And, since I've been getting e-mails, I'll repeat that I know this particular publishing method is not ideal, and I know a lot of people would rather go into their neighborhood Barnes & Noble and buy a paper copy, but I am not "choosing" to exclude people who don't buy e-books or don't buy things online. The only choice I had was to publish these books in the ways I had available or not publish them at all. If you want to read them, you can find a way -- and, no, your identity won't be automatically stolen if you make an online purchase from Amazon. You're a lot more at risk when you hand your credit card to a server in a restaurant or when you drop your credit card payment in a mailbox than you are using your credit card at Amazon, and you can always buy Amazon gift cards in stores (my grocery store carries them) and use that to make purchases without putting your credit card information online.
On another note, although I spent the weekend lying on the sofa and coughing, I didn't actually watch a lot of movies. I mostly re-watched a lot of TV shows. One I did catch was The Duchess, and since my library has the DVD, I think I need to rewatch it. For one thing, I realized that I have the non-fiction biography it's based on, and now that I'm reading it, it gives me a different perspective on the movie. For another, it was on Oxygen, so there's no telling what was cut, and there's this huge cultural whiplash when watching a costume drama on Oxygen because all the commercials seem to be in the "Wooo! Girlfriend, let's party! And go shopping!" vein.
Taken on its own, the movie isn't bad. It's about a rather fascinating historical figure, the Georgian-era duchess who was the leader of the fashionable set, had a surprising amount of political power for someone who couldn't vote or hold office, and yet who was stuck in a bad marriage. If some of that sounds eerily familiar, the woman in question was actually the many-greats aunt of Princess Diana (not an ancestor, as a lot of the reviews say. Diana was descended from this woman's brother), and the parallels are pretty stunning, as she was married young to a man who wasn't overly keen on it because he was already in a relationship with someone he wasn't able to marry, and then she eclipsed him because of her youth, beauty and vivacity, becoming a true celebrity who was both fawned over and vilified by the press. She was known to have the "common touch" and mingled easily with people of all classes, did a lot of charity work, and cultivated friendships with actors, writers and musicians. That's what the movie was pretty much about, and it was fine. But now that I've read about half the book, I have to say they totally missed the boat because they left out the good stuff.
For instance, they did show her being a leader of fashion, but they left out the bit where she's the one who set the style for those towering, elaborate hairdos with all sorts of stuff stuck in them, like a three-foot pile of hair with a model of a sailing ship in it. They showed her making a political speech, but they left out the part where she canvassed an entire area by going in and speaking to each shopkeeper and was considered her party's secret weapon. The press on her party's side praised her while the press on the other side accused her of trading sexual favors for votes. They also left out her being close friends with Marie Antoinette and being best friends with the Prince of Wales. When Parliament needed the prince to do or not do something, she was the one they got to try to talk sense into him. She was a compulsive gambler who nearly bankrupted her wealthy husband with her gambling debts. She created the first women's military auxiliary unit during the American Revolution after France declared war on Britain and the regiments started gearing up when she got bored watching her husband's regiment drill, so she designed female uniforms, recruited some other ladies and started drilling them (and she was still a teenager at that time). The part I really can't believe they left out of a movie is that she was in Paris during all the stirring that led up to the French Revolution. She entertained parties on both sides of the issue (though not at the same time), hung out with the King and Queen at Versailles and then left Paris just days before the storming of the Bastille. The movie just focused on her marriages, friendships and love affairs, but her real life was a lot more colorful.
The costumes and scenery were lovely, though. The clothing of that era is rather hideously gorgeous, or maybe gorgeously hideous. It's stuff that's fun to look at that I'd never want to wear, and I don't find the look of any of the men in that era to be at all attractive because even the men looked way too feminine. However, the clothes themselves are works of art.