Colin Firth

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The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde

Published January 7, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Oscar Wilde’s madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades.

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gewndolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack’s ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend the “rivals” to fight for Ernest s undivided attention and the “Ernests” to claim their beloveds pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!

What did I think?:

This entertaining play from Oscar Wilde has become an instant classic, loved the world over, and a perfect example of Wilde’s wit and talent. It has also fairly recently been made into a film starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everett and Reese Witherspoon, which I came across first before reading the play and loved. The story opens on two old friends, Jack and Algernon, who are entertaining themselves with people that they invent, to get out of certain tiresome events. For example, Algernon has an imaginary friend called Bunbury who is often sadly quite ill, and he is obliged to dash off at a moments notice to the aid of his sickly friend, like a knight in shining armour, which may unfortunately lead to him missing one of his Aunt Augusta’s (Lady Bracknell) events. Shame! Jack on the other hand, has a house in the country and a young ward called Cecily whom he is very protective over, but occasionally a man has to get away doesn’t he? So he invents a troublesome younger brother called Ernest, who is constantly getting into scrapes which his poor older brother has to rescue him from! (And usually involves a trip to town of course!).

It is obvious that Jack and Algy have been friends for a while, but for some reason Algy has never heard him mention a young, pretty ward before…perhaps there was a good reason for that as Algy decides to visit Cecily at Jack’s country house masquerading as Ernest, the roguish younger brother and falls in love with her. In Jack’s story, he is courting Gwendolyn, the daughter of the fearsome Lady Bracknell, without much hope of ever getting her approval to marry Gwendolyn due to the fact that Jack was found in a train station. In a handbag to make it worse! And there’s also the slight problem of Jack wooing Gwendolyn under the name of Ernest, especially when all four meet at Jack’s house and there are misunderstandings a-plenty! Just imagine – two women both engaged to a man called Ernest….it’s asking for trouble.

This play is without a doubt one of the funniest things I have ever read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters are fantastic, especially the intimidating Lady Bracknell who has some of the best lines in the entire play, and I can imagine it being quite fun to act her part:

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

I thought Wilde made some really humorous references to the English class system, the whole “courting” process and the occasional fickleness and selfishness of human nature. It’s sharp and quick, but so easy to read and absorb, and his cynical eye often shows us a new (and very funny) face of society. Although this is my first foray into the world of Wilde, it won’t be the last, and I can’t wait!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


Happy 200th Birthday Pride and Prejudice!

Published January 28, 2013 by bibliobeth


One of my favourite books of all time, Pride and Prejudice, is 200 years old this year. And like any true classic, it still continues to delight its re-readers and bring in some new fans. There have been a couple of adaptations over the years, two that tend to dominate are the “icky Keira Knightly” version, (sorry Keira, its not personal I’m sure!) and the 1995 BBC version which is how I came to love the story to begin with. Yes, that was an admission, I’m afraid I did see it before reading the book. If you are a big fan like myself and haven’t seen it, I recommend tracking it down and watching it at once.

However, it wouldn’t have changed anything, after going back and reading the book a number of times, I still rate it in the highest possible category. The question to ask I suppose is how and why is it still relevant today? In my opinion, the main character of Elizabeth Bennett – outspoken, independent and warm-hearted, gives women everywhere a decent female heroine that we can aspire to and believe in. And also (shock horror) she’s not perfect! She does have flaws and lapses of judgement like us all, a fact that makes her more adorable to the reader.

The other characters in this novel are quite a mish-mash that work sublimely when combined with Austen’s dry wit and observations. Mrs Bennett – hilarious! Mr Collins – I actually can’t find the words to describe this “odious little man,”  but believe he is beautifully cast in the BBC adaptation. And Mr Darcy- disagreeable, arrogant and hypocritical but somehow Austen manages to make him a romantic hero? The woman is a genius.

More spin-offs include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (very funny), the Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice, and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. The latter is labelled as: “an addictive bi-weekly retelling of Pride and Prejudice for the web generation.” Hmm… not quite sure about this. Especially when Episode 6 is entitled: “Snobby Mr Douchey.” No further comment required. For more information, see The Guardian website

So, many happy returns P&P….

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
― Jane AustenPride And Prejudice