I couldn't resist and went to bed last night, but I truly wanted to watch it live. The Academy Awards Night the show of the Oscars,   I mean. It started when it was midnight here in Italy and I really couldn't make it, I had to go to sleep. Colin Firth made his acceptance speech at about 5.30 and I was still sleeping. However , I got up early as usual,  checked the news and was so happy at being reassured: Colin Firth and The King's Speech had got what they deserved. They had won!
I couldn't see or  listen to the winners' acceptance speeches before the afternoon. I did it and get moved, of course, though none of them sounded unforgettable.
I saw The King's Speech not long ago and agreed with a review that defined it  as ..." a speech that leaves you speechless",  impossible not to love it.



Happy Saturday, everybody! I know, I haven't been writing much about him lately , but I can assure you I'm always here,  trying to find something old or new which could work against the inevitable withdrawal syndrome. These days I've been  re-reading some old interviews like this one and thinking how much  I love discovering what lies behind his extremely good-looking appearance.
Also  wondering: "how much is the experience in the American star system going to change lovely Richard Armitage? Will he pass through the great expectations for The Hobbit and the blinding spotlight unchanged"?

I bet he will keep on with  his integrity and his humbleness.



It's that time of the year again, the time when I start teaching about The Victorian Age to my last year students and reading pages from famous Victorian novels with them as well as watching scenes from their adaptations. As I told you in my previous post, I'm working on Dickens at the moment. We read some pages from Oliver Twist (1838). We had also started watching Roman Polanski 's 2005 film adaptation and we were supposed to finish watching it this morning ...if only we could have found my DVD where I had left it locked last Monday! It wasn't there any longer and the technician helping us teachers in the lab had no idea of what might have happened. Unexplicable mystery!



Surfing the Net for my classes on Dickens these days , I've bumped into several beautiful Victorian /Edwardian paintings signed by a Dickens (or with a beautiful Dickens portrayed ) which I didn't expect. This does not mean I  discovered old Charles's talent for Art and Painting but that I found out he had a daughter who was a painter: KATE DICKENS PERUGINI. (1839 -1929) Here she is in a painting by John Everett Millais, one of the Pre-Raphaelites.

In 1880 Sir John Everett Millais painted her in one of his "most striking portraits",  but he had previously used her as a model for his painting The Black Brunswicker (1860) (below)



Can love be a drug? Can it become  addiction?  Mmm, the answer is "Yes, it may, but I didn't learn it from this film". Just released in Italy as "L'amore e altri rimedi", "Love and Other Drugs " is  a movie I wanted to see while  in London last December (it was released on December 28th in the UK, and had previously come out in the USA on November 24, 2010) . I preferred booking a seat at The Old Vic  and I had a great time with Feydeaus's A Flea in Her Ear. So I saw Love and Other Drugs dubbed and here last weekend - and you know how much I hate watching dubbed stuff! However, it was a lovely, romantic, sexy comedy,  though not as good as I expected. 
It starts as a comedy, a very funny one, maybe trivial but funny. It is also a sexy comedy with hints and jokes about sex and explicit sex scenes involving the protagonists, caught into a passionate love affair. But then , almost without realizing, you found yourself involved in a dramatic, romantic, touching story of deep love and deasease. And it doesn't stop there: social commentary and criticism, satire against the power of pharmaceutical  industry, analysis of how one of the most terrible degenerative deseases can influence the lives of patients suffering from it and their dear. Maybe too much for only one film?



Reading a new book is always an incredible, exciting journey to me. When I get to the end of it,  I'm always richer - regardless the different rate of excitement in each different case. This has been an unforgettable trip indeed. Brilliant mystery novel! If you love history and detective stories, this is a precious jewel to collect. Thanks to my dear friend K/V for her treasurable gift. Another one to stay on my bedside table for a long time. I need to digest this amazing experience before moving on to other reading adventures.

The Daughter of Time, the title of the book  I've just finished reading, is derived from a historical source, as it is attributable to Sir Francis Bacon, "For truth is rightly named after the daughter of time, and not of authority." The book itself is not a traditional mystery but rather an application of deductive reasoning to an actual historical event.
With this novel (1951) the mystery novelist Josephine Tey, one of the first popular writers to question the Tudor story depicting Richard III as a monstrous, unnatural man creates one of the most extraordinary and unique works of the mystery genre. Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant, the hero of a series of mystery novels by Tey, is stuck in the hospital with a broken leg. Bored out of his mind, he decides to use his time to explore a historical mystery, and is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III presented to him by his  friend Marta Hallard, an actress. The same portrait I had in my copy of the book all the time while reading, the perfect bookmark to follow Inspector Grant's and Brent Carradine's investigations.
It was only after he had given the portrait further puzzled consideration (it piqued him to have mistaken one of the most notorious murderers of all time for a judge; to have transferred a subject from the dock to the bench was a shocking piece of ineptitude) that it occurred to Grant that the portrait had been provided as the illustration to a piece of detection.



Brief posting  to announce the winners of the giveaways that have been running through the week on FLY HIGH! Thanks for your comments, of course,  and  special thanks to Ann Swinfen and Maggie Dove,  the authors who made these contests possible.

Here we go, then! Random.org has chosen the names of the winners for me:

1. Ann Swinfen's The Testament of Mariam goes to Jane GS
2. Maggie Dove's Call Me Duchess has been won by maichi3

Congratulations to the winners!!!
Happy weekend to you all! MG



I watch TV very rarely, even satellite channels with their wide range of programmes and the possibility to watch movies in the original version (which I appreciate so much). I'd rather watch a DVD. when I have some spare time.  Instead, I happened to see as many as ... two (!) very good films on TV  in the last days. The first one is  AVATAR, The Movie (2009) which,  I know, would have been better to see at the cinema. Anyhow,  it was not bad at all on my (quite) big television screen. Not in 3D? Never mind, I'm not at all interested in  special effects or CGI. This film is actually not exactly  my cup of tea.  Then, I was rather prejudiced against it ... It was enough for me to know that it  had cost an incredible amount of money and that it was James Cameron's sci-fi epic ,  the biggest box-office hit ever – which had supplanted  his previous opus, "Titanic". Of course, despite my dislike for hugely expensive American blockbusters mainly based  on stunning special effects, I could but love it! What I especially  liked  was the fact that I watched it with my two sons and that we all found something to enjoy in it.  This movie can be read at different levels and it is successfully manufactured food for thoughts. It was its underlying social and political themes which mostly attracted my attention. I  appreciated its being a profound show of resistance to capitalism and an incredible struggle for the defense of nature, set in a completely new fantasy world, with weird and wonderful plants, animals and blue aliens. Beauty, goodness and usefulness.



Which is your favourite genre? Historical, mystery, suspense, women's fiction? You'll find this Valentine's gift perfect for you, then. A PDF copy of CALL ME DUCHESS by Maggie Dove can be yours! Just leave a comment and your e-mail address. I'll draw the name of the winner next Saturday 19th February and you'll receive your copy directly form Maggie Dove. The giveaway is open internationally.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Maggie Dove is a happily married housewife and mother of two, who has lived in the U.S. since she was five. As the granddaughter of a famous Cuban writer and publisher, writing is in her blood. Her family owned one of the oldest newspapers in the Americas. She’s had twenty-six of her letters to the editor published in The Miami Herald. CALL ME DUCHESS is her second novel published and the second of the Windword Trilogy. You can find out more about Maggie Dove and her novels if you visit www.maggiedove.net

A rapist is loose in London…and he has plans for Marguerite Wiggins.
Grippingly suspenseful and romantic, CALL ME DUCHESS is one young woman’s stunning journey to find love in 1870s London while a dashingly handsome chaperone, a heinous villain, and her own lofty aspirations stand in her way.
Left penniless by their father, Marguerite Wiggins and her sisters must find husbands during the London season or find work as governesses by season’s end. Determined to become the next Duchess of Wallingford, Marguerite must make the difficult decision between following her heart or attaining her lifelong dreams and ambitions as a depraved rapist seeks to make her his next victim.
 Happy Valentine's Day to you all and good luck with the giveaway. Don't forget your e-mail address. The name of the winner will be announced on February 19th. Find out more about CALL ME DUCHESS at  Maggie Dove's site.



      Ann Swinfer lives in Scotland  and is one of the wonderful people I  virtually met in the blogsphere. She  is an author who has published four historical novels so far. I read and reviewed her "The Testament of Mariam" (my post HERE) last month to which I gave 5 well deserved stars out of 5. I'm glad she has  accepted to answer some questions about her novel and  very happy to announce that  she has granted you , readers of FLY HIGH,  a free copy of this extraordinary story. Leave your comment + e-mail address. This giveaway is open worldwide and ends next Saturday 19th February.



Incredibly glad to see you, Mr Armitage

Yesterday afternoon after reading about THE MAGIC IN THE HOBBIT  , I fell into a strange puzzled mood,  trying to figure out  how Richard Armitage would look  as Thorin Oakenshield in my mind. The  leaving of  director Del Toro seemed a lucky escape,  I thought, since
Instead of shooting in a real forest, del Toro says he wanted to shoot amid artificial trees that mimicked the drawings in Tolkien's book. That revelation and his departure will probably be a belated relief to the tourism industry. Other ideas included an armour-plated troll that could curl into a ball of metal plates. Dwarf Thorin  to be played by British actor Richard Armitage and likely to be The Hobbit's equivalent of Viggo Mortensen in the heroic man-crumpet department  was to have antler-like horns sprouting from his helmet.



I was very curious to see how the British - British TV - represented Italy in this crime series. I  usually don't mind stereotypes and picturesque depiction of my complex, beautiful country so much, I'm rather used to them.  Italian TV  itself tends to depict Italy always  highlighting its defects and never its qualities, so much that I avoid watching the news and in general TV programmes,  I've done that for a couple of years now.  Too depressing. I prefer  seeing  films and DVD coming from abroad,  especially British TV drama.
Set in and around Rome, and based on the best-selling novels by the late Michael Dibdin, this mini series in 3 parts  features many of the combined attractions of Italy and the Dibdin novels – thrilling investigations, fun, warmth and beautiful people.



Good morning and happy Sunday everyone! Just a snippet to inform you that, though I haven't been blogging here on Fly High these days, I've been preparing this blogpost for My Jane Austen Book Club about dancing and balls in Jane Austen's time, novels and adaptations. I had fun looking for and re-watching all the videos I added. I hope you'll like them too. Click on the link below and enjoy. MG




Tonight at 9.00 p.m local time, episode 1 of STRIKE BACK will be aired in Italy on FX, a  satellite channel (Sky Italia) . We Italian fans of Richard Armitage are glad and proud of course, but we all agree that dubbing his velvet voice with an ordinary one spoils the result, deminishes his great performance. Nothing against Giorgio Borghetti, only his voice doesn't fit the idea of John Porter we all have in mind. John Porter is Richard Armitage, body and ... voice!
A second reason of disappointment is that at FX, they decided to publicize the British series Strike Back focusing on the presence of Andrew Lincoln in it, as if he was the protagonist. Look at the official page they prepared on their site!



1. Ivanhoe and Robin Hood
Recently,  I have been teaching  Robin Hood in the Medieval Ballads  of the Outlaws  and comparing the traditional figure of the legendary outlaw to  Sir Walter Scott's Locksley.   Robin Hood and his men were only supporting players in Scott's IVANHOE, providing much needed back-up to the title character. Still, Robin's appearance in Ivanhoe influenced later tellings of the story. For example, through most of the novel, Robin goes by the name of Locksley, which Scott says "From the ballads of Robin Hood, we learn that this celebrated outlaw when in disguise, sometimes assumed the name of Locksley, from a village where he was born". It was probably Scott's use of "Locksley" which turned Robin (particularly the Robin of TV and movies) from Robin Hood, born in Locksley/Loxley into "Robin of Locksley" who only used Robin Hood as an alias.

The success of Ivanhoe was simply astounding. Within a few months of its initial publication, there were at least six stage versions of the story - often competing for theatre goers attention on the same night. It has been adapted into operas, spin-off novels and comic books. And usually, Locksley and the other Robin Hood characters make an appearance in these adaptations. Ivanhoe was one of the most read novels for generations, and so its effect on the legend is not surprising. While the Robin Hood of the novel is not that different from his ballad counterpart, many of Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe's characteristics later became associated with Robin Hood. Sir Wilfred is an ex-Crusader who is disinherited and estranged from his father. Ivanhoe fights Normans and rescues his lady love. None of these plot points appear in the Robin Hood ballads, but they are now a part of Robin's character in most modern movies and novels. ( Read more at Wolfshead Through the Ages )