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Dear friends and readers,

Two nights ago now I saw an extraordinary film, Andrew Davies and Tristram Powell's Falling.  My first experience of what I can get from Netflix has certainly made me an instant strong advocate (and how easy that site is to use, even I can make my way).

And what did I chose first? an unnerving realistic slice-of-life story from from that chameleon master screenplay film-maker, Andrew Davies with a familiar crew; Penelope Wilton, Michael Kitchener, Sylvestre Le Touzel, Joanna David.  His major source was a modern novel by a woman, Elizabeth Jane Howard's unnerving Falling

It's better than most films I've seen in theaters for a long time.  It connects to women's novels and memoirs since the time of Austen and today still meditating the role of marriage, sex, career, children in particular women's lives.  In this story we focus on Daisy Langrish (Penelope Wilton), successful romance writer, financially and apparently emotionally independent: Daisy Langrish played by Penelope Wilton.  What happens is she is slowly brought to allow Henry Kent (Michael Kitchen) at first to help her as a gardener and handyman, then a nursing aid, then boarder, and at last lover-friend and companion who succeeds in changing her life to serve him, be with him, putting her writing aside.  He is a man who has no income and no job but we see can get himself nonetheless accepted (he lives in a leaky broken down boat when we first see him, hardly habitable for a dog), but to her (and others) seems enormously presentable.

At the height of their romance.

The brilliance of the chilling and unnerving experience of this film comes from his plausibility, the stories he tells of his past which make him into the victimized, his apparently harmlessness, civility, kindness, and humility, and most of all that he is our basic narrator and it takes us a while to realize what's happening -- though we are given a fearful sign early on when the two are driving and Daisy by mistake hits a dog.  She stops her car in distress and wants to go over to the animal.  She has hurt her leg in an accident (genuine) so he goes over to the hurt animal and we see (she doesn't) that he fiercely quickly breaks its neck.  This unhesitating ferocity and the lie he tells her (that she killed it with the car, but assuring her it wasn't her fault) alerts us something is not just wrong but scary here.

Her close friend and literary agent, Anna Blackstone (Sylvestre Le Touzel) instinctively feels there is something suspicious in Mr Kent's encroaching ways, and their gay male friend, Antony (Michael Sinclair) is put off by and puts Henry off.   Henry manages to make Daisy dismiss them as class snobs or unfair and unjust.  But it's not the class angle that he plays upon so much as her loneliness.  He can prey upon her because she has had two failed marriages (the last ended with the husband's flagrant promiscuity), apparently no children, is alone. 

We slowly learn through a series of flashbacks which counter the stories he tells Daisy of his past.  In them he is the beaten, the ostracized, the exiled, the endlessly patient man, all the while sudden gleaming flashbacks presumably from his mind show us how he manages to lure the daughter of an upper class family where his father was gardener to run away with him, a second girl to marry him -- who we gather through quick flashbacks he ends up beating, turning into an abject thing and probably killing (by throwing her out the window and claiming it as an accident or suicide), and finally a middle-class woman who he tries to kill with a car.  She is badly crippled for the reset of her life, refusing to divorce him on his terms which include the demand she sell her house and give him half the money which would beggar her.  We see he is an effective physical lover of these women -- as he is of Daisy.

So it's more than Daisy's age, loneliness, disappointment, vulnerability from these things.  I don't want to give away the precise ending as the visits Daisy is led to make of two of Henry's victim-women and the mother of one (Joanna David) need to unroll before you to get the full feel of what is to be learned:  suffice to say it's because the thing does not end in totally bloody disaster that I was left shaking.  The viewer feels this is something that could and does happen.  at one point I got up and asked myself if I wanted to carry on with this. I was in a state of quiet anxiety and terribly worried. Would I be able to take it if she (my heroine) went down to utter disaster. I felt the movie was of the realistic type which would not deliberately terrify and leave the viewer scared, with no compensations in view (this is how I see Flannery O'Connor, as a mean writer, getting a kick out of making her reader more frightened than ever, playing on fears and knowledge of evil people).

So I came back and finished the movie.   What I can say is it has this moralizing talk ending -- which is not uncommon for movies today.  Julie Delpy's Two Days in Paris (Woody Allen style) is just a long version of it; yesterday Izzy and I saw a movie, City Lights, which had a providential closing utterance (!)   At the close Daisy is driving away from a train station, and suddenly turns to suggest in a meditative voice-ovice that after all what is love? and what she had known with Henry until he suddenly turned savage and violent when she would not marry him, nor even countenance an engagement was an experience of love like what she had had before, only at times sweeter. At its open, we see him on the train and he is telling us he loved this woman and still loves her, needs her. This is troubling: in Davies's Sleep with Me there is an analogously justfication of the ruthless cruelty of someone mentally ill.

Kitchener's performance is inimitable: what the man is is a sexual predator; I've read there are such men who prey on women and live by becoming their lovers and move from woman to woman.  What is different here is he is a psycho or sociopath, filled with hatred for all those around him who own things and have class status where he was genuinely the son of a poor gardener who hated books and beat him mercilessly.

Among the elements I most liked was the way Daisy coped with the truth once she learned she had been duped.  She calls the police to be at the ready, and then she tells the guy to get his things, she's driving him to the train. I was a little nervous about that drive lest he suddenly become violent. But this was not in character. The man would not have survived quite had he not kept to the edge of decency each time so that he has broken no law. Indeed the law is on his side over his ongoing attempt to fleece his now crippled wife, and the young girl whose spirit he broke is herself psychologically shattered with the mother unable to help her as what she did once (stole a baby) landed her in prison.  All the mother can do is protect the girl with their (lucky there) estate.  Daisy does not learn her lesson in the sense of blaming her berating herself; she falls prey to this man but escapes just in time and moves on. Not her fault, understandable. He is the problem so-to-speak and the society that made and tolerates him.

I have read that Andrew Davies likes to have evil characters at the center of his films, but since I've only watched two adaptations of modern novels (The Line of Beauty and Tipping the Velvet) and one of his original mini-series, A Very Peculiar Practice, comical and humane, a critique of the university educational mores and system, with Peter Davison as our central good bumbling hero, this is the first time I've experienced this in his film.  I have now put into my queue from Netflix his To Serve Them all My Days, said to be similar to A Very Peculiar Practice, and just as good; but I've also put down House of Cards, which features Ian Richardson as a powerful amoral Prime Minister.  The evil here though is of a type I've not seen at all in Davies's other films, most of which present sexual experience as strongly postive, not coming near to anything maiming, harmful, shattering.

So this I attribute to Elizabeth Jane Howard's novel, and since watching intently, alertly absorbed, I bought an inexpensive copy from Amazon marketplace so I can compare book to film, and understand the film better.

In the meantime it's not easy to find serious analytical commentary about her work.  Howard is not respected the way say Isabel Colegate is and doesn't turn up in academic essays.  She is regarded as "middlebrow," even if the word isn't used, a kiss of half-derision and dismissal.  Her books are described with praise, and one series was also made into a mini-series of films.  As far as I can see with all her upper class privileges and opportunities and varied rich life, it's been hard too, with broken marriages, one child. It's said her later books profited from her experience with Kingsley Amis. This film takes from an eerie feeling often promoted in ghost stories.

For me the book and film matter right now as more of Davies's work and as modern heroine's texts. So I'll conclude with observing the camera work was far quieter than most adaptations Davies has been involved in of late.  Northern England was shown to have rural loveliness and quiet -- sombre auburns and yellows and browns; we saw more of the highways than usual; the desolation here and there of the countryside was not made melodramatic. The most melodramatic scene was that of Henry Kent's boat by the river: the river is a bit fearful at night, it pours rain, and when he wants to live as permanently as he can with Daisy he takes an axe to it and we watch it go under slowly. The angles and shots of the people were not super-close ups; love-making was discreet, tasteful.  Sound: we were made to feel the sound of the train strongly: it opened and closed on one -- the train is a central element in modernity, anonymous meetings -- at the close Henry is again trying to pick up a woman, this time on the train -- the hollow roar and countryside outside the windows are done with persuasive naturalness.



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May. 17th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
Falling, the novel by EJHoward: upon beginning
I began _Falling_, her novel last night and am really loving it. I put all down to get on with it and will carry on tonight. It's the sort of thing that I read compulsively. I don't have much to say about it beyond what I wrote about the basic story of the film except to say it opens with the male narrator in the same way and at first maintains a distance from the heroine. It's written in
third person.

A central database at GMU I used to take material from has been downgraded since GMU chose also to get ECCO (a rich 18th century database, so I suppose I ought not to complain about the diversion of monies), but I have found a file on Elizabeth Jane Howard. I won't put anything on any of the specific novels today -- nor _Falling_ until I've gotten further in, but thought perhaps this
researched full life and works might be of interest to some of us. As I wrote, she is one of the many women writers today who doesn't make the cut "into prestige" or academic studies and is also not identified as engaging with feminist issues (so not in feminist monographs of 20th century writers) so it's hard to find serious writing on her texts.

There's a specific essay on Howard's _Hungry for Love_ by Caroline Moore (insightful) and on Howard's memoir, Slipstream: a Memoir, Catherine Wade, and I'll try to get back to these later this week.

May. 17th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
Falling, the novel by EJHoward: Daisy a Marianne Dashwood; Henry & Helen Burns
I have discovered that the tone of _Falling_ is part of its strong quality: there is a sardonic black humor going on sotta voce. There are actually two narrators: Henry, our sexual predator (though he doesn't see himself this way) and Daisy, our aging heroine-authoress of romances who has bought herself this cottage in a place far away. But while some of the book is told by Daisy, the preponderance is Henry. It's his complete lack of awareness of himself: what we see in him is how terrible, terrible people have this capacity for thinking superwell of themselves.

The humor you will gather is hard to describe.

He also (somewhat improbably) reads woman's novels (Iris Murdoch, Virginia Woolf, Elinor Glyn, Ouida with George Eliot as his very favorite of them all) and parts of them are retold hilariously: for example, the moving death of Helen Burns. Who does not remember Helen Burns's suffering and death? There was a time I could almost recite it and I have read it aloud to classes when I taught Jane Eyre in the early 1990s. It becomes a sort of wild joke: the implied author asks us why do we wallow in such things: "Suddenly the girl at Jane Eyre's terrible school came to mind -- the clever, patient Helen Burns who died, you may remember, from tuberculosis after months of starvation, abuse and general neglect". Well, Henry sets about to right this long-suffering (not so long because she died) by making her survive and marry him, and writes reams about how good he is to her: "Helen should be my dead wife whom I nurtured until her end" (p. 8). of course now dead. He plans to give this to the next woman he partners.

It's chilling and scary too.

On the other hand, Daisy likens herself to Marianne Dashwood. Who else. This passage I can find: "she was rack with a fit of sobbing that only with sheer physical exhaustion began to subside. She thought of Marianne Dashwood whose sensibility had up until now always provoked her" (p. 66)

May. 19th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Reading on and comparing novel to film
I'm nearly half-way through Howard's novel, Falling,, so I'm in a position to see the differences with Andrew Davies and Tristram Powell's 2005 film. As might be expected, the film condenses. Indeed the film really begins at the point of mid-point in the novel, with what went back sharply condensed inside 10 minutes. What interests Davies is the relationship of Daisy and Henry as they live together; he brings in Henry's past through flashbacks that provide a counterpoint to the present happiness (and thus scare us). The effect of this is also to decrease sympathy for Henry.

Falling, the film, is a rather old-fashioned film for 2005, one with discreet scenes as on a stage, clearly separated off, and scenes on the outside, on the road, in an inn -- I'm at the same time watching Miss Austen Regrets (2009), which is a wholly modern piece where instead of individual scenes you must talk of a blend of montages, sequences, and epitomizing shots where scenes are broken up into further interlaced segments. So on the WWTTA groupsite page, I have one of the (in this film) infrequent consistent scenes between Jane and Cassandra as Cassandra helps Jane to get clean linen together (Cassandra's job while Jane writes) and pack for Kent. A framing keeps us distanced; the camera usually does not let us get this whole kind of scene but rather makes us exist somehow close up and inbetween the characters.

The experience is thus very different though how to describe it -- what is the feel of life we get from this modern blending as opposed to seeing ourselves as characters on whole coherent stages is hard for me to say. I need to read more film studies obviously :) -- good ones about film aesthetics and technologies. The screenplay is much dispersed and harder to get down, with music and odd angled close-ups insistently central. It's a very pretty movie at the same time as it concentrates on women's lives -- like Jane and Cassandra walking through the wash in front of their house soon after we have them walking through a field with scarecrows, come upon a grave yards (grave stones prominent, foreshadowing the end), and the scene I have put up follows these gorgeous green landscapes with rich flowers as Jane, Fanny and Edward Austen are ostensibly (fakery) driving to Kent.

May. 22nd, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC)
Falling: a fortifying healthy book
This may seem an odd way to describe this book, but I'm seeing that it's a healthy fortifying book, and cynic (or disillusioned and well read enough) that I am, I suspect Howard gets only middle brow status because she's not morbid really, not frightening, though there is much disquiet. On the other hand, it's not a comfort book and so is now low-brow frivolous romance.

I'm into the last phase of the book. It turns into a semi-epistolary first-person journal novel at times, with an alternation between Henry's voice and Daisy's. A chapter each, back and forth we go -- rather like the opening of Rousseau's La Nouvelle Heloise (Julie and St Preux) only their arias are shorter.

Here is the meat for the film adaptation.

Its theme is friendship, loneliness, what makes a friend and doesn't -- right up my alley of concerns. Henry, really a bad man who has hurt many women terribly, does have a story that is understandable -- as I said one he and probably others would use to make him seem less terrible than he is, and after all he is succeeding in court in harassing his ex-wife into giving him part of her money and property. We see all this. This is a smart book by a smart lady who has been there and seen it.

It's in Daisy I find the health. Passages like

I did have a few friend who had been mine before I married him [Jason, she married this handsome younger star, oh poor deluded woman], and a couple I liked very much whom I met after he left -- but they have gone to ilve in Australia. The others have married, had children who take up all their time, and there there is Anthony, a really close friend who has fallen in love with a man who can't stand me. There is nothing that makes no difference to friendship (p. 205)


It did come to her mind that he seemed to be rather disaster prone [after reading his long letter about himself] ... perhaps it was, although she suspected it was more like the wear and tear that are most people's lost: the most cruel moments blurred and distorted by the repetition of memory, which meant for her that she could not remember exaclty how she felt beause an element of shock ws not there,; it too was an memory, no longer an ambush, but the recollection of one" (p. 207)

And last for today:

He might, she might, _anyone_ mgiht be thought to be that when they were simply making efforts to communicate to another person in order to put an end to their isolation. But supposing I don't _want_ to know anything more about him? (p. 241)

Of course Henry is not simply making efforts to communicate with Daisy, though that is part of it.

One cannot reread Samuel Johnson's masterpiece Rambler on friendship, how dear and noble it is and how swiftly and easily destroyed. This is a meditation in the same vein in the modern female way in modern female circumstances. Year chases Year, Decay pursues Decay,/Still drops some Joy from with'ring Life away" lives at too high a level of generality to be felt where one needs it daily.

Virginia Woolf gets at it here: "I have lost friends, some by death... others through sheer inability
to cross the street." - Virginia Woolf

Friendship is not a tape deck, nor loneliness, isolation, but this is part of the terrain of Falling too -Daisy gets in a bad accident. She does have Anna her wise friend who sees through Henry but not enough; her daughter, Katya who keeps her distance. Anthony turns up in the film instinctively adverse to what he sees in Henry.

The film misses though this deeper level of health and stays with the fear, the disquiet, and yes the lust -- for sexual need is in this book too.

I've bought myself The Beautiful Visit, her first book and may yet go on to Slipstream and a biography. I'm still wanting to know which book Clarissa and Isobel turn up in the Cazalet books.

What's the health. Seeing it square, looking at it calmly, accepting it as part of things.


May. 22nd, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
Falling: friendship, letters, its ironies
The novel gets intense when our heroine begins to "fall" for Henry and we know she's drawing plausible but the wrong conclusions -- this is (as I said) where the film starts.

I now have another meaning for the title: Falling. Daisy literally falls twice, once as a tourist climbing a monument and again (as in the film) on the steps of her house as she comes back from a healthy (ahem) walk. The first instance keeps her away from Henry over a year -- but he's patient and sends these deeply appealing letters, reads her diaries and transforms her house and garden for her into something livable and lovely. The second when he's begun to ensconce himself makes her ripe for him to take over.

The deeper sense is she's an aging woman, vulnerable. We all know how dangerous falling is for the elderly, especially when living along. There used to be a cruel commercial on TV (I hope it's not there any more) where a woman falls over and can't reach her phone and moans and groans. I was told that made many viewers laugh. It was there to inculcate guilt in adult children I suppose and get them to buy something for the Aged P.

I mentioned the theme of friendship. The ambivalence and ambiguities keep up. For example, our Daisy is telling herself she needs to be more friendly, to learn to socialize more and the passage sounds like one I tell myself. However, ironically she is telling herself this out of a deisre to allow herself to take risks with Henry:

" She didn't take risks with people; she didn't go for it; she wanted both insurances and assurance that an intimacy would have happy consequences. No· way to . live, she thought now, as she brushed her hair and ridiculous at my' age not to have acquired these essential skills for friendship - which, after ~, could exist at varyinlg levels. Wholehearted­ness, perfection, was not by any means the only thing to seek. She had had that, after all: she'd had Jess and Jason and Anna. And perhaps wtih time she'd have Katya [her adult daughter] as well.
She had- thought mucn about Katya that morning: the rails in her bath, the telephone in her room, the banister down the stairs that she was now gratefully clutching, the stores in the cupboard - all that was Katya ...

The novel also meditates letter writing and why some people love this form of communication. Henry is clearly eloquent with the written word. Letters are also "comparatively safe" Daisy thinks. You can backtrack ""In writing it was possible to say that one had not meant quite wha had been written, and to compose some alternative sense that was usually accepted."

Letters are also more easily faked too: Henry has invented an identity at length that's not his. Trollope the novelist uses letters a lot and he sees them as dangerous: to be used against you, you can get someone else to write one and so on.

But the book loves letters basically and sees them as instances where we recreate ourselvse.

It' also quietly shows how Daisy is class bound and a terribel snob. The way Henry gets round her is to be humble; she is wholly unaware of how she condescends -- probably to the end. The ironies is here anything but heavy-handed but it's the more thorough for that. This is a great-great-great-granddaughter of Austen's Emma -- remember how she said she didn't need to marry, money would carry her through. Right. Not that the book is for marriage as a solution to Daisy's problems; she's tried that too and two men came near to destroying her.

May. 28th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
Falling: vulnerability, loneliness and the Jane Bennet character
May 28, 2010

vulnerability, loneliness, the Jane Bennet character

I finished the book last night. The literal details are those found in the film, but the way of presentation is quite different. Both endings (film and novel) have problems of probability: in teh film, Henry Kent starts to try to beat and abuse Daisy and she is too old, has too much innate independence after years of success, too many friends, to endure this and she quickly (suddenly) seeks out his hidden papers, uses them to seek out and talk with his exwife, near mother-in-law and other witnesses, and discovers the horrific things he's done to women What's unreal is this sudden turnround so swiftly and also that she returns to the house and is so easily able to eject him. One mention of police and he caves in.

In the book, the weekend visit of her friends alerts them and her daughter (now separating) begins to sleuth. The violence scene occurs after which (realistically) she's not sure what to do, but then the letter from the daughter intervenes. She escapes or travels to London by train, Henry driving her to the station all penitence. The problem is the long chapter where her friends tell her all: it's too much a Charlie Change reveal-it-all. But it is realistic that her male gay friend with a friend who is a chief inspector returns to the house and after considerable resistence throw Henry out, that she never wants to return.

The visit of the friends is beautifully calibrated. The gay male friend brings a hard puzzle they do together. We see four people trying to get along over a weekend in the country. Not easy to fill time :) and be companionable without hurting others for feelings are so sensitive in all sorts of ways.

The concluding chapters just soar: it's there we have these long meditations on what this all meant and there where there is an allusion to Jane Bennet which shows me that Howard read Jane Bennet something of the way I do: Jane looks on the good side of things because it's too painful to really stare them in the face, but that makes her vulnerable. Daisy's friend, Anna, makes an Elizabeth Bennet remark to this. Early in the book Daisy was likened to Marianne Dashwood and we had Henry making sardonic fun of the way Helen Burns is presented in Jane Eyre. I usually don't parallel Marianne with Jane but I see it. I didn't catch allusions to Ivy Compton Burnet or Woolf's characters, nor George Eliot -- but I don't know the first two well enough.

As I said I felt strengthened by this book, arose feeling gratified from a deeply felt honest look at aspects of women's love lives. Daisy is a lonely person and that is the core Henry took advantage of. She grasps in the experience how different forms of friendship work: some pragmatic like the way her daughter is the first to act. She also confronts sexual experience and how basically that was Henry's forte, pleasing women -- I saw the portrait as one of a sexual predator, the kind of male who does live off women. I was moved by many of Daisy's thoughts about herself. I felt sustained as I read these. How mortfiied she feels in front of herself -- like Marianne Dashwood that but in this case he was really always fooling her at the same time as he wanted an idle life living off her and got a great kick out of sexual power over her too (towards the end we see him growing bored and know how terrible a married life with this man would have been from every single angle -- and yet how plausible he seems -- oh what a killer this is, what a warning lesson :) ).

I have now brought The Beautiful Visit and Sliptream and hope they come soon (a penny for one, 92 cents for the other). Fran, on top of my pile is now Morgner's Trobadora Beatrice.

Jun. 4th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
On the film
From Linda on WWTTA:

"I watched this film tonight via Netflix and enjoyed it even as I puzzled over it. Ellen has talked a little about the film and the book by the same title by Elizabeth Jane Howard. It is a 2005 film, starring Michael Kitchen and Penelope Wilton. The plot centers around the romance of these fifty-something lovers in
the English countryside.

Mature romance is something that attracts the attention of movie-goers, particularly the senior crowd, of which I am a member. We long to discover that mature characters have learned something along the way and that this will be reflected in their decisions and judgment. Nothing could be further from the truth in this case.

Henry is so calculating from the moment he sets foot on the scene, that we know he is somehow "off." But we aren't sure for a long while exactly what his game is. Daisy is lovely--lonely and vulnerable, as said before--but so naive and "clueless." She seems wrapped in a self-protective cocoon that doesn't give her any indications that Henry is not on the up-and-up, let alone a possible threat to her well-being. He is a dangerous man, but Daisy sees not a hint. She proceeds through the film unperturbed in her illusions about their "relationship."

With Henry being the antithesis of what he seems to be, it could hardly be called a relationship. She is an object (of potential wealth) to him, and he is a total fantasy of who she'd like him to be. He is only an actor of parts. There is no real connection between these two objects--no communication.

Daisy never questions Henry's motives or wonders about his interest in her. She doesn't wonder about his financial situation or whether he has an adequate income. To her, it is just love, wonderful love. She is as starstruck as a teenager.

Reality begins to come to the fore when he hits her--and leads to her uncovering his sordid past. In their final confrontation, she is very strong--unlike in some earlier scenes. It seems the truth has set her free.

I gather the film is quite different from the book. In the film, she has no daughter. Nor is the theme of friendship developed. To me it was a marvel that she had any friends. That's how passive and complacent she seemed.

Looking long-term over the events of her life, this 3rd relationship does show growth and maturity. In her first two marriages she was badly used and damaged This 3rd time round she stood her ground and triumphed. She ended it as soon as she humanly could. She was effective in preventing him from hurting her the way he had hurt (and possibly murdered) previous women in his life.

On the ride home after dumping him at the train stations, she muses strangely to herself, "I wonder if that was love. And if it wasn't, what is? And how do we know?" Very odd, indeed. I'm not at all sure that was the author speaking.

Ellen talks about the book's character accepting reality and."..seeing it square, looking at it calmly, accepting it as part of things." There is some of that in the ending--the ride home. She is remarkably calm after this huge upheaval. I guess it's back to the drawing board--or in this case, the writer's
sketchbook. Business as usual.


Jun. 5th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
Falling: whose story is the book's; whose the film's
In response to Linda:

I was probably not clear when I talked of the novel: ""..seeing it square, looking at it calmly, accepting it as part of things." I didn't mean Daisy, I mean the novel as a whole and so Elizabeth Jane Howard. We are led to see how a woman can be fooled and I found myself believing this could happen.

Another area of misunderstanding or disagreement is the way I saw the film's presentation of Daisy's friendships. I took her friendship with Anna and Anthony to be very important to her, especially Anna. I did not see her as friendless at all, but rather choosing to escape for an interlude, a place to get away from London, especially her memories of her second husband and his occasional appearances. When he shows up early in the film, we see her easily induced to go to bed with him (hoping again he will love her) but he exits right afterwards.

Now in the book Anna is central and there is Daisy's daughter and we see Anthony important too. In fact (as I wrote) the book has the people who find out about Henry first Daisy's daughter (who suspects as she was on the scene much longer and originally) and then Anthony who is alienated by Henry -- who Anthony, clever and sophisticated senses hates homosexuals viscerally and this does not at all fit in with Henry's posing. Henry's stories arouse Anna's alert scepticism. I suggeseted that it was not quite believable that all these people would sleuth detective like for Daisy and was a kind of weakness, but this did lead to her never returning and a powerful final chapter of meditation by Daisy.

It might be the book would satisfy Linda more and some might say the film is inferior - because the book alternates more and more between Daisy and Henry and it was in Daisy's ruminations I found strength -- not because I admired or agreed with her but because (the way Austen does in _Emma_), the heroine is exposed to us unknown to her. I felt for her and identified without being disturbed to have to admit I too am vulnerable, lonely, rationalize. Henry's parts of the book were witty riffs on literature and scary.

But I don't think the film inferior. Why? It's a film by Andrew Davies and from watching so many of his films (yesterday I returned to Dr Zhivago and last week watched his Othello) I'm persuaded Davies did the book because he is fascinated by Henry. Davies's films just about all turn whatever is the book into a delving -- sometimes vulnerable, wounded, good, an Oedipal story (so this is A Very Peculiar Practice, or To Serve them all my days and also P&P which becomes Darcy's Story) but also sometimes perverse twisted people who are evil doers if not originally evil - that's Iago in Otello (brillaintly done by Christopher Ecceston). In the book Howard does show how Henry came to be Henry as little, through Daisy's condescension to him as lower than her (she does throughout the book), he had gifts and his father would not let them flower or be educated; he grew to hate woman as the only target he could get back at.

I suggest Falling in the film is also about Henry: who has fallen into absolute abjection, destitute, preying on the next most vulnerable: women. Davies does sympathize with women too.

I recommend to Linda the book and also Davies's Othello, To Serve Them all My Days and A Very Peculiar pratice (this last an original drama so it's all Davies).

I love these dialogues because we learn so much and the art becomes richer as we are led to discuss and see what we are thinking and feeling -- it matters not that we disagree you see since we do have enough common ground :)

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