Love, love, love

tequiero

For some reason, a bunch of books I’ve read recently has been about love. So in an attempt to hack off a chunk of the reading backlog, this post will tackle four books that revolve around this theme, namely: Aspects of Love by David Garnett; Oliver’s Story by Erich Segal; Forever by Judy Blume; and Shakespeare in Love: The Love Poetry of William Shakespeare (books # 91-94 of 2009).

aspectsAspects of Love is the novella on which the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same title is based. I’ve never seen the musical, but I remember reading about it when it was staged by a local production here in the Philippines, so I was curious about the book.

Aspects of Love deals with different forms of love, involving the web of relationships that involve the sultry actress Rose Vibert; her young admirer Alexis Dillingham; his uncle, the wealthy gentleman George Dillingham; George’s mistress, the fiery artist Giuletta Trappani; and Rose and George’s daughter, Jenny.

It was a quick read for me, but I wasn’t fully invested in it because I felt that it was merely narrating a story and didn’t really break the surface of what the characters were supposedly feeling. It was hard to empathize with the characters because the brevity of the novella (which spans 17 years) didn’t really give you much to work with, and it really reads as if it were meant for another medium, such as the stage, or even film.

I imagine it works better as a musical, as the characters can break out into song and act out their feelings. My officemates seem to love it though, as the book is currently making the rounds at work.

The next two books are two I’ve wanted to read for some time now, both mooched from Tina.

Continue reading “Love, love, love”

Soliloquies

I count Shakespeare as one of my rites of passage while I was growing up.

In the grade school I attended, the highlight of our 6th grade year was our theater season — a full quarter of our school year was devoted to putting up a play production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s been a tradition for the 6th graders for so long that the school has original arrangements for songs (e.g. Philomel) in the play, as well as a full wardrobe of medieval costumes — bloomers and all — for the annual production.Too bad I don’t have any photos that survived, but I played Snout the bellows-mender / The Wall of Pyramus and Thisbe. It was an awkward stage — I’d always wanted to get cast as Puck since the first time I watched the play onstage back in first grade, but I’d hit a growth spurt in fifth grade (if you can call it that; obviously it wasn’t much of a spurt), so I was taller than everyone else who was vying for the part. I also read for Hermia but I was probably snorting my way through the dialogue so they didn’t cast me there so I ended up as one of the mechanicals who were putting on a play for Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding.

This trip down memory lane was prompted by book #47 for 2009 (also book #8 for the Diversity Challenge, European), To Be or Not to Be: Shakespeare’s Soliloquies edited by Michael Kerrigan.

I bought the book on a whim at Book Sale (where else can I afford to buy books on a whim?) for P40, because it was brand new and I liked the cover design.

The introduction provides great insight into the nature of the soliloquy:

“Although set back from the main dramatic narrative, Shakespeare’s soliloquies are generally anything but interludes. Nowhere do we come closer to the centre of things than in those moments in which characters speak when alone, or unaware of being overheard — in coversation, as it were, with themselves and with their audience…

…The great soliloquies may not make much noise but they are often show-stoppers in the more literal sense that they appear to suspend all normal narrative logic, reaching out instead for universalities that transcend any immediate dramatic setting.”

The book contains over 80 soliloquies from Shakespeare’s various plays, organized by play and indexed by first line.

I am disappointed that only one from AMND is included and it is Helena’s (How happy some o’er other some can be); I think there were many other notable ones from the play, from Oberon or even from Bottom. Oh well. I really need to get a good edition of that play.

Aside from AMND, the only other Shakespearean plays I’ve read in their entirety are Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice, so I liked how this book functions as a sampler of the more popular plays.

I liked this one by Orlando in “As You Like It”:

Hang there, my verse, in witness of my love,
And thou, thrice-crowned queen of night, survey
With thy chaste eye, from the pale sphere above,
Thy huntress’ name that my full life doth sway.
O Rosalind, these trees shall be my books,
And in their barks my thoughts I’ll character,
That every eye which in this forest looks
Shall see thy virtue witness’d every where.
Run, run, Orlando, carve on every tree
The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she.

It’s sweet, how Orlando wants to carve Rosalind’s name in every tree in the forest :D

***
My copy: mass market paperback, P40 at Book Sale

My rating: 4/5 stars

My Father Had A Daughter by Grace Tiffany

My Father Had A Daughter is a wonderfully inventive fictionalized memoir of Judith, William Shakespeare’s daughter.

Since they were young, Judith and her twin brother Hamnet, have been in awe of their father, who told them stories about fairy queens and the playhouses in London. Judith and Hamnet are inseparable, and have a world no one else understands (Hamnet and Judy playing A Midsummer Nights’ dream evoked memories of our 6th grade play in St. Scho)… But tragedy strikes as Hamnet accidentally drowns In a fantastic game Judith creates out of her wild imagination, and Judith is stricken with grief.

One day, Judith uncovers a new play in her father’s wastepapers — Twelfth Night, which to her horror uses her grief as a springboard for the plot. Enraged, Judith decides to storm off to London to sabotage her father’s play, under the guise of street urchin Castor Popworthy, and she rediscovers her theatrical self.

I liked this book because it was charming, and Judith Shakespeare seemed to really come to life. The earlier parts of the book, when Hamnet was still alive, reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale and its concept of “twin-ness,” and how a twin is never the same once “untwinned.”

The highlight of the novel is when the spunky Judith becomes a girl acting as a boy acting as a girl right under her father’s nose — The whole London adventure was hilarious!

It’s also great how Judith’s relationship with her parents evolved, how she gained respect and affection for her mother, and how her relationship with her father evolved from hero worship, to disillusion, to finally, an understanding of her father’s character.

***
My copy: a well-worn trade paperback bought at Book Sale (P70)

My rating: 4/5 stars

photo courtesy of Barnes and Noble (http://images.barnesandnoble.com/images/18690000/18696089.JPG)

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