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Tag Archives: Monty Python

This is what a finished book looks like.
Last night I finished Improper Relations, my next Little Black Dress book, and this is the entire manuscript dropped on the floor as I went through it page by page after a hard copy edit.

Whew! I’m still catching up from Nationals and then a Mullany expedition to the beach last week where I thought I’d have internet but didn’t. Here’s a pic of my mother in law Rosie Mullany to whom I dedicated A Most Lamentable Comedy.

But today is the birthday of Emily Bronte (1818-1848) so I thought we should talk about Wuthering Heights. I consider it an odd, difficult novel, full of shifts in time and narration. Where Jane Eyre (by sister Charlotte) has a clear legacy in popular fiction (plain, poor, virtuous heroine–check; brooding dark hero–check; brooding dark house–check; unspeakable secrets–check), what influence has Wuthering Heights had?

It’s almost as though Wuthering Heights stands alone, the odd cousin who smells of elderberries and talks to herself in a corner at the family gathering. We know she’s there, we know she’s part of the family, but she doesn’t quite fit in. Somehow she takes things to extremes–Heathcliffe is dark and brooding yet psychopathic; the heroine dies; the bleak landscape is the star of the show.

And what about the movie versions? Do you think any of them crack the Wuthering Heights code? There’s the 1939 classic with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon (left); the 1992 version with Juliette Binoche (whom I love, but why??) and Ralph Fiennes with bad hair.

The most recent is the 2009 PBS adaptation with Charlotte Riley and Tom Hardy (both of whom look far too clean in this pic and yet another bad Heathcliffe wig). And according to this article Keira Knightley and Lindsay Lohan are battling it out for the role of Cathy in yet another remake.

But to me, the most brilliant adaptation is this one by Monty Python (it starts about a minute in after some silly stuff with a policeman but this was the only one I could find without Spanish subtitles):

What do you think? Is there a movie version you like? A book you feel that is particularly influenced by Wuthering Heights?

My blog tour continues tomorrow with a visit to the Word Wenches and more next week–visit my website for the whole schedule (and enter the contest, which is ending soon, while you’re there).

I’m doing research on servants at the moment and wanted to share with you some of the fascinating facts I’ve found. Butlers, for instance, while invariably doddering in fiction, were the COOs of the Regency household, replacing the house steward, except in the households of Dukes with huge tracts o’ land, of whom there are dozens, invariably all hot and single, in our world. (Sorry, I couldn’t find the appropriate image. I hope this will do.)

The word butler and bottle have the same derivation. Butlers looked after the wine and wine cellars and were frequently wine experts, as well, if not better informed than their masters.

But the butler did more than inspect, gently brush away the cobwebs, filter, and decant.

Take this excerpt from The Complete Servant (1825), written by two career servants, Samuel and Sarah Adams:

To convert White Wine into Red
Put four ounces of turnesole rags into an earthen vessel, and our upon them a pint of boiling water; cover the vessel close, and leave it to cool; strain off the liquor, which will be of a fine deep red inclining to purple. A small portion of this colours a large quantity of wine. This tincture may either be made in brandy, or mixed with it, or else made into a syrup, with sugar, for keeping.
In those countries which do not produce the tingeing grape which affords a blood-red juice, wherewith the wines of France are often stained, in defect of this, the juice of elderberries is used, and sometimes log-wood is used at Oporto.

Turnesole, by the way, is a sort of lichen that’s been used since at least Chaucer’s time as a dye. It must have been a great comfort to know that if you were caught out during the beef course you could always go out and scrape a few rocks. But it also suggests that the sophisticates of the ton were incredibly ignorant about what they drank, and the Adamses are entirely ignorant about how red versus white wine is made.

This surprised me in a “the more you find out the less you know” way. Have you had an experience like this, recently? Or come across something bizarre in your research, or found a fact in a book that is so bizarre you suspect it’s true?

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