Tag Archives: family

Nicholson, Julie. A Song for Jenny: A Mother’s Story

jenny jenny

On 7 July 2005, Julie Nicholson’s life was changed forever. Her daughter, Jenny, was killed on her way to work in the London bombings, shaking Julie’s beliefs. With heartbreaking honesty and integrity, Julie tells her story of love, tragedy and heartache for the first time.

Jenny Nicolson was travelling to work when a bomb exploded at Edgware Road Tube station. Her mother, Reverend Julie Nicholson, struggled to comprehend the tragedy, her sorrow and longing for her daughter turning to rage and anger. Finding herself unable to articulate the three parts of the Eucharist: peace, reconciliation and forgiveness, because she ‘felt so far from those herself’, Julie made the difficult decision to resign her role as priest-in-charge of St Aidan with St George Church, Bristol, unable to reconcile her feelings with her position.

Publisher: Harper
Year: 2011
ISBN-10: 0007250819

Deraniyagala, Sonali. Wave: A Memoir of Life After the Tsunami

wave wave

The book opens and we are inside the wave: thirty feet high, moving at twenty-five mph, racing two miles inland. And from there into the depths of the author’s despair: how to live now that her life has been undone?

Sonali Deraniyagala tells her story – the loss of her two boys, her husband, and her parents – without artifice or sentimentality. In the stark language of unfathomable sorrow, anger, and guilt: she struggles through the first months following the tragedy — someone always at her side to prevent her from harming herself, her whole being furiously clenched against the reality she can’t face; and then reluctantly emerging and, over the ensuing years, slowly allowing her memory to function again.

Then she goes back through the rich and joyous life she’s mourning, from her family’s home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo while learning the balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and her fundamental need to keep her family, somehow, still with her.

Publisher: Virago
Year 2013
ISBN-10: 184408907X

Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found

wild wild

At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America – from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington state – and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise – a promise of piecing together a life that lay in ruins at her feet.

Publisher: Atlantic Books
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1782394869

Hood Ann. Comfort: A Journey Through Grief

hood comfort

In 2002, Ann Hood’s five-year-old daughter Grace died suddenly from a virulent form of strep throat. Stunned and devastated, the family searched for comfort in a time when none seemed possible. Hood-an accomplished novelist-was unable to read or write. She could only reflect on her lost daughter-“the way she looked splashing in the bathtub …the way we sang ‘Eight Days a Week.'” One day, a friend suggested she learn to knit. Knitting soothed her and gave her something to do. Eventually, she began to read and write again. A semblance of normalcy returned, but grief, in ever new and different forms, still held the family. What they could not know was that comfort would come, and in surprising ways. Hood traces her descent into grief and reveals how she found comfort and hope again-a journey to recovery that culminates with a newly adopted daughter.

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 039333659X

Leigh, Mike (dir). Vera Drake

 

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In 1950s England, housekeeper Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) is a kindly wife and mother who offers selfless devotion and unwavering care to her family, which includes her husband (Philip Davis) and two grown children (Alex Kelly, Daniel Mays). However, unknown to her friends and family, Drake provides abortions to local women with unwanted pregnancies. When the authorities learn of her illegal activities, Drake loses the admiration of many around her — and possibly her freedom.

Director: Mike Leigh
Writer: Mike Leigh
year: 2004

(Spoilers)

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Ross, Matt (dir). Captain Fantastic

fantastic

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), his wife Leslie and their six children live deep in the wilderness of Washington state. Isolated from society, Ben and Leslie devote their existence to raising their kids — educating them to think critically, training them to be physically fit and athletic, guiding them in the wild without technology and demonstrating the beauty of co-existing with nature. When Leslie dies suddenly, Ben must take his sheltered offspring into the outside world for the first time.

Director: Matt Ross
Screenplay: Matt Ross
Year: 2016

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Waititi, Taika (dir). Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family.

Directed: Taika Waititi
Screenplay: Taika Waititi
Year: 2016

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Hustvedt, Siri. What I have loved

whatloved   whatloved3d

In 1975 art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a New York gallery. He buys the work, tracks down its creator, Bill Weschler, and the two men embark on a life-long friendship.

This is the story of their intense and troubled relationship, of the women in their lives and their work, of art and hysteria, love and seduction and their sons – born the same year but whose lives take very different paths.

Publisher: Sceptre
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 0340682388

Munch, Edvard. The Sick Child

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The Sick Child 1907 Edvard Munch 1863-1944 Presented by Thomas Olsen 1939 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05035

The Sick Child 1907 Edvard Munch 1863-1944 Presented by Thomas Olsen 1939 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05035 [CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)]

The Sick Child touches on the fragility of life. It draws upon Munch’s personal memories, including the trauma of his sister’s death, and visits to dying patients with his doctor father. He described the 1885 painting as ‘a breakthrough in my art’ and made several subsequent versions, of which this is the fourth.

Acquired by the city of Dresden in 1928, it was displayed in the Gemäldegalerie. A decade later, the Nazis declared that Munch’s art was ‘degenerate’ and, in November 1938, all his works in German public collections were collected in Berlin for auction. The Norwegian dealer Harald Holst Halvorsen secured as many as possible, including The Sick Child, and returned them safely to Oslo. Thomas Olsen bought the painting in 1939 and gave it to the Tate. Norway fell to the Germans in 1940. Looking back, Olsen explained that his gift was stimulated by ‘my knowledge, from talks with Munch, that he felt the need of recognition in Western Europe, especially so after the advent of Hitler.’

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Suri, Sandhya (dir). I for India

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In 1965 Yash Pal Suri left India for the U.K. The first thing he does on his arrival in England is to buy two Super-8 cameras, two projectors and two reel to reel recorders. One set of equipment he sends to his family in India, the other he keeps for himself. For 40 years he uses it to share his new life abroad with those back home – images of snow, miniskirted ladies dancing bare-legged, the first trip to an English supermarket – his taped thoughts and observations providing a unique chronicle of the eccentricities of his new English hosts. Back in India, his relatives in turn, respond with their own ‘cine-letters’ telling tales of weddings, festivals and village life. As time passes and the planned return to India becomes an increasingly remote possibility, the joy and curiosity of the early exchanges give way to the darker reality of alienation, racism and a family falling apart. A bitter-sweet time capsule of alienation, discovery, racism and belonging, I for India is a chronicle of immigration in sixties Britain and beyond, seen through the eyes of one Asian family and their movie camera.

Director: Sandhya Suri
Year: 2007
Distributer: ICA Projects

Lewycka, Marina. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

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‘Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcée. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.’

Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth.

But the sisters’ campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe’s darkest history and sends them back to roots they’d much rather forget . . ..

Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2012
ISBN-10: 0241961823

Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones.

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“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.”

This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy, suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet . . . The Lovely Bones is a luminous and astonishing novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting – but, above all, about finding light in the darkest of places.

Publisher: Picador
Year: 2003
ISBN-10: 0330485385

(spoiler alert)

Didion, Joan.The Year of Magical Thinking

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“Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete sceptic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later – the night before New Year’s Eve –the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of 40 years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LA airport, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Centre to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion’s ‘attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness … about marriage and children and memory … about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself’. The result is an exploration of an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad.”

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 0007216858

Genova, Lisa. Still Alice

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“Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a renowned expert in linguistics, with a successful husband and three grown children. When she begins to grow forgetful and disoriented, she dismisses it for as long as she can until a tragic diagnosis changes her life – and her relationship with her family and the world around her – for ever.

Unable to care for herself, Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose as her concept of self gradually slips away. But Alice is a remarkable woman, and her family learn more about her and each other in their quest to hold on to the Alice they know. Her memory hanging by a frayed thread, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.”

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1471140822

Longden, Deric. Lost For Words

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“Deric Longden’s mum was a wonderfully endearing, eccentric lady whose passions ranged from pot plants and her beloved pussycats to Buttercup Syrup which she consumed in vast quantities. She also provided comfort, advice and her own particular brand of wisdom in the years when Deric was struggling after the death of his first wife, Diana. Deric’s many happy memories include the vision of his mother’s unmistakeable backside as she charged through Marks & Spencers; the way in which she charmed everyone she met, including the surliest of youths, and her unusual technique of selling a house which involved plying potential buyers with iced buns whilst pointing out the damp patches and dodgy electrics. Strangely, it worked. Lost For Words is a funny, poignant and ultimately heartwarming book that may well make you cry, but will certainly make you laugh.”

Publisher: Corgi
Year: 1998
ISBN-10: 0552139432

Bennett, Alan. Untold Stories

untold untold3d

“Untold Stories contains significant previously unpublished work, including a poignant memoir of his family and of growing up in Leeds, together with his much celebrated diary for the years 1996-2004, and numerous other exceptional essays, reviews and comic pieces. Bennett, as always, is both amusing and poignant, whether he’s discussing his modest childhood or his work with figures such as Maggie Smith, Thora Hird and John Gielgud.”

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 0571228313

Rule, Jane. Memory Board: A Novel

memboard memboard3d

“When the novel opens, Diana’s twin brother, David, a widower in his mid-sixties, is looking back on his life. As memories swamp him, he decides to take a critical step: to beg for his sister’s forgiveness. Diana has never met David’s two daughters. She has no idea how many grandchildren he has. David doesn’t know Diana’s longtime lover, Constance, housebound by advancing memory loss and for whom Diana writes the day’s events on an erasable board to help her keep track of a life that’s slipping away. Estranged for nearly forty years, David appears at Diana’s dinner table, throwing her life into turmoil. But as she and her brother begin to rediscover each other, they both find the strength to move on with their lives. Told in Diana and David’s alternating points of view, Memory Board makes a powerful case for living in the present and making every moment count.”

Publisher: Naiad Press
Year: 1987
ISBN-10: 0941483029

Schwalbe, Will. The End of Your Life Book Club

endoflife endoflife3d

“Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she’s reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. Their choices range from classic (Howards End) to popular (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), from fantastic (The Hobbit) to spiritual (Jon Kabat-Zinn), with many in between. We hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions.
A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.”

Publisher: Two Roads
Year: 2013
ISBN-10: 1444706381

 

Briggs, Raymond. Ethel & Ernest: A True Story

E&E E&E3d

“Ethel and Ernest were solid members of the English working class, part of the generation that lived through the most tumultuous years of the twentieth century. They met during the Depression–she working as a maid, he as a milkman–and we follow them as they court and marry, make a home, raise their son, and cope with the dark days of World War II. Briggs’s portrayal of how his parents succeeded, or failed, in coming to terms with the events of their rapidly shifting world–the advent of radio, television, and telephones; the development of the atomic bomb; the moon landing; the social and political turmoil of the sixties–is irresistibly engaging, full of sympathy and affection, yet clear-eyed and unsentimental.”

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 1999
ISBN-10: 0375407588

Rentzenbrink, Cathy. The Last Act of Love: The Story of My Brother and His Sister

lastlove lastlove3d

“In the summer of 1990, Cathy’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death.

This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It’s a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed. Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family’s survival and the price we pay for love.”

Publisher: Picador
Year: 2015
ISBN-10: 1447286375

Gilmour D, Waters R. The Wall

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“The Wall is a concept album and explores themes of abandonment and personal isolation. The album is a rock opera that follows Pink, a character whom Waters modelled after himself and the band‘s original leader, Syd Barrett. Pink’s life begins with the loss of his father during the Second World War and continues with abuse from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother, and the breakdown of his marriage; all contribute to his eventual self-imposed isolation from society, represented by a metaphorical wall. Waters conceived the album during Pink Floyd’s 1977 In the Flesh Tour, when his frustration with the audience became so acute that he imagined a wall between the audience and the stage.”

Plenty of different tracks to enjoy – but impossible in an education establishment (even a student-focused one) not to worry about that ‘dark sarcasm’ and  ‘thought control’ – Hey teacher…

Rutherford, Michael; Robertson, Brian (Mike and the Mechanics) The Living Years

Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that I’m a prisoner
To all my father held so dear
I know that I’m a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got

You say you just don’t see it
He says it’s perfect sense
You just can’t get agreement in this present tense
We all talk a different language, talking in defense

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It’s the bitterness that lasts

So don’t yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective on a different day
And if you don’t give up, and don’t give in, you may just be okay

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

I wasn’t there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

Read more: Mike & The Mechanics – The Living Years Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Granik, Debra (dir). Down to the Bone

bone

A woman stuck in a stale marriage struggles to raise her children and manage her secret drug habit. But when winter comes to her small town, her balancing act begins to come crashing down.

Year: 2004
Director: Debra Granik
Writer: Debra Granik

mind_on_film (spoiler alert)

Russell, David O (dir). Silver Linings Playbook

silver

After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Year: 2012
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury

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Depicting the gradual disintegration of the Compson family through four fractured narratives, The Sound and the Fury explores intense, passionate family relationships where there is no love, only self-centredness. At its heart this is a novel about lovelessness – ‘only an idiot has no grief; only a fool would forget it. What else is there in this world sharp enough to stick to your guts?’

Publisher: Vintage Classics
Year: 1995
ISBN-10: 0099475014

Small, David. Stitches: A Memoir

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One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had cancer and was expected to die. In Stitches, Small, the award-winning children’s illustrator and author, re-creates this terrifying event in a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. As the images painfully tumble out, one by one, we gain a ringside seat at a gothic family drama where David-a highly anxious yet supremely talented child-all too often became the unwitting object of his parents’ buried frustration and rage. Believing that they were trying to do their best, David’s parents did just the reverse. Edward Small, a Detroit physician, who vented his own anger by hitting a punching bag, was convinced that he could cure his young son’s respiratory problems with heavy doses of radiation, possibly causing David’s cancer. Elizabeth, David’s mother, tyrannically stingy and excessively scolding, ran the Small household under a cone of silence where emotions, especially her own, were hidden. Depicting this coming-of-age story with dazzling, kaleidoscopic images that turn nightmare into fairy tale, Small tells us of his journey from sickly child to cancer patient, to the troubled teen whose risky decision to run away from home at sixteen-with nothing more than the dream of becoming an artist-will resonate as the ultimate survival statement. A silent movie masquerading as a book, Stitches renders a broken world suddenly seamless and beautiful again.

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 0393068579

(spoiler alert)

Miller, George (dir). Lorenzo’s Oil

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A boy develops a disease so rare that nobody is working on a cure, so his father decides to learn all about it and tackle the problem himself.

Producers: Doug Mitchell, George Miller
Year: 1992
Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Nick Enright

(spoiler alert)

Hallström, Lasse (dir). What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

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What’s Eating Gibert Grape is a beautifully shot movie of tenderness, caring and self-awareness that is set amongst the fictional working class one street town Endora. Centred around the Grape family Ellen and Amy and their two brothers Arnie and Gilbert, who, along with their morbidly obese widowed mother Bonnie Grape are striving to survive and coexist with the absence of a father figure, low wage work and seventeen-year-old Arnie’s severe mental condition.

Producers: David Matalon, Bertil Ohlsson, Meir Teper
Year: 1993
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: Peter Hedges

(spoiler alert)

Redford, Robert (dir). Ordinary People

ordinary

The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

Producers: Ronald L. Schwary
Year: 1980
Director: Robert Redford
Writer: Alvin Sargent

(spoiler alert)

mind_on_film (spoiler alert)

McGuiness, Frank. A Short Stay in Switzerland

This TV programme is made available via the Education Recording Agency (ERA) licence, as such the following link will only work via a computer on the HYMS network.

>click here<

Having recently witnessed the death of her husband from a neurological disease, Anne Turner is diagnosed with a near-identical illness and determines to end her life once her condition has reached a critical point.

As her health deteriorates, Anne’s son and two daughters struggle to reach a consensus over their mother’s intentions and while they search for alternative options, silent recriminations and stubborn practicality threaten to tear the family apart. With her family at logger heads, Anne must also face the fury of her best friend, whose opposing views bring them into direct conflict.

Winkler, Irwin (dir). Life as a House

Life-as-a-house

When a man is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he takes custody of his misanthropic teenage son, for whom quality time means getting high, engaging in small-time prostitution, and avoiding his father.

Producers: Rob Cowan, Irwin Winkler
Year: 2001
Director: Irwin Winkler
Writer: Mark Andrus

Goldberg, Garry David (dir). Dad

Dadposter1989

A busy, “always-on-the-run” executive learns during a meeting that his mother may be dying and rushes home to her side. He ends up being his father’s caretaker and becomes closer to him than ever before. In the process, he teaches his father to be more independent which causes problems with the man’s wife. Estranged from his own son, the executive comes to realize what has been missing in his own life.

Producers: Gary David Goldberg, Joseph Stern
Year: 1989
Director: Gary David Goldberg
Writer: Gary David Goldberg, William Wharton

Haynes, Todd (dir). [Safe]

Safe_ver1

Set in an affluent neighbourhood of the San Fernando Valley in 1987, the film recounts the life of a seemingly unremarkable homemaker, Carol White (Julianne Moore) who develops multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS, also known as “Twentieth-Century Disease”).

Producer: Christine Vachon
Year: 1995
Director: Todd Haynes
Writer: Todd Haynes

(spoiler alert)

button_hyms (teaching resource – medically unexplained symptoms)

Eyre, Richard (dir). Iris

Iris_poster

A biographical film that tells the story of novelist Iris Murdoch and her relationship with John Bayley. The film contrasts the start of their relationship, when Murdoch (Kate Winslet) was an outgoing, dominant individual as compared to her timid and scholarly partner Bayley (Hugh Bonneville), and their later life, when Murdoch (Judi Dench) was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and tended to by a frustrated Bayley (Jim Broadbent) in their North Oxford home in Charlbury Road.

(spoiler alert)

Payne, Alexander (dir). About Schmidt

About_Schmidt_poster

The film follows Schmidt as he retires from his pedestrian job, followed by the death of his wife for whom he had lost affection. He goes on a road trip in order to attend the wedding of his only daughter to a man and into a family he does not particularly like, compelling him to reflect on his life throughout the film.

Producers: Michael Besman, Harry Gittes, Rachael Horovitz
Year: 2002
Director: Alexander Payne
Writer: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

(spoiler alert)

Zaks, Jerry (dir). Marvin’s Room

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A man who had a stroke 17 years ago is left incapacitated and bed-ridden. He has been cared for by his daughter Bessie (Diane Keaton) in their Florida home, and totally ignored by his other daughter, Lee (Meryl Streep), who moved to Ohio with her husband 20 years ago and has never contacted her family. Now, however, Bessie’s doctor has informed her that she has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant and she turns to her sister for help. Lee, in turn, turns to her son Hank (Leonardo DiCaprio), who has been committed to a mental institution for setting fire to his mother’s house. When Lee finds that she may have to take over her father’s care, she at first begins shopping around for nursing homes. Eventually, however, the once-estranged family grows close.

Producers: Scott Rudin Productions
Year: 1996
Director: Jerry Zaks
Writer: Scott McPherson, John Guare

(spoiler alert)

Ross, Herbert (dir). Steel Magnolias

Steel_magnolias_poster

A 1989 American comedy-drama directed by Herbert Ross. It is the film adaptation of Robert Harling’s 1987 play of the same name about the bond a group of women share surrounding the family experience during the death of the playwright’s sister, Susan Harling Robinson in 1985.

Producers: Ray Stark, Andrew Stone, Victoria White
Year: 1989
Director: Herbert Ross
Writer: Robert Harling

Allen, Woody (dir). Hannah and her Sisters

Hannah_and_her_sisters

Hannah and Her Sisters is a 1986 American comedy-drama film which tells the intertwined stories of an extended family over two years that begins and ends with a family Thanksgiving dinner.

Producers: Robert Greenhut
Year: 1986
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen

button_hyms (teaching resource – doctor-patient communication and somatisation)

button_hyms (teaching resource – doctor-patient communication and anxiety)

button_hyms (teaching resource – infertility)

Cellan Jones, Simon (dir). Some Voices

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The film’s central character, Ray (Daniel Craig), has schizophrenia. The story begins with Ray’s discharge from psychiatric hospital. Ray’s devoted brother Pete (David Morrissey) picks him up and drives Ray to his new abode, the spare room in Pete’s West London flat. Pete is a chef who works long hours in the café (a traditional ‘greasy spoon’ during the day and a trendy eatery in the evening) that he inherited from his father. He now has to find the time to take care of Ray and monitor the medication that controls the voices in his head.

Producers: Damian Jones, Graham Broadbent
Year: 2000
Director: Simon Cellan Jones
Writer: Joe Penhall

B, David. Epileptic

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The most acclaimed European graphic novel of the last ten years, Epileptic is David B.’s story of his brother’s battle with epilepsy – but it turns into a penetrating and sometimes lacerating self-examination on the author’s part, as he delves into his own complex emotions and his family’s troubled history, as well as his own youthful fantasy life. Particularly pointed is his description of the family journey from one attempted cure to another, including acupuncture, spiritualism and macrobiotics.

Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 0224079204

(spoiler alert)

Chang, J. Wild swans: three daughters of China

Blending the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history,Wild Swans has become a bestselling classic in thirty languages, with more than ten million copies sold. The story of three generations in twentieth-century China, it is an engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love. Jung Chang describes the life of her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution.

Author: Chang, Jung
Title: Wild swans: three daughters of China
Publisher: London : Harper Collins
Year: 1991
ISBN: 0006374921

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Like quite a few books on this site this is a story that encompasses terrible experiences and also documents what seems easiest to describe, but not explain, as inhumanity. The destructive chaos of the cultural revolution sits at the heart of this memoir …  “the more books you read, the more stupid you become,” doctors become peasants, untrained school girl becomes ‘barefoot doctor’ with some acupuncture needles and a book to follow. I found the most interesting character in the book was Chang’s father – a convinced communist who is ready to sacrifice family ties, struggling to come to terms with the direction the revolution has taken and then swallowed up in Mao’s nightmare. I sometimes found myself a bit swamped by the relentless stream of events (but the book does cover 70 years or so), but it was a fascinating read.

Winterson Jeanette. Why be Happy when you could be Normal?

This book is the story of a life’s work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a tyrant in place of a mother, who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an northern industrial town now changed beyond recognition, part of a community now vanished; about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. It is the story of how the painful past Jeanette Winterson thought she had written over and repainted returned to haunt her later life, and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her real mother. It is also a book about other people’s stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life-raft which supports us when we are sinking.

Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Year: 2011
ISBN-10: 0224093452

Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead

In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames’s life, he begins a letter to his young son, a kind of last testament to his remarkable forebears. ‘It is a book of such meditative calm, such spiritual intensity that is seems miraculous that her silence was only for 23 years; such measure of wisdom is the fruit of a lifetime. Robinson’s prose, aligned with the sublime simplicity of the language of the bible, is nothing short of a benediction. You might not share its faith, but it is difficult not to be awed moved and ultimately humbled by the spiritual effulgence that lights up the novel from within’ Neel Mukherjee, The Times

Publisher: Virago
Year: 2006
ISBN-10: 1844081486

Miller, A. Death of a Salesman

In the spring of 1948 Arthur Miller retreated to a log cabin in Connecticut with the first two lines of a new play already fixed in his mind. He emerged six weeks later with the final script of Death of a Salesman – a painful examination of American life and consumerism. Opening on Broadway the following year, Miller’s extraordinary masterpiece changed the course of modern theatre. In creating Willy Loman, his destructively insecure anti-hero, Miller himself defined his aim as being ‘to set forth what happens when a man does not have a grip on the forces of life.’

Jonathan Lloyd HYMS: themes ageing, family, career, disillusionment.

Publisher: Penguin Classics
ISBN: 0141182741

Verghese, A. Cutting for Stone

Jean McKenree HYMS: This story (by Abraham Verghese) is narrated by one of a pair of twins of Indian descent born in Ethiopa.  Both grow up to be doctors in very different ways.  While the story line is a bit contrived, especially the ending, the earlier part set in Ethiopia is intriguing and weaves in the impact of poverty and corruption on health in fascinating and somewhat disturbing ways.

Publisher: Vintage
Paperback Edition
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 9780099443636

Austen, J. Pride and Prejudice

 

The novel Pride and Prejudice follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the landed gentry society of early 19th century England. Elizabeth is the second eldest of five daughters of a country gentleman landed in the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, not far from London.

Author: Austin, Jane
Title: Pride and Prejudice
ISBN: 0521825148