Sunday Movie Review with D.G. Kaye – Ladies in Black

It’s Sunday Book Review time, and once again, I’m sneaking in a movie I recently watched – Ladies in Black, written by Madeline St. John. This movie is a story that takes place in the 1959 era, where women’s jobs consisted mostly of being a secretary or working in retail sales. The movie depicts the lives of 4 women who work in Goode’s Department store in Sydney, Australia at a time where European migration changes the landscape of Australia with cultural changes, a mixing of class structure, and the rise of Women’s Liberation. Lisa is a shy teen and aspiring writer who takes a part-time Christmas job at Goode’s, and befriends 3 women who open up a whole new world to her from her sheltered life at home. Once the movie began, I could totally understand the appropriate title chosen, but if you didn’t delve further than the title, one would have no idea what the movie is about.



Available on Amazon



“The book I most often give as a gift to cheer people up.” —Hilary Mantel

An irresistibly charming debut novel set in a department store in Sydney in the 1950s.

The women in black, so named for the black frocks they wear while working at an upscale department store called Goode’s, are run off their feet selling ladies’ cocktail dresses during the busy season. But in Sydney in the 1950s, there’s always time to pursue other goals…

Patty, in her mid-thirties, has been working at Goode’s for years. She’s married to Frank, who eats a steak for dinner every night, watches a few minutes of TV, and then turns in, leaving Patty to her own thoughts. She wants a baby, but Frank is always too tired for that kind of thing. Sweet Fay, wants to settle down with a nice man, but somehow nice men don’t see her as marriage material.

The glamorous Magda runs the high-end gowns department. A Slovenian émigré who met her Hungarian husband in a refugee camp, Magda is clever and cultured. She finds the Australians to be unfashionable, and dreams of opening her own boutique one day.

Lisa, a teenager awaiting the results of her final exams, takes a job at Goode’s for the holidays. She wants to go to university and secretly dreams of being a poet, but her father objects to both notions. Magda takes Lisa under her wing, and by the time the last marked-down dress has been sold, all of their lives will be forever changed.

Perfect for fans of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, this delightful and uplifting novel portrays the roles of women in the 1950s and the timeless importance of female friendship.


My 5 Star Review:

Sixteen year old Lisa takes a Christmas job in a fancy department store in Sydney, Australia, working with the ‘ladies in black’. The women wore black cocktail dresses as their work uniforms behind the counters of the women’s dress department. Lisa comes from a sheltered life background and holds aspirations to one day become a poet – or a an actress. Simple life experiences the ‘glam’ life. She befriends the two ladies she works with – Patty and Fay, who both have their own aspirations, and Lisa sometimes gets transferred to the ‘fancy, high fashion’ department where she is taken in under the wing of Magda, played by Julia Ormond, a Slovenian emigrant in charge of that department.

Lisa learns world politics and culture from Magda and her Hungarian husband Stefan who both migrated to Australia after meeting in a prisoner camp when escaping the war in Europe. Lisa’s parents have a difficult time of letting their daughter grow up, and as LIsa awaits her acceptance  to university, her father disapproves. As we watch the relationship grow between Magda and Lisa, we learn that Magda’s strong affection for Lisa develops because Magda is preparing Lisa for the outside world that Magda says she missed out on.

Meanwhile, Lisa’s new friends at the counter, Pat and Fay have struggles of their own, Pat feels as though she’s in a stagnant marriage and wants a baby, and Fay seems to meet the ‘wrong guy’ all the time – that’s until she’s introduced to Magda’s nephew, Rudy.

I thought this was a most wonderful feel good movie involving the lives of these 4 women, a lovely mix of relationships, friendships. character growth, and underlying reference to politics of the times. The landscape footage is just exquisite and a treat for someone like me who has never been to Australia. This is definitely a movie that inspires me to read the book.

Best quote: “Nobody understands men, and they don’t understand themselves.”


© D.G. Kaye and, 2014 – 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to D.G. Kaye


Sunday Movie Review – The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Once again I’m still engrossed in a current longer read so I’m sharing a movie review today for Markus Zusak’s #1NYT Best Seller – The Book Thief. The movie was so well done, I can only imagine how much more engrossing this book is to read.





The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

When Death has a story to tell, you listen.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

“The kind of book that can be life-changing.” —The New York Times

“Deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.” —USA Today


My 5 Star Review:

Tenderness among war.

The story opens with narration from the grim reaper himself – death. The movie begins with young Liesel Meminger and her brother being brought by their mother on a train to a small town outside of Munich, fleeing persecution for their now dead father’s crime of being accused of being a communist. The mother, fearing for hers and her children’s lives is traveling with her children to give them up for adoption to spare their lives. The brother dies of an unmentioned illness while on the train, and the narrator, death, continues to tell the story of the pitstop LIesel and her mother made to a shallow grave near the train station where her brother’s body was buried. As the grave digger walks away, a book drops out of his pocket to the ground – The Grave Diggers Handbook, which Liesel sneakingly picks up and puts in her pocket.We are now in the thick of Liesel’s newly adopted life by a poor, childless German couple, Rosa and Hans Hubermann.

Liesel warms up quickly to her new compassionate step-father, and endures a bit of tough love, harsh treatment from her new mother. It is a time of the human condition when children too become part of and aware of the landscape in early 1940s Germany with severe rationing, limited access to food, frequent roundups of neighborhood Jews, and many basic freedoms, and many fearful nights hiding out in bomb shelters.

Liesel is taught how to read by her new father Hans, who discovers Liesel struggling to read a hidden book she keeps under wraps – The Grave Diggers Handbook, the only book she ever had. And once she learns how to read, her appetite for reading more books only grows. Later in the story, a young Jewish man, Jacob, is brought in the basement to live in hiding, as a debt owed by Hans to Jacob’s father for once saving his own life while fighting in WWI. Jacob continues to teach young Liesel more about books, reading, and ignites her passion to write her own book when he gifts her an empty book – one he had in his possession written by Hitler himself that he painstakingly took the time to paint every page over in white paint to both cover the horrors off the pages and to offer a clean writing slate for Liesel.

LIesel becomes best friends with her neighbor Rudy Steiner. They spend a lot of time together, and Liesel must be very careful not to let on that Jacob is living in hiding in her basement. One day, Liesel and Rudy were outside when they caught sight of a Nazi book burning event while inside the center of town. They watched as a mountain of books were lit aflame, and once the fire began to smoulder, the onlooking crowd dissipates. Liesel see this as her only chance to save one book. She runs to the sizzling book pile and grabs one nicely charred, but still readable, hides it under her coat and runs home with it. All the while the mayor’s wife Ilsa Herman is watching her from inside her parked limo on the dark, dingy street.

Rosa Hubermann does laundry for the mayor’s wife for extra income. One day Liesel delivers her cleaned laundry, and Ilsa invites her into her library to look at her book collection. Liesel is in awe, and this library becomes a place where Liesel occasionally ‘breaks into’ to snatch a book to read. Liesel later becomes ‘the reader’ at the many neighborhood gatherings in the bomb shelter to shield from the air raids, keeping the people engrossed in her storytelling instead of focusing on their fears.

I am not going to go into spoilers of this beautiful, yet, heart wrenching story, but suffice it to say, Jacob eventually leaves from hiding on his own volition because he feels he can longer risk the lives of his saviors, and as in most war stories, there are a lot of fears, violence and loss of life – and the bombs continue to fall, taking more away from Liesel’s young life.

This story is a most beautiful telling about a horrendous time of the world. Despite the subject matter, Zusak manages to get in, not only the horrors about war, but focuses his story on how that war affected people and their everyday lives, instead of taking us directly into the action of horrifics of the actual prisoners of the holocaust.

Last poignant line by the narrator: “I am haunted by humans.”


© D.G. Kaye and, 2014 – 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to D.G. Kaye



Sunday (Book Review) – Something Different -The Wife – Movie #Review


Today’s Sunday Book Review is a little different. Today I’m reviewing a movie I only recently watched – The Wife. The movie – taken from the book by Meg Wolitzer, left me with lots to think about – especially since the main characters – husband and wife, are both writers – only the storyline depicts the husband as the worthy literary master.


I’m typically, not a ‘watch the movie first and then read the book kind of gal’, rather, quite the opposite. If I’ve already read a book and loved it, I will absolutely see the movie, and of course scrutinize the writing as I watch, (bad habit), and hope the movie will do a good book justice. I’m sure we’ve all encountered a box office let down after waiting in anticipation for the movie version only to be disappointed. So, being as I missed out reading the book before the movie came to my movie channel, starring Glenn Close, I had to watch it.




Now a major motion picture starring Glenn Close in her Golden Globe–winning role!

One of bestselling author Meg Wolitzer’s most beloved books—an “acerbically funny” (Entertainment Weekly) and “intelligent…portrait of deception” (The New York Times). 

The Wife is the story of the long and stormy marriage between a world-famous novelist, Joe Castleman, and his wife Joan, and the secret they’ve kept for decades. The novel opens just as Joe is about to receive a prestigious international award, The Helsinki Prize, to honor his career as one of America’s preeminent novelists. Joan, who has spent forty years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career, finally decides to stop.

Important and ambitious, The Wife is a sharp-eyed and compulsively readable story about a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she’s made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted. “A rollicking, perfectly pitched triumph…Wolitzer’s talent for comedy of manners reaches a heady high” (Los Angeles Times), in this wise and candid look at the choices all men and women make—in marriage, work, and life.


My 5 Star Review:

I can only imagine how good this book must be because the movie was so well done with Glenn Close playing an amazing and emotional role and winning the Golden Globe Award for that role as ‘the wife’.

How long can a sham go on?

I love a good movie with deep characters and stories that make me question how I’d react if what I was watching had happened to me – especially when it involves writers. The movie was engaging from the get-go and the plot thickened at a comfortable pace leading  to the deep-seated issue and question: What would you do if you spent a lifetime helping your spouse be praised in the literary community, when YOU are the actual one doing THEIR writing for them and the day comes that a literary award is bestowed to your spouse for your writing. It certainly made me stop and think as a writer.

Yes, it’s a fictional movie, but certainly gives us pause. And no, I personally couldn’t do it, writing under the shadow of someone else to give them the credit for – spouse or no spouse. I should think if Joan chose to be a ghostwriter, there would be no story. But this is a story.

The story begins with the seemingly happy middle-aged couple – Joan and Joe, elated after just receiving the news that Joe has been selected as the next winner of the International Helsinki Award to honor his work as a novelist. The story progresses along inviting us into the personal lives of the couple, the friction between Joe and his son who is also a writer desperately seeking his father’s approval, and the glamorous travel and dinner parties that come along with Joe’s new elevated fame, leaving Joan feeling slighted by Joe’s escalation to fame and the rising anger within that Joan struggles with because of.

Earlier in the movie, Joan holds back her hurt and accompanies her husband to all the limelight events in his honor, but her face and actions clearly demonstrate she’s not as happy for Joe as she earlier on led us to believe. We are made to think perhaps she’s jealous of the attention he’s getting, and we don’t find out till midway through the movie what is really irking Joan.

Resentment trumps love when we discover through Joan’s flashbacks, Joan’s earlier life, taking us back to Joan’s college days in English class where she fell in love with her professor – Joe. We learn that Joan had all the makings of a literary scholar, but she was young and enamored by Joe, and somehow fell into becoming the writer of Joe’s books because she was ultimately, the better writer and wanted to help her now husband succeed. The years turned into decades with this undercover operation, until Joe receives this award, which becomes the final blow to what Joan can no longer accept.

I’ll end the review there, as I don’t want to give away the end. But I put myself in Joan’s shoes as a writer and couldn’t conceive myself putting out a lifetime of my work under the name of anybody else. Could you?