People Don’t Realize That There are Killers Among Them. People They Liked, Loved, Lived With, Worked With and Admired…: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

People don’t realize that there are killers among them. People they liked, loved, lived with, worked with and admired could the next day turn out to be the most demonic people imaginable

So a few weeks ago I posted my review of The Stranger Beside Me based on the book and life experiences of Ann Rule-the woman who worked and was friends with Ted Bundy. In that review I mentioned watching this film first and that I was working on my review-well that time has come.

So this film is told from the point of view of Ted Bundy’s girlfriend-Elizabeth Kendall and her experiences in meeting, falling in love with Ted Bundy, and then seeing him arrested and on trial for the murders.

The first thing I find interesting is the parallel’s with both were single mothers of daughters, both said that he was incredibly charming, trusted him, believed in his innocence far into the trial-yet when both heard the description of the man the police were looking for mentioned him. I mean they were both utterly shocked when all came out about what he did, but yet at the same time there seemed to always be this thought that not everything was as it seems.

Hmm…

So first off I thought this Netflix film was extremely good. The set design, costuming, etc was amazing. Everything evoked the 1970s and felt firmly like we were stepping back into that world. The Ann Rule film tried to go for a ’70s feel but it was mostly late ’90s/early 2000s.

Zac Efron as Ted Bundy was phenomenal as you could tell he really studied the mannerisms and tone of Ted Bundy as when you watch interviews of Ted Bundy-Efron was spot on. I also liked how the film reenforced what many thought of him at the time, handsome, charming, etc.

So I understand where the film was coming from, they wanted to show it from his girlfriend’s point of view, Elizabeth Kendall (Lily Collins)-how she saw him, how he loved her, showing that psychopaths aren’t always easy to spot as monsters right away as they are often charming, etc. The only complaint I had was that they didn’t show the abuse his girlfriend received on her side. True, she never mentions Bundy hitting her in her book and of course he didn’t kill her-but he abused her in other ways.

I wished that had shown a little more of how he treated her as it also explains why she called in with his name. Like all victims, she had that moment when she felt something wasn’t right, clarity, but the police didn’t take her seriously.

While it was an interesting view and the acting was fantastic I preferred The Stranger Beside Me. I think that film was more equal in its depiction-showing the charming, kind, attractive qualities-but also the dark side. I think they could have been a bit harsher in the depiction of Ted Bundy, showing more of his dark side-but otherwise it was an interesting film and very informative.

For more on Ted Bundy, go to How Well Do We Ever Really Know People?: The Stranger Beside Me (2003)

For more films based on a true story, go to I Don’t Understand, I Just Wanna Be Your Friend!: Death of a Cheerleader (1994)

For more Lily Collins, go to You’re Mother is a Shadowhunter…Like You: The Mortal Instruments, City of Bones (2013)

For more serial killers, go to How Much Do You Really Know About Him?: The Stepfather (2009)

How Well Do We Ever Really Know People?: The Stranger Beside Me (2003)

How well do we ever really know people?

The Stranger Beside Me (2003) is based off the book by Ann Rule about her experiences working alongside and being friends with Ted Bundy (you know before she realized he was killing people). So I really, really want to read this book, but unfortunately we do not have it at the library as someone checked it out and never returned it.

We had the movie, but I of course would prefer to read the book first and then watch the film.

Sigh!

However, then I saw the new film on Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked and Incredibly Vile (review pending) and then I really wanted to read the book/watch this film.

So instead of waiting any longer I decided to watch the film.

Tell ME!!!!!

So while it is a TV movie and didn’t have the same amount of money that the Netflix production did, I preferred this film over the new one.

I’m sure you all know by now that I am not a remake fan.

The starts off with Ted Bundy (Billy Campbell) with the dead body of a woman. We then switch to Ann Rule, previously a cop, now a true crime reporter-is close friends with Ted Bundy and talking to him about how she got this great deal to write a book on this person who has been killing people. He asks about the book and she shares a little about it and the crime, the two reconnecting as they haven’t seen each other in a while-we then flash back.

Ann Rule had met Ted Bundy earlier in her life when they both worked at a crisis counseling center and let me tell you that watching it felt like being in a whirlpool. Here is this guy who they estimate ended up murdering and raping over 100 women actually helping and saving people-and being incredible kind and caring while he did it. Ann has said that she witnessed him saving lives and that she trusted him with her own daughter (she has stated that if her daughter was older she would have set them up, she would have made a play for him if she was younger). He used to walk her to car every night and make sure she got in safely.

The thing I really liked about this film is that it is much more balanced than Extremely Wicked and Incredibly Vile as we are shown how Ann views him-but also we see the horrible things he is doing. From how he emotionally abuses and manipulates his girlfriend to him killing women (it doesn’t show anything but alludes to it.) In fact, watching this showed what it is like to be in an abusive relationship-you see the ugly dark side, while the abuser shows the rest of the world the charismatic side.

So in the beginning, Ann Rule didn’t believe Ted could be the killer as all the good he has seen him do. But as events transpired and she began to believe he is he murderer, the film got darker as well.

Creepy…

One thing that I found really interesting, was that before Elizabeth called in her tip about Ted Bundy, Ann shared it with the police as when she heard about the car and the guy being called Ted he popped in her head-but she didn’t really believe it until much later.

I also liked how this showed how he tried to interject himself into her book and have the story written his way. It reminded me of the way he tried to direct the TV interviews .

I thought it was extremely good-even though some of the acting and costumes might not be as good, the story was great and I really liked how it showed how he could charm and be this friendly guy, while in reality he was a dark and twisted man.

For more films based on a True story, go to I Don’t Understand, I Just Wanna Be Your Friend!: Death of a Cheerleader (1994)

For more serial killers, go to How Much Do You Really Know About Him?: The Stepfather (2009)

For more TV films, go to Lifetime Didn’t Go Psycho Enough: Psycho Mother-in-Law (2019)

Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 3-5

So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?

Hmm…I don’t know!

That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.

I can’t stop watching!

So last week I reviewed The Buccaneers, episodes 1-2. These episodes 3-5 aren’t as similar in the Austen themes, but I’m going to finish the review of the miniseries.

So quick recap-four women, Virginia St. George, Annabel “Nan” St. George, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Elmsworth, Conchita Closson-daughters of new money industry, are finding it hard to be accepted into society. In order to circumvent that, the English governess, Ms. Laura Testvalley, hired by Mrs. St. George, comes up with the idea of them having a London Season. There they could hobnob with the titled English and when they come back be welcomed in open arms.

Conchita marries Lord Richard, who only got with her to get her money. He dumped her off at his family estate, took off gambling and carousing, and using up her allowance allotted by her father. Yep, she married a Wickham/Willoughby.

She has a little girl with him and then finds herself a lover to fill her lonely nights.

 

Lonely and sad from Anna Karenina 

Virginia married Richard’s older brother, Lord Seadown, but finds out on her wedding night he only choose her for her money as he already in love/relationship with another woman.

Replace beauty with money

Lizzy is being courted by Hector, a nobody interested in politics. He has no title, but does have a good sized fortune. Her rivals, Virginia and Conchita feel smug about having the superior men.

But Nan tops them all by landing Duke Julius of Trevennick. She was really in love with Guy Thwaite, but he had lost his fortune due to his father’s mismanagement. Guy left for two years to South America to make his fortune, and Nan wanted an engagement, but he didn’t want to be a man to use a woman’s fortune and doesn’t want to hold her back when he may make no money.

Nan feeling vulnerable, sad, alone, and having been sheltered falls victim to the Duke’s proposal-one of the best proposals. The Duke knows his stuff.

So Virginia is pregnant and gives birth to a son. Good but doesn’t keep her man from straying still. In fact, now that the family line is “secure” he spends even less time with her and more with his mistress. Poor Virginia, she had such dreams, such  hopes!

The Duke and Nan return from their honeymoon and Nan finds herself way over her head. Expected to run the household, send the first of their plants to the queen, meet the queen, her husband being too busy for her and so cold. Before they were married, he talked of love and now that they are there is this barrier between them.

This space between them

She is shocked that he doesn’t have passion with her like Conchita and Virginia’s husband’s do and that they have separate bathrooms and separate lives-so unlike her parents.

All alone

Nan loves the outside, the forest, the beautiful romantic ruins but is now trapped in a gilded cage-jewels, meeting the queen, expected to act like clockwork.

She makes some serious mistakes in the household duties and rankings of the many servants. Every time I watch this I think how much more this is suited for her sister Virginia. That is the type of thing she would love to do and life to live.

Julius loves it as he finds her perfect to train. Seriously? Like she is an animal or doll-just tp be moved and trained-ugh.

I take back what I said about him. Take back your castle. Take back your dog.

You are a MAJOR jerk.

The three married ladies get together and talking and complaining about their husbands-these men suck. Poor girls.

Conchita has taken a lover as her husband is always gone. He comes home unexpectedly with the news that he has syphilis.

Ouch

I had to do my 9th grade health report on it and oh my goodness that is one of the worst diseases. First it is hard to catch as most people don’t show the symptoms and if untreated it makes you go insane.

Nan gets attacked one night by a drunk Julian-yelling at her not to complain about wanting passion and then not enjoying when he is trying to romance her. The pig. The horrid man. Just a glimpse of the horrible marriage Nan suffers.

In other news, the St. George’s have lost everything in Wall Street. Without Virginia’s income the Lord’s are in serious trouble. The West Wing renovations have stopped, and everyone must cut back on spending. Something these Lords are extremely angry over.

Your father can’t give us any more money and we actually have to work or spend less?

Lizzy marries Hector Robinson who makes scads of money and ends up buying an old family mansion for his bride. Lizzy is the only on with a happy marriage. She chose wisely.

After that, Nan tries to remove all the romantic, passionate artwork. She can’t look at it anymore. Poor Nan, I know what that’s like. And she got pregnant from their “encounter”. That’s just agonizingly awful.

Noooo!

Nan wants to help her people, as the tennets are getting sick from typhoid. She tries to get Julius to come and help, but he doesn’t care. He only cares about himself. He isn’t the man you thought he was.

Broken dreams, illusions, hopes, etc.

Ugh, Julius treats her like a child, like a doll, a plaything. As if she knows nothing at all. I hate him. I want to punch him in the face.

Nan does the 1800s lady equivalent-she tells him she would rather be dead than have their child grow up to be like him.” Ouch-zing! And she then runs off in the rain at night.

Ouch

They can’t find her and start up a search party, eventually discovering her by the river, having fallen and lost the baby. Now knowing what she said, do you think she tried to kill herself on purpose? Or accidentally fell?

Hmmm

Nan’s governess, Ms. Testavalley, comes to visit and Nan shares her feelings. She describes how as soon as they were married he became a stranger. Ouch, I know how that feels.

Nan still idealizes Val’s life-when the truth is she is not that free or happy. Sir Guy’s father comes to visit, he has a thing for Ms. Testvalley and reveals that Sir Guy will be returning home, a very rich man, and entering politics. Hmm…interesting!

Conchita is pregnant by her lover, and with Richard having syphilis she can’t sleep with him and pretend it is his child. What will she do?

That is not good,

Julius decides he has given Nan enough time and comes to see test the waters and it is very awkward. And Nan begins rebelling against him. “How would you know what would bore me.”

This continuously makes me think of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. If only he had taken time to know her instead of looking at her face than maybe he would have married someone else and they would have had a good marriage. The same for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram.

Guy has returned home and thinks of Annabelle. Too bad you didn’t get engaged to her or had some understanding or else she would have been waiting for you there.

If only

It’s Christmastime and Connie is visiting Nan. She breaks down about how awful things are going, you don’t know how I feel.

No, Nan has it waaaaaay worse. Connie whines about how all this was all supposed to end happily ever after with marriage. Nan shares how she wants to just run away and pretend she never married. Connie begs Nan for money, but Nan has none. Connie begs and Nan promises to try and get some, but from Julius? Not likely.

Bad, very bad idea

Nan gets everything ready for their Christmas ball and as Julius is in a good move she tries to ask him for the money but he won’t do it. She gets £10 a month and can draw up to £5 a week. She tries to get a little independence, but no dice. She is angry at him treating her like a child but he threatens her saying if she wants him to stop them he must treat her like a wife. Nan’s not for, that discussion closed.

Ugh, you don;t rape your wife. I HATE Julius. he’s horrid, horrid, awful, terrible man.

At the party they dance around in the dark and who should end up in a room together, Nan and Guy.

That is not good,

Ms. Testavalley is interested in Guy’s father, but her friend warns her that he just paid off one woman and has two others.

He’s a no

Everyone returns from the dark except Nan who is still with Guy. Both still have feelings for each other…uh oh. Guy tries to encourage her and she listens, discussing how her feelings go up and down. Ms. Testavalley finds them and saves them both from scandal.

Julius gives Nan the money for Conchita but wants her to sleep with him. She can’t as she is so traumatized from before. He insists that he needs compensation for the money, treating her like a prostitute.

You jerk!

He abuses her, yells, curses, breaks her things, hits her. This gives me flashbacks. Ms. Testavalley has to leave and after she goes, Nan’s mother-in-law lectures her trying to help, but not really. At first I was a little miffed at her, but then she said that she isn’t blind to how her son is and how the late Duke was much worse. Poor mother-in-law-she must have a serious backstory. Full cycle of abuse.

Nan leaves Julius to stay with her sister and then will goes to stay with Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Hector are very happy, healthy, and wealthy. Hector is wary to have her come, as she is the duchess, but wants to court Mr. St. George as he is getting wealthy again on Wall Street. So he allows her to come.

Virginia buys back her jewelry she pawned off to pay for the household expenses and goes to see Idena, her husband’s mistress to confront her. Idena hasn’t seen him, he left her for a younger woman, and she lets off how she feels slapping her, Ouch. That’s the lady 19th century version of:

Nan visits Guy at the House of Commons and is seen by all-uh oh. I sense an Anna Karenenia

Rumors circulate and Lizzy tells Nan she can’t stay with them any longer. Nan goes to church and the Duke meets her there. He explains the rules in society, that she is the Duchess, his wife. She needs to stay 1/3 of the year at home and he will turn a blind eye to her discretions as long as they are private. If she makes a scandal, divorce and he will ruin the lover.

Nan returns home as she wants to protect Guy, but doesn’t tell him the truth. They cry over their love as she leaves and Guy looks on.

Or him

Nan returns home and Julian’s mother gives him some good advice. Leave her alone for six months and woo her, be a lover.

Lord Seadown returns home when Idena commits suicide. He tries to get back with Virginia but she isn’t interested. He pleads and looks at her with his sad eyes and she falls like a house of cards. Fool. He’s a loser & a user.

For the thousandth time

Guy and Julius get in an argument over his politics and the way Guy is leaning. But truth is they are really fighting about Nan. Julius lets Guy know he’s be nowhere without him and he can take it all away just like that. *snap* And then they get in a fistfight.

Wow!

GUY, GUY GUY GUY! Give him the chair.

Nan interrupts and ends it. She has the children’s choir perform Yankee Doodle. Woohoo! Let the stars and stripes fly Nan!!

Guy watches sad and despondent, but I don’t really feel bad as she coutld have been your woman. It’s your own dang fault. You should have made some understanding. He then writes her a sort of love letter-most of it is him half angry she’s not with him.

That night Nan hears strange noises and look for Julius and finds him in bed with a man!!!! A Man! Oh.

So of course I have to ask, does Julian being gay (or bi they never quite make that clear) add or take away from his character and villainous treatment. I mean don’t get me wrong, it is done well. The constant worry of his mother, comments about how he likes to be with men-women do not interest him, him getting worried/defensive/angry when Nan has questions about their love life, the girls talking about her not being pregnant. I didn’t catch it the first time, but did this time. But do you think adds or takes away from him being the villian? He already is abusive, narcissistic, a control freak, a rapist, etc. Do you think he would have been a stronger villain if he was straight, or do you think him being gay adds more to the dashed hopes/expectations of Nan. I mean everything else had already killed every romantic notion she has ever had, being gay the final nail in the coffin of the film. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer and I am just wondering your thoughts are.

Hmmm…

Nan runs away after hearing how Julius turned down his sister’s love because he feels she is too old and needs to be a home (like how the Poldark family treats Verity). She realizes he is a horrible brute and will never change, fleeing to her sisters, where Guy just happened to be. The two run off together in full view of EVERYONE! Oh, the scandal.

Meanwhile, Julius does not want to divorce and his mother pleads with him. She suffered too much to have a son and continue the line and Nan needs to do the same. Wow, she has a really dark backstory.

Nan and Guy discuss what will happen and hope that Julius won’t do anything. Julius sues Nan over adultery.

The elder Lord Seadown dies and Nan comes to the funeral. Lizzy is excited to see her friend but not allowed to spend time with her. Must ignore her because of her scandal. It reminds me of Anna Karenina, Nan is ostracized and alone while Guy goes about his duties, getting heckled and talked about but still is okay. Nan on the hand-must be dead to all. This also makes me think of The Duchess. Such a sad film.

Connie on the other hand stops to hug and see her, not caring at all what people think-Nan is her friend.

Guy goes to speak to his father and say good-bye that he is leaving to South America. His father tells him to give up Nan or else he will disinherit, and Guy does not care. He never wanted politics it was all his dad and Julius. His father yells, storms, and finally cries.

Poor Ms. Testavalley was badly burned in all this. Who will ever want to hire her? She’s not sure what she will do next, but is moving forward.

They end with Nan and Guy riding off together happy, but are they? Even though they have uplifting music, it reminds me of The Graduate, the future might not be as bright as they think.

So a great miniseries, but very sad. And it really helps you see how things would have ended if Elizabeth married Wickham, Marianne married Willoughby, Emma married Frank Churchill, Fanny married Henry Crawford, Anne married Mr. Elliot, Catherine married Thorpe, etc.

It also follows the same theme Austen has regarding getting to know a person’s character over title and appearance. Most important who they are and their character, over what they have.

For more on The Buccaneers, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 1-2

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: Stardust (2007)

For more Gilded Age, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

On a sad note, given the context of these episodes I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Glassblower

So this is something I started a while back. Sometimes you want more Austen books after you have read all her books. There are variations on her stories, but sometimes you don’t want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read or watch?

That’s why I started this series. I will review books that have the things we love about the Austen novels, but in something fresher than a retelling.

The Glassblower (Glassblower Saga #1) by Petra Durst-Benning

The story is set in Lauscha, Germany-glassmaking capital of the world.

Joost Steinmann’s family has been the glassmaking business for years. When his wife passed he took it on himself to raise his three daughters: Johanna, Ruth, and Marie.

One day is a day like any other, but when the girls go to try and wake him for work-he’s dead.

After they bury their father and have a wake, they find themselves unsure what to do next. How will they survive in the turn of the century as three women? Especially, in a glassmaking village in a culture where women do not make glass.

So a family of three sisters who’s father dies and they find themselves at a crossroads and not quite sure what to do-especially as they have no money. So when I read that it instantly made me think of:

The eldest daughter, Johanna, is logical, sensible, business-orientated, and good at figures. As the eldest she budgets, shops, goes to the town nearby and bargains with wholesalers and shopkeepers. Her response to their dad’s death, other than heartbreak, is to immediately look for work-reading that made me think of:

Elinor Dashwood

Unlike Elinor, Johanna is stubborn, determined, and a bit hot-headed. She starts in the Heimer foundry-but after criticizing the way the glassblowing shop is run, she loses her job. She leaves to the city working for Strobel, the wholesaler and shopkeeper. She learns a lot from him, and grows from country girl to shop assistant. She does well, but her employer is an odd man with dark passions and plans for his protege.

The second daughter Ruth, has aways longed to be in choir, or out on the town, or be with boys-but her father kept them away. She is a romantic, dreaming of a Prince to sweep her off her feet.This made me think of:

Marianne Dashwood

Ruth decides to go husband hunting, looking for a rich man to take care of her. While working at the Heimer glassblowing business, she sets her sights on the unwedded son, Thomas Heimer. Thomas is not interested in getting married, but Ruth won’t settle for anything less-she tries to play the game to get what she wants, will she win? Or lose?

The youngest girl, Marie, is a dreamer who loves to read, draw, and paint. She also is interested in a “male” oriented profession, glassblowing. This made me think of:

Margaret Dashwood

Marie loves working in the Heimer factory as she loves to paint and design the glass. With both her sisters essentially moved out, Marie begins to fool around in her father’s workshop. After some instruction from their next-door neighbor, and very close family friend, she begins creating beautiful Christmas ornaments. But will her secret stay secret and she’ll be able to continue creating, or will it be discovered that a woman is glassblowing and she’ll be shunned from her community?

Hmm…I don’t know!

So you can already see why it is a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers as the setup has similarities to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. however, this is not a copy of that book.

I found this incredibly well-written as it captures your attention. The characters felt very real and it was a great story, one I didn’t want to put down.

It dealt with the reality of women living in a time where they were vulnerable without men and without many options.

I liked how the story was about the three sisters trying to work together, but that they also didn’t always gets along-very real. I hate when they have these absolutely perfect families. Johanna worries about everyone, but at the same time can boss them about and not listen to what they are saying. Ruth can become self-absorbed, but she is there if they need them. Marie likes solitary and quiet, but at the same time will put herself through anything for her sisters.

The book deals with serious issues, like rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, etc.

Wow!

It also shows the culture and history of the beautiful glassblowing region.

This is actually the Christmas Tree Topper my family has.

I would strongly recommend checking it out!

For more non-Austen reads for Austen readers, Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Suitors and Sabotage

For more stories on sisters, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more on Sense & Sensibility, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

As you know, I am behind in my Book Club Pick reviews-but I am trying to catch up.

Eventually I will get them all done.

Haha…sure

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time it was my turn and I chose:

Far Side of the Sea (California Rising #2) by Paula Scott

So I had first been introduced to this book when I worked at our local museum. I actaully got to meet the author and speak to her, and after hearing about how she researched and just listening to how she spoke about her work I  decided to borrow the book from the library and read: Until the Day Breaks.

This book came out and my coworker said she enjoyed, so I purchased a copy for a friend. A couple weeks later I was at work and realized, I had forgot to bring a book to pass the time when we had no one visiting the museum.

That is not good,

Yes, I always brought a book or two to read in the downtime, as sometimes we had a lot of people visiting, and other times we only had a few. This week there was a special event happening in the area so I knew we weren’t going to have a lot of people, it would be the perfect time to read.

But this time I had forgotten my book! I was looking at four very quiet and boring hours.

As I started tidying up the gift shop, wondering what I was going to do with my time, I spotted the Far Side of the Sea and bought it.

I quickly devoured it, and then a year later in book club I decided it would be great to read this series. So we read the first book, then Wuthering Heights, and Desperate Pastor’s Wives; and before you know it, it was my turn again to pick.

Months had gone by since we had read the first book, and while I had really wanted to read the second book, I also really wanted to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I thought afterwards we could all watch the movie together.

Yes!

But at the time I was going to this divorce class/support group and the day I had to choose our book, my reading for the class was Psalm 139, where this title comes from.

So I knew, we had to read it.

I gotcha!

Until the Day Breaks, we had protestant Rachel Tyler coming to California, where her father has brokered a marriage between her and a member of a very old and important Californio family, Roman Vasquez. The two do not know each, and neither is sure of the marriage, but before anything can immediately be done-California independence and the Bear Flag Revolt breaks out. There is romance, war, and fantastic characters. To read more, click here.

At the end of the first book, Rachel and Roman left to Monterey, where they are married. We begin book two with Rachel’s awful father, Joshua Tyler, returning from the revolt and finding his new wife Sarita and child dead and buried, Rachel gone, and becomes very angry. With the war-he had decided to marry Rachel off to someone else, but as now he does not have that, or his wife, he uses the heavy debts of the Vasquez family to blackmail the patriarch into giving him Roman’s sister, Maria Vasquez, to marry.

Roman’s sister Maria, is a beautiful and fiery redhead. She has been riding horses since a child, has gone on grizzly bear hunts, loves to dance, and is stubborn, passionate, and extremely strong-willed. She does not want to marry Joshua Tyler, but as her uncle controls her fate she has to.

Maria is haughty and angry, which just fuels Joshua Tyler on more. When they reach Monterey, they search for the priest to marry them, but he cannot be found (he had married Rachel and Roman and left to celebrate with them.) Joshua doesn’t care and decides to take Maria as his own, raping her.

Maria tries to get free, but Joshua is too strong, she does manage to grab a knife from him while he is distracted by her and stabs him-murdering a man, a hanging offense.

That is not good,

For Maria, this is something that should never have happened to her. Being raised as one of the gente de razon, she was always treated respectfully, kindly, etc. She feels dirty, scared, alone-and then she remembers something from long ago. When Maria’s mother was ill, she came into the room with a special feather, and at that same exact moment her mother died. One of her mother’s Indian slaves said that she was cursed with the mark of death and will bring death wherever she goes.

Death walks into the room…

Maria goes from the priest’s room into the church, feeling dirty, ashamed, and alone. No loner a virgin, no longer worth anything, and what will she do now? She can’t stay her and she can’t go back home.

One of Joshua’s mercenaries, Gavilan, decides to help her and the two disguise her as a boy and sign up to be deckhands on a ship headed to Boston. On the way they will pass through Chile, an Gavilan’s home, and they can stay there.

They are on the ship with they realize that the Captain is none other than Dominic Mason. In the last book, Dominic was bringing Rachel’s fiancé Steven from Boston to come after her. Steven lead him to the Lord and they became fast friends. When they reached California, the two quickly bonded with Roman as well. Maria fell in love with Dominic from that first moment she saw him, and he was incredibly attracted to her. Maria decided he was going to be her first kiss, and after she got it from him, he told her he was engaged already back home.

Maria tries to hide from Dominic, and while at first he doesn’t recognize her, eventually her secret comes out. Gavilan and Dominic become friends, although both have a deep interest in Maria. Maria wants Dominic, but as much as he wants her-he is engaged and must do his duty to Sally, his fiancé.

When they reach Argentina, they discover that Gavilan belongs to a wealthy family-but they do not want to stay there. The people are all about pleasure, Gavilan’s sister-in-law hitting on every man. Also there is a dreaded ghost from Dominic’s past, the evil, cruel, dreaded Captain Wade.

Ugh!!

Captain Wade was Dominic’s first Captain, and after seeing all the atrocities that he did, Dominic tried to leave as soon as he could and get his own boat. Now does he tell Maria-the most beautiful woman in the world and Captain Wade’s new interest all about this? No, he just tells her to stay away. And of course the fiery, stubborn, Maria does not like being told what to do.

From there they go East to Boston. Maria stays with Dominic’s family and faces not only an incredible culture shock being in Protestant East, but snubs and prejudice from being Latina and Catholic. Dominic’s father and sister try to treat her like family-but Dominic’s mother remembers the Catholic’s treatment of Protestants back in Ireland.

Dominic and Sally plan their wedding, and its decided to be sooner rather than later. Dominic still has feelings for Maria, head over heels in love-but Sally-loyal, dependable, sweet, and caring; has waited all these years for him.

Also reading this again, I felt that there was a strong undercurrent here of interesting class distinction. Sally’s father owns the ships Dominic captains, while Dominic’s father is a dockworker. Makes you wonder if marrying Sally had a little extra pressure…

Hmm…

Anyways, the wedding comes, and Maria is heartbroken. Dominic returns to his ships, Sally to their beautiful new house, and Maria is stuck in the frozen Boston and dreary Mason house.

Sally gets pregnant, and the pregnancy really treats her body rough. She calls in Maria to help her. No one else likes Maria-for being what she is, and Dominic’s mom senses the attraction, and all treat her bad-Maria not helping with the situation.

But not Sally. Sally loves Maria and encourages, supports, leads, and is there for her. She reads the bible with her, teaches her about God, and just gives her friendship. She gives her the titler psalm and becomes such a calming and sweet presence for her. Maria helps her with the pregnancy, along with taking care of baby Dominic “Nicky”.

When Dominic arrives, Nicky is 2 and Maria is the nanny. Sally has never recovered from her pregnancy and is not strong enough to care for Nicky on her own.

Dominic has made enough money that he has left his old business, struck out on his own, and is moving the family to San Francisco. He wants to take Maria back to her brother-but Sally won’t let her go. Sally is Maria’s best friend, and after she gets pregnant, does not want Maria to go. Dominic sets sail, taking his younger sister Chloe, hoping that she will take over Maria’s duties instead.

Unfortunately, delicate Sally does not survive the second child, and passes away. Maria tries to save the newborn, named after her, but she dies as well. Maria once again feels that she is carrying death to those she cares for.

Nooooooooooooooo

Maria finally makes it back to her brother. Roman lost the ranch as the Californios could not keep their property when California became a state, but Rachel inherited her father’s estate. They stay there for a while, Dominic realizing that he still is hopelessly in love with Maria and asks to marry her.

Maria agrees until Dominic is almost killed. She starts hearing voices telling her of death, and that she needs to leave him alone-go far away in order to protect him.

She returns to San Francisco and to Captain Wade. He turns out to be more than she bargained for-an abusive, cruel, demonic filled man. Will Maria die in this hell on Earth, or will she finally hear God’s voice and freedom?

I LOOOOOOOOOVED it!!! I really enjoyed the first book, but I found this one compelling. When I read the book the first time I couldn’t stop-page after page after page just whizzed past as I needed to find out what happened next.

Each time I have read it, that desire has not waned.

Of course reading the book after being in an abusive relationship, made the book just soooo relatable. It was powerful how she described how Maria was feeling, the hopelessness, wanting life to be over, the fear, feeling trapped, unsure of what to do…she just captured it.

There is a powerful scene when Captain Wade is attacking Maria and she starts praying and pulls out the gold crucifix, which stops the Captain Wade from doing anything further. This stuck such a cord with me as the last time I was with my ex-husband we were in the car together and he starts speeding down the freeway, in and out of lanes telling me that he is going to kill us both as he would rather have me dead then be apart from him. All I could do was pray and pray that God would save me-and my ex-husband stopped and I was able to get away. Thank God for that. The day I was legally divorced I heard on the radio the same thing happened to another woman, but she wasn’t as lucky-he crashed the car and killed her.

A powerful book that I strongly recommend.

For more book club books, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

For more by Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

For more bible verses, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to Earl Grey Infused Blueberry Smoothie

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.