Posts Tagged: Romance
Set during both WWII and in the mid-1980s, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an exceptional novel about a time in history American we are too willing to forget…the internment of Japanese Americans during the war. Set in Seattle, Hotel focuses around main character Henry, who is a young 12-year-old Chinese American boy in 1942, where much of the book takes place. During these historical chapters, he meets Keiko, a Japanese girl who is a second generation American. They both start out apprehensive of each other (Henry’s father loathes the Japanese) but eventually grow to care deeply for each other. When Keiko and her family, along with all of the other Japanese families, are rounded up and moved to camps set up by the American government, Henry is not only unhappy but confused…confused since Keiko is more American than he is. Keiko does not even speak Japanese. This contrasts with Henry’s background…where his parents speak only Chinese and they force him to speak only “his English.”
I really liked this novel. It has one of the best, most moving stories I’ve read. Ever. Now, mind you, I am not saying this is the best book I have ever read. Why? What is the difference between “best story” and “best book?” Simple: the way it was written. As I was reading Hotel, I found myself thinking about another book I had read that was also set in the Pacific Northwest about Japanese Americans: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Even though Snow takes place AFTER WWII and Hotel focuses on events that happen DURING the war, I continued to make comparisons between the two while I was reading Hotel. Comparisons to the story and the location and the romantic elements…NOT comparisons to the writing. Guterson’s novel from 1994 is filled with lyrical prose that I remember submerging myself into and not wanting to escape from…vivid from page one to the end, brilliantly bringing to life an entire setting through the pages. The love story in Snow between the main characters is enhanced by the poetic words given to describe both them and their surroundings. Jamie Ford’s writing in Hotel is good…very good. It’s just not excellent. It’s the story in Hotel that you want to savor, not the prose. Had Ford brought to Hotel the expressive, inspired language Guterson used, Hotel might just have been a true literary masterpiece. But, having a minor masterpiece is still pretty good! It’s a great, page-turning read and a story that will stay with you long after the final page.
A fun tale with an interesting weave of supernatural to change things up a bit. Tilly is bored with her life and her high school sweetheart husband and their inability to get pregnant is a constant source of contention. On a whim, Tilly visits a psychic, who happens to be a former friend, and this fortune teller warns her that she possesses the gift of “clarity.” Not believing in any of the psychic stuff, she initially ignores the fortune, but soon she begins to have day dreams where she foresees what is about to happen in her life. After these flashes of future vision, Tilly’s life begins to take turns she never imagined. This is the second book I’ve read by Winn Scotch, the first being The Department of Lost and Found. She is a strong writer who enjoys taking chances.
Not being the biggest fan of multiple vignette movies, I didn’t have high expectations here. I find that usually, in vignette ensemble movies like this one, ala Short Cuts, Crash, I get so upset with one story that no matter what is happening in the others, I lose interest in the whole thing. But, this had such a great cast, how could I pass it up? And, thankfully, it’s MUCH sweeter and more enjoyable than I expected. The storylines are all pretty much what you would expect from a Garry Marshall-directed romantic comedy. They are all about love in its various forms…broken love, falling in love, old love, love that’s not really love at all, friendship love, etc. The sweetest storyline would have to be the two friends who THINK that are having great fortune in the love department. Then, all of a sudden, one of the relationships crashes and the other soon does as well. The friends come together to find solace in each other and end up finding love as well. Also, the plotline with an older couple (played by Marshall rom com regular Hector Elizondo and the fabulous Shirley MacLaine) finding their way back together after a past betrayal is heartfelt and endearing. Basically, this film lives up to its goal…to make us all feel like going out and falling in love! If only it were that easy…
Yes, it’s a cutsie rom com. We know this because there are two good-looking, youngish people starring in the film and on the cover of the DVD, etc, plus there is instant sexual chemistry, though, naturally, the two do not like each other at first. Your typical rom com fare. Here the good-looking couple who are determined NOT to fall in love are Amy Adams (so irresistibly perky and vibrant) and Matthew Goode (so brooding…doing his best “I do not want to be lovable” routine). The two of them almost make us forget that not only have we “sort of” seen this type of material before, we have seen almost EXACTLY the same material in a 1995 Lawrence Kasdan film, French Kiss with rom con queen Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. There, Ryan, like Adams, runs off to follow her boyfriend abroad where she meets Kline, a Frenchman, and naturally nature takes its course and soon the boyfriend is forgotten and Kline is the ONE! So, Goode is Irish not French and plotwise, the boyfriend in French Kiss met another woman in Paris and in Leap Year, it’s that said boyfriend hasn’t proposed yet. But, still, they are pretty similar. And, to top that off, I LOVE French Kiss. It’s one of my favorite films from the 1990s and definitely one of my favorite contemporary romantic comedies. And I still like Leap Year, with its copied and clichéd characters, plot, etc.? Yes, I do. Amy Adams and Matthew Goode are so likeable (separately, but mostly together) that we do not care that we already know the ending and have heard much of the dialogue and seen much of the plot before. Another bonus here is Ireland…the lush scenery, the vistas, the gloom and rain… Well, you can’t have sunshine everyday, right? Think again – it’s sunshiny everyday in Romantic Comedy Land.