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1. Saying goodbye to my blog


It is with a bit of sadness that I say goodbye to this blog today. It has been two years and during this time I have thoroughly enjoyed your company in this blogging community. The blog will remain as it is, but nothing further will be added.

Now it is time for something new and I hope you will join us as we celebrate books, films and theatre over at www.culturestreet.com.au

We would love to hear from you at Culture Street so knock on our door and say hello.

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2. A sneak peek at The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling




Little, Brown releases details of J.K. Rowling's upcoming release, The Casual Vacancy. The book will be published worldwide on Thursday 27th September. Here is a sneak peek. 
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

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3. Twitter in uproar as the front cover for The Casual Vacancy is revealed


The front cover of JK Rowling's upcoming book has been released. Cover design by Mario J. Pulice, illustration and hand lettering by Joel Holland. Published by Little, Brown Book Group, The Casual Vacancy will be released on the 27th September.


Twitter went into meltdown with the release of the cover. It can only be good news for the upcoming release!












What do you think of the front cover. Love it, hate it or so so?




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4. Yes, I do think Enid Blyton's language needs to be updated. Do you?



I spend my days crossing out words in manuscripts that children of a certain age will not understand. Just today I have crossed out the word ‘disgruntled’ in a picture book for the under 4s and removed the word ‘Op Shop’ from a junior fiction title as it is not a term often used today, it’s a little dated. I regularly attend launches where the author admonishes me for having thrown out ‘that word’. The author will remark, ‘Surely it would be good for children to learn a new word’. Yes, of course it would, but if ‘that word’ actually stops a child reading further then we have done the child a very great disservice.

As a children’s publisher we are trying to encourage children to read with their parents and then to move on to independent reading. If we can’t do this the chances of a child turning into an adult reader are very slim. If a child struggles to read independently it is unlikely they will tackle the classics later in life.

There have recently been comments about the rewrite of Enid Blyton’s much loved and gloriously rebadged books for the 70thanniversary editions. Apart from the language issue in Enid Blyton, ‘golly gosh’ and so forth, there was of course the issue of racism which was seen by many to be a constant throughout a number of her books. Stephen Romei, from the Australian, concedes that these earlier rewrites had a point, but says the latest rewrites to ‘update’ the language are ‘nonsense’.

If all parents read to their children we could include a vast array of vocabulary well above their reading ability, but, today, parents who read to their children are in the minority. Just take a look at children’s publishing, where the word count in picture books has steadily been reducing in direct correlation to the amount of time a parent will sit next to a child and read a book. They will do it for 600 words, no more. Gone are the days when parents would sit on a child’s bed for half an hour and read Winnie the Pooh or Wind in the Willows. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but publishing tends to follow the majority and the majority is a five minute bedtime story, no questions asked.

So, sadly ‘updates’ are necessary. Those of us who love books will always read to our children, but we are the exception. Surely what we need to do now is provide children with t

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5. @TaniaMcCartney, your agony aunt of children's literature, answers your questions



Tania McCartney, the agony aunt of children's literature, offers words of wisdom. She will be posting every fortnight. Send an email with your questions to Tania at info@newfrontier.com.au  
Dear Tania,
My 9-year-old daughter refuses to read junior fiction. She simply loves picture books and I’m worried she won’t extend herself to more advanced works – both out of enjoyment and to improve her reading comprehension. Can you recommend some titles she might warm to?

How glorious your daughter loves picture books – so do I, and I’m a lot older than nine! I remember spending quite some time reading Archie comics as a tween and horrifying my mother, who continuously thrust more literary works under my nose. Let’s just say she needn’t have worried.

As you’re aware, kids develop at such different speeds and reading variants is top of the list – but of course, some kids are also strongly driven by visuals. My suggestion would be to offer her some picture books for Older Readers first like Home and Away by John Marsden or The Arrival by Shaun Tan – or high text picture books like Alison Lester’s Running with the Horses.
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6. Grace McCleen wins the Desmond Elliott Prize for her compelling debut novel The Land of Decoration



Grace McCleen has won the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize for her first novel, The Land of Decoration.

The Land of Decoration is a haunting look at the way faith can destroy lives. McCleen successfully uses the voice of a 10-year old girl to question faith, a Christian fundamentalist faith that McCleen was brought up to believe in. The elegance of the prose and the affecting style makes this a startling debut novel.

Chair of the Desmond Elliott Prize and author Sam Llewellyn, called The Land of Decoration "a novel that can move the reader from sadness to laughter with alarming suddenness. Grace McCleen's voice sparkles with imagery and ideas, and she uses it to tell a story that is simultaneously multi-layered and absolutely compelling."


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7. The Art of Illustration



Janet Wolf Bau  The Art of Illustration
Artist Talk Sunday 5th August at 3pm
Exhibition Dates  1st July - 2nd September 2012
Viewing Times Mon- Friday 10am-1pm

Leo Baeck Arts Centre
37 Harp Road
East Kew
03 98197160


The Art of Illustration opens tomorrow. It includes work Janet has done over a 20 year period.  The exhibition falls into five categories:  four large gi

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8. This week in publishing - Jodi Picoult is about to kick off her Australian tour


“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person."-Nora Ephron

She made us laugh, she made us cry. In Harry Met Sally, Nora Ephron gave us one of the best known and most amusing scenes in movie history, in Sleepless in Seattle she made us weep along with Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) as Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks), recently widowed, poured out his heart over the radio.
In her most recent book I Remember Nothing, Ephron continued her humorous look at life, her own life.

On Tuesday night Alfred P Knopf, Ephron's publisher, confirmed her death. She began her career as a mail girl for Newsweek before moving on to the New York Post after writing a successful parody of Leonard Lyons’ gossip column. Her love affair with New York was palpable – “a place fraught-with-possibility”.

Award-winning Australian poet Rosemary Dobson has died at the age of 92. Dobson published 16 volumes of poetry.

Latest releases
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9. Kelly Macdonald selects Five Books of Influence





Kelly Macdonald is a working mother of four. She is on the board of the Australian Stockbrokers Foundation and Kids In Philanthropy.

Kids in Philanthropy (KIP) aims to raise awareness in children, from more advantaged backgrounds, of the poverty and need in disadvantaged Sydney communities. The ultimate aim is to bridge the increasing divide between the children who ‘have’ and who ‘have not’ and create opportunities for knowledge sharing, friendship, a spirit of sharing and cultural exchange.

KIP is for children aged 5-18 years of age. Kids will be involved in the Advisory Board of KIP and will be instrumental in determining where funding and other assistance might be focused. KIP’s first program will be partnering with Fairfield City Council in delivering much needed services to children in the Fairfield district.

This innovative program will pioneer a series of integrated initiatives, including funding quality afterschool care at no cost for disadvantaged Fairfield children, and building relationships between children of the area and those from different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures.

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10. Nora Ephron - she made us laugh, she made us cry




“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person."-Nora Ephron

She made us laugh, she made us cry. In Harry Met Sally, Nora Ephron gave us one of the best known and most amusing scenes in movie history, in Sleepless in Seattle she made us weep along with Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) as Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks), recently widowed, poured out his heart over the radio.
In her most recent book I Remember Nothing, Ephron continued her humorous look at life, her own life.

On Tuesday night Alfred P Knopf, Ephron's publisher, confirmed her death. She began her career as a mail girl for Newsweek before moving on to the New York Post after writing a successful parody of Leonard Lyons’ gossip column. Her love affair with New York was palpable – “a place fraught-with-possibility”.

In her recent book Ephron’s

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11. Review: Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd from @BloomsburyBooks



William Boyd is the author of ten novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award. His Costa-Award winning book Restless is about to be made into two 90-minute episodes for TV. Directed by Edward Hall (Spooks MI5), with the script written by Boyd, stars include Hayley Atwell (Any Human Heart, Captain America), Rufus Sewell (Pillars of Earth), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), and veterans Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling. Boyd is currently writing the next James Bond novel, to be published late 2013.

Waiting for Sunrise is a typically sophisticated novel by Boyd. The storyline at first appears disconnected, almost switching genres, as it takes a leap from Freudian psychoanalysis to spy thriller.

The brilliantly named handsome protagonist Lysander Rief has fled to pre-war Vienna searching out the assistance of the well known analyst Dr Bensimon to cure a condition that he fears will make him an unfit bridegroom. Engaged to Blanche, Lysander Rief is determined to return to London cured, enabling him to fulfill his husbandly duties.

For the purposes of his book Boyd created a fictional condition, parallelism. ‘Parallelism’ Boyd says is an adjunct to Freudianism and ‘surprisingly plausible’. He based it on the view of American poet Wallace Stevens that the world is a dead grey place. Colour is imbued in the world only by the use of our imagination. Furthermore neurosis is created by unhappy memories, but these memories are fiction. Boyd’s premise is simple, change the unhappy memories of your past and invent new memories, which erase the unhappy ones. Revisit the moment of the unhappy memories with the help of a therapist and replace them with new preferable memories. Dr Bensimon is convinced that he can cure Rief with his method of parallelism.

The book opens in 1913 Vienna, vividly described by Boyd’s penmanship. The clothes, hats, food and street scenes are all expertly drawn.  The book then switched to London in1914 where war is stirring.

Lysander Rief, an actor, has followed in the steps of his famous father, although so fa

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12. Princess Merida – the feminist princess brought to you by @DisneyPixar #Brave



Pixar has a 25 year history of entertaining children with blockbusters such as Finding Nemo and Toy Story. Brave is their latest offering, out just in time for the school holidays.

Set in the Highlands of Scotland, the feisty red headed Merida (voice by Kelly Macdonald) challenges destiny to change her fate. 

Pixar has debunked the traditional fairytale. The beautiful, love struck princess has been swept under the carpet, replaced by the independent Princess Merida. There are no jewels, no grand balls and no carriages. In place of a carriage is Merida’s trusty steed, Angus and the jewels have been replaced with a crossbow.

Princess Merida, a skilled archer, prefers to be out in the woods to being given lessons on deportment by her mother, Queen Elinor. The only regal dress we see Merida wearing she struggles with, finally splitting open its seams to show off her archery skills.

Merida’s mother, Queen Elinor, has given her all the necessary education required to fulfill her destiny – marriage to the son of one of the three Scottish clans, but strong willed Merida has other ideas about her destiny. She embarks on a mission to give herself the freedom she seeks, the freedom to choose the man she will ultimately marry.

The humour that is so prevalent in other Pixar films is less evident in Brave. Merida’s triplet brothers provide brief interludes of humour with their toddler pranks and mischevious charm. The Scottish theme allows for tried and tested kilt jokes to abound which will no doubt entertain children, but are a bit old hat for the adults.

In Brave, Pixar has aimed for a film with serious undertones as it examines the relationship between mother and daughter - the angst, the stubbornness and ultimately the compromises that must be made. Perhaps more telling is the conflict in this film, which revolves around gender roles and duty to society. 

Adult concepts are not new to Pixar films. Up dealt with the overwhelming reality of death and loss

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13. Favourite picture books for the winter school holidays #NYR2012


Bedtime Books
Guest post by Jackie Small

All through the year, story-time is one of our favourite parts of the day. Come winter though, we look forward to it even more. We count down the hours until bedtime when we can snuggle under the blanket, get warm and enjoy reading our favourite books together. If we’re really lucky sometimes we stoke up the open fire too.

We have many favourite bedtime books, but below are five recently published books we’ve being enjoying lately:

The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood (Scholastic), 2011


A thoughtful plot and a heart-warming story make The Runaway Hug an ideal bedtime book.
A mother gives her daughter a hug before bed which sets off a chain of hugs throughout the family. Nick Bland beautifully describes a range of hugs throughout the story, leaving you feeling warm and fuzzy.  Freya Blackwood’s charming illustrations help capture the essence of a realistic, warm and loving family.
Reading this book will ensure your children will always be giving you hugs, and is the reason you’ll also want to read this book over and over again.
Suitable for ages 3+. Read a full review here.

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14. This week in publishing - from Fifty Shades of Grey to Anna Karenina



WITH NEW BOOKS COME NEW FEELINGS

Hachette has created a gloriously inspirational video to promote their latest titles.
Under the video are the words:
“Great writing is an art form, and we are so very proud of all the authors we publish.”


Miles Franklin Literary Award
Congratulations to Anna Funder on winning the Miles Franklin Literary Award for her novel All That I Am. It completes a dream run for Funder.

Fifty Shades of Grey Breaks Records
Fifty Shades of Grey, I had to get to it eventually, continues to break all sales records, recording sales of 205,130 copies in one week for the first book in the trilogy.
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15. Review: Love & Hunger by Charlotte Wood #AWW2012




'I am not immune to food fashion, and some of it can be fun. But I aspire to something nearer to the ground, more elemental.'

Wood’s ‘ode to good food’ is more a look at the impact of food on our lives rather than the intricacies of dishing up gourmet food. Wood’s passion for food oozes onto every page of this book, which is aptly subtitled ‘Thoughts on the gift of food’.

We learn about the fabric of Wood’s childhood as she describes her family home, her artistic parents and her mother’s approach to food.
“Food, for my beleaguered mother, was a matter of filling up seven hungry stomachs every day in the most efficient and responsible manner possible before escaping into her beloved garden.”

Intertwined with Wood’s childhood story we are treated to recipes from her parent’s friends within their ‘Catholic circle’. Wood’s tribute version of Mrs Spain’s Hedgehog Slice is one recipe I intend to try out with my children this holidays – it has chocolate in it so it ticks all the boxes.

‘Reclaiming the hostess gift’ is one of my favourite chapters. The hostess gift being that almost forgotten gesture of taking a gift when you turn up to a friend’s place for dinner. We often take bottles of wine or even flowers, but Wood encourages us to take something a bit different, perhaps quince paste or salted caramels, homemade of course.  The other ‘relative of the hostess gift’ as Wood describes it, is the homemade Christmas gift and there are some wonderful recipes included to tempt you.
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16. Quote of the week

"It's a sign of your own worth sometimes if you are hated by the right people."
Miles Franklin



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17. All That I Am by Anna Funder wins prestigious prize #AWW2012 #milesfranklin




Congratulations to Anna Funder, winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
You can read the judges comments on their selection of Funder’s novel All That I Amhere.

 Stella Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career, bequeathed the award in her will in 1954. Patrick White was the first winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award for his novel Voss. He took home $500. Today Anna Funder will receive $50,000.

Over the years the award has attracted both praise and criticism, but remains a highly sought after prize despite Alex Miller’s suggestions in 2010 that the prize was no longer relevant.

Anna Funder was in outstanding company with a shortlist that included Tony Birch for Blood, Gillian Mears for Foal’s Bread, Frank Moorhouse for Cold Light and Favel Parrett for Past the Shallows. Anna Funder has certainly had a dream run with All That I Am.

Yesterday All That I Am was included in a list of top ten books to read in a lifetime. 
You really should read it.


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18. Ten books to read in your lifetime


I was recently asked to put together a selection of ten recommended books to read in a lifetime. My audience was 40+ and predominantly male. Here is the list I compiled.
Would you add any or take any out?

The Odyssey by Homer


This epic poem was originally written in Ancient Greek. It is, in part, a sequel to The Iliad.
10 years after the fall of Troy Odysseus, the hero of the story, has still not returned to his native Ithaca.
His wife, Penelope, fears him dead and the palace has been overrun. Their son Telemachus attempts to stave off suitors lining up for the hand of his mother.
As Odysseus journeys home he battles numerous terrifying enemies including the Laistrygonians, the one eyed Cyclops and an angry Poseidon, God of the Sea.
Loyalty, love, vengeance and journeys home are recurring themes throughout this epic poem. Homer explores humanity with all its obstacles and the redemption it ultimately seeks.
There have been so many references to The Odyssey it would be impossible to state them all, but C.P.Cavafy’s poem Ithaca and James Joyce’s Ulysses are two well known examples. More recently the Coen Brothers’ 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Tho

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19. Vivid Sydney highlights


Some images from Vivid Sydney. The festival finishes on Monday June 11 and is well worth a trip into the city. A perfect outing for the long weekend.







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20. @jojomoyes, author of Me Before You, joins us today



Jojo Moyes is a British novelist. Her latest book, Me Before You, is, on the one hand, the love story of two people who find themselves in unusual circumstances, but underlying the entire novel is the controversial subject of assisted suicide. A full review of Me Before You can be found here.

I am thrilled that Jojo Moyes has joined us today to answer a few questions.

What prompted you to write this book?
My books are often an amalgam of several ideas that are rattling around in my head - you have to go with the ones that won't go away. I had been thinking about quality of life for some time, given that I had two relatives in care homes at that point, and a friend who was entirely dependent on 24hr care. And then I heard a news story about a young rugby player who had persuaded his parents to take him to Dignitas after he was left quadriplegic, and it wouldn't leave my head. The more I read up about it, the more I realised the issue wasn't clear cut. It also had the "what would I do?" element shot through it, and it became the thing that I had to write about.

How did you research Dignitas? 
I read a lot of news stories about it, and there was a long feature in the Guardian newspaper by someone who had been there and followed the whole procedure. I also watched a documentary

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21. Mulberry takes out best fashion video at Vimeo Festival Awards

Mulberry recently took out the award for best fashion video for 2012 in the Vimeo Festival Awards. Skirt was directed by Amanda Boyle and features Game of Thrones actress Natalia Tena. It is a brilliant video with terrific humour.


Mulberry 'Skirt' from Academy Plus (A+) on Vimeo.



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22. Caroline Eshak Liuzzi selects Five Books of Influence



Caroline Eshak Liuzzi is the founder and managing director of The Art Cabriolet.
An accomplished artist with a Master’s degree in Architecture, Caroline’s life experiences and awe of the human spirit’s ability to rise above adversity has launched her on a philanthropic journey.  Caroline’s compassion and understanding of children facing and enduring trauma, set in motion the founding of The Art Cabriolet. 

 Able to communicate with a paint brush and engage children enduring various levels of hardship has meant that Caroline has been able to emotively move and inspire children to express themselves and communicate through art. Caroline has invested relentless commitment, passion, dedication and loyalty to serve her mission to give back to the community through children, and in the very least, put a smile on a child’s face.
The Art Cabriolet is holding its annual fundraiser, DIAMONDS IN A PAINTBOX, on June 30 at 7pm at The Atrium, Federation Square.

We are delighted that Caroline has joined us today to select her Five Books of Influence.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

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23. This week in publishing



Congratulations to Patrick Ness and Jim Kay. A Monster Calls won the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal. Writer Patrick Ness and illustrator Jim Kay talk to The Guardian about their collaboration.
Several Australian writers were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List including Peter Carey who became Officer in the Order of Australia.
Congratulations to Kate Eltham. She takes the reins at the Brisbane Writers Festival in October following outgoing Festival Director Jane O’ Hara.

Christopher Paolini has arrived on Australian shores to kick off his book tour. This weekend he is in Sydney as a special guest of Supanova. Supanova is Australia's biggest pop-culture expo and fans come to be surrounded by the wonderful worlds of science-fiction, pulp TV/movies, toys, console gaming, trading cards, animation/cartoons, fantasy, comic books, entertainment technology, books, internet sites and fan-clubs, the result is an amazing atmosphere tailor made for expressing your inner geek.
Supernova is on this weekend at The Dome, Homebush Bay, Sydney Olympic Park. Tickets can be purchased here.
24. Prometheus (the sort of, but not really, prequel to Riddley Scott’s Alien series)


Guest review by Rebecca McRitchie



If you have seen the trailer for Prometheus or even the two minute viral videos that were released on YouTube, it is incredibly easy to then line up for this movie expecting big things. Indeed, the hype has implied a similar awe-inducing experience as that of Avatar or Lord of the Rings.  

Alas, the trailer and viral videos are more provoking than the movie itself.

Ideally, Prometheus has a lot of things going for it. Directed by Ridley Scott, the mastermind behind such movies as Gladiator and Blade Runner, and co-written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, Lindelof being one of the main writers for the hit TV show Lost. The movie also boasts an adept cast with Noomi Rapace, of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (the Swedish version) fame, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green and, one to watch, Michael Fassbender.

The stunning visual effects, art direction and cinematography, specifically the beginning overhead shots of an Iceland landscape, coupled with the exceptional performances of Rapace and Fassbender, were almost enough to make Prometheusa stand-out movie. Almost.

The movie begins in 2089 with a team of explorers who set out to discover the origins of mankind on Earth. Accompanied by an android (Fassbender), a corporate overseer (Theron) and a handful of other prime alien-fodder characters, paleo-biologists Elizabeth (Rapace) and Charlie (Marshall-Green) set off on the spaceship Prometheus to a distant planet. Here, things take a turn for the worse. Not only for the characters in the film, but for the audience watching.

To put it simply, Prometheusis unable to evoke feeling. In the Third Act, when suspense and fear are suppose to have reached unbearable heights, we are left feeling apathetic. An insufficient amount of time is given to the lead up to events, leaving everything feeling very rushed. It is almost as though Scott quickly gets through this movie in order to get to its sequel. There is little depth in the characters (who, despite landing on a al

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25. Movie Day: Salmon Fishing in The Yemen




I came late to this movie. I wanted to see it, but just couldn’t get past the textbook title – Salmon Fishing in The Yemen. Fishing has to be one of the singular most boring occupations. Why would I put myself through watching two hours of fishing?

It was only after everybody I knew had been to the film, including my 21 year old daughter, and informed me that it was worthwhile that I bothered seeing it. The title did this film a great disservice. It certainly reflects the subject matter of the film, but I am sure has kept droves away. Not even the surreptitious charm of Ewan McGregor or the elegant Emily Blunt could save the film from its title.

Directed by Lasse Hallström of Chocolat fame and written by Simon Beaufoy, writer of The Full Monty and Slumdog Millionaire, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is full of the humour we would expect from such a writer.

Ewan McGregor is the typical Civil Servant, as Dr Alfred Jones. He is unhappily married, but unable to escape the convenient monotony of life. As he sits at his desk with his duck liver pate sandwiches dutifully packed by his wife, his boss enters to tell him he must meet Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), an investment consultant representing a sheikh with a keen interest in bringing salmon fishing to the Arabian Peninsula.

As Harriet, still pining for her boyfriend who has been sent to Afghanistan, and Fred spend time together at the Sheikh’s estate in Scotland and then in the Yemen, their initial argumentative state turns inevitably to romance.
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