Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

After a month of reading Shakespeare plays, it was time to move on. And what happened to be my next book? The universe decided it would be another play!

I was able to borrow a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (the official script for the West end production, by J.K Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne) from my sister.

The story picks up at the epilogue from the seventh book, where Harry is again at platform 9 3/4, but this time he is seeing his children off. It follows his second son Albus, who struggles with growing up in Harry’s shadow, compounded by the usual feeling of uncertainty and inadequacy that teenage years often bring. I don’t want to give too much away, but what follows is a story full of magic & prophesy, quick paced action, swirling overviews of the passage through time, the awkwardness and brave defiance of teenagers finding their way, the struggle to let go of the past and find a new way of being, a new evil and an old one, mistakes and a desperate attempt to fix them…

There are so many things to like about it, but one that is important to me is how the relationship between Malfoy and Harry and his friends has changed over the decade or so since school. While there is still some animosity, it is weaker, dulled by time, a faded memory of what it was. I think this is true of most of the negative things from high school. They lose their grip on you with time, and people move on. Harry and Draco find common ground in wanting the best for their kids, and although they won’t always see eye to eye, they can work together and understand each other.

This book is written is in script format, but with much more direction that is insightful into the characters emotions/thoughts than usual. The Shakespeare plays were predominantly dialogue with a few stage directions, like most scripts I have read. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child gives relatively rich descriptions of the visual happenings on stage, and also the inner working of characters (eg “Harry is heartbroken- he looks at his son desperate to reach out”). I suspect that although this is the ‘official script’ for the actors, it was known all along that it would be released to the public.

If you liked the original Harry Potter stories, I would recommend you do read this book. In some ways it is a little odd or sad, seeing Harry as a secondary character- no longer the centre of everything, no longer leading up to some great purpose, but just muddling his way through adulthood and parenthood like the rest of us. We all like to think we have the best times, or biggest achievements still in our future. But it is also right somehow, that the world moves on, that he is allowed to find a peaceful place in the world, create his own household and just be himself. So I suppose I find it bittersweet. But the counterposed  story with the new characters- Albus and his friend Scorpius- is exhilarating and new and interesting.


Coffee Addicted Writer question of the week: Do you encourage other reading friends to start a blog or at least put their thoughts/reviews on public reading sites such as Goodreads, Amazon, etc?

I haven’t so far. I have only been blogging myself for a short while so sometimes I will tell people about what I am doing. But it does take time and effort, and everyone needs to pick hobbies that match up with what is important to them. Also- I like to talk about books in person when I see the people, so its good to not have everyone have already posted about everything 🙂

 

Book Beginnings on Fridays:

The first lines of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:

A busy and crowded station, full of people trying to go somewhere. Amongst the hustle and bustle, two large cages rattle on top of two laden trolleys. They’re being pushed by two boys, JAMES POTTER and ALBUS POTTER.’

Things begin where the last book ended…

Friday 56:

A quote from page 56 of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:

TROLLEY WITCH:
Pumpkin pasty? Caudron Cake?

And some things never change…

Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Throughout Time & Something in September: The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
How obtained: free kindle version, also available online


The sonnets were a huge surprise to me. My knowledge prior to reading them was basically ‘let me compare you to a summers day’ being quoted in mushy romantic comedy settings. I expected romantic poems, where the woman is praised in lyrical terms.

The first of the sonnets area all about how the poets male friend is very handsome/beautiful, and the poet is pissed at him for not settling down and having children, to ensure his good genes are passed on. Not what I was expecting the subject matter to be, but sure. Why not tell your mate he’s beautiful in a poem. Totally normal thing to do.

But if thou live remembred not to be

Die single and thine image dies with thee

In order to make his point, the poet dwells a bit on death and how sad it will be, on his own decline, and how really everything ends, except his friend will be immortalised in these poems

Be not self- willed, for thou art much too fair

To be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir

The world will be thy widow

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose posession of that air thou ow’st

Nor shall Death brag thou wand’rest in his shade

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st

I was surprised at the way the poet described his affection for this male friend- he loves him, he longs for him, he wishes that one of them was female so they could be together…

And for a woman wert thou first created;

Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,

And by addition me of thee defeated,

By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,

Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.

[translation: nature, by adding a penis to his friend, defeated the poet of his wish to have the friend. They have each others love (romantic), but women will have the use of his ‘love’ (sex)]

From there things get either really romantic, or really creepy-stalker like, depending on your point of view. I felt it was a bit creepy. He spends pages saying how his mind is totally taken up with his mate, he loves him, he would be a slave for him (57), he gets depressed thinking about the future death of him (64 etc), he is thinking of him at night in bed (27), he is tortured by his absence (28) and then he is still extolling his greatness and being tortured by their separation for tens more sonnets.

Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all

What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?

No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call,

All mine was thine, before thou hadst this more

Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,

That Time will come and take my love away

There lives more life in one of your fair eyes

Than both your poets can in praise devise

Some of the latter poems relate to a woman he loves, but he wonders why as she doesn’t fit all the usual criteria for fairness. The poems are almost insulting her more than paying her homage. But I have heard it argued that this makes them even more romantic- he is in love with her despite her flaws, and he perhaps loves her, who she truly is, rather than the superficial things like looks.

Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds

Top ten Tuesdays- To be read

This weeks top ten list from the Broke and Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesdays blog hop is: top ten books on my Fall To Be Read list. In fact most of these are ones I got from looking at all of your recent top ten lists! Do you recognise one from your list?

  1. Alanna, by Tamora Pierce
  2. The Warded Man, Peter V Brett
  3. Paper Towns, John Green
  4. Cinder, Marissa Meyer
  5. Cleopatra- A life, Stacy Schiff
  6. Spelled, Betsy Schow
  7. Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
  8. All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
  9. The unbearable lightness of being,  Milan Kundera
  10. Vault of dreams, Luke Taylor

King Lear

Throughout Time & Something in September: King Lear  by William Shakespeare
How obtained: free kindle version, also available online


Wow there are some nasty people in this one- I guess that’s why it is a tragedy. (spoiler alert- for this whole post)They start out being your garden variety of not-very-nice-people, with motives that we can at least understand even if we don’t relate to them. King Lear’s two older daughters are ready to take over their share of the Kingdom, and are  getting frustrated with their aging father. In their prime, ambitious and confident, his naturally decline into old age is not something they enjoy having around them. Whether they used to love him is not clear, but they are now quite happy to fain love and regard to get their share of inheritance, and then turn around and shut him out of their lives. Edmund is the bastard younger son  of an Earl names Gloucester, who is sick of the fact that being a bastard (born out of Wedlock) he is looked down upon. He decides he wants to try and get some inheritance taken away from his brother and given to him.
But as the play goes on, these character become more cruel, and they enjoy their cruelty. The daughters show a complete lack of respect for the old king and try to take away all of his supporting people and resources, making him a powerless guest in his own kingdom. Edmund manipulates situations so that his brother is going to be killed if found, and the sisters go as low as torturing a good man by plucking out his eyes, and one sister plotting the murder of her husband and sister.
As might have been expected by the downward trajectory of the play, everyone dies. I was hoping, as there was a chance right to the end, that the good characters would live, but alas- it is not termed a tragedy for nothing.

Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools.

Othello

Throughout Time & Something in September: Othello by William Shakespeare
How obtained: free kindle version, also available online


There are many characters in Shakespeare who are not very good, or who cause bad things to happen. The majority of them have some humanity, or have some feature that makes you pity them as well as disapprove of them. The villain in Othello however, is to me purely evil. Iago was on friendly terms with Othello, but when he is looked over for a promotion, he hates him. He could have decided to try and get that wished for promotion for himself, but instead his hatred is so great that he doesn’t want to work with Othello at all now, and just wants to cause as much pain as possible. He then manipulates several people who trust him as a friend, causing the murder of multiple people. He drags innocent people into the conflict and has no scruples about the harm that come to them.

The main weapon he uses is jealousy. Interestingly, the seed was planted much earlier, by Desdomona’s father when he says

Look to her Moor, if thou has eyes to see;
She has deciev’d her father, and may thee

Advice from Shakespeare:

This wholeplay could be taken as an advisory to avoid jealousy, and acting on rumour that isn’t proven. Other quotes that caution us are:
Thinking to much on the negative, makes you life negative:

To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to draw new mischief on

Be cautious of alcohol:

O God, that men
should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away
their brains! that we should, with joy, pleasance
revel and applause, transform ourselves into beasts!

Be cautious of men:

‘Tis not a year or two shows us a man:
They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;
To eat us hungerly, and when they are full,
They belch us.


Other book related  things:

Coffee Addicted Writer question of the week: how long have you been blogging?

It must be around 5 months now. The first couple months it was hard to get the posts regularly enough, because by the nature of my blog I have to read a whole book for (almost) every post I do, which takes time. But I have worked on getting a little ahead, which helps a lot.

Book Beginnings on Fridays: The Opening line of Othello

RODERIGO
Tush! never tell me; I take it much unkindly
That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse
As if the strings were thine,
shouldst know of this.

It starts with secrets and plotting right from the start.

Friday 56:

Never, Iago: Like to the Pontic sea,
Whose icy current and compulsive course
Ne’er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont,
Even so my bloody thoughts, with violent pace,
Shall ne’er look back, ne’er ebb to humble love,
that a capable and wide revenge
Swallow them up.

Othello is taken over by his jealous thoughts, and can’t become reasonable again.

Shakespeare and Swift

When thinking about yesterday’s posts, I couldn’t help think that Taylor Swift has so many lyrics that could relate to Shakespeare songs that I could have almost done the whole post with her songs. Apparently the internet agrees with me- try out the quiz someone at sparknotes made to see how well you know both Shakespeare and Taylor Swift! 🙂

I got a couple wrong- but I tell myself that was more from not reading the question properly than not knowing- lol.

How did you go?

 

Shakespeare Songs- Top Ten Tuesdays

This weeks top ten tuesday is “All About Audio”. This month I am focussing on Shakespeare, and I had thought while taking a break from reading Hamlet, and cleaning with music on, that one of the songs fit quite well. So I now present, my top ten songs which could be a theme song for a Shakespearean character. If you don’t recognise them and wanted to listen, I have put them together into a spotify play list here.

10 Shakespearean characters’ theme songs:

1 Hamlet- Hamlet- Demons, Imagine dragons

When your dreams all fail
And the ones we hail
Are the worst of all
And the blood’s run stale

Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide

2 Rosalind-As you like it- Cherry lips, Garbage

With your cherry lips and golden curls
You could make grown men gasp when you go walking past…
It seemed like rainbows would appear
Whenever you came near the clouds would disappear
Because you looked just like a girl
Your baby blues would flash and suddenly a spell was cast

3 Romeo and Juliet- Love story, Taylor Swift

Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone.
I’ll be waiting; all that’s left to do is run.

In fact many Taylor Swift songs have lyrics these star crossed lovers would relate to, like Blank Space:

So it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames
You can tell me when it’s over
If the high was worth the pain

‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless
We’ll take this way too far
It’ll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar

4 Lady Macbeth- Macbeth- Bring Me to Life, Evanescence

-when she has gone crazy and is walking in the night

Wake me up inside (I can’t wake up)
Wake me up inside (Save me)
Call my name and save me from the dark
Bid my blood to run
Before I come undone
Save me from the nothing I’ve become

5 Helena- A midsummer’s night dream- Crazy in love, Beyonce

Got me looking so crazy right now, your love’s (oh love)
Got me looking so crazy right now

Fireflies by Owl city also has an honourable mention- not really as a song for a particular person- it is more just a whimsical song that reminds me of the forest full of fairies and things that are not what they seem.

It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
‘Cause everything is never as it seems

‘Cause I’d get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance

6 Kate-Taming of the Shrew- Sia, fair game

So go and challenge me, take the reins and see
Watch me squirm baby, but you are just what I need

And I’ve never played a fair game
I’ve always had the upper hand
But what good is intellect and airplay
If I can’t respect any man

You terrify me, we’ve still not kissed and yet I’ve cried
You got too close and I pushed and pushed hoping you’d bite

7 Viola- Twelfth Night-Suddenly I see, KT Tunstall
(Pretend the lyric is that you suddenly realise you want to be with her, rather than that you want to be her)

And everything around her is a silver pool of light
The people who surround her feel the benefit of it
It makes you calm
She holds you captivated in her palm
Suddenly I see (suddenly I see)
This is what I wanna be

8 Ophelia, Hamlet- What the Water Gave Me & Never let me go, Florence and the Machine

And a bargain must be made
But oh, my love, don’t forget me
When I let the water take me

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
And the crashes are heaven for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean delivered me

9 Benedick and Beatrice- Much ado about nothing- Sia, Fire meet gasoline

Strike the match, strike the match now
We’re a perfect match, perfect somehow
We were meant for one another
Come a little closer

Fire meet gasoline
I got all I need
When you came after me

10 Helena (to Bertram)- Alls well that ends well-Cooler than me, Mike Posner

If I could write you a song
And make you fall in love,
I would already have you up under my arm.
I used up all of my tricks,
I hope that you like this.
But you probably won’t,
You think you’re cooler than me.

 

Are there any songs that remind you of a Shakespeare character or play? Or maybe of someone from one of your favourite books?

The Tragedy of Richard II

Throughout Time & Something in September: Richard II by William Shakespeare
How obtained: free kindle version, also available online


You may have noticed that I have done this is all the wrong order- starting with King Henry the IV, and then moving onto King Richard… but I find it is often the way that when learning history you start with something that interests you, which then brings up the question of what lead to it, leading you back further and further.

King Richard II is not a very good King. He has loyal subjects, and the majority of people hold the belief that Kingship is sacred, and thus even though he isn’t that good at it, they will support him as their King. Henry however reaches breaking point- he is banished from England, and while away his father dies. Richard seizes the lands that should have been henry’s inheritance. Henry returns to England to contest this, however Richard happens to be fighting in Ireland when he lands. The majority of England rally to Henry before Richard can get back. Initially Henry states he is just wanting justice and his inheritance, but at some point he decides he may as well become King also.

There is not much action in this play, and it seems like people talk about things much more than do things. We see Henry and the other nobles debate how to act, and whether it is right to depose a King. And we see Richard slide into despair and fulitism. He starts as a King who does whatever he pleases, he reacts to the threat initially with belief and decision, however he quickly sees all the barriers he is unlikely to overcome and loses his momentum, self-belief and hope. He doesn’t really put up a fight at all in the end.

Favourite quotes:
A lot of the interesting bits are Richard soliloquising about his change in life and loss of hope

grief boundeth where it falls,
Not with the empty hollowness, but weight:
I take my leave before I have begun,
For sorrow ends not when it seemeth done.

of comfort no man speak:
Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,

for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court

By heaven, I’ll hate him everlastingly
That bids me be of comfort any more.

learn, good soul,
To think our former state a happy dream;
From which awaked, the truth of what we are
Shows us but this: I am sworn brother, sweet,
To grim Necessity, and he and I
Will keep a league till death.

The Tempest- Shakespeare in September

Throughout Time & Shakepeare in September: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
How Obtained: free kindle version, also available online


The Tempest is a creative little play- quite different from all the other Shakespeare plays I have read. The main character is Prospero, a magician stranded on an island with his daughter Miranda, who used to be the duke of Milan before his brother usurped him. But this isn’t just any island. It is inhabited by spirits and the son of a witch who is a degenerate creature that may or may not be entirely human. The story begins when a ship carrying the (usurping) duke of Milan, the King of Naples and the prince of Naples is shipwrecked on the islands, because of a tempest that Prospero has had a spirit he controls create.

Hell is empty, and all the devils are here

The story continues to be driven by Prospero’s magic tricks, and the spirit’s illusions. Prospero has some kind of plan, but we are not quite sure what- he obviously plans for his daughter to marry the prince, but then plays the role of the disapproving father. He lets the King believe his son is dead, and leads the groups of shipwrecked sailors around the island, mystifying them and plaguing them. Is he going to seek revenge? Is he going to be cruel to them? He is at times cruel to his servants- in the case of the witches son it is somewhat understandable given he tried to rape his daughter, but the spirit has never done anything wrong except need his help. But he seems to ascribe to the idea espoused by Thrasymachus’ in Plato’s republic- that justice is nothing but the advantage of the stronger- having magic makes him the most powerful person on the island, and so he pretty much does what he wants. In the end he chooses to forgive his enemies and release his servant spirit, and all ends happily. I think we could have guessed that he would choose a happy ending over revenge when we saw his reasoning behind how he treated the prince. He sets Miranda up to meet the prince, but then confronts the prince, accuses him of lying, enprisons him, and forces him to do hard labour. But this is all to make sure they have a strong relationship.

They are both in either’s powers, but this swift business
I must uneasy make, lest too light winning
Make the prize light


Other book related  things:

Coffee Addicted Writer question of the week:Have you ever wanted to write a book? If so, what genre would you choose? And…have you been successful in writing a book?

Oh ye, I have wanted to write so many books. As a child I wrote a lot of short stories, but when school took over and I spent years doing mostly factual, precise writing, I felt like I forgot how to write creatively. And I think being an adult now there is also the mental block, that we don’t just want to write- we want to write something good. I mostly have ideas for fantasy novels, but have not yet completed any. In some ways this blog is a way for me to get used to writing again.
Book Beginnings on Fridays: The Tempest

A tempestuous noise of thunder and lightening heard. Enter a ship-master and a Botswain.

It does set the scene up quickly, I must say.
Friday 56: (a quote from page 56, or 56% of the way through)

Sebastian and Antonio decide to kill the king while he sleeps, but he awakens to them with their swords drawn over him. They make up a story to explain this, which somehow he accepts despite their words being drawn towards him rather than to an outside force.

Whiles we stood here securing your repose,
Even now, we heard a hollow burst if bellowing
like bulls or rather lions. Did’t not wake you?

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Throughout Time and Shakespeare in September: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
How Obtained: free kindle version, also available online

I discovered through this project that I have a few friends who are keen to watch Shakespeare movies with me. One I already knew often reads Shakespeare. So imagine my surprise that my friends had neither read nor seen A Midsummer Night’s dream! I haven’t yet read/seen all of Shakespeare’s plays, but I have seen several versions of this- a friend’s highschool play, a Korean physical theatre version, and two movie versions at least. I would have thought it one of the top 5 most well known plays…

It was fun though to see them discover and delight in the characters, twists and turns and craziness. Who doesn’t like elves and fairies, love triangles, magical pranksters, and a happy ending for all?

 The course of true love never did run smooth.

 

There are many couple in this play:
-Theseus the duke of Athens is about to marry his fiance Hippolyta, which is the catalyst for the bumbling Bottom and other local townsfolk to try their hand at acting
-Oberon and Titania, the fairy King and Queen who are at odds with each other over a young Indian boy the queen is looking after, that the king  is jealous of and wants to take.
-Hermia and Lysander, true loves who are forbidden to marry because Helena’s father wants her to marry Demetrius, and chooses to exact an ancient Athenian law- her death if she doesn’t marry the man she chooses
-Helena however is still in love with Demetrius, who used to love her before he met Hermia

When we discover the obstacle in the way of Hermia and Lysander- the threat of death or life in a nunnery if she doesn’t marry a man she doesn’t love and forsake her true love- it seems that they are to be the main characters. But I find that Helena steals the show. She is endearing and pitiful in her unrequited love, and at times I seriously question her sanity- she is literally crazy in love! But at the same time I just love her- her steely heart (unchanging love), her description of what it is like to be in love, of how she sees Demetrius and of that intense place of both pleasure and pain when she is with him. Although she doesn’t have a way of expressing it in the patriarchal system she lives in, she has a strength- she would happily duel  and fight for her love.

My Quote of the week is the entire conversation between Demetrius and Helena, when she follows him into the forest, which shows all of those things:

DEMETRIUS
Do I entice you? do I speak you fair?
Or, rather, do I not in plainest truth
Tell you, I do not, nor I cannot love you?

HELENA
And even for that do I love you the more.
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you:
Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worser place can I beg in your love,–
And yet a place of high respect with me,–
Than to be used as you use your dog?

DEMETRIUS
Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit;
For I am sick when I do look on thee.

HELENA
And I am sick when I look not on you.

DEMETRIUS
You do impeach your modesty too much,
To leave the city and commit yourself
Into the hands of one that loves you not;
To trust the opportunity of night
And the ill counsel of a desert place
With the rich worth of your virginity.

HELENA
Your virtue is my privilege: for that
It is not night when I do see your face,
Therefore I think I am not in the night;
Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
For you in my respect are all the world:
Then how can it be said I am alone,
When all the world is here to look on me?

DEMETRIUS
I’ll run from thee and hide me in the brakes,
And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.

HELENA
The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
Run when you will, the story shall be changed:
Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase;
The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
Makes speed to catch the tiger; bootless speed,
When cowardice pursues and valour flies.

DEMETRIUS
I will not stay thy questions; let me go:
Or, if thou follow me, do not believe
But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.

HELENA
Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex:
We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
We should be wood and were not made to woo.

Exit DEMETRIUS
I’ll follow thee and make a heaven of hell,
To die upon the hand I love so well.

 

And then with the help of Puck, things get even more complicated, and she believes all her friends are playing a cruel trick on her. And she has had enough. The next scene of her yelling and fighting solidifies her as one of my favourite characters. She is just so fun to watch.

And that probably is a summary of the whole play- it is just good plan fun. Puck may feel the need to apologise for any offence that may have been caused, but in my mind there is nothing to apologise for.