As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden – Book Review

What other book would be appropriate to review on the day after Christmas but one that covers the making of the movie “The Princess Bride”? A film that is beloved by millions, including myself and my family. I remember watching this movie for the first time on VHS. My initial thought was “How could I have missed this movie?” And from then on, I was entranced. As I am every time I watch it.  After all, how could William Goldman have gone wrong, with such characters as Westley (aka the Farm Boy), Buttercup, Inigo Montoya, Vizzini, Fezzik, Miracle Max and his wife Valerie; as well as Prince Humperdinck, Count Tyrone Rugen and many others.  When I read the book The Princess Bride to my kids I had to stop often due to fits of giggles.  And the same is true with the movie.  How they were ever able to get a printable “take” I truly do not know.

The most notable fact about this book is how generous Cary Elwes is with his fellow actors. From the stories both he and everyone involved in this project tell regarding the filming it’s understandable why this movie is the classic it is today. From William Goldman’s love of his book to Rob Reiner’s steadfast ability to remain true to the feelings and sentiments of the book, this movie was magic in the making. As is this book. I laughed so hard over some of the tales that were related in it, and found myself wondering how Rob Reiner was able to come up with the exact actors he needed for each part.

Not only were the actors perfect, but the stories show everyone involved with the movie in a flattering light. So often you only read the ugly stories told about actors that everything about this was such a refreshing change. It seemed that they all somehow felt that the movie they were making was magical and special. Thankfully for us, that is exactly what they made.

I won’t tell you the funny stories that Cary Elwes and the other actors related, but I will tell you if you’re a fan of the movie or the book, you should definitely read this book. It left me feeling that all was right with the world, and that I was right to love this movie because it was made with love and magic.

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from the movie:

Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet – Book Review

When I finished this book and turned over the last page, I wanted to fling open my front door and run around my yard screaming and crying in rage, anger…but mostly frustration.

Why? Because this book was a little too good. It was funny, but mostly its silliness was really thinly disguised sadness. After all, Lydia Millet’s snarky comments on “Middle America” – the “Heartland”, religious fanatics and obesity were right on. While the rest of the world looks on with shock and horror (except for certain Muslim countries) America has “Creation Museums” and loud climate deniers (funded of course, by the big oil companies).

The plot of this book focuses on Deb and Chip, a hip and trendy kind of couple and their erstwhile honeymoon to one of the British Virgin Islands. While there, they meet a marine biologist who discovers mermaids. The mermaids are real and what ensues is a world-wide reaction including religious fanatics; calls to kill the mermaids; and the corporate owners of the resort trying to “herd” the mermaids onto the reef with gigantic fishing nets so that they can display them for money. In other words, true-to-life mayhem.

I won’t spill and tell you the ending of the book. However, I did want to mention that I read two reviews of this book and neither one of the reviewers (Boston Globe and Washington Post) mentioned the purloining of a large segment of American society. I found that interesting, since I feel that this was the main reason Lydia Millet wrote this book. I could always be wrong, of course. I did enjoy the book, but for me it hit quite close to certain American behavior which is full of black humor, although not on purpose. So, if you like black humor, I suggest you read this book.

A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas – Book Review

I picked this book up at the library, because I was looking to read a Christmas book, and I really like Sandra Dallas’ books. Once again, she really nails this book. It’s the story of Eliza Spooner who is waiting for her husband to return from the Civil War. She makes him a quilt for Christmas. While her husband, Will does indeed get the quilt for Christmas, he only gets to use it a few nights before he dies in battle.

This is a story about a woman who is left when her husband leaves to follow through on his beliefs. Eliza needs to run the farm that he leaves behind and raise their children on her own. It’s a story that rings true from the beginning to the end. It’s about how life has to be lived no matter what happens. Eliza learns to survive and carry on, but not to live until she allows herself at the end.

I highly recommend this book. The courage of an ordinary woman makes you realize that no one is just ordinary. Instead, the most ordinary lives are often making an unsung hero.

Backwards in High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female by Tania Kindersley & Sarah Vine – Book Review

I need to start off by saying that I don’t usually read non-fiction. I always have this fear that I’ll be bored. Lately I have read a few more non-fiction than usual, and I have been pleased with these books.

Backwards in High Heels is anything but boring. The title refers to the fact that Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, while dancing backwards and in high heels; but the adulation was mostly his.

I really enjoyed this book, and laughed out loud on many many occasions while reading. It’s the life book that I wish had been written about 25 years ago. I’ll probably buy a copy of it for my daughter; I think it’s that important for young women to read. The wisdom these two women have written down for the rest of us is great. It’s wisdom that they learned the hard way…by living.

Each chapter is full of little nuggets of good sense; along with funny and not-so-funny anecdotes that prove the wisdom of what they’ve learned. And, need I say it, what the rest of us as women have lived. As you age, you do (if you’ve been paying attention) obtain some wisdom. Tania Kindersley and Sarah Vine retained their life lessons and have shared their wise words with us. We are smarter for it. I highly recommend this book!