Saturday, July 01, 2006

Marianne Dreams - Catherine Storr

I've just re-read Catherine Storr's rather spooky Marianne Dreams for the first time in nearly 30 years (now that's a scary thought !), and found that it was no less spooky for me as an adult reader than it was for my child self.

10 year old Marianne suddenly falls ill on her 10th birthday and finds herself confined to bed for several months. One day her mother brings Marianne her workbox (which was Marianne's mother's originally) to tidy up and Marianne finds a rather nice looking pencil in it. She draws a picture of a house with a fence around it, and some grass as well, and then that night she dreams about the house she drew. She discovers that she can add things to her drawing and then they appear in her dreams after she draws a figure at one of the upstairs windows and then she finds a boy in the house in her next dream. In time she discovers that the boy is Mark, a polio victim who is being taught by the same governess (tutor in modern parlance) as Marianne herself. They find themselves caught up in an adventure which sees Mark trapped in the house and struggling to find a way to escape from the mysterious one-eyed Watchers (simply referred to as "THEM").

Storr has some nice moments of description in the book:

And immediately Marianne felt her eyelids closing by themselves. She didn't just go to sleep - she dropped thousands of feet into sleep, with the rapidity and soundless perfection of a gannet's dive. It was completely satisfying and quite inescapable. (p. 70)

The blood pounded in her ears so that she could hardly distinguish what was in and what was outside her head, and she felt that her lungs would burst with each breath she took. (p. 161)

I've been told there is a sequel to the book (Marianne and Mark) which isn't a patch on the original, so I'm not going to bother hunting for a copy !

* * * * * *

I don't know if everyone else has seen the news about the film of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights, but a 12-year-old girl named Dakota Blue Richards has been selected to play the young heroine, Lyra Belacqua. Pullman has said he is "delighted" with the casting of Dakota. "As soon as I saw Dakota's screen test, I realised that the search was over. Dakota has just the combination of qualities that make up the complicated character of this girl, and I very much look forward to seeing the film take shape, with Dakota's Lyra at the heart of it." Filming will start in September.


Anonymous said...

I found that book seriously disturbing. Very, very creepy in a way that gets under your skin. It's funny, because Thursday by the same author is one of my all-time favourite books, and although has some of the same "is it fantasy is it psychology" element is not creepy at all, it's lovely. Did you know there's a movie of it (Marianne Dreams, that is)? Helpfully, I can't remember the title off hand - if I think of it in the middle of the night I'll pop back... The movie captured the creepiness quite well, iirc.

Michele said...

Indeed I did, thanks to Wikipedia. I did a search to see if the book was still in print and found a reference to a 1972 British children's TV series Escape Into Night (which was apparently quite faithful to the novel), and to a movie Paperhouse (which apparently was less so). Did you know the author adapted it herself as an opera libretto in 1999 ? Apparently, the first performance of the opera Marianne Dreams, with music by the British composer Andrew Lowe Watson, took place in 2004.

I confess I found the book pretty scary as a child, but not quite so scary as an adult (rather like my experience with Alan Garner's The Owl Service in fact.

Anonymous said...

I actually love the movie "Paperhouse" and found it quite underrated. It's quite creepy and nicely acted. There were some changes from the book, but I think it all works very nicely. Love the book, too, of course.

Michele said...

I've no idea if the movie is still available, but I'm not sure I want to watch it either !!

Amy T said...

I love the movie Paperhouse. Sadly I did not know it was based off a book, I just happen to watch the movie on tv many years ago and then again recently. I now REALLY want to read the book. Hopefully I will be able to find it.