Belle Movie Review

If you haven’t heard of this movie you are missing out!  Belle was FANTASTIC!  I know I am a bit behind on this film since i came out in 2013, but if you are a period drama fan this needs to go on your must watch list.

Belle tells the story of a mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Officer.  The young girl is raised by her aristocratic aunt and uncle in conjunction with her abandoned cousin.  The girls grow up in privilege and happiness, but Belle must follow a different set of rules than her cousin Elizabeth due to the color of her skin.  So when it is time to enter society, the two cousins, who are as close as sisters, struggle with societal norms one for her color and the other for her lack of dowry.

If dealing with the realities of growing up a mixed race girl isn’t enough, Belle is caught between her two heritages when a politically charged case involving a slave ship comes to court awaiting her uncle’s ruling.  This ruling could change the face of the slave trade and the economy itself in England.  Will Belle be able to help push the changing tide forward or will she choose to sit silently “in her place” among her powerful family?

DO NOT MISS THIS ONE! Go add it to your watch list on Netflix or Amazon Fire or download it from on-demand on your DVR.  GO NOW, I’ll wait….okay done?

Not only is this movie great and extremely well cast, but it is based on a true story.   Belle, her cousin Elizabeth, her uncle the chief justice, the case about the Zong slave ship, it is all real!  Naturally, there is added flair and romance for the film, but knowing this movie is based on true events adds to the inspiration of the story.

Here is a photo of a portrait of the real Belle and her cousin that they recreate in the film.

Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Belle, once attributed to Zoffany

Have you seen a do not miss movie lately? If so, put it in the comments below.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

SPOILER ALERT!  If you intend to read this novel or watch the series, please stop reading.

I really wanted to love this novel, because I am a big fan of the series on STARZ, but about 2/3 of the way through the novel I fell out of love with the story.

The story begins with the tale of a time traveling nurse from the 1950s who finds herself in 18th century Scotland.  Through a series of adventures and bad luck Claire finds herself married to a Scottish outlaw with a stubborn disposition who is laird of some well placed lands.  Although the marriage started out rocky, love grows between the two, but the price on Jamie’s head, the skepticism of Claire’s arrival, and the hatred of Black Jack Randall stand in their way of happiness.  Claire is forced to rescue Jamie from a prison and near death, a near impossible feat.  With this accomplished, the death of Black Jack Randall, and their escape to France, Jamie and Claire finally have a chance at safety and happiness.

The story is exciting and you feel bad for the star-crossed lovers that life just isn’t going their way, but following the epic rescue of Jamie, Diana Gabaldon spends most of the end of the novel rehashing a very uncomfortable rape scene between Jamie and Randall.  I understand needing to go back to the scene to understand the mindset of Jamie at the end of the novel, but the lengthy and dramatic discussion of it are un-nessacary and the recovery of Jamie at the monastery seems to drag out the end of the book.  In my opinion it should have end with the excitement of the rescue and a glimpse at happiness for the couple instead of dragging down the end of the novel.  Not to say I won’t in the future, but I will not be reaching for the second book in the series at this time.

So far, I prefer the TV series to the book (a rare occurrence for me).  In the TV series, Claire’s character is more strong and independent thinking and less whiny and “damsel in distress,” which is how she is portrayed in the book.  The series also condenses the book and makes the series of events flow more naturally.  I am hoping this trend continues, as the series has yet to catch up to my perceived downturn in the book.

Note on the STARZ Series: There is currently only one episode left in the miniseries, but if you have STARZ you can catch up here.

Have you read Outlander?  Will you read the next one?  What do you think of the Mini-Series?

The Accidental Duchess by Madeline Hunter

 

I am a fan of Madeline Hunter’s books for a quick easy read, my favorite is By Arrangement.  She has a great ability to create romantic tension between her hero and heroine and usually includes a unique twist or plot line addition that always makes me smile.

The Accidental Duchess was no exception.  I recommend this book if you are looking for a quick read, it would be great for pool side or beach reading this summer!

SPOILER ALERTS…if you intend to read this novel, stop reading here. 

This novel tells the story of a headstrong Lady of the ton, Lydia, in 18th century England.  Lydia has recently discovered a love for gambling and a talent for winning.  To her brother the Earl, her gambling is a nuisance and risk to their family’s reputation, to Lydia her gambling allows her a semblance of happiness in her secret grief and a way to give back to those less fortunate.

Lydia’s luck has run out when she is blackmailed by a ladder climber who a series of unfortunate events lures her into a compromising situation that only one man can save her from, the Duke of Penthurst, the one man she would never want to be saved by.  The compromise forced a marriage between the two, only fueling the blackmailer further now that Lydia can provide more that he originally bargained for.

The mystery of Lydia’s grief and her hatred for her new husband uncover revelations she is not prepared to face disillusioning the young girl she was and allowing the woman she has become to push forward with her life.  Penthurst is vindicated through this disillusionment and their marriage stands a chance to create happiness for them both, despite its rocky beginning.

Have you read any of Madeline Hunter’s books?  If so which was your favorite?  If not, what is your favorite easy beach read for the summer?