The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society – I feel like if you want to have read this book, you’ve already read this book? It was made into a lovely little movie from Netflix a couple of years ago; the movie necessarily reduces the number of characters and gives the main character, Juliet, a more solid romance with the American, Mark, whose job changes from publisher (in the book) to army officer (in the movie).
But both the movie and the book capture a post-WWII time of getting your life back together, wrapped, of course, in romance because that’s how stories are told. It explores what the new normal looks like once the Germans are gone, once you’ve accepted that there are people you love who aren’t coming back, once your life feels less precarious. And that’s relevant: there is light at the end of the tunnel from this pandemic, and who knows what that means for how our lives have changed. There are people we love who have gone, governments have mismanaged things, and who knows what safe even means.
We are changed. How do we make it through to find our new normal? The answer in the book is time, being gentle with yourself, remembering who you are, figuring out what you want now, instead of what you wanted before the calamity.
You can read The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society just for the romance and friendship and it’s still a good story. But you can also use it, if you like, to remind yourself that coming out of the pandemic means that things are going to change.
The Unlikely Philosophy of Joe Versus the Volcano. I stumbled across Joe Versus the Volcano on television this weekend and promptly re-fell in love with it. The aesthetics! Meg Ryan playing three different characters! Tom Hanks when he was still being goofy in movies! The weirdness of it! This movie is a delight – but polarizing. My husband, for example, does not enjoy this one. I think he’s wrong.
Seduction isn’t about Howard Hughes. I mean, it is, in that he’s the framing device to talk about twentieth century Hollywood, but Seduction is really about all the ways that women were screwed over in the Hollywood machine, from the Silent Era of the 1920s, into the beginnings of television in the 1950s.
At the beginning, it’s about how women started with more equality in Hollywood than you might think, both behind and in front of the camera, but men edged them out of the business. It’s about how women were seen only as vehicles for men’s emotional arcs or as prizes to be won in the stories that Hollywood was telling. It’s about how men would limit actresses’ availability or undermine them or keep them as actresses when they really wanted to be something else.
If you’re a fan of You Must Remember This (a podcast which is on potentially permanent hiatus), I would highly recommend Seduction, especially in audiobook form. It was like listening to a very long podcast episode (or one of her series of episodes), and I enjoyed it. Even as it was making me angry.
What’s it about?
Posting yesterday about the Mitford sisters and today about Scandals of Classic Hollywood may out me as liking celebrity gossip – as long as it’s from 80 years ago. Anne Helen Petersen is a former media studies professor who specializes in how celebrities use the media to shape their images (she writes for Buzzfeed now). Scandals is a series of essays about movie stars and their images and real life; it started as a series on Hairpin. Everyone quickly realized that it was awesome, and it turned into a book.
Why should you read it?
Because you live in a modern society where much information comes through some form of media. Because you want to know how the media chooses which information to share and which to hide and why. Because, thanks to social networking, we all craft an image of ourselves online – what information are you choosing to share about yourself? Why? Also, because gossip is fun.