When I first read February’s prompt for Inklings the first scene that popped into my head was when Harry, under his invisibility cloak threw snow at and generally repaid Draco and Co. back. However, I’ve had quite enough Harry Potter on my blog for the time being, especially since I chose a Harry Potter topic for my January Inklings. Per usual when asked to think about something, my brain was empty, so I took to Goodreads to see if my favorite books would trigger any memories.
Which brings me to Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff. My mom read Eagle of the Ninth to us and then read Warrior Scarlet second (bear in mind that this contains spoilers of necessity). I was 14 or 15 and emotionally intense then, and this is one of her most emotionally intense books I think (Outcast wins as the most intense in every way of those I’ve read), certainly it was at that age. Drem was a child and teen with terrible things happening to him and as a childish teen, this was so much more poignant to me. I don’t want to spoil too much, I think this Sutcliff novel is often overlooked, but I do have to give some considerable spoilers. I also might be totally confused, I think the scene I’m thinking of happened in a winter storm, but I might be conflating two sections.
Anyway, how should I tell this without spoiling, might not be possible, but long story short, the snow scene is quite a dramatic story of personal triumph and recompense (I know there is a word to express what I mean, but I can’t think of it). I don’t no how to describe it’s poignancy so well as deserved. If you haven’t read it, skip the below, it spoils the impact.
Amongst British tribes, the each of the boys when training for warrior status had to kill a wolf or be killed by it whilst the other boys watched, if the other boys helped, they made the rescued boy a shamed outcast. Drem was not equal to the other boys and his best friend could not watch him die.
He is ejected from the tribe and works with the “little dark people”* as an outcast and shepherd. During the winter guarding the sheep from predatory wolves, he meets up with or is stalked by a huge male wolf who attacks him, but this time he manages to kill it. This wolf seems familiar to him, he believes it is the same one he failed to kill a year maybe earlier. His people discover this fact and the fact that his old wounds are reopened/covered over with new wounds, and these facts combined cause them to consider that the signs point to his old shame being wiped out, that he has killed his wolf and is now a warrior and part of the tribe.
*Historical note, I think the prevailing view in Sutcliff’s time is that these were the original Britons and the Celts came later, per what I read in Barry Cunliffe’s book The Ancient Celts it is not the prevailing view or at least his view from the evidence that there was any such change of people, that the language change did not in the case of British isles mean an invasion or change of people, that in fact Celtic only applied to the language and the people were not Celts in the original Roman usage of the term, it was misapplied later. Meaning, that perhaps there were not these two distinct cultures as is often shown in the Sutcliff novels of the taller, red-haired Celts with the shorter, dark haired “little people.” This is SUCH ancient history with only Rome (and Rome wasn’t in Britain during all this time) as a biased, written source and archaeological evidence, which without clear written language from the culture can be at best vague.
Okay, review might be too dignified for this. But whatever.
Tony! He was so sweet and precious and that accent (Northeastern American accents are not top in my fav/admired/respected accents) is so cute on him. He was adorable in character and person.
Oh, right the movie. Sweet overall, pretty clothes, interesting perspective. I liked that look at the 1950’s; I usually think of poorer Irish immigrants coming over far earlier. I still don’t “get” New York though. After reading Albion’s Seed, I learned that it doesn’t really fit in the original American cultural landscape. Another person suggested that I might find Boston more interesting because of the history. That might be part of it. People talk of New York fashion, but I just think steel, concrete, cookie cutter and mainstream rich materialistic snobs. The poorer side and the Italian Mafia and the Irish mob and Harlem have more originality (BTW. this is all in my mind, this Southern Belle has never been that far Northeast). New York just doesn’t appeal to me. A little too much melodrama and some unnecessary disgusting scenes. I felt that overall the movie lacked something . . . salt, spice. I don’t know. Take Tony out and you have the flat story of a silly and rather selfish and spoiled girl. Eilis wasn’t good because she tried to be good, she was just sort of good because. She seemed to lack a will. And when she went back to Ireland her actions emphasize, expanded on this issue.
I wasn’t thrilled with Eilis’ behavior back home; I can understand her wanting to stay, but flirting with that poor Jim was frivolous and cruel (as was ignoring Tony’s letters). She was only in Ireland around a month. I could understand if she had stayed a year and ignored Tony’s letters, that she might have wandered (which is wrong period, but I am talking about the understanding of it). But this just made her seem fickle. I don’t think the struggle is very well-portrayed. And she seems defensive in the scene with that gossip. And as if she was only stating herself just to show up that lady and not exactly because she could make up her own mind.
I would watch it again, though. I could get more out of it. But I think that my expectations were too high.
This review is part of The Cinderella Week.
Historical fiction can be a tough genre since as many insipid books about. But there are some gems; I found my favorites in middle school and high school when we used the Beautiful Feet history guides. Mara: Daughter of the Nile is one such gem. I put it on my re-read list, and when I saw all the Cinderella adaptations, I thought this book fit the rags-to-riches, alone-in-the-world-to-beloved-of-a-prince plot (loosely, for it is much more than that).
A chilling, austere agent of Pharaoh Hatshepsut buys a slave girl named Mara to spy out a plot by friends of Prince Thutmose to overthrow the usurping Hatshepsut. Almost immediately after, Mara is forced by Sheftu, a mighty lord in disguise as a scribe, to work as a spy for him on behalf of Thutmose. Torn between fear for her life, desire for wealth, and love for Sheftu, Mara maneuvers through the ancient royal Egyptian court in her role as double-agent. Her life, Sheftu’s life, and the fate of the Egyptian monarchy hang in the balance.
There are many Cinderella parallels in Mara’s story. First is Mara’s poverty in contrast to Sheftu’s wealth. Also, the novels hints that Mara was probably born to a better life which parallels Cinderella’s better life before her step-family reduced her position in the family from sister/daughter to servant. Then Mara’s position is suddenly, almost magically changed, but tentatively and temporarily similar to Cinderella and her few hours of glory at the ball. Then everything spirals out of control, and Mara’s new life, and new love, vanish. She is caught as Cinderella is trapped by her stepmother. Then just as startlingly and suddenly as Cinderella is reunited with her prince via her marvelous glass slippers, so Mara is startlingly and suddenly saved and acknowledged by Sheftu when he realizes her faithfulness to him and love for him as evidenced by her refusal to betray him under bribery and torture.
I love Cinderella stories, but this books takes a simple plot and weaves it into a fantastic tale. We long to know more of Egypt while reading of the exotic details and the dramatic court intrigue. The strain of suspense is woven tightly as Mara becomes dangerously enmeshed in that intrigue. And the romantic tension rises as Mara falls in love with one of her masters while she wonders if the enigmatic, suave, almost unnaturally self-controlled Sheftu responds at all. History, suspense, and romance, what a perfect combination!
Here are Heidi’s Points of Comparison for Cinderella Adaptations (see this post).1. The relationship between the Prince and Cinderella has to be central to the story2. They have to come from different “worlds ,” so to speak3. Over the course of the story they meet each other, lose each other, and are reunited4. There needs to be a ball scene involving some sort of iconic moment (i.e. her coming down a staircase and/or her lost slipper, etc.)
I could find a flaw in anything, so I will shut my mouth about imperfections.
We loved that they actually used German a lot, and the accents were delicious.
Oh, the story, oh the sweetness.
Rudy, be still my heart. I want a little boy just like him and so do my sisters; my sisters and I squealed at his adorableness. Kiss him Liesel, kiss him.
Watch the movie.
Whispers: “But the book is far, far better.”
Please note that there is improper language in this film.
This is my reaction upon reading this book several weeks ago. I didn’t want to modify it much, just a few edits.
Um, everything and everything. What do I even say?
Liesel and Max HAVE to marry since Rudy died. That is the only way after that ruination.
My sister (who reads Dostoevsky and likes it) said this was the best written book she had ever read. We both want to read more of the author (I am afraid I will be disappointed; I was, content-wise I decided I shouldn’t read The Messenger after perusing it) and agree that the movie, however good, cannot do it justice because the amazingness is embedded in the words. How fitting for this book. I almost, sort of don’t want to see the movie.
Yeah. I need to read more on WWII.
This is the crème de la crème of historical fiction. It does not spare you realism. The author’s parents came out of this background.
You are supposed to hurt. This isn’t fantasy.
I HATE doing this but beware the profanity. I will buy my own copy and mark it out. There is also somethings regarding Rudy’s physical examination and Liesel’s reaction that might bother people.