Why haven’t they made the movie: The King’s General?!

The King’s General
For my post on the book, go HERE.

The King’s General is one of my all time favorite books. I recommend it to anyone who loves to reads and have re-read it myself many times. Now, all that is left is for Hollywood to make a movie!

OK, so I know that movies based on classics never quite live up to our expectations. There is the expectant wait, the excitement when the cast is revealed, the hype when the trailer is released, and the disappointment when the movie is finally seen. I know all that, and still, I want a movie! The King’s General has gotten under my skin; I love the characters so much that I want them shown on the silver screen. I want to see who Hollywood would choose for the cast – although I myself have already imagined them in my mind. It’s just that kind of book; and that is why most movies based on popular books are such flops: the fans of the book have already filmed the whole book in their mind, and leaving out even a single scene or the slightest change in the plot, is such a jar. We know the movie already – who changed the script?!

The movie:

Menabilly: Source

My idea of the movie strictly follows the plot. But following the plot doesn’t mean showing each and every scene in the book. Many of the scenes would probably be irrelevant in a movie due to the fact that a book must describe a lot in detail which isn’t needed in a movie. I would not change any of the essentials of the plot though: the characters, the important events, the outcome of their lives, and their personalities – only the length would be shortened.

Another point about book based films is that, many times, the dialogue is copied word for word from the book. For some fans this might be a plus point, but not for me. The reason is that the dialogue has become just that: a dialogue. Actors begin to sound like mannequins who lifelessly repeat what they are told. It’s like a useless prop that jars the uniformity of the set. The writer of the script should have freedom in rewriting the novel to some extent. The essence of the dialogue should be the same, but the script of a movie is quite different from other reading material.

As for the cast, for Richard Grenvile, I imagine someone hard and cruel but charming, careless but an intense lover. I’ve so far thought of Taylor Kitsch. He’s perfect for the role in my mind. If only he were a couple of years older for when Richard is above 40.

Source

Rose Byrne might suit the role of Gartred Grenvile – Richard’s stunningly beautiful, hard, grasping and greedy older sister.  The only thing I would say is that both the siblings are supposed to have auburn hair – but they can dye their hair right?! 😛

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I don’t know about Honor. Actresses are always more difficult to cast because they are usually described in such detail in books. Maybe Kirsten Dunst would fit.

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So Hollywood – make a movie already!

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Castle Dor: Historical Fiction Challenge


“It is a curious coincidence that no poet, or shall we call him investigator, has ever lived to conclude this particular story. His work has always been finished by another.”

So says Doctor Carfax in Castle Dor. The words have an eerie quality when we learn that Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch died before completing his book which was later finished by Daphne du Maurier. The legend of Tristan and Iseult is one that has haunted poets and novelists alike with more than one version still extant. Castle Dor deals with the same legend set in 19th century Cornwall.

The legend
Tristan, a young knight and nephew to King Mark, brings home the Irish Princess Iseult who is to marry his uncle. The young couple accidentally (or intentionally in some versions) ingest a love potion meant for King Mark and Princess Iseult. They fall madly in love and pursue an adulterous relationship, hiding and scheming behind the King’s back. They are betrayed by Iseult’s maid and the King, intent on revenge, kills young Tristan with a poisonous arrow. In some versions he forgives the couple as long as Tristan agrees to leave. In this version, Tristan marries Iseult of the White Hands(namesake of Princess Isuelt), sister to Sir Kahedin, and leaves returning the Princess to her King.

Castle Dor is very detailed in the various versions of the story. We are introduced to Doctor Carfax and Monsieur Ledru who pursue the true origins behind the legend of Tristan and Iseult.  They believe that the place they have come to, known in the novel as ‘Troy’, is the actual setting of the star crossed lovers’ story. Their investigation reawakens the legend into the lives of Linnet Lewarne and Amyot Trestane. Recently married Linnet Lewarne hates her old husband. Descended from royalty her beauty and poise is matched by no other. Amyot, a Breton onion seller from aboard a ship, comes to Linnet’s inn. Even before they meet, Linnet is drawn to him by the sound of his voice. From that moment onward, their lives are connected and as Doctor Carfax realizes, they relive the original legend to the letter. He tries desperately to avert the end.

Linnet Lewarne is the reincarnation of the Irish Princess Iseult. The potion in the original legend is supposed to free the lovers from responsibility for their actions (such actions a noble knight would never dream of doing). But in the novel, although we have a certain drink, brewed and drunk by Linnet and Amyot, it is hard to absolve them of all responsibility. Linnet seems cold, harsh and cruel both to her husband and to all others who have done her no harm. Amyot on the other hand seems genuinely in love while not forgetting his duties to others. While in the beginning of the story I had some sympathy for Linnet, as the novel progressed, I found myself unable to like her.

Daphne du Maurier was the perfect author to finish the novel. Her love of old legends and stories, and the whole atmosphere created by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch suited her own style. In fact, I couldn’t see where the seam came in; where Sir Arthur left off and Daphne began. The story was executed flawlessly.

The Loving Spirit: Daphne du Maurier Challenge

Reading the first few pages of the The Loving Spirit, my initial reaction was that Janet, the protagonist, was a cross between a sweet L. M. Montgomery heroine, and a religious minded Jane Eyre. I was so wrong. The book has nothing in common with Jane Eyre’s piety or the sweet and content characters of L. M. Montgomery. Here we have a heroine, who is not openly ambitious, but has dreams widely different from her chosen sphere in life. She is not fiercely passionate, and yet, you get the feeling that she is living a suppressed life and the dam must blow.

But, when it does, it doesn’t appeal to me. Janet dreams to live the life of a man, and when her society doesn’t allow her this, she dutifully marries and bears her husband children. I would have liked it much more if she had broken free of restraints and found a way to satisfy her desires. Instead she tries to live vicariously through her son. This dream is doomed from the beginning and in every generation the vicious cycle repeats itself. The loving spirit is the unique connection between parent and child that is present in the Coombe family. Janet is where this spirit starts…….all the way down to Jennifer.

I have to say I didn’t really enjoy this book. And not because it continued through three generations. I just didn’t like the relationship between Janet and her son Joseph. It reminded me vaguely of The Thorn Birds and how Meggie hated her mother’s favoritism towards her brother Frank. Although the books are widely different, I disliked the similar preference and total exclusion of everyone else in her life. I actually sympathized, though did not condone Philip’s jealousy of his mother’s love for Joseph.

This was Daphne du Maurier’s first book and at times this is apparent: her writing lacks the polish of her later works and she is not able to carry the story so well through the generations as she does in her later work Hungry Hill. Cause and effect is not so clear because she didn’t take the time to acquaint us with the characters’ personalities. I didn’t develop any attachment to them and had to force my way through most of it. In between, I lost sight of certain characters it would have been pleasant to read more about. I wouldn’t recommend this to a Daphne du Maurier fan.

Hungry Hill: Daphne du Maurier Challenge

I had avoided reading Hungry Hill by Daphne du Maurier for a long time. Books covering many generations don’t appeal to me. I usually like a story centered around one main character. I picked up Hungry Hill at last for the Daphne du Maurier challenge hosted by Chrisbookarama, and was instantly absorbed. The writing is, unlike Maurier’s other novels, not in the first person-narrative form, but the more common third person.

Perhaps, what interested me was the fact, that although the novel covered five generations of an Irish family, each generation was linked to the Copper Mine built on Hungry Hill. Their lives are surrounded by misfortune even though their monetary strength can’t be challenged. Everyone in the Brodrick family is left unsatisfied in some way. They are all pursued by demons that won’t let them lead the life they try to build.

Who hasn’t felt alienated from the rest like poor young Johnnie? The feeling of being ‘different’ or ‘strange’ is one that we all at some point or another feel; if we don’t, we’re among the lucky ones. Then we have Hal who wants to be respected and loved by his father. He has inherited a feeling of impotence and inadequacy from his uncle Johnnie, who inherited it from his father John. Is their bad blood in the family or is the land trying to expel them? The curse of Hungry Hill devastates the Brodrick family, pursuing them relentlessly.

In the end, Hungry Hill is the land of the people. The Brodricks and the Donovans have fought over it for generations. Each generation faces its own struggle against the Hill and the Donovans. The Brodricks are interlopers on the land, and whereas they have money, they can never possess the spirit of the land.

The King’s General

It’s cold. I have hot cocoa to warm my hands, but my other hand holding the book is still freezing. Never mind, I still have to read. Why? Because I’m re-reading The King’s General! It is one of Daphne’s less popular books but I find the story irresistible. A historical novel set in the time of England’s Civil War, it contains many real life characters.

Honor Harris has a vivid recollection of meeting her brother’s wife Gartred Grenvile. Even at the young age of 10, she is able to see behind Gartred’s mask. Everyone has fallen victim to her beauty and charm, but not Honor. In her childish way, she mistrusts Gertrude. After her brothers death, Honor thankfully believes that she has seen the last of the ‘Grenviles’. Never was she more wrong. The Grenviles and the Harrises are to play further roles in each others life for decades to come.

At eighteen, Honor Harris and Gartred Grenvile’s brother Richard Grenvile fall in love. Whether their love is consummated we never know. What we do know is that they never marry; they are torn apart only to meet years later. Yet their love endures. Richard Grenvile is now Sir Richard Grenvile: the King’s most trusted general. The King has fallen and soon Oliver Cromwell is in reign, but Richard will do anything to protect his King.

The love story between Richard and Honor is anything but conventional. At times, I was left wondering how their love, not only survived, but strengthened over the years. What was the magnetic quality that drew them towards each other. Richard is anything but a gentle lover. He is cruel and ruthless; so much in fact that Honor fears he will lose what influence he has with the King and his trusted men. I never thought I could ever love a novel which did not end happily. The King’s General proved how wrong I was.

The novel takes place mostly in ‘Menabilly’, an estate owned by the Rashleighs. The house is the one on which she based her descriptions of Manderley in the novel Rebecca. Daphne had always been fascinated by the house and the legend of the bones found in the buttress. With a little bit of imagination and some history, she fashions a love story that you almost believe is true – or at least wish it to be so.

I felt that this book was different from Daphne du Maurier’s other novels because the narrator, Honor Harris, is a strong young woman who has no qualms about who she is. She has a confidence and maturity, even at eighteen, that is lacking in some of her other narrators. She reminds me a little of Mary Yellen, the protagonist in Jamaica Inn. Her realistic and matter of fact attitude is refreshing after the uncertainty and under-confidence of the narrators in I’ll Never be Young Again, My Cousin Rachel and even a little in Rebecca (you know it’s true). Unlike them, Honor has always known her mind and what she intends to do. Her strength is what gets her through her…..let’s just say ‘sorrows’ , and what allows her to let the man she loves go.

The Flight of the Falcon: Daphne du Maurier Challenge

Finally! I’ve finished the first book for the challenge. Written in 1965, The Flight of the Falcon is one of Daphne du Maurier’s later books. The novel, like some of her other works, has the same type of narrator: under-confident, unsure, unsuccessful and dependent. By dependent I mean, that the characters are usually (not always) overshadowed by some strong figure in their life. Beoto Donati is all that his predecessors were, except that he is not a young school-boy learning through experience how to be a maturer man. Experience has not given him the necessary push. In I’ll Never Be Young Again and My Cousin Rachel we meet the male voice at a much younger age. These protagonists are untried as of yet and as the novel progresses they are forced to learn certain harsh facts. In The Flight of the Falcon we enter Beoto’s life at the age of 32. His life is at a standstill because of what he believes to be the loss of his older brother Aldo; a brother he feared yet idolized; without whom he has no separate existence.

Returning to Ruffano, his birth place, to investigate whether his old nurse was the murder victim in front of a church, he is never more shocked in his life when he runs into skeletons from his past. The reader is not so easily shocked. Most of the secrets in the novel are easy to guess. Like the mystery surrounding the birth of Aldo and the murder of Marta. I was not mid-way through the book before I had figured these two out. But this did not in any way deter me from reading the whole book. Daphne du Maurier, as always, gives a certain magnetic energy to her narrator’s voice. His/her method of narrating the events that happen never fail to grasp your interest.Yet, I must say that for the male narrators at least, I find them a bit too weak and dependent. She so aptly brings their sense of helplessness and ineptness to the surface. The style of writing is enough to keep one reading, but the revelations of character are sometimes too insightful for us to be comfortable.

The summary at the back of the penguin edition, prepares us for a repetition of past exploits and the death of the Falcon. The Falcon, Duke Claudio, died a catastrophic death and the people of Ruffano would rather forget the history of debauchery linking them to him. But history is to repeat itself. To re-enact the whole final scene of the Falcon’s life, someone sets out to create a real life play; a play that will be performed in the streets. Beoto, fearful of the outcome and the only one in knowledge of all the facts, is unable to stop it. I read on, sure of what is going to happen, who is going to be the Falcon in the play, yet I couldn’t have guessed the outcome; but I will leave you to find out what happens in the story…………what is the purpose in re-enacting this particular episode? The violence that was in the Duke’s day is repeated through the now famous University at Ruffano, by the mysterious workings of a secret society. The secrets and mysteries unfold slowly, at exactly the right moment. The author’s skill is apparent in the tensions she builds and then the final release.

As always, the atmosphere in the novel is important. Beoto, who is known through most of the novel as Armino Fabbio, vividly remembers the place of his birth and the ducal palace where his father was the Superintendent. The description of his home town, when driving up the hill covered with snow is magnificent. Their is a gothic element in his memories of the religious paintings at the ducal palace and the mental torture he suffered at the hands of his brother, Aldo. Influenced by authors such as Charlotte Bronte and Wilkie Collins, Daphne gives this gothic and mysterious element to all her plots. The atmosphere is always a bit eerie and I personally always feel the narrator is a little detached. This may be because of the style of narration. The reader always feels separate from the action as if watching from a distance, because the narrator is between us and the action. We are seeing it through his or her eyes, not directly. This gives a peculiar quality to Daphne’s novels.

Despite the great story, this was not one of my favorite Daphne du Maurier novels. I would have to say that my favorites are Rebecca and The King’s General. Maybe I’m a sucker for romance – of which there was none in this particular novel!

The Daphne du Maurier Challenge

I’m so excited to join my first challenge! The Daphne du Maurier challenge is a perfect place for me to start because I am a huge du Maurier fan. I’ve already read her most popular novels Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel and have been trying to start the rest. Hopefully, this challenge will give me the necessary push! I’m going to try the ‘Dreaming of Manderly’ category as I loved her novel Rebecca. On my list of novels to read are, The Flight of the Falcon, Hungry Hill, and The Loving Spirit. Unfortunately, due to my upcoming exams, I’ll have to complete the novels after the 15th of January……..and time drags when you’re waiting for something. Wish me luck!