Over the summer, I finally gained access to Netflix through a family friend, and the first show I watched was Anne With An E. I was excited to watch something based on L. M. Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables, a series I very much enjoyed when I was little. Eight years or more have passed since I read the books, and it was quite nice to reaquaint myself with the characters, whom the show does excellent justice to. As far as my memory serves me, it also stays fairly true to the events of the books on an episode to episode basis, although takes liberties with overarching plotlines. Fear not, my fellow sticklers for accurate book-to-screen adaptation, for in this instance it works in the show’s favour as it allows for deeper exploration of characters and themes.
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Those fateful words, uttered by Oscar Wilde’s Algernon Moncrieff, came to characterise the various – generally not-all-too favourable – reviews published of the first instalment of Oscar Wilde season at the Vaudeville, An Ideal Husband. Among these reviews was a scathing assessment published by WHS’ very own Millie McMillan, declaring the performance ‘certainly not the peak of this year’s London theatre’, and commenting on the general disapproval the performance with which the performance met when confronted with the English A Level cohort. Despite this, the second instalment of the season – namely The Importance of Being Earnest – was, in my personal opinion, a resounding success, both at the Vaudeville and during the amateur production at Eton College which I had the great pleasure of attending.
The last review I wrote for Unconquered Peaks was about Amazon’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, an article in which I commented on how successfully the show portrayed its female relationships. This time, we’re talking about HBO’s new mini–series Sharp Objects, based on the Gillian Flynn book by the same name (as you’ll doubtless remember, Gillian Flynn is also the author of Gone Girl, which was turned into a brilliant movie – if you’ve not seen it, I’d advise you to do so).
During the half term, as I have done every May for the past seventeen years, I travelled to the Hay Literary Festival in Hay on Wye. In 1977, bookshop owner Richard Booth conceived a publicity stunt in which he declared Hay-on-Wye become an ‘independent kingdom’ with himself as its monarch and a National Anthem written by Les Penning, and 11 years later, Hay on Wye became home to the world-famous festival. Throughout the year Hay is home to more than two-dozen second hand book shops, which flaunt signs such as “Kindles are banned in the Kingdom of Hay” and “Reading zone only”, and for 10 days of the year, bibliophiles and creatives flock to the town and transform it in to an accelerated hub of imaginative thinking, creativity and even more books. So many books.
It is very difficult to accurately depict the intimacy of close female relationships. No matter the setting – all girls boarding school, home with six sisters, post-apocalyptic gang of teenage rebels – the dynamic is so specific that it is almost impossible to capture. I know I have had, and currently do have, friendships with other girls so close that it would be easy to mistake them for something more, and media that captures such a bond is a rare and beautiful thing. Amazon Prime’s 2018 adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ is an example of such a piece of media.