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review 2017-11-24 21:55
A great resource for writers of historical fiction, historians, and people who love social history and the Victorian period.
Life on the Victorian Stage: Theatrical Gossip - Nell Darby

Thanks to Alex from Pen & Sword for providing me with a review paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

If you have been following my reviews for some time, you will be aware that I have read a number of the historical books published by Pen & Sword. I tend to be more interested in social history and how historical changes affected the lives of those who don’t always figure in the big History treatises. Being a lover of plays and a kin theatregoer, I was very curious about this book. Yes, theatre gossip was intriguing, but getting a sense of what life on the Victorian stage must have been like was my main interest. Although sometimes we discover that life has changed dramatically in a reasonably short period of times, some things do not seem to change much. And human curiosity and the love of gossip are among those things. If Victorians had no access to social media, there were plenty of newspapers and periodicals to keep them entertained, and actors were as much a subject of interest then as they are now.

The author does not follow a narrative or chooses a few big cases in this book, but rather illustrates the sheer amount of theatrical news that occupied the Victorian press of the time, not only in London but also in the provinces. As communications improved, newspapers even started featuring stories about actors in America (either natives or British authors touring there) and although sometimes the features lacked in detail (in some cases a suicide or a death would not feature the name of those involved) they were always after items that would attract the public’s attention. Darby divides the book into three parts: Part 1 deals with the business side of things (including such matters as licenses, libel, bankruptcy, breach of contract…), Part 2 looks at criminal lives (from blackmail and assault to prostitution and murder), and Part 3 delves into the personal lives of the actors (what we would probably consider gossip proper, although not all of it is gossip. The chapter on death and disaster deals with serious matter and also makes us look at security measures and disasters in theatres, bigamy seems to have been much more common than it is today, and personally I was fascinated by the chapter on breaches of promise, as I had not realise that there were laws that offered more protection to women in those circumstances than I would have expected).  Each chapter shares both, examples of standard cases of what would usually find its way into the newspapers (brief pieces with hardly any detail) and it dedicates more space to others that were better known, but no single case gets all the limelight. In many ways, this book is like a sampler, where people interested in the subject can learn more and be pointed in the right direction to research further.

The author’s style of writing is direct, and mostly allows the sources to do the talking. She provides sufficient background (on legal matters, the nature of performances, technical issues…) for readers to appreciate the items she discusses, and also some reflections on her own take on the materials. She notes how some periodicals, like The Era, were in a double-bind of sorts, as they tried hard to defend the profession of acting on the stage (that had a pretty bad reputation, especially in the case of women), insisting that actors were honourable and true professionals, whilst at the same time featured “sensational” news to attract readers. Although these days respectability is not a concept many people are worried about, it is true that the press has a hard time trying to reconcile the ideal of protectors of the truth, whilst fighting to keep the attention of the public by any means necessary. Is it possible to keep the moral high ground whilst publishing gossip and innuendo?

Although this is not, perhaps, a book for the general reading public, as I read I kept thinking about how useful this book would be to writers of historical fiction interested in the period (and not only for those considering using a theatrical background in their story but also for those thinking about the press of the time and even society at large) and to historians. Darby provides end notes full of details, both of the sources of her research and also of further information available. Although she mostly uses newspapers, she digs on the archives to confirm details such as names (as many actors and actresses used stage names and some of those were fairly popular) and discovers that Mark Twain wasn’t the only one whose death had been grossly exaggerated (deaths, marriages… were often misreported). The paperback also contains pictures that allow us to put faces to some of the names and help transport us to the era.

In sum, this is a book that will greatly assist writers, historians, and people passionate about the Victorian era and the history of the stage in the UK. It is a good starting point for those who want a general view of the topic and/or are looking for inspiration for their next story or research project. And if you just want to confirm that people’s love for gossip about the stars has not changed over the years, this is your book.

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text 2017-10-08 03:53
Produce your own Theatre - Free Scripts and Production rights

This time of year is when theatre groups, big and small, amateur and professional, experimental or conventional unveil their new season.

 

I love live theatre. I was even a member of the Vancouver Playwrights Theatre Centre and under their mentorship wrote two plays.

 

One of the biggest thrills I ever experienced was to have professional actors perform a reading of my one-act play, Harry’s Truth. It was truly mind-blowing to witness other people interpreting my work in ways I never imagined while still staying true to the script.

 

To celebrate live theatre I’m offering the scripts of Harry’s Truth and End of the Rope free until December 31, 2017 to any individual, drama class, amateur or professional theatre group to read, workshop or produce. Here’s what one reviewer had to say about Harry’s Truth.

 

“You show the interactions between the five of them and let us have a glance at everybody’s past. A lot gets revealed in every scene. I like the detailed stage instructions and the symbolism in the last scene. One can read Harry’s Truth as if it were a short story. I’d really like to see this play on a stage someday…”

 

Often theatre groups are inhibited by the price of mounting a production. I will sign off on all production rights during that period and also authorize you to reproduce the copies of the script.

 

As the reviewer I quoted pointed out, these plays also make entertaining reading even if you’re not a theatre buff.

 

If you send me an email I’ll forward the website address and the coupon codes so you can download your free e-book scripts of Harry’s Truth and End of the Rope.

 

rod_raglin@yahoo.com

 

If anyone would like to take advantage of this offer I’d love to be involved as a script consultant or in any other aspect (no, I won’t pay to produce the production). Who knows maybe I’ll even come and see it.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

30

 

Website:   http://www.rodraglin/com

Amazon Author Page:   https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00SD6LEU

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

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review 2017-09-08 15:10
Acting On Impulse (Love On Cue) by Mia Sosa
Acting on Impulse (Love on Cue) - Mia Sosa

 

Mia Sosa is a ray of sunshine.  She uses her quick wit and irresistible talent to brighten up the world of romance.  Acting On Impulse is destined to be a classic.  Where else can a smidge of fantasy lead to a dose of reality?  Tori has a history of falling for the wrong guys.  Her heart is all in, but reality doesn't measure up to the fairy tale in her head. In need of a little rest and relaxation after a draining split, she takes a vacation.  A little beach, a little fun and a hot stranger. Who knew fun in the sun could be so enticing? Everything is coming up roses, until her love in bloom encounters a thorn. Carter and Tori are a temptation that must be enjoyed.

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review 2017-09-07 00:58
Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa
Acting on Impulse (Love on Cue) - Mia Sosa

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Tori isn't having the best week after a public break-up with her boyfriend. She decides a trip to Aruba for some rest, relaxation, and no drama is needed.
After losing a bunch of weight for a movie role, Carter decides that a week of rest, relaxation, and no drama is needed. 
From the moment Tori and Carter meet on the plane bound for Aruba, rest, relaxation, and no drama go right out the window.
 
First in the Love on Cue series, Acting on Impulse was a fun fast-paced contemporary jaunt. Written in the currently popular first person pov chapter switching from hero and heroine, we also got a bit of fourth wall breaking. The writing style has a bit of write like you talk feel and there are moments where the hero and heroine seem to acknowledge an outside audience with comments directed at the reader. While this style can give the reader more of an inclusive feeling, I personally like to remain a certain distance with more of a look-in at a story than inclusion in one. 
 
"You should know this, though. I will always take no for an answer, but the minute you say otherwise, you're mine, and I won't hold anything back." 
 
Carter, our hero, was an affable, relaxed, and slightly goofy guy. With an insta-attraction bit, as soon as he sees our heroine he starts calling her his future wife in his mind. The pressure of being in Hollywood and the guard he must constantly have up around people made up most of the background depth for him. We get a little more personality out of him in his interactions with his friend who is also his agent, his younger sister, and family visit. On the whole though, I'm not sure he really popped out of the light and fun model hero. 
 
Our heroine Tori had more spark and life and the character you're going to really enjoy. She was a capable and strong heroine who you'd want as a friend. Since the author wrote her so self-assured it felt really forced when Tori would shy away from a relationship with Carter because of her ex's past action of announcing their break-up publically. She had a very straightforward personality and it was a little disappointing to have her seemingly act out of character with forced angst turning away from Carter. 
 
Even though Carter starts off thinking Tori is his future wife, his trust in others somewhat holds him back and with Tori letting her past relationship taint her future one, our couple had a hot for but keep arms length away relationship for the majority of the book. It wasn't until around the 60% mark that I felt like things started rolling. The author did a credible job of rounding out the story with some family drama for Tori and professional drama for Carter that helped add dimensions to our characters. There was a hint at secondary romance between Carter's friend/agent and his younger sister and Tori's roommate/friend and boss that did peak my interest. 
 
All in all, this was a quick read with a nice hero, great heroine who got tweaked a bit to create some angst, and some steamy action scenes. The first person pov with fourth wall breaking and insta-attraction weren't to my personal likes but was still fun to escape into for a couple hours.

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review 2016-12-27 17:37
I wasn't even that surprised
The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher

I have to be honest...Carrie Fisher's The Princess Diarist was a bit of a letdown. When I saw that she'd come out with a book with excerpts from her diaries written during the making of Star Wars I was SO excited. The punny title, the front cover with that iconic hair, and the premise had me immediately adding it to my library hold list. It turns out that this is not a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat or makes you feel as if you've learned something monumental about the person who is writing the book. The book focuses on one subject and sticks to that ad nauseum throughout. And the worst thing was that it wasn't even that earth-shattering. For me, the best part was when Fisher talked about her relationship with the Star Wars franchise after so many years and how she's had to navigate the world of fandom. I always find that so interesting because for celebs it has to be like moving through an alien landscape. (Now that is a book I'd like to read.) Strangely enough, this experience hasn't deterred me from adding her other book, Wishful Drinking, to my TRL. Hopefully, that one will be on the blog in 2017. XD This one gets a 4/10.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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