Tag Archive for: Les Miserables

Behind the Scenes: The Fascinating Creation of 5 Famous Stories

Behind the Scenes: The Fascinating Creation of 5 Famous Stories

by Barbara Kyle

I love finding out how
works of art came to life. The path of creation can be a twisty journey, even
for the most gifted and celebrated.

So let me share with you
six fascinating books that take you behind the scenes. Three are about famous
novels. Two are about much-loved films. One is about a grand symphony.

I’ve enjoyed them all
and highly recommend them!

1. The Novel of
the Century: The Extraordinary Adventures of Les Miserables
by David Bellos

This engaging narrative
is a biography not of the great writer Victor Hugo (pictured below) but of his
masterpiece, Les
Bellos traces the life of the 1500-page novel from
conception to publication. It took Hugo 17 years to write Les Miserables, from
his first draft penned in Paris in 1845 when he was the honored great man of
letters to its completion in 1862 when he was an outcast living in exile on the
island of Guernsey. There, he secured the publishing deal of the century.


2. Goodbye
Christopher Robin: A.A. Milne and the Making of Winnie-the
Pooh by Ann Thwaite

Ann Thwaite reveals the creative process of A. A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh and Pooh Bear’s
enchanting adventures with Christopher Robin, who was Milne’s own son. Before
its publication Milne was a well-known playwright and columnist but he refused
to be typecast. His publishers despaired when he turned from writing popular
columns for Punch to writing detective stories, and they complained again when
he presented them with a set
children’s verse. But the verses led to the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh,
one of the best-selling books of all time, making Milne one of the world’s favorite



3. We’ll Always
Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved
Noah Isenberg

The origins of this
famous film lie in a 1940 stage play called Everybody
Comes to Rick’s
by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. Their play was
transformed by screenwriters Howard Koch and Julius and Philip Epstein into the
screenplay that became the brilliant 1942 film. Isenberg details that
transformation, and his book is full of fascinating details, some quite moving,
such as the central role that refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the
production; nearly all of the cast of Casablanca
were immigrants.


4. Sailor and Fiddler by
Herman Wouk

A sparkling memoir about
the well-lived life in literature by one of the world’s best-loved authors. At
age 100 (!) Herman Wouk reflects on his experiences that inspired his most
enduring novels. He tells of writing for comedian Fred Allen’s radio show,
enlisting in the US Navy during World War II, falling in love with the woman
who would become his wife (and literary agent) for sixty-three years, writing
his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The
Caine Mutiny
, and the surprising inspirations and people behind his
masterpieces The
Winds of War
and War and Remembrance.


5. The Sense and Sensibility
Screenplay and Diaries
by Emma Thompson

The multi-talented
actor/writer Emma Thompson won a well-deserved Oscar for her screenplay that
adapted the Jane Austen novel Sense
and Sensibility
, and she also starred in the beautiful 1995 film
made from it, directed by Ang Lee. This marvelous book includes Thompson’s
complete shooting script plus her astute diaries detailing the production of
this film graced by some of the finest British actors, including Kate Winslet,
the late Alan Rickman, and Greg Wise whom Thompson met during the filming and
subsequently married.


6. Leningrad: Siege and Symphony
by Brian Moynahan

The siege of Leningrad
was the Nazis’ pitiless 900-day encirclement of the Soviet Union’s second city,
from 1941 to 1944, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians starved to
death. During that horror a dedicated makeshift orchestra of emaciated
musicians performed the newly created Seventh Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich
(pictured below) for an audience of starving, but rapt, music lovers. This true
story is an inspiring testament to the redemptive power of a great work of art.


May the examples of
these gifted and dedicated artists inspire us all. 



Barbara Kyle is the author of the bestselling Thornleigh Saga
series of historical novels and of acclaimed thrillers. Her latest is The Man from Spirit Creek, a novel of suspense. Over half a
million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Barbara has taught hundreds
of writers in her online Masterclasses and many have become award-winning

Visit Barbara at https://www.barbarakyle.com/ 

When Liv Gardner arrives in the rural town of Spirit Creek, Alberta, she
has nothing but her old car and a temporary job as paralegal with the
local attorney. But Liv’s down-market persona is a ruse. She is actually
in-house counsel of Falcon Oil, a small oil and gas company she co-owns
with her fiancé, CEO Mickey Havelock – and they are facing financial

Farmer Tom Wainwright, convinced that lethal “sour” gas
killed his wife, is sabotaging Falcon’s rigs. But Wainwright is clever
at hiding his tracks and the police have no evidence to charge him. With
the sabotage forcing Falcon toward bankruptcy, Liv has come undercover
to befriend Wainwright – and entrap him. 

But Liv never dreamed
she’d become torn between saving the company she and Mickey built and
her feelings for the very man whose sabotage is ruining them. 

On a
rain-swept night, Spirit Creek is stunned when one of their own is
murdered. The evidence does more than point to Tom Wainwright . . . it
shatters Liv’s world.

The Man from Spirit Creek is available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook.



I Miss the Elegance of the Oscar Ceremonies of Old

When did the powers that be decide that crass and obnoxious should be be the theme of the Oscars?

Needless to say I was not impressed with the young man who was chosen to be the master of ceremonies this year. I don’t enjoy people being made fun of–and even though the audience laughed, I’m not sure they did either.

I miss the David Niven kind of host who can be sophisticated even when a streaker ran across the stage. Surely we still have some of those celebrities in Hollywood.

The female stars did look elegant in their beautiful gowns. Those who won were gracious in their thank-yous. And there was some marvelous entertainment. I loved Les Miserables, the movie, and the presentation at the Oscars was wonderful. And how great it was to see and hear Barbra Streisand and her wonderful voice.

I had to chuckle at Daniel Day Lewis’s comment about all the different men his wife has had to live with when he’s playing a role. Years ago, my husband was in community theater and he stayed in his role through the duration of he play. I lived with a gangster, a detective, a black man (hubby was in A Member of the Wedding playing a part none of the blacks would play because it was too Uncle Tom), and he placed a Chief in the Navy in Mr. Roberts when he was a Chief in the Navy. The easiest of these men to live with since it was type casting. He even wore his real uniform.

I love the Oscars even when I’m critical of the hosts or actors who have to throw in political comments.

My father worked for Paramount Studios when it was one of the top studios. He was a master plumber and as such got to know many of the stars. There were only a few he respected because of their lack of morals and kindness towards others. Besides finding and fixing broken pipes and other such problems, he often had to figure out how to make something that involved water could work in a movie. He knew exactly how things worked and when we were at the movies pointed out things like vapor trails in the sky that shouldn’t be there, telephone poles before telephones, painted backgrounds, toy trains instead of real ones, an ocean scene that was done in a tank on the back lot. Of course filming on location and computers have changed all that.

We always watched the Oscars as a family once they were on television. My dad told us his opinion of each star as they appeared. My sister and I loved it. He made us feel like insiders.

I liked the winners this time. I loved Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln.

What was fascinating about Argo is that though everyone knew it was going to end well, it didn’t keep our hearts from beating faster and wanting to urge them to hurry as they headed for the grand escape–and that’s what made Argo Oscar worthy.

What was your opinion of the Oscars this year?