Life is beautiful…

Archive for December 2011

Hello everyone, for the last two days I have been sick – so naturally I read. For quite some time now I’ve been subscribed to a book club called Handtöskuserían (e. handbagseries). The idea is to provide books that modern women would have in their handbags so they are new or new-ish books by non-Icelandic female authors. Isn’t it fabulous to be a part of something like that? Well, I think so…

The language of flowers

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to read the books that I get so more often than not they wind up unread in the bookshelves. Last week (I think) I received the newest addition. The language of flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Instead of putting it straight to the shelf I put it on my nightstand. So… while I waited for my body to get the best of this fever I… well I played Tetris on my computer… but when I got bored of that I grabbed the book and started reading… and I read… and I read… and I read… until I had finished the whole book. It was so charming. I can’t remember a novel that captivated me as much as this one did. I can’t wait to read it again because I know that this is one of the books I’ll see differently each time I read it.

The story is about Victoria, an orphan who just turned 18 years old so she’s being thrown out of “the system”. Every other chapter is about her new life where she tries to live on her own but in between are chapters about her childhood that slowly give the reader more information about the way Victoria functions. While she lived with one of her foster-parents, Elizabeth, she learned to speak the language of flowers. That is… she got to know flowers and the message behind them. The language of flowers was a popular  way of communication in the Victorian era, kind of like a secret code. In the future I’ll definitely keep adding to the fascinating knowledge of flowers I accumulated whilst reading the book. If I am ever unsure what a flower means – I can just look it up in the handy list on the last pages of the book.

Normally I try to point out in my posts exactly what I liked in the novel I am reviewing but it’s hard to know where to start with this one… I just loved everything about it. From the beautifully written and detailed descriptions of everything to the characters I got to understand so well. From the cover (of the Icelandic translation) and the beautiful font used for chapter numbers to the feeling I got from touching the pages of my paperback copies. From the way the book had me in tears at a certain point to the way that I got annoyed with Victoria at a certain point… but the one thing I think I liked the most was the timelessness of the story.

I know that I haven’t done the book justice and probably never could but  I want to say that it is simply beautiful so just read it, you’ll see what I mean. To end this on a reference to the book, if I had to describe it with a flower I would probably pick a Trillium (Skógarlilja) which, according to the book, means “humble beauty”. Just look at it…

Trillium

I recommend this novel for all the romantics out there and just… everyone who can read:) I give it 5 stars and I’m off… to google Vanessa Diffenbaugh and see if she has written anything else for me:)

That’s it for now…

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The Cherry Orchard

As you can see in my previous posts I just love going to the theatre. A theatrical experience almost never fails to thrill me. Last season I went to see 14 plays! But this year, my boyfriend pointed out that I didn’t have time for as many so I only have 5 shows planned for this season. I find it likely that I’ll be able to squeeze some more in my tight schedule… fingers crossed.

A few weeks ago I saw the first play of the season. The play was The Cherry Orchard in Borgarleikhúsið theatre. The play is written by Anton Chekhov, a Russian playwright. The play is really a tragedy but it is performed in a comical way. I know that might sound confusing but there really is no better way of putting it – the plot is tragic while there is a lot of life in the play. The story is about a family that is losing its estate and the old and beautiful cherry orchard that is on it, due to debt and squandering of money. It starts with the return of Madame Lyubov to her home, but she has been abroad for several years. Lyubov is a sad woman that has survived a great loss in her life. Although she is about to lose her home she thinks of herself as rich and loves spending money on beautiful things for herself and her daughters, expensive wine and she also gives money (she doesn’t have) to those in need. Time and time again, mr. Lopakhin tries to help her help herself but she doesn’t listen to him. She is not a bad person, she just doesn’t realize how bad things are or realizes but doesn’t care. Other memorable main characters are her daughters Varya and Anya who have subplotted love-affairs or lack of love affairs. Also the old, and slightly crazy, servant of Madame Lyubov’s brother and the disaster prone clerk, who is never far away. I read somewhere that the characters are all symbolization of different forces in the rise of the middle-class in Europe and while that is an interesting view, I know nothing about the situation in Russia in the beginning of the 20th century so I just enjoyed the story as it was presented for me.

So, what made this experience great? The music in the show played a big part for me. There were three musicians that appeared on stage, the characters did not hear them but in at least one scene they could sence them. The musicians carried their instruments around, accordians, drums and even large bass instruments. The music was kind of… well Russian I guess… and really added a lot to the play. I loved the way the cherry orchard itself sounded when the “wind” blew through them. I did not particularly notice the lighting inside the house but outside it had a pink/purple glow that underlined the beuty of the orchard. The setting and props were beautiful, I especially liked the use of the hall. One thing I found weird was that the room where a most part of the play took part was the old nursery… they even held parties in there… so that’s a bit odd. One thing that I have to mention was the curtains. Instead of the normal velvety curtains of the theatre there were beautiful purple chiffon ones with different sorts of white crocheted lace doilies. They must have taken hours to finish and I heard that the producers asked women to make them and get tickets instead. That is awesome!

Overall a fun show that leaves you with something to think about – I can’t imagine that a single soul left the theatre untouched by the final scene… tsk tsk….  I’d recommend The Cherry Orchard for all adults who are not afraid to try something else than comedy in the theatre. I give it 4 stars.

Thank you for reading this post! I’m currently reading a great novel in which I learn a lot of life and flowers… stay tuned:)

Manden der ikke var morder

Manden der ikke var morder

In November I didn’t have a lot of time to read… or do anything for that matter. I participated in NaNoWriMo where people from around the globe attempt to write a 50.000 word novel in 30 days. How did I do? Well – since you asked – I WON. I am proud to announce that I am a NaNoWriMo winner 2010 and 2011. It wasn’t easy and I had to give up a lot of my interests for this challenge but hopefully sometime, if I keep on practicing, I’ll be able to get one of my novels published.

However, now it is December… a month FILLED with time to read and oh so many new and exciting books by all my favourite authors. In Iceland the two months before Christmas are a heaven for book-lovers since almost every author tries to publish their books on this time of year. There is one newsletter/brochure that is delivered to all homes in Iceland Bókatíðindi which holds information about all these books. For me, when Bókatíðindi arrives… marks the beginning of Christmas. So expect a lot of posts in the following weeks.

I just finished a book that I got for Christmas last year. I know! In Icelandic it’s called Maðurinn sem var ekki morðingi. It’s a Swedish novel by authors Hjorth & Rosenfeldt, and in Swedish it is calles Manden der ikke var morder. I didn’t find an English title for the book but discovered that there was a TV show made after it under the name Det fördolda or Dark Secrets in English. The novel was a debut for the authors who have worked in many years in television. On the cover of the book it claims to be the biggest “bomb” after Stieg Larsson. I thought to myself that this would certainly be a bit of an overstatement and it turned out to be true in my opinion. Stieg Larsson’s are a large shoes to fill.

The story begins with the disappearance of a 16 year old boy who shortly after that is found dead. To investigate the crime the local police calls in a team of experts who try to find clues about what went on. Some of the characters are rather interesting, especially Sebastian Bergman, a depressed crime psychologist who joins in on the investigation for personal reasons but turns out to help a lot more than he wanted to. I thought the novel had some symptoms of a “First novel” for example the authors are trying really hard to bring in a subplot where Bergman is trying to find his long lost lovechild and it doesn’t really flow in the story. In the end it all comes together though so it’s not all bad but it is a bit awkward. Also some of the subplots aren’t finished. The reason for this might be that the novel is supposed to be the first novel in a series so maybe the authors are trying to make a connection to a later novel in the series.

The style of the novel is rather interesting. The use of language was great and the voice of the characters were believable. But the switching between perspectives was  a bit confusing. When I learned that the authors had worked in television I knew why. Sometimes I found it hard to know in which characters mind I was. I was maybe reading Sebastian’s thoughts and turned a page and all of the sudden, without a warning or a break of any kind, I was in the murderers head. In a movie or a TV show this wouldn’t be a problem because I would see/hear who was speaking (maybe to himself) but in the novel it sometimes got confusing.

The best part of the book was the ending. It got exciting and didn’t fail to surprise me and I closed the book happily, satisfied with a job well done, finishing another book. Although I cannot agree that the novel was as good as Larsson’s novels, it was a fun read and I would recommend it to everyone that loves crime novels and especially those who love Nordic crime novels. I give it 3.5 stars.

My next post will be on a play I saw a couple of weeks ago – stay tuned 🙂