The monthly round-up of TV, film, book and article recommendations that includes Spanish Princess, Love, Nina, Sir, Loud and You Don’t Belong Here.
A Note on TV
Two new TV series to talk about this month, both set in England, although worlds apart in time and topic. We know a lot about Henry VIII and collectively his wives, but not so much about the women themselves and their lives. The Spanish Princess attempts to fill in the story of Katherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife and Queen of England from1509 until 1533, and mother of Mary Tudor.
From her arrival in England as the bride-to-be, promised to Henry’s brother, until she is later shunned by Henry for ‘failing’ to product a male heir, we get an imagined look at Catherine’s life. We are taken inside her political, religious and relationship maneuvering in becoming and trying to remain monarch and the lives of her closest confidantes and rivals. Historical dramas and re-tellings are popular as they give contemporary audiences an imagined recount of historically significant events and important figures and this ticks those boxes and is a little more lively than series like Wolf Hall.
In 1980s London, Nina Stibbe got a gig as the live-in nanny for George, who was the editor of a London literary review and a busy working single mother. As a 20-year-old from Leicester, Nina entered a new, slightly bohemian world while caring for a pair of young boys who are a little to grown up for their ages. Adapted for the TV by Nick Hornby, which shows with the soccer references and a dose of nostalgia, the series is funny and smart. Written as letters home to her sister that were eventually unearthed and published years later. At five episodes it feels like we’re just getting to know the characters and could have extended this story much further. But this dispatches from the front-line of home life is worth a look.
A Note on Film
Is Love Enough? Sir
It might be facing another year of travel deprivation and wishing to visit exotic lands again that is inspiring the Broad to have something of an Indian film and V festival. After watching White Tiger and with the series A Suitable Boy on the watch list, the Broad came across Sir on Netflix. It’s a tense romantic drama about domestic servant from a rural village who works for a middle-class Indian man when they develop feelings for each other. The improbable relationship puts them both in an impossible situation in deeply stratified Mumbai society. Highly recommended and if you like this, look out for The Lunchbox about a mixed up tiffin lunch delivery that sparks an unexpected friendship.
A Note on Books
Loud: A Life in Rock’n’Roll by the World’s First Female Roadie, by Tana Douglas
Billed as the world’s first female roadie, this is the story of Tana Douglas who at just 16 ran away to the circus and her life on the road in the 70s. It would see her road for a young AC/DC as well as iconic performers like Patti Smith, Elton John and bands like INXS, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Pearl Jam. Spanning three continents and 30 years this is the story of her life on the road as a trailblazer.
You Don’t Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War, by Elizabeth Becker
This is another story of trailblazing women, this time female foreign correspondents. Australian icon Kate Webb, French daredevil photographer Catherine Leroy and blue-blood American intellectual Frances FitzGerald covered the Vietnam at a time when it was rare to have women reporting from the front-line of a conflict. Through personal letters, interviews and analysis, award-winning journalist Elizabeth Becker tells the story of these three unique women and their sacrifices and risks to report from a place where they hardly belonged.
A Note on the best books of 2020
The ABC has this round-up of the best books from last year if you’re looking for some inspiration.
A Note on Books in the public domain
Every year at the start of January a whole lot of books enter the public domain as their copyright expires. This year’s list includes renowned books such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time and Franz Kafka’s The Trial. Here is 2021’s list.
Are you a generalist or a specialist?
In a world of specialists, where specialising seems to be the way to avoid becoming redundant, generalists may fear how they’ll success. Not so, according to David Epstein, who says in his book Range that generalists can thrive in a world of specialists.
Main Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay