For ease of reading, here are our handles’ abbreviations:
crystalclear – CC
faintingviolet – FV
Ale – just Ale (you’re welcome)
CrystalClear: So, this is all my fault. I decided to rent Crimson Peak for movie night, mainly to see Tom Hiddleston’s ass. And while it was indeed a glorious sight, the rest of the movie was not worth it. My memory is absolute shite, so here’s what I remember of the movie before delving into the book:
- We have the girl, who played Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Anyway, daddy’s princess is writing a thing, but she’s a lady-person, so she’s not having much luck with it.
- Tom Hiddleston looks fantastic, and he has a Creepy Sister.
- Tom convinces Alice to marry him somehow, and there’s money involved. Creepy Sister kills Alice’s dad in a bathroom. (Ale: We don’t get it either).
- Oil rigs? (FV: Drilling/mining)
- They get to Tom’s house. It is creepy and in the middle of nowhere. There is a cute dog. The house is ginormous and ashambles.
- House has a hole in the cieling that leaves and other detris keeps falling through… there’s no tree next to the house (Faintingviolet yelled about that a lot.).
- Creepy Sister plays the piano.
- Creepy Sister gives Alice a “special” tea or tonic or something that is poisoning her.
- Something about the mail.
- Creepy Sister keeps cockblocking the newlyweds until they go to get the mail. We see the glorious ass (FV: it was indeed glorious, as were the dresses worn by Alice and Creepy Sister, known to the rest of us as Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain). There’s a letter to Alice from one of Tom’s dead wives. I guess there were a few.
- Creepy Sister is not pleased.
- Dead wives show up, being bloody and gross. Oh, and Alice saw her dead mother at the beginning. Forgot that part.
- There are vats in the basement (FV: filled with red goop, don’t forget the red goop).
- I think there was weird incest between Tom and the Creepy Sister (FV: There was). And I think Creepy Sister was pregnant (FV: I legit also don’t remember). Ew.
- There is a very bloody fight, but I think the dog makes it. Maybe?
- The acting… is not good. (FV: Which is so disappointing because these are three great actors, plus what’s his name from Sons of Anarchy.)
Ale: The movie had potential…. Not much, mind, but there was a good story buried somewhere under the mountains of red dirt and spooky ghosts with no backstory. After being subjected to the 2 ½ hours of terrible, I hoped that perhaps this was just a poorly done book-to-movie and that there was some source material that could do this better justice. Which is how I happened across the “Crimson Peak” novel. Because I’m dumb, I didn’t read very closely, and was very excited to see that yes! There was source material……NO. Someone thought a novelization of a terrible movie was a good idea, which became our good idea, which became your subsequent torture at our hands.
CrystalClear: Dear God, some reviews on Amazon say that this is their favorite movie.
Faintingviolet: I’d like to be able to tell you that this is all CrystalClear and Ale’s fault: CC’s for making us watch the movie in the first place (we should apologize now if you enjoyed it, but all we saw were plot holes), and Ale for being lured in by the novelization. But, this really is a three-part debacle because the minute I saw Two Heads Are Better Than One square on the Bingo board I brought up the book and movie that had not entered into group conversation in over a year to make this happen. Because I’m apparently a masochist. You’re welcome. Behold for your reading pleasure, the 3-part reading of “Crimson Peak. A Novelization.” We took turns reading aloud, so imagine three cannonballers on sofas in a living room one Wednesday evening losing our minds. (Spoiler – we DNFed after page 58.)
Ale: We start with a picture. (FV: If it’s not of Tim Hiddleston’s ass, I don’t care.) (CC: It was not.)
Book 1, Prologue:
(Ale: There are books? It’s only one book! Why are there books in books?)
There’s a funeral. We’re told that everyone’s wearing black. No, literally everyone in great detail. Because it’s a funeral. And funerals are sad in 1886. Also, there’s a lot of them. Random ghost – maybe? Childish nightmare? What the hell is gloaming? Why is this prologue so boring? How is a haunting boring?
Prologue recap – Five dollar word bullshit (FV: the author is ALL ABOUT the five dollar words). Mom is ded. Mom came back as an overly decomposed ghost (FV: it’s been days, how is she already just a skeleton? From Here to Eternity would like a word with the author) to grope her daughter and warn her about Crimson Peak. Pointless kids don’t pay attention.
Ale: How many g*d*mn words can this author use for the color red? So far, the highlights are the nice artwork that start each chapter.
Edith Cushing is an adult now, an American mining heiress trying (in vain) to have her book published by her father’s friend, Mr Octopus (FV: seriously, we can’t pronounce the dude’s name.). But since it’s a story with ghosts in it, and this is 1901 and she has the woman parts, her book is unacceptable. Even though her description of her work is thus: “Ghost story? Its It’s more a story with a ghost in it.” FAIL. (CC: Poor Mr. Octopus, trying to find something nice to say, compliments her handwriting. Says she has nice loops.)
Determined to get it published, she types it in her father’s office (CC-because the biggest oil baron in Buffalo can’t afford a typewriter in his own home, apparently), hoping that the type will hide her “feminine handwriting” and she’ll become the next Jane Austen (fat chance). Because ghosts are a metaphor for her past….. While in the office she meets the ever dashing and down on his luck baronett, Sir Thomas Sharpe, peddling his new mining invention to save his dying British estate. He’s also semi-betrothed to Edith’s frenemy, Eunice. It’s love at first look since Sir Thomas says he likes the 4 lines of her manuscript he’s got time to read before wandering into his meeting. But Edith is a woman of the new age. Men are for sissies, and regardless of his hot bod, she’s sticking to her books.
This is all told to us over the course of 30 pages that feel like an eternity. There’s crappy descriptions, a terrible prologue, random -ass ghost apparitions that we’re never sure are real or not. And the language will not stick to a time period. Legit, at one point the writing is “next stop: social frivolity.” Who says that in 1901???? Also, can we not use the word ‘gloaming’ 50 million times? We also don’t need to know what color everyone’s eyes are if they’re all the same. Edith? Blue. Tom Sharpe? Blue. Random doctor dude who’s trying to get in her pants? Blue. How about a hazel, or a green, or a good ‘ol regular brown? Mix it up a little. This is the 19th Century, not Norway.
Other Chapter 1 thoughts:
- Tatted the sky like fine lace….this is a cloud. (FV: what the hell? That’s not how nature works.)
- Edith’s apparently got “Talent” because she can string words together into sentences. (Ale: Does this feel a little Mary-sue? I feel like this is Mary Sue.)
- Eunice is a bitch and Edith is on the shelf and also a bitch, but she’d like us to know she’s “Fashionably on the shelf.”
- “Riveting grist for the mill.” SURE, this is totally a great 19th Century descriptor.
- Uncanny pictures = porn?
- Ghosts are apparently a metaphor for “the past”
Faintingviolet: I’m the one who read this chapter aloud to the group, and other than absolutely losing it at one point and laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath I don’t remember three days later what this chapter contained, plot-wise. Our notes of derision indicate that its a continuation of Chapter 1, Edith is still stealing the poor secretary’s desk to type her entire novel in one afternoon (just… no) before heading off to her dad’s friend the publisher, whom we’ve christened Mr. Octopus because reasons. She then sneaks in to fangirl at Tom giving his investment presentation to her father and his dudes, who are inexplicably sitting at desks in a semi-circle like a middle school classroom. Apparently the author never heard of a large table. Dad does his best “we did our thing by bootstraps so take your titled ass and be on your way” and Edith is not having it.
Chapter 3 Thoughts:
- Carter Cushing. That’s dad’s name is just… unexpected. (FV: Made me think of Noah Wylie from ER and that’s not helping anything).
- Bad verbs, bad. Sentence construction in this book is absurd. (Ale cannot handle the butchering of the dear, English language).
- Edith doesn’t know how to type on the typewriter she asked for. ::facepalm:: (FV: she HATES it. The letters aren’t where she can find them! Who thought of this crazy contraption! How is she supposed to make words?!?).
- Why is Tom wearing a blue velvet suit???? He’s a pimp now, apparently.
- He liked my words, and he’s wearing blue, like my eyes! Must be love!
- Anytime the author starts descriptions, Ale inserts fart noises.
- The grammar struggle is hard.
- Edith’s a man-stealer!
- Edith’s dad apparently sounds like a Scottish pirate (FV: you’re welcome, something had to be added to this damnable thing).
- Magic boxes? Tom just pulled a box out of the air….or the descriptions just forgot to say he had one.
- In thinking about being more observant, Edith fails at being observant.
This chapter contains the fallout from the afternoon. Edith, still not published, is really leaning into the on-the-shelf stereotype and declining to attend fancy dress dinner being hosted for Sir Tom and her frenemy Eunice, who we’re all pretty sure tricked him into proposing. Eunice’s brother comes to pick up her dad in his car, and both try to convince her to attend, to which she declines….while standing there in her dressing gown! Because apparently dad doesn’t care that she’s half-dressed in front of her childhood love interest who totally wants to bang her. Instead she’s pulled some research material to stalk Tom, Victorian era-style, when she’s interrupted by the creepy ghost of her mother…again….strangely after 15 years of not being haunted once. She recovers from that, and as she’s getting herself all set with knowledge and convincing herself that she’s a woman of words and does not need no man, guess who shows up at her door? Tom Sharpe! In the rain (because apparently all it does is rain in Buffalo). And he wants to take her to the party where they’re announcing his betrothal. Because that’s not creepy or stalky at all.
Chapter 3 Thoughts:
- The gloaming, again!
- Little Lord Fuckwad?
- Dad’s got it. We agree, go after cute doctor Alan.
- Alan admits his sister is a bitch.
- “Next stop: social frivolity.”
- Edith is Facebook stalking before Facebook.
- So much precipitation!
- This ghost is bad at being a ghost.
- Why is the dead face rippling like water?
- The maid is the only smart one.
- Drugs? Are people taking drugs, now?
Everyone is lost. Including us. We can’t continue. This got us to about the 30-minute mark in the movie, we think, and it’s just not worth continuing.
This book gets negative stars.
Bingo Square: Two Heads Are Better Than One