Book: The Brontes by Juliet Barker Rating: Five Stars
This was the first book I’ve read to start doing research for my dissertation, and it is also a book I’ve wanted to read ever since my interest in the Bronte family began. It’s pretty much the definitive biography, covering not only Anne, Emily Charlotte and Branwell’s lives, but starting with their father Patrick and ending with his death in 1861. If you wanted to read anything about this incredible family, then there’s no other book I could recommend more, with not only incredible research and examinations of Bronte myths, but with a true sense of who this family was, and what Haworth was like when they lived there. The book at first focuses on Patrick’s life before he met Maria and had the Bronte children, which at first I found hard to get into, but I became really interested in Patrick’s story and this book left me with such a great admiration for a man who became successful in his own right, and was a loving and dedicated father to his children.
Naturally I’m biased, but I wish there was more on Anne, but this is of no fault of Barker’s, merely due to the lack of writings we have left of Anne’s. I admit I cried when reading about her death, Barker wrote about her last days wonderfully, and it never fails to make me emotional. There was a lot on Charlotte, seeing as most of what we know of the family comes from her letters and other correspondence. I learned a lot about Charlotte’s personality and her relationships with those outside of her family, and how she handled life and London society once she achieved fame.
Overall this book is a long but truly worthwhile read, and highlights the genius of all members in the family, and the potential that was lost in their deaths. Who knows what else this brilliant family could have achieved if they lived longer?
Album: Melodrama by Lorde Rating: Five Stars
I’ve always liked Lorde’s music but since the release of her second album Melodrama I’ve become obsessed. This album is so good, and I’ve been listening to it every day since its release. I’m listening to it as I write this post, as I always need a good album to listen to while reading or writing. I love becoming invested in an album as each song always gets its chance to stand out to me, leaving me with a great appreciation of the whole album. Lorde seems to perfectly express the feeling of starting adulthood, dealing with heartbreak and youth in an electrifying and gut punching way in some songs. Liability and Writer in the Dark stand out as emotional but quieter songs that are beautiful in their simplicity, and hit me emotionally. That’s not to say the rest of the album doesn’t, with The Louvre and Perfect Places being two of my favourites, but honestly there’s not a disappointing song on the album. What Lorde has achieved at such a young age is staggering, and I look forward to her future music.
It’s also worth checking out her set at Glastonbury on BBC iPlayer, Lorde putting on a fantastic live show, that showcases the new album and songs from her debut work.
Outing: Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre Rating: Five Stars
I’ve wanted to see this how for so long, and I’m so thrilled it is now playing in London, and that I managed to see it! For those who don’t know the plot, here is a basics synopsis from the official website:
Kinky Boots takes you from the factory floor to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price, played by David Hunter (Once, One Man, Two Guvnors), is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the shoe factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, played by Olivier award-winner Matt Henry, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos.
I was sitting right at the top in the upper circle, but the view was still pretty great, and didn’t take away from the show one bit. I was a fan of the Original Broadway Cast Recording, and sometimes what you’ve heard from songs and characters on a recording leaves with you with a fixed image of how the songs and characters should be, and I’ve seen people be disappointed that actors haven’t lived up to what they think they should sound like, but that wasn’t the case here at all. I always try to separate the two, and I’ve never found it a problem, as seeing the show live is like hearing the cast recording again for the first time, and falling in love with the music and story all over again in a different and fa more special way. This was absolutely the case with this show, as the cast was beyond fantastic, and Matt Henry especially stands out (how the hell he or any of the cast manage to dance so well in such high heels is beyond me, just how??) though David Hunter was a perfect Charlie, a highlight being his big number Soul of a Man. I love how all the characters are flawed, but ultimately endearing, and there wasn’t one I didn’t grow to love throughout the show.
One of the jokes in the show caused a woman in the audience to laugh so much that the show couldn’t continue, as she had such a distinctive laugh it was all everyone could hear, and so the rest of the audience kept laughing at her laugh. Even the actors themselves broke a bit, and I felt bad for them considering it was right before an emotional song, but the audience clapped and cheered after the woman laughed, and so it was a memorable moment for everyone to enjoy.
The music is insanely catchy and perfect to listen to-day to day, but also as motivational upbeat music. Cyndi Lauper wrote all of the score, and the songs exemplified the show’s messages of acceptance, full of heart and love. The ending number is probably the best I’ve seen in a musical, all of the cast and ensemble coming together in what feels like such a united, group effort, and making me, and everyone else leave on such a high. The best way to spend an evening.
In a time where things feel pretty dark, it was so nice to enter the theater and feel so much warmth and happiness, with a show proud of highlighting love, personal growth and people from different backgrounds finding common ground, becoming friends and creating something beautiful. This show is what is needed right now, and I hope it has a long future on the West End, and if you can go see it, or listen to the soundtrack, it’s so worth it.
Most of the month was spent reading Juliet Barker’s book, so I didn’t think it was worth doing a reading roundup, so thought I would try something different! Hoping to update more next month and read a lot more!