Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

Rating: 3.5 Stars
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Synopsis from cbd.com: Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible’s answer is yes. At the age of fifteen Rahab is forced into prostitution by her beloved father. In her years as a courtesan, she learns to mistrust men and hate herself. Into the emotional turmoil of her world walks Salmone, a respected leader of Judah. Through the tribulations of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth in God and find healing from fear and rejection.
*
Review: Tessa Afshar offers an in-depth portrayal of Rahab's life and her eventual marriage to Salmone. Though Rahab is the primary focus of the novel, Afshar also delves into Salmone's emotions and struggles in his relationship with Rahab. The plot is accented with its share of danger as Israel enters battles in its rise to power. It is undeniable that Rahab's story is inspiring and emotional.  Despite her new faith, Rahab goes against her nation of Canaan to support Israel.  After she and her family join Israel and face prejudice because of their nationality, Rahab shows her strength of character and faith.

The first half of the story moved a bit slowly for me, and I struggled to remain interested. Although I sympathized with Rahab's plight and admired the growth of her faith, as a reader I felt like an outside observer.  The plot progressed more quickly following Rahab's and Salmone's marriage. Afshar described the emotional turbulence of their relationship with realism and depth.  As a result, I found the last portion of the book to be the most poignant, particularly the symbolism Afshar created with the pearl in the sand. The title ties in beautifully with Rahab's story and is touching note for the final pages.

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley, courtesy of Moody Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Love Don't Run:" A Video that Fellow Fans of Period Dramas Will Adore!

I just watched a new country music video for Steve Holy's song "Love Don't Run." It reminds me of the British period dramas that I enjoy so much. The production is beautiful and the video tells a moving story.  I was immediately intrigued by the location and was surprised to learn that the video was filmed at the Cheekwood mansion in Nashville, Tennessee.


Movie Review: North & South

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: The word masterpiece best describes this BBC mini-series, adapted from Elizabeth Gaskell's riveting novel North & South.  Gaskell delves into the disparity between southern and northern England during the Industrial Revolution and, more importantly, the social struggles between the working class, union members, factory owners, and the citizens caught between the groups.  In the midst of poverty, conflict, and tragedy, lies a beautiful love story between the southern-bred Margaret Hale and the northern-bred, factory owner John Thornton.  

North & South provides a moving and authentic portrayal of industrial life in England during the 1800s.  The scenery, ranging from the sunny and picturesque southern countryside to the cotton-filled and noisy factories of Northern England, is both stunning and realistic. Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage starring as Margaret Hale and John Thornton, fully embrace their characters, bringing Gaskell's hero and heroine to life.  The supporting cast is equally strong, and the talented actors fit into their roles seamlessly.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Restless in Carolina by Tamara Leigh

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Synopsis from the Publisher: Tree-huggin', animal-lovin' Bridget Pickwick-Buchanan is on a mission. Well, two. First she has to come to terms with being a widow at thirty-three. After all, it's been four years and even her five-year-old niece and nephew think it's time she shed her widow's weeds. Second, she needs to find a buyer for her family's estate-a Biltmore-inspired mansion surrounded by hundreds of acres of unspoiled forestland. With family obligations forcing the sale, Bridget is determined to find an eco-friendly developer to buy the land, someone who won't turn it into single-family homes or a cheesy theme park.

Enter J. C. Dirk, a high-energy developer from Atlanta whose green property developments have earned him national acclaim. When he doesn't return her calls, Bridget decides a personal visit is in order. Unfortunately, J. C. Dirk is neither amused nor interested when she interrupts his meeting-until she mentions her family name. In short order, he finds himself in North Carolina, and Bridget has her white knight-in more ways than one. But there are things Bridget doesn't know about J. C., and it could mean the end of everything she's worked for and break her heart.

Review: Restless in Carolina is the first novel that I have read by Tamara Leigh, and the third book in the Southern Discomfort series.  The fictional Pickwick family provides a basis for story-lines of a clean and faith-infused southern soap opera.  Leigh builds her plot with humor, heart-break, romance, relationships, mystery, hidden agendas, and secret pasts.  Restless in Carolina offers sub-plots and secondary characters that set a steady pace for the story while keeping readers in touch with members of the Pickwick family featured earlier in the series. 

Bridget Pickwick is a quirky, outspoken, and hard-headed environmentalist with emotional baggage.  Some of her antics made me cringe, while a few others made me laugh.  I wanted to connect with Bridget; and I did sympathize with her struggles, but I often found it hard to relate to her humor and personality quirks.  Despite being a thirty-three year old, Bridget is slightly immature in the beginning of the novel.  As she works through her emotions and relieves herself of her "widow's weeds," Bridget matures and grows emotionally and spiritually.  Her growth is inspiring and helps to balance some of the more eccentric aspects of Bridget's personality. Restless in Carolina  is a well-written novel that readers looking for a modern day love story with the promise of happily-ever-after.

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Restless in Carolina is available for purchase on the following sites: Christian Book DistributorsAmazon, Barnes & Noble.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Multnomah/ WaterBrook Press through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Revisiting a Favorite Novel

I love finding a book that is truly a timeless treasure.  This weekend, I revisited Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz.  I first read this novel last year on a 10 hour plus train ride home from vacation.  From the first page, maybe even the first sentence, I was completely captivated.  What better way to spend one's confinement on a swaying train than engrossed in the pages of an amazing novel by a favorite author? I finished the book in one sitting and still had time to enjoy the passing scenery outside of my train window after I read the last page.

This weekend, despite having a list of new books to read, I was once again drawn to the story of Morrow Little.  Although it has only been a year since I read the novel, I was as engrossed in the plot as the first time I opened the book. In fact, I stayed up well past midnight lost in Courting Morrow Little. That is a strong testament to the power of a 5 plus star book from the pen of a skilled author.  Needless to say, I am anxiously awaiting the release of The Colonel's Lady, as I have no doubt that it will be another treasure!

Movie Review: Sweet Land: A Love Story

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis from Amazon.com: Adapted from a Will Weaver story, Ali Selim's Sweet Land is a truly sweet story about unlikely immigrant lovers whose struggle for integration into 1920's America earns them a work ethic more American than many of their narrow-minded neighbors. Set in rural Minnesota, the sentimental film focuses on tribulations that Scandinavian settlers experienced, with a cinematic serenity reminiscent of Terrence Malik's Days of Heaven. Norwegian farmer Olaf Torvik (Tim Guinee) invites a non-English speaking German siren, Inge Alltenburg (Elizabeth Reaser), to relocate and marry him, but discovers that neither the town's Lutheran pastor (John Heard) nor the local judge will marry a German into their community for fear of wartime German spies. Inge finds friendship in neighbors Frandsen (Alan Cumming) and his wife, Brownie (Alex Kingston), who disregarding local gossip, welcome her into their home. Finally, Inge proves herself, settling in so that Sweet Land's historical narrative is framed by Inge, fifty years later, speaking to her adult son about her husband's death and their plot of land. This multi-generational tale of social acceptance and land ownership is ultimately the story of America, though the regional specificity of Sweet Land will speak especially to those familiar with Midwestern culture. --Trinie Dalton

Read more at www.sweetlandmovie.com


video

Review: I discovered Sweet Land at my local library and checked it out on a whim, mainly because the synopsis sounded like the plot of a book I would read. I am so glad I struck gold with this discovery! Sweet Land is one of the rare and special movies that lingers in your mind long after you finish watching it.  I definitely understand why it has received numerous accolades and awards.  The acting is spectacular and real; the scenery is stunning; and the plot is touching, heart-warming, and heart-breaking. 

Some of the conversation occurs in German with no subtitles to offer translation to those of us who don't speak the language.  Despite the lack of subtitles, I could understand the gist of situations based on tone and nonverbal cues.  I confess that I would love to know what Inge is saying at the beginning of the clip. The fact that Inge is not fluent in English when she arrives in Minnesota and is misunderstood by many of the townspeople adds to the realism of the story and helps to make the viewer sympathetic to the plight that immigrants faced (and still face) when moving to a new country.  The gentle love that blossoms between Inge and Olaf during the course of the movie in spite of adversity is inspiring.  This is a love story that I will not soon forget!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Good Ole' Days

Today I was thinking about all of my favorite shows from my childhood. My reminiscing led me to YouTube, where I spent too much time searching for and watching clips. Wishbone was on the top of my list at one point. I think I watched most of the episodes at least three times! And honestly, I found myself getting caught up in the clips tonight. Not only is Wishbone an adorable dog, he makes literary classics interesting and accessible to children. I didn't appreciate that at the time, but I do now. Even now when I hear about some of the classics that were featured on Wishbone, I know the premise of the story based on that show. While visiting Washington Irving's home and Sleepy Hollow on vacation, Wishbone's version of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow did cross my mind.



One of my other favorite book-themed shows was Reading Rainbow.  This video brings back memories of the highlight of some of my school days.  I still remember the theme song; and after watching this clip, I think it will be stuck in my head for at least a day.



Please share some of your favorite childhood shows!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Wedding Blunder in the Black Hills by Kim O'Brien

Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis from the Publisher: David and Millie both have big problems. A widowed dentist with an almost-teen son, he’s being stalked by an amorous patient. Millie’s mom keeps sending her on blind dates, even though the cafĂ© owner has trust issues. So when a lost filling lands Millie in David’s office, the two of them find a solution—a faux relationship. No one gets hurt and no one gets nagged. It’s a great plan—until they really start to care. Now what will they do?

Review:   After realizing that A Wedding Blunder in the Black Hills is the classic story of a "faux relationship" that turns real, I knew that I had to give the novel a try.  No matter how formulaic the plot, I usually love these type of storylines. While I anticipated that the main characters Millie and David would fall in love as they "un-dated" each other,  I was pleasantly surprised by the depth that O'Brien wove into her novel.  Millie  harbors secrets from her past and struggles to trust others in relationships; and while David is a successful dentist, he does not know how to approach the problems that seem to be enveloping his eleven-year-old son.  O'Brien did a wonderful job of addressing the concerns and challenges that many young teens and their parents face today; and I especially enjoyed the often comical input from David's housekeeper.  Even more delightful was Millie's meddlesome, but fun-loving, mother and the encouragement that Millie often received from her "aunts".  As a reader, I was drawn into Millie's and David's small-town lives in the the Black Hills of South Dakota as they encounter the ups and downs of everyday life, while trying to build a "faux" relationship. 

I recommend A Wedding Blunder in the Black Hills, which is available for purchase from Christian Book Distributors and Amazon.

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley, courtesy of Barbour Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Surrender the Dawn by MaryLu Tyndall

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis from the Publisher:
You’ll be gasping for air in this seafaring romance by popular author and Christy Award nominee MaryLu Tyndall. Baltimore’s Cassandra Channing will do anything to provide for her family—even if it means hiring the town rogue as a privateer. Luke Heaton is a handsome rake with a tortured past who is blackmailed by the British into selling supplies to their ships just off the coast. Cassandra and Luke’s worlds collide as they are drawn into danger, secrets, romance, and war. But when the British begin to bombard Fort McHenry, how long can they protect their love—and each other?

Review:  With her third installment in the Surrender to Destiny series, MaryLu Tyndall has once again delivered a novel that is packed with just the right mix of adventure, suspense, and romance.  In Surrender the Dawn, MaryLu Tyndall focuses on the headstrong and independent Cassandra Channing and the charming, but rebellious, Luke Heaton.  Through vivid descriptions and strong characterization, Tyndall has a true talent for bringing these characters to life and pulling her readers into the action.  I enjoyed the sassy dialogue and tension between Cassandra and Luke as their relationship developed.  The secondary characters, which included Luke's younger brother, Cassandra's siblings and Dexter the dog, added both light-hearted and heart-tugging moments to the story. Danger always lurks just beneath the surface, and both Luke and Cassandra must learn to "surrender the dawn" to successfully navigate during these turbulent times.

I always love reading Tyndall's books; and since they are set on the coast, I find them to be perfect summer reads.  I highly recommend Surrender the Dawn; and if you have not had a chance to read any of her other books, please pick up a copy.  You will not be disappointed!  

Here is a link to MaryLu Tyndall's website: http://www.marylutyndall.com/

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley, courtesy of Barbour Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Cowboy's Touch by Denise Hunter

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis from the Publisher: Abigail is just in Moose Creek, Montana for the summer to temporarily care for her great aunt. But a tender-hearted cowboy beckons her to stay.

Abigail Jones intends to spend just one summer in middle-of-nowhere Montana with her Aunt Lucy. Time away from her job is just what Abigail needs to reassess her life. The slow pace has her breathing deeply for the first time in years. And the majestic scenery encourages her to get reacquainted with herself . . . and God.
What she didn't count on was the handsome widowed cowboy who owns the ranch where her aunt lives. When the rancher loses his daughter's nanny, Abigail decides to lend a hand for the summer.

Wade Ryan can't help being attracted to Abigail. But he's given up everything to protect his daughter, and he's not about to risk it all on a pretty face.
Under Abigail's care, Wade's home and daughter thrive. And with Wade's touch, Abigail's heart feels at home at last. But Abigail knows this elusive rancher is hiding something. Will her own secrets separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?

Review:  After reading The Inconvenient Groom by Denise Hunter a few months ago,  I was anticipating the release of  A Cowboy's Touch, the first in her new "Big Sky" series.  My expectations for a light and enjoyable read were fulfilled, and I even surprised myself by reading the novel in practically one sitting! 

The plot of  A Cowboy's Touch moves along at a steady pace, and in many ways it reminded me of a Hallmark movie.  While Wade has a past that threatens their relationship, Abigail has secrets of her own.  I was very sympathetic to Wade and his daughter Maddy; and at times, I became very exasperated by Abigail's actions.  But any great story needs to have its share of tension and characters who make their share of mistakes.  Ultimately, it is is a story of forgiveness and finding new beginnings. 

I look forward to Denise Hunter's next novel in this series, The Accidental Bride, which is scheduled to be released in January 2012. 

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from  NetGalley, courtesy of Thomas Nelson  Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis from the publisher: He’d lost his zest for life. She was just lost. Will they find the healing and love they long for?

After a roaring night on the town, fun-loving flapper Lilly Margolis, dazed and disoriented, twists her ankle and falls into the backyard of a wealthy family where the effects of the Great War—over for more than half a decade—are still endured. Inside the walls of the Burnside mansion, Cullen Burnside, a disillusioned and disfigured veteran, and his widowed mother, Betty Ruth, who daily slips a little further into dementia, lead a lonely existence … until Lilly. Whimsical, lighthearted, and beautiful, she rejuvenates their sad, disconnected lives and blossoms in the light of their attention.

But Lilly, like Cullen, is hiding from a painful past. And when Cullen insists on returning her to her faraway home, their budding attraction seems destined to die on the vine. The resulting road trip becomes a journey of self-discovery—but what will Cullen and Lilly find at journey’s end?

Review:   When I have a book by one of my favorite authors, I tend to put off reading it and just let it sit on my bookshelf for a time, while I anticipate the great story that lies within.  Allison Pittman is one of my favorite authors; and with the release of Lilies in Moonlight, she has hit another home run!  Once again she has crafted a well-written novel that drew me into a whimsical, yet meaningful story that I did not want to end.  As much as I wanted to proceed slowly, it's one of those books that kept me turning the pages for more until there were no more pages remaining!  Not only does Pittman have a way of bringing her characters to life, but she also has very original story-lines that are refreshing to read.  Set during the Roaring Twenties, Lilies in Moonlight  focuses on two individuals that seem to have very little in common.  Though living a life of wealth and privilege, Cullen Burnside is only a shadow of  the young man that he left behind before the war, and seemingly irrepressible Lily is really just searching for a place to belong.  I fell in love with each of the characters in this novel and experienced their emotions throughout the journey.  Betty Ruth, Cullen's mother, is such an endearing character that added dimension to the story.  While Lilies in Moonlight has its light and humorous moments, there is such depth and insight just beneath the surface. 

I know that I will continue to revisit Lilies in Moonlight in the future, and I eagerly anticipate Allison Pittman's next release, Forsaking All Others in October 2011. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rain Song by Alice Wisler

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis from cbd.com: Nicole Michelin avoids airplanes, motorcycles, and most of all, Japan, where her parents once were missionaries. Something happened in Japan...something that sent Nicole and her father back to America alone...something of which Nicole knows only bits and pieces. But she is content with life in little Mount Olive, North Carolina, with her quirky relatives, tank of lively fish, and plenty of homemade pineapple chutney. Through her online column for the Pretty Fishy Web site, she meets Harrison Michaels, who, much to her dismay, lives in Japan. She attempts to avoid him, but his e-mails tug at her heart. Then Harrison reveals that he knew her as a child in Japan. In fact, he knows more about her childhood than she does...

Review:  There are certain books that I always save for vacation, for a time that I can relax and best appreciate them.  I have enjoyed seeing Rain Song on my shelf since receiving it as a Christmas gift several months ago, and I just treated myself to reading it during a recent trip to the Hudson River Valley. 

As I began reading Rain Song, I expected the plot to consist mainly of Nicole's experiences in Japan, but I soon realized that taking the steps to travel to Japan is the greatest part of the journey.  Like me, Nicole Michelin does not like the thought of flying, and she has her share of insecurities.   Like all of us, she has certain fears and past experiences that she must face before she begins to fully embrace her future.  We may have dreams and desires to accomplish something, and we may know how to take a series of small steps to get there, but taking action is often the most difficult part. Opportunities can be overshadowed by our own fears.   

Rain Song is a deeply moving novel that resonates with the part of each of us that has experienced loss, self-doubt, and fear.  Written in first person, Nicole shares her daily thoughts about her relatives and past in a way that often jumps from topic to topic, much like our own minds.  She has avoided her painful past and the mystery that surrounds the death of her mother, but the loss has left a gaping hole in her heart.  Nicole deeply loves her aging grandmother, but fears losing the only mother-figure that she can remember.  After beginning her correspondence with Harrison,  she is given the opportunity to learn about the past, but only she can fully overcome her fears.

Alice Wisler has crafted a very well-written and thought-provoking novel that will both inspire and challenge each reader.  I highly recommend Rain Song to be used in a reading group as well because it offers many possibilities for  discussions.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Visit to the Hudson River Valley

Last week we travelled to the scenic and historic Hudson River Valley. Along the way, we spotted some cute and stunning libraries and schools.  We also had the chance to visit the homes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Washington Irving, and the town of Sleepy Hollow!  We didn't spot any headless horsemen, but we did visit the bridge that inspired the legend. To see some of our travel images, visit our Side Trips page.

Sleepy Hollow Church

The Headless Horseman Bridge


On the Loose by Jenny B. Jones

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis from NavPress: Six months into her stay with her foster parents, Katie Parker is finally adjusting to her new family. But after a tornado rips through the town of In Between, nothing is ever the same again.

When her foster mom, Millie, is diagnosed with cancer, Katie begins to doubt if God really does care. What will happen to Katie? Could she possibly have to leave In Between and the family she's come to depend on? Things spiral even further out of control when Katie juggles a science fair project, a malfunctioning best friend, spring break plans, and holding the attention of her own Prince Charming. It's going to take more than a glass slipper and some fairy dust to fix Katie Parker's problems. But will help come in time?

Review: After reading In Between, the first book in A Katie Parker Production, I was excited to read On the Loose.  One of the benefits to discovering books after a series is complete is that you don't have to wait for the release of the sequel! Although the series is designated as young adult, you do not have to be a teen to relate to Katie's struggles and to laugh at the infectious humor.  Katie is a great example for teens who are trying to find themselves in the face of pressure and doubts.

Jenny B. Jones never fails to completely draw me into her novels with the wit, sarcasm, and quirkiness that are unique to her work.  She balances such traits with relatable problems, touching moments, and infusions of faith.  On the Loose is a shining example of this balance.  There are some extremely funny scenes throughout the novel; but there are also very tender moments, especially at the end of the book. Jones' writing is so engaging that I can clearly visualize each situation and empathize with the characters.

 I love the cast of characters in A Katie Parker Production. Katie is the star of course, but the supporting stars shine as well. Maxine, Katie's foster grandmother, is particularly humorous, and her interactions with Katie and the rest of the family offer plenty of comedic moments. James and Millie, Katie's foster parents, are heart-warming examples of sacrifice and unconditional love.  I look forward to catching up with Katie, her family, and the rest of In Between in the last book The Big Picture.  I whole-heartedly recommend losing yourself "in between" the pages of A Katie Parker Production or any other novel by Jenny B. Jones.

The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis from Summerside Press: Cleveland, Ohio, 1928. Secrets bind the notorious Cardano family together, but Detective Rollin Wells is close to exposing the family’s dark secrets. The Cardanos are working in the hills south of Cleveland, and when Rollin travels to Sugarcreek to investigate, he discovers that the Cardanos want him dead.

Rollin hides out in an Amish home, trying to uncover why the Cardanos are in Amish country and who is collaborating with them. As he gets closer to the truth, he also attempts to find out what a beautiful Amish woman named Katie Lehman—a woman who reminds him of the girl he once loved—is hiding.

Will Katie trust him with her secret…and her heart? Or will the Cardano code of honor silence them both?


Review:  The Silent Order is a refreshing and exciting departure from the traditional Amish and historical fiction novels.  I was first drawn to the setting of the novel - 1928 Ohio. The 1920s was both an exciting and turbulent time in history, yet I have read so few novels set during that period.  My interest was further piqued by the summary.  How often do we see the mafia, detectives, and the passive Amish community in the same plot?  My expectations were set: this was not going to be a traditional Amish fiction novel.  I was not disappointed.

Melanie Dobson's writing and suspenseful story-line gripped me from the beginning.  The novel maintains a steady pace until the end, woven with secrecy, danger, and of course faith and a bit of romance.  Both main characters, Katie and Rollin are likable and well-developed.  They each wear scars from their pasts, and they are bound by the losses and traumas they suffered at the hands of cruel men.  As Katie's and Rollin's lives cross in Amish country, they reveal hidden secrets to each other and the reader.  In the midst of peril and fear, they experience healing, which provide heartfelt and tender moments.  The Silent Order is a fast and intriguing read that I highly recommend!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Movie Review: Midnight in Paris

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Last weekend, we decided to go see Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams.  The concept intrigued us, but we were not sure if we would enjoy the movie, especially since we primarily watch British period dramas. Fortunately, we were pleasantly surprised.

Midnight in Paris opens with stunning and crisp vignettes of Paris. Within the first five minutes, I had added this European city to my future travel list.  We were expecting a serious drama, but there are both quirky and comical elements to this fantasy/romantic comedy film, which make it addictive and unique.  Gil (Wilson) is an inspiring American author on vacation in Paris with his fiance, Inez, (McAdams) and her family.  While Gil is a somewhat bumbling dreamer, Inez is an in-control realist.  As a result, they have diverging views on how to best experience Paris. 

Gil dreams of seeing Paris in the rain and living in the past.  To his surprise, a midnight walk takes him back to Paris in the roaring 1920s, where he meets literary and artistic greats, including F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Gertrude Stein.  The movie transitions from Paris night-life in the 20s to the modern city. Through his mystical time travels, Gil learns about himself, his craft, and his dreams.

Gil's character was slightly silly and awkward, and offers many of the comedic moments of the movie. Despite that, we definitely related to his desire to experience life in what he considers an "ideal" time.  My sister and I are often guilty of romanticising the past and not appreciating the present or future.  The lesson that Gil learned from his travels resonated with us. No time period is perfect, and the challenges and letdowns that we all face, past and present, shape the future.

The portrayals of icons like Fizgerald and Hemmingway added a special flavor to the movie, which we greatly enjoyed.  The supporting characters were a "Who's Who" line-up of past greats. We confess that though we had heard most of the names before, we were not readily familiar with each person's works or life. So, we came home and researched.  Thanks to Midnight in Paris, we have a bit more knowledge of the colorful individuals who shaped the 1920's in America, Paris, and beyond.

We highly recommend Midnight in Paris.  The trailer below, does not completely capture the charm and character of the movie, but it does provide a good sample of the scenery and some of the quirkiness.

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