--- blog items inspired by recent news in the world
Nova Pilbeam RIP
I recently did a post on the Josephine Tey book A Shilling for Candles, and also watched the Hitchcock film Young and Innocent, loosely based on the book.
The film starred Nova Pilbeam, who has just died at the age of 95.
My blogpost back in April provoked a flurry of interest from readers astonished to find that she was living in North London at that date. As the wiki entry and the obituaries (such as this one in the Guardian) show, she had a lot of success in her early career, and came close to being a big star – she nearly got the lead parts in The Lady Vanishes (based on a book by Tuesday's author, Ethel Lina White) and Rebecca (from blog favourite Daphne Du Maurier). She was beautiful and compelling, and acted well, and plainly could have had a major career. But instead she made some light and now-forgotten British films, and retired from acting on her marriage in the 1950s.
Partners in Crime/The Secret Adversary
A new TV version of some of Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence adventures has begun on the BBC. Partners in Crime (name of a short-story collection featuring T & T) seems to be the overall name of the venture, with Secret Adversary first of a number of different stories within the series. The Secret Adversary was the first book in which they appeared, and the new programme has bumped the pair of them right along the 20th century – into the post-WW2, Cold War era instead of the original date of 1922. Rich at Past Offences looks at the first episode here – like him, I enjoyed it and will keep watching.
I re-read The Secret Adversary recently after seeing a very clever and imaginative stage performance of it – a tiny cast playing multiple roles, with brilliant use of props and set-dressing.
This is part of what I said about the book:
The book was Christie’s second, and introduced us to Tommy and Tuppence, her occasional sleuths. One of my good blogfriends calls this genre ‘the flapper adventures’, and that’s about right – Christie wrote several of them before concentrating on straight detective stories. They featured annoyingly arch young people, being frightfully amusing, and hiding their strong principles and morals under an air of joking nonchalance.You can read the whole entry here, and the blog looked at N or M? (annoying title, wartime spying adventure with Tommy and Tuppence) in this entry.
This one starts – unusually for Christie - with a real-life event: the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. It then departs from the real world totally, with a ridiculous plot based on the fact that ‘a Labour Government would be a grave disability for British trade’ and that the Bolshevists are poised for a takeover. Tommy & Tuppence must search for some missing documents, a missing woman, and the mysterious Mr Brown – the man behind the Bolshevists. None of this stands up for a moment, there is no logic to it at all, but the plot rattles along, and it’s moderately entertaining in a light-hearted way.
The dress is meant for the mysterious Rita Vandermeyer, who wears indigo charmeuse. (Which sounds like the name of a rockstar's offspring, one who is embarking on a modelling and jewellery designing career.)
Also part of the BBC’s summer collection: Life in Squares, a dramatized version of the lives and loves of the Bloomsbury set.
The blog has featured Virginia Woolf several times, and wildly claims that Woolf herself would have liked the concept of Clothes in Books. In an entry on Orlando, we quote her saying this:
Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us... There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.And then she goes on with this very modern view:
In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is the very opposite of what it is above.
We are also big fans of Lytton Strachey around here. And dancing on the edge were Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis, on whom there were endless entries last year.
Clothes in Books feels completely in the thick of things, culturally speaking.