Tag Archives: review

Paris Ever After

A poignant, warmly feminine depiction of food, love, friendship and the beautiful mess that is life.

Set in the glittering city of Paris, “Paris Ever After” serves up an intimate narrative of main character Amy Brodie’s world. Filled with teasing descriptions of gastronomic delights, pretty places and unexpected surprises, this novel makes for a full read from beginning to end.

Through this American woman’s eyes, we explore some light and wrenching themes – friendship, romance, grief, loss, redemption, desires, home, responsibility, letting go. For the hedonists among us, the backdrop against which these are brought to light will provide further pleasure … that of the magical (if only in our imagination) city Paris, and delicious food. A mug of cafe au lait and a madeleine or two will pair well with your reading of “Paris Ever After”.

Life is a strong, delicate tapestry and choices are not always easy. Yet the largely likeable ‘cast’ in this story reminds us that with some good food and company, all is not lost. If, like me, you aren’t an avid fiction reader, you may find yourself struggling a little at first with trying to place ‘who’s who’ and immerse yourself in a ‘fictitious story’. Then you may, like me, find yourself rooting after all for who they are … and who they can be. Flaws, idiosyncracies and all.

While I have yet to read the prequel “The Paris Effect”, I feel “Paris Ever After” works well as a standalone story too.

Merci beaucoup to Karen Burns for the wonderful opportunity to review “Paris Ever After”. :-)

“Paris Ever After” is due to be released on 1 May, 2018!

Image © Pixabay

Synopsis as laid out on Karen Burns’s website:

Can Amy’s rocky start in Paris turn into a happy ever after?

Amy didn’t realize how stale her life was until she jetted off to Paris without telling a soul—not even her husband—and had the adventure of a lifetime. Now as she tries to establish herself in the City of Light, she finds that despite a fun (and quirky) group of friends and the ability to indulge in French pastries whenever she wants, reinventing her life is much harder than she imagined.

Then on Amy’s thirtieth birthday, two unexpected visitors leave her wondering if she will soon be saying au revoir to Paris and the new life she’s struggled to build. Her estranged husband, Will, shows up—but is he interested in reconciliation or separation? And a young woman who arrives on Amy’s doorstep unleashes chaos that could push Amy out into the street.

As Amy’s Parisian dream starts to fall apart, she must decide: return to the stability of Will and Phoenix (if that’s even still an option) or forge her way forward in Paris? Amid secrets and surprises, set in enchanting gardens, cozy cafés, and glittering Parisian streets, Amy must choose between two very different worlds. And each has a claim on her heart.

Advertisements

Amber Topaz: The Rude Awakening

amber
Image © Amber Topaz

When I first saw the poster, I was suspicious of my husband’s motive for wanting to go to this (though he tried to convince me I would want to go too if I had joined them in their podcast where they interviewed Amber Topaz). MEN! – I harrumphed. 🤤🙄

Well – curiosity won and I said yes to going for the show. She was sultry and sassy, as expected. But I was swept off my feet by her warmth, vulnerability, and beauty. 💘

She told her story and she did an amazing job in portraying the wonder of WOMEN! and of the human experience. 💎

🛫 WELLINGTON (NZ) she is headed to you next week and she doesn’t know anyone in NZ … so I said I would help spread the word 

More details here

No Ordinary Sheila

In times like these, it feels especially poignant reflecting on the merits of a ‘well-lived life’. This phrase may bring to mind the notion of achievements people find notable or remarkable. But while achievements count for something, they are not everything. There is something to be said for going on mini adventures, creating stuff, staying healthy, enjoying ordinary moments, finishing what one sets out to do, having close relationships … the things that make life not just enjoyable, but purposeful! There is so much to be said about people who truly LIVE, not just survive.

Adventurer, cyclist, sailor, writer, wife to Gilbert, friend (including to famed NZ writer Janet Frame), Sheila Natusch did not just dip her toes gingerly into the ever-changing waters of life. She brushed against life, dove into it, cycled through its meandering pathways, and truly savoured it.

As I watched the (well-made) film on her life, aptly entitled “No Ordinary Sheila”, I felt warmly invited to slow down and reconsider my notions of a good life. Aside from Sheila’s remarkable dedication to and skills in studying, documenting and illustrating natural history, many other activities she pursued are not out of reach for most people. Anyone can put some walking shoes on and hike up an unfamiliar trail, spend some moments admiring a beautiful bird, or start working on a personal project just for fun.

Anyone can appreciate the little moments which make for an imperfect, immersive, wonderful life.

An altogether warm, charming, true-to-life documentary which left me feeling a sense of loss at the end as I read that Sheila had passed away in August this year. A beautiful life worth celebrating.

No Ordinary Sheila was first launched in the New Zealand International Film Festival 2017, and screened between 3rd August and 24th September. It will be released in cinemas around New Zealand from Thursday, 19th October. For more details, click here.

Image via Hugh Macdonald Film

This post has also been published on Big Screen NZ.

Kátya Kabanová

NZ Opera’s Kátya Kabanová opens appealingly with mystery. The lovely Kátya (Dina Kuznetsova) appears in soft pink, pretty and delicate beneath a blanket of stars. An aura of childlike wonder surrounds the scene – I feel as if I am gazing at a moving scene in a picture book. A jolly science teacher praises the beauty of the river while a servant, unimpressed, disagrees. I lean back into my seat, enjoying the beautiful set and costumes, and being taken back in time.

The lyrical novel begins. Set in 1950s America, everyone is suited, booted and coiffed – the set similarly constructed to paint a picture of order and grace: religious symbols in the tidy house, a bleach-white picket fence, pruned trees, a high-flying American flag. It is Sunday, church day. At the conclusion of the service, the lawn is awash with bows and smiles.

Polite and perfect settings soon juxtapose strongly with emerging, unregulated emotions. It seems that a religious morning has done nothing to soothe the spirits of a conflicted husband, a domineering mother, a fiery adopted sister, a lonely woman, a cantankerous uncle, and a man trapped by his uncle’s demands and his hopeless love for a married woman. The river to me becomes a visual representation of the changing temperaments of the human soul – surging with secrets, calm one moment and stormy the next.

As always I loved the visual and musical feast that I have come to associate with NZ Opera’s commitment to excellence. Though set in 1950s America, there are many themes and threads which are relatable in any time – most of all the universal emotional experience that we, being human, undoubtably share. Terse, lyrical outbursts by the individualistic Leoš Janáček carry the character-driven plot forward as we follow Kátya’s footsteps through a journey of inner struggle and courage.

Though Kátya Kabanová is the New Zealand Opera’s final offering for 2017, it is by no means one that should be overlooked. The performances of the cast are bold, heartfelt and haunting. The 1950s in the USA certainly marked a time when men ruled both the workplace and the home but seldom their mothers. Kátya Kabanová is a moving example of how at times that formula could go so tragically wrong. Patrick Nolan, the director, and Genevieve Blanchett, the production designer, seem to have taken particular care to make sure that this notion was not lost on we, the audience.

Although a tragedy, which has been compared to Romeo and Juliet, Kátya Kabanová does provide enough by way of individual performances, breathtaking lighting and set designs to leave us with a satisfying smile at the end of it all. Over and above those, there are outstanding performances by Wyn Davies [conductor] and The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, as well as a spectacular audio-visual presentation which helped keep the suspended reality of Leoš Janáček’s vision and story completely alive and forbearing.

Kátya Kabanová has three more performances in Auckland this month before the production moves to Wellington’s St James Theatre for four dates from 7 October. For more details, see NZ Opera website.

Saturday, 16 September, 2017 – ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

Written with Jarred Tito

This post has also been published on Libel.

Image © NZ Opera via Facebook.

Book Beginning: A Paris Year by Janice MacLeod

So begins A Paris Year: My Day-to-Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World. The Kindle version of this book has been my recent companion on my daily train commute to and from work. (Seriously – it is so beautiful and may well be the second eBook for which I end up purchasing the print version of as well)!

I bought this eBook one evening when I was feeling whimsical, in the mood for a read that would be both light and intelligent, charming and inspirational.

A few pages in, I found myself smiling – and continued to do as I travelled to the city of light on the back of a beautiful, humorous, talented spirit. This is a book created by someone whom I haven’t met but am sure I would adore in person! – author and illustrator Janice Macleod.

If I visit Paris again, I’ll be sure to take this precious book with me.

This is my first post joining in the fun with Book Beginnings!

A lovely article / interview I came across that features A Paris Year / Janice Macleod is here.

Taumata

Seamless storytelling. Captivating. Bravo!

A super treat last night – my friend Katherine’s company plus a ticket to see Taumata – Four New Works at Q Theatre. A quick Google search piqued my interest, and indeed the brilliant performance of the dancers swept me off my feet!

Delivered in four separate yet connected acts, they took me to the secret place between humanity and divinity. In barely an hour we covered a lot of ground. The black stage set took on, for me, different dimensions throughout the evening – a fertile soil supporting life; imagination; a womb; a final resting place; mystery and desire; the point of no return; black night.

I loved quite a few things about Taumata – the sense of harmony throughout the evening. The way music carried movement and movement submitted to rhythm. Taane Mete’s impressive portrayal of the rawness of birth, living and death. The flowing dresses and startling story of womanhood told through the beautiful women in Sisters of the Black Crow (act 3). The absolute grace and agility of the dancers in Eve, bringing together the poise and beauty of ballet with the strength and fun of acrobatics.

It reminded me of the awesome knowledge that we are small … we are the crown of creation.