Monday, January 7, 2008

Miss Ranskill

I'm feeling a bit emotional at the moment. I've just been to see Atonement and thought it was wonderful. I really enjoyed watching the film, even though my heart was breaking knowing how it would end. There were quite a few previews and a couple caught my eye. The first film I've known about but hadn't seen the preview for was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day which looks perfectly charming. The second was for Young@Heart - this is a documentary about a chorus of elderly people singing rock songs. Here is a link about them.

Now on to the title of this post, Miss Ranskill, Nona Ranskill that is, who was stranded on a desert island for some 3 years and returns to England to find the country is in the midst of World War II. This is the story told by Barbara Euphan Todd in this republished 1946 book, Miss Ranskill Comes Home. Nona Ranskill has returned a brave and practical woman, yet the England she returns to is greatly different than the one she left. There is humor in this tale, of a woman who does not understand the status quo; along with this comes embarrassment and confusion. I spent the first part of the novel feeling so badly for Miss Ranskill - to the point at which my husband told me 'it's just a book, you know!' Well, yes it is, but so well told I really felt for the heroine. I couldn't help but think, as annoying as I think many of us consider 'the media', what a different welcome Miss Ranskill would have had in 2008. She would appear on the news, be cared for at a hospital, be provided for and her family would be found. I don't like to give the plot away, but let's just say Miss Ranskill experiences a quite different 'welcome'. This is the tale of a great and abiding friendship that transcends sex, class and even life, of a woman who must find a way in this new world this she does not quite understand and how she does it with strength and grace and love. A most remarkable book.

15 comments:

Iliana said...

What a way to start of the year with such a great book! Sounds really good.
I really want to see Atonement and I have heard about Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - haven't seen the preview yet but I'm planning to read the book before the film. I've heard such good things about it.

melanie said...

Miss Ranskill sounds wonderful. Glad the year is starting with a good read.
Did the movie Atonement track with the book? I was not a fan of the book. Mr. McEwan and I have quite the history...I've read all his books, and only liked one. I'm trying!!

Lisa said...

This book sounds really good. Thanks for the lovely review. I am a fan of the book Atonement and wonder the same thing as Melanie. Does the film follow the book? I usually don't like film adaptations of books that I like. Not sure if I want to see this or not.

Tara said...

Iliana, yes, it was a great way to begin 2008. I haven't read Miss Pettigrew myself, and since I shouldn't be buying any books from the UK right now, I suspect I'll be seeing the film before reading the book. It looks charming.

Melanie and Lisa, I liked Atonement the novel, but did not love it. I never felt emotionally connected with the characters besides being so angry with Briony and I often feel men write women differently than women write women and often the females do not seem 'real' to me (when men write women). I did think the book was well written overall, and have not read McEwan's other books. I felt that the film followed the book fairly closely, but it has been 6 months since I read it so I'm sure I missed some details. I really felt Robbie and Cecelia's passion and cried in the middle of the film knowing what was to come. I think it helped me to have read the book in this case and understand what was happening. I almost hate to say it, but I may have enjoyed the experience of watching the film more than that of reading the book, I don't often find this to be the case.

Nan - said...

What a wonderfully written review. You really brought the book alive.

Not for me, Atonement, the book or the movie. I don't care for his subject matter in general, but I thought Saturday quite good, and it was the only one whose description was appealing enough for me to pick up and read.

Literary Feline said...

Atonement was a tear jerker, wasn't it? I watched it this past weekend and really enjoyed it.

Miss Ranskill Comes Home sounds like a wonderful book. I will definitely be adding it to my wish list.

Tara said...

Nan, thank you, that's kind of you to say. I agree with you, I don't think Atonement is your sort of book/movie. I would like to try reading McEwan again.

Literary Feline, absolutely! The film really brought the book alive for me.

Becca said...

I really look forward to reading Miss Ranskill - great review - and I can't wait to see Miss Pettigrew as a film since I thought the book charming.

Like others who have commented ... I keep trying to like McEwan books ... but am still trying.

Tara said...

Becca, thank you! I'd like to try McEwan again at some point...many of his books sound good to me. I feel a bit as though he is writing for a male audience, but that could just be me.

StuckInABook said...

Miss Ranksill was one of the first Persephones I read, and of course I loved it. Must go for a re-read - but, then again, I have so many unread Persephone books.

Can't wait for the Miss Pettigrew film - re-read the novel the other day to refresh my memory

GeraniumCat said...

Miss Ranskill sounds wonderful and I've added it to my list of books to get. The Miss Pettigrew film sounds promising too, but I think I'd like to read it first.

Tara said...

Simon and Geranium Cat, it will be fun to discuss the Miss Pettigrew film once we've seen (and read, in some cases) it. Simon, I too have many unread Persephones.

Danielle said...

I really want to see Atonement, but I will likely wait until it comes out on DVD (I've no one to go to movies with--how sad is that--LOL). The same will be true with Miss Pettigrew. I've started the book, though. Miss Ranskill sounds good as well. (Is that a Persephone title--it sounds familiar).

Tara said...

Danielle, if I waited for someone to go to the movies with I'd never go!! I go by myself (and occasionally with my husband but Atonement was just me). I worked at a movie theater in high school and often watched movies for free by myself so it doesn't bother me. Miss Ranskill is a Persephone title.

Elaine SL said...

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is simply wonderful. I have read it several times and love it more ech time I read it. very funny and very touching and illustrated with excellent black and white 1930s drawings. Please please everyone who has not read this please do so. You will love it as much as I do - guaranteed!