Sat Jul 25th, 2015
Finished Jonathan Strange today. The ending struck me as a mess; don't know how it plays to someone who hasn't read the book, but it confused far too many variables for me. Did give us some manly bonding, and about time too, but I can see how very few people would have sat still for a story about Strange and Norrell and their professional disagreements. Lost wives push plots so much more easily.
Can't help feeling Stephen was badly served by this version of him, though I do get outlines of the character the scriptwriter was trying to convey. Someone who feels himself fundamentally powerless, who can't oppose the Gentleman because, well, he has no authority to do so. In his position within Sir Walter's household he has authority, dignity, gravitas; outside it, he knows he's a black man in a white country that has, yes, white fairies, and all he can do is say 'oh please no' and advise Lady Pole to be grateful that their piteous fate is no worse than it is. (Compare and contrast with Childermass, who never struck me as a servant at all. A man of business doesn't merit Lascelles sneers about 'send the servant away.') Much prefer the book Stephen who uses what his position has taught him to exercise what power over the Gentleman he has.
(There's a missing scene I wish they'd kept in that gives us Stephen's background in Sir Walter's house. They were raised together and had the kind of intimacy one gets even when one boy is an aristocrat and the other of the serving classes. "We haven't been able to have any of our old talks lately," Sir Walter says. "I've missed them." If the relationship reminds me strongly of Shidou and Ageha-- minus the unrequited love but plus the utter blockhead imperviousness of the aristocrat-- well, it would.)
And Childermass, ah well, is Childermass. Even in the book I kept getting an odd sense of conflation between him and the Raven King: tall man with long black hair and more of a magician than he ought to be. So he's not: Vinculus knows more of what's going on than he. But Childermass is otherwise never wrong about things, and that kind of character bears watching. Wish she'd get a move on with the sequel...
Do love the northern accents, his and Norrell's. What I know about English accents is minimal, and the one time I was in Yorkshire I could only understand what people were saying by psychic interpretation (much later, this gift allowed me to understand what babies who can't talk are trying to tell me) but the softness and homeliness of it is most appealing.
I agree that Stephen was very poorly served, both in general and in the ending.
I did also have a bet with myself that you'd like Childermass. :)
Years of living in Leeds has improved my ear for Yorkshire accents a bit, though I still have moments of smiling politely while trying to guess what the other person just said.
I remember you saying there'd be a character whose handling I'd rather like. Had hoped it was Stephen, but other people's squeeing about Childermass suggested it might be him. Squeeing deserved, of course. (Wasn't *so* very impressed by people's squeeing over Segundus, who was well enough, but I preferred Honeycutt and his walnut-loaded blunderbuss.)
Do you need the DVDs back in the near future, or just eventually?
I didn't mind Secundus or Honeycutt, but neither of them really caught my attention that much.
Please do keep the DVDs. No need to send them back. I got my own copy of the series when I bought those for you.
Truly? Thank you very much! I shall re-view them often. ^_^
Is there anything I can send you from these shores, since I seem to have missed the window of opportunity to entice you into another visit this year?
I'm afraid I can't think of anything at the moment, though I do greatly appreciate the thought.
This year is being very hectic. There's a World Health Organisation conference (WHO) in mid-October which is taking place in Manchester, just an hour away from us, and my team is being encouraged to attend. It will probably be very interesting, but it's time, and there just isn't enough time.
Oh, now I am reminded. Book 3 will need beta-reading shortly. Would you be interested?
I had a feeling time might be at a premium this year, what with vol 3 deadlines. WHO conferences are just icing on the cake. As if there were ever enough hours in the day to start with.
Yes of course I'd be interested. You know you needn't ask.
I haven't yet read or watched JS&MN - it's on my list - but the Wiki article tells me that [i]t inverts the Industrial Revolution conception of the North/South divide in England: in this book the North is romantic and magical, rather than rational and concrete. So now I really must read it, because there's only so much Ee Bah Gum It's Grim Oop North a Yorkshire woman can take.
Yes, non-Brits do seem to have some trouble understanding the local accent: I, having been brought up here, barely even notice; but I took a Californian friend around York and she admitted that she found it quite difficult. I am especially fond of Sir Patrick Stewart demonstrating his childhood Bradford accent with 'Aht tha larkin aht?' - to which a bemused Jonathan Ross replied, '...Is that Japanese?'
I guess I never got the Industrial Revolution concept but remained stuck at the Romantic one? Dorothy and William, Cathy and Heathcliffe, and the picturesque wildness of Derbyshire and the Peaks where we go to get our Germanic landscape thrills. (The south is romantic and magical? Really? The south to me is London and Home Counties and tame as tame can be.)
Whatever, the Raven King is something I'd expect from the wild north. If he'd been southern he'd have been much tamer, as southern kings tend to be.