Saturday, August 30, 2014

Snow White - Woman of the Night

Tear You Apart 


Title: Tear You Apart
Author: Sarah Cross
Series: Beau Rivage
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: January 27 2015
Source: Netgalley
Purchase: Pre-order only

Goodreads Summary: Faced with a possible loophole to her "Snow White" curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who's fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrificing the love that might kill her? 

My Thoughts:
  I had some major problems with this book. First of all I found it really hard to like the main character Viv. She was awful and a complete mess. She didn't know what she wanted, and she didn't want to find out what she wanted, it seemed to me like she was using her excuse as a way to put major life decisions on a permanent hold. She blamed everything on her curse. I guess I can understand some of that, but enough is enough. She needed to learn that the world didn't revolve around her, and that other people also have lives. It really bugged me that she was so quick to ruin other people's lives just to help her own. Viv had real trust issues, insane jealousy issues, and was suspicious of everyone who crossed her path.


  She was totally willing to take advantage of anyone and everyone, including the dude at her dad's party, and the Prince of the underworld. I hated the scene where Henley, who she previously broke up with, comes to rescue her when her step-mother's car gets a flat. He drops what he's doing and immediately comes to her aid because he loves her. And what does she do? She gets mad at him for sitting next to Regina, when he didn't have a choice. And then she leaves the car in a huff and ignores him for the rest of the party. She even goes so far as to hit on one of the guys there in order to make Henley jealous. But she doesn't just flirt with the guy, no, she kisses him and whispers something dirty in his ear. WHAT? WHO DOES THAT? SHE'S TERRIBLE! Then, Henley smashes the guy's car in because the idiot was kissed by Viv. Man the people in this story remind me of Catherine and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. 
  I didn't like the swearing or sexual scenes. Viv was just SO trashy that I found it hard to believe that she had any friends and that she still had a reputation. I also can't believe that the prince would ever want to marry her. 
  Also, can we talk about the fact that this book was horribly graphic????? Way too many crude jokes - but that wasn't even the worst of it. The wedding scene was the worst - seriously, it made me want to vomit. Who in their right mind would make a woman dance in red hot iron shoes??? Okay - I get that fairytales are dark and grimm (see what I did there?) but they are never that graphic. This was graphic - Cross depicted the scene in all its' grossness and horror. She described the way Regina's feet actually melted down to the bone. She made sure the reader understood the pain it was causing the "wicked queen" and the complete horror and repulsion that Viv felt. I was disgusted. No one needs that much detail.
 One thing I will say however is that Cross does know how to connect the reader with her book. When the old huntsman sliced his knife down Viv's chest, I could almost feel the pain, and it made me completely squirmish. Yuck. 
 I really hope that by the end of the book Viv had learned her lesson. I think she may have - and living away from people in the forest with cute fuzzy animals will definitely help her bitterness drain away. If she appears in any of the other Beau Rivage books I hope she is a changed person. And I hope she appreciates her friends for who they are. For how kind they were to her when she's only ever been awful. And above all, I hope that she and Henley have their Happily Ever After - because he deserves it.


Disclaimer: My review of this book seems really negative, but I did enjoy reading the book and was completely hooked. I did like the way the fairytales were portrayed and how Cross integrated them into modern society. I also really like Kill Me Softly - and I hope that the next book in the series won't be quite so crass. But what can a blogger do?

Les Miserables: The Original French Concept Album

Most people don't know that the musical Les Misérables was originally going to be in French. In fact, the writers, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (both of whom are French) created an entire concept album in French before the producer Cameron Mackintosh asked them to turn it into a musical in the English language. And the product of that conversation is the musical we know today as Les Misérables, one of the most popular and longest running musicals in the history of theatre.

But the original French concept album still exists, and is very interesting as a prototype; many of the melodies from the current musical can be found in the concept album, though often attached to different lyrics and occurring at different moments in the plot. Some of the lyrics are also the same (though of course, in French rather than English). But there is also much that is different. The story itself varies in places from the current musical, with some parts left out and others added or changed. In many ways, the concept album follows the book more closely than the current musical does, but there are a few places where it deviates more from the book than does the current musical. There are moments in the concept album that send chills down your spine, but there are also moments that disappoint.

For example, the song that takes the place of "Castle on a Cloud," entitled "My Prince is on the Way," is absolutely beautiful and in some ways preferable to the current one, and the song that introduces us to M. Thenardier, "The Inkeeper's Motto," is, unlike "Master of the House," entirely appropriate. "À la Volonté du Peuple" (translated as "To the Will of the People"), replaces "Do You Hear the People Sing" with the same melody and more poetic lyrics. One scene in the concept album that I definitely prefer to the parallel scene in the current musical is Gavroche's death. But the song that takes the place of the current "Red and Black" is rather disappointing (it's just Marius soloing), and while the song that Eponine sings instead of "On My Own" is lovely, it doesn't hold a candle to the current showstopper.

I would like to do a little analysis of the concept album, because, while I still prefer the current version of Les Misérables, the concept album is very thoughtful and well-crafted. At the end of this post I'll share a link to the full text of the concept album (in French with a pretty spot-on English translation beside it) and another link to the music. Alors.

The second track in the concept album is titled, "L'Air de la Misére," or "The Air of Misery," and is sung by Fantine to the tune of "Come to Me" and "On My Own":

La misère n’est mere de personne
la misère est pourtant soeur des hommes
mais personne sur terre n’en veux pour fille
comme bâtarde née dans un cachot de la Bastille
La misère enfante la détresse
bien des vices et toutes les faiblesses
la misére lâche la bête en l’homme
et la mésange alors en chienne errante se tranforme

Then, in the final scene of the musical, entitled "Epilogue: La Lumière," or "Epilogue: The Light," Jean Valjean sings a different set of lyrics to the same tune (this tune is also utilized in the final scene of the current musical, by the way).

La lumière est dans le coeur des hommes 
mais s’épuise de brûler pour personne 
aimez-vous pour vaincre les ténèbres 
tant qu’il y aura partout 
orgueil, ignorance et misère
La lumière, au matin de justice, 
puisse enfin décapiter nos vices 
dans un monde où Dieu pourrait se plaire 
s’il décidait un jour de redescendre sur la terre.

OK, so I know you probably don't speak French (unless you do), but even so, you can probably tell that the two songs are echoing each other significantly. Both songs have the same melody and the same structure, and they use many of the same words and sentence structures. Let me give you an English translation so you can see the similarities more clearly. Here is Fantine's "Air of Misery":

Misery is the mother of no one
Misery is nevertheless sister of men
But no one on earth wants for a daughter
A bastard born in a dungeon of the Bastille 
Misery begets distress [or misery]
Plenty of vices and all weaknesses
Misery looses the beast in man
And the little bird then into a stray dog transforms.

Pretty bleak. But here is Jean Valjean's rewriting of Fantine's ballad:

The light is in the heart of men
But it will stop burning for no one 
Love each other to vanquish the shadows
As long as there is everywhere
Pride, ignorance and misery
The light, on the morning of justice,
Can finally decapitate our vices 
In a world where God could be pleased
If He decided one day to redescend to the earth.

You can see the echoes of Fantine's ballad in the first two lines of Valjean's song: "The light is in the heart of men / But it will stop burning for no one," echoes Fantine's "Misery is the mother of no one / Misery is nevertheless sister of men." Both singers take a subject - Misery or Light - and assign it to the human race, using the words "men" ("les hommes"), or "no one" ("personne"), at the end of each sentence. Moreover, both Fantine and Valjean refer to the vices of men, but while Fantine speaks only of their birth and existence in the world, Valjean reveals that love will one day destroy the vices created by misery. Fantine ends her song by lamenting man's transformation into a beast, but Valjean ends his song with the hope that man can someday transform into a more perfect and God-like being. Fantine's song reflects the uttermost depths of squalor and misery, but Valjean's song comes at the end of his life reflecting love, peace, and transcendence. As I read and listened to Valjean's final revelation, I couldn't help but think of my favorite quote from the novel Les Misérables: "To love or to have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life. To love is a consummation" (Hugo 1382). I find this quote echoed nicely in Valjean's song about "The Light."

If you're still here and haven't yet revolted over the length of this post and all the French text in it, I'd like to share one more song from the concept album with you. Here is (slightly shortened) the French text of "To the Will of the People," sung to the tune of "Do You Hear the People Sing" - side by side with an English translation:
À la volonté du peuple
Et à la santé du progrès
Remplis ton coeur d’un vin rebelle
Et à demain, ami fidèle
Nous voulons faire la lumière
Malgrè le masque de la nuit
Pour illuminer notre terre
Et changer la vie.  
À la volonté du people Je fais don de ma volonté
S’il faut mourir pour elle
Moi, je veux être le premier
Le premier nom gravé au marbre du monument d’espoir. 
À la volonté du peuple
Et à la santé du progrès
Remplis ton coeur d’un vin rebelle
Et à demain, ami fidèle
Nous voulons faire la lumière
Malgré le masque de la nuit
Pour illuminer notre terre
Et changer la vie.
To the will of the people
And to the health of progress
Refill your heart with a rebellious wine
And tomorrow, faithful friend
We want to make a light
Despite the mask of the night
To illuminate our land
And to change our lives.
To the will of the people I volunteer myself.
If it is necessary to die for her,
Me, I want to be the first
The first name carved on the marble of the monument of hope.
To the will of the people
And to the health of progress
Refill your heart with a rebellious wine
And tomorrow, faithful friend
We want to make a light
Despite the mask of the night
To illuminate our land
And to change our lives.

Well, I don't really have anything to say after that. If you want to check out the full text of the French concept album (plus an English translation) you can go to this website:

Then, if you'd like to hear the full French concept album, you can head over to this playlist on YouTube:

If you'd like to read more of my thoughts on Les Misérables and you haven't yet read my review of the novel by Victor Hugo, you can check that out here:

Until tomorrow. Adieu.