Posts Tagged ‘guilt’


Ten strangers are invited to a remote island off the Devon Coast. with no sign of their mysterious host, U.N. Owen, they are all shocked when on their first night there, they are all accused of heinous crimes. And then the killings start…one by one, each of the ten is killed and with no-one else on the entire island, the horrifying truth becomes clear – the murderer is one of them. As the body count mounts, those who remain start to grow paranoid and suspicious of each other.

Full disclosure – I knew who the murderer was before I read the book, because I had seen the excellent 2015 BBC adaptation (in fact, that adaptation was the whole reason I wanted to read the book in the first place). With that in mind, I did wonder if my enjoyment of the book might be somewhat hampered, and I did try and work out if I could have guessed who the murderer was if I had not already been aware.

To answer both questions – my prior knowledge did not detract from my enjoyment at all, and I honestly don’t think I could have guessed who was the guilty party if I did not already know. This book was recently voted as the favourite Agatha Christie book among her readers, and although it is the first Christie I have read, I can certainly see why it is so popular.

The mystery is told very skilfully with plenty of reasons to suspect almost every character (the first person to die is of course exempt from any suspicion!) It is a very quick and easy read – I found myself reading huge chunks of the story in one go – and the denouement is extremely satisfying; I actually preferred the ending of the novel to the ending in the recent adaptation.

This is one of those rare books – a mystery where I honestly believe the murderer is practically unguessable and would be a total surprise to anyone who did not know what was coming from prior information. This may be the most popular Christie, but it certainly won’t be the only one I will be reading.

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The story opens with Captain Charles Ryder and his troops, who at the end of Word War II, arrive at an old house which has been converted into an army barracks.  Upon learning of the name of the house, Ryder realises that it is Brideshead, a house where he spent a considerable amount of his youth…

Ryder starts to recount his life as an under-graduate at Oxford, who becomes infatuated with the charming but immature Sebastian Flyte, a beautiful fellow student.  As Sebastian introduces Charles to his family at Brideshead (the family home), he becomes fascinated with the unusual family, and particularly later on, with Sebastian’s sister Julia.

I feel almost guilty that while the story itself is full of promise, this book left me cold.  I thought it might be that none of the characters is particular sympathetic or even likeable (with the sole exception of the Sebastian’s younger sister Cordelia), but on reflection, I don’t believe that that was what put me off.  The writing is undoubtedly eloquent and at time comedic, but the book did not stir any emotion in me.

Sebastian’s family are Catholic, and Catholicism is a strong theme throughout the book.  Sebastian and Julia both struggle with their religion – although both turn to it in times of anguish – while their mother and their siblings, Cordelia and Brideshead, seem more at ease with it.  Religious versus secular love, and the conflict which this can cause, is portrayed well, as is the changes which came about in Britain during the years the book is set in, where the aristocracy is starting to mean less, and people are looking for different values.

The characterisation is excellent, although I found the narrator to be the least interesting character of all.  Sebastian was an interesting character, if not a likeable one, and Julia and Cordelia were also very well drawn.

I wish I had enjoyed this book more – I expected to, and I wanted to – but in the end I simply felt a mild sense of relief at finishing it.  That said, I have read many many reviews of this book, and most seem to rate it extremely highly, so I would not wish to discourage others from reading it; I would just hope that they get more out of it than I did.  I have saved my copy in the hope of reading it again in the future, as I feel that this may have been a case of reading the wrong book at the wrong time.

(For more information about the author, please click here.)

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This is a truly outstanding movie, and watching it is like being on the proverbial emotional rollercoaster.

Sean Penn is Paul, a critically ill mathematician; Benicio Del Toro is Jack, a former convict now trying to help rehabilitate young offenders; and Naomi Watts is Christina, a young mother and wife, with a murky past.  These three unconnected people move into each other’s orbit due to a horrific car crash which impacts on all of them in different ways.  All three leads are great, but Del Toro and Watts in particular are simply outstanding.

This film deals with grief, passion, love, guilt and anger.  It had me hooked from beginning to end.   The first 30 or 40 minutes are somewhat confusing, as it shows segments of the lives of all three characters, but they are shown totally out of sequence, jumping backwards and forwards in time.  I watched, imagining that it would all come together and make sense, and it did so, about 45 minutes in.

It was one of those rare movies that left me feeling emotionally drained – the way it is shot out of sequence is unusual, and I couldn’t tear myself away from it, even to make a cup of coffee!

I had this movie on my shelf for a long time, and wasn’t really sure that I felt like watching it – however, I am extremely glad that I did so, and will definitely be watching it again.

Year of release: 2003

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Writer: Guillermo Arriaga

Main cast: Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts

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I have just watched this wonderful movie about guilt and redemption.  It stars Jeff Bridges, who is my favourite actor of all time, and Robin Williams.

Jeff plays Jack Lucas, an abrasive and arrogant DJ, who is inadvertently the catalyst for a horrific crime.  Crippled by his guilt, Jack has a chance encounter with Parry (Robin Williams), a homeless and apparently insane man, and the two men become friends after a fashion.

Jack is seeking some kind of redemption, to ease the burden on his conscience, and maybe, just maybe, Parry and he are able to help each other.  But the thing that connects them also threatens to tear them apart…

Will Jack become a better person?  And will Perry ever find peace and lasting love?  This is a very moving film, which explores how people cope in the face of adversity, and how people are affected by tragedy.  It’s also an exploration of friendship – just how much can a friendship survive through?

The film is romantic and fantastic, with some off beat humour, and very touching moments.  As always, Jeff Bridges is terrific.  Robin Williams makes his part totally his own.  This film is a joy to watch.  Look out for the waltz scene set in Grand Central Station – it’s probably my very favourite movie scene ever – beautifully done.

Year of release: 1991

Director: Terry Gilliam

Writer: Richard LaGravenese

Main cast: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl

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