is not any

wish:  I wish you Time.


to dream and love.

Time to laugh and to be glad.


to think, act and change.

Time to be amazed, to trust and to be kind.


to find

the path to heaven. I wish you have time, time for...Life!"



In order to properly close the year, I'd like to list all the books I read in English and reviewed in 2009. They are not so many, don't worry.
Well, actually there is one of these books I re-read in 2009 and, since I don't like cheating, I'm warning you. Can you guess which one it is ? One of my favourites ever... Who follows or reguarly visits my blog may guess. THE ANSWER ... AT THE END OF THIS POST!

I've also read books in Italian like David Grossman 's "A un cerbiatto somiglia il mio amore", Italo Calvino's "Lezioni Americane" , Marco Lodoli's "Il Rosso e il Blu" or Tiziano Scarpa's Stabat Mater.
Reading is an incredible experience and my only regret about it is ... I'd like to read much more. It's that I also love watching movies and period dramas as well as blogging so my little spare time must be divided among the three different activities... Then I also read much to prepare my lessons.Teaching literature, I usually have to study, revise, prepare notes or power point presentations for my classes. I often post this kind of materials on LEARNONLINE, which is my elder online "creature". (Those lovely creatures above on the right are NOT my students, but they are cute, aren't they?)
Now,  I'd like to list the books in this post according to my rating:  from the one I liked least (one of five stars) to the ones I loved (five of five stars) . I'll link them to my reviews on FLY HIGH, if you're interested and have not read them yet.

1. Sanditon Jane Austen's unfinished novel completed by Janette Shapiro, one of my tasks for the EVERYTHING AUSTEN CHALLENGE ( 1 of 5 stars)


2. Notes from a Small Island , Bill Bryson humorous travel book by an American living, working and travelling in Britain  (3 of 5 stars)

3. Shirley  , Charlotte Bronte's historical novel . Interesting but not as much as I expected. (3 of 5 stars)

4 . Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. Lovely, entertaining, not one I'm going to re-read all my life through. (3 of 5 stars)

5. The Professor by Charlotte Bronte. Still working on the review. Again, quite disappointed by one of my favourite writers. (3 of 5 stars). I've read it recently to start the ALL ABOUT THE BRONTES CHALLENGE
6. Jane Harris's The Observations. A humorous mystery story set in the Victorian Age. Unforgettable narrating character. (4 of 5 stars)

7. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Not my cup of tea but so impressive. Powerfully depressing. (4 of 5 stars)

8 . My beloved Mrs Gaskell. Her corageous novel Ruth was a great summer reading. (4 of 5 stars)


9. Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey. This year I've discovered that the youngest of the Brontes was greatly talented. (4 of 5 stars)

10. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - even better than her Agnes Grey - by Anne Bronte (4 of 5 stars)

11. When I read Nick Hornby I very often happen to laugh out loud. Even his Slam was such fun. (4 of 5 stars)

12. It was my first experience with an audiobook - but first I read the text since the recording was abridged- and my first Heyer's novel, Sylvester. (4 of 5 stars)

13. Jane Austen's Minor Works. I read the two fragments Sanditon and The Watsons as well as Lady Susan (4 of 5 stars)

14. Michelle Moran sent me an autographed copy of her wonderful CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER . I won it at Ms Lucy's Enchanted by Josephine and it was such a good reading! I've written about it HERE and HERE and HERE. (5 of 5 stars)

15. Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Unusual that I come to love a best-seller!  (5 0f 5 stars)

16. Mrs Gaskell's unfinished masterpiece, Wives and Daughters ( 5 of 5 stars )

17. The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton.  Sad and touching. Unforgetttable. (5 of 5 stars) . N.B. This is not the cover of my book, but that of an audiobook I don't own. I simply love the portrait in it.

18. Jane Austen.The World of Her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye is indispensable on an Austenite's bookshelf. Several of my posts on Fly High are indebted to this incredible rich source.
(5 of 5 stars)

19. Jane Greensmith, Intimations of Austen. My latest reading. 9 jewels of poetic prose. (5 of 5 stars)

20. And here is the answer to my question above. Did you guess? North and South by Mrs Gaskell was a re - read.

And now it's time to wish you all a splendid 2010 full of plenty of good books!



No forgery, no attempt to imitation, no improbable sequel, no plunges of our beloved characters into an odd world full of monsters or vampires. In all respect to her omonym predecessor’s work, Jane Greensmith has written in her own style (original & lyrical ) nine short–stories inspired to Jane Austen’s novels and characters. Stories I enjoyed reading so much that I can’t find the right words to tell you. Maybe Jane Austen might help me : “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a (good ) book …” (Pride and Prejudice)

The tales are so well conceived Janeites will immediately recognize the characters and the novels they love and they can even discover a new way to get to them and start thinking about them in a completely different light. Jane Greensmith’s stories are romantic, poetic, poignant, humorous, involving and all of them worth being read.

I wrote down my first impressions, or what most caught my attention, as soon as I finished each of the stories. I tried not to spoil too much for future readers to enjoy the surprising turns and bends. Here they are.

1. Rainbow around the Moon

The first one. Lyrical and compelling, inspired to Jane Austen’s last novel, Persuasion. Captain (now Admiral) Wentworth has grown old loving his Anne only and watching the sky in search for signs. The evocative beauty of the landscape – Cornwall - in the background.

2.The three sisters

Bitter but true. The market of marriage in Austen’s time had its practical reasons…not always marrying for love and love only resulted in happiness. This is what we learn from this effective two-page-and-a-half–long story.

3.The last baby

I’ve never thought I might sympathize with Mrs Bennet, I’ve always considered her unbearable, but Jane Greensmith made the miracle and, believe it or not, Mrs Bennet’s sweet satisfaction at the end of this story forced tears to my eyes. I felt deeply involved in her solitude after the marriages of all her daughters, in the painful loss of her last baby boy (her last chance to avoid losing their house), in her nostalgia for her youth, beauty and her husband’s love, in her longing for appreciation and attention, in her awareness of being silly and not young or beautiful any longer.

4.Bird of Paradise

Fanny has just become Mrs Bertram. But her arrival at Edmund’s rectory, Thornton Lacey, looks very much like Rebecca’s (duMaurier’s character) arrival at her beloved husband’s residence: a dark, broody, Mrs Danvers is there to govern their house trying to lead their lives … Guess what? Mrs Danvers starts mentioning Mary Crawford to Fanny, very often…

Again Jane Greensmith made the miracle! I’ve never sympathized with Fanny so much, not in Mansfield Park, at least.

5. The Color of Love

Mr Darcy a proud if not arrogant young gentleman? No, he is a very sensitive man who sees people in colours, especially their handwriting. And once he has had a look at Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s note to her mother, sent while she was staying at Netherfield with her ill sister Jane , he inevitably falls for her: “It  (her handwriting) was a gleaming, shimmering ray of light, a beacon, a pool of warm viscous honey, a lighting bolt across darkened sky. It took his breath away”.

I’ve never read any Austen sequel following the story of the famous couple from Darcy’s point of view, but this short story was delicious.

6. Remember that we are English

How great an effort did Henry Tilney make to face his father, General Tilney , in order to marry his love, Catherine? Do you think she , Catherine, will change much once she is Mrs Henry Tilney? This tale just answer these questions and it is another very lovely one.

7. When Fates conspire

If you’ve always thought it was just by chance that Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot met again at Kellynch after eight  years and that just by chance they were given the occasion to finally truly know each other … you were – like me – completely wrong. Everything was due to a … Fates’s conspiracy.

8. Heaven can wait

How beautiful  this one is , too, you can’t imagine! Just finished reading it but I want to go back to the start. Incredibly good.

Now, Jane is going to marry Mr Bingley tomorrow and just on that night we discover the reason of her coldness, that coldness to Charles that Mr Darcy had soon detected and which made him warn his close friend about Jane’s true affection. Was he right? Did the eldest Miss Bennet truly love her Mr Bingley? Had she ever loved before?
Oh, btw, Marianne Brandon (Dashwood) is also in this story!

9. All I do

The longest and definitely one of my favourites. Impossible to choose only one! What if wicked Wickham had his final revenge on Mr Darcy, punishing him with the most sorrowful, tremendous of tortures: dividing his rival from his beloved Elizabeth forever. I’ve only one point to make here: I can’t believe Mr Darcy would resist Elizabeth so stubbornly in order to honour his oath to a treacherous man like Wickham. Can’t tell you more, just that … “There is nothing greater than to tell the one you love: All I do, I do for you”.

This is Jane Greensmith’s first published work , such a promising beginning! We all wait for more, Jane. Thanks for being the talented writer,  intelligent and generous person, joyous and active reader/ blogger you are !

Visit Jane Greensmith’s site , her interesting blog
and ... read her book!
 If you love Jane Austen, you won't be disappointed.


I enjoyed watching this old miniseries (1995) based on Catherine Cookson ’s novel with the same title. I appreciated young Brendan Coyle ’s and Emily Mortimer ’s performances as the main characters in this story very much .
It is set in the 19th century and it starts with 10-year-old Annabella Legrange living with her parents in Redford Hall. Her mother is devoted to Annabella but her father is a gambler and womanizer.

Annabella is quite happy with her sheltered life until, at 17, at her refusal to marry one of his old friends , her father reveals her the terrible secret they have always kept from her. When she finally learns the truth, she runs away and eventually finds solace in the company of her family's former groom, a young Irishman with the very Spanish name of Manuel Mendoza. Together they travel the Northumbria countryside from job to job in his horse and caravan, Annabella trapped in limbo between her upper class upbringing which has rejected her and the working class who are sometimes suspicious of her, only Manuel understanding her situation.

An unbelievable series of tragic events marks Annabella’s and Manuel’s lives before they can live happily together as wife and husband: from violence to murder, from extreme poverty to exploitation and mistreatment, from hard work to jail. Rather melodramatic from time to  time but so romantic. I watched it all in one morning,  longing for the two protagonists’ final happiness and gratification.

A tender and affectionate story of true love based on true friendship , the weakest part of the film is that the increasing love between the two main characters should have been better portrayed . As portrayed, it is difficult to tell just exactly where each of them begins to realize their love for each other, and the mixed emotions that are occurring in their minds - since the discovery must have caused so much difficulty for Annabella who has always had a hard relationship with her body, her feelings and her sexuality having been grown up by a very strict repressive governess.

A very pleasant way to turn a solitary afternoon or evening into a very romantic one.
Four out of five stars to the series.
All five to Brendan Coyle.



I was at the cinema this afternoon and I was surprisingly glad to see the new SHERLOCK HOLMES film.

Guy Ritchie’s movie matches Sherlock Holmes’s intellectual ability with incredible physical strength and agility turning our beloved Victorian “consulting detective” in a new unbeatable modern hero. A very fascinating one, impossible to resist his oomph. Robert Downey Jr. gives a very convincing performance. Watson, his loyal right-hand man and friend is the first who can never say no to him. I’ve always imagined Watson as short, fat and not very young so … Jude Law? Not that I want to claim about the change, but he … rather surpasses any optimistic expectation.

Holmes’s infallible deductive method is still there. Do you remember? He believes that “From a drop of water a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other." Thanks to his method and the help of Dr Watson, in this story set in London in 1891, he uncovers an incredibly devilish plot by an occult-dabbling secret society known as the Temple of the Four Orders with Lord Blackwood (fascinatingly evil Mark Strong) eventually leading it on a quest for world domination.
Many fighting scenes, lots of them , but accurately made and mostly amusing. I usually don’t like them but they were fun, this time. Holmes defeats very frightening bigger-than-him guys and you believe it possible. He studies them with his cunning observation and finds out what their weaknesses are!

As for female characters, the only woman to impress Holmes in Sir Conan Doyle’s work was Irene Adler, who was always referred to by Holmes as "the woman". Holmes himself is never directly quoted as using this term—even though he does mention her actual name several times in other cases. Adler is one of the few women who are mentioned in multiple Holmes stories, though she actually appears in person in only one, "A Scandal in Bohemia". She is in this film too and is a very smart brave young woman who has only a fawl, she loves Holmes. Irene is interpreted by vivacious Canadian actress Rachel McAdams. The other woman in the movie is Dr Watson’s fiance, beatiful and intelligent Mary ( Kelly Reilly ) , who is immediately seen as a rival by Holmes.

Another interesting point is the possibility of Holmes having bipolar disorder (also referred to as manic depressive disorder) which has been suggested many times but most notably  in this new movie adaptation. Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal has been called "inauthentic" because of the implications of his performance, but some of Watson's observations in "A Study in Scarlet" provide crediblity to the claim, as Watson notes: "Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night."

Let’s say something about the setting. The Tower Bridge still being built, Ritchie's London is gloomy, smoky, wet and portrayed as metallic and grey. Impressive photography.

So, did I like it? I enjoyed myself. No sense of guilt, I was amused and entertained.

N.B.No offence is meant to purists or to spectators with different opinions.

I only have one regret:  dubbing. I mean, it was strange, they spoke Italian (though Holmes’s voice was an excellent one, Luca Ward’s) . So I promised myself I'll have to watch it again, in the original version, as soon as the DVD is released.



GREAT EXPECTATIONS is my latest reading among Charles Dickens's novels and it has become my favourite so far. Dickens has the power of making  me smile, laugh, reflect on serious matters,  be astonished at his skillfullness as a story-teller, be moved to tears and all in one story . I read it three years ago in summer and it got me so involved I went on reading at night to know what was going to happen to poor Pip.

Though not considered as autobiographical as David Copperfield, which he had published some ten years earlier, the character of Pip represented a Dickens who had learned some hard lessons in his later life. Especially strong throughout the novel are the concepts of fraternal and romantic love, how society thwarts them, how a man should find them. Dickens had left his wife at that time and there were rumours of an affair with a young actress, Ellen Ternan.

For financial reasons, Dickens had to shorten the novel, making it one of his tighter and better written stories. It was published in serial form, as were all of his novels, and the reader can still see the rhythm of suspense and resolution every couple of chapters that kept all of England waiting for the next issue, and me , as I told you, awake at night.

All in all, Great Expectations is considered the best balanced of all of Dickens' novels, though a controversy still persists over the ending. Dickens had originally written an ending where Pip and Estella never get back together. Many critics, including George Bernard Shaw, believe that this rather depressing ending was more consistent with the overall theme and tone of the novel, which began, continued, and perhaps should have finished with a serious, unhappy note (this is the ending chosen for my Italian edition of the novel).

Nevertheless, Dickens published the ending where all is forgiven and Estella and Pip walk out of the Satis House garden together.

I haven't been able to find and see the BBC adaptation of this novel dating back to 1999 but I'd like to do it as soon as possible. I've only seen an American movie (1998) , loosely based on the novel, with Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Bancroft and Robert De Niro,  which transferred the story to nowadays and to the USA.

Now, like every Saturday night, I suggest you listening to some pages of this novel, some of the  most gripping ones, read by a good actor. Our reader tonight is DAN STEVENS. Enjoy Dickens, enjoy Dan's reading .


If you want to know more about the plot of  GREAT EXPECTATIONS click here