Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Great Yorkshire Love Stories

The New York Times reviews Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough by Dr. John J. Ross and mentions the Brontë references:

The resulting collection of 10 medico-literary biographical sketches ranges from the tubercular Brontës, whose every moist cough is familiar to their fans, to figures like Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose medical stories are considerably less familiar. [...]
Emily Brontë’s behavior was strongly suggestive of Asperger syndrome[.] (Abigail Zuger)
While Dave Astor looks at 'Fictional Characters With Disabilities' in The Huffington Post:
Also drawing our sympathy are "Mad-Eye" Moody in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Quasimodo in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Nôtre Dame, Rochester near the end of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, and many other main and supporting characters with physical issues.
This is Bristol discusses literary film adaptations and mentions the two latest Brontës:
The real challenge for film-makers tackling such works is to do something different with the source material without betraying it altogether. That can be a tricky business. Cary Fukanaga's  [sic] rejigging of Jane Eyre was a triumph. Joe Wright's bold version of Anna Karenina has its detractors, but also plenty of admirers. Andrea Arnold's earthy Wuthering Heights, on the other hand, failed to find an audience altogether, taking just £150,000 at the UK box office.
The Guardian's Northerner Blog has now found its Great Yorkshire Love Story:
Two months ago, the Guardian Northerner flagged up Barnsley Civic theatre's search for the Great Yorkshire Love story, in the tradition of the Brontes, Winifred Holtby's heroines or the passionate Storm family created on the Whitby coast by Leo Walmsley. [...]
We have a winner; or more appropriately a pair of them, in Brenda Loy and Fred Wilcock whose story was entered by Brenda as a modern parallel to the romance of Anderson's one-legged tin soldier and his love for a ballerina made of paper. The many twists and turns of the toys' story was matched, in the view of judges from the Civic's staff and the production's Peut-être Theatre, by the commitment of 82-year old Brenda and 81-year old Fred, despite six decades apart.
Brenda, of Hoyland Common, says:
We were both born in the small village of Upper Hoyland. As we grew up together, Fred would hold my hand and take me to the Sunshine School, a wooden infant school down the hill. When we became teenagers we would occasionally go to the pictures and say our goodnights in a special doorway
At 17, however, Fred joined the army and Brenda moved away from Yorkshire to live with her sister and brother-in-law who served in the Royal Air Force. Both met new sweethearts and enjoyed happy marriages, Brenda with a local lad called Len and Fred with a young woman he met called Dorothy. Each couple returned to Yorkshire and for years they lived unwittingly fewer than 30 miles apart.
Scroll forward 50 years, and Brenda says:
Sadly, Len died in 1998, so I kept myself busy by arranging a chat club and started working at St Luke's Hospice shop in Chapeltown. Then, one day a couple knocked on the door of the hospice. I asked if I could help them and the man said: 'Yes, you could ask us in for a cup of tea and a biscuit.' I didn't recognise him, but then he said he was Fred.
He and Dorothy and Brenda duly had their cup of tea and then they went their separate ways again. But the following year, Dorothy died and Fred came back to Hoyland, unwell and in search of old friends. Brenda dropped in to help him through his recovery and they carried on meeting when he was better. Ever so gently, it was back to those Sunshine school and teenage doorway days.
Not a story with the darkness of Wuthering Heights, the torment of Villette or the tragedies of South Riding and Three Fevers; but pantomime time is all the better for a happy ending and Brenda and Fred have had one. She says:
Eventually we arranged a weekend in Leeds, where Fred lives, and a weekend in Hoyland. We've been doing that ever since, and are quite content to spend as much valuable time together remembering our childhood and our loved ones. We are enjoying our new lives together. (Martin Wainwright)
Let's travel a bit further north as it's Scotland's first ever Book Week this week and the Stornoway Gazette asks:
Narnia, Wuthering Heights, Neverland, Lilliput, Hogsmeade, Treasure Island, the Wasp Factory? Where will you go for Book Week Scotland?
A couple of columnists discuss Jane Eyre. Sara Clarkson in The Doings Hinsdale:
Then a few years ago in the dark of winter, I re-read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre for a book club. Though it was chill and bleak outdoors, Jane Eyre and I were in England. It was the middle of the 19th century, and a plain and penniless British governess began to fall for her dark and intriguing employer, an employer with a secret, the literal and proverbial wife in the attic. Jane Eyre is certainly a literary novel, flawed as it may be, and it is also a prototype for what would become the romance novel.
More than the romance, though, I became interested in 19th century England and started to pick up some historical fiction novels, works in my literary snobbishness I would have ignored before. Today, with the stress of having two teenagers, I enjoy both the escape and the landscape I find in historical fiction. I enjoy the mental vacation and learn something at the same time.
And Darrell Laurant in The News & Advance:
[Liberty University English professor Karen Swallow Prior] saw some of those overwrought romantic tendencies in herself and learned from the book that they could be self-destructive. Meanwhile, the main character in “Jane Eyre” reminded her of her middle-school self, when she was struggling to find and meld into the right clique.
Flavorwire features the Houses of Fiction exhibition. The Telegraph now publishes an obituary of actress Daphne Slater. Maf's Puzzle briefly comments on Jane Eyre 2011 in Portuguese while The Kids Were All Wright gives 3 1/2 - 4 stars to Margot Livesey's The Flight of Gemma Hardy and Pages from My Thoughts reviews Tina Connolly's Ironskin. Jimena Novaro and Biblioteksbella (in Swedish) discuss Wuthering HeightsWorldWideNewsService has a short clip on Haworth on YouTube.

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