Saturday, June 29, 2013

Exclusive Interview with Lauren Willig

I didn’t used to have a thing for masked men in knee breeches.  And then one day my best friend Meredith told me to read The Secret History of the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. I was hooked.  The series follows a modern girl while she does research on an elusive British spy during the Napoleonic wars.  I could rave about the series for ages, but today I’m focusing on something else: Lauren’s newest novel The Ashford Affair.  Spanning over decades and continents, this novel leads a woman into her family’s past and delves into secrets that could change her life forever.

I’m lucky enough to be a fan of Lauren’s, and plucky enough to put myself out there...and I’ve been rewarded with an interview with Lauren!  One of my favorite authors answering my questions on my blog...pinch me, I must be dreaming!

Q.  Thanks so much, Lauren, for agreeing to be interviewed on my blog!  The Ashford Affair crosses continents and decades, would you say that being able to jump from places and times makes the story flow more easily or allows for needed breaks in the plot?

A.  Back in grad school, one of my professors burst out that too many people regarded history simply as “one damn thing after another”.  At the time, I remember rebelliously thinking that I rather liked one damn thing after another.  Isn’t that, after all, the stuff out of which stories—and lives—are made? 
Writing THE ASHFORD AFFAIR, I finally understood what that professor meant, all those years ago.  I knew the historical story I wanted to tell, a tale of two cousins and the twists and turns their lives take as they blunder through the effects of a World War and the upheavals that follow—but, when I sat down to write it, starting at the beginning in 1906 and moving linearly forward towards the 1990s, I felt like something was missing.  The narrative needed something more to give it real resonance and meaning, something to make it feel like something more than “one damn thing after another”. 

It wasn’t until I’d struggled with several versions of the first few chapters that I realized that what the story really needed to snap into focus was that interweaving of the historical and the modern.  I already knew that my main historical character’s granddaughter was going to play a large role in the plot, but by introducing her in the beginning and interweaving her story with her grandmother’s, I felt that I had finally found a way to give force and meaning to that historical story.

On a more practical level, THE ASHFORD AFFAIR, as you point out above, ranges across a lot of territory: three continents and nine decades.  In the past, the action in my books has always occurred in fairly tight periods of time.  (My long-running Pink Carnation series has taken ten books to get from 1803 to 1805!)  Having the modern chapters in between gave me a mechanism for pushing the historical plot forward so that I was able to cover that kind of space.

Q.  The novel focuses time in modern Manhattan, Edwardian England, and Colonial Kenya, what drew you to writing about these specific moments in time?  And of these three, which was the most interesting to research?

A.  I’ve always vacationed in the 1920s—I’m a huge fan of Dorothy Sayers, Nancy Mitford, Evelyn Waugh, Angela Thirkell, and P.G. Wodehouse, among others—but I’d never thought I’d write a book set in that time period.  It was so… modern.  And I’d always avoided World War I as the least glamorous of all possible wars.  No swashbuckling, no cavalry charges, no plumed hats.  If I was going to leave the Napoleonic era, I’d assumed I would go back in time, to the English Civil War, which was the subject of my long ago dissertation.

And then my friend Christina gave me a copy of a book called The Bolter.  For those who haven’t come across The Bolter, it traces the chequered life of Idina Sackville, etc., etc, who racketed back and forth between England and Kenya in the 1920s, acquiring and discarding husbands along the way.  She was the lynchpin of the hard partying group of British expats who settled in Kenya’s “Happy Valley”, engaging in experimental farming and even more experimental drug use and the odd bit of spouse-swapping.  There were many things that grabbed me about this book: it got me thinking about what happened to the people left behind in the Bolter’s wake, her collateral damage, as it were, as well as, on a much larger scale, the damage left behind by World War I, an entire generation of people trying to come to terms and rediscover meaning—or at least drown out their nightmares with enough jazz and booze.

While I spent a great deal of time reading up on Edwardian England (who doesn’t love those last, decadent days of the aristocracy?) and the expat life in Kenya, what really fascinated me as I was researching was, of all things, the Great War itself, because without understanding the war, one can’t understand why these people became what they became, why they reacted the way they did.  All three of my main characters find their lives indelibly changed by the war and the social upheavals that follow.

For those who are curious about Edwardian England, World War I, or 1920s Kenya, you can find a bibliography on my website, with some of the sources I used:  They all make fascinating reading!

As for 1999 New York… having lived through it, there was less research involved.  Though I did find myself sending out desperate emails to friends, trying to figure out whether anyone remembered if there had been snow or not on New Year’s Eve in 1999.

Q.  What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your new character Clemmie? 

A.  I will share a little secret: my modern heroine, Clemmie, is not someone with whom I would be besties.

That’s a horrible thing to say about my own character, isn’t it?  But, in order for Clemmie’s journey to have meaning, she had to be someone with a very steep learning curve in front of her.  Clemmie reminds me of a lot of people I knew in law school.  (Which makes sense, given that she’s a lawyer!)  She’s driven, she’s ambitious, she’s hard-working, but she’s not terribly intuitive or curious when it comes to the people around her, or, for that matter, herself.  Which is why, when she finds herself at a personal crossroads, she’s at such a loss.  As a Type A character, she’s used to just bulldozing through; she doesn’t have the emotional vocabulary to deal with her feelings.  As she learns about her grandmother’s past, Clemmie gradually breaks down some of those barriers and becomes more aware of her own emotions and those of the people around her.  She stops hiding behind her desk and starts taking some emotional risks.

Where I do really feel for Clemmie is in the catch twenty-two in which she finds herself in trying to satisfy the expectations of her family.  She’s gone out there and succeeded, in all the ways she’s been told she was supposed to succeed, but she still feels like she’s missing something and doesn’t know how to fix it.  I know many women like Clemmie, women who have been told, by teachers and mothers, that they’re meant to go out and grasp with both hands all that the previous generations of women have been denied, who achieve and achieve and achieve, and wake up one day—usually at one a.m. in the office with half-filled coffee cups scattered around them—to ask, “How did I go wrong?  Why is this making me so miserable?”

Q.  I mentioned earlier how much of a fan I am for the Pink Carnation series, and I cannot wait to see what is planned for Miss Gwen and her dangerous parasol! Of the love stories in the Pink Carnation series, which was your favorite to write?

A.  That’s a tough one!  Each of the Pink books has its own special place in my heart, and, in many ways, the books that were the most difficult for me were often the most rewarding.  But, when it comes down to it, the book I had the most fun writing was probably the second in the series, The Masque of the Black Tulip.  The heroine, Henrietta, is your classic girl next door.  She’s everyone’s best friend, with a wry and slightly self-deprecating sense of humor.  In short, she’s just plain nice.  And so is her hero, Miles (despite his issues with that one floppy lock of hair).  I genuinely enjoyed spending time with both of them—which may be why they keep popping up in cameo roles in so many of the subsequent books.

Q.  My friend Meredith wanted to know, if the Pink Carnation finds love, will that be the end of the series?  Could the series continue after the Pink Carnation got betrothed or married? Or would that be the end of the spy’s career?

A.  Hi, Meredith!  The answer to that falls into the “yes” and “no” category.  I can tell you with great confidence that the Pink Carnation’s marriage isn’t the end of her career.  If anything, when she teams up with her hero, it’s going to be the start of a whole new set of adventures for both of them. 

But will the Pink Carnation’s “happily ever after” mark the official end of the Pink Carnation series?  Yes.

Partly, it’s because all good things must come to an end—because it’s always rather sad and depressing when they don’t.  I think of this as the Dark Shadows problem.  When I was in ninth grade, I was absolutely obsessed with the 90s remake of Dark Shadows.  Which ended abruptly mid-plot line.  In the middle of an extended historical flashback.  It was maddening.  There I was, doomed never to know how it was going to all turn out.  I would never want to leave my Pink Carnation readers hanging in the same way, so I’ve decided that it’s better to have a planned end to the series than to run the risk of the series petering out, a la Dark Shadows, midplot line.

The other reason has to do with Eloise and Colin.  When I finished writing the first Pink book, back in 2003, I had just returned from my own research year in London.  I was Eloise’s age, walking the streets Eloise was walking, visiting the archives Eloise was visiting.  That was ten years ago.  In the interim, I’ve left the history department, moved cities, changed careers.  And the world has changed.  Eloise was born (metaphorically) in that Bridget Jones era of books with candy-colored covers.  She’s a pre-recession character.  She doesn’t know that the market is going to crash in 2008 or that the national mood will change.  And she’s still wearing those unattractive calf-length skirts with the hip bump that were so in vogue circa 2003.  As much as I love Eloise, I’m finding it harder and harder to transport myself mentally into her world.

That having been the long-winded version, the short version is that there are three more Pink books in the works: Pink X, THE PASSION OF THE PURPLE PLUMERIA, which comes out on August 6;  Pink XI (tentatively titled The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla), which I’m working on right now, and should hit shelves in August of 2014; and Pink XII, which will be Jane’s book, and will wrap up Eloise’s story.

Twelve is a good number for a series, don’t you think?

Although the official series will wrap up with Pink XII, I’m not ruling out the option of Pink offshoots.  There are still characters’ stories I want to tell, so there might be more all-historical Pink world books, like THE MISCHIEF OF THE MISTLETOE.  There’s also a contemporary mystery novel, featuring (an older) Eloise and Colin that I’ve been itching to write….  So we’ll see what happens!

Q.  As a fellow writer, I often find myself procrastinating and need motivation to get started on a story.  What would you say is your best motivation?  And do you have a particular writing process to keep yourself on track?

A.  Deadline panic.  Deadline panic and large quantities of caffeine.  There’s nothing like the threat of breach of contract to concentrate the mind. 

The truth of the matter is that I usually want to work on anything but the project I’m supposed to be working on.  The next book is always all glittery and shiny while the one currently on the computer screen is leaden and flat and a horrible chore that has to be got through.  (Of course, that next glittery and shiny one will then become leaden and flat, while the one after that will start singing its siren song.) 

I think it’s fear of failure that causes most of us to procrastinate, specifically fear that once you try to wrestle that perfect story in your head into prose, it will be dull and flat.  Pinning a story onto the page is hard and often frustrating, whether it’s your first book or your thirteenth.  (Not like I’m talking from current experience here with that thirteenth book….)  The advice I’d give to aspiring writers is to remember that everyone feels this way, and just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.  Sometimes, the passages that have felt most like a monkey was bouncing on my keyboard when I was writing them are the bits that I’m the most proud of later.  And I cannot tell you how many manuscripts—including my RITA-winner—have been rescued from the wastebasket by my college roommate or my little sister, who help provide perspective for me when I’m deep in the book thicket and have lost my own.

I’ve learned that the only way to do it is to just keep chugging.  Creating routines helps.  When I’m in hard core book mode, I tend to go to Starbucks at a specific time each day and drink the exact same drink.  (Each book has wound up having its own theme drink—for THE ASHFORD AFFAIR, it was a grande decaf caramel mocha with whip.)  Often, I listen to the same music, over and over and over again.  When I got particularly stuck on ASHFORD, I played the same Toad the Wet Sprocket song on infinite repeat. 

There’s no magic recipe.  Just whatever it takes for you, at any given time, to stay in that chair and keep on typing.  Threats, bribery, excessive quantities of Starbucks.  Because something is always better than nothing… even on those days when it doesn’t feel that way!

Q.  Are there any genres you would like to break into with your writing? 

A.  I hop across genres all the time—often in the same book.  So far, the Pink books have been labeled pretty much everything except Sci Fi.  (For copyright reasons, that Pink Carnation meets Doctor Who episode will have to wait.)  I’ve had the same experience with THE ASHFORD AFFAIR, which has been called historical fiction, women’s fiction, romance, and mystery.  I seem to have a propensity for creating cross-genre stew.

As for moving into other genres….  There’s very little I would rule out, other than mechanically minded sci fi, or anything to do with a post-apocalyptic universe.  (My leanings are historical rather than futuristic, partly because technology confuses me.)  I can see writing heavy historical tomes, madcap mystery novels, YA pseudo-medieval fantasy novels, contemporary romance….  There are plot ideas along each of these lines in my omnipresent plot notebook.  It all depends on what catches my imagination at any given moment—and finding time to write it.

Q.  Lastly, what are some of your favorite novels and what would you recommend for some summer reading?

A.  You can find a list of some of my long-time favorite books (in a range of genres) on my website: 

For summer reading, some of the books I’ve been most excited about this summer are:
  • Beatriz Williams’s A Hundred Summers, set in a wealthy beach community in the 1930s (side note: there must have been something in the water, because she and I have marveled over how similar some of the themes and relationships are in A Hundred Summers and The Ashford Affair);
  • Susanna Kearsley’s The Firebird, which goes back and forth between the present day and eighteenth century Scotland, Belgium, and Russia;
  • C.S. Harris’s clever, Napoleonic-set St. Cyr mystery series, since I have somehow foolishly put off reading it until now;
  • Simone St. James’s An Inquiry into Love and Death, a haunting 1920s-set ghost story;
  • and Wendy Webb’s Fate of Mercy Alban, since I am a sucker for an old-fashioned gothic.
Other fun beach reads include contemporary romances by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Kristan Higgins; the Regency romances of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sarah MacLean; and the historical/modern hybrid novels (I believe the official term is “time slip”) of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore, and Lucinda Riley.

For more summer reading suggestions, visit the News page of my website (, where I have a weekly reading feature.  And if you have any suggestions for me, please send them my way!  I’m always looking for more books to read.

Q.  I can’t thank you enough for stopping by and letting me pester you with questions.  Best of luck with the new novel and know that at least one fan is waiting with baited breath for the newest installation of the Pink Carnation series!

A. Thanks so much for having me here, Alex!  And if anyone would like to know more about the books or anything else, please do stop by and visit me on either my website ( or my Facebook author page ( 

Happy summer and happy reading!

This interview has given me so much joy for a few reasons.  First, Lauren's favorite couple in the Pink Carnation series is MY favorite couple.  I like to think I'm a fairly good representation of Henrietta's characteristics (just sayin').  Second, a crossover episode of the Pink Carnation and Doctor Who would be the most fabulous thing ever. In fact, I may start writing the screenplay myself. Third, I love getting advice from other writers, especially when it comes to sticking with it.  I have the tendency to wander and not get it done, so it is nice to know other writers (especially successful ones) experience the same feelings.  

Head over to Lauren's page for lots of amazing information and updates on the rest of her blog tour promoting the Ashford Affair.  As for me, I will now delve myself into fantasies of masks and knee breeches.  Ahh, knee breeches.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Club: June

 (Image from Goodreads)

This month’s book for book club was the Dressmaker by Kate Alcott.  The novel takes place in 1912.  April 15th to be precise, the sinking of the Titanic.  The famous vessel serves as a bridge of sorts between the wealthy and the poor.  This monetary dichotomy is the focal point of the story.

Young Tess, a servant girl with a talent for sewing, gets a passage on the Titanic as a maid of an elite fashion designer Lucile Duff Gordon.  The sinking occurs and Tess and her boss make it out.  But as interviews start happening and inquiries about the ship dig out information, scandalous behavior begins emerging.  Why was Lucile’s boat so empty?  What did she have to do with it?  Plucky reporter Pinky Wade is a rare woman in the journalism field and she is dying for all the good scoops.  Tess even gets herself caught up in a love triangle in the new world.  Women’s rights and the differences between the lives of the wealthy and downtrodden are the moral train pushing the story forward.

Unfortunately, I was unimpressed with the book.  I think the writing was alright, but there wasn’t a single character I wanted to root for, or see have a grand conclusion.  Every character had some part of them that was annoying to me.  The only pleasure I found in the book was the authenticity of the story.  Excerpts from the trials/questionings after the sinking were used and some of the characters were real people.  Other than that, it was too romanticized and the characters were petty in my opinion.

These were the quotes I enjoyed:

“[...] mind you don’t wreck your life with defiance.” pg. 2

“A lady who is willing to stand up for herself has a dignity that will take her a long way.” pg. 33

“These men don’t want to hear anything critical about us or from us.” pg. 102

To me, it was a weak follow up to last month’s Gatsby. But in the world of book club, there’s always another month and another story.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Feminism and the Women of Firefly

One might not look at Joss Whedon and think, “Yeah, he is totally a feminist.” Because by today’s standards (and by today’s standards I mean society’s standards) feminists are angry radicals who hate men.  While some feminists are angry radicals who hate men, not all of them are.  Feminism is about having equality between men and women, eliminating gender roles created by society, and establishing proper rights for women around the world.  During high school, I would have balked at the idea of being a feminist.  But now that I’ve grown and become more educated about the world, I am completely proud to call myself a feminist.  

Joss Whedon has owned part of my soul since I first saw the show Firefly (it’s a Western, in space. Yeah, mind blown).  Now, years later and several shows and films, he still has a part of my soul and now it is an even larger portion.  One of the things I love so much about Joss Whedon is his dedication to writing powerful female characters.  Firefly has several female characters, all awesome and all in some way representative of feminist ideals.  Go Joss Whedon, you are a beast.


The Captain’s right hand WOMAN, she is part of the rebel group the Browncoats and fights to help keep the Alliance from taking over.  Even though the Independence loses, Zoe remains the Captain’s confidant and his second in command.  Zoe is strong, kick-ass, and sassy.  She’s married to the pilot of the Serenity, ‘Wash,’ but this is definitely a relationship where she wears the pants.  And he loves it!  In one of the early episodes when the crew is being questioned by the Alliance, he says, “Have you seen what she wears? Forget about it. Have you ever been with a warrior woman?”  Zoe is known for wearing characteristically more masculine outfits, and Wash is not only pleased with it but also enjoys her strength as well.


As the mechanic of the ship, Kaylee has a job that is typically a male oriented profession.  Not only is she incredibly gifted at it, she schools men in knowledge of spaceships.  At a party, all the guys are hanging around her asking her questions.  And the way she gets the job in the first place is by owning the guy she’s hooking up with in knowledge about the ship, and he is supposed to be the mechanic of Serenity.  Kaylee is also the heart of the ship.  She’s the warmth and sweetness of character that accepts everyone and makes the Serenity a pleasant place to live.


In regards to feminism, Inara addresses the idea of female sexuality being in the hands of the female themselves.  Inara is educated and works as a companion, the futuristic approach of prostitution.  While feminism takes both sides on prostitution, the common denominator is that it is the woman’s decision because it is her body.  The Firefly aspect of companionship also includes education.  Women go to a school where they learn about sex, but also varying topics so that they can converse fluently with their clients.  An important part of companionship is also the health factor.  Companions are given physicals every year to keep medically safe, and if a client ever mistreats them, the companion can have the client blacklisted, so no companion ever runs the same risk of harm.


Shown to have been essentially kidnapped and then subsequently experimented on, River’s character is severely damaged from the work done to her.  She was accepted into an elite academy for youth because of her marvelous intellect.  Her incredibly smart brother, who is a doctor says, “So when I tell you that my little sister makes me look like an idiot child, I want you to understand my full meaning. River was more than gifted. She... she was a gift. Everything she did, music, math, theoretical physics - even-even dance - there was nothing that didn't come as naturally to her as breathing does to us.”  River’s character is showing the innate strength and smarts that women have, that can come out if given a good education.  Everyone has innate talent that if nurtured properly can blossom into amazing gifts.  Women and especially young girls can often be dissuaded from pursuing these intellectual passions by today’s societal goals.

All of these female characters embody something that feminism works to promote or achieve.  Joss Whedon created these amazing characters.  His other works also feature women of strength and power (i.e. Buffy, Willow, Winifred, Cordelia, Echo, etc).  He likes strong women, and he resents the lack of strong women as main characters.

Whedon discussed his daughter and her take on the females of the Avengers, who were her favorites. Of course they were! Maria Hill and Black Widow are BAMFs.  His newest flick coming out is Much Ado About Nothing.  In the article, he comments on his like of Beatrice as a character and later realized her power as a feminist.  The article can be read here.  As someone who appreciates powerful females in film and knowing there is at least one male out there who feels the same, fills me with a little bit of faith in the future of cinema.  Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespearean work, so I’m beyond excited to see what Joss has done.  

(photos from Fox)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gatsby Galore

Last month has essentially been dedicated to the amazing novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The Great Gatsby was the pick for book club in May, which coincided wonderfully with the release of Baz Luhrmann’s film interpretation.  And since I don’t do anything halfway and I knew I would be doing a lot about Gatsby, I obviously needed to watch the Robert Redford version as well. Which I hadn’t seen yet. So first I will discuss the novel, followed by an analysis of Luhrmann’s film, and then Clayton’s film.  I’m being nit picky and in depth, so if you (the reader) are unaware of the story and do not want spoilers, you should leave now. Cause I’m gonna spoil all up in this.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors, and this book especially is one of my favorite novels.  His style is elegant and refined, without being snobby or too intellectual for people to enjoy.  I feel Chuck Palahniuk’s style is similar, but Palahniuk’s style is decidedly more sarcastic and offensive.  For those who don’t know the story, young man Nick Carraway tells the story of his summer in New York.  He spends time with his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan.  Daisy sets up Nick with her friend Jordan Baker, and all of them are swept away with the charismatic influence of the jazz age.  Nick lives next door to a mysterious gent named Gatsby, and it is eventually revealed he has a past connection to Daisy of the romantic kind.  Gatsby’s covert nature leaves everyone wondering who he really is and what business he has.  Meanwhile, Tom carries on an affair with the married Myrtle Wilson, right under the nose of Mr. Wilson.  Every character has a distinct weakness, or level of screwed up.  And each of them is just trying to find some semblance of peace in the crazy world. Eventually everyone reaches their downfalls in the form of a fight and accidental death.  In the end, everyone is disillusioned with the age of decadence.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.” p. 7

About Tom Buchanan: “[...] one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anticlimax.” p. 11

“The officer looked at Daisy while she was speaking, in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at some time [...]” p. 69

“The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain.” p.77

“No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.” p. 87

“[...] and it occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.” p. 110

“There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind, and as we drove away Tom was feeling the hot whips of panic.” p. 111

“The transition from libertine to prig was so complete.” p. 116

“‘I’m thirty,’ I said. ‘I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.’” p. 156

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made...” p. 158

“It eluded us then, but that’s no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther....And one fine morning-- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” p. 159

Admittedly, I could have added at least half a dozen more quotes.  But I felt I had enough.  Fitzgerald’s story and style is absolutely amazing to me.  He is what I would want to be as a writer.  Not the personal abuse of alcohol, just the excellent writing quality.

#33: The Great Gatsby (By Baz Luhrmann)

Baz is known for over the top and extravagant cinematography, which involving a story of the Jazz Age could be a perfect fit.  The casting for this movie was absolutely fantastic in my opinion. Leo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy, Tobey Maguire as Nick, Joel Edgerton as Tom, and Isla Fisher as Myrtle embodied each of their characters so well.  In my opinion, much better than the Redford version.  Leo portrayed Gatsby’s vulnerability better, and the modern music was such a twist.  It added another layer to the story, much better than just sticking to the music of the time.

This version had a more truthful first meeting between Nick and Gatsby, and Daisy and Gatsby had much better chemistry in this film, in my opinion.  Nick’s narration is well done, with quotes occasionally making screen appearance, but the story puts Nick in a sanitarium.  The sanitarium is nowhere in the original novel.  Personally, since at the end of the novel Nick is determined to head back to the Midwest, I would have put him on a train, writing the story on the way.  But I suppose Baz needed something more dramatic.  I give the film a 7 out of 10.  The film was remarkable, but Baz’s over the top style got old.  And while the modern music and faster pace served the film well, the sanitarium addition added to the story when instead straight information from the book would have served better.

#34: The Great Gatsby (By Jack Clayton)

Admittedly, I am not a fan of Robert Redford or Mia Farrow. Robert Redford, I have only found tolerable in the film Sneakers.  And Mia Farrow’s voice I find grating, which was even more played out as she was the vapid Daisy.  Apart from that, the older film did have some better qualities over the newer one.  The relationship between Nick and Jordan was played out much better, and even included showing her cheating at golf.  Which is a big part of her character development.  Tom and Myrtle in this version have more sentiment in their relationship, while the newer version focused more on their relationship as sexual.  Farrow does slightly better at portraying Daisy’s flightiness.  Sam Waterston was also adorable as all get out as Nick.  The main drawback of the film, minus my dislike for the two main actors, the pace was terrible.  The film clocked in at 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is the exact same as the new one.  But the older version felt like getting teeth pulled.  I kept waiting for it to end.

I give the film a 5.5 out of 10.  The pace ruined the film for me.  Interactions between Daisy and Jay were added in both films, which makes sense since there isn’t any relationship development in the book.  But there were so many scenes added in the older one, it got unnecessary and helped the film drag.  I also did not like the character portrayal as much as the new one.  There were some aspects that redeemed the film, but overall I found it a waste of 2 hours and 20 minutes.

I discovered a while back an amazing website called Out of Print.  The website creates clothing and other products with the old school book covers on them.  They also coordinate with Books for Africa, which sends books to underprivileged areas in an attempt to challenge illiteracy.  So all around amazing!  Here is me rocking my new Gatsby sweatshirt.  I also have an Alice in Wonderland tee, and hope to purchase a library card pouch soon :)

And just remember the true meaning of Gatsby: