Here are two recent Escapes & Pleasures that have me a bit baffled, one a film and one a novel.  I’ll write a bit about each but would sure be interested in any thoughts any of you have about either or both of them.

Martha Marcy May Mariene

We saw this film in our Sunday Cinema Club, but it is now out in the theaters. Briefly, it is the story of a young girl who was adopted/’captured’ by a cult and its charismatic leader. She decides to leave and most of the film is about her ‘recovery’ as she goes to live with her sister and brother-in-law. There are numerous flashbacks to her time living with the cult.

The two main acting performances are wonderful – Elizabeth Olsen as the young girl and John Hawkes as the cult leader.  And Sean Durkin won the Best Director award in January at the Sundance festival for this film.

My hesitancy about the film is that I’m not sure I learn anything new or leave the theater knowing enough about the main characters.

If you’ve seen the film, please write a bit about it in the Comments section.


The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

This is a first novel by a widely acclaimed 25 year old (she was 24 when the novel was published).  Tea Obreht has written a number of short stories and has been cited as one of our best young fiction writers (The New Yorker’s ’20 Under 40’). The novel was a National Book Award finalist, and Obreht also won the Orange award for “excellence, originality, and accessibility in women’s writing throughout the world.”

I started the novel several months ago and, for a reason I no longer remember, put it down until last week. Now I have finished it and find myself undecided about whether to recommend it.

There is much I liked about The Tiger’s Wife, the descriptions, the stories within the story, and the recounting of the relationship between Natalia, the main character, and her grandfather.

But there is also much that I found troublesome, including the story itself, the confusing nature of the narrative, and, for me, the relationships Obreht seems to be drawing between history (the Balkans) and myth.

Again, if you have read it, please add your thoughts in the Comments section.