A winning combination: Pride and Prejudice, P.D. James, and the BBC

PEMBERLEYMrMrsBenn_2767241bAs Austen fans probably already know, the BBC has filmed a mini-series based on P.D. James’s mystery tribute to Pride and Prejudice, Death Comes to Pemberley. (You can read our review of the book here.)

The series airs on PBS beginning on October 26th. Here’s a first look.

Thus far, the reviews are exceedingly favorable.  I suspect this will not be the last of new versions of Austen’s adored novel. (For a fun take on the many version currently out, read this article from A.V. Club.


Dabney Grinnan

Is there any way for a woman to age in Hollywood?

Helenrenee-zellweger-435Several news sources have slammed Renée Zellweger’s face recently. Slate.com said “But when fallen It Girls like Zellweger re-emerge in middle age with radically retooled faces, we can’t look away.” Comments on Twitter ranged from snarky to snide.

For her part, Ms. Zellweger says “I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.”

In Hollywood, women over 40 are almost always visually wrong in some way. Either they look too done, too old, too fat, too thin, too saggy, or too tight. There’s a reason we all swoon over Helen Mirren. (She has confessed to considering plastic surgery but says she hasn’t gone under the knife yet.) She looks impossibly beautiful at 69. Ms. Mirren, however, is a rarity. Most actresses over 40 are marginalized or consigned to dowdy roles.

What do you think about Ms. Zellweger’s look?

Dabney Grinnan

When art and its patrons become one work

knights.jpg.CROP.original-originalIf you’re like me and you like going to museums, you’re probably a secret people watcher too. (Or maybe it’s just me….) I love watching how people respond to art, how they hold themselves back to see a painting from a distance, or scurry past a statue that seems, to them, hideous.

This artist, Andres Wertheim, has been using sophisticated photography to create works of art that meld masterpieces with their viewers. I think his work is fascinating and beautiful.


What do you think?

Dabney Grinnan

Say Yes to Rayna’s Dress?

CONNIE BRITTONDo you watch Nashville? If so, how are you liking Season Three? 

The show is certainly a romance soap these days. There’s secret babies, jealous best friends, badly behaving boyfriends, and sex in odd places. (The laundry room. Really?)

Rayna’s getting married–we’ll believe it when it happens–and this is the dress she’s picked. What do you think? Thumbs up or thumbs down?


It’s all about the bass… line. The song “Sweater Weather” has a great one.

Romance writer Carrie Lofty posted this video on Facebook with the the comment “One of the best pop hooks in years.”

I had to give it a listen and I’m glad I did. Indie band The Neighbourhood was unknown to me but I’ve since then watched a few more of their videos on YouTube and I really like them.

This video also showcases one of my favorite cars of all time: A 1969 Mercedes Benz. Plus the black and white film gives it a timeless sense.


Dabney Grinnan

Lera Lynn knocks another one out into the stars

I’ve been a Lera Lynn fan since my sister Sarah first heard her perform in Athens, Georgia at a R.E.M. tribute concert in 2011. (My sister called me from the theater and said “Ben and I are listening to this amazing singer. She’s going to be big.”) I promptly looked Lera up on Google and fell hard for her. This video and this song both blew me away then and still blow me away today.

Since then, I’ve seen Lera play live four times–once at my husband’s 60th birthday party!–and she’s mesmerized the audience each time. And, as my sister predicted, she’s becoming big. Her latest coup: This article and featured video at Rolling Stone.

What do you think? Does Taylor Swift need to be worried?


Dabney Grinnan



Writings on friendships now lost

The topic of this book fascinates me. So much is written about romantic love–in both fiction and non–but, for much of our lives, our friendships with others play every bit as great a role in our happiness. Women’s fiction routinely deals with female friendships– The Myth of You and Me, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood all come to mind. This book which is described as “unique stories of failed friendships” is a series of essays written by women about the friends they’ve loved and lost.

What are your favorite books about female friendships?


Dabney Grinnan

Worst children’s book ever?

LYFThis article at Slate.com made me laugh. Several of the books listed in it are on my short list for truly awful and inexplicably loved children’s books.

If I had to pick the worst children’s book of all time, I’d probably pick an animated film adaptation. (Cars 2: The book comes to mind.)  But that’s such a forgettable tome, it’s not worth hating. So, were I to pick a beloved book I loathe, I’d pick the creepy and saccharine Love You Forever. Even after learning the heart-breaking story behind the book, I still find it icky and an example of terrifying parenting.

Do you have a book every one else loves that you dislike?

Dabney Grinnan

Gone Girl: Are you going?

GGI don’t usually rush out and see films the day they are released. In fact, the last time I did that, I think it was for the IMAX version of the last Harry Potter film. So, yes, it’s been a while.

That said, yesterday, right after lunch, my husband and I went to see Gone Girl, the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel. The book is, for me, a tour-de-force of writing. Ms. Flynn’s vision of intimacy between two brilliant and deeply messed-up partners fascinates me.

The book has several jaw-dropping plot twists, as does the film, and, as I watched, I thought about what an utterly different experience seeing the film would be had I not read the book. (I was reminded of a similar experience with Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent.) I enjoyed the film which is faithful to the plot of the book but not completely true to the novel’s vision of its protagonists, Amy and Nick.

Have you read Gone Girl? Do you plan to see the movie? (In the interest of suspense, please do not post spoilers in the comments.)