Desperate Romantics

446_indexDesperate Romantics, the BBC series based on Franny Moyle’s book, begins on Tuesday 21st July on BBC2 at 9pm. I was lucky enough to see a preview of it this week, together with a discussion panel of actors and writers, and have written the notes up, if you’re interested – click here to read it. When the series starts, do comment here and let us know what you think of it!

I also made some notes on the Waterhouse exhibition at the Royal Academy – but I don’t like Waterhouse, so I wouldn’t read it if you are a fan!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Desperate Romantics

  1. Aileen Naylor

    Hi Serena,

    I am intrigued to see how the PRB will be presented in this TV series and should read the Franny Moyle book on which it is based. Thank you for your notes on the preview – I should think the discussion afterwards was good!

    Interestingly Moyle wrote an article in the Review of the Telegraph (Sat. June 13 ’09) taking in this TV drama, ‘Victorian Revolutionaries’ which has been on BBC 4 and the current Waterhouse exhibition at the RA. Unlike the majority of the recent reviews of Waterhouse that I have read hers was not negative (although I disagree with some points she makes on ‘St. Eulalia’). Personally I enjoy a number of Waterhouse’s paintings. At the RA I had a favourite corner: ‘The Lady of Shalott’ (1888), ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ (1893) and ‘Circe Invidiosa’ (1892). ‘The Lady of Shalott’ fits well with my own visualisations of Tennyson’s poem and, in the other two works, it is the colours which have the most impact on me e.g. the white beads twinkling on the hem of the lady’s dress in the dark wood and the glowing, blue-green sea. I also enjoyed ‘St. Cecilia’ in that room which compositionally reminded me of Burne-Jones’ ‘Laus Veneris’.

    I have always found ‘St. Eulalia’ a troubling painting because the corpse of the girl-martyr is half exposed (whereas I thought, according to the legend, a miraculous fall of snow was sent to cover her tortured body) and, like Robert Upstone in the catalogue, I believe there is an ‘undercurrent of sensuality’ about the picture. Having said that, I do not agree that the majority of Waterhouse’s female figures are girls/very young women as has been suggested by one reviewer. Although young and beautiful, many of his figures I would regard as definitely women e.g. ‘The Magic Circle’ (1886), ‘Cleopatra’ (1888), ‘The Soul of the Rose’ (1908) … and Waterhouse’s contemporary viewers would have had different attitudes towards the representation of girls/young women from those of our society.

    I could go on, but that is probably enough from me. It would be interesting to hear more reactions to Waterhouse’s work or the exhibition itself and get a debate going … which I suspect may have been your intention Serena!

    • Serena Trowbridge

      Hi Aileen, I’m so looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of Desperate Romantics! I’ll start a new discussion thread on here when it’s started. I must read the book too – and we’re hoping to have a review of it in the Autumn Review.
      Waterhouse – yes, you’re right, they’re not all that young. I was being a bit too general, and also rather overstated it – but as you say, it starts discussion! I did find it all slightly nauseating though and will avoid Waterhouse in future! I quite liked the later Lady of Shalott, and amazing colour in Circe Invidiosa, though.

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