You know those lists you'll find in magazines or some websites that suggest what cool things you should look for if you like such and such or are just coming out?
I thought I'd take a crack at that myself, sharing some of my favorite new finds and old favorites. Only you know mine will have to be better because no one is paying me to advertise for them (just leave that big bag of money in the hidden compartment in the closet and get lost!)
First-For the Animal lover, or someone who always wanted to watch a British actor palpate a cow: All Creatures Great and Small
These are a series of memoirs from a young Scottish veterinarian in the 1930s as he learns the trials and tribulations of healing sick animals and getting the farmers to fork over the few quid for his work.
I adored the books and have read all of them at least three times. Recently I got up the nerve and decided to netflix the old BBC series. I was afraid that there was just no way you could easily fake all that James Herriot, Siegfried and Tristan Farnon get up to but it's amazing how close they kept to the books.
Here's one clip, while not featuring any cute cuddly animals (or the more stinky and teethed animals) is hilarious and all Herriot.
Second - For the Oscar Wilde fan or the lover of witty one liners: "Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance" by Gyles Brandreth
I'm sure you've seen more than a few of some great Wilde quotes I've put up for my Happy Quotes eay and this book brings the wit of Oscar alive and in full color as he tries to track down a murder.
Oscar befriends Conan Doyle whose Sherlock Holmes inspires him to use deductive reasoning to find the killer of a young man. Set as Oscar works on his only novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray." It's a quick page turner that gives a reader the glimpse of a literary giant as a man but still leaves you feeling as though he's so much more.
Third- For any history, mystery, feminism, or just plain good novel fan: "Mistress of the Art of Death" by Ariana Franklin.
Set in the 12th century in Henry II's England a woman who was trained in the art of reading the dead must travel from her home of Salerno to England to prove that it was not Jews that killed four children but a horrific monster that walks among them.
I had been hemming and hawing about picking this book up for fear that a woman in the 12th century who is a doctor would come across as more of a Mary Sue, some perfect example of current femisim. While some of that still comes across this is a wonderful glimpse into what England was like under Henry Plantagenet for not only rich crusaders but also poor working folk and even the persecuted Jews.
The main character is a strange mix of CSI's Grissom with Susan B Anthony. While she may be the best at reading what the dead say and putting together clues she has little to know idea how society works and what her place is viewed in it.
I've also read her sequal book called "The Serpents Tale" which I loved even more. This time Henry's wife the unforgettable Elanor appears after the death of Henry's mistress Rosamund. It's more of a political intrigue into some larger than life characters straight out of history.
And that brings me to my fourth and final reccomendation.
Four - For anyone who loves good cinema, amazing performances, and wonderful lines: The Lion in Winter.
Based upon a play this movie stared Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole as Eleanor and Henry. But along also came their sons including Richard the Lion hearted (played by Anthony Hopkins in his first role) as well as Prince John and Geoffry who was actually born of a mistress. This movie also features Timothy Dalton in his first movie role as well as the King of France.
I don't even know if I could do it justice in trying to write it up. It's an amazinly witty, dark, heartfelt movie. Just watch this little clip about the ultimate dysfunctional family:
If after reading "Mistress of the Art of Death" and seeing The Lion in Winter you can't get enough of Henry II there is also the movie in which a younger Peter O'toole playes a younger Henry and the story of the Archbisop of Canturbury "Becket."
Well that's all I have this time, I hope I've helped someone to find a new favorite.