The Week: 15th – 21st April

Red Autumn Leaves Autumn Colours Canberra ACT Australia Sonya Heaney 17th April 2019 Garden Blue Sky Nature

Mid-autumn in Canberra, and it’s still summer dress weather. And I saw on the news that it is snowing on the other side of the country! What is going on?

Ibis Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery New South Wales NSW near Canberra ACT Australia Autumn Heatwave Bird Sonya Heaney 17th April 2019

A random ibis at the cemetery in Queanbeyan on Wednesday afternoon. Actually, there were quite a lot of them around – but no kangaroos for once!

The tragedy of the loss of Notre Dame in Paris

Poor Notre Dame…

Happy Easter! I also have Ukrainian Easter next week.

Happy 203rd Birthday to Charlotte Brontë

NPG 1452; Charlotte BrontÎ by George Richmond

The Mister by E.L. James. Just… no.

The Mister by E.L. James. Just... no.

Recently Reread

devil-in-spring-ravenels-book-3-by-lisa-kleypas-uk-cover

“Dutch Artists Paint Giant Bookcase On An Apartment Building Featuring Residents’ Favourite Books”

Dutch Artists Paint Giant Bookcase On An Apartment Building Featuring Residents’ Favourite Books

Love & Desire at the National Gallery

John William Waterhouse The Lady of Shalott 1888

107 Years Ago: Titanic survivors rescued by the Carpathia

153177-004-E74B054C Survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic being helped abord the RMS Carpathia 15th April 1912

The Mister by E.L. James. Just… no.

The Mister by E.L. James. Just... no.

I wrote a full thousand words about E.L. Fifty Shades James’ new book (which came out this week), a book that turns the sex trafficking of Southern and Eastern European women – and the women themselves – into a fetish, but I’m thinking it’s something I’ll regret putting out there publicly.

So, instead I’ll simply say this: this book is racist. On so many levels. I’m offended on behalf of my Ukrainian family. And I’m sickened that the publisher only saw dollar signs and couldn’t care less about decency.

And now I will direct you to this review:

E.L. James’ The Mister is so much worse than Fifty Shades: EW review

Alessia Demachi is an Albanian immigrant, working illegally in England after escaping from would-be sex traffickers. Here are Alessia’s defining characteristics: She is a piano prodigy, chess master, and although she attended university in Albania to become an English teacher, she’s still befuddled by new words and speaks in the “charming” broken English of a helpless nubile sex-doll to be.

This contradictory depiction of Alessia is unbalanced and fundamentally inaccurate, reinforcing infantilising clichés about Eastern European women. As for the Albanian men in the novel: They’re all Neanderthalic thugs who are either kidnapping Alessia (something that happens multiple times) or selling her off in marriage to another kidnapper.

And this one:

‘The Mister’ by E.L. James is Bad, But You Knew That Already

Some people are not equipped to write stories of social realism that delve into topics like domestic abuse and sex trafficking. E.L. James is to these topics what Hannibal Lecter is to vegan cookery. The Mister features a heroine who was smuggled by traffickers from Albania to London to escape her abusive fiancé but escaped before she could be sold into sex slavery, and these matters are treated with the same care and focus by James as she affords to scenes where Maxim details his favourite music or the lavish meals they eat together.

Recently Reread

Lisa Kleypas’ Victorian romances are books I go back to time and again. I recently reread Devil in Spring, the third instalment in the 1870s-set Ravenels series. I reviewed it HERE, and I love it because – like the others in the series – it has unique situations in a fascinating decade of the era.

The UK/Australian cover is below. The weird, prom queen US one is at the bottom of the post!

devil-in-spring-ravenels-book-3-by-lisa-kleypas-uk-cover

An eccentric wallflower

Most debutantes dream of finding husbands. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy – and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realise their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven.

Devil in Spring (2017) (The third book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas

Notre Dame…

I’m sure everyone has seen the footage of Notre Dame in Paris on fire.

I have spent a lot of time in Paris – much of that time on my own. I used to walk to Notre Dame on many days, and simply sit in the cathedral for a while, occasionally attending a service, even though I’m not religious.

I thought it was terrible when far-right “activists” would go in there and shoot themselves at the altar to protest abortion or whatever. I thought that was as bad as it would get.

There was scaffolding on the part of the building that caught fire. Restoration work is so, so dangerous for historic buildings. Something very similar happened in Belfast when I was there last year.