues her case with a local bounty hunter.  She wisely chooses a man she believes will not be soft on the matter of holding a wrongdoer accountable… Rooster Cogburn.  He isn’t an easy character to deal with, but Mattie is not faint of heart.

It’s a good thing she isn’t timid because there are plenty of gorey scenes that aren’t so pretty.   This isn’t exactly a family-friendly flick, and also contains some amount of swearing.

But overall, I was glad to be able to watch this movie at last and counted it as a positive experience.  I would encourage fans of both the book and the previous film version to give this a try.  No, Bridges isn’t John Wayne, but I believe he made the character all his own.  I especially got a kick out of Matt Damon’s egotistical Mr. LaBoeuf.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2018 in Movie Reviews

 

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Book Review: “A Flickering Light,” by Jane Kirkpatrick

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Genre: Christian fiction; historical fiction; romance; coming of age story

Plot Summary: 15 yr. old Jessie dreams of becoming a photographer in the male dominated era of the turn of the century.  Her family are in poor straights leaving her and her sisters to get work wherever they can in the Midwestern city of Winona.  Jessie is fortunate to find employment with the Bauer portrait studio, and as the years go by she learns much about the business, her talent and capabilities, and about forbidden love.

My Book Review: I’d heard good things about the author Jane Kirkpatrick, so I was interested in reading my first book by her. A Flickering Light is the first in a two-book series called “Portraits of the Heart”.

The tale kept me going because I wanted to find out what would happen next, yet at the same time it had a very slow pace. I started to get bored about half way through because not much of anything new was happening by way of the plot.  However, things started tightening up a bit about 2/3 of the way in and my interest picked up.  I really liked how the book was interspersed with vintage photographs which made me wonder if this was based on a true story.

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Mr. Bauer’s Studio in Winona.

It turns out, it is. Jessie is based on Jane Kirkpatrick’s own grandmother and we get to learn much about her as a young girl and what life was like in the early days of photography.  This escalates the appeal of the book even further.  It is interesting to see how photographers were able to accomplish so much without digital technology or even film.  We even get to ‘witness’ historic firsts in the art.

Another thing I appreciated was the taboo nature of the plot. SPOILER: Our character Jessie falls in love with her married employer (many years her senior) and struggles with what she knows is right and wrong.  We don’t often read of this in a Christian novel, and I think it makes for an interesting study. Jessie and Mr. Bauer don’t start out with wrong intentions.  Instead, a series of innocent events leads to a little more and then over a long period of time things turn into a lot more than they’d planned to.  Thankfully, Jessie comes from a good family who loves her and when they come to a realization of the truth they take it upon themselves to intervene. END OF SPOILER.

I am looking forward to reading the sequel (An Absence So Great). I did look up some of the history behind the real characters, but I would advise anyone else not to because it did create a spoiler for me as to what happens in the second book.  If you can be patient with a quiet, slow-moving story, I think you will appreciate this read.

If you enjoyed this book, I also recommend:

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2018 in Book Reviews

 

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Random Books: Fall’s Hurrahs

And then… 🙂  I went to two more book sales over the weekend and came home with EVEN MORE!

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2018 in Book Shopping

 

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New Beautiful Fall Christian Fiction for 2018!

A few good ones this time around, and excited to see new authors!  I’m sure there would have been a few more beautiful gems to add to my TBR, except for the all the silly Christmas novellas taking up room in the latest CBD catalog.  😦  See the newest edition here.

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Posted by on October 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Review: “A Season of Shadows,” by Paul McCusker

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Genre: Christian fiction; historical fiction; suspense; intrigue; WWII; espionage

Plot Summary: When the rich, beautiful Julie Harris finds herself a widow during the early days of WWII, she decides she needs to find out the truth about her late husband.  Was their marriage a sham ever since they met?  Was he true to her, or did he live a double life?  The only way she can answer these questions is by going undercover herself, as one of America’s first agents of the war.  Working in London, she gets to know a small circle of people who seem to be her friends.  But who can she really trust?

My Book Review: It’s been a long time since I’ve ever read a book by Paul McCusker.  I remember I loved his Passages series when I was a kid (spin-off novels from Adventures in Odyssey, which McCusker helped create).  What would one of his novels for adults be like?  This one grabbed my attention, as espionage always does!

I found that I enjoyed this suspense story very much. Although I suspected the one character all along, I was never quite sure enough and I kept going on the edge of my seat.  Some great plot twists I didn’t see coming, and different love interests for our beautiful heroine that kept me guessing, too.  🙂

But more than that, I really learned a lot about England (esp. London) during the air raid bombings in 1940. I love fiction books that can teach me about a certain era, and this was definitely one of those.  Everything from what civilian daily life was like, how they coped, their attitude during the most difficult of days, and the everyday heroes of the war such as the emergency volunteers, the doctors and nurses, and the priests.  I even learned some things about Churchill.  To confirm all of this, I ended up watching a documentary on Netflix (“Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny”- narrated by Ben Kingsley) that went over the same timeline during which this book is set and I got to hear and see photographs of the very things “Julie” would have witnessed.  I also watched a brief documentary on the first spy training camp the US set up in Canada, where our heroine also would have been sent to.  It made the book feel all the more real and I know it was well researched.

Some drawbacks to the book are that some readers may find it predictable. Sometimes I wanted it to be a tad more cloak and daggerish, but that’s probably just me being unrealistic!  I did find it somewhat unbelievable that Julie would run off to be an agent to spy against the very people her husband supposedly sympathized with, so soon after his death.  That part just didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

But I still enjoyed it, and stayed up late nights trying to finish it in time to send it back to the library. Those are the good ones, aren’t they?  So, if you’re up for burning the midnight oil, I think you’ll like this one!

I also recommend…

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2018 in Book Reviews

 

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Random Books: lots of Christian fiction

I’ve come across quite a few Christian fiction reads in my thrift travels lately.  Here’s my newest stack of random books before I catalog them into my own home library:

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2018 in Book Shopping

 

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Faith Conversations with Nancy LeSourd

I am relatively new to Anita Lustrea’s podcast Faith Conversations, in which she explores different points of view within Christianity.  I have to say that I’m enjoying it, even if I don’t agree with everything that is suggested.  In Episode 106, Anita’s featured guest was Nancy LeSourd– the daughter-in-law of inspirational author Catherine Marshall and granddaughter-in-law of “Christy”.  I found their topics fascinating, as well as Nancy being a heroine in her own right.  The discussion on the spiritual legacies one generation can bless the next with really got me stoked!  I hope you will try the episode out for free on itunes.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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