Friday, June 27, 2014

The Bletchley Circle

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog scene in general of late because I've been focusing on writing the first draft of the sequel to Grimhilda! This has been completed (insofar as you can ever say that a first draft is 'completed') and I've now scribbled all over the printed-out version of it, making notes galore, amending, re-writing, fiddling, reconsidering, and generally hacking it to pieces. As you should with a first draft. The beginning and the ending both need thorough rewriting and expanding (now that I have a better idea of how things fit together) but there are some sections between them that are pretty satisfactory. Two lines in the entire draft actually made me laugh out loud when I came back to reading them again. Two lines! That's promising.

So the next job is to get on and do the rewrite. Should be fun.

We watched all three episodes of the series The Bletchley Circle last night because I had to stay up till one am to ring the US about something that couldn't be done any earlier. A very-well crafted series, with meticulous attention to detail of costume and design, and excellent photography.

Anna Maxwell Martin plays the main character, one of four women who'd worked at Bletchley during the war and were now effectively twiddling their thumbs nine years later, not using the gifts that had made them so valuable a decade earlier. I don't find Martin my favourite actress, perhaps because when I saw her in Bleak House as Esther Summerson, she seemed not to have got hold of the character: too lacking in the almost irritating modesty that Esther exhibits, and too little warmth.

Here she's given strong support by Rachael Stirling, Sophie Rundle and Julie Graham. The four re-unite, after a bit of dubiousness, in order to solve a series of murders that have obviously been done by the same man.The police are at a loss, but Martin's character sees links in the locations of the murders, and believes she can predict where the next abduction, murder and rape will take place - at least as near as anyone can - and will hopefully prevent another death.The police pooh-pooh her rather, and her husband thinks she's acting oddly. Certainly she's suddenly out and about a lot more than she's been in a long time.

The plot has a few holes - you want to know who's suddenly looking after the kids when Martin is gallivanting around, and also why she goes hiving off on her own, at night, to a place that's obviously closed down and inhabited by one person. Who she realises is the murderer she's looking for. That peculiarity apart (although it's common enough in suspense stories for the woman to do that daft thing of putting herself in considerable danger in a dark house with a stranger) this was well-worth watching. The other three women are great, and though the men mostly come off looking a bit like twats, the story is absorbing enough to keep us involved throughout.

The series was originally a one-off piece, but there's been a sequel. This was done a couple of years later, and should be worth looking out for. Hopefully it lives up to the standards of the first series.


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