Staff DVD Review

Disney’s new live action reboot of “Dumbo” is fun for the whole family, but I feel it lacks some of the key elements that deemed it a “classic.” Some of the parts from the original have been edited out to make it more appropriate for modern times, which is great, but I think deviating from the original storyline took away from the film as opposed to adding to it. All in all, it was a great film, but the original animated version from 1941 will always be THE classic. – Children’s Room Staff

Staff Review

Head-On: Stories of Alopecia
Editor: Deeann Callis Graham

If you know me, you know I am bald as the day I was born. I have Alopecia. I would wager money that most people have never even heard of Alopecia.  Sure you can Google the term and read about the disease but no website or pamphlet truly tells you what the diagnosis means and how it affects two percent of the population, emotionally. Well, enter Head-On: Stories of Alopecia. I sure wish this book were around during my initial diagnosis. The book is a collection of over seventy stories written by people of all ages who have had or have Alopecia. This book really covers it all. I strongly recommend reading this if you or someone you know has just be diagnosed with Alopecia. – Kristin A.

Staff Review

The Island of Sea Women
By Lisa See
Read by Jennifer Lim

I LOVED this audiobook.  The story is fascinating and the reader is proficient in portraying all the characters.

On the Island of Jeju, south of South Korea, East of China, and West of Japan, lives a unique culture where women dominate – they do dangerous work and the men stay home and take care of the babies and children.

Mi-ja and Young-sook are two friends whose lives are tested by the outside influences from the Japanese colonialism of the 1930’s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the challenges of our modern world.

The women free-dive in bitterly cold waters wearing only thin white cotton wrapped around their bodies and heads. They carry weighted nets to hold their finds of edible sea creatures.  One diver is almost killed by an octopus and another one drowns while hunting for abalone.

I love a good sense of place, and this book does it.  And if you like historical novels, the unforgiving details of the domination and wars that affected this island are beyond imaginable.

I’m intrigued how Young-sook worked so hard to provide for her family. The haenueo are incredible women who look out for one another and forge lifetime friendships. – Deb

Staff Review


The Engagements
by J. Courtney Sullivan

I was recently given a copy of The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan which was published in 2013. I was aware of her novels but had yet to read any of them.

Tucked in between its pages the previous reader had left a clipping from The Boston Globe featuring an interview with the author about the book. I purposely put it aside not wanting it to influence my reading of it in any way. 

At the center of this fictional story the main character is based on the real life of Frances Gerety, a copywriter for a Philadelphia adverting agency beginning in the 1940’s who was assigned to the agency’s biggest account, DeBeers Jewelers.  As the book travels over the decades, the author explores the lives of four people, some of whom experienced engagements, some not, always returning to Frances and the factual history of the DeBeers marketing strategy to promote diamond rings which began with the engagement ring. 

I’m not a fan of historical fiction and the tool of taking real people and using them as characters. I find it a gimmick – I’m always wondering what was true, what was created by the author and how unfair it is the person who is no longer alive to tell their story.  However after finishing the book, I was grateful to learn that Ms. Sullivan did a great deal of research, and more importantly, had had lengthy interviews with former colleagues and friends of Frances; I felt confident that she, a women ahead of her time was presented accurately and would appreciate her story being told.

Ms. Sullivan is often lauded for her developed and drawn out characters. At times I found the characters too developed, leaving little to the reader’s imagination; some of the characterizations bordered on being one dimensional and stereotypical. For me the most interesting character was not the fictional ones but was Frances.

After a handful of chapters and not feeling overly enamored with the story I pulled out the interview and discovered that there would eventually be a connection linking the individual characters. Armed with this nugget, the amateur sleuth in me resumed reading with a new curiosity to figure it out. I’m glad I finished the book.  I’m grateful to Ms. Sullivan for sharing the life of Frances Gerety, a woman whose work in a once male dominated industry contributed immeasurably to the success of DeBeers. We need more stories which reveal and acknowledged the ground breaking contributions of such women. ~ Nina Murphy 

Staff Book Review

We all know Bristol, Rhode Island is super special and so are all the people who live here. What better way to pay tribute to these people than to feature them in a book?! Nadalin introduces you to the many key players past and present – founders, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and my favorite – librarians!!  If you can’t make it to the library to borrow the book, you might be pleasantly surprised to know it is available in eBook format as well! I recommend this for anyone new to Bristol! It will give you a nice introduction to our lovely little town. If you already live here, do pick it up. It is enjoyable! – Kristin

 

Staff DVD Review

The Heiress (DVD)
Paramount 1949

Based on the 1947 Broadway stage play by the same name, which in turn, was based on the 1880 Henry James novel “Washington Square.” The movie, set in 1849 New York, follows Catherine Slooper, (Olivia De Havilland) daughter of a prominent New York City surgeon, (Ralph Richardson) who blames his daughter for the death of his wife; who died in childbirth. Catherine, a plain, overly shy, awkward young woman is pursued and courted by Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift), a near-do well forutne hunter, who jilts her on the very evening they were to elope, when he learnes her father is planning to dis-inherit her.

Years later, he unexpectedly returns and this time she turns the tables on him, which dooms her to a life of comfortable yet lonely spinsterhood. Her wealth was a motivinating factor but, did Morris actually have legitimate feelings for Catherine? Watch the movie and you decide!

Henry James used a contemporary, real life scandal on which he based his novel.

 

– Rei B

Staff Book Review

 

   I thought for August it might be fun to air my opinion on what is considered great literature.  George Eliot is one of the giants of Victorian Literature.  Her novels are as giant as her reputation, and in my opinion as  dull and ponderous with a few exceptions.  The novel, Romola, is a delight.  It takes place in Renaissance Florence at a time when Intellectual and artistic ability were open to many, and Social standing and Political power were fluid.  This is the world in which we are introduced to the charming character of Tito Melema.  He begins from nothing.  He marries the most perfect woman in Florence, beautiful, kind and boring.  He has political ambitions. He is always at the right plays at the right time.  He always knows the right thing to say.  He excels at oratory.  He is modest when it serves his purpose, and likewise he is kind and handsome.  One cannot read his conversations and his perspectives on the world and not be fond of him despite his flaws.  Even when you discover he has a secret peasant wife with beautiful children whom he adores, the reader still loves him.  There are a lot of characters, and a lot happens, as in any book by George Eliot.  Much of it is interesting, but for me, one of the most fascinating and appealing characters of all times in the cannon of great literature is without a doubt Tito Melema.  Because of him, you’ll wish a very long book was longer.

-Tom