Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

Sense and Sensibility (♦♦♦♦♦)

The Dashwood women--three daughters and their mother--are left penniless when their father dies and their estate is inherited by John, their half brother. John and Fanny, his wife, immediately move to Norland, prompting the Dashwood family to send inquiries for a house with low rent to move out immediately.

Kate Winslet (Titanic) interprets free-spirited Marianne Dashwood, the middle sister. She loves literature, particularly Shakespearean poetry, and falls madly in love with the equally dashing John Willoughby (Greg Wise). Despite sharing Marianne’s affection, Willoughby never proposes and soon departs to London with hardly any explanation. The much older Colonel Christopher Brandon (Alan Rickman, Harry Potter Series) has always loved Marianne yet chosen to remain in the shadows.

Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson, The Remains of the Day), the oldest Dashwood sister, is all about propriety, decorum and reason. She falls in love with Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant, About a Boy), her sister-in-law’s eldest brother, but when Fanny discovers the growing mutual attraction between Edward and Elinor, she does everything in her power to voice her disapproval.

This marvelous adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel was ably directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The screenplay, which won an Oscar, was superbly written by Emma Thompson. What’s not to like about this film? The astonishing cinematography shows the splendor of the English countryside, the story is romantic, the music is endearing and the acting is superb by the whole cast. No doubt in my opinion this is Kate Winslet’s most accomplished role; not only she steals the show, she should have won an Oscar that year for that performance!

Worth every precious second!