She Struck Him as a Fixer-Upper, a Block of Clay Ready for Pygmalion’s Chisel: The Overnight Socialite

Day 18) R is for Remake: Choose a Book that is a Retelling of a Classic

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The Overnight Socialite by Bridie Clark

I was in the college campus bookstore because I needed to buy some scantrons and decided to look around as my friend’s birthday was coming up. She is really into being environmentally friendly, so I was looking at the recycled products when I spotted one of my favorite things: Clearance Books. You know how I feel about that.

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I didn’t really see anything that I was interested in or would be a good gift for my friend. As I pushed the books around I spotted this one.

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The first thing that intrigued me was the cover and how the hair is butterflies. I flipped the back over and read that it was a retelling of Pygmalion, the story most would recognize as its musical form My Fair Lady.

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I thought it sounded interesting and was reduced to a good price, but I felt like I couldn’t buy it as I didn’t have the extra money for myself and was supposed to be shopping for my friend. So I left it behind.

I don't need it.

I don’t need it.

Later I began thinking about it.

Good job screenwriters.

I just couldn’t get it off my mind so I ended up looking for it in the library.

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But they didn’t have it!

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But I was able to ILL (Inter Library Loan) it and I got it from another place.

Double double yay

I then read the story and quickly loved it, finding it hard to put down.

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Now you know how I feel about remakes and sequels:

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But this was nothing like that. I thought this book was absolutely amazingly written and was incredible in retelling the story.

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Background:

So the original play Pygmalion takes place during Victorian Era England. Eliza Doolittle is a woman from the lower classes who sells flowers to survive. She comes upon an angry Professor Henry Higgins, an aristocrat, who is appalled at how her cockney butches the English language. He makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he could take Eliza, teach her how to talk eloquently, and she would be able to pass off as a wealthy woman. He never imagined that Eliza would take up his offer, but she does and Col. Pickering insists on them continuing the bet.

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Plot Synopsis:

In this version, we are in modern day Manhattan. Wyatt Hayes IV is from an old family stock, high in the community, and biological anthropologist with his doctoral degree from Harvard. He is bored with his life and stalled career, and disgusted with the way that these modern Manhattanites conduct themselves. More like the Kardashians, taking every bit of limelight they can, rather than being the Jackie Onassis.

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He breaks up with his longtime girlfriend, Cornelia, as all she cares about is becoming a “brand” and working on her “career” as a socialite.

That guy!

He heads over to his favorite bar to hang out with his friend Trip Peters, fellow Gothamite and complains that these women today, are just like the animals he’s studied.

Or them

Or them

Meanwhile, Lucy Jo Ellis is the daughter of a manicurist in Milwaukee. She came to New York in the hopes of becoming a fashion designer; but has barely been able to scrape by on her pay as an assistant seamstress for a designer. She believes she is given her dream when she is gifted an invitation at the designer’s fashion show, but that turns out to be a call for assisting in catering and does not go well.

ouch Hermione

Fired, and with zero options and no money; it looks like Lucy is headed back to Milwaukee.

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Wyatt muses on this thought of society women like the animal kingdom, and as he drinks decides it is the perfect project for him…for a book! He could take any average woman and using his knowledge of the animal kingdom and New York socialites; he could change her into the top debutante.

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A chance meeting with Lucy, as she is trying to make her way home, he bets he can turn her into the top socialite.

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Lucy reacts like any normal girl would, and freaks out thinking that he is crazy or trying to pick her up. She takes off.

I'm getting out of here

I’m getting out of here

However, with no possibilities coming her way and living on her last dollar she decides to take Wyatt up on his crazy experiment. Wyatt is eager for this to work as he has his book deal, which he has not told Lucy anything about (bad idea)

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And Lucy believes that when she becomes a socialite she can use that to create bonds with the right people, finding a new designer to work with or possibly even start out on her own.

Double double yay

Will Wyatt be able to make due on his bet and turn her into a real lady?

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Or will the whole plan flop?

Not good

Not good

Will Lucy be able to score her dream job?

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Or will she become the laughingstock of the upper crust and be kicked out of New York City?

And run fast

And run fast

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How Does It Compare?:

I thought the characters were amazingly well done and I loved how the book was able to follow the map of the original story; but at the same time infuse it with their own style and create a new-old tale.

Some changes that the author, Clark, made , I felt enhanced the story. She added a girlfriend for Wyatt’s Professor Higgen’s character, being the catalyst for his bet. She is shallow, vain, and only cares about her image; being the foil for Lucy.

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We also have a girlfriend for Trip (the Col. Pickering character), being Eloise. Eloise is a personal shopper/stylist ad gets recruited to assist in dress and makeup for Lucy. The two become fast friends and we become invested in her and her distress over Trip’s lack of commitment.

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Clark also extends the characters of the Eynsford-Hill family; the mother, daughter Clara, and son Freddy (Max in the book). Mrs. Eynsford-Hill is a social climber; trying to overcome her family’s downfall by trying to marry her children up. Her daughter is closer to the mother while Freddy is ruled by both women in his life. In the play, they treat Eliza poorly when they see her as a peasant, Freddy later becoming one of her biggest admirers, falling in love with her. In a way they are seen as Eliza’s accomplishments; so well trained in being a lady they don’t even realize she is the same women from before.

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In this book we spend a lot of time in their head and learn that Clara wishes to have wealth and fortune, but is willing to put that aside for love and true happiness. Freddy, Max in this book, isn’t interested in continuing “wall street business” but is more comfortable creating things and doing capentry. He has a lot more to him, and eventually strikes out on his own. He later becomes a love interest for Eloise, who is tired of Trip’s stalling.

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I thought this was a fantastic read and highly recommend it.

Iloveit love

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escaperealityreadbooks

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To star the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to A Quest of Swords and Wizards: The Crown Conspiracy

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For more retelling classic literature, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more modern remakes, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

For more on Oprah Winfrey, go to I Have A Problem

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Today’s Christmas carol is Silver Bells. It was written in 1950 and composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. At first it was called Tinkle Bells, until Livingston pointed out the other meaning of tinkle.

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There is a big conflict as to where the idea came from. Livingston was quoted saying the idea came from hearing the Salvation army bells, while Evans said it was a bell on their desk. Oh well, it doesn’t really matter as a great song came out of either source.

The song was orginally sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in The Lemon Drop Kid, but the first official release of the song was done Bing Crosby and Carol Richards.

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For more Bing Crosby, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

For more Christmas Carols, go to So You’re the Little Woman Who Wrote the Book that Made this Great War: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

 

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A Quest of Swords and Wizards: The Crown Conspiracy

Day 17) Q is for Quest: Choose a book in which the characters go on a Quest

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So a quest? Which book to do? There are so, so many to choose from.

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I thought and thought and finally settled on:

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The Crown Conspiracy (The Riyria Revelations #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

I know I’ve talked about this before on here, but I wanted to bring it back as it was such a fantastic story.

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And I think more need to know about it.

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So four years ago I had just come back from class and after dropping off my bags and books I got on the computer to check my email. When I went on, I was notified by the school’s post office that I had received a package and needed to go pick it up as it was too big to put in my box.

ooh!

ooh!

I was surprised as I hadn’t ordered anything or was expecting anything from anyone, so I couldn’t wait to pick it up. When I got it, I didn’t recognize the sender’s label and had no clue who it was.

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When I got home I opened the package and saw Theft of Swords-Volume I of The Riyria Revelations containing The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha by Michael J. Sullivan.

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I was completely puzzled. Who was this who sent this to me? How did I get it?

suspicious Hmm

Then I realized, I must have won it on GoodreadsGoodreads does drawings in which you win a free book, and all you have to do is give an honest review and post it on the site. I used to enter in every drawing for every book and the books I had won prior to this all had not been very good.

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So when I received this book I wasn’t very thrilled to read it. In fact I put it off for a long time until my curiosity got the better of me. One day I decided to read a few pages and see what it was all about.

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Well one page turned into many as I just couldn’t put it down.

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After I consumed the novel I had to keep going, reading the second book and then trying to locate the rest. There weren’t any at the local or college library so I had to Inter Library Loan them and wait…

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Finally they came and I just devoured them, the rest of my life taking a back seat as I had to find out what happened next.

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

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Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melbourn are two of the greatest thieves you could ever go against. Their duo goes by the name Riyria, that name being known throughout the land.

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At the beginning of the novel, the two are heading to work on a job when they are stopped by some thieves. All they have to do is say who they and they scare the others off like rabbits.

Run Away

They head off to try and rob Archie Ballentyne, the Earl of Chadwick, by breaking into his impenetrable tower.

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Meanwhile, Archie Ballentyne has been waiting for Marquis Victor Lanaklin. Archie has unsuccessfully been trying to woo his daughter, Alenda, as he is after the Lanaklin lands. He has managed to intercept some of her private love letters to the rebel Degan Gault, and wants to use them as leverage with the father. In order to keep them safe he has locked then in his study in the crown tower, a gigantic tower with only one entrance, the only one who can open it being Archie.

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But when he goes to show the letters, they are MISSING! They have been stolen, along with the Marquis’ carriage. Who could have done this? Riyria.

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They return back to their pub and deliver the goods to Alenda, receiving their payments.

Today life is great

Today life is great

But just as one job is finished, there appears there is another who wishes their services.

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Hadrian goes to meet with the man, Baron Delano DeWitt. He has a job that needs to be done tonight. Sadly, Baron DeWitt has committed the biggest mistake anyone in that region could, he looked upon the wife of the master swordsman, Colonel Pickering. Colonel Pickering will duel anyone who stares at his wife, and with his skill he is impossible to beat.

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His only weakness? His special rapier that he cannot fight without. Baron DeWitt has stolen the sword and hid it in the castle’s chapel and he wants Riyria to smuggle the sword out of the castle before they search and  find it.

suspicious Hmm

Now Riyria has a rule about accepting rush jobs, they don’t. But Hadrian isn’t really a thief, he has a warrior’s heart. He likes things to be fair or to fight for something “right”, justice, etc.

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He has felt a little disheartened at stealing things for royals, then notifying the party they stole from to get payment to steal it back. This is a job that will mean something. Plus the pay is really good.

Hmmm....

Hmmm….

Royce was raised on the streets and has been a thief as far back as he can remember. He has no qualms about what they do, and because of what he has been through he is also extremely suspicious. He does not want to take this job, but Hadrian convinces him it is worth it as they will get 200 gold tenets.

That's a lot of money

That’s a lot of money

That night they sneak into the castle and into its chapel. They go to search for the sword but find the king, dead.

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

As their minds grasp the situation, a dwarf starts screaming out that they killed the king. Guards swarm on them and they end up locked up in the dungeon.

Not good

Not good

Yes, someone murdered the king and framed them. But who? And why?

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Alric Essendon wakes from a tumble with a maid to discover he is the new King. He is furious over the death and prepares a horrible punishment as his revenge.

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Alric is a little lost at what to do, but his Uncle Percy Braga is there to lend a hand and assist him. Meanwhile, Hadrian and Royce await their fate in the dungeon; Hadrian wishing he hadn’t tried to take the job and Royce wishing he had talked Hadrian out of it. To their surprise they receive a royal visit from princess Arista Essendon.

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Arista questions them, so Hardrian tells her the story, claiming they did not kill her father. And to their surprise, she believes them.

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Arista is not like other women. Her father sent her to University and she studied the lost art of magic. She had been given a warning about the threat upon her father’s life but unfortunately didn’t heed it. Now she wants to hire the two to kidnap her brother.

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Hadrian and Royce are surprised, but Arista explains that she thinks someone is after the Essendon line and wants to kill her brother as well. She wants them to smuggle him out of the castle and go to Gutaria Prison, the secret ecclesiastical jail. They they will meet the wizard, Esrahaddon, who will be able to guide her brother. They think it is odd, but faced with death, they take the job.

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Arista has a complete plan in place. She will send two monks in to administer the last rites and have the two unchained to pray. They will knock the monks out, switch clothes and meet her in the kitchen where she will have Alric.

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Everything goes off without a hitch as they head off to the prison to find Esrahaddon, the wizard. As they continue their quest they run into a monk with a photographic memory that survived a massacre; a hidden prison that not only is built into a rock wall but once you enter cannot leave; the great wizard Esrahaddon who has been alive for eons; and secret church and government plot to answer the legend of the god Novron’s son and unite all the kingdoms under one rule!

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Meanwhile, Arista tries to rule in her brother’s place but finds treachery very close to home. They try to brand her a witch and kill her.

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Will this ragtag group be able save the throne? Or will they be outwitted and destroyed by these agents of Novron.

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The book was so fantastic, that I won’t reveal the ending. You must read this book and rest in the series yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

May

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to So You’re the Little Woman Who Wrote the Book that Made this Great War: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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For more on The Riyria Revelations, go to Portrait of a Fangirl

For more magic and wizards, go to The Unknown Princess Nevermore

For more on Jane Smiley, go to Is This Really Just the Same?: Daring Chloe

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Speaking of magic, there is just a magic of Christmas that cannot be beat. It is just an amazing time of the year. That thought leads us to today’s Christmas Carol, Christmas Needs Love to be Christmas. It was written and recorded in 1993 for Andy Williams’ Christmas Album. It was released in 1994 and marked his first appearance on Billboard 200 album chart in 20 years. That’s magical.

I like this song because it reminds you what the heart of Christmas is, love.

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For more Andy Williams, go to When I Get Into a Novel

For more Christmas Carols, go to The Great Depths of the Ocean are Entirely Unknown to Us: Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea