Thursday 21 April 2016

Carrington and Strachey

This setting is starting to look familiar; me, sitting on a cushion on the floor surrounded with books (that's Vassily Kandisky's Capricious Forms, 1937, on the page) and magazines, sometimes with a film or a drama series in the player. Only the cup of coffee is missing. On Netflix they have added The Honourable Woman, a gripping BBC mini series that I enjoyed watching again. The cast is great but for me Stephen Rea stands out. You will also find there a favourite of mine, the First World War drama Testament of Youth (2014), starring Alicia Vikander, based on Vera Brittain's memoir with the same name. Its set design is gorgeous; the costumes too. One of my own DVDs that I have been watching is Carrington (1995), about the interesting relationship between artist Dora Carrington (1893-1932) and writer Lytton Strachey (1880-1932).

Carrington and Strachey, played by Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce, belonged to the Bloomsbury group. Strachey was gay but he and Carrington had a special relationship and set up a home together. (If you visit the National Portrait Gallery in London you can view Carrington's portrait of Strachey.) Their story is certainly a love story, but of a different kind, with a tragic ending. Carrington took her own life following Strachey's death from cancer. Thompson is wonderful in her role but Strachey's wittiness helps Pryce steal the show. Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey) as Lady Ottoline Morrell is also a scene-stealer. She is simply fabulous. In everything she does.

I am constantly adding books to my reading list and Strachey is on it. I want to read Lytton Strachey: The New Biography by Michael Holroyd and also The Letters of Lytton Strachey, edited by Paul Levy. I just haven't decided which one to read first. Have you read them?

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