Archive for January, 2018

The Lake House is the first book of Kate Morton’s I have read. At 600 pages long, it was a good thing I had a long weekend ahead of me (and absolutely no desire to do anything like housework) when I downloaded it. I really liked the first 550 pages or so of it – my quibbles are mostly with the ending.

First, don’t confuse it with the Sandra Bullock/Keanu Reeves movie of 2006. The book was published in 2015 by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

Morton is Australian, but the book is set in England. Below is the official synopsis from Amazon:

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

The story is a mystery with as many twists and turns as a mountain road. It spans decades of the Edevane family  history, from Alice’s parents falling in love, through her father’s service in World War I and his return, to Alice and her two sisters’ lives at their beloved lake home and the mysterious disappearance of their baby brother. Sadie is a cop on forced leave who becomes interested – or maybe I should say obsessed – with finding out what happened to little Theo. Sadie’s part of the story comes in 2003, so Theo at that point has been missing for decades. Will Alice, a successful mystery writer, help Sadie discover what happened to her baby brother? Or does she already know what happened?

As a mystery it’s very good. When you think Sadie has it all figured out, something will twist the story in another direction. The chapters flit back and forth between time periods, which is something you’ll either like or you don’t, but I liked it. My issue with the book was that the ending seemed rushed (after 600 pages!), and it all tied up too neatly and a bit twee for my liking. But if you like a long book and are looking for a new mystery author this may fit the bill. I liked it well enough to download another one of Morton’s, The Forgotten Garden. We’ll see how that one goes.

#TheLakeHouse #KateMorton

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I went yesterday to see The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Just having those two acting powerhouses together in one Steven Spielberg-directed film would make it worth seeing, but it turned out to be much more than just a really good film about an interesting moment in our nation’s history. If you haven’t seen the movie and are unaware of the history regarding Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers, you may want to stop reading now if you want to go into it with no prior knowledge of what happened. Since this is a film about historical events I’m not going to worry about spoilers.

The Post is, of course, The Washington Post. It was founded in 1877. The paper passed through several hands until it was bought by Eugene Meyer in 1933. Meyer’s son-in-law, Philip Graham, became publisher in 1946. Philip committed suicide in 1963, and the paper passed into the hands of his widow, Katherine Graham, who is played by Streep. Katherine died in 2001.

Tom Hanks takes on the role of Ben Bradlee, then executive editor of the Post. Bradlee and Katherine both had friends high in Washington political and social circles. In particular, Katherine was good friends with some of President Richard Nixon’s inner circle, including Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). This made it a little ticklish to report on some of the events of the time, as shown in the film, which centers around the publishing of classified documents that proved people in the U.S. government knew the Vietnam War was unwinnable years before it was halted. Matthew Rhys plays Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst who surreptitiously copied thousands of pages of documents (referred to as The Pentagon Papers) proving the American public was being lied to about the war.

A focus of the film is the agonizing decision whether or not to publish the top secret documents, which the Post obtained after The New York Times. The Times had already published some of the documents, and they were looking at legal trouble for having done so. The threat was no small one – if convicted Graham and Bradlee could both have gone to jail.

In addition, the paper was facing financial issues, and it was during this time that they were forced to offer stock in an IPO. The stock for the IPO was in legal limbo. There was a clause in the contract that if something major happened during the week after the stock was issued, but before it had officially been sold, the transaction could be cancelled altogether. The existence of the paper was literally on the line.

The film also focused on Graham working as the female head of a newspaper in a world dominated by men. She had never held a job until her husband’s death forced her into the position of publisher. She was the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. It was a time when most women never held such positions of power. How appropriate that this film would debut as we are having this moment in history when women are finding voices to speak out about unequal pay, sexual harassment, and employment opportunity.

Liz Hannah wrote the screenplay in 2016. Ms. Hannah is a first-time screenwriter, and is only 32 years old. I hope she gets an Oscar nomination for her work. Here is a link to a CBS News story about Ms. Hannah and Amy Pascal, who found the screenplay and decided to produce it.

Unfortunately, at least in my view, the Post was bought by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in 2013.

The last scene of The Post, with its break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate complex in D.C., mimics almost exactly the opening scene in the 1976 film All The President’s Men, which I decided to view just after watching The Post. That film centers on Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) as they investigate the Watergate break-in. Their reporting was instrumental in Richard Nixon eventually resigning from the presidency. If you get a chance to see this after The Post, I recommend you do so.

Below is a trailer for The Post:

#ThePost #MerylStreep #TomHanks #LizHannah

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Here’s a little featurette from Marvel on the upcoming Black Panther.  Star Chadwick Boseman, director Ryan Coogler, Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Stan Lee (co-creator of the character) talk about the film. It will be out in theaters on February 16th.


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