December 22nd, 2007


Twisted Oliver

The current series of Oliver Twist on BBC1 is very strange. Of course, everyone knows the story well. A couple of times this week I was watching it when the phone went and I had to mute the TV: no problem still following what was happening. I can't really see where they're going with this. In a way it's like 'stenders and yet it's less gritty than the original. Much as I like Timothy Spall he is not evil Fagin. Why do they make Fagin nicer and Mr Brownlow nastier than in the book? The Monk plot is made much more obvious, which is probably a good thing. My chief whinge is last night's episode: the murder of Nancy. In the novel, this is a savage, frenzied attack followed by Sykes' nightmare journey. I read this when I was too young and was terrified by it. It's also well known that Dickens used to get so over-excited reading this in public that he made himself ill. What did we get on TV? A thump on the head (no blood) and Bill seeming surprised at what he'd done. Tom Hardy has been praised for this performance but Robert Newton (see left) was much closer to Dickens' idea.

I see The Old Curiosity Shop will be on over Christmas: will we be crying or laughing over Little Nell?

Book design (for Stuck-in-a-Book)

Some gremlin is stopping me from commenting on anyone's journal in BlogSpot and I can read Stuck in a Book but can't chat to him. So here is a Jonathan Cape dustwrapper for Chatterton Square by E H Young. I'd also recommend Miss Mole, The Misses Mallett and other books by this author. Some have been reprinted by Virago and others in a cheap, small uniform edition and I've found all mine cheaply. Chatterton Square is even signed by the author, in teeny, tiny little writing, very self effacing. She had a much more interesting life than might be thought from her books.

The 'entrancing type face' Simon mentions can also be seen on Down the Garden Path by Beverley Nichols (the best book about gardening ever written) and his other early books. Some have the extra delight of dustwrapper and illustrations by Rex Whistler.