Thursday, 22 March 2012

Testament of a Holiday. . .

I've been on holiday for the last two weeks, visiting the lad in Liverpool.  Spring had arrived.  There were flowers out everywhere.

It was my fourth trip to the city and I finally got a chance to ride the famous ferry over the Mersey where you get a terrific view of the historic and very beautiful city skyline.

And the city clearly has knitters - we stumbled on some yarn bombing around the pillars in Sefton Park.

There will be more on the scrumptious yarn goodies that I picked up in the UK but that's for another post.

It's not hard to find the HMV at Liverpool One, the shopping centre downtown.  You just look for this.

And while browsing the DVD section, I audibly gasped when I came across this:

I have been wanting to watch this 1979 mini-series of Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth for over ten years as I had continually heard it was quite marvellous and it's based on one of my all-time favourite books. I immediately bought the DVD and the next day watched all five episodes in one glorious mini-marathon.  I was enthralled and incredibly moved. It was almost as powerful as the book yet never veered too heavily towards sentimentality. I thought Cheryl Campbell was terrific as Vera  and you just ached for what she went though.  One of the best episodes was the final one where she goes back to Oxford, meets Winifred Holtby, and participates in a university debate defending life experience over book learning. Openly laughed at as self-righteous because of her passionate opinions on the war, she returns to her flat and completely breaks down in tears, misunderstood and humiliated, and despite all the horrors of the war, for me, it was this moment that was the most emotional to watch.  It's a scene recounted in Brittain's first novel, The Dark Tide which, while not a literary masterpiece, is nevertheless a fascinating portrayal not only of women in academia after the war, (see also Dorothy Sayer's Gaudy Night for example), but of the various societal attitudes to their experiences and the post-war options left to them.  It's a novel that will make you wince at times, but it is well worth reading alongside Testament of Youth and makes for an interesting exercise in comparing how similar events get portrayed in fiction versus memoir.


lyn said...

TOY is a wonderful series & it's one of my favourite books too. I remember watching the series when it was first shown & then reading the book over that Easter & I've since read everything written by & about Vera & Winifred that I can get my hands on. Fascinating women, both of them.

Blithe Spirit said...

Yes, what an unusual but marvellous friendship they had. And that admirable sense of purpose they both felt to make the world better. I'm just in awe of them both.