Movie Review: Testament of Youth (4 stars)

Testament of Youth

Released: January 2015

Watched Netflix BluRay: February 2016

Read Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain: January/February 2015

Rating4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:  In 1914, Vera Brittain overcomes the restraints on women of the time to become a student at Somerville College, Oxford. When World War I breaks out, her brother Edward, her fiancé Roland Leighton, and their friends Victor and Geoffrey, are sent to serve at the front lines. Brittain follows their sacrifice, leaving college to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment as a nurse tending the wounded and dying (both British and German) in London, Malta and France.

My Thoughts:

I watched this with my husband on Sunday afternoon, Valentine’s Day.  A less bleak day than Saturday the 13th (overcast and never above 25 degrees).  Today is bright and sunny and in the 50s.  Almost spring like.  I’m beginning to think  I should have watched Testament of Youth yesterday instead of the Water DivinerContinue reading “Movie Review: Testament of Youth (4 stars)”

Book Review: Testament of Youth by Brittain (4 stars)

Testament of Youth

by Vera Brittain

4 out of 5 stars

Read in January/February 2015

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

In 1914, just as war was declared, 20 year-old Vera Brittain was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later, her life—and that of her whole generation—had been irrevocably changed in a way that no one could have imagined in the tranquil pre-war era. Testament of Youth is Brittain’s account of how she lost the man she loved, nursed the wounded, survived those agonizing years, and emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time. It still retains the power to shock, move, and enthrall readers today.

My Thoughts:

I heard about this book during the inaugural discussion of The Things They Carried by O’Brien last fall.  The professor leading the discussion listed it as one of the better memoirs written post-conflict (didn’t matter what conflict).  Continue reading “Book Review: Testament of Youth by Brittain (4 stars)”

Big Read Wrap-Up

The Lansing Community Library completed a successful Big Read of O’Brien’s The Things They Carried with a writing memoir workshop led by the same professor who moderated the panel discussion back in December.  I took copious notes, but sadly no group photos.  The workshop was well attended and I recorded the audio portion (as I can’t always take notes fast enough) and include it here for your enjoyment.  In fact, I’m not sure where I put my notes.

Raw Recording of Memoir Writing Workshop

And, just for completeness’ sake, I’ll include the raw recording of the second group discussion led by a local English professor from the University of St. Mary:

Raw Recording of Second Big Read Book Discussion

I attended all the events and enjoyed all of them. I’m looking forward to the next adult reading program the library cooks up.

Book Review: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke

My Lucky Life in and Out of Show BusinessMy Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I barely read any non-fiction (outside of the technical writing found in information technology reference guides) in any given year. When I do branch out away from fiction, I prefer to read a biography, autobiography or memoir, or a history book, usually on a particular brief period.

I breezed through Dick Van Dyke‘s autobiography quickly, probably because it felt like he sat in my living regaling me with tales from his past in his engaging and witty manner. His charm and good will bubbled out of the pages. Even the troubles and tragedies he confessed only evoked my compassion or caring in my assessment of him.

A couple of excerpts that really struck a chord for me:

I was all about living a kind, righteous, moral, forgiving, and loving life seven-days a week, not just the one day when you went to church. … And if there’s not a higher power, no one’s going to be worse for the wear for his or her effort. Was there one way? No, not as far as I could tell — other than to feel loved, to love back, … as simple as making sure you spend time helping make life a little better for other people.

(from the Family Values chapter)

A few years ago, I told Esquire magazine that the Buddhists boiled it down to the essentials. They said you need three things in life: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. The message does not get any clearer. I heard walt Disney, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Carl Reiner all say the same thing in their own way. Hope is life’s essential nutrient, and love is what gives life meaning. I think you need somebody to love and take care of, and someone who loves you back. In that sense, I think the New Testament got it right. So did the Beatles. Without love, nothing has any meaning.

(from the Curtain Calls chapter)

When I finished the book, I wanted to give him a big hug, but of course, I’m too far away to do that. So I’ll send him a little love for all the laughs and love he’s shared unconditionally with me, with all of us really, for some many decades. As long as I’ve been alive, there’s always been a Dick Van Dyke to make me smile.

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