Reviews Published

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Anne of Green Gables

You know, I've always lived in a big city. And most of the time I love it: the ease of shopping for fresh fruit as well as for Christmas presents, the proximity to the theatre and ballet and top restaurants.

But... deep inside I wonder what it would be like to live on Prince Edward Island. Not the one today, with a car bridge and a museum devoted to Lucy Maud Montgomery, but in that beautiful hundred-years ago island accessible only by ferry or imagination.

People who've lived in small communities tell me it's hateful, particularly if you're a non-conformist individual with ideas, ambitions and a desire to stand out of the crowd. Small communities don't like achievers. Hmmm, come to think of it, that sounds exactly like New Zealand, so perhaps I'm living on my dream island already. If that's the case, I'm loving it! I have access to all the shopping I want (in the nearby Melbourne) and the restaurants (Sydney), and I've experienced my share of being shunned as a tall poppy. Plus, Auckland's weather way beats Canada's snowy winters.

Anyway, I always read the Anne series when I need perspective. It helps me remember to open my eyes and look at the way the moon shines across the bay and listen to the dryads laugh in the trees. It helps me believe that goodwill will conquer small-mindedness every time. And it lets me marvel at how inept novel-writing was a mere century ago.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


At first, I tried to avoid watching the TV series Lost. The reason? I thought it smacked of "Survivor", and I detest all the backstabbing and brown-nosing that (I imagine) must go on in such programs.

Then several friends mentioned the eye-candy in Lost, and I grew curious as to what all the fuss was about. The way they talked, you'd swear Brad, Leo, Matt and Antonio were all starring in the series. So I watched the first 10 minutes of the first episode... and I was hooked.

I admit that the hook is the plot (any budding writer should study it, then follow the lessons learnt - religiously), and that my favourite eye-candy in the series is the gorgeous blue-green-gold-grey-aquamarine-turquoise ocean. But the actors aren't half bad-looking either, and if anybody knows Sawyer's number (the character, not the actor), please let me lay my hot grubby hands on it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A bone, to borrow a cliché

Yep, a bone. To pick. Of contention. Insert your smutty comment here. Whatever.

You see, I've discovered recently that it can be fun to do household chores. There is something surprisingly soothing about folding your children's tiny laundry, putting fresh Nemo bedding on their bunk beds, packing their lunches. Even vacuuming can be fun when you leave it as late as we do and you can actually see a trail of Clean left by the machine among the confetti of the dead leaves and dried up peas on the carpet (she says while listening to the sound of the vacuum cleaner, compliments of her husband).

The point? Think of a book, any book (or movie, or TV series), where one of the characters keeps a well-run household. My examples: Rebecca, The Little House, Desperate Housewives, The Stepford Wives, The Other Woman, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. Chances are, the character turns out to be a villain, or at least a woman with serious psychological issues.

Why is that? Have we sunk so deep into the Executive Girl dream that we cannot imagine a normal woman doing what we've done for millennia without having a powerful (and usually sinister) motive?

Well, how about these for starters: I enjoy gourmet meals, I like clean windows, I love my family?
Nah, it would never fly in a NY Times bestseller.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Glorious 50s

I love the TV programme "Wonder Years". Through a shimmering cloud of nostalgia, the creators managed to portray a childhood world of love, safety, security... and yes, all right, and wonder. Kind of like Pleasantville, but without the issues.

Not that I've experienced the 50s, nor even the 60s (apart from a few months as an infant). I grew up in the 80s, when it was self-evident that a woman is worthless unless she is simultaneously a full time career-climber, a full time home-maker, a party animal and a part-time student. From that point of view, from my point of view, the women in the 50s had it easy: they could spend time with their children, they didn't have paid jobs to stress them out, and they didn't have to lock their front door.

But they got bored, I hear you say? Hah! Show me a modern woman who doesn't get bored in her paid employment.

But they didn't have any money of their own? Well, in today's consumer society, neither do we. All our money goes towards maintaining our take-away lifestyle, and we use up credit to pay for our house cleaners and child minders.

That whole emancipation thing was a mistake, methinks. I'll swap my right to vote for the right to be a 50s woman any time.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hard to please

Hard to please, that's me. Just as I finished complaining that we don't get enough kick-ass heroines, I pick up Janet Evanovich's "Metro Girl". I enjoy (in a mindless way) Janet's Stephanie Plum series, but the main reason I picked up "Metro Girl" was because it was about scuba diving. (Or so I thought. As it turned out, the first scuba dive was outside the narration and the second one took less than a minute and the diver was anchored to a helicopter.)

So anyway, the heroine seems everything I'd requested: she can repair car and boat engines, she goes on rescue missions to get her younger brother out of trouble, she knows how to fist fight and she uses men as eye candy. Despite all that, she's still not the role model I had in mind for modern female readers. She's street-smart but not intelligent. Is intelligence too much to ask for? When has it gone out of fashion?

The book itself holds no tension despite its high stakes: 16 million dollars' worth of gold bars and a bomb that can kill free civilisation. The heroine's life is in constant danger, yet I've had no trouble putting the book down whenever my attention was required elsewhere.

The book is not all bad. I did finish it, after all.