Anything for a Good Time: The Best of 2018

Tess waves to the crowd from the float, 1 January 2019.

I kicked off the new year last January by graduating from my fantastic MFA program, and all kinds of good things have happened since then. I wrote a lot. Patrick saved the day at work countless times. Christian's candidate won his election. James wrote, directed, and starred in a short student film and and wrote several Medium articles while maintaining excellent grades at UC Berkeley. Hope left on her church mission to the Boston area and loves it. (She'll come home the day before Thanksgiving!)

Tess sang at the Oregon Bach Festival, applied to a bunch of colleges, and was chosen to be one of three princesses on our town's Rose Parade float. Daniel finished middle school (just one more to run that gauntlet) and is busy writing music on his new synthesizer. Anne won her school's readathon (her prize was a Kindle fire!). Our delightful niece, Faith, moved in with us.

We took a family vacation to Hawaii. Patrick and I got to spend a blissful week with dear friends in Cabo San Lucas. Our corgi, Moneypenny, got down to her goal weight, and she's still the cutest dog in the world. Though we endured plenty of challenges, generally, we had good times all around!

This was also a great year for books, movies, music, food, and TV, as you'll see below. 

Top Ten Books Read:

10. The Marsh King's Daughter, by Karen Dionne

9. The End We Start From, by Megan Hunter

8. Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon

7. The Flavia de Luce series, by Alan Bradley

6. Lost Connections, by Johann Hari 

5. The Changeling, by Victor Lavalle

4. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

3. Educated, by Tara Westover

2. An Early Resurrection, by Adam Miller

1. Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson

I don't rank books by friends, but if I did, Julie Berry's Lovely War would definitely be on this list. 

Top Ten 2018 Movies Seen:

10. Bohemian Rhapsody

9. Crazy Rich Asians

8. A Simple Favor

7. A Star is Born

6. Blindspotting

5. First Reformed

4. If Beale Street Could Talk

3. A Quiet Place

2. Shoplifters 

1. Hereditary

Most Enjoyable TV Watched:

10. Dark

9. Call My Agent!

8. Dear White People

7. Queer Eye

6. The Haunting of Hill House

5. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 1)

4. Vikings

3. The Great British Baking Show

2. Jack Ryan

1. The Good Place

Best Music Discovered:

Freedom Fry

The Gloaming

Best Meals:

Grilled corn, duck quesadillas, and Mexican hot chocolate at Comal in Cabo San Lucas

Soup dumplings, green beans, and sesame noodles at Wang Xing Ji in San Gabriel

Best Vacation Moments: 

Hanging out in an infinity pool overlooking the Pacific at the very tip of Baja California

Night snorkeling with manta rays in Kona

What will 2019 hold? I'll continue breaking up with Big Data. I'll write every day and hopefully find an agent. I'll renew my efforts to learn Mandarin while continuing to chase fluency in French. I'll keep teaching seminary. We'll take the family to Oxfordshire for another house exchange this summer. Tess and Faith will go off to college, and Anne will start middle school.

All in all, life just keeps getting better, and for that, I'm forever grateful. 


Loire Dire, Part I

Our house in Saint-Gervais-la-Forêt

Last summer, we were once again able to do a house exchange. Our son James was serving a mission for our church in France, and once he had finished his two years of service, we wanted to pick him up in person and have a family vacation before my VCFA exchange residency in Bath, England. On previous exchanges, we'd stayed just outside Paris, in a posh London suburb, and in southern Burgundy. This time, I had my eye on the spectacular Loire Valley

Patrick and I had done a Loire Valley road trip 24 years before, back when I was pregnant with our oldest child, so I had a few things in mind for us to do during our three weeks. We were lucky enough to exchange with a family who lives just outside Blois in Saint-Gervais-la-Forêt, which was perfect for a few reasons. First, it was just two hours from Paris, so we could easily fly in and out of Charles de Gaulle airport, and picking up our son from the mission home when the day came would be relatively simple. Second, the many amazing châteaux right around Blois made exploring a cinch. 

Once again, we struck the house swap lottery, as you can see from the photo above. Here's another view:

It's so funny, when we first started doing house exchanges, I didn't care that much about what the house was like, as long as it had room for all of us and a decent kitchen. But we have been spoiled each and every time with amazing houses--so now when I'm on HomeLink, I pay a little more attention to the architecture.

Our hosts generously insisted on driving up to Roissy and picking us up at the airport. It is rare for European families to have cars big enough for our family, but this time, we were doubly fortunate and didn't have to rent a car. However, fitting all of us plus our luggage in the car proved to be quite the Tetris challenge. But every time our youngest daughter's bony bottom dug into my numb thighs in the back seat, I reminded myself how much money were were saving by not hiring a car service. And soon enough, we arrived at the house. The property--it must have been at least an acre--was surrounded by a high wall, and had a swimming pool, a huge terrace, lovely plantings, and decades-old redwoods and sycamore trees. Paradise. 

Our hosts had prepared lunch for us, which we ate after they gave us a tour of the house. They then left us; they were staying in Blois overnight before leaving the next day for Los Angeles to stay at our house. We got unpacked. The first day in Europe, it's always a challenge to stay up until the local bedtime, but if you can, jet lag is much easier to handle. So that afternoon, we drove into Blois and walked around the castle and surrounding historic district. 

Across the plaza from the château was a museum of magic. Every hour on the hour, golden dragon puppets came out of the windows and bobbed their heads around while the church bells tolled. 

After a nice walk, it was finally time to go home for dinner and then get to bed. We ate on the terrace nearly every meal, only crowding around the kitchen table on rainy days. 

The next day, which was Friday, we went grocery shopping at a nearby Auchan supermarché. Longtime readers know how much I love foreign supermarkets, and this one was no exception. We got fabulous cheeses, gorgeous produce, and other staples to last us for a few days.

In the afternoon, we had visitors. Tess had gone on a youth exchange (which we'd also arranged through HomeLink) the summer before with a girl her age who lives in Versailles. Tess stayed three weeks with their family, and then she and Léonie flew to Los Angeles and Léonie stayed with us for three weeks. Tess and Léonie had stayed in close touch, and we'd hoped that Léonie and her parents would be able to come down and visit us--which they did. Marie and Olivier were just as lovely as their daughter, and we had a fun weekend with them. 

Saturday was a quiet day. In the morning, we went to the extensive outdoor markets in Blois, then spent the afternoon visiting, swimming, cooking, and eating. (What could be better?)

Sunday after church (at a sweet branch in Blois), we went to Cheverny with our guests. It's about a 15-minute drive from our home base, and it's the castle used as a model for Marlinspike Hall in the Tintin books. The same family has lived on the estate for 600 years. They had a whole outbuilding set up as a permanent Tintin exhibit (which was terrific) as well as a neighboring building that serves as kennels for over 100 French hunting dogs. The cháteau, gorgeous inside and out, the extensive gardens, Tintin, and the hounds all made this one of our kids' favorite days. 

After our fun day, we said goodbye to our guests. It was a perfect weekend except for how HOT it was. Our 200-year-old house wasn't air conditioned, which made sleeping a bit of a challenge, even with every window wide open. There was a silver lining, though. That night, a nightingale woke me up, and I lay in bed looking out at the stars and listening to glorious birdsong for a long time. Even now, the memory chokes me up. 

The heat wave continued into the next day (and beyond). We went to Amboise, knowing that the car's air conditioner and the thick stone walls of Amboise's château would help us cope with the weather. Amboise sits high on a hill overlooking the Loire River; the views from the ramparts were spectacular.

We had a picnic by the river. Many of you will remember that our vacation meal routine is simple: yogurt and a croissant (or other viennoiserie) for breakfast; ham, cheese, and salted Normandy butter on fresh baguettes for lunch; and a home-cooked dinner like sautéed chicken or pasta and vegetables and salad, with dessert being either a little store-bought pot-de-crème or an ice cream bar. We bought the bread and croissants fresh every morning at a fabulous nearby bakery. When the food is as good as it is in France, the routine never gets old. 

Next, we visited Le Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci lived for a time (and died). The walk from downtown Amboise isn't bad, and we saw many houses that were built right out of the limestone caves that line the way. Da Vinci's house wasn't as impressive as I'd remembered, but the shady park surrounding it had fun recreations of some of the Renaissance man's designs, in which the kids could run around and play. 

The late afternoon walk back downtown was especially hot, and everyone was tired, so we treated ourselves to some excellent gelato at Amorino, right across the street from the château. Spirits restored, we made the 40-minute drive back to the house. And that was the end of Day 5! Stay tuned for further adventures. 


The Choirs Kept Singing: The Best of 2017

Here are some of the high points of the past year, in no particular order:

A book published; a scholarship won; two stories published in anthologies; a residency in Bath; a glorious day in Oxford; an idyllic house exchange in the Loire Valley; Patrick's inspiring stake conference addresses; Hope's acceptance to UC Berkeley; James's faithful mission completion; the kids singing along to Yves Montand; a critical thesis; a creative thesis; date nights galore; sous vide everything; discovering the finest tapestries ever woven; Hope's game-winning buzzer beater; Christian's heroic efforts on two campaign trails; the best book group ever; Tess's PHS all-time fourth place swim ranking; getting our Swiss passports; endless Great Dalmuti matches; Daniel's 3D element Christmas ornaments; Anne's voracious, omnivorous reading; a Hollywood movie opening with Patrick; the biggest and best Thanksgiving of all time; singing carols around the piano; Tess's two ethereal Christmas duets; having award-winning writers as mentors; and steak and symphony with my beloved.

Top Ten Books of the Year

10. Wylding Hall, by Elizabeth Hand

9. Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow, by Faïza Guène

8. The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

7. Story Genius, by Lisa Cron

6. Mother's Milk, by Rachel Hunt Steenblik

5. The Game of Love and Death, by Martha Brockenbrough

4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

3. Still Life with Tornado, by A.S. King

2. Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk

1. Uprooted, by Naomi Novik 

Top Five Albums of the Year

1. Northern Redemption - The Abrams Brothers

2. Coming Home - Leon Bridges

3. Winter Songs - Ola Gjeilo

2. Ola Gjeilo - Voces8

1. Freedom Road - Rhiannon Giddens

Favorite 2017 Theatrical Releases 

10. The Napping Princess

9. Logan Lucky

8. Wind River

7. My Cousin Rachel

6. Baby Driver

5. Lady Bird

4. Get Out

3. It

2. Dunkirk

1. Wonder Woman

Most Enjoyed TV Seen

10. The Young Pope

9. Stranger Things 2

8. The Good Place

7. The Handmaid's Tale

6. The Magicians

5. The Tunnel

4. Sherlock

3. Hotel Beau Séjour

2. The Crown

1. The Great British Baking Show

Best Restaurant Experiences

7. Agrodolce - Berkeley

6. Bistro de la Gare - South Pasadena

5. Lucky Noodle King - San Gabriel (Now tragically closed.)

4. Feuillette - Saint-Gervais-la-Forêt

3. Terra Gourma - Paris

2. La Boucherie on 71 - Los Angeles

1. Benoît - Paris

As far as I can tell, 2018 promises to be even better! Happy New Year!


Rounding Up: A Birthday Playlist

I'm closer to 100 than to 0, and I'm the age at which kids will ask things like, "Was music invented when you were little?" That's fine; I don't mind getting older. In fact, in honor of my birthday, I looked back over the past five decades and chose one song released each year of my life that seems the most "me." 

This was tricky; some years, I could have chosen dozens of great songs. Other years, the pickings were slim (I'm looking at you, 1996 and 2005). See what you think.

1966 - Beach Boys: "Wouldn't It Be Nice"

1967 - Van Morrison: "Brown-eyed Girl"

1968 - Simon & Garfunkel: "A Hazy Shade of Winter"

1969 - Beatles: "Here Comes the Sun"

1970 - Beatles: "Let It Be"

1971 - Led Zeppelin - "When the Levee Breaks"

1972 - Yes - "And You and I"

1973 - Elton John - "Daniel"

1974 - David Bowie - "Rebel, Rebel"

1975 - Led Zeppelin - "In My Time of Dying"

1976 - Boston - "More Than a Feeling"

1977 - Peter Gabriel - "Solsbury Hill"

1978 - Kate Bush - "Wuthering Heights"

1979 - The Police - "Message in a Bottle"

1980 - The Jam - "That's Entertainment"

1981 - The Police - "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"

1982 - Joe Jackson - "Steppin' Out"

1983 - U2 - "40"

1984 - Hüsker Dü - "Love Is All Around"

1985 - Sting - "Fortress Around Your Heart"

1986 - The Communards - "Don't Leave Me This Way"

1987 - Dukes of the Stratosphear - "Vanishing Girl"

1988 - The Church - "Under the Milky Way"

1989 - XTC - "The Mayor of Simpleton"

1990 - They Might Be Giants - "Birdhouse in Your Soul"

1991 - R.E.M. - "Losing My Religion"

1992 - Niamh Parsons - "The Tinkerman's Daughter"

1993 - The Cranberries - "Dreams"

1994 - Beastie Boys - "Sabotage"

1995 - Great Big Sea - "Runaway"

1996 - The Wonders - "That Thing You Do"

1997 - Foo Fighters - "Everlong"

1998 - Great Big Sea and The Chieftains - "Lukey's Boat"

1999 - Niamh Parsons - "Blackbirds and Thrushes"

2000 - Hem - "Half Acre"

2001 - Alison Krauss & Union Station - "The Lucky One"

2002 - Queens of the Stone Age - "Mosquito Song" 

2003 - Ben Harper & The Blind Boys of Alabama - "Picture of Jesus"

2004 - The Wailin' Jennys - "Arlington"

2005 - Coldplay - "Speed of Sound"

2006 - Calexico - "Cruel"

2007 - The Killers - "Read My Mind"

2008 - Adele - "Make You Feel My Love"

2009 - Fictionist - "Noisy Birds"

2010 - Justin Townes Earle - "Harlem River Blues"

2011 - The Wailin' Jennys - "Bird Song"

2012 - Gary Clark, Jr. - When My Train Pulls In"

2013 - St. Paul & the Broken Bones - "I've Been Loving You"

2014 - James Blake - "Retrograde"

2015 - Portugal. The Man - "People Say"

2016 - Eli et Papillon - "Les rêves"

2017 - Rhiannon Giddens - "Birmingham Sunday" 

A half century-plus-one of music! I can't think of a better way to celebrate. 



In Dreamful Autumn: The 2017 Octoberish Lists

Photograph: John Batho, Présents et Absents

For the past few Octobers, I've posted lists of things I deem Octoberish. Sometimes they're creepy books or movies; sometimes they're melancholy songs or places. It's not always about the scary for me; sometimes I'm after the things that evoke sehnsucht; saudade; "northernness," as C.S. Lewis called it; or how I put it when I was a kid, "the Connecticut feeling." I was homesick for a place I'd never been, and I still love feeling like that now. 

Here are all the Octoberish goodies I've discovered in recent months. 

Picture Books

I've studied a lot of non-American picture books while in my MFA program, and many have a decidedly melancholy bent. Here are some of the best I've found:

Duck, Death, and the Tulip, by Wolf Erlbruch

Duck and Death become lifelong friends--until Duck dies. Though unresolved, the ending satisfies. 

Cry, Heart, But Never Break, by Glenn Ringtved

Four children decide they won't let Death take their grandmother away--but Death takes the time to explain the inevitable in a way that honors both intellect and heart. 

Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt

An ostracized girl finds comfort in two sources--Jane Eyre and a fox she sometimes sees in her neighborhood. As my kids would say, "Relatable." 

What Color is the Wind, by Anne Herbauts

A blind child repeatedly asks what color the wind is and gets varied and unique answers. Satisfying on both a literary and a tactile level.

The Only Child, by Guojing

A lonely little boy decides to take the bus to visit his grandmother. When he gets off at the wrong stop and finds himself lost in the woods, a mysterious stag rescues him and eventually guides him home. This gracefully illustrated, pensive wordless picture book reminds me of another favorite picture book of mine, Tim Wynne-Jones's Zoom Trilogy.


The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Claire Legrand

Victoria is the only one who can save her best friend from the sinister new school in town. This was one of the books I used in my critical thesis. As well as being a delightfully creepy read, it's a primer on how to write effective horror for middle graders. Anne, while reading it the other day, marched into my room and announced, "This book is GOOD." 

A Good and Happy Child, by Justin Evans

George finds he's terrified to hold his newborn son. The reader finds out why through a series of engrossing flashbacks to George's youth. Beautifully structured and paced. For adults.

Wylding Hall, by Elizabeth Hand

I'm telling you: Elizabeth Hand looked inside my head and then whipped up the ideal short novel for me. A folk rock band rents an old English manor in order to record an overdue album away from fans and other distractions. Trouble is, the manor is haunted. Any fan of 1970s English rock will find Easter eggs aplenty in this fascinating tale. For older teens and up.

Bird Box, by Josh Malerman

Aliens invade Earth, and just one look at them will drive you to suicidal madness. The narrator and other characters of this post-apocalyptic novel for adults are therefore blindfolded most of the time. Claustrophobic, chilling, unputdownable.

The Widow's House, by Carol Goodman

Again, another novel for adults that could have been commissioned for my birthday. Haunted house + Hudson Valley + writers + unreliable narrator = happy Luisa.

Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk

As I wrote in last year's post, a book doesn't have to be scary to be Octoberish. Set in rural Pennsylvania between the World Wars, Wolf Hollow tells the story of a girl who fights against deadly small-town prejudice. This book for middle graders and up gets compared to To Kill a Mockingbird often, and for good reason. It'll definitely be on my best books of the year list. 

House of Furies, by Madeleine Roux

A runaway finds work at a remote manor on the Yorkshire Moors. She soon learns that the rest of the household staff and her employer are not at all what they appear to be. Though it has a sequel (which I haven't yet read), this memorable YA novel stands on its own. 


I worked long and hard on this playlist, mainly because I know Christian will appreciate it for years to come. Here's the thing: there's an awful lot of music out there that is scary, gross, or horrifying. But most of it just isn't very interesting or good. Here's this year's collection of dreadful, melancholy, or creepy songs that are actually worth playing.

The Dead South, "In Hell I'll Be In Good Company"

This dark bluegrass band is made up of virtuosi who don't take themselves too seriously. Great energy, evocative lyrics. 

The Civil Wars, "Barton Hollow"

My old blogging pal Heffalump introduced me to The Civil Wars, who unfortunately are no longer together. In this song, an outlaw on the lam alludes to various unforgivable crimes. Moral: there's no rest for the wicked. 

Stars, "I Died So I Could Haunt You," 

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I have a weakness for Canadian pop and folk music. Stars hasn't earned the high esteem I reserve for bands like The Wailin' Jennys and Great Big Sea, but they have put out some solid songs. This neo-80s duet is one of their best, off an album with a suitably Octoberish cover. 

The Avett Brothers, "Murder in the City"

Death by move to the city? The lyrics to this song read like a suicide note. Apparently when you leave your family and farm, goodbye IS forever. 

Rhiannon Giddens, "We Could Fly"

I have a huge crush on Rhiannon Giddens. Her 2017 album Freedom Road is mostly original, haunting songs (and a couple of brilliant covers) about her ancestors' lives as slaves. "We Could Fly" sounds like a mournful old folk tune, and coming from me, that is the highest of compliments. I love how she refuses to resolve the final melodic line; to me, it's a metaphor of how racism is far from eradicated today. Give it a listen, and you'll see what I mean.

Leon Bridges, "River"

This young gospel/soul singer will soon become a national treasure. More exquisite lamenting over injustice; he and Rhiannon Giddens should do a duet. 

Amy Winehouse, "Back to Black"

The magificent Amy Winehouse sang about despair with authenticity. I love the black and white music video of this, one of her most iconic pieces.

Louvin Brothers, "Knoxville Girl"

Nothing says "October" like a good old Appalachian murder ballad. Yes, there's a whole subgenre of them. This is one of the best. It's frequently covered, but the Louvin Brothers sing it as if they knew that golden-haired girl personally.

Evanescence, "My Immortal

If you'd told me in 1983 that goth rock would live as long as it has, I would have laughed you out of the house. And yet, here's Evanescence, with an engaging power ballad that likens breaking up to being haunted. Not an original idea, but earnestly and beautifully expressed here. Oh, to be young again and wander around Italy barefoot with a ragged tutu and ribbons....

James Blake, "Retrograde

That croony little minor arpeggio that loops througout, the gospelly clap beat, the droning keyboards, and the minimalist, evocative lyrics all combine here in a very Octoberish slow dance.  

Joan Baez, "Diamonds and Rust"

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan had to break up; that much greatness couldn't live long under one roof. And because they did, we have this exquisite piece of music. Judas Priest covered it pretty brilliantly, but I still prefer the gorgeous original. 

Jamie Samson, "Funeral for a Fallen Leaf"

October abounds here: the urban legend surrounding this song is that the teenaged singer/songwriter disappeared not long after recording it and is now presumed dead. Google as I might, I can't find any compelling evidence to the contrary. So: a mysterious Irish folk singer writes a song that's an elegy to autumn? Jamie, you win this year's Golden Pumpkin award.

Loreena McKennitt, "She Moved Through the Fair"

While we're on the Green Isle, let's sit a spell with one of Erin's finest sopranos as she sings an old Irish tune about a bride who disappears under mysterious circumstances. Despite the somewhat sinister lyrics, this song is apparently sung a lot at Irish funerals. It is undeniably lovely.

Eminem featuring Rihanna, "The Monster"

Eminem made my original Octoberish playlist, but given his Detroit roots, it's not surprising that he's got more moody goodness up his sleeve. Here, he and Rihanna sing about a monster under the bed, a metaphor for fame-induced insanity. *shiver*

Nina Simone, "I Put a Spell on You

Screamin' Jay Hawkins wrote this R&B classic, and everyone from Annie Lennox to Jeff Beck has covered it. But Queen Nina, with her biting contralto and inimitable swagger, has a corner on the most Octoberish version.

Queens of the Stone Age, "Mosquito Song

If you've read my previous Octoberish posts, you'll remember that I came to enjoy QotSA late. But I'm making up for lost time. This vampiric ditty, sung from the perspective of an insect, has undeniable creep factor.

Demons & Wizards, "Fiddler on the Green"

I have a soft spot in my heart for this band. They did a whole album based on Stephen King's Dark Tower series; that's so endearingly nerdy. (That, and their name; D&D-obsessed 15-year-old Luisa would have loved them without reserve.) This retro-English folk rock song is about a special corner of the afterlife, where the fiddling and dancing never stops, and where parted lovers beg the Grim Reaper to rejoin them. VERY Jethro Tull; well done, boys.

Shakey Graves, "Dearly Departed"

Shakey Graves is hotter than July, and this break-up song, full of spooky imagery, is one of his best. Did the narrator kill his lover, or did she depart under better conditions? Shakey is a pleasingly unreliable narrator.


The Witch

A Puritan family is exiled from its community and must attempt survival on its own--with disastrous results. I saw this movie a few months ago, and the more I think about it, the higher it's rising on my list of all-time favorite films. Every frame looks like a painting by Rembrandt or Vermeer, and writer/director Robert Eggers portrays the terrifying side of the Calvinist worldview with zero condescension. AND it's slow-burning creeptastic. Possession, or ergot-induced madness? You'll have to decide for yourself. Now I want to watch it again. R.

The Visit

A single mom send her kids to visit their grandparents so she can go on a cruise with her boyfriend. Big mistake. Nana and Pop-Pop are as crazy as foxes, and Becca and Tyler record their terrifying behavior on a camcorder. Big mistake. The peril ratchets nerves tighter and tighter until the satisfying denouement. Reviews were mixed, but I think this is M. Night Shyamalan's best movie in a long while. PG-13.


Part horror story, part teen pastoral, the latest Stephen King adaptation is a huge success. Bill Skarsgård excels as Pennywise the Clown, but it's the kids who really shine in this well-paced tale of friendship overcoming fear. I was lucky enough to be at the Hollywood premiere and the cast party afterward, where kids wearing yellow slickers and holding red balloons wandered aimlessly. Loved. It. You'll float, too. R.

Session 9

Christian introduced me to this 2001 cult classic about an asbestos removal crew that wins the bid on a job at an abandoned mental asylum. Big mistake. Lots of ambiguity and well-timed flashbacks contribute to the unease created by Simon, a genius loci who lives "in the weak and the wounded." Another slow burn with a minimum of gore, and the filmmakers achieve an amazing amount with a tiny budget. R. 

My Cousin Rachel

Based on the novel by veteran Octoberist Daphne du Maurier, My Cousin Rachel is another film employing ambiguity with surgical precision. Rachel Weisz is brilliant as the mysterious cousin who enchants Philip, a naive young man with a significant inheritance. Beautifully shot in Octoberish Cornwall. PG-13.


Hotel Beau Séjour

A young girl wakes up next to her own body with no memory of how she died. Only a few people can see her now, and she enlists their aid as she solves her own murder. This compelling Flemish-language Belgian Netflix original series is ideal for binge watching. TV-14 in Belgium, but be aware that the F-word is alive and well in languages other than English.

The Tunnel

We've just started watching this French-English crime drama, and we're hooked. A body is found on the line demarcating the border between the UK and France in the Eurotunnel, and police from both nations team up to solve the murder. Apparently this show is based on a Danish/Swedish series called The Bridge; we'll have to watch that next. TV-MA.

That's it for this year! Here are links to past posts:

My Top 13 Overlooked Creepy Movies

31 Octoberish Books

An Octoberish Playlist

Thirteen Octoberish Pilgrimages

All Things Dark and Beautiful