Smith has beautifully crafted a story that is equal parts mystery and love story. The love story itself is not romantic in nature, but rather a tribute to a mother’s love and the love of art as a whole. Both the painting in question, titled “At the Edge of the Wood”, and the artist – Sara de Vos – are fictitious, but Smith has borrowed pieces of the lives of real female masters from the Dutch Golden Age.
Nothing about the structure or plot is groundbreaking: we travel back and forth between 1950’s New York, 17th-century Amsterdam, and 21st-century Australia, with the painting and the haunting presence of Sara de Vos following us along the way. It’s the way Smith tells it, setting the atmosphere in lyrically beautiful detail, that makes you want to stop and savor each chapter as you creep closer and closer to the moment when everything is laid bare.
After watching, I couldn't help feeling honored that I was let into this film by the director. We take so much for granted in life. Most times it can't be helped just because of human nature. We try to make some sort of difference in our short lives. We hope we haven't wasted opportunities.
Debut author, Jane Rosen is witty and engaging as she seamlessly weaves nine separate stories around one black dress. Each story is neatly wrapped up with a satisfying ending by the conclusion of the book. Some stories include: a Bloomingdale sales women starting a relationship with a movie star, a private investigator, a recent college graduate who has created a fake life on social media, an aspiring model, and a middle aged secretary in love with her boss. All of their lives are changed for the better by this one black dress. The dress itself transcends age and culture to take on a character of its own. I loved it from start to finish.
How well do you know your neighbors? Or rather, how well do you know your girlfriends?
The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen takes place in the perfect-seeming neighborhood of Newport Cove, and centers on a group of friends who seem to have it all: Kellie Scott, a former cheerleader who married her high school boyfriend - a football player, of course; her best friend Susan Barrett, who runs a very successful business coordinating services for the elderly; Gigi Kennedy, whose husband Joe is running for Congress in the Democratic primary; and the new neighbor Tessa Campbell, whose kids are just the right ages to be friends with the kids of the other mothers.
In a culture where it's common to see women tearing one another down over the pettiest things (she really needs to lose a few pounds; her boobs must be fake; she's likely a gold digger and that's why she's married to him), it was nice to read a novel about four women--all mothers--who had their own personal struggles but had the support of one another to get them through the rough patches that life lobbed at them.
I used to watch a TV show that some people may remember called Desperate Housewives - and if you do remember it, you’ll know what I mean when I say that The Perfect Neighbors exudes Desperate Housewives vibes.
Check out The Color Purple (New Broadway Cast Recording (2016) on CD. This exceptional soundtrack is a fusion of jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, and the impressive cast includes the spectacular Jennifer Hudson as Shug Avery, and a fearless performance by Cynthia Erivo as Celie.
Erivo was recently awarded the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, and one listen will tell you why. If you know the story, Celie begins her journey with a small voice, barely able to articulate her needs to anyone but her sister, Nettie. Their voices lift you with the sweetness, spirit and innocence they collectively possess. We hear Celie gather strength as her resolve and determination grow.
Good music is an indulgence for the ears, but this CD takes it a step further by artfully articulating Alice Walker’s story of courage and triumph.