Review of Book, Once Upon a Wedding, by A.N. Hopps

This book, Once Upon A Wedding, is an emotion-packed ride from beginning to end.   A.N. Hopps makes you laugh, cry and lust after her characters in her first novel.  But, the most burdensome emotion is the constant frustration of not being able to strangle Norma Jean.

The author’s voice is natural and plain-speaking, the way real people talk.  I like the way she doesn’t over-detail the descriptions of her characters, leaving us to use our own imaginations to envision them.  You can feel the pauses, embarrassments, tension, and need to murder.  I certainly used my imagination.

Everyone has known someone like Norma Jean, the “friend” who tries to control you and constantly puts you down.  Edith, the “side-kick” who bowed to the “queen’s” wishes most of her school years.  Although Edith eventually became her own woman, she was still haunted by Norma Jean’s influence over her.

I hated to put the book down between readings to carry on my daily commitments.  A.N. Hopps has written a true romance in every sense of the word.  And, the author has done it in such a way that anyone could put themselves into the story, whether as one of the male or female characters.  I plan on reading it again.

Publisher:  Xlibris Corporation.  © A.N. Hopps 2009.

Review written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

 

 

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Review of book, Baltimore: A Not So Serious History, by Letitia Stockett

Ms. Stockett, a Baltimore teacher in 1926, was successful at giving a cultural view of how Baltimore, Maryland came into existence in her book, Baltimore: A Not So Serious History, published in 1997 by Johns Hopkins University Press.   The book is rich in imagery and detail.  Her tour of the Baltimore region is presented in flashbacks by neighborhoods and street intersections.

She began on Charles Street at Mount Vernon Place and wrote of specific historic details covering  the years 1500 to 1900.  When she was finished with an intersection or neighborhood, she went on methodically to the next.  There was a great deal of overlapping and repetition which I appreciated.  This helped to connect different events and people.

What I really liked was Ms. Stockett’s style of telling the story as if it were hot news or local gossip—the kind of telling where you wished you were a fly on the wall to be able to hear it for yourself.

I loved her anecdotes about real Baltimore citizens’ and visitors’ personal relationships and lives.  Hetty Cary was a famous female Confederate spy.  The Peabody family’s original name was Boadie and they were from Ireland (even Ms. Stockett admitted the lineage from the Celtic “wild woman”, Boadicea, was questionable).  Betsy Patterson, Baltimorean, married Jerome Bonaparte without Napoleon’s permission, and was refused entrance to France in her pregnant condition.  John Wilkes Booth, assassin of President Lincoln, had a proud family lineage in Baltimore.  Russia requested and got American engineers to build railroads for the Czar.  Fires, riots, inventions, songs, art, and yellow fever bouts were also detailed.

The other thing I liked was her imagery of how the region looked from trees like the locust “with their heavy ivory perfume” to the origin of the Jones Falls.  But, there were also times when you couldn’t tell if the quotes were hers or someone else’s.  There was mention also of terms and names that were left unexplained, as if she assumed that you knew those things.  In Ms. Stockett’s opinion, something historic always had to be destroyed for progress to come.

However, no other religion except Christian (in a time of freedom of religion) or any other race except white accomplished anything by Ms. Stockett’s account.  Now she was a feminist when it came to women’s accomplishments during and after women’s “days of their servitude” as eye candy and property, otherwise there is nothing politically correct about Ms. Stockett’s book.

She had definite opinions of races and ethnic groups in this 1997 edition, which I assume reflected the attitudes of her day.   American Indians attacked Baltimore or were represented as wooden Indians in front of tobacco stores.  African Americans yelled “deviled crabs” at Lexington Market or were represented as wooden hitching posts for horses.  I’m sure I’m fair in saying that minorities were accorded perhaps 10 phrases in the whole book, mostly derogatory.    I would be interested in reading her original book.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

 

Review of movie Belle de Jour

Catherine Deneuve is a French actress who has played in a lot of R-rated movies.   The movie, Belle de Jour, is French and subtitled in English.   She usually played one of the aloof, cool, mysterious blondes like Alfred Hitchcock’s Grace Kelly or Tipi Hedron.

In Belle de Jour, Catherine’s character, Belle ne’ Severine, married a successful surgeon, but constantly fantasized about sex.   Catherine’s character acted frigid and her husband (Jean Sorel) didn’t force the issue.   What would have made the movie more interesting was if it had been explained why she didn’t desire her new “Prince Charming”-like wealthy doctor husband.   Thus, the marriage was never consummated.

But, she got hired at a local brothel where she gave up her treasure to diverse strange men and was quite happy during the day while her husband was at work.   The movie ends in near-tragedy, but not in the way you would think.  Individuals can’t necessarily live out every fantasy they can think up.  But, I liked the movie because I like adult fantasy movies, and I don’t remember seeing any nudity.

Catherine Deneuve played in a vampire movie that I liked called The Hunger, with David Bowie who acted as well as sang the theme song of the movie.   Of her movies that I have seen, the one I didn’t like was the half of the musical, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, that I watched.

“Belle de Jour Author [Dr.] Brooke Magnanti Insists She was a Call Girl”, https://www.telegraph.co.uk. The doctor had a blog before she wrote the book and had the successful television show, “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” produced.

On January 10, 2018, www.usatoday.com issued a video about Catherine Deneuve and 100 other women, including female writers, performers, and academicians, who put an article in the French publication Lamonde, denouncing the #MeToo movement as puritanical and fueled by hatred of men, following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.    She classified what happened to the women as flirting.

But, Catherine, there is a huge difference between flirting, molestation, and rape.   I am sure there are men supporting the #MeToo movement, also.   Catherine Deneuve has worked with various directors such as Francois Truffaut, Luis Bunuel, and Roman Polanski.   And, remember, Roman Polanski fled the United States in 1978 because he was wanted for rape.   Instead of “Where’s Waldo?”, officials should be searching for Roman.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin