I hope you read Judy's interview last week and visited her blogs Costume Drama Reviews and Movie Classics. Today, as I promised the winner of the audiobook from Robin Hook series 3 she decided to giveaway is going to be announced.
Just a brief note, as usual I’ve entered in the giveaway only those commenters who added their e-mail addresses, as I had asked . Please, be more careful next time you want to be entered, don’t forget to add it!

Here are the names , then:
1. Marie
2. stiletto storytime
3. Krist
4. tyme_4_t
5. CaRiiToO
6. Traxy
7. Ruth
8. Anda Alexandra
9. onemorelurker
10. mesmered
11. MarionG
And the lucky winner who's going to enjoy the listening of The Witchfinders read by Richard Armitage is ...



Since last Saturday afternoon I have been in a very strange mood. Blue? I didn't want to write about it. It hurt. BuI kept on wondering : "How would Jane (Austen) react to such an unpleasant situation"? Writing, of course. Wit, irony and satire. She would brilliantly made it laughable. But I'm not Jane. I haven't got her stingy wit and her genius for writing. But I think that to tell about it can help me.



This is not my first post recording my attempts to catch up with Colin Firth's career (HERE is my first post). It is impressive how much I've lost! This weekend I managed to watch two very different period movies, both very good in their very different genres: Relative Values (2000) and A Month in the Country (1987)

1. Relative Values (2000)

 Director Eric Styles adapts Noel Coward's play set in  '50s British country and, more broadly, gives us another depiction of the complications of romance and marriage. The eligible Earl of Marshwood (Edward Atterton) is expected to marry within his class. His plan, therefore, to wed Hollywood starlet Miranda Frayle (JeanneTripplehorn) is met with consternation. His doting mother, the Countess (Julie Andrews), is advised by friends not to allow her corner of England to be sullied; her personal maid reveals that she's Miranda's long-lost sister and terrified lest their disparate circumstances be made plain; and the staff of Marshwood Hall are dizzy at the prospect of meeting a Hollywood actress. Near-hysteria builds when Don Lucas (William Baldwin), a bigshot actor and Miranda's former lover, turns up wanting her back.

The enchanting location of this movie was an ancient convent in the Isle of Man. It is meant to be a brilliant satire of the changes taking place in post-war society and the resulting conflicts in the 50s aristocratic England. The movie , thanks to its stellar cast and its witty dialogues,  is  really enjoyable.  Colin Firth is Peter Ingleton , the sophisticated and witty nephew of the landlady, the Countess of Marshwood, a role interpreted by Cowan himself on stage in the London premiere of the play he also directed in 1951. This is what Colin himself said about his role in an interview:  "Peter basically spends his time hanging around the place. He's a harmless mischief-maker who enjoys the crisis that's unfolding and he treats it all as a bit of a game. I haven't modelled my character upon Noel Coward because it is very important to appropriate a role and make it your own. After all, the delivery of a line now is certainly not going to be the same as it was forty years ago."

Stephen Fry is a fantastic butler and Julie Andrews is stuff of legend. Sophie Thompson (on the right with Colin Firth),  who stars as Moxie - Hollywood star Miranda's    forgotten poor sister and personal maid of the Countess - is incredibly funny in the scenes in which she has to  pretend to be a rich friend of the family. Hilarious. Sophie is Emma Thomson's sister and you surely remember her as Miss Bates in Emma 1996 (the film with Paltrow /Northam as Emma /Knightley) and maybe listened to her as Bella Harlowe, Lady Betty and Sally  in Clarissa , BBC radio drama  2010.

2. A Month in the Country (1987)
I was writing about WW1 veterans, shell - shocked ones, just few weeks ago in a post about Pat  Barker's Regeneration . This beautiful moving film lyrically deals with the same theme: men broken down by war, WWI. It is based on a very good short novel by J. L. Carr , A Month in the Country (1980, Booker Prize).
The plot concerns Tom Birkin ( Colin Firth ), a World War I veteran employed to uncover a mural in a village church that was thought to exist under coats of whitewash. At the same time another veteran, James Moon ( Kenneth Branagh ),   is employed to look for a grave beyond the churchyard walls. Though Birkin is an atheist there is prevalent religious symbolism throughout the book, mainly dealing with judgment. The novel explores themes of England's loss of spirituality after the war, and of happiness, melancholy, and nostalgia as Birkin recalls the summer uncovering the mural, when he healed from his wartime experiences and a broken marriage.

Among the several reviews I've found for this film I particularly agree with this one: "Permeated with a sense of isolation and regret that ultimately gives way to the comforting embrace of forgiveness, this is an unusual and unyielding film, one with the hushed fervor of a silent prayer".
It is a highly poetic,  symbolical story: Birkin restoring the painting in that isolated country church is actually restoring his own self.
In the cast Natasha Richardson as Mrs Keach, who adds a touch of romance to Birkin's stay in the village, and Patrick Malahide, as Reverend  Keach, representing  strong divine love, faith and religion, something Birkin really can't believe in any longer after the atrocities he had to witness.



Avalon is a very special American blogger buddy I met in the blogosphere thanks to our common interest in BBC Robin Hood and , especially,  in its leather- clad baddie, Guy of Gisborne. Read through her interview and leave your comment and your e-mail address to get the chance to win a DVD of one of her favourite films,  Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee  

Welcome on Fly High! And thank you Avalon for being my guest, I’m very happy and honoured to meet  a special person like you. Would you mind starting with a short self –introduction?

I live in the southern section of the U.S.A. on a horse ranch. I am the mother of two little boys who are pow wow dancers and historical re-enactors, which means we get to travel frequently. We are enrolled members of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. I have a degree in American History and work in Native American Preservation. I am also a volunteer genealogist and the owner of a quaint antique shop located in The Great Smoky Mountains. I have a very large close-knit family. My mother is an anthropologist, my father is a large animal veterinary, and I have five siblings, seven nieces and nephews, two great nieces, and over thirty cousins. I like to hike, river raft, and hang glide. I also love reading and history. I am interested in the Medieval Era, America's Civil War, and Native American History. And I like Ben Barnes and Richard Armitage.

 I love your name. It makes me think of King Arthur and its legend. Did it have a special value for yor parents?

My parents are history fanatics and named each of us after an historical person or place. I was named for Avalon and Michelle for Michele De Nostredame. My brothers are Tsali (Cherokee Warrior) Lancelot (Arthurian), Aramis (Musketeer) Victorio (Apache Chief), Ottawa (Native Tribe) Capulet (Shakespeare's Juliet's last name). My sisters are Nazareth (biblical) Isis (Egyptian Goddess), and Scarlett (Gone with the Wind) Josephine (for Napoleon's Josephine). And yes everyone teases us.
 I would never do that , better , I find them all wonderful names. Listen Avalon, reading your self – introduction I couldn’t believe my eyes. Everything sounds terrific: The Band of the Cheeroke Nation, your sons are pow wow dancers, you live and run a shop at the Great Smoky Mountains… so American, so fascinating! And you work for the Native American Preservation. What is it exactly that you do?
My family is from the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, which is sovereign nation. I have a shop there but I live in North Georgia which is about 3 hours from our Cherokee home.
I do different types of work; the exact job depends on who hires us out. Last month I had to travel and visit some ancient mounds and write up a report. Sometimes we work with Native children, Indigenous Education is very important to our youth. My more experienced co-workers have overseen documentaries and movies dealing with Native History. We took part in the documentary We Shall Remain. This summer I may be lucky enough to tour Canada's First Nations for an upcoming documentary. Much of our work is nonprofit and I often volunteer my time for events benefiting Native Children. We are not limited to locality as we are a continental organization.

 Great. The History of your people must be preserved and I think you do priceless work, precious indeed. And I think you should blog about these things you do more and more, Avalon. So, here we are at blogging. You’ve started only recently but you’ve made great progress with your lovely Avalon’s Blog. How did you start? How has blogging changed your life?
Thank you. My nieces are bloggers which encouraged me to blog. I met Natalie (RA Fan Blog) and decided I wanted to try Blogspot. I have made several interesting friends and it has been a fun hobby.

 You’ve got lots of other hobbies apart from blogging! What is your favourite one?
River rafting...such an adrenaline rush . Last year we started skyflying (a thrill ride) and since then it has become my thing.

Gosh Avalon! Great! You are a brave girl! We have a beautiful river here in my place and there are young people canoeing and going rafting. A couple of years ago, our school organized (I did it) a rafting event for a group of Belgian students we were having as guests: my students went, the Belgian students went, my Belgian colleagues went but … I didn’t dare! I was petrified only to think about it. Let’s say … water is not my element. But books are. So, next question … you are a historian and love reading. What is/are the best historical fiction book/s or essay/s you’ve read and would recommend to our readers? What are your favourite authors and genres?

The Anasazi Mystery Series and The First North American Series by Michael and Kathleen Gear. The authors are archeologist, something I have always wanted to be.
I also so like Lucia St. Clair Robson's novels. My favorite of her's is Ride the Wind which is based on the life of Cynthia Ann Parker. She was captured by the Comanche and adopted into the tribe. Years later the army "rescued" her and after several failed attempts to return to her Comanche husband, she died of a broken heart. Captive tales is something that has always intrigued me.
I also like John Jakes, Sue Harrison, and Joseph Marshall.

I know you like actor Bern Barnes much but , to be honest, I’ve seen very little of him. I’ve actually seen him only as Dorian Gray at the cinema. Have you seen him in that role? Did you like him? What is the movie with him you prefer? What do you most like in him?
As a child I was a Narnia fan of the books so of course as an adult I loved the movies. I fell in love with Ben as soon as he opened his eyes in the first scene of Prince Caspian. I have every movie he has ever played in, including Dorian Gray but Prince Caspian is my favorite. As hopelessly obsessed as I sound, I really do not know that much about Ben (my nieces do though) but I would like to think Ben is a bit like Caspian in real life; chivalrous, honorable, and a seeker of justice. You know those traits we only find in books, lol.
I am not quite sure what attracted me to him. He is one of the few non-native men that I find attractive.

You are an expert of the legend of Robin Hood. Why do you like it so much? Have you seen many of the film versions? Have you seen the latest one with Russel Crowe? What is your favourite version?
Thanks for the compliment, but I am in no way an expert of the legend of Robin Hood. I think I like it because I am a dreamer, silly-hearted as some has so amply put it. I love heroes; Robin Hood, King Arthur, Jesse James, Crazy Horse; small people who sacrificed themselves to stand up against powerful tyranny.
I think I studied the legend for so long because I want proof that he existed. Native people use oral stories to tell history and I would like to think that Europeans are not that much different then us, and that the legends of King Arthur and the ballads of Robin Hood originated from truth. It is sad when I hear people say they are fables used to entertain children and it is even sadder when those same people exploit Native Lore.
I have seen probably every version of Hood and I did not approve of the 1992 version of Robin Hood (with Kevin Costner). I am excited about Robin Hood 2010 and hope to see it soon.

 I know you appreciate BBC 2006/2009 Robin Hood series and that, just like me, you were quite hooked by the baddie in the series, more than by the hero. Why is Richard Armitage’s Gisborne so fascinating, according to you?

You mean my second non-native crush, lol. But seriously it was Guy's arrogant attitude and predominate allure that turned me onto him. I like that alpha male type.
As the series progressed, Guy revealed that he was not really a sadist killer but a man that had been driven into the monster that he was. There are two types of villains; those who hurt others simply because they enjoy seeing others suffer (like the sheriff) and then there are those like Guy, someone that has been wronged and gave up on the idea that good always prevails over evil, so they embrace sadistic behavior in hopes to triumph.

I have always had a soft spot for those of the second type because these types are usually conceived from Native Americans in books and movies, examples; Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and Magua from the Last of the Mohicans. Some claim these men were cold-blooded killers, but what had turned them into the men they were? What had been done to them for them to seek revenge in such a monstrous manner? It is the same with Guy. We know Robin wronged him by taking his lands, we know he entered adulthood on the streets of France, and it is up to the audience to imagine what else he might have endured.

 If you could go back in time and stop the action at series 2 ep. 13, just few seconds before Guy commits the infamous crime and makes himself and all of us terribly sad, what would you write in your own personal finale? I am not so sure that I would change it. I admired Marian and cried my heart out when she was murdered but it was her death that set the path for Robin and Guy's reconciliation. Maybe I would have had Prince John murder Lady Marian or threaten her so that she would be forced to remain in the Holy Land until Guy and Robin freed England.

 Your twist with Prince John killing Marian would have been good. Guy and Robin would have had a reason to join forces and their reconciliation would have been less unbelievable. Have you seen series 3? What do you think of Guy in it? And what do you think of his radically changed relationship with Robin?
Season 3 was a bit more mature and I liked the change. I only wished the writers would have done a few seasons with Guy fighting beside Robin, think of all the plots they could have dreamed up, it would have been entertaining.
I was disappointed to see the series end. It nearly broke my heart watching Allen, Robin, and Guy perish. Robin and Guy had an honorable death, it was Allan who was cheated. Allen deserved better, he should have gone out fighting by Robin's side.

 You are ready to a very generous and exciting giveaway. Do you want to tell about it yourself? Why did you choose to give away just this DVD?

For hundreds of years there has been countless massacres inflicted upon Native Americans and Wounded Knee is one of the more famous accounts because it occurred recently, at the dawn of the 20th Century. Wounded Knee was just another tragedy to the Native Tribes of America but it was something more to United States Citizens. Before when soldiers attacked and killed the red race, it was an honorable act, even commendable because the citizens saw us as the predator, because there were no reporters on site, no pictures that revealed the remains of murdered Indian mothers and scalped babies. That changed at Wounded Knee, when those heart-wrenching photos revealed the true horror of ethic genocide, Americans felt our pain and shared our grief and for the first time they felt ashamed and guilt.
I chose to give-a-way Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee because I do not think we should forget the past and what our ancestors have been through. It is one of the few movies told from the eyes of the red race. I hope the person that receives it learns something for our side of the story.

 My last question is … What would you like our readers to contribute in their comments?
Your readers are welcomed to ask me anything they choose.
And thank you for having me. I have always enjoyed your blog and our RA conversations.

It’s been a real pleasure Avalon and , of course, I too enjoy reading your blog and our RA conversations. Till next one , then. Thank you!

And  good luck with the giveaway, everybody!
Winner will be announced on Monday 7th June
The giveaway is open worldwide!



Since Strike Back finished we all felt rather ... orphaned... abandoned... what are we supposed to do now till Heyer's The Convenient Marriage read by Richard Armitage is released on 2nd August ? To wait and sigh! Moreover, we'll have to wait at least 5 months for Spooks 9 ! More waiting and sighing! Finally,  Richard's stage project as the rogue Willmore ( well, he didn't say it but I guess that will be  his role) ,  in Aphra Ben's Restoration Comedy The Rover,   has not been confirmed yet. Then,  how many of us will have the possibility to see him on stage if his project comes true?  Not all those that dream about it. More and more sighing!
So, what are we going to do?

Meanwhile , I've been reading and listening to  what Richard  told about future Spooks episodes. For example,  I'm desperate to know what he meant  in his May 4th GMTV interview when he said : " ... this season is all about identity, who these characters really are and Lucas is not who you thought he was... he's not like he thought he was (?!?) ... we sat down at a meeting and I went like UOT?!?! What you are talking about?!? It's all about peeling back layers and finding out who these people really are...yeah , big twists".
Someone told me there are some hypothesis brought forth by forums, sites and blogs but ... I have avoided rumours. I'm trying my own guess and my expectations are not that positive. I won't say much more about this until I see Series 9. I may be wrong and I'll be happy if I am. Spooks has been my favourite series for so long that I really hope they are not closing it and badly.

What else did Richard say about Spooks? Ah, yes! New woman, new troubles! Here she is (above) : Laila Rouass playing Maya, an exotic name for a stunning exotic beauty (gosh! how beautiful and glamorous she is!) .

There are some interesting bits about her in one of Richard's recent interviews, the one  on Digital Spy:

What's it like working with the new cast members like Laila Rouass?
"She's playing a character called Maya who is an old flame of Lucas's, possibly his first love, so that's been really interesting. She plays a doctor. We were shooting in a hospital on the South Bank the other day and it was like those Carlsberg adverts - if Carlsberg did hospitals, what the hospital would be like. It was super clean, and Laila Rouass walked down the corridor as a doctor and I was like, 'This is definitely a Carlsberg hospital'."
Lucas had a difficult relationship with Sarah Caulfield last series. Will that affect his ability to trust Maya?
"Yeah, I think he's had a string of quite disastrous love affairs. This one is particularly different and it's quite hard to tell you without revealing too much of the story but Lucas isn't quite who you think he is and she's part of that story, so there's a whole other character that's contained within Maya."

I  didn't get what Richard meant at first. Not living in England and not watching British ads for Carlsberg beer, I couldn't actually get what he meant. But as a tenacious MI5 agent,  I started investigating on line and found out and realized what he hinted at ... such a gorgeous doctor in a clean dream hospital ... if Carlsberg built hospitals they would be dream hospitals. So, he thought he was living in  a dream... well  Richard... got it! Clear as day! A little crush on her? Dirty hot thoughts? Understandable and you are forgiven, of course!
Now, if it is not exactly clear for any of you, here's  one of the ads Richard was thinking of while Doctor -Maya-Lucas's- first-love came toward him walking down a hospital corridor...

A dream house ... a dream hospital!
Now, what  can we expect from a woman like this? Troubles. Lots of trouble. And what about this amazing beauty's acting talent? Here's a sample from ITV Footballers's Wives in which she starred as Amber Gates .

...so there's a whole other character that's contained within Maya. What might this mean? I've got a sensation but... But I'll stop here with my investigations and nuisances. Let's wait and see if any new clue can be found!

Do you feel like playing a game with me, now? Let's see if you can guess what Strike Back and Spooks have in common. (not RA starring in them, too easy!) Look at this quick and not at all perfect montage I made of two bits - one from SPOOKS 7 ep. 2 , the other from STRIKE BACK ep. 1- and listen carefully ...

Have you listened carefully? Have you noticed anything in common?
I did it at once when I first saw this scene between Collinson and Porter, maybe because I had seen the other scene, the one from Spooks 7 let's say ... more than once!
Enjoy your weekend! And by the way, what are you doing until The Convenient Marriage or Spooks  9 to feed your RA appetite?


Is Mr Knightley a Mr Perfection meant to mild Emma's imperfections? Is he too perfect to be true? I personally like him very much for his temper and for his wisdom, for his kindness and his generousity. Impossible to find a Mr Knightley in real life? Well, who cares? We can find one each time we leaf through Jane Austen's Emma. Isn't this the reason why we love reading so much? Isn't it because we can find "recovery, escape and consolation"? And, especially, a Mr Knightley, a Mr Darcy, a Captain Wentworth ....



4 days to go. Next Saturday afternoon , I will be discussing Emma at our reading club's 5th meeting. The more I read it, the more I like it. I know most readers prefer Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, but I also know many critics generally regard Emma as Austen's most carefully crafted or skillfully written novel. So I do not feel lonely in my sympathy for Miss Woodhouse and her story, though I'm not a scholar or a critic. (Go on reading at MY JA BOOK CLUB)

Have you heard of a web comedy based on Jane Austen fan fiction? Sex and The Austen Girl. Two episodes have already been posted. Have a look at my blogspost presenting the series HERE.



Monday 24th May. As promised it’s time to reveal who won Marie Burton’s double giveaway. Have you read her interview last weekend? Have you had a look at her amazing site?
Now, I warn you, I had to  leave out of the giveaway those commenters who didn’t add their e-mail addresses - though I may happen to know them - so,  next time the rules of a giveaway are that you should add it , please,  do it! I also left out commenters who explicitly declared they did not want to be entered, of course!

Thus , the remaining names are the following:

1. mel u
2. Nancy
3. The Book Mole
4. buddyt
5. CelticLady
6. Roberta
7. Jennifer
8. amandawk
9. Pricilla
10. Judylynn
11. etirv
12. Linda
13. Bethie
14. Arch
15. Mystica
16. LAMusing
17. Luthien84
18. stiletto storytime

and the winner of the two books given away by Marie Burton is.....

stiletto storytime!!!
Now this giveaway is over and I want to thank Marie Burton for her generousity and kindness but I also want to remind all of you that  there's another great giveaway open on FLY HIGH!
You've got still a week to go on thinking about which of your favourite classics you'd like to see adapted on screen and write it down in a comment on  JUDY'S INTERVIEW, my latest one in MY BLOGGER BUDDIES series. Don't forget to add your e-mail address!
Then, after commenting  (or before, if you prefer) ,  have a look at Judy's precious blogs.

If you love movies and costume drama, you cant miss them! So, to close this posting of mine about giveaways, I'll leave you to  Judy's interview here on FLY HIGH! to have the chance to win THE WITCHFINDERS audiobook (Robin Hood)  read by Richard Armitage!
What about a sample of it?
You only have to  click on the video below. It is one of the clips I made  for my Utube channel. The audio is just taken from the first minutes of this gripping audiostory, The Witchfinders!



Judy is English and writes about her fondness of old movies at MOVIE CLASSICS and about her love for period drama at COSTUME DRAMA REVIEWS

She always writes detailed, well-informed, thoroughful reviews which I like reading very much. She has kindly accepted to answer my questions and I'm glad to introduce her to all of you and to discover more about her.

Judy is generously giving  away one of the latest   Robin Hood Audiobooks, THE WITCHFINDERS read by Richard Armitage. To win it you simply have to comment and answer Judy's final question/s.  Don't forget to add your e-mail address in case we'll have to get in touch with  you as the lucky winner! 

First of all Judy, introduce yourself to our readers saying as much as you would like to or whatever comes to your mind.
Thank you very much  Maria Grazia for asking me to take part in this – I’m honoured. OK, a short introduction - I come from Suffolk in England, a beautiful part of the country. I've lived here most of my life but did work in Germany for a time as an au pair when I was young. I'm 49 and have been married to Paul for 25 years - we have two children, a daughter of 20 and a son of 16. I am a sub-editor on a local paper - that means I'm a trained journalist but mainly do page layouts and edit reports rather than writing my own stuff. I did write and edit the paper's TV pages for many years, but sadly never visited the sets of any costume dramas. I've been fascinated by 19th-century literature ever since I discovered Dickens and Charlotte Bronte as a child - they are still among my favourite authors. I also love visiting old country houses, stately homes etc (there are quite a few in my part of the country!) , and imagining what it was like when people lived there, both above and below stairs. I did an English lit degree at university and in recent years have kept up my interest by discussing books on the net and writing my blog on costume dramas. I also have another blog on 1930s and 40s films, which are another interest.

When did you start blogging and why? Do you remember what your first post was about?
I started my costume dramas blog in November 2008, after writing about old movies for a few months on another blog. I wanted somewhere that I could keep and share my reviews of the films and dramas I love, and also where I could put together the pictures and stills I love to collect. The first posts I put up were rewritings of bits and pieces I’d posted on Livejournal, about the recent ITV productions of Jane Austen novels, Mansfield Park, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.

What did blogging add to your real life?
A chance to get away from real life at times and escape into another world! Also it has helped me to discover other people’s blogs and make friends with people around the world who have similar interests to mine.

Why do you blog about period drama or old films? A bad relationship with the present? (something I can sympathize with …) Don’t you like modern /contemporary drama?
I’ve always had a tendency to live in the past, I suppose, which might suggest a bad relationship with the present day at times, though I’d prefer to see it more positively as a love of history – in fact ‘Living in the Past‘ was the name of my Livejournal before I started up the two blogs I have now! The 19th century in particular has always had a strong attraction for me, I suppose because I admire so many authors from that period and they got me interested in watching adaptations too. I do like modern/ contemporary drama productions too, but there tend to be a lot of reviews of those, whereas with old films and period drama it is sometimes a bit easier to find something new to say.

Which is your favourite historical period?
I’ve just mentioned the 19th century, which is my real passion, because that is when many of my favourite authors lived - plus when I was a child in the 1960s and 70s I would sometimes look at older people in my village and realise they must actually remember the late Victorian period. I don’t think I ever had the nerve to ask them about their memories of those days, though, sadly. I’m also increasingly interested in the 18th century as I’ve got into some authors from that period – plus I also enjoy watching dramas set in the early years of the 20th century, from the First World War up to the 1930s and 40s. And I also enjoy many productions set in much earlier periods, the Middle Ages, Tudors and Stuarts, etc, etc – and in other parts of the world, like France, Russia, India, etc.

What about reading? What kind of reader are you? Have you got favourite authors/genres?

I’ve always been a keen reader and especially love many 19th-century authors, Dickens, Trollope, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, the Brontes, Austen, Gaskell, Thackeray, plus poets like Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tennyson... and many more! I also like collecting 19th-century illustrations (see one from Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters below and read my latest review about BBC WIVES AND DAUGHTERS 1999). I do also enjoy a lot of modern authors –but I’ve never really got into modern sequels to classics, though I have read a few of these.

I do like detective stories – Golden Age writers like Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham are among my favourites, and both of these also have great TV adaptations. Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter are perfect as Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. I also like some historical detective stories being written now and would love to find more good authors in this genre - Caro Peacock, who writes the Liberty Lane mysteries set in the early 19th century, is one of my favourites though she hasn’t published anything for a little while. At the moment I’m just reading The Winter Garden Mystery, one of the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries by Carola Dunn, about a magazine reporter investigating a murder in rural 1920s England - enjoying it so far.

Is there any TV series you have particularly liked watching recently? What about your favourite movies from the past instead?

I loved watching the Sandy Welch adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and reviewed each episode. Mad Men is my favourite at the moment - and I suppose, being set in the 1960s, it just about qualifies as a costume drama. I also enjoyed Robin Hood though it took me a while to get into it, and I have been watching Doctor Who with my teenage son, although I’m a bit sad that David Tennant isn’t in it any more, as he is such a good actor. I do wish there was more interesting drama being made in general, instead of so much reality TV! As regards my favourite movies from the past, there are loads – I’m especially keen on the 1930s and tend to watch a lot of Warner Brother movies, with Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart being some of my favourite stars.

Your reviews are always thorough and pretty accurate. How long does it usually take to write one?
Thank you, MG! I haven’t really kept count of how long each one takes, but, if I’m honest, much longer than they ought to – they sometimes take me ages as I keep going back to rewrite something and make my point a bit better! I’d like to speed up a bit so I can cover more ground and update my blog more often, like you do, but I will probably always be a slow writer.

Have you heard of a new Jane Eyre? Don’t you think we’ve just had a good adaptation in 2006( or was it 2007?) Don’t you think they should start proposing new titles for the adaptations of classics? Would you like to suggest any title? Who would you cast in the main roles?

I loved the Sandy Welch version with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens (shown in 2006 in the UK, 2007 in most other countries I believe), though I haven’t got round to writing that one up yet – a good excuse to watch it yet again! There have been plenty of other good versions too – I liked the one with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton too. I’m slightly disappointed to see the TV and movie powers-that-be remaking this great novel yet again instead of going for something different, though I suppose on the plus side at least it will be a major costume drama – they seem to be an endangered species these days!

I’d love to see a TV version of Villette, which I know you are reading at the moment – not sure who I would cast as Lucy Snowe, though. I’d also love to see a remake of A Tale of Two Cities as it is one of my favourites and it has been a long time since the last version starring James Wilby – what I’d really like is to see a production where the same actor plays Carton and Darnay, as I think that would be very interesting. I know there was an American version which did this (I think Chris Sarandon starred) but I’ve never seen it.

I totally agree with you! I'd love to see Villette adapted and a new A Tale of the Cities. And... do you like going to the cinema or do you prefer watching old movies and TV series on DVD?
I love going to the cinema and think that is the best way to see a movie made for the big screen, but I do enjoy watching movies and shows on DVD too. I was lucky enough to see a couple of Bette Davis’ films on the big screen to mark her centenary, and Jezebel in particular was so much more powerful than it seems on TV.

You decided to give away an audiobook, one I really appreciate, for widely known (to my readers) reasons. I ‘ve discovered audiobooks only recently, what about you? What do you think of them? Why did you choose this one ?

The audiobook I am giving away is Robin Hood: The Witchfinders, read by Richard Armitage.
I had been thinking of giving away a DVD but decided that could cause difficulties because of the region1/region 2 coding problem. Fortunately audiobooks will play in any country, so this offer can be open worldwide! This copy is “almost new” , ie I have listened to it once.:) Like you, Maria Grazia, I have also got into audiobooks only recently.

I liked the last two series of Robin Hood (never really got into the first series), and this is an interesting audiobook because it is set at the start of series three, but it is not an episode which was actually made, so it adds something to the series. It’s also an episode which focuses especially on the character of Guy and his grief and guilt, and, as an added bonus, there is an interview with Richard at the end. And the theme of Witchfinders is interesting to me since I come from the area where the real-life Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, had his reign of terror.

Really? Sounds bleakly interesting! Now, before closing our delightful chat, have you got any special questions you'd like to ask our readers?
Yes, I’d like to ask readers to say what one of their favourite TV or movie costume dramas was – and/or which book you would like to see filmed in the future? Do you have a favourite work you would love to see on the screen?

 Thank you Judy! It's been very pleasant to talk to you and discover more about the talented lady behind those two beautiful blogs!

Now, dear readers,  it's time for you to answer Judy's questions, add your e-mail address and , if you haven't done it yet, fly to her blogs! Good luck with the giveaway! Winner will be announced next Monday 31st May.



“Are you a good man sent by God, Mr Porter? Or evil, not to be trusted”?

Again  ( my previous post HERE ) this doesn’t want to be a proper review but just notes about my impressions and reactions to the  other episodes of STRIKE BACK. Just my very personal way of watching it . This time I’d like to start with me changing my mind:  I liked episodes 3 and 4 more than the first two ones, and episodes 5 and 6 immensely!
Richard Armitage must always be trusted ..."Whatever happens,  you must trust me... trust me!" had said John Porter in episode 2 and he was right.
Strike Back all action hero with a gold heart has come completely to the light little by little, episode after episode, and – pulp, bloody scenes included - he has touched my heart. Who doubted it? I , first of all. I didn’t imagine I might come to sympathize with this hero, not at all.
Look at him! Boldly showing off his muscles, his power and strength , aiming his gun at his foes. Not my kind of hero, indeed! But he risks his life, supporting and helping the weak and the subjected in ep. 3-4, fights and feels pity, strives to escape his sense of guilt in search for atonement, sympathize with people’s sufferings , keeps up his strength until exhaustion in the service of others, bravely bears physical efforts and pains. He is strong-willed , smart, talented, resourceful but, and especially, generous and sensitive. What more can one ask for?

His family ties remain the least plausible part in the story but JP’s suffering , while trying to console his teenage daughter at a distance, his caressing her face on a laptop screen with distress painted on his  deeply moved face, was one of the most compelling moments in this second part set in Zimbabwe. The script, the dialogues, are again rather simple and full of ... well ... you know what I mean!

But I enjoyed watching these two episodes more than the first two ones and  I even  bore the violent moments better, much better. Not that I  liked all that shooting but I tried to control my reactions which are always quite exaggerated. I liked them,  though  the prison scenes were full of clichès and the second part,  with the darling nun slapping poor JP on his face for killing so easily and taking care of all those orphans,  was also a bit déjà vu.
What is surprising is just the complex personality of this new action hero who doesn't hide his fragility. And that , I'm sure,  is what Richard has brought to JP. This especially in the closing episodes.


The final episodes , 5-6, were definitely the best in the series and they took me stuck at my pillows in total ravishing emotions each second of the two  hours' watching . I was moved more than once, touched deeply, and even whispered out : "... incredible man, unbelievable JP!" I was not swept away by his shirtless gorgeousness or his successful escaping strategies,   but by his humane skills. The minefield  scene and the final confrontation with Collinson left me breathless and so thrilled!  I can assure you more by the words and the looks than by the hectic action.

I don't want to give away much, for those who haven't seen it yet to enjoy it fully,  but let me  confess I felt for the ginger bearded Gerry Baxter I had hated at first and, unexpectedly, for treacherous Collinson too. It was as if I could experience the same overwhelming sensations John Porter was experiencing in those moments: he could feel total empathy for  those two men  and their disgraced destiny and pitied them, with no sense of judgement and sincere forgiveness. No hatred and no revenge for John Porter but forgiveness.  And, in the end , my new-born sympathy for JP had turned into  huge admiration.

Now I'm happy I  have another John to love among Richard's characters. After JS ( Sparkhouse), JT ( North & South) and JM (Drowning not waving, Moving on series), I will be indebted forever to JP , Strike Back hero, for a special gift:   first tears  performed by Richard on screen and beautiful touching moments.

"I've got the answer to my question, Mr Porter. May God protect you”