Book: The Lost Tudor Princess- The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas

*I received a free copy of this ebook through netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

(I am SO late in writing up this review).

I requested The Lost Tudor Princess thinking I was requesting a historical fiction of Lady Margaret Douglas. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. It was non-fiction. I was surprised as I don’t have any non fiction in my categories, but I decided to read it. Honestly, I probably should read more non-fiction.

lost-tudor-princessThis is a true biography of the life of Margaret Douglas, niece to Henry VIII and cousin to Queen Elizabeth I. It describes Margaret’s life in detail, to the circumstances surrounding her birth, her long life, and to the lives of her children as well. Margaret was an interesting woman, and walked a very fine line between a tumultuous political time.

I’m fairly familiar with the history of Henry VIII and Elizabeth’s long road to power, through the brief reign of her brother and bloody reign of her sister. Despite my knowledge of the history and familiarity with some of the more famous figures of the time, I had never heard about Margaret Douglas. I was really intrigued by her life and impressed by her. She lived through a lot, including imprisonment (multiple times), the death of her parents and uncle, the death of her cousins (Edward and Mary), the death of her son, and then the death of her husband.

The problem I had with the book is how very dry it was. I understand it was non fiction and a biography. It almost read like an academic biography with how extremely detailed it was. But it’s extreme detail also made it very difficult for me to get through. It would give names of the various people involved in Margaret’s life, and then refer to them as their title rather than their name. This ended up being very confusing as titles were often changing. I wish there had been a guide to the key people mentioned in the book. Between all the political ties and servants, especially with all the people Margaret Douglas corresponded with through letters, it was difficult to keep track of everyone. I often had to refer to the family time line or the annotated notes in the back, but my ebook links were off and didn’t take me to the specific page. Halfway through I decided to give up reading the notes.

Despite Margaret being a fascinating person in history, I have to give this a 2 out of 5 stars. Between the cumbersome ebook format, lack of of who’s who section, and the incredibly dry writing, it was a difficult read for me.However, I felt like I learned a lot.

On another note, I learned something about myself. I always tend to romanticize the Elizabethan era time. I blame Shakespeare. But I think this book helped me realize how terrible of a Lady I would be. Margaret was incredibly cunning and very ambitious. I am not the least bit ambitious or competitive, so I probably would not have fared well. I would have ended up like poor Lady Jane and got myself beheaded.

 

 

Eat Pray Love

I initially wasn’t very interested in reading Eat Pray Love. I had a friend who raved about it, but I’m usually not into self discovery, self help non-fiction. When the movie came out, I decided to check it out. I was slightly more interested to see the visual interpretation. It’s a very non-committal way to see if a book sucks before investing in it. After the movie, I obviously decided to give the book a chance.

Eat Pray Love (2010). Starring Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, and Richard Jenkins. Directed by Ryan Murphy. 133 minutes. $19.99.

I admit that I didn’t have high expectations for the movie. The critic reviews were sub-par and I’m not a big Julia Roberts fan. However, I was pleasantly surprise. The movie follows the true story of writer Elizabeth Gilbert who decides to travel for a year, after a crushing divorce and debilitating rebound relationship. She starts with Italy which is purely about pleasure with the food and the Italian language (EAT). She goes to India for her spiritual journey at an Ashram (PRAY). Her last stop in Indonesia brings her to a shaman in Bali, who she had met a couple years previously and who asked her to come back. However, she also unexpectedly finds love (LOVE).

The movie was visually beautiful as it went through every location she traveled. Italy’s art, architecture, and food. Bali’s tropic, exotic paradise. India was probably the least visually stunning but that’s because she’s at an Ashram. I understood the journey that Julia Roberts’ character was on. It reminded me of my own world traveling adventures and inspired me to want to travel again. The only scene that was odd was the flashback/day dream of her wedding day with her husband and the two of them discussing their failed marriage. Although I understood her need for closure, the scene was awkward. I wish I could just imagine a conversation that vividly and receive closure that easily.

I also decided that I love Javier Bardem. I actually never had seen him in anything before (or if I had, it didn’t make much of an impact). His character suits the exotic feeling of Bali and the surprise of finding romance between the two of them. Julia and Javier also had really good chemistry together and I believed the romance. Overall, I would rate the movie 4 out of 5 for the visual beauty of Italy and Bali with the sexiness of Javier Bardem.

After the movie, I decided I wanted to read the book. I think what I found fascinating about the movie was that it was based on a true story. When the movie was enjoyable, I decided that I wanted to know the rest of the story.

Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat Pray Love (2006). 352 pages. Viking Adult. $24.95 (hardcover)

The book filled in all the pieces that the movie was missing. One of the big differences was the movie showed the failing of her marriage and rebound relationship. In the book, those scenes were interspersed with her travels as she explained why she was on a journey. I understood why she structured the book that way (Eat, Pray, Love. Backstory isn’t included in those 3 things), but it cut down her Italy section a lot (which is the only place I would travel to out of the 3 places she went to).

Also, India was much more boring in the book. She discussed meditation and enlightenment which was an interesting topic, but it was hard to keep my interest for over 100 pages. Bali was more fantastic. Overall, it was interesting and inspiring. It really made me miss traveling.

I really liked that it was a true story. That it ended with love like a fictional story would. That she found love when she least expected it (so much like life).

I felt that the movie was a decent visual interpretation of the book. And Javier Bardem fit his character so well in the book, that I pictured Javier in my head. If you enjoyed the movie, you should definitely read the book. If you didn’t enjoy the movie, I would still think you need to read the book. because the book is different enough that you might be able to appreciate the journey she is on more than you would appreciate the movie of it.

In a surprising twist, I would also rate the book a 4 out of 5. I really enjoyed the book, but would have preferred to have more Italy, less flashback, and less India.

The Blind Side

(Sorry, I was going to post this a week ago. But work and life got in the way. Better late than never).

During my brief stint at Border’s, the movie-tie in version of The Blind Side were flying off the shelves. I had heard how great the movie was, but when I looked at the description of the book it sounded…boring. The online description made it sound like it was all about the evolution of football and not necessarily the story of Michael Oher. I decided that the book was not worth my time. So I watched the movie instead.

The Blind Side (2009). Starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, and Kathy Bates. Directed by John Lee Hancock. 129 min. $29.98

For those who don’t know the story (although it seems like everyone saw the movie before I did), it follows the life of Michael Oher plucked from Memphis poverty and becoming an all-star left tackle for the NFL. The movie starts during his life as a high school teenager. He manages to enroll in a rich, white, Christian school where the coach salivates over Michael’s vast size and athletic ability. He meets Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the typical rich, Christian, suburban Memphis family who eventually begin to care for Michael and adopt him into their family.

The movie was fantastic. It was a typical inspirational, heart-warming movie. Some of the scenes were not only touching but funny. Leigh Anne’s character was sassy but with a caring heart for those around her. Sandra Bullock nailed the role and made it completely believable. There was moments when the movie dragged a little bit, but you cared so much for the characters that it didn’t matter too much. I absolutely adore Sandra Bullock and was excited to see the movie that garnered her Oscar win. Although the kid who played Michael was decent, Sandra stole the show. Tim McGraw* played the submissive role of Sean Tuohy. I easily give the movie a rating of 5/5.

I loved the movie so much that I decided to take another look at the book. On closer inspection, it wasn’t as much about football as I originally thought. So I took a trip to my library to check it out.

Lewis, Michael. The Blind Side (2008). 288 pages. Norton. $13.95.

The book did end up being A LOT about football. I will warn you ahead of time that if you don’t know the basics of the game, you will be completely lost (or at least skip almost half the book). I happen to be a rare species of females who understand football very well.** The football history is mixed in with the narrative of Michael Oher’s story. There is a lot about how football has evolved with players and coaches that have changed the game over the years, especially in the evolution of the left tackle position Michael plays. Despite a lot of football talk, there was a detailed account of the story surrounding  Michael Oher and the Tuohy family.

I was pleasantly surprised that the movie very closely resembled the true story of the book. I feel that movies based on a true story rarely accurately portray the true events. This is not the case with this movie. Although the time line was a little different in how some things happened, most of the events related in the movie did happen to some degree. There were several quoted lines in the book from the real people that were written into the movie word for word for their characters.

The only real difference was about Sean Tuohy. The movie mostly depicts the relationship between Leigh Anne and Michael (mother-son), and Sean is seen as just supporting whatever she does and rarely doing anything himself. The book relates a lot of what Sean did for Michael (the first one to meet him and introduce him to his family, found a way to replace his ‘F’s with ‘A’s to get into college). Although I liked the movie as it was, I wish Sean’s character would have been a little more proactive. I felt it was relevant to how this family deeply cared for Michael, including the Tuohy children, Collins and SJ.

I think what impressed me most about this novel was the detail. Michael Lewis did A LOT of research to make this book. There were hundreds of football statistics, and thousands of quoted lines from people ranging from NFL football coaches to the gang-bangers who lived in Michael’s neighborhood to the Tuohy family. It’s hard enough to write a novel from your imagination, much less a book based on a true story that required so much research into football and the lives of the Tuohy family and Michael.

Despite the football lectures, Michael Lewis wrote the story well. And it is definitely a story worth telling. I rate the book 4/5.


*I did not even recognize Tim McGraw till weeks after when my roommate mentioned he was in the movie. I think it was the lack of the cowboy hat. I haven’t decided if not realizing who he really was is actually a sign of his superb acting ability.

**My father had a daughter for his only child and I lived in a one TV household. Consequently, I was stuck watching football on Sundays. I figured I might as well learn how the game is played or die at an early age from boredom. I obviously chose the former.

Marley & Me

Grogan, John. Marley & Me (2005). 291 pages. William Morrow & Co., Inc. $21.95

This was one of the rare cases where I actually saw the movie before I read the book. I didn’t intend to read the book, but after I saw the movie I decided that I wanted to see how the book differed. Especially since that is something that I enjoy doing (if it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t bother with this blog). Although I saw the movie first, I will start with the book.

The book chronicles the life of John Grogan, his family, and their dog Marley. The book is not one cohesive novel as it is non-fiction and based on John’s columns when he wrote with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  John’s book starts with him and his wife Jennifer, just married, recently moved to Florida, and deciding to own a dog. Strong, powerful, destructive of property, and terrified by thunderstorms, the golden lab Marley turns out to be quite a handful.  However, he makes up for it in his abundance of love and devotion to his owners.

The novel follows the life of Marley through being kicked out of obedience school, protecting his family in a crisis, and a brief stint as a movie star, while the Grogans live through a miscarriage, the birth of their three children, and moving to Pennsylvania.

I’m not much of a die hard dog lover or pet/animal person in general, but the book was heartwarming. It’s a simple light-hearted read written to make you laugh and cry a little (even though I already know what happens in the end).*

The writing is simple and straight-forward. The story is cute with something everyone can relate to, owning a pet no one else will love. I rate it a 3.5/5.

Marley & Me (2008). PG. Starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. Directed by David Frankel. 115 min. $29.98.

The book translates very well into the movie. Most of the scenes in the movie are directly from the book, such as the obedience school, Marley trying to escape out of the car on their way for a  ‘snip, snip’ vet appointment, and swallowing the gold diamond necklace. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston basically play themselves, and Marley the dog is just as crazy as ever.

The only thing about the movie that was different was a sideline to the story about John dreaming of being a big time news reporter, instead of becoming a family man and columnist. John has a friend who works at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel who becomes a hard-hitting news reporter, and John seems to envy him a little of this. There is nothing of this mentioned at all in the book, and I’m not sure if it was true of John’s life. It seemed sweet that he chose the better life than his thrill-seeking friend, but it seemed unnecessary in the plot of the movie and would have been better without it.

Overall, I actually preferred the movie. The movie paced well over the years it depicted in Marley’s life and it was a cute, simple story (did I mention heartwarming?). I rate it a 4/5.

I am willing to admit that I might like the movie a little bit better because I saw it first. However, I think the story translates better as a visual one opposed to the written book. I enjoyed seeing Marley’s crazy antics more than reading about them. I think Marley’s good intentions and lovable nature through his terrible behavior is better suited to film. Also, I would rather watch the movie again then read the book.


*If you haven’t noticed yet, I tend to cry. A lot.